Many years ago I was given some sage advice concerning conferences: if you listen to one really shit paper and get one new idea, it has all been worth it. This SBL has offered a slight variation on that rule of thumb.
Let me start with the lowest moment – the book display. The books? It has always been a great pleasure to persue, meet, wrangle and get hold of books you never intended to buy in the first place. And I have been told – although never actually experienced it – that the entrance to the book display is a great pickup spot … Anyway, why was it the lowest moment? There are massive displays by all those wonderfuly broadminded presses such as Intervarsity Press (IVP), Baylor, Baker, Zondervan and Hendrickson. Not that long ago, these guys – who make Attila the Hun seem like a Marxist – would have small, wayside displays with the occasional passerby (like me) dropping in because we felt sorry for them. Now they have massive displays and the stands are crowded with people snapping up books.
The high point: in a recent conversation I encountered a fantastic term – Buttfuck Bible College. Not that it needs much explanation, but this is a college one wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. Apart from the curious obverse of a Freudian wish fulfillment such a statement may suggest, BBC is located deep in some fundo wasteland where they believe Obama is a Muslim and socialism has overtaken the good ol’ USA. Fucking brilliant!
And so to the nightmare: one is in the midst of a conference like this, in massive hotels quarantined from the streets, and some cataclysmic event takes place. As a result we are quarantined to the conference venue for the foreseeable future, perpetually attending paper sessions, pissing people off (for some reason beyond, some of the SBL people give me cold, hostile looks), eating shit food in a never-ending SBL conference full of people from BBCs.
The only entertainment would then be the following, at the front of the hotel, originally ‘erected’ for the Atlanta Olympics:
Makes one think of Aaron’s rod, or maybe a certain bible college … (ht to WJL)