Tuesday, November 25, 2008

SBL and the life of the Christian Mind

We are back from SBL in Boston. Most of the sessions I attended were profound for me, though I missed many I would have love to have seen. We saw some of the seasoned scholars as well as many of the newer young guns. I will comment on the diffent sessions in the coming days, and for now I will limit myself to general impressions. The area around Hynes Convention Center was thick with the swarm of bright minds enegaging the Bible. I look though the thousands of eyes as I try to understand the whole of the annual SBL meeting. I look for the face of Christ in all I met, and I was surprised by what I found. And life moves on.

This morning I got up thinking that we all are born into the question of human life. I hesitate calling it the "human condition," as that is so loaded a phrase with no particular meaning. I think of life in terms of a question. We are born and as we learn the language of our parents, community, and the ever growing circle others, knowledge and being, we confront this question at every turn. Whether as a baby seeing the various unnamed shapes, to hearing the voices of new and previously known others, we are asked what are we to make of it all. We try to bring the shapes into ourselves by the use of language. It is the question that we must begin with everyday and almost every moment, with the temptation being to avoid it by means of giving an already given answer. The false self is the false answer. We are always called to bring the shadow impressions into our understanding. And life moves on.

I saw scared scholars unsure of themselves and wanting to play the game they think that is real to move up the career ladders by meeting the right editors and befriending the famous scholars. I saw scholars burning with curiosity, passion and suffering for their work. It showed it sweat of their scholarship. Others tired of the games of the Academy, and disgused with the whole enterprise. I met many people and thought of the sweep of history's hand upon the person, the group, and life. SBL gathered voices from around the world all in search of the question to the bible. I got to thinking that that small strip of land bridging Africa, Europe, and the Middle East which we call Israel has to be the most studied piece of real estate in human history. Yet, it still holds tight to its secrets. The whole remains impentrable if by nothing else than by the size and scope of the project. I felt this myself as we had to always make choices as to which sections to attend. Each morning we had to choose from all of the plethora and since I am more interested in the whole, it was difficult. In the coming days I am going to post of everyone of the sessions I managed to attend. The impressions they left me and what shapes I learnd to decern from the background. And life moves on.

We went to Dr. David M. Scholer memorial. He was my wife's mentor in her PhD. The stories attempting to summerize a life where both touch and too small to capture the man. The beauty of them lies in the endeavor to remember and give voice to the individual human voice lost to this life. His life moves on with God, within the memories of his daughter, and wiht the love he gave. The measure of his or any life is how profoundly they proclaimed love and give away. The pierced living hand of God sweeps across us in love, and then it is up to us to respond. Boston again taught me the glory of life in Christ as life moves on.

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