Monday, May 28, 2007


I wanted to pass along the word that I have officially submitted my doctoral dissertation to the university. The title is: "Disloyalty and Destruction: Religion and Politics in Deuteronomy and the Modern World." Just makes you want to snap it up for some light bedtime reading, eh?

The next step is to schedule my defense, which is called a "viva" here (short for, viva voce, which means by "live voice"). I will be examined by two specialists in the Old Testament. My "internal examiner" is Dr. Stuart Weeks, who represents the department of Theology and Religion here at Durham University. My "external examiner" is Prof. Jon Levenson of Harvard Divinity School. He is a specialist in the subject area of my dissertation and is known to be very sharp indeed. In case you are interested, his books are quite accessible, and two recent ones are on topics that are of interest to a Christian audience, but taken from his own Jewish perspective: The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity and Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life. Interestingly, my supervisor, Prof. Walter Moberly, is uninvolved in evaluating my work -- his job of getting me to this point is done!

My viva will likely be scheduled for July or August. I hope the outcome will be "pass with minor changes," which would mean that there are typos to be fixed, some small adjustments to the text to correct misstatements, and some footnotes to be added here or there. If major changes are required, it will mean some more work, but all in the interest of producing a better product in the end. I'll keep you posted.

(By the way, the relevant article in Wikipedia is quite informative about the process of examining a doctoral dissertation, particularly on the differences between the US and UK.)

I'm particularly appreciative of Crystal and Ellie supporting me during this final push. The past few weeks have been pretty intense in pulling it all together. Of course, they've been tremendously supportive all along, but even more so recently. I love you both!

And since I know you really come here for pictures of Ellie instead of school updates, I won't leave you disappointed.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Somebody's Two

May is birthday month in the Barrett home, but the parents are rightly overshadowed by Ellie. Her excitement grew with each package that arrived in the mail.
"How old are you going to be?"
      "Next week!"
"What are you going to do?"
      "Open presents!"

And there were plenty of presents! Ellie was remarkably patient, though she did make a number of attempts at tearing packages open ahead of the appointed hour. We tried to get her to change from saying "next week" to "this week" as the date approached, but such things are pretty complicated for little folks.


The festivities began with balloons. Despite our best attempt to keep them hidden in Daddy's office, the exploratory Ellie was not to be fooled. Even now a week later, the balloons continue to fill our rather small house. As Crystal said, "We need a balloon popping strategy."

Grandma and Grandpa phoned in on the computer for a video chat. They had made their own birthday hats to join in on the fun.


Mummy and Daddy thought it good to get Ellie her own dishwashing set so she can get some good practice. And Nana surprised Ellie with her favorite Sesame Street character, who she can now enjoy in a book as well as on video.


Books are always a hit and Ellie coos over the baby animals in this one. She helps Daddy with some of the more difficult words.

I was excited about this gift from Tom and Doyla. To think that a two-year old can play "Concentration" fascinated me (ignore the "ages 3+" on the box...this is Ellie, after all). She's a whiz at it. You lay out the cards face-down with their pairs of pictures hidden. We let Ellie see them as we deal them out and then get her to match them up. No problem.

A party wouldn't be complete without Ellie's best friend Avi. She was there to cheer her on and only occasionally take away a present or knock her over while pulling up on her. We're looking forward to living just a few blocks away from Avi this summer, though it'll be a sad day when she moves to Vancouver in the autumn!


The prize for the most used gift so far must go to the Buster Brown sandals that Nana and Papa sent. Ellie will make sure that you notice the flowers on them if you don't point them out yourself. Doyla's summer dresses will come in very handy when the warm weather rolls around -- but Ellie couldn't wait to try them on.

There were many more gifts and we haven't had time yet to get pictures of all of them. It was a very special day for a very special girl. Thank you all for your love, gifts, and cards.

Finally, taking upon herself a well-known birthday-girl privilege, Ellie got the first taste of birthday cake frosting while Mummy and Daddy smiled for the camera.