Subverting the Norm: Eucharist as Deconstruction

I know, I am SO BEHIND on everything in life right now.

I am still meaning to do a write-up about the Subverting the Norm conference, which was so SO awesome.

For now, though, I did want to make available the paper I presented there. I meant to post it beforehand, but I didn't want to give it all away before my session! I think it was pretty well received, and got some good conversation going--like, if Eucharist breaks down hierarchies, what are we to say about ordination, or the fact that (in many traditions) only certain people may administer the elements?

Anyway, give it a read and let me know what you think!

Abstract:The liturgy of Eucharist is a deconstructive act within the Church in that it calls into question and breaks down hierarchical social structures and individualized faith in order to create a true and unified body within Christ’s broken body at his table. In this essay, I will briefly attempt to elucidate deconstruction, I will make a few points regarding the Eucharist’s sacramental and unifying nature, and then I will show how the Eucharist deconstructs, but also re-constructs, the Church. This deconstruction and re-construction means  recognizing and remembering that we Christians are one, at one table with the Lord, and that for this to be so, we must submit to the breaking down of the structures in which we often find comfort, but which inhibit true communion with each other and with Christ. In order to be re-constructed into the real, present body of Christ, we must allow and embrace the Eucharist as deconstruction.

Paper: CLICK HERE for PDF.

WTS Paper: Uzzah and the Hemorrhaging Woman

I wrote this paper for my Doctrine of Holiness class with Sam Powell in March 2010. And after THREE YEARS, I am so excited that it's finally getting to see the light of day. I'll be presenting it at the Wesleyan Theological Society on Friday afternoon.

Abstract: This paper explores two passages in which unclean hands came into contact with the holy: Uzzah and the Ark of the Covenant in 1 Samuel and Mark’s portrayal of the hemorrhaging woman and Jesus Christ. I contrast the two stories by demonstrating that in the incarnation the fundamental meaning of holiness seen in the Old Testament as separation is broken down and reversed, so that the character and function of holiness becomes that which does not avoid and destroy, but assumes and heals in love. In the incarnation, God is no longer separate from us, but has become like us in unholiness so that we might become like God in holiness. The uniting of the holy and the unholy in Jesus Christ mirrors the new welcome of the unholy into holiness, which will no longer result in our death, but in our healing.


Please let me know if you read it, and what you think. And feel free to ask any questions--I'll try my best to answer them.

Good News!

I found out yesterday that I'm going to be presenting a paper at the Wesleyan Theological Society meeting in March!

I'm excited and nervous, but mostly happy to be able to share my thoughts with a group of like-minded scholars. Library school has been a little soul-crushing this quarter; I just don't feel into it as much, and I'm honestly just trying to make it through (I can't believe I'm only halfway done). So this has been a little encouragement and reminder that there's other stuff out there that I'm free and capable to pursue. The stuff that really gets me excited, the stuff that I feel more intellectually called to.

Anyway, my paper is titled "Between Uzzah and the Hemorrhaging Woman: The Effect of the Incarnation on the Meaning of Holiness," and I actually wrote it nearly four years ago for a class in undergrad. The professor I wrote it for loved it, and encouraged me to work on getting it published, but it's taken this long to really get anything done with it. Kind of funny, but sometimes I need a lot of encouragement and prodding. Especially when it means putting myself out there for a professional conference!

Luckily the paper is already written, so I have four months to do whatever tweaking I need to in order to get it ready to present. Not too much pressure.

AND, another cool thing, Curtis is presenting too! It will be fun to have this experience together.

I'm excited!

P.S. UW Peeps--This means I'll be in Seattle! The conference is taking place at Seattle Pacific University, so we will have to get together!

iPad as Academic Tool

When the Tax Return Fairy graced my bank account with her presence a couple weeks ago, I knew exactly what I was going to do with her gift (and by gift I mean money-I'd-worked-for-but-the-federal-government-was-holding-for-me). I went straight to the Apple Store and picked up a shiny new iPad 2. And let me tell you: My academic life will never be the same!

I'll probably do separate posts on some of the awesome apps I love, but I just have to sing the praises of this tablet. I'm able to do so much, and it's totally boosted my productivity.

The main reason I felt like I "needed" this tool/toy was for the ability to manipulate PDFs. It's amazing! I can search databases and download full-text articles straight to the device. Then open them in Adobe Reader or iAnnotate or GoodNotes (my fave), read them much more comfortably than on a computer screen, and mark them all up--highlighting, writing, adding pages for notes... I'm actually able to read and engage with the text, which is something I've been lacking the past couple quarters.

I also bought a stylus--the BoxWave, if you're curious--which I love, and which makes note-taking easy. I can write by hand! I actually wrote the rough draft of this blog post by hand on "ruled paper" in GoodNotes--I have a Notebook for blog planning.

I'm really pleased with the iPad as an academic tool, and certainly recommend it for students--grad and undergrad alike.

Are you a student with a tablet PC or iPad? Has it made any difference in the way you do school? Do share!

P.S. I got my super cute iPad sleeve from Pink Oasis. Notice a trend? ;)

Hand-Picked Textbook Alternatives

This idea being piloted by Temple University isn't exactly new--surely every student's been in a class with a cobbled-together "reader" rather than a traditional textbook--but I think they are taking it to a new and exciting level.

Faculty are mixing online material and items from library holdings, and bringing together disparate resources in something like a course website that students can access from anywhere. It's like a super-specialized, personalized class collection that's free and weightless.

Professor Keith Quesenberry, who's taking part in the program, explained in an article on the Temple website that “It seemed like the students were more engaged and less burdened, getting to and completing assignments earlier. The textbook was this thing they hated. This removed a barrier for them.”

I really like this idea of making relevant material accessible online rather than in a textbook. So many times I've bought textbooks that the class didn't even totally use--like maybe only a few chapters. This alternative textbook idea means that all the resources are relevant and being used, and the price is minimal. I imagine that even if resources aren't free, buying access or permission for them would still be a lower cost than what students are used to paying.

It does seem like a bit more work for faculty, but I'd be very interested in putting together alt-texts as a librarian. I just love the idea of curating special material for a specific class. I'm in a collections development class right now, and I've been captivated by the idea of micro-collections and bibliographing. Plus, a project like this could really bring together faculty and librarians--a relationship that is vital, but seems to be lacking.

What do you think about alternative, specialized "textbooks"? Do you think they're more useful as complementary supplements, or could they replace outdated, expensive, and increasingly less-useful textbooks?

"You Can't Use Wikipedia"

In my many days as a student--and one growing up in the information age, at that--I've heard this countless times from teachers and professors. Wikipedia just isn't a "good" source. I always assumed this bias was due to its dynamic, unedited, free-for-all nature. And while I'm sure that's part of it (and maybe all of it for those instructors who don't believe in collective intelligence), turns out encyclopedias of any kind have long been frowned upon as sources for research. Who knew?

Here's what I found in Dennis Tucker's 1989 Finding Religion (in the Library):
"'For your research paper, you must use three different sources and you can't use an encyclopedia.' Surely every student has heard this from his teacher many times over during elementary and high school. Why the bias against encyclopedias? Are they inherently evil? What's wrong with them? Actually, nothing is basically wrong with using encyclopedias--good ones anyway--if they are used properly. But fifth graders (and sometimes college students and seminarians) tend to rely on them too completely.... Students use them heavily because they want their research pre-digested for them rather than doing it themselves from primary sources." (32)

Sounds exactly like the reasons to not use Wikipedia. Tucker goes on to talk about encyclopedias as summaries and bibliographic tools--a starting point, not really a source. Again, an apt description of Wikipedia.

So perhaps educators should take a break from the refrain of "Don't Use Wikipedia," and instead encourage its use for its actual purpose--a starting point, created  by collaboration.