Saturday, November 20, 2021

Seminary Research and a Tree Lighting Festival

I have spent the past days/weeks immersed in seminary work--but it's the happy kind of immersed, where the writing hums, and I can solve any of the issues that come up.  I think back to pre-Seminary Kristin who was concerned about having enough secondary sources to write her paper.  But I was convinced that if I had to, I could make a quick trip to the campus to take advantage of a better theological library than any of the libraries down here.

Little did I realize how much research has changed.  So far, everything I need has been available online.  Plus much of it is already included in the course shell.  I don't even have to do the research to find the secondary sources I need.  I do wonder if it would have always been this way or if that's a feature of grad school in a pandemic age.

Earlier this week, I made this Facebook post:  "I am a woman who did pre-internet era research, a woman who once thought that microfiche access was a huge improvement over microfilm access. As a seminary student in 2021, being able to get what I need from the library, by way of electronic resources, from 1000 miles away, I feel like a medieval monk, used to a certain kind of scriptorium, who is shown a portal into a world that once seemed only possible in science fiction."

When I got to grad school, the card catalogue was still on paper cards stored in drawers.  Over the next few years, 1988-1991, the library transitioned to an electronic database.  I was appalled that the library would just throw away the physical card catalogue, as I expected the electronic version to crash repeatedly. I'm glad I was wrong.

It still feels miraculous to me that so much is available from so far away.  And I'm amused at my outrage when I come across the occasional source that is listed as "on the shelf."

I had planned to have an evening of writing last night, as I'm trying to get ahead before the Thanksgiving break.  I also thought about going to the tree lighting in the Arts Park across the street from me or at least watching it from my balcony.  I wondered if the torrential rains would mean the event would be postponed.  When the rains stopped, I decided to go see.

I'm glad I made the effort.  There weren't many people in the park, which meant that every child who wanted to could be part of flipping the switch.  There was a bit of a pause while the politicians onstage got updated about how the mysterious visitor would arrive.  The announcement came, Santa and Mrs. Claus walked on stage, and small children ran with joy through the wet grass at the news of this visitor from the North Pole.

I felt a bit of weepiness hearing Bing Crosby sing "I'll Be Home for Christmas."  Or maybe I was already feeling a bit of weepiness, the kind mixed with nostalgia and joy and happiness to be alive to see another holiday season.  It was a good night to go out to see excited children and adults holding hands and various humans with their dogs, out to take in the holiday cheer on a strangely warm and windy night.  It was the break I needed.

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