Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Shorts from Regent

This has been my first time back in a lecture hall for many years so I have been fascinated by the ubiquity of the laptop, the soft clatter of typing, the software and the mp3 recorders of various kinds. It was also my first time looking at an interlinear New Testament. Lots of firsts. But, Waltke and Fee use the old fashioned overhead and hand out lots of paper.

I was supposed to meet with Dr. Waltke two weeks ago, but it was put off because another women about my age was setting up a camera on a tripod outside his office door when I arrived. I could see that she wanted more than a few spare moments with the great man, so I said that I would wait. I chatted with her for a few minutes and found out that she was health professional researching breastfeeding and motherhood. She said that Dr. Waltke had confided in her that his memory went back to when he was a baby and he could remember breastfeeding, so she was going to interview him on this topic. Go figure!

When I did have my interview with Dr. Waltke a week later, the coffee shop line snaked through the atrium so we retreated to the staff hideout and a private thermos. To his consternation the thermos was empty. At first, I thought - how kind this man is to insist on my having coffee, but it soon became apparent that I wouldn't get a word out of him until he had his cup firmly in front of him. He went in and out a few times, looking either for whoever made coffee or making it himself, I wasn't sure which. This took some time. Finally, he returned with a full thermos and poured me a cup. He then poured himself a half cup and drank it black. He kept the thermos beside him and would only pour in half a cup at a time, so that it was always very hot when he drank it.

When this was all settled he leaned forward on his elbows and looked at me with great concentration and said, "I have a question for you first." I could not quite imagine what. "How do my course assignments compare with Gordon Fee's?" he asked. Well, all professors think alike, I thought. But I am just auditing so I couldn't answer his question.

Actually, I did find out the next day what was going on. In Fee's class, I sat beside a young man who had also been in Waltke's class. He commented, "I really want to take Fee's class -this is so great, I love it so much, I don't know what to do, but I am going to have to quit." Apparently he figured out that if he worked 16 hours a day for 6 days a week for 6 weeks, he would be able to complete the bare minimum of assignments for Waltke's 2 week course. So he was going to ask for a refund for his fees for Fee's class. I guess this trend was not going over well in accounting. It must have gotten back to Waltke.


One afternoon I joined in a small discussion with John Stackhouse, author of Finally Feminist. Most of his books are on other topics, but this one did come up briefly. John described his upbringing in the Plymouth Brethren. He explained what it was like to listen to the ministry of all men, but only men. The Brethren used to depend on only one verse for the silence of women - 1 Cor. 14: 35. "It is a shame for women to speak in the church." In the assembly a woman's voice was never heard, not in testimony, singing or even as a Sunday School teacher. Women were silent. However, every single male had to participate in leading or ministering from the age of 18 on, regardless of gifts, inclination or training. John just rolled his eyes, trying to describe what it was like.

After the discussion with John, a pastor from the south came up to me and asked for a ride back to his car. He had arrived too late for the designated parking and had left his car on the side of a road about one mile away. He asked if I was driving east from the campus. Since I wasn't driving to Japan, I said yes, I was definitely heading east.

I got a little lost in a new campus suburb on the way out, driving around an endless crescent. Finally we emerged, a little disoriented, onto the road where he had left his car and I drove along it a little. He was explaining how he had rented a zippy Japanese vehicle but, for some reason, had had to exchange it for an small American model of mediocre performance just that morning. We drove along chatting when suddenly he looked around startled and started to moan that his car had been stolen. It was not where he had left it!

I quickly calculated the likelihood of a car of the make he had mentioned being picked out by a joyriding teenager - not very high, and had an inspiration. "No worries," I said, "All my girlfriends have had their cars stolen too. But, every time it has turned out that they simply forgot where they had parked. So we will drive around the block and find your car right where you left it." We did, and he was very grateful - as if I had made his car materialize out of thin air."Thank you, sister," he said.

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