"The object of all good literature is to purge the soul of its petty troubles." ~ P.G. Wodehouse

Monday, February 28, 2011

Jacob's Ladder

I am teaching a course this semester on Isaiah in the New Testament. Tomorrow we will be looking more broadly at the Old Testament in John's Gospel. One text that I have worked on previously and plan to discuss tomorrow is John 1:51 and Genesis 28:12. In preparing for the class, I searched for images of Jacob's ladder and ran across this painting by Marc Chagall, titled "Jacob's Ladder".

Check out this image!

I have always imagined Jacob out by himself in the hill country. Chagall has painted a village or city scene. Jacob is in the lower right and the ladder does not come near his head as some rabbinic interpretations would have it. There are also the other interesting characters on the left -- the chicken with the two figures and the group of people in the upper left. The painting is worth some further thinking.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why Doing a PhD is Often a Waste of Time -- the Economist, Dec 18, 2010

I have been meaning to post on the Economist's article in the Holiday Double Issue (Dec 18, 2010) entitled: 'The Disposable Academic: Why Doing a PhD is Often a Waste of Time'. I had hoped to write some longer comments on the article, but the beginning of the semester and now the mid-point of the semester have taken over.

Before some people get jumpy, take note of the word 'often' in the title, and I must say that I agree with them. I have a number of friends who have been looking for academic jobs for years now. The statistics that the Economist highlights make this ongoing job search appear much starker. For instance, between 2005 and 2009 the US alone produced more than 100,000 PhD students. Over that same period, only 16,000 new professor positions were created in the US. This is largely true in Canada and Britain.

The essay does move back and forth between science related PhDs and the humanities. I think that the difficulties of finding a job related to a humanities PhD are more pronounced because of the perceived lack of usefulness of a PhD in the humanities. This has become more pronounced as endowment funded universities and colleges have struggled through the economic downturn and uncertainty

The article is a good read, even you may not agree with everything. It is a good reminder that one should only pursue doctoral studies if a doctoral degree is necessary for what a person feels called to do. If it is not, I highly recommend thinking twice about struggling through the financial and emotional stresses of pursuing such a degree. I am glad I did it, but it is not easy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

KJV at 400: Globe and Mail article

There is a great article from Saturday's Globe and Mail on the 400 year anniversary of the King James Version. The article rightly highlights the work of William Tyndale as a significant part of the translation. And it notes via comments by Ephraim Radner that biblical literacy is fast disappearing.