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writing things down…

Report on SBL

I’ve got some disturbing news to report. Well, disturbing to some; not so much for others.

I went to only three of the six sessions I planned to attend, and even then I did not stay for the whole session. The funny thing is that I had one of the most enjoyable SBL experiences I’ve ever had. It was not a circus mind you, but I did get on my flight last Tuesday morning thinking it was good I went.

So what did I do, you ask. Not much, but quite a lot.

After arriving Friday night, I grabbed a quick meal with fellow traveler, conference roommate, and young biblioblogger, Patrick. On the recommendation from the nice lady at the front desk of the Holiday Inn, Patrick and I headed a few blocks down the street to Dakota Cowgirls. It did not strike us until several minutes after ordering that we were the only pair of male patrons sitting on opposite sides of the booth from one another. We had a fine time. The food was decent, the music videos of all of the cheesiest artists (Paris Hilton is singing now?) was a bit distracting, and the waitress called us ‘baby’ at least three times on each of her visits to our table. We noted on our way out that just above Dakota Cowgirls was a club called Paradise Blu (or something like that), where we could have returned the following night to watch topless male dancers in leather pants. Fortunately, we both had plans for Saturday night, but it does explain the seating arrangement of the other guests in the restaurant. Friday night was a restless time. I am not sure if it was the disturbing images of topless guys in leather pants or the three hour time difference between DC and LA. Either way, I did not sleep well.

I arose at 6ish, got dressed and headed a mile down the street to the convention center. About three blocks in I began to form a sore spot on my heels from my new shoes. Band-aids were in order.

At the convention center I picked up a name badge holder and waited for my friend, Jeff Phillips. I hadn’t seen Jeff in over a year, since he moved to Cambridge. We had a wonderful time catching up. We even ran into Jeff’s wife, Beth, at the coffee shop we went to. Seeing old friends was a great way to start the weekend.

After breakfast, and after picking up some Band-aids in a hotel gift shop, I was off to the Employment Information Services area to drop off notes to some schools who were having open interviews. I returned to this area about a dozen times throughout the weekend, only to get one interview on Sunday morning. It went well. Still it is depressing to give my name to nearly 20 schools and have only one of them take the time to talk to me.

In the later morning I met with Tom Kraft, the editor with whom I have been in touch at Continuum. We chatted briefly. It was more a chance for us to put a face to names in emails. Tom is very pleasant. I am happy to be working with him. I hope he is happy with the manuscript I hope to get to him later this month.

I attended one session on Saturday, a nice discussion about the Blackwell commentaries. I am now more firmly convinced that careful explorations into the reading of biblical texts throughout history and in media other than academic writing are important for theological interpretation of Scripture.

Lunch in Chinatown was nice. I would return for one other meal before leaving DC.

Saturday night I attended a wine tasting hosted by Stephen Fowl and some of the good folks at Wipf & Stock. There I was able to see my good friend, Chad Pecknold. I always enjoy spending time with Chad. I also had a chance to talk with Stephen more. He was gracious enough to invite me to the event in the first place, and I was impressed by his graciousness during our conversations that night and on a few other occasions that weekend. It is refreshing to meet more senior scholars who actually seem to be interested in my work and career. Of course, my most recent project had a lot to do with Stephen’s work. His interest, however, went beyond my project on him and Vanhoozer. In addition to time with Chad and Stephen, I had good conversation with A.K.M. and Margaret Adam. If you know two nicer people I would like to meet them. AKMA and Margaret are wonderfully engaging and simply fun people to be around, not to mention they are both extremely bright. Finally, the wine tasting shindig gave me a chance to meet several of the people who work at Wipf & Stock. These guys seem to enjoy their work and each other. On top of that, they are gracious hosts.

Later Saturday night, I spent some time with my former roommate and fellow Pasadenan, Sam Paul. Sam and I do not get to hang out in Pasadena as much anymore. We have to go across the country to see one another!

Sunday morning started with a morning interview with a school on the right coast. It went well as far as I can tell. The problem with these open interviews is that one feels like a numbered candidate from a long list of applicants. But, I will take what I can get at this point. I was, and am still, bummed about the fact that I did not have one single pre-arranged interview. It’s all the more depressing when I see friends and others I know getting several interviews. I’m not sure how to feel. There is a bit of an inferiority complex setting in. Lots of ifs. If I had a degree from a university instead of a seminary. If I did not have a degree from an evangelical institution. If I had a more NT-specific specialty. If I did not have to work so much I could devote more energy to publications and presentations. Coming home to Gail reminds me of more important matters. But there is always the ifs.

OK, enough of the pity party. Back to the convention. The rest of Sunday consisted of book browsing, one partial session, lunch with Jeff and Beth, visiting with Nancey Murphy, a chat with Jon Stock, dinner with fellow PMCers, an attempt to go see Casino Royale (sold out!), and conversation with Chad Pecknold and Bryan Hollon.

Monday started bright and early with the Fuller breakfast. After breakfast and one last run to the EIS, I attended a session where papers were presented in response to Kevin Vanhoozer’s Drama of Doctrine. The paper’s were decent and the discussion was good, but the crowd was mostly in line with Vanhoozer’s ideas. I did appreciate one panelist pushing for Vanhoozer to develop a fuller ecclesiology. In some ways it is what I would like to see Kevin do with regard to the location of meaning. The highlight was seeing that a former fellow Truett grad, Jay Smith, and a former Fuller student, John Perry, were two of the three presenters.

For lunch another Fuller grad and fellow PMCer, Rob Muthiah, and I took the Metro to Union Station for a quick bite. After lunch, and because of various conversations had Saturday and Sunday with the Wipf & Stock folk, I met with K. C. Hanson, the editor-in-chief at Wipf & Stock. We had to break up our conversation into two parts since he had only short bits of time, so I spent a good bit of my time that afternoon in the book display area. I did manage to keep myself from buying too much. Three small books (1, 2, 3) and some Accordance software.

That night I went to the Wipf & Stock dinner where I got the chance to see Stephen and the Adams again. I also met the rest of the Wipf & Stock people who I did not meet Saturday night. There were several other people I met, many whose names, I am afraid to say, I do not remember. I did have a very nice conversation with Michael Gorman about exegesis textbooks. The evening was a great way to end my weekend in DC. I started early Saturday morning by meeting some old friends and ended late Monday night with some new ones.

Tuesday: early rise, lengthy flight, tired return home, active class that night, and restful sleep.

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1 Comment»

  Pat McCullough wrote @

It was “Salon BlÅ«” (lest we forget how hip they are with the “Å«”) . . . It’s just too bad I forgot my leather pants!


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