Archives of Reception of the Bible

Past blogging in more ways than one.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A more sensible regime!

Patrik Hagman, a Finnish theologian, follows Mike Bird and Jim West in putting his working day on-line. It is a much more sensible regime, the description of which he concludes with the words, 'People just work too much'. Significant for me is his emphasis on 'long lunches', described as 'one of my main sources of inspiration for work and life.' Damn right! Making time for inspiration is part of the job.

One of the first and best lessons I ever learnt as a student is that an hour is not a standard unit of time when doing this kind of work. You can slave all week at something and have it not work, and you can be inspired and produce something in a day. I tend to work 9-5 as a way of controlling my tendency to work all the time, but that is all it is - a matter of convenience. Working all hours may work for some people, but I don't find it a particularly attractive portrayal of academia, and I know that it would be bad for me. So right on, Patrik. I am with you, and not the Robobird!

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

RBL books

A couple of useful new texts for those interested in the early commentary tradition of the Church on Old Testament texts

Robert C. Hill, Theodore of Mopsuestia: Commentary on Psalms 1-81
Reviewed by Claudio Zamagni

Robert C. Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on Daniel
Reviewed by Randall L. McKinion

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Crazy academics!!

What is Chris Tilling talking about?

“Have a read of this and prepare to be scared, humbled and made to feel guilty all at once. This is truly mental. As one friend at LST said: I got tired just reading it!”

These words relate to Mike Bird’s description of his working day.

“I like to keep myself active with the keyboard and juggle a few projects at once. People ask me what writing habits I have and how and when I write. Here's the Bird-Method.
  • I get up around 7.00 a.m. and wake, feed, dress kids and help my dear wife get them ready for school.
  • I get to work about 0815 and get a cup of tea, turn on my computer, check the mail, and annoy my bosses secretary with requests for sweeties.
  • At 0830-0850 is German practice: vocab, read an EJTh book review, Deutsch Bibel.
  • Then 0850-0900 is general prayer and readings from the Book of Common Prayer
  • At 0900-09010 I work on my Evangelical Missal project and collect a written prayer, a Bible reading, a stanza from a hymn, and part of a creed, catechism or confession which I hope to turn into a book by the end of the year.
  • The rest of the day is determined by preparation, teaching, answering emails, and admin.
  • Where possible I try to get the odd two-hour block of writing time. During the day I am working on the Two Views of Christians Origins book with James Crossley.
  • Try get home by 1720 and help my wife with dinner, cleaning up, feeding kids, night-time routine with kids (prayer, Bible reading, memory verse, story, game) and then coffee with my wife Naomi. Possibly a shower around 1930 (this is Scotland after all).
  • Around 2000-2045 I like to work on book reviews. I'm currently reading Phil Towner on the Pastorals.
  • Then 2100-2230 is more writing time working on soon-to-be finished projects. At the moment I'm doing some stuff on Jewish views of Paul for a journal article.
  • At 2230-2315 is a minor project I plug away at, at the moment a commentary on Colossians.
  • 2315-2330 is Greek devotionals and prayer.
  • 2330-0000 is blogging time, Aussie red-wine, and kicking an orange ball around my living room in order to wind down.

This at least explains why every journal I see seems to have a Bird article in it! (Surely Mike owes us another post entitled “finding time for family/ recreation/ etc”.) James Crossley also seems very prolific and plus has time to go debating with W.L. Craig – How’s the social life, James? I am worried about you!

Also in the same week, we get a description from Jim West of his working day.

“No day is really typical. There are always hospital visits to make or funerals to perform or weddings to officiate. But, in general, were none of those to occur, I get up at 5:30 or 6 and go to the gym. I’m back home and showered by 8 and then its down to the study to power up the PC and check email and alerts for news stories that may be of interest to myself and potentially someone else. Then the day is consumed with a mix of phone calls, writing (I’m working on a commentary series containing exegesis and interpretation of each book of the Bible subtitled “For the Person in the Pew”. E.g., “Matthew: For the Person in the Pew” as well as a weekly Newspaper column, and reviews for RBL alongside some Encyclopedia articles at present), blogging news events and theological observations, reading, and the like. I take a break at 5 for dinner and then I spend the evening reading and keeping up with goings-on in the news and watching American Idol (or some other senseless thing). I stop all sorts of activities at 10 and I go to bed between 10:15 and 10:30 but sometimes I’m wild and crazy and stay up till 11.”

Now I am tempted to join Chris in thinking that these guys are just plain nuts. In the past I have also worried about Jim Davila and Mark Goodacre and their respective families. But in fact there is a serious issue here for anyone who aspires to being an academic or is an academic – How do we separate our work from everything else? How do we stop everything we do being about work in some way or other?

I confess that seeing ‘Ralphies’ being awarded for a whole range of non-work things just makes me think how little I read/hear/do that does not in some way end up as work (Of course writing about Johnny Cash doesn’t help much). In one sense, this works for me. It is the source of many of my ideas and I obviously value those for a whole range of reasons. But it is also a source of some unease. Do I really love my work so much that I want pretty much everything I do to go through some sort of work sieve?

Most people I know who are not academics think the job is a total doss. The usual ‘teacher’ stuff: ‘students have gone again’; ‘long summer holidays’; ‘trips to foreign places for conferences’. I have stopped even trying to explain what I do. But the truth of the matter is that there is often a lot of pressure on you to produce something (e.g. especially if you don’t have a post/tenure/promotion yet). And you are not very good at switching off because you are usually being asked to do exactly what you liked doing in the first place.

I am always amused when people question just how much value for money they get from you as an academic. Mike and Jim, unfortunately in my opinion, show just how stupid it is to question people who would probably do the job for little or no pay (and as postgrads probably did so for years). What sad, but happy, muppets we are.

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