As my series of SBL posts indicate (see below), I was fortunate enough to meet and speak with a number of fellow bloggers at SBL in New Orleans. For some reason, I am always intrigued by how a person looks, especially when I have long known them only by name, perhaps having my own construct of what they look like floating numinously in my mind. Oftentimes I will google a scholar, such as von Rad or Gunkel or Wellhausen or even Childs or Barr, to see what they look like. Similarly, meeting people always offers surprises . . . take, for instance, Rob Kashow’s utter surprise (shared by Mike Whitenton), at the deepness of my voice (see HERE). So, in an unthoughtful though reflective moment, I submit to you my list of “knee-jerk first impressions” of the bloggers I met (and my apologies if I mistakenly left you off this list; if I did, let me know and I’ll be glad to share my thoughts). But first, two ‘extended’ examples:
Jim West: I start with JW first for no particular reason (just to get that out of the way first, for our #1 biblioblogger, wink). I had already heard from a trusted friend and mentor that JW was quite different than his online persona. And I find myself wondering right now whether it is just that . . . a persona. There is a discontinuity (and perhaps others–I’m looking at you, Joseph Kelly–can attest to this) between the abrasive, name-calling individual I read on screen and the quiet, dare I say meek individual I encountered in person. Let me clarify: Jim was a delight in person. I enjoyed razzing him (asking him to call me a git or dilletante, which he sheepishly and nervously refused to do, and which I think says a lot). He seems to be a genuine, kind, gentle man, but the man I met does not match the rhetoric I often see coming from his blog. That is fine, we all have ways of expressing ourselves. This, however, was quite unexpected. I now have a very different sense of JW. Quite the long knee-jerk, eh?
Chris Heard: I was glad to meet Chris for the Pepperdine/SBL recording series. Having recently followed his youtube videos, I had a better sense of things. My only regret is that we were unable to talk in any sort of depth; both our schedules were insanely busy. But Chris ended up being quite what I expected: a kind and thoughtful scholar out to help younger scholars such as myself. Many thanks!
I must admit also (and I trust Chris will call me a geek for this) that meeting him was quite exciting for me. Readers of this blog will know of my deep appreciation for his Dynamics of Diselection (see HERE), so I confess to a bit of nerves before meeting him. He simply has been quite formative for my own work on Genesis.
(Ok, now I can begin to get to providing a bit of the internal monologue, near as I can recall, about meeting my fellow bloggers; this is what went through my head):
Jim West: “Really? That’s Jim West? The man in person and the man on the screen do NOT synch up, at all.”
Chris Heard: “Omigosh omigosh omigosh! It’s Chris Heard. This is too cool! Hey, he’s shorter than I expected.”
Mike Whitenton: “Wow, I think I met someone whiter than me! Surely he’s related to Conan O’ Brien. He’s a tall fella, too.”
Rob Kashow: “Hey, this guy is way better looking in person than his blog picture would lead you to believe.”
Doug Mangum: “Those are some seriously wicked awesome chops! Why can’t I grow facial hair?!”
Joseph Kelly: “You look familiar but I have no idea why. I swear I’ve met you before.”
Brandon Wason: “In that suit, with that hair greased and spiked like that, this guy totally looks like an Italian mob boss. ‘Hey, you talkin’ ta me?! Fahgettaboutit!!’
Kevin Scull: “Love the hair.” (Unfortunately I can’t explain this one, but it is what I recall).
Chris Tilling: “Oh look, it’s Chris Tilling, someone who’s never read my blog I’m sure. I bet he has no idea who I am.”
Pat McCullough: “Lordy that guy is huge. I did not expect that . . . he could totally take me!”
Art Boulet: “I’m jealous; I wish I could totally rock the bald head look. But my wife tells me I probably have a lumpy head.”
Brian Bibb: “Hmmmm, he looks younger in his pictures” (my sincerest apologies, Brian!).
Claude Mariottini: “I love the way this guy says his name! I wish I had a cool accent.”
Brooke Lester: “You look remarkably like one of our ethics profs at Baylor.”
Daniel and Tonya: “Master linguists in my presence; don’t mention Hebrew. Oooo, he’s going to come to my paper, and it’s making a translation argument. Uh oh!”
Ken Brown: “Really? I thought this guy was older than me.”
Mike Kok: “This guy looks super young! I’m only 28 and I’m feeling old . . . ”
Inside my head . . . it’s a scary place sometimes.
And now . . . dear reader, I extend the same question to you. If you met me at SBL, what was the narrative running through your mind? Levity and honesty, all in good fun!