Sunday, November 30, 2003

Last week I was attended two national conferences in Atlanta: The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). I presented a paper at ASOR on the ways that archaeology and archaeologists are presented in the cinematic arts. My presentation was in Keynote and included several quicktime movies. While it wasn't meant to be the most erudite of papers, it was very entertaining and informative, and several people afterwards commented that it was their favorite paper that year at ASOR, and about 20 people asked for copies to show to their students. I put a great deal of time into that presentation, and it was gratifying to have others comment positively. A few hours after that presentation, I was awarded the Frank Cross award by ASOR. The award is "presented to the editor/author of
the most substantial volume(s) related to ancient Near Eastern and eastern Mediterranean epigraphy, text and/or tradition. This work must be the result of original research published during the past two years."

My friend and advisor Tom Levy gave me the award, and to be honored like that by my colleagues was the real high point in my academic career thus far. All in all it was a great conference. Now I've just got a couple of days before final exams. I've got to finish the student websites for THeo 2001 and create two final exams. I finished grading my Theology 1120 papers in which students applied a critical method to a biblical passage. They were OK papers, but the real highlight was that only one student plagiarized, and this was only slightly. This has been such a severe problem in the past, maybe word is out that I check on the web for this. Anyway, back to the grindstone.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Today I feel exhausted. I feel like my body is a battleground between forces of evil and good. Right now the evil parts are winning, and I feel like a bad cold is coming on, and can't really afford the time to be sick. Today I also heard that my book To Your Tents O Israel won an award from the American Schools of Oriental Research. That was great news. I find out more about this soon.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Yesterday a student complemented me saying I was the most animated and interesting teacher that he had. In my classes I really try to convey the enthusiasm I have for the subject, and I'm glad he noticed and voiced his opinion. Of course he is right. I am probably the best teacher ever.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Time seems to be one of the major issues confronting the use of technology. That and money I guess. But back to time . . . It used to be I'd sit in my office alone and work work work and work some more. Now not only do I meet with students during office hours, but also it seems like a half hour doesn't pass without some interuption. Mostly students visit my office to talk about their website projects, but also they have problems with blackboard quizzes or something else. I thoroughly enjoy the one on one contact with the students. They're full of life, bright, and the world is their oyster (or as they say here "urster"), it just takes away time that I used to use to write books and work on more academic things.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Today I'm sitting in my office working on a keynote lecture I'll be giving later in the day, and a student introduces herself. She is a 5th year senior, majoring in Chemistry, and she tells me she is taking both her upper and lower division theology courses with me next semester so she can graduate. Here at Xavier students must take an upper and lower division theology course as part of the core requirements. Anyway, she tells me she is nervous because there will be papers to write for my courses and she has never written a paper. This shocked me, and we spoke for a while, and she was as amazed about this as I was. I asked about English, and she said she had to take one ENglish class, and while papers were required, she didn't turn any in, and still got a B in the course. She explained this by saying it was the teacher's first year here at Xavier. Then I asked about philosophy, and she said she is taking logic to satisfy this requirement and no papers. It miraculously seems like Theology is the only place here on campus that is teaching students to write. This explains to me partly why students have such a difficult time with these assigments, and why the writing suffers from so many errors, including subject verb agreement, possessives, and misspellings. I think this student will have a hard time in my class, when suddenly she will have two classes with four papers in each class. We talked about the writing center and other resources. Anyway, I was amazed that someone could complete four years of college at Xavier (or anywhere) and never have had to write a paper. Incredible.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Tonight I should be able to finish digitizing the movies that I'll need for my presentation in a couple of weeks. Some of these films are quite bad, but some are good. I wish I could capture the images clearer. I project the vhs and dvd clips onto a wall and record them with a digital movie camera. Some, especially VHS, look grainy. We'll see how they turn out. I will have to spend a great deal of time in the next couple of weeks organizing the clips into sections, such as archaeology as science, alcohol and archaeology, etc. This project has eaten up a great deal of time. When the clips are relevant, I show them to my students who really enjoy them.