I got me a . . .


Aaron Taylor at Logismoi has awarded me with a Superior Scribbler Award, for whatever reason.

Now, although there are a number of conditions attached to further spread this award, these strike me as too close to something of an electronic version of a chain letter. So, in this particular instance, the buck stops here. I can say that every writer I link to in my sidebar is someone I consider worthy of a Superior Scribbler Award, or I honestly wouldn’t read them or link to them. I can also say that I honestly had hoped to avoid one of these, as I didn’t want to have to be such a party-pooper in not creating more work for others. I am nonetheless thankful to Aaron for his appreciation and his kind comments.

The award originated with The Scholastic Scribe, that is, Melissa B., a high school journalism teacher. It’s a really fun idea, a peer-driven award based entirely and simply in reader appreciation.

The impossible dream

Iyov has tagged me, and we await the same time, too, though in keeping with our different religious traditions. For me, the “impossible” dream whose fulfillment I await, the fulfillment of which men never will accomplish, is the remaking of all, and the death of death itself:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.”

Make it soon. Make it new.

Three Reasons for Blogging

Nick Norelli done tagged me! The latest meme is quite a fun one. Here are the rules:

Rule 1) List three reasons for your blogging.
Rule 2) List these rules.
Rule 3) Tag three others with the thread.

Reason 1:
Originally I just had things to say that didn’t really fit in the context of group discussion boards or mailing lists or comments on other blogs. Topics that would draw out lengthier essay-like musings simply need a home of their own. And since blogs are so easy to set up these days, it was an easy thing to do. My first substantial post, Sun, Moon, and Storms, shortly and sweetly suggests a solution to a problem that many don’t recognize exists. I’m still quite happy with my suggestion.

Reason 2:
I remember way back when, when weblogs were a new thing, looking at various different ones (long before there were any biblical studies blogs) and thinking, “God, the ego of these people! Who on earth cares to read this stuff?” Yikes. What a meany. But blogging really is a way to make connections with many different people. I’ve had a really enjoyable time “meeting” all the various people I have through our blogging and mailing list connections, all of which seem to have taken off into a new level lately, particularly with the very recent launch of The Biblicalist. There are a number of very well-known scholars I’ve met through my blog, some still only electronically, but a number in person, and I’m even working on a book with one of them now (and I mean right now, as in a “the books are on the desk around the computer and I need to finish this post and get back to it!” kind of now), which is exciting, and for another I’ll be proofreading his next book later this year or early the next. I’m also having fantastic conversations via email with scholars I’ve learned much from, who’ve written in response to something I’ve written on my blog. These things certainly would not have happened had I not been blogging. I’d not still be learning at such a satisfying level, either.

Reason 3:
I’m enjoying writing much more than I used to because of the blog, and that makes me want to write even more, just for the act of writing. I’m enjoying not just the wordplay that people have sometimes mentioned they enjoy in my writing, but the very act of constructing essays, which blog posts really are. The essay is not a form that’s well-used anymore. I’ve heard, though, that it’s coming back into appreciation precisely because of the widespread interest in blogging. Short, tightly constructed, and pointed writings are difficult to successfully achieve, which is what the essay is meant to be. Blogging is a kind of writers’ workshop, really. The more the better. The goal is to be able to toss off an essay on any given topic, which may sound like a party trick, but will be very helpful if not necessary for something that’s coming up for me (more on that later!).

So, I tag my Orthodox brother, well-crowned in words, Esteban; my recuperating friend and fellow moderator Iyov; and another friend and fellow moderator, John “Big Daddy” Hobbins. Have at it, gents!

The Silvered Wings of a Dove

I’ve been tagged!

Why in prayer do we say: who will give me wings like a dove that I might fly away and be at peace?, that is: who will give me the wings of the Holy Spirit? And in another place the prophetic word is pleased to say: if you have rested in the inheritance, you will have the silvered wings of a dove, with its back in the splendour of gold. For if we have rested among the inheritance of the Old and the New Testaments, there will be given to us the silvered wings of a dove, that is the words of God, his back radiant with shining gold and splendour so that our sense may be infused with the senses of the Holy Spirit, that is, that word and mind may be fulfilled by his coming and we may not speak something we do not understand, except at his suggestion, and all sanctification in Christ Jesus may come, as to our heart, so too to our words and deeds by the Holy Spirit….

Fr Andrew Louth, Discerning the Mystery, p. 123, quoting from Origen’s Commentary on Luke

Here are the rules:

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

I tag Maureen, Fr Gregory, Kevin, John, and Iyov.

Per decem annos

I’ve been tagged.

1977: In the middle of sixth grade, we moved from Ohio, where I’d been in school since first grade with a bunch of great friends, to California, where I knew no one. The weather was an improvement, but the public schooling was not, the Ohio schools being vastly superior at the time. I, a sixth grader, ended up as a tutor to a fifth grade class. The school officials wouldn’t let me transfer to the honors school, because, they said, my having always been in honors classes I instead needed socialization with “normal” students. Welcome to California, the land of fruits and nuts….

1987: This was the second year of my studies at UC Berkeley, in the Near Eastern Studies department, with a Classical Hebrew emphasis (Biblical through Mishnaic), a program run by Jacob Milgrom at the time. I was also a reader (a paper-grader) for Isaac Kikawada, from whom I learned the foundation and many background stories of Ancient Near Eastern scholarship. I was in my second year of both Biblical and Modern Hebrew, and my first year of Akkadian. This may have been the happiest year of my life.

1997: I was two years into doing IT support for the UC Berkeley Library system (which has twenty-odd branch libraries all over the campus). They’re still using the help desk system that I put together for them at that time.