April 18, 2008

I have a hard time with endings…

One of the reasons I don’t like to read fiction is because I’m so sad when the book ends and I have no way of knowing what happens next in the lives of these characters who I become so involved with during my time with them.

Sometimes I feel the same way about movies… although to a lesser extent.

I think I almost cried after the series finale of Friends.

I know it’s silly. It’s just a TV show. But I’m not good with endings. I become easily attached… even to fictional characters.

This difficulty with endings is, of course, intensified when it comes to real life. I can’t get this off my mind right now because today I had my Hebrew final exam (which I feel as though I gave the whooping that it deserved). Final exam means no more Hebrew classes. Now, while this may seem as though it should be a joyous occasion, it actually makes my heart kind of sad. It was such a great class. I looked forward to this class every Tuesday and Thursday. Only 7 of us… what what a fun group. Today, when we finished the exam we all stood around in the hallway reminiscing about the semester, complaining about the obscure vocab on the exam, and just having a good time (in a Hebrew geek kind of way). And then we walked away. And it was over. And I know it’s just a Hebrew class but I will definitely miss it.

Admittedly, this class even comes close to the good old days with Bodner, Rachie, Mike Jones, Lewis, Fulford, etc. MacDiv is really starting to grow on me and this year went far too fast.

I have only one paper left to hand in and then I will officially be done my course work for my MA. Only a thesis left to go.

Well, my dearest Intermediate Hebrew class… anybody up for some Aramaic?

A Burning Issue…

April 7, 2008

Today, while at work I was standing beside my desk, talking to my boss when I started to smell something burning. I couldn’t figure out what would be burning. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw smoke… smoke that was REALLY close to me. At that moment I realized that my hair was on fire! So I said to my boss, “My hair is on fire.” And he said, “No, it’s not.” And I said… “Yes it is!!!” At that moment a co-worker came down the hall from her office and asked, “What’s that smell?” I assured her not to worry… that it was just the scent of burning hair! Ok… so it wasn’t actually on fire but it really was burning since apparently I got too close to a candle. I immediately smothered whatever smoldering my hair was still doing by diligently squeezing it with my hands. Let’s not blow it out of proportion… it was just a small chunk of hair… but it was significantly singed and I had to deal with the reeky scent of burned hair all day. Nasty.

On the bright side, this afternoon I was the recipient of a lovely new, fresh spring haircut.

Fooling Everyone

February 7, 2008

Is anyone with me on this one?

Sometimes I feel like I’m totally fooling everyone.

I get this feeling when it comes to school, jobs… and sometimes even life and being a Christian.

Ok, do you have any idea what I mean yet? For example… when someone gives me a job (excluding my most recent job as a cashier which, as a side note, as of today I am finished) I think I’ve fooled them into thinking I can handle it. I felt this way when Knox gave me their camp director job a couple of years ago. I was COMPLETELY in charge of everything that happened at that camp. I was the official supervising grown-up.  I made all the big decisions. And a whole committee of people perceived me as someone who could handle that. So, I must have fooled them… right?

I felt the same way when I got hired to be a youth pastor.

And I VERY often feel that way about school… not so much in my undergrad but much more in grad school. I discovered that somewhere along the way someone decided that anyone who goes to grad school is “smart.” And then there are an abundance of expectations. This, I believe, is mostly true if you come from a family/social setting that is fairly far removed from formal education ( I’m pretty sure I will be the first person in the history my family to get a Masters degree). So I’ve come this far with my education with plans to keep going… but sometimes I feel like I’ve tricked people into believing that I’m smart… and maybe even that I’ve tricked myself into feeling like I’m smart (a feeling which fades quickly on the days I’m in my MA/PhD seminar classes). So I’ve tricked everyone. And then I come to a point like this in the semester where I feel COMPLETELY inadequate when it comes to being intelligent. School is hard… so maybe I’m not as smart as I thought I was… but I have to keep up appearances because now I’ve done this thing in my life (especially in my family) where I’m the “smart” one.

I had a conversation with Jay and Cath about this recently… it was mostly jokes but in a way it reflects some very real identities we have assumed:

Jay= the musical one (I think Jay tried to convince us that he was also the good-looking one).

Sara= the smart one (despite Jay’s beliefs… I’m the good-looking one.)

Cath= the fun/cool one (or something like that)

I believe that if you asked my parents about us their categorization would be similar to that. Now here’s the thing. There is no doubt that Jay really is quite musically gifted and that will never change. Also… Cath will always be the social genius… I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love her… and that will never change. (Now, of course both Jay and Cath have a host of other wonderful qualities with which they could easily be identified.)

Here’s the problem… I’m the “smart” one. That’s my identity. But I don’t actually think that I’m any smarter than either of my brother or sister. The only difference is that I’m the crazy one who likes to come home at night and translate some OT Hebrew, or discover patterns in Hebrew discourse analysis. And, as a result, I fool people into thinking I’m the “smart” one.

So… am I alone in this? Is there anyone else who feels like they’re just fooling people?

Can you relate to this feeling on any level?

Back to school

January 9, 2008

Ok. I’d like to be a consistent blogger but as is apparent fairly early on… this doesn’t come naturally to me. So I may need some encouragement from my many “fans” ever now and then.

Ok… here’s what I was thinking about today…

It was my first day back to school for the second semester of my M.A. And I have this class called Textual Traditions in the Old Testament… boring to most people… exciting to me. However… here’s the situation: There are a total of 8 people in this class… it’s an MA/PhD seminar class. There are 2 other MA students. 5 PhD students. Of the 8 students, 7 are male. The prof is a guy too. And then there’s me… and for the record, I’m very much a girl. When I’m thinking rationally I know that this doesn’t matter. There’s no difference… we’re all students passionate about the OT… so who cares if I’m the only girl? (There’s supposed to be another girl and when she didn’t show up today I made some kind of joke to which Dr. Boda responded something like, “Sara, you’ve never had trouble holding your own before.”) The fact that I’m a girl makes no difference to the prof and most likely no difference to any of the other students in the class… but being the only girl makes me feel this pressure… a pressure not to let women in Biblical Studies down. In my mind it’s like the fate of women in Biblical Studies rests upon my ability to produce awesome results in this class. In my mind… it’s like if I say something stupid then it makes women everywhere look stupid. So this is obviously an exaggeration of a little insecurity that I feel but do you think that I actually have reason to feel this way? It’s weird that in this day and age I feel pressured to prove the competency and intelligence of women… what’s with that?

So… am I ridiculous? Or does this actually make sense a little?

I’d like to hear a reaction to this from both guys and girls… what do you think?

Why I Do What I Do

December 13, 2007

So it turns out that I have this passion to study the Old Testament. It also turns out that I’m a really huge geek who loves to spend hours studying all the intricacies of the text. I recently finished a paper on biblical Hebrew narrative discourse analysis… sounds boring, right? You would think so but as I said… turns out I’m a huge geek and I love it. So this is great, right? I love to study the Bible… what could possibly be the problem with that?

Here’s the problem. What happens when you get so lost in the details and intricacies of the text that you forget why you were doing this in the first place? Near the beginning of this semester somebody asked me why I’m doing what I’m doing… and my answer was this: “Because I love God and I feel like the Old Testament can teach me so much about who he is.” And that’s true. That’s the original motivation behind this academic pursuit.

In my last class of the semester we were having a discussion about this… about the number of evangelical biblical and theological professors who have lost sight of why they’re doing what they’re doing. And quite frankly it’s a little terrifying. I’m still so young and I have my whole life to get this right… but how many Old Testament professors started out just like me… digging into the biblical text because of a love for God… and then somewhere along the way got distracted by all the other stuff of academia… made a compromise here and there… and then eventually ended up teaching the Bible not out of a love for God but out of a love for what they, themselves had worked so hard to learn and discover.

I love to study the Old Testament. I really do. And I’m going to continue to pursue it. And maybe one day I’ll help students to love the OT the same way that my OT profs inspired me to love it. But I’m not going to lie… it’s a little bit scary.

Anybody have any thoughts?

The Sara Narrative?

December 3, 2007

This is my very first blog. When I was trying to come up with a title I automatically asked myself what I’m all about these days. Clearly the majority of my thoughts are consumed by my studies… more specifically the Old Testament… even more specifically Old Testament narrative (I could keep getting more and more specific but you would all just get bored). Scholars tend to label the stories of various characters within Old Testament narrative in the most simple way… “the Gideon narrative”, “the Abimelech narrative”, “the Samson narrative”(Clearly I’ve been spending my time in the book of Judges). It’s their story. I’ve been learning that these narratives describe so much more than a series of events or actions of the character. They describe the priorities and motivation of the character. They describe the spiritual life of the character. They describe the heart of the character. So, here it is… The Sara Narrative.