Saturday, August 11, 2007

The New Career

It is unlikely that I will ever be accused of staying too long in one field of research. From physics and electrical engineering to computer science, human-computer interaction, and a brief foray into workplace anthropology, I now head off into my first paid work in biblical studies!

As many of you know, the job market in academic biblical studies is very tight, with lots of people vying for few positions. I had no idea where my change in direction might lead, especially in the short term after finishing my PhD. But I'm very grateful to have received a couple of fine part-time offers to teach Old Testament, which I've managed (with considerable gracious flexibility on my employers' part) to fit together into something resembling full-time work for the next academic year.

The first is teaching two modules at Durham University that are normally done by my supervisor. The first is an introduction to the Old Testament and the second is intermediate Hebrew with a focus on reading prose texts (primarily Deuteronomy 5-10). It will be a great experience to teach in a top tier British university department. I'm humbled to be entrusted with the responsibility!

The second is an exciting new institution, Westminster Theological Centre in downtown London. Ever since beginning my own theological studies within a church setting, I have been interested in doing and teaching theology within a worshipping faith community, with theological education being offered to all Christians rather than only those who are heading off into formal theological careers. (I could write alot about this, but will spare you for the moment.) This interest was further piqued during my studies at Regent College, which seeks to teach Christians of all walks of life. But few churches have such a vision, so I had slowly reoriented myself toward university or seminary teaching. Then I saw the advertisement for an Old Testament post at WTC and decided it would be worth investigating. As it turns out, they found me to be interesting, too, and offered me the position.

So I'll be teaching Old Testament Introduction, Beginning Hebrew, and probably an Intermediate Hebrew module as well (depending on the level of interest). I'm happy for the overlap with the Durham teaching because preparation for the first year of teaching is difficult!

For those who are interested, I'll give you some links to see how WTC is connected into things. It is aligned with St. Mary's, Bryanston Square, a young and energetic charismatic Anglican church in London, and has links with the diocese of London, Ridley Hall (the Anglican ordination training center in Cambridge), the emergent church, the New Wine Network, and St. Paul's Theological Centre (a similar theological training initiative in London, associated with Holy Trinity Brompton Church, which is well known as the home of the Alpha Course). I particularly like the vision statement of St. Paul's: "Bringing theology back into the heart of the church".

So how, one might ask, are you doing two jobs that are 250 miles apart? Good question. We've managed to concentrate my teaching responsibilities on certain days of the week at both schools. So the plan is to remain living in Durham until somewhere around Christmas and I'll commute down to London to teach on Sundays and Mondays. Then in the new year, we'll relocate down somewhere in the London area (probably well outside of the actual city) and I'll commute up to Durham on Tuesdays. The trains run well so hopefully this will work out with me getting lots of work done during the three hour trip.

Well, that's the quick update. It's been quite a journey these past few years. It's amazing how one day you're a student pursuing a degree and then the next day you are a teacher preparing to help students pursue degrees of their own. But more than degrees, it's about learning as an act of faith, as part of Christian discipleship and serving God. May that be our central focus.

While attending a biblical studies conference in Vienna last month, I was strolling around the awesome central university building's courtyard during a break, looking through the statutes for scholars I had heard of. I was pleased to find this gentleman and the fundamental equation of quantum mechanics that bears his name. I guess you can never quite take the physics out of the physicist, because as excited as I am to be teaching the Bible, looking at this still warms my heart.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Talking on the (Clothes)Line

There was a strange half-of-a-conversation coming from the back garden. Crystal invited me to listen:

“Hello, Teresa”

“Just fine”

“Yes, very nice”

“No, no, no!”

“Nice day, no rain, sun coming out”

“Hi, baby Avi”





“Bye bye”

Who knew that a sheet hanging on the clothesline could be such a useful communication device? And I thought Skype was a pretty cool invention!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Swing Self

As Ellie makes her way through toddler-hood, there seem to be few occasions for marking "firsts". First tooth, first word, first steps, first solid food, and so on are all memorably in the past. It's harder to capture the wonder of "first six word sentence" and things like that. (Feel free to suggest good toddler firsts to keep an eye out for!)

But we had a good first this week after a year of being dependent on Mummy and Daddy to swing — Ellie swung herself for the first time! Here's the video. I dare you not to swing with her. Now if only we could figure out how to teach her the back-and-forth way!