ATLA has come and gone. Despite my best efforts I managed to meet some new people and even talked to them. I think blogging impressions of the conference is something that is better done on a more immediate basis. I imagine that it's easier to remember stuff the day you've experienced it. It's even better if you've been awake. I enjoyed the conference. I'll just mention some highlights now.
1. Wednesday night Cindee and I attended the opening reception that was held in some law offices on the 37th floor of building downtown. It was a great view and good shrimp and beef kabobs.
2. Thursday morning we heard Martin Marty deliver a plenary address on religion in Chicago. Marty is a church historian at the University of Chicago and an old Lutheran. He was, as a matter of fact, a regent at St. Olaf and spoke at the college's opening convocation my sophomore year. I didn't get anything out of it. This time he was very interesting and entertaining as he talked about the importance of Chicago for religion in America. It was interesting to see the contrast in the city's roles in the development of modernist liberal theology and urban evangelicalism and revivalism that is probably embodied in The University of Chicago Divinity School and the
combination of Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College.
3. That afternoon I attended a session on the papers of John Warwick Montgomery led by an archivist from Southeastern Baptist Seminary. Montgomery is an apologist, theologian, and lawyer currently based in France who was the librarian for Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the 60's. I've often heard that he could be an acerbic fellow and that was confirmed by some of the readings we heard from his papers. The speaker was also a bit of a character.
4. If these were listed in order of importance, this one would be number one. Since they're chronological it's number four. Friday afternoon I attended a session led by Lauren Winner on the spirituality of reading and writing. Winner is an author, essayist, historian, and speaker who is about my age. She published a memoir about her conversion to Christianity when she was 24 called Girl Meets God. I've not read it, though I did skim it a bit when I cataloged it. A number of my friends have read it and loved it. She also wrote a book called Mudhouse Sabbath on the differences between Christianity and Judaism and the value of ritual. I read her book Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity last spring when my friend Elisabeth and I prepared a Bible study on sexuality for our LIFE group. It's a great book. The session on Friday was too short but it was very interesting. She talked about the development of reading as a spiritual discipline and mentioned frequent scriptural command to eat the word. She also mentioned a passage from the Talmud that says that you don't really own something until you've changed it and compared that to the idea of owning your faith by writing about it. When you narrate what you belief and how you came to believe it you gain a better understanding of where you are in your journey with God and perhaps where you're going.
5. Saturday morning I attended the 6th Catholic mass of my life. The morning worship session was held at the Church of the Assumption which was a few blocks from the conference site. We got there about 20 minutes early and decided to go in, not realizing there was a morning mass going on. After the mass ended the priest warned one of the few parishioners to be careful not to be run over by librarians on her way out of the church. The highlight was during the ATLA worship service. It was presided over by Cardinal George, the archbishop of the Chicago diocese. I had never seen a Cardinal in person before so I thought that was cool. He gave a short reflection on the word that I don't remember much of but I remember thinking it was good at the time. I had a crisis of Protestant conscience after the service as he was greeting people as they left but I shook his hand and thanked him for presiding over the service. Later I attended a session on theological librarianship and ordained ministry that was interesting in that many of the people involved were from denominations with a more formal and broader understanding of ordination than I am used to. I also attended sessions on the future of RDA (forthcoming cataloging rules), and Ranganathan's 4th law of library science, "Save the time of the reader."
Cindee and Rebekah ran out of steam before the last session and headed home so I got to ride the train back by myself. That was a fun trip. I got to read a chapter of Why Study the Past, a new book by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. In the second chapter he discusses the need for the early church to define itself as aliens within the Roman Empire and citizens of a kingdom not of this world and how that related to the early church's emphasis on martyrdom and virginity and also how that need as well as liturgical considerations affected the Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries that led to the developments of the Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, and Chalcedon. When I got home I ransacked Steve's movie collection and watched The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and I liked it.
Verse of the Day:
"I passed by the field of a sluggard,
by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,
and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns;
the ground was covered with nettles,
and its stone wall was broken down.
Then I saw and considered it;
I looked and received instruction.
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man". Proverbs 24:30-34 (ESV)
Quote of the Day
"I don't write what I think. I write to figure out what I think." Lauren Winner
Gratuitous song lyric of the day:
"Oh well, that's life. Or it was. It's nothing to me." It's Nothing to Me by The Sadies (Song about a bartender warning a guy not to sit down by a woman with a jealous boyfriend and his reflection after the guy ignores his advice and gets killed by the boyfriend. I've had this song stuck in my head for the better part of the weekend.)
See I can blog from home. I just don't, ususally.