Saturday, July 21, 2012


It's Caturday!
Here's a cute kitten.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Theologian Thursday: George Fox (1624-1691)

You probably know George Fox by way of his namesake university in Oregon. He is the founder of the Religious Society of Friends, AKA Quakers, and led a pretty interesting life, including lots of travel and imprisonment.

Fox was raised a Puritan, but as he grew older and studied religion, formed his own, sometimes radical, positions regarding what he believed to be the true core teachings of Christianity. These included pacifism, a belief in the light of God which indwells all people, and the denial of church rituals, buildings, and tithes.

Because Fox took the individualization of Reformation ideas to its end, he opposed organized religion and government--and especially government religion. He refused to fight in the English Civil War, and the Restoration of the monarchy and the Church of England resulted in many accusations of (and a couple imprisonments for) blasphemy. There was so much crazy religious upheaval in 17th century England that would be impossible to cover and explain here, though it definitely warrants more research and exploration. And it's so interesting to see how the traditions we have today came out of all of that.

What you should read:

(To read more about my Theologian Rating System, click HERE)
Gender Equality:
The Society of Friends was one of the first religious movements to really appreciate and encourage the involvement and leadership of women. Fox saw the "light" of God in all people, and fostered that by respecting women as equals. Indeed, his wife is also considered a founder of the Society, and she participated in ministry and even published works on religion.
Environmental Sensibility:
It's unclear to me how much attention George Fox gave explicitly to the environment in his teaching (I was unable to find anything similar to John Wesley's "General Deliverance"), but current Quaker theology and practice is very favorable toward good environmental stewardship, and they cite the tradition's (and, essentially, Fox's) emphasis on non-violence as their reason for this.
Heretical Tendencies:
Since Fox's ideas were "new" on the scene in England at the time, they met much opposition, especially by the established church.
General Badassery:
I think George Fox's willingness to stand up to the powers of England at the time and live his convictions despite imprisonment and persecution is admirable. And really, he flouted so many social conventions in favor of what he saw to be the way of Jesus, so I applaud that.

A George Fox quote:
"I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Power Searching With Google

I just finished my "Mid-class assessment" for the Power Searching with Google free online course being offered this month, and thought I'd do my own assessment of the course itself. You know, because I can't be the only one getting assessed.

At this point in the class, I feel that it is definitely worth the $0 I paid for it. Don't get me wrong, I've learned a couple tricks, and the course is very well organized, and the instruction is clear and concise (plus Daniel Russell is just adorable), but I certainly wouldn't pay for it.

On Twitter, I compared it to taking a grammar class--I inherently know all this stuff already, but it's nice to actually see the rules and the why and the how (and Lord knows some people really do need this).

Things I've learned:
  • Word order matters. I'm kind of ashamed to admit I didn't know this.
  • They use an acronym for the results page (SERP--search engine results page). Not sure why that's necessary.
  • You can use the "filetype:" operator to filter results to find PDFs or DOCs or what have you.
  • You can use a hyphen to "subtract" search results. All this time I've been using Boolean NOT, which apparently does NOT work.
Generally, it's been a positive experience so far. Even if they included an entire lesson on using Ctrl+F. I mean really.

If you want to take the class, you can still sign up through today.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Theologian Thursday: Meister Eckhart (1260-c1327)

Meister Eckhart (AKA Johannes Eckhart, AKA Eckhart von Hochheim) was a teacher, preacher, mystic, and member of the Dominican order of friars.

Much of the focus of his available works is on the uniting of the human soul with God. He believed that within the souls of all people lies a "little spark" of the divine, and ultimate bliss occurs in the realization of uniting (or perhaps reuniting) the soul with its creator.

Though certainly not the only thinker to do this, Eckhart interestingly dealt with his work in both the Latin of academics and scholars and the Middle High German of the laity, as he inhabited both spheres himself.

He was tried as a heretic and, though he retracted all his "false teaching" and made a declaration of orthodoxy, Pope John XXVII excommunicated him in 1329 (which may or may not have been posthumously). His works only really survived within small monastic communities and through references in the sermons of others.

What you should read:
  • The German Sermons (I've only read a couple, but they are quite good)
  • Sister Catherine
    • The Sister Catherine treatise was apparently not actually written by Eckhart, but by a disciple of his and circulated under his name. However, I still feel that it is appropriate to include it among "his" works, because it does display his thinking and it has traditionally been associated with his corpus of work. 

(To read more about my Theologian Rating System, click HERE)
Gender Equality:
The "Sister Catherine" dialogue exhibits a great deal of support for women's spirituality and female autonomy. The piece describes a woman speaking with a priest, and ultimately shows the woman to have a better grasp of the truth of God than the priest and she ends up teaching him.
Environmental Sensibility:
Eckhart believed in a certain level of pantheism, asserting that all creation is immanent in God, perhaps stemming from a kind of Platonic thought. Therefore, he had a high regard for nature, animals, and the environment.
Heretical Tendencies:
Eckhart's mysticism has gotten him in a lot of trouble with a lot of people throughout the centuries. His work and thought--especially the "Sister Catherine" treatise--has been associated with the Brethren of the Free Spirit (though whether it is antinomian in nature is debatable). His pantheism is also not seen as orthodox. And, you know, he was excommunicated.
General Badassery:
Though radical in many ideas, as a whole his life seems to be fairly nondescript.

 Lastly, a (fairly well-known, I think) quote:
“If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.”

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Non-Theologian Thursday

Sorry, y'all. No Theologian Thursday post today. But here are some cute pandas.

Regular programming will be back next week.

Monday, July 2, 2012

ALA12: Recap


Just a quick recap of ALA Annual in Anaheim, for posterity and to prove I was actually there.

Highlights, in no particular order:
  1. I met David Weinberger! It was exciting, and I was awkward, and he signed a copy of his new book for me. I'm very happy about this. Looking forward to reading it. Also, his speaker session was pretty great. I especially liked his analysis of Reddit.
  2. Disneyland was the most un-crowded ever. We were there for only like two hours, three maybe, and we just walked on a bunch of rides (including Thunder Mountain, my fave) and saw the fireworks.
  3. Sessions on distance education librarianship and embedded librarianship. I took soooo many notes. Really helpful and inspiring for some of my short-term goals.
  4. The Philosophical, Religious, and Theological Discussion Group. There were ten people there, including me and another recent MLIS grad who also has his MA in theology from Fuller. It was really cool being in a small-group setting with people who actually do what I'd love to do some day. Plus they were super nice.
  5. Learning about Duke Divinity School's digitization project for American Methodism and churches in North Carolina. Super super interesting, and I got to talk to the guy who's heading it up (or was... I guess he got a job somewhere else). He's also involved in the ATLA's online open access journal, which he encouraged me to look into and think about submitting content for.
  6. Hanging out with my iSchool cohort friends. THE BEST. I'm so glad I had people there to spend time with (and split the cost of a hotel room with!). I had an awesome time in the company of these smart and wonderful people!
Overall, the experience was overwhelming and tiring, but so informative and inspiring. I doubt I'll be able to make it to Chicago for next year's conference, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to go to this one, since it was so close to home.  It gave me an insight into librarian culture and got me excited to be in the field all over again!