Baker Academic

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hilarity from Dale Allison--Chris Keith

One of the great annual traditions of the SBL is the flight there and back when I inevitably get seated next to someone who asks the dreaded question "So what do you do for a living?"  I hate this question slightly less than I hate wet socks, which is a considerable amount.  (Why, when someone drops a piece of ice on the kitchen floor, is it impossible to pick it up and throw it in the sink?)  I've been tempted several times to lie and just offer an answer that will shut down the conversation immediately, such as "I kill kittens for animal hospitals."  It's not the question, really, and it's certainly not my (actual) job, which I love.  What's taxing is the navigation of the minefield of misunderstanding that resides on the other side of that question for those of us who are involved in the academic discussion of religion; for this is not one innocent question concerning your profession but rather one question that leads to no less than three and possibly eighty-three clarification questions that inevitably involve examples of brothers-in-law.  I may have shared on this blog before that one such conversation once resulted in my conversation partner saying, "So, like the Da Vinci Code?"  Yes, that's it exactly . . . like the Da Vinci Code.

So I couldn't help but pass along this gem from Dale Allison's 2005 Resurrecting Jesus (T&T Clark), where he's discussing the fact that one cannot assume that Jesus scholars inevitably produce a Jesus in their own image (p.133):

"Speaking for myself, although I have written a book with the title Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet, I am no millenarian prophet; and a Jesus without eschatological error would certainly make my life easier.  I might, for instance, be able to tell some of my relatives, without them shuddering aghast, what I really do for a living."

11 comments:

  1. In my own experience, I have found that if I want to say something publicly and make sure that NO ONE in my family ever finds out, I should publish it in a book or article. ;-)

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  2. Imagine being a Jew and trying to explain your interest in this area to other Jews. "Really, he was one of us." "Oh, really? So tell me, how did that work out for us?"

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    1. I'm glad that you and Dale both persist, Larry!!

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  3. Chris, let me see if I can help you understand this whole ice on the floor thing. Sometimes when you drop a piece of ice, you think: "Well, I could get down there and reach underneath the fridge... or I could just wait till that little guy transforms into a puddle." Sometimes the ice chips a bit. So you think that you've picked up the ice, but you didn't get the whole thing. Sometimes you're trying to get some sort of sustenance on the table for the kids and you've just got to move on. ...and sometimes... just sometimes... you think: "It's been a while since I've heard Chris howls about wet socks. It would be really entertaining to hear him howl."

    Am I right, Erin?

    -anthony

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  4. When you write a book on "angelic languages", you hope and pray that the local newspaper doesn't catch wind of it. There's really no way for that to get out without people thinking that you're into new age religion.

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  5. Chris, you mention Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code but failed to mention the other option... Josh McDowell. Make your choice between the two please!

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  6. It's not just the academic study of religion. Try telling someone you're a minister. You get: why I don't go to church; why Christians should be banned/shot; why your denomination is wrong; I'm a Christian, too - that makes us BFF, right? Let's talk about fun things like abortion and homosexuality. In Australia, chaplain is semi-safe because a significant number of people don't automatically connect that with religion (go figure), but I find "I work in student support at a university" is the safest option.

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    1. Tony Campolo used to have a good line. He said if he was on an airplane and he was feeling chatty, he would say "I'm a sociologist". But if he was feeling otherwise he say, "I'm a Baptist preacher."

      -anthony

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  7. so you're a "Symbologist"?

    scott caulley

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    1. That's right, buddy. Beware the Illuminati!

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