Posted in Blog Stuff, SBL on February 8, 2011|
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A week ago, we posted the rules of our SBLGNT giveaway, and an enthusiastic handful of folks participated. Well, we have used a random number generator to determine who deserves our prize (assigning numbers based on comment order), and the answer was…
That is to say, Christian of Homebrewed Theology!
Christian, you should have received an email regarding shipment in your Yahoo! account. Let us know if you had any trouble receiving it.
To everyone else, thanks for participating! We hope you’ll continue to read our blog, even when we’re not giving out prizes. And who knows… maybe we’ll be giving out more in the future! :-)
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Continued from Pt. 2.
As I explained in my first post from this series, I’m done with seminary—or DWS, since I want to save space. I went to SBL this year even though I’m DWS and am currently not planning to go any further in the field. I know I looked like a tag-along to my husband (who wants to get a PhD in New Testament), but I was there because of my own interests and desperately wanted to be acknowledged as not totally out-of-the-loop. It’s something I felt as there, but also something I feel here at home. I always wonder if “the boys” will include me in their conversations—after all, Jeremiah and I both just finished our degrees in September, so should we be on equal footing? Yes, he took a couple Greek and NT classes I didn’t, but I took a Hebrew exegesis of Psalms class, so we’ll call it even. Sometimes I feel simply not having ambitions to go any further in the biblical studies/theology realm leads to people seeing me differently. I want to yell at them, “I went to seminary, too, for goodness sakes!” but I’m not sure that would do any good.
While I understand that SBL is generally meant for people with a more active role in the field, I think there are ways for others to be more inclusive of DWS people, more generally. Sometimes I see myself and other seminary graduates accidentally exclude our Bible-college-graduate friends or undergrad-reli-major friends from conversations—conversations they could probably be a part of if we just explained two or three words/ideas/authors/whatever and made it known that we wanted them in the conversation. The same goes for seminary graduates who aren’t getting PhDs in a related field. We still took Hebrew and Greek, we still know a bit about church history and theology, we still try to be thoughtful readers of Scripture, so please, don’t run over us with your words. Let us know it’s ok to join you and give us space to do so. In my dream world, the people in the field of biblical studies would be so wonderful to people who are DWS that youth pastors—yes, even those wacky youth pastors, of all people!—would think it was cool to come to SBL. We who are DWS will never be the experts you are, but it’s a good and glorious thing when we care about the field and want to stay engaged with it in some way. That’s a lot more than 90% of Christian ministers are interested in, so please, let it count for something. We DWS people really appreciate it.
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Continued from Pt. 1.
Being a woman at seminary was harder than I anticipated. It felt awkward for about 2/3 of my peers to be men, making it harder to connect socially when I first came to Fuller. It also felt awkward to get to know the many male professors better—I sometimes felt male students were able to get buddy-buddy with their favorite scholars in a way I never would have been comfortable doing. I often felt unequipped to enter the culturally male world of scholarship, as well as overly paranoid about boundaries in relationships with male professors. I know for a fact that not all women at seminary feel this way; however, I have talked to others who do. And then when you talk about pursuing an academic career as a woman, it gets worse. Even something simple like dressing right feels so hard. Why are dressy and professional the same for men but so different for women? Why do I have to dress like a man to be respected by a man? It’s all so confusing, full of cognitive dissonance and ambivalence.
Whether you are a man or a woman, it means so much when you notice gifted female students, even if they are not the ones who always feel most comfortable speaking up in class. Also remember that some of our male peers were advantaged by relationships with pastors, undergrad professors, and other (usually male) mentors with theological backgrounds who have been encouraging them for years—sometimes it feels they are far ahead of us, which seems so unfair since nobody ever encouraged us to read these sorts of books or pursue this sort of calling. Try as much as possible to structure class discussions so we get a voice, too. (I find that having groups of 4-6 discuss a well-written question and then inviting a report to the class is much more inclusive and thought-provoking than a less structured opportunity to comment.) Advocate for women in any way you can: support them in ministry, assign women’s books/articles, tell women who should get a PhD to get a PhD (in case nobody else has told them!), push for generous and clearly stated policies on pregnancy and parenting for both male and female students and professors at your school, etc. And just be friendly. Some of us feel we constantly have to prove ourselves to male scholars, and just the fact that we’re outnumbered at a conference or a meeting or a class can be terribly uncomfortable. The friendlier you are, the more we will try to learn to trust that we are actually welcome here.
Continued in Pt. 3.
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I thought it might be different this year at SBL. After all, it was my second time attending, so I knew what to expect. And besides, I had an MAT in Biblical Studies & Theology now… But despite enjoying some fabulous sessions, great conversations, and fun time with Jeremiah, I still experienced a good deal of insecurity at SBL.
It’s hard to separate it all out—What’s normal? What’s just me?, etc.—but I think a lot of my insecurities related to three specific demographic characteristics: 1) being young, 2) being female, and 3) being done with seminary (or, for the purposes of this post, DWS, for short). I have done a little thinking about those three areas, and I thought that it might be interesting to share my experiences/offer some suggestions to others in academia generally, but especially in the field of biblical studies. Either you can relate, remember a time when you could, or learn something new!
It is easy for we who are young to feel very out of place in the academic world. There is no real reason why anyone needs to pay attention to us, and our comparative stupidity may actually being annoying at times. However, it is so incredibly affirming to chat with someone who is 5 years older and finishing their PhD, or 10 years older and getting established in their career, or 30 years older and been-there-done-that. It’s so amazing to be included in intelligent conversation by people who know more than us—even if we hardly keep up from your perspective, it’s like a breath of fresh air from ours. After all, we only have so many friends who know anything about the field and care to discuss these things.
Even more importantly, it feels good to be noticed—not necessarily as the next star, but at least as an intelligent person who should have something to contribute in the future. You don’t have time to mentor every student, but it makes a big difference when you are willing to develop positive relationships with us—especially at places like Fuller where there is such a terrible faculty-student ratio in master’s classes. Several of my SBL highlights this year involved older and wiser individuals who took the time to have a long chat over coffee, invite us to breakfast, or tell us that it was possible to have both kids and careers. Never underestimate your power to make younger people feel included in the group, affirmed in their gifts, or reassured about the future. We may all be grown-ups, but those connections still mean a lot to those who feel like kindergartners in academia.
Continued in Pt. 2.
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