2020 SWCRS Recap

This past weekend I went to Dallas, TX, to attend the 2020 Southwest Commission on Religious Studies. It was located at Dallas Marriott Las Colinas. Usually, I don’t write about the hotels in which I stay, but I do want to make it known that if you’re going to be in the Dallas-area, this is a hotel worth considering. It’s in such a peaceful area with scenic views of Lake Carolyn and good food within walking distance. Anyway, to the conference itself.

Saturday I attended three sessions. In the morning, I went to the SBL-Hebrew Bible session (Theme: Genesis) where I heard a paper juxtaposing Tamar’s use of her sexual agency with that of Potiphar’s wife by Margaret Schmeltekopf Hambrick; a paper dealing with some of the recent interpretations of the Yahwist source by John Ahn; a paper arguing that death was expected for Adam and Eve in Eden even prior to their disobedience by Bruce Wells; and a very thought-provoking paper arguing that Rebekah plays the role of trusted successor to Abraham (whereas Isaac is passive) by Kelsey Spinnato.

In the afternoon I had intended to go to the SBL-Second Temple Judaism session but decided I needed to go to the SBL-New Testament session (Theme: Gospels) where I heard a couple interesting papers on humor in the Gospels from Acacia Chan (discussing Luke 7.44) and Jon-Michael Carman (discussing Mark 5.26). The other two papers were very good as well. Amy Smith Carman did a feminist analysis of the woman at the well in John 4.4-42 and Justin King and Mitchell Elequin argued that Mark’s Gospel is full of Pauline themes indicating Pauling influence. The last one sparked a enjoyable, if not semi-heated, question and answer session that I wish could have gone much longer than the allotted 10 minutes!

The final session of the day, the SBL-New Testament session (Theme: Reading Romans with Beverly Gaventa), was an enjoyable dialogue between the legendary Beverly Gaventa and a panel of scholars who chose to interact with selections of her scholarship from over the years. It must’ve been the anticipation of this session and it’s influence that resulted in my book selections, so here’s the obligatory picture of the books I bought:

I haven’t delved deep into Pauline thought for a few years now, but here’s my semi-spontaneous book purchasing from the conference, so my partially subconscious, partially conscious mind must be ready to think with Paul again!

On Sunday morning I attended only one session: the SBL-New Testament themed session (Biblical Studies in the Bible Belt: Pedagogy and Best Practices) where I presented. If you’d like to read my paper and learn more about what I had to say, I’ve posted it here: 2020 SWCRS Presentation: ‘Reading the Bible with iGen’. I joined Jiliam Nelson Engelhardt who talked about how varieties of the statue ‘Diana of the Tower’ can help students understand textual criticism; Lora Walsh who exemplified how she teaches literary devices in biblical narrative to her students, and James R. Wicker who discussed the use of humor when teaching the Epistle of Jude. I had a great time and here’s a picture my lovely wife, Miranda, took from the back of the room (because yes, she was sweet enough to go all the way to Dallas to hear me talk for 20 minutes!):

If you have questions about the TV on top of a beach towel in the corner of the room, you’ll have to contact James Wicker!


2020 SWCRS

Yesterday I arrived in Irving, TX, for the 2020 Southwest Commission on Religious Studies. I left my suit coats at home, and needed to go buy at least one replacement, so I missed early registration last night. Otherwise, it was a smooth Day 1.

Happily, I saw that there are quite a few book sellers here. That’s always important for a good conference!

Today, I intend on attending the SBL-Hebrew Bible session (Theme: Genesis) in the morning; the SBL-Second Temple Judaism session (Theme: Religion in Crisis: Colonization and Lament) in the early afternoon; and the SBL-New Testament session (Theme: Reading Romans with Beverly Gaventa) in the late afternoon.

Sunday, my options are limited, because I’m presenting (!) during the SBL-New Testament session (Theme: Biblical Studies in the Bible Belt: Pedagogy and Best Practices) during the morning session. I’ll post my paper on this blog later today or early tomorrow.

Blogging is Dead. So why this blog?

I used to blog a lot. Too much. Like three entries a day. It was bad for my mental health. It was bad for my interpersonal relationships. So why this blog?

Well, there’s a few reason.

  1. I was notified this week that a paper I proposed for the 2020 Southwest Commission on Religious Studies was accepted. My paper, ‘Reading the Bible with iGen’, will be part of a panel titled ‘Biblical Studies in the Bible Belt: Pedagogy and Best Practices’. The downside? There won’t be projectors provided, and I don’t think I want to print copies for everyone in attendance, so I’ll need a place to upload a copy of my paper so people can read it from their computers/phones while I present.
  2. This is my fourth year teaching religious studies at the high school level. This may be one of the loneliest gigs a high school teacher can obtain because so few high schools offer religious studies course (and for good reason considering the potential First Amendment related quagmires that can arise). I have a couple of colleagues within our school’s Humanities Department but that’s the extent of it. So, this is a place for me to share some thoughts on the intersection of religious studies, biblical studies, pedagogy, and adolescence, and maybe there’ll be a few people out there in the void who will speak back to me!
  3. I think this intersection is under-appreciated and quite interesting. Whether it be the work of people like Benjamin Marcus, a Religious Literacy Specialist with the Religious Freedom Center who has been promoted the C3 Framework as a way to help teachers teach religious studies as part of social studies curriculum; or Linda K. Wertheimer, whose book Faith Ed reports on the challenges teachers face when teaching religion in a public school setting; or Mark A. Chancy, a Professor of Religious Studies, and an accomplished scholar of the Christian New Testament, who has been researching Bible curriculum in public schools; or Andrew Mark Henry, a doctoral student at Boston University who created the ‘Religion for Breakfast’ YouTube channel which makes religious studies topics accessible to a new generation; there are people doing really interesting work and I’d like to share it with others.

So, I won’t blog that frequently. I’ll stay in my lane and on topic. And I won’t get into debates in the comments. This should make this blogging experience a healthier one.