This time with that dodgy ‘literary’ award known hereabouts as the Miles Franklin. With yet another all-male shortlist, a ‘sausage-fest’ is being mooted:

“Another ‘sausagefest’,” literary blogger Angela Meyer wrote on Twitter when the short list was announced in Sydney, a reference to the controversial 2009 Miles Franklin when five male writers fought out the prize, with Tim Winton prevailing.

“At least it won’t cost much to change the letterhead from Miles to Males,” quipped the award-winning novelist Sonya Hartnett.

And on Facebook, novelist and former Meanjin editor Sophie Cunningham chimed in with: “I meant to write myself a novel that would be a Miles Franklin contender today, but then I got my period, so I didn’t.”

(ht jg)

At long last, my mother is a regular reader of my blog (and not an occasional reader, as before, even with Jim West’s open letter). You see, one of my nephews thought it was high time she had proper internet access. So what did she do? She went and spent an hour or so tracking back through my blog. And what did she read? ‘Too Many Dicks at the Writing Desk, or, How to Organise a Prophetic Sausage Fest’. Of course, I was visiting her today too, so you can imagine how our discussion went. But I am not one to back down, and sought to explain why it is not purely 14-year old porn. Or, if it is, then so is Ezekiel … Which she seemed to accept, reluctantly. All the same, as I left, she said, ‘don’t post smut on your blog, Roland, and keep your language clean’.

Welcome mum.

That paper was finally delivered today to a someone puzzled, occasionally tittering and possibly titillated audience, if I may say so with shameless self-promotion. However, there were two highlights in the discussion that followed.

The first came from a fellow presenter, who passed me a note regarding Hosea 4:12, which reads: ‘a diviner’s rod speaks to them’. Is it a reference to a penis?

The second was the concluding question of the session, directed at me by none other than the biblical historian Lester Grabbe, there with his stick. A little earlier I had been expounding on Ezekiel 2-3, in which the prophet eats a phallic scroll covered in words and writing, held out by a mysterious hand, a scroll which was unexpectedly sweet to the taste. I argued that this text may well be read as a reference to auto-fellatio (full section here), backed up by an image of the moment of creation from Heliopolis in which the god sucks himself off.

Now Lester is a really nice bloke, 60-something and an interesting scholar, if somewhat traditional in that strange English way. Lester began by referring to a Monty Python skit in which a man in a raincoat turns up and takes a bit of this and bit of that (I haven’t seen the skit, I must admit) according to his fantasy. Aren’t you, Lester asked, doing a similar thing, picking up bits and pieces and constructing something that is not there (prophetic pen(ise)s and auto-fellatio). In other words, he went on, when Ezekiel 2-3 refers to a hand holding a scroll, might it not be just a hand and not a euphemism for a penis? For as Freud once said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

So I replied: in other words, you are accusing me of a little too much eisegesis?

You put the words right in my mouth, said Lester.

That is, I must admit, not an image – of Lester and me – one would like to entertain for too long as one drifts off to sleep.

Having just sombred the crowd at the Historical Materialism conference with my paper on ‘Marxism and Death’, I now realise it marked the beginning of conference silly season. Next is the Society of Biblical Literature, with four papers (I had forgotten about one until recently). So, in a moment of shameless self-promotion, here they are:


Ideological Criticism
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Spring – Hyatt Regency

Theme: Book Review: James Crossley, Jesus in an Age of Terror (Equinox, 2008)

Randall Reed, Appalachian State University, Presiding
Mark Goodacre, Duke University, Panelist (25 min)
Zeba Crook, Carleton University, Panelist (25 min)
William Arnal, University of Regina, Panelist (25 min)
Roland Boer, University of Newcastle, Australia, Panelist (25 min)
James Crossley, University of Sheffield, Respondent (30 min)


Prophetic Texts and Their Ancient Contexts
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Inman – Hyatt Regency

Theme: Prophecy and Gender in the Bible and Beyond

Jonathan Stökl, University of Cambridge, Presiding
Roland Boer, University of Newcastle – Australia
Too Many Dicks at the Writing Desk, or, How to Organise a Prophetic Sausage-Fest (15 min)
Dale Launderville, Saint John’s University
Gender, Purity, and Power in Ezekiel’s Priestly Vision (15 min)
Corrine Carvalho, University of Saint Thomas
Prophecy and the Single Man: Marital Status and Gender in Jeremiah and Ezekiel (15 min)
Discussion (30 min)
Esther Hamori, Union Theological Seminary
Women and Divination in Biblical Narrative (15 min)
Martti Nissinen, University of Helsinki
Gender and Prophetic Agency in the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean (15 min)
Ilona Zsolnay, University of Pennsylvania
Can the Masculine Mesopotamian King be a Feminine Vessel? (15 min)
Discussion (30 min)

The papers will be summarized, not read. The full text of the papers is available for those subscribed to the list To subscribe to the list, go to


Hebrew Bible and Political Theory/Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah
Joint Session With: Hebrew Bible and Political Theory, Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: International 1 – Marriott Marquis

Theme: Ezra-Nehemiah Through the Lens of Political Theory

Joshua Berman, Bar Ilan University, Presiding
Richard Bautch, Saint Edward’s University
Between Nationalism and Sectarianism: Political Identity in Ezra and Nehemiah (30 min)
Kyong-Jin Lee, Spring Arbor University
“The Law of your God and the Law of the King” in the Political Structure of the Achaemenid Empire (30 min)
Roland Boer, University of Newcastle – Australia
Subjectivity and Class in Ezra-Nehemiah (30 min)
Steven Schweitzer, Bethany Theological Seminary
Reading Utopia in Ezra-Nehemiah (30 min)


New Unit Planning Session: Economics in the Biblical World
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Lenox – Hyatt Regency

Theme: Problems and Prospects

Samuel Adams, Union Presbyterian Seminary, Presiding
Roland Boer, University of Newcastle
Economic Theory (35 min)
Roger S. Nam, George Fox University
Trade and Commerce (15 min)
Richard A. Horsley, University of Massachusetts
Second Temple Period (15 min)
Samuel Adams, Union Presbyterian Seminary
Family Life (15 min)
Catherine Murphy, Santa Clara University
Dead Sea Scrolls (15 min)
Break (10 min)
Business Meeting (45 min)

(ht to WJL)

Forget the miniscule sausages on the printfektion stuff Deane Galbraith has been peddling, Zazzle has an impressive range of big, juicy sausages in many, many different forms. You might try the simple butcher sausage for starters or perhaps the silly sausage.  A little more risqué, bound to give the powers that be at SBL a few nervous twitches, is the black banger, or perhaps the eggs and sausage.

But my favourite and the one I’ll be wearing at SBL is: Ain’t no fest like a sausage fest!

I kid you not: the stars and intestinal tubes of various dead animals have aligned:

One of the most popular events on the food calendar, British Sausage Week is embraced by chefs, retailers and consumers alike and this year looks to be no different, with a high profile programme of activity planned to run from 1 to 7 November 2010.

Only in England … or maybe Germany. As one of the promoters in Leeds said:

We are proud to be a ‘speciality house’ with a dedicated menu for the Great British Classic, sausages! Our sausage menu is quite extensive and holds 10 different varieties.

Unlike the SBL, it seems.