I had my first piece of writing due today, for my Ruth and Esther class. I think it went well, but I'm excited to get it back from the professor to see her thoughts. It was a book review of a book titled Assertive Biblical Women, and from what I read, I wasn't very impressed at all. It was supposedly a book highlighting different women and their assertiveness (for good or for bad) through the Bible, but what it turned out to be was a narrative retelling of their stories with slight witty quips and commentary added in. First off, the author read WAY too much into these stories, making remarks like, "Man, Ruth was probably relieved to find out she wasn't barren! It had probably crossed her mind!" or "Vashti [the first queen in Esther] probably had a party for the women because she wanted to band together with the harem. Or maybe as a sign of solidarity against the king." I'm sorry, but personal musings on biblical texts should NOT be included in scholarly work. Maybe it was in addition to the narrative structure, but the book wasn't for a scholarly audience as the author had intended, but more for a bible study. Also, the man doesn't know how to integrate commentary. It was ridiculous! He'd write, "So-and-so gives this interesting reading of Esther..." and then quote 6-8 sentences of their work, and then move right on to the next commentator and large block of quotation. Not to mention the word choices he used were unhelpful in helping to rethink the stories in a feminist context. I found several examples of "feminine wiles" or "feminine coyness" or how the Ruth/Boaz story demonstrates a reversal of "traditional gender roles" when Ruth initiates a relationship, sexual or not, and Boaz wants to keep the interlude on the down low until he can integrate Naomi and Ruth into his posse. I'm sorry, you can claim to be a feminist all you want, but when you write in those terms it's not helping at all. It's a retelling of stories of women with sassier language. At least acknowledge it for what it is. And the most surprising part is after I finished, I read a review in a journal and it was all sunshine and flowers out of the guy's ass! I mean, did the reviewer and I even read the same book?
Anyway, I'm excited to get the review back because then I can see where my writing stands compared to grad school expectations. For Hamline, after I finished my FYSEM summer reading paper, I thought it was pretty good. Reynolds, however, disagreed and to this day, it's the only C I've earned on a paper. But it was helpful in making me realize where my writing needed improvement and how to make those changes. Reynolds is really good at setting up guidelines for revising writing and all of the structural and content-based aspects you need to look at. He's probably helped my writing/revision process most of any teacher I've had, with Polk and Thompson from high school (the bastard) coming in second and third for grammatical issues. To this day, Thompson is still one of the biggest jackass teachers I've ever had a class with, but also to this day I cringe and rewrite whenever I use the word "got," "get," or the passive voice.
From what I heard in class, I'm excited to read the book I Am, by Athalya Brenner. The book is set up around the concept of women in the Bible sitting around a table telling their stories, but also acknowledging commentary/literary pieces written about them. For example, Dinah puts her situation in terms we're used to hearing, like date rape. Mom, I think you'd like this book too.
Next week Gloria Steinem is giving a lecture downtown. The only unfortunate part is I've got NT section right until it starts. I'd never make it downtown and find a seat in time if I stayed the whole time. I'm torn between missing section, which I don't want to do, and seeing Gloria Steinem. Uuuuughhhh. There aren't many sections and it's important to go to all of them, but... Gloria Steeeiiiineeeeemmm (that was me whining). There's really only one option here, though. When am I ever going to get a chance to hear Gloria Steinem again if I miss this? Maybe again, but, maybe not. I'm sure sections won't miss me.
Tomorrow I'm going shopping for a dress for the wedding with Olivia (I had to change that from "wedding dress" to "dress for the wedding" ... could have been misleading). I'm excited and annoyed all at the same time. I'll let you know how it goes. I fly home in two weeks from today! I'm excited to see the family and Andrew especially. I've also heard rumor of a lot of people that'll be at the wedding or in town for the weekend. Some high school people (Yang, Christine, Matt Lawton), people from church (the Eberts, Grace), the Lithuanians, ect. And I think Neal is coming into town! Woo! I'm excited. Since Erich and Katie aren't having a reception, I think everyone should go to St. Brendan's Inn on Saturday and celebrate without them. At least, that's what I plan on doing. I'm also psyched to spend some time in St. Paul. I haven't seen my St. Paul family since my going away party (obviously) so I miss them. Plus I get to spend extra time with Andrew! And Kari.
Everyone should check out my brainchild: Overheard at Yale Divinity School.