Friday, November 11, 2011

Vanhoozer Rejoins Trinity

There's been blog posts and twitter feeds about the announcement of Kevin Vanhoozer's departure from Wheaton College to return to his former position at Trinity. I was wondering why he decided to make the move after a short three-year stint at Wheaton, and it seems that the reason is mostly logistical in nature. Check out Wheatonblog's explanation here. My studies haven't taken me to much of Vanhoozer's writings, but from what I hear, he's done good work in his respective field. In 2010, he was part of Wheaton's Theology Conference, engaging with the work of N.T. Wright, and in my view, he was the most engaging presenter in the entire conference (though I also enjoyed very much the presentation from my current teacher, Prof. Richard Hays). Anyway, this seems to be a big loss for Wheaton but a significant (re?)gain for Trinity.

New JSPL out

The fall volume of the new journal, Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters is out:

Duke doesn't have access to the journal yet, but I hope they will order it for the library soon (especially since two of the editors are faculty members)... Go check it out if you can!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Numbers game

With the annual meetings of the SBL, AAR, and ETS coming up in San Francisco, I've seen a few posts (here, here, and here) regarding the representation of women in these meetings. I won't argue with the point that the percentages are a bit staggering in comparison (though I wouldn't go so far as to call it "disgustingly low" as one blog post put it): ETS (1%), SBL (29%), and AAR (41%). I am not a member of ETS or AAR, and at this point in my academic career, I don't really have a dog in the fight in any "camp" (if you want to call it that), but there seems to be an unwarranted bias against the ETS without looking further into the numbers.

For example, how many women are actually members of these groups? And how many women tried to present papers? I think to make the case that the one percent is "disgustingly low," you also have to make the case that there are enough women who wanted to present but were not given the chance to do so. The question of whether or not women feel welcome is a different issue altogether, and if that is what is at stake here, in my view, the percentages do not make a difference. To put it another way, if female scholars don't feel inclined to present at ETS, what does it matter how low the percent is? The bigger issue would be to ask why they don't feel inclined to present, why they might feel unwelcome, etc., the percentage doesn't play into that issue since due to the "unwelcome" nature of the society, the number would probably be skewed anyway due to a small sample size. And even if 30% of the presenters were women, that would not negate the fact that they might feel "unwelcome."

Furthermore, to play the numbers game, you could make the case that ETS is just as gender neutral as the other two societies, hypothetically speaking. I don't know how many women are actually members of these societies, and unless someone gave me the actual numbers, you cannot make the case that women members are being biased against. For example, one of the blog posts indicates that 8 out of 700 presenters in ETS are by women. So what if 100 female members applied for presenting and 8 were given a spot? That would be equivalent to 8% true representation of women (I call it "true" because it represents the presence of female scholars against the number of women who wanted to present at the conference). On the flip side, I am assuming SBL is a much larger animal, and if there were 2000 female members who applied and 203 of them were given a spot (as a hypothetical, say 29% of 700 spots), then this would be equivalent to 10.2% true representation of women. In this case, then, the differences in percentage are not as staggering as it first appeared.

Now, I know all this is hypothetical as I don't have access to the exact numbers of membership, spots given, presentations, etc., but the point I am trying to get across is, unless someone were to actually do the math, one cannot a priori state at the outset that 1% is "disgustingly low." I agree, it does sound like a very low number, but it's not really about what it seems or how I might feel about the percentages, is it?

And if we're going to go PC on these societies, then what about other non-white European presenters? What about Latino-Americans? What about Asian-Americans? What about African-Americans?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Quote of the Day: Barth

"In our enquiry into the relation between the norm and the exception in obedience to the commandment, we now turn to situations in which it is a matter of the killing of one person by another. We have already noted in passing that the gravity of the question is no less but always necessarily greater in this case. There may be a necessary surrender or self-sacrifice of one's own life. But how can it ever be permissible or obligatory to sacrifice that of another? Can any of us be judges in respect of the life or death of others? What scruples there must be at this point regarding the sanctity of human life! What reservations are necessary in respect of the exceptional case!
Is it superfluous to interject a word at this juncture on the common crime of murder or homicide in the sense of the civil code? At least it is not superfluous to recall, on the basis of Mt. 5:21-26, that the so-called offender against the life of his fellows in the primitive sense is to be found in a preliminary form in all men, even though it does not usually result in the crime itself. In most of us the murderer is suppressed and chained, possibly by the command of God, or possibly by no more than circumstances, convention, or the fear of punishment. Yet he is very much alive in his cage, and ready to leap out at any time.
This is revealed by the amazing ease with which, in spite of every deterrent, war has always been approved and even enthusiastically welcomed and vigorously prosecuted not merely by individuals but by whole nations. It is pertinent that when the shooting of traitors became necessary in Switzerland in the Second World War, an astonishing number of volunteers is said to have offered for this melancholy duty. How are we to explain this? Even if we had not already learned it from Dostoievski, the experiences of our own day have surely taught us that we can no longer have any illusions as to what is dormant even in the heart of the average man in this respect. The presence of this sinister factor, of this "Hitler within us," can be verified in almost all of us by occasional dreams."

Barth, Church Dogmatics, III/4:413

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Google Reader

For my more tech-savvy friends, how do you 'share' stuff that you read on Google Reader now with the people you orig. had listed as being able to read whatever it is you 'shared'? I usually share stuff that I find interesting with my wife and now that ability seems to have gone the way of the dinosaur with this "new" change (seems more confusing and aesthetically-deficient to me)...