Well, I failed at the photo a day. Once I got to ALA (which I will be doing a post on next week... it's still digesting), it all went out the window. To make up for it, here are some random photos I've taken in the last week:
OK, anyway, here's a wrap up from the month of June (which went by SO FAST, I might add).
Thomas Aquinas is easily one of the most important and influential figures in Western Catholic thought. He had many characteristic roles--writer, friar, philosopher, priest--and each facet of his life contributed greatly to the formation of Western Christianity.
Aquinas did much of his study at the University of Naples, where he became entrenched in studying the philosophy of Aristotle with the guidance of Albert the Great, who is said to be the first scholar in the Middle Ages to shine a light on Aristotle and apply his thought to the Church. In my opinion, a lot of the more problematic and destructive ideas in current (and historical) Christian thought and practice--like patriarchy, soul/body dualism, "proofs" for God--can be traced back to Aristotle through Thomas Aquinas... so I'm not a big fan. He also subscribed to double predestination via Augustine.
Aquinas also became part of the burgeoning Dominican order of friars while at Naples. This order was devoted especially to active study and teaching, in contrast to other orders, which were focused on a contemplative life.
Because he was a philosopher, and believed the existence of God could be proved through reason, he studied natural theology--which is based on reason and experience--as a means by which to prove God's existence. His natural theology influenced his cosmological and teleological arguments for God (which were also influenced by Aristotle, of course) as well as his other "Five Ways".
There's really no way to outline Aquinas's insanely extensive work. But I encourage you to check out his article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy if you're interested to know more. I also recommend the book The Thought of Thomas Aquinas by Brian Davies. I've used it in pretty much everything I've ever written about Aquinas (including this blog post).
Oh! And one more fun fact! When he was in school, his fellow students called him "Dumb Ox" because he was big and quiet. Ha! (Sidenote: this is why last summer Curtis and I named our tomato plant Thomas... we were hoping that it would produce big fat tomatoes!)
I would include the Summa Theologiae, but let's be real. It's crazier than Barth's Dogmatics. Though, of course, there are many important parts of it.
Ratings: (To read more about my rating system, click HERE.)
Gender Equality: He loved Aristotle; Aristotle hated women. There you have it.
Environmental Sensibility: Although he had issues with the ontological argument for God ("God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived"), Aquinas still had a sense of God's greatness as the "unmoved mover" and causation of Creation, and so, since creation emanates from the First Principle, and is good, we can learn things about God from it.
Heretical Tendencies: I feel guilty even giving him one star. Aquinas actually advocated and approved of persecution and execution of heretics. So he definitely was not one. And his work is still the basis for pretty much all orthodox thought.
General Badassery: He's just so smart. And he wrote so stinkin much. ALSO, he's one of the "flying saints," which means he could levitate. Supposedly. Hahaha.
A quote: "Love takes up where knowledge leaves off."
Kierkegaard was born, raised, and lived all of his life in Copenhagen, Denmark. In fact, he only left the area five times his whole life.
His life was not a happy one. By the time he was 25, both of his parents and five of his six brothers and sisters had died. Later in life, he fell madly in love with Regina Olsen, and was engaged to marry her, but could not reconcile his troubled mind and heart, and so broke the engagement, despite his continued love for her, which lasted the rest of his life. Perhaps it was this grief of his young life, or perhaps it was the inherited depression and puritanical, pietistic Lutheranism of his father, but either way, Kierkegaard is known for his somewhat hopeless and less-than-encouraging writing (one of my professors often refers to him as "the melancholy Dane," a la Hamlet). In a way, this inner turmoil and thoughtfulness is what led him to be considered the father of existentialism.
When applied to Christianity, Kierkegaard's analysis and criticism won't leave you singing "Victory in Jesus," but it is certainly challenging and edifying in its own way.
The two issues Kierkegaard is probably best known for are his criticism of "Christendom" and his three stages of existential being--the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious.
In Kierkegaard's Denmark, basically everyone was nominally Christian. It was more or less a Christian state, and being a Christian or considering yourself a Christian was easy enough. But Kierkegaard knew that real Christianity--real faith--required much more than the simple coincidence of being born in Denmark. He understood that it took the acceptance of numerous paradoxes and an eventual leap to faith. This sometimes leads to him being considered a fideist.
As a quick run-down, here are Kierkegaard's three stages of existence:
The Aesthetic (the slave)--living for oneself
The Ethical (the knight of infinite resignation)--living for the well-being of others
The Religious (the knight of faith)--living for God
Please understand, this is so stripped down and I'm leaving so much out, but this post is already probably the longest I've ever written, so bear with me.
*Note: Kierkegaard wrote under many pseudonyms, and there is lots of scholarly work on why and how and the hierarchy between the personas. It's very interesting, and I encourage you to look into it!
Ratings: (To read more about my rating system, click HERE.)
Gender Equality: Kierkegaard's relationship with Regina Olsen is probably most telling for how he feels about women. In his writing, it never seems like she is a real person--just an object of his obsession and despair. Environmental Sensibility:
I think Kierkegaard was far too concerned about himself and all the hypocrites around him to care much about the environment.
He was a solid Lutheran, and had the guilt and shame to prove it. But one of his main goals was challenging the status quo of his society, and surely that shook things up a bit. I bet he would be very surprised to know there's a statue of him outside the huge Marble Church in Copenhagen. Ha!
I'd say he was certainly an intellectual badass (his writings are no light reading), but other than that, he lived a pretty tame life, despite all his inner strife.
And a Kierkegaard quote: "If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe."
If I'm being completely honest, packing for my first professional conference has made me want to just go out and buy all new clothes.
I don't know how many blog posts I've read about what to wear, and all of them are so ambivalent: dress professionally, but not too dressy; it's summer so dress cool, but there's AC everywhere so bring a jacket; you'll be in meetings all day, but don't forget about the social night life part.
I'll be meeting so many new people, hanging out with colleagues from my cohort, making a million first impressions. This is too stressful.
At this point, all I've decided on is lipstick.
So, you know, if you see a girl walking around in underwear and red lipstick, that's me.
So Forbes just came out with an article that listed the ten best and worst master's degrees for jobs (based on median pay for mid-career and estimated job growth rate) and the Master of Library and Information Science was the NUMBER ONE WORST.
Now, of course, judging on a mostly financial basis is a bit unfair, since if you're going into library science, you're not really in it for the money anyway. In fact, this survey shows that, for the most part, librarians are pretty happy with their degree. Except for those recent graduates in the past five years, who, I assume, are still looking for a job. (I was especially frightened by page four with the quotes and chart of positive and negative comments.)
This leads me to a couple reflections.
One, I am so lucky and grateful to have a job working in a library now. I have never given two thoughts to the "job market" because I've never had to go shopping. This is a relief, but it also makes me wonder if I have a totally skewed idea for what job prospects really look like for a holder of an MLIS. I tell people all the time that there are tons of jobs you can do with the degree, if you just get creative. And I really believe that (even though I'm on the traditional, librarian-working-in-a-library route).
But two, I can see how people might be dissatisfied with the degree. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm learning a lot. But the program is caught somewhere between academic and vocational, with a bit of theory and a bit of practical application, but not enough of either to make it one or the other.
I'm interested to see how my experience pans out in the next couple of years, and where I'll be once I graduate. I wonder where I'll fall in assessing the degree's value to me.
I've spent most of the morning cobbling together a rough schedule for events and sessions I'll want to attend during ALA Annual this weekend (YES, THIS WEEKEND. I can't believe it's already here).
So here's where I'm planning to be, if you want to stalk me or something:
4:00pm-5:15pm Opening General Session
8:00am-10:00am Embedded Librarian Best Practices
10:30am-11:30am David Weinberger
11:30am-1:30pm EXHIBIT HALL
1:30pm-4:00pm Reference Resurrected OR Current State of Academic Librarians (undecided)
5:30pm-7:30pm iSchool Happy Hour
7:30pm-10:30pm Newbie/Veteran Tweet-up
10:30pm-Midnight After Hours
10:30am-Noon Diving in and Learning to Swim as a New Distance Education Librarian
1:30pm-3:30pm Revitalizing the Research Process
4:00pm-5:30pm Philosophical, Religious and Theological Studies Discussion Group
7:00pm-9:00pm Hack Lib School/Boing Boing Meet-up
I'm proud to say I've successfully completed two weeks of this month's photo-a-day challenge. The only day I almost forgot, I just wasn't feeling very inspired (ironic since the prompt was "art"!) and ended up just snapping a pic of the frames on our wall. But I followed through--which is the important part, right?
Here are my photos for days 8-14:
Just in case you want to join along, here's the prompt schedule:
Are you doing a photo a day this month? Link up if you are! I love seeing other people's interpretations of the prompts. I check the hashtag every day. :)
Karl Barth was born in Switzerland and studied theology at the University of Bern, Tübingen University, and the University of Marburg. He learned from some of the greatest liberal theologians of the time. But as he returned to Switzerland to be a minister in a small church, and studied thoroughly the Institutes of Calvin, his perspective shifted, and he became one of the most outspoken challengers of the romantic, Schleiermachian Christianity. This change was also influenced by the first World War. Many of his German teachers supported the war, but he refused to do so and ultimately rejected their teaching after seeing their personal ethics in this light.
Barth was also one of the founding members of the Confessing Church--those Christians who stood against that Nazi party and their brand of supposed Christianity. In fact, he was forced to resign from his position as a professor at the University of Bonn because he would not swear allegiance to Hitler.
One of the main ideas in Barth's theology is that Jesus is the Word of God--not the Bible. This has important implications for resisting fundamentalist bibliolotry.
Another interesting thing about Barth is that he was a reformed theologian who subscribed to Calvin's teaching, but his understanding of predestination was that God did not "elect" and "damn" certain individuals, but that as Jesus Christ became human, he became both the elect and the reprobrate, and then was raised--implying that all people essentially are saved. This is what some call "soft universalism."
What You Should Read:
Church Dogmatics (Just kidding. It's 13 volumes and 8,000 pages and is sitting in my office and I've hardly made a dent. But really. Seminal work of the 20th century.)
The Humanity of God (Short, accessible, good)
Ratings: (To read more about my rating system, click HERE.)
Despite his ambivalence toward biblical inerrancy, Barth's study of Paul and his views on hierarchy lead me to believe he did not have a high view of women. Plus he had some kind of suspicious relationship with his female secretary (who apparently lived with him and his wife...?), which makes me think respecting women might not have been very important to him.
Barth focuses much on the transcendence of God and God's "infinite qualitative difference" from the world. Additionally, his focus is generally on humanity's response to God and soteriology, with little interest in the arena in which this takes place, and how people might thus respond to God's creation. Plus he hated natural theology.
Many consider Barth to be the father of the neo-orthodox movement, which, in a sense, brought Protestantism back from its romantic roots and refocused it on the Reformation ideals.
I think anyone in the Confessing Church automatically gets a bunch of stars. And Church Dogmatics is just so crazy thorough and intense and awesome.
Lastly, a quote: "To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world."
I've toyed with the idea of posting book reviews, especially this summer since I'm flying through books and I like to share what I'm reading.
But I'm really, really bad at writing them.
And I hate it.
I think this is because I feel uneasy about making value statements about people's work. Whatever the book is, someone worked hard on it and got it published and I'm sure someone in the world will find it useful and enjoyable, so it's not my place to say it's a "good" or "bad" book.
Additionally, I like pretty much every book I read.
Seriously. Check out my GoodReads profile. Basically every single book has received three or four stars ("liked it" or "really liked it"). My favorite books get five stars. And Catcher in the Rye got one. Because it's stupid.
But every time I try to actually write a review, I feel unqualified and give up.
I guess this makes me a disappointment of a librarian. Aren't we supposed to be good at this?
Do you write book reviews? Have any tips? Would you read my pathetic attempts if I posted them here? Let me know in the comments.
It's officially been "summer" for a week now, and I've been reflecting a bit on my library experience so far.
I've learned a few things.
I don't have to read every word of every reading. I can get the gist and participate in discussion without killing myself with thoroughness.
It's good to have something productive to do. I like completing assignments.
It's OK to refuse to do homework on the weekends. Life's too short.
I don't have to be the best. Good enough is good enough.
I avoid other people's stress at all costs. I'd like to commiserate, but I don't want to hear it!
Overall, I'm pretty sure I still want to be a librarian. So I guess that's good. However, I know that realistically, no matter how much "instruction" I receive and how many projects I complete, I'm still going to experience a steep learning curve and training time wherever I end up. So really, I feel like at this point I'm just being exposed to the ins and outs of the field. Even after three years of this, I don't think I'll be a library expert or anything. And that's OK.
Also, I think my focus is more narrow than many of my colleagues'. I already work in a library; I more or less know what I want to do and where I'm headed; and really, I think each person's journey is different, regardless of academic training. So where I end up probably isn't dependent on this program.
The honest truth is I kind of just want to be done. Sure, I've learned some stuff. It's been kind of interesting. But my heart definitely isn't in it as much as it was/is when I study theology. But then again, reading the Church Fathers isn't going to pay the bills. So.
I've seen the photoaday hashtag (originated from FatMumSlim) on Instagram all year, but this month I've finally decided to participate. I'll be sharing my photos here weekly, but if you follow me on Instagram you can see them real time.
So here's the first week:
Here's the prompt schedule I'm using. It's not too late to join!