Ah, end of the semester. A time when panicky students suddenly realize they're actually going to have to go into the library, which is then filled with swarming undergraduates who don't know where they are, what they're doing, or where anything is, and expect you as a reference assistant to basically do their research for them. At this point, reference interviews are so often an exercise in frustration: No, they haven't started anything yet. No, they have no idea where to begin their search. Oh, and did they mention that their paper is due tomorrow?

An example of a reference interaction I had with a student through instant messaging the other night:

Clueless Student: Hi, I need help finding sources for my paper.
Kristi: Great! What's your topic, and what class is it for?
CS: It's for P441.
K: I'm sorry, I don't know what that class is, specifically. Could you tell me a little about it, and about what your paper is supposed to be on?
CS: It's on women in Saudi Arabia.
K: What aspect of that topic are you wanting to research?
CS: I don't know, I guess like women's rights and family relations.
K: Okay, so you're looking for articles that might discuss gender issues and the family in Saudi Arabia.
CS: Yeah, and we're supposed to discuss power distance. Like with Hofstede and everything.
K: I'm sorry, I'm not sure you mean by that, could you explain for me so I can help you in your search?
CS: (Student struggles incoherently to explain and finally sends me to a link. Apparently it has something to do with international business and power distance is one of the criteria used to measure a country)
K: All right, great - have you started any searching on your own for this?
CS: Yes.
K: ...
K: Okay, could you tell me a little bit about what you've tried already?
CS: Well, I went to this one search my teacher suggested, I forget what it's called, and I tried women and power distance and Saudi Arabia and I didn't get any results!
K: You might want to try different search terms then. Let's start out in Academic Search Premier (at which point I proceed to explain how to get to this database and how to do a basic search)
K: Now, it's important to remember that you're probably not going to find articles that match your subject exactly when you've got a fairly narrow topic. You might need to broaden your search and be willing to wade through a lot of information that might turn out to be useful.
CS: No, my professor told us we had to be specific. We can't write a generic paper.
K: Well, your paper doesn't have to be generic - you take what you learn from various articles and apply it to your specific topic. Like, for example, this looks like a great article (on family relations in the Arab world).
CS: No, that won't work. It's not about Saudi Arabia.
K: Well, keep it in mind, it might still be worth a look. How about this one? It discusses women and Islam in Saudi Arabia.
CS: No, that won't work, it doesn't talk about power distance.
(this continues ad nauseum, with the student dismissing every potential article I find)
K: I think you may be limiting yourself too much here. You're really not going to find articles that address every aspect of your topic all in one place. You need to be willing to read articles that look like they have potential for your project.
CS: But my instructor says we have to be specific!
(Again, I attempt to explain how research works, but the student isn't buying.)
K: Well, we're not having much luck with articles. How about we search the catalog for some books that might work for you?
CS: Oh, no, this paper is due in two days and I really don't have time to read any more books.
K: It's not likely you'll have to read the whole book, but you might want to browse a few - you might find a chapter or two that will work for you.
CS: I don't think so. I need short things.
(The conversation continues, with the student and I both getting more and more frustrated. Eventually I advise the student to come into the library for face-to-face help. I have spent an hour with this one student.)

Anyway, that's just one example of some of the crazy reference stuff going on lately. Don't get me wrong - I love helping students, but some of these kids just have no idea what they're doing, and don't even seem to be willing to learn. They just want you to hand them the information they need on a platter, and they don't want to have to read and distill information from a wide variety of sources. They want exactly what their topic calls for, and they want it all in one place. So frustrating.

Time to brag

New template, yay! And I used my brand-new mad html skillz to fiddle with it a bit. I love knowing how to do this kind of thing, even if I am still just a lowly beginner.

Also: IT'S SNOWING! I wish I had Christmas albums I could play. I'm definitely in the Christmas spirit, and that usually doesn't happen this early for me.

From Salon.com: "Wonder is sexy. Knowledge is sexy. And embodying both as much as any man in the world today is a man in a tweed jacket riding his bike around the Oxford University campuses, the damp English breeze sweeping a curtain of silver hair from the delicate bones of his face. Yes, those cheekbones, those piercing eyes, that pursed bow of a mouth -- but that brain, oh that brain, oh, god, that brain -- is what makes...

"Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and the most famous atheist in the world, the sexiest man around. Dawkins is the professor I never had an affair with, whose very sentence structure threatens to weaken my concentration on the content of his words. Call me deluded: I ache for his atheism; I reel from his reasoning. He is my James Bond, a well-attired, fearless seeker of truth in the face of nihilism.
I dream of his perfectly-accented voice -- Oxbridge softened by a childhood spent in, sigh, East Africa -- whispering to me from his latest book, "The God Delusion," a defense of endless curiosity in the face of omnipresent theism. "If the demise of god will leave a gap, different people will fill it in different ways. My way includes a good dose of science, the honest and systematic endeavor to find out the truth about the real world." Take me with you, Richard: You put the "sex" in sexagenarian. Let us clinch in a godless embrace, crying out to what we know does not exist, searching, searching evermore."


Oh hells yeah. Dawkins, take me now! You can snidely deride me in that oh-so-sexy accent for my foolish belief in God, and then when that gets old you can read to me from The Ancestor's Tale. Choanoflagellates get me so hot.

So...young, "hip" Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll's comments on the whole Haggard scandal are offensive in so many ways. Some highlights:

"Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either."

"Churches should consider returning to heterosexual male assistants who are like Timothy and Titus to serve alongside pastors. Too often the pastor’s assistant is a woman who, if not sexually involved, becomes too emotionally involved with the pastor as a sort of emotional and practical second wife. I have been blessed with a trustworthy heterosexual male assistant who can travel with me, meet with me, etc., without the fear of any temptations or even false allegations since we have beautiful wives and eight children between us."

"Pastors need to carefully protect their cell phone number. If that private number gets out, too many of the wrong people have access to the pastor. Not only should the cell phone number of a pastor be given out to only a few people, he should also consider eliminating his voicemail and simply have calls forwarded to his assistant. In this way people will not become too informal with the pastor and if the pastor knows someone is trouble (e.g., a flirtatious woman), he can see that on his caller ID and simply refuse to answer the call or have to deal with a voicemail."

Driscoll's comments are, to me, one of the more disgusting things I've seen that have come out of this whole Haggard controversy. Apparently in Driscoll's mind, either the woman is a fat old married slob who isn't putting out for her husband, or she's a flirtatious whore trying to entice men off of the straight and narrow. Ugh. When I first read this I was so mad I had to get up and pace around the room until I calmed down. And apparently now he's "apologized" for his earlier comments. Well, forgive me if I'm not quite willing to just brush the whole thing off now. The problem is that his clarification really does nothing to counteract the genuine spirit of misogyny that seems to underlie so much of what he says - he may not even be aware of it. But there are just so many little digs against women in his messages - even when he doesn't seem to be directly referencing anything to do with male/female roles in Scripture, or what have you. I mean, check out a few more quotes directly from the man himself:

"Some women think they can do everything on their own and that if men sit by idly like cowards because they don't want to get into it with their hot-headed, emotional, wives, eventually the women will take over the church, and then the church will go to hell."

"When you disagree, when you're super-theological, when you're all fired up, the first thing you don't do is start yellin' at the pastor and yellin' at the church, firin' nasty e-mails, and declarin' war and puttin' together a, a, little group of, you know, feminist women with guns who are gonna make a difference."

In reference to the election of a woman as head of the US Episcopalian church: "All of this has led this blogger to speculate that if Christian males do not man up soon, the Episcopalians may vote a fluffy baby bunny rabbit as their next bishop to lead God’s men."

"I eventually had to distance myself from the Emergent stream of the network because friends like Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt began pushing a theological agenda that greatly troubled me. Examples include referring to God as a chick, questioning God's sovereignty over and knowledge of the future, denial of the substitutionary atonement at the cross, a low view of Scripture, and denial of hell which is one hell of a mistake."

"Many women, particularly younger women in our age of insanity, try to evade the clear commands in these verses as their mother Eve did. Many will believe that they can better help God’s cause in this world, better help their husbands, better help their children, and better help themselves by doing and being different than what God through Paul commands. However, they would only be continuing the legacy of their mother Eve who was well meaning and trying to help, but simply became deceived into thinking that her wisdom soared above God’s."

"The major blind spot of megachurches is that they tend to be very effeminate with aesthetics, music, and preaching perfectly tailored for moms. Manly men are repelled by this, and many of the men who find it appealing are the types to sing prom songs to Jesus and learn about their feelings while sitting in a seafoam green chair drinking herbal tea — the spiritual equivalent of Richard Simmons..."

"The two hot theologies today are Reformed and emerging. Reformed theology offers certainty, with a masculine God who names our sin, crushes Jesus on the Cross for it, and sends us to hell if we fail to repent. Emerging theology offers obscurity, with a neutered God who would not say an unkind word to us, did not crush Jesus for our sins, and would not send anyone to hell."

"Jesus was a carpenter who walked a lot of miles and was therefore a fit, blue-collar type of guy who would never drive a Cabriolet, rock out to Mariah Carey, or wear lemon-yellow."

"I have sat in the room with him and been told "If your wife is working, you are a selfish bastard. How dare you make her shoulder her half of the curse and part of yours as well."

"You need to stop watching porno and crying like a baby afterward and grow up, man. I don't have time to be your accountability partner, so you need to be a man and nut up and take care of this yourself. A naked lady is good to look at, so get a job, get a wife, ask her to get naked, and look at her instead. Alright?"

"There is no occasion where women led a society and were its heads and the men complied and followed. ... It's a matter of Biblical creation."

"Every single book in your Bible is written by a man... Priest[hood] is reserved exclusively for godly men."

"Women will be saved by going back to that role that God has chosen for them."

"Who gave them the right to take over literature, sociology, and gender studies departments at universities? Who gave them the right to speak?"

"I have some other opinions. I went to community college. I have a degree in women’s studies. I have a pushup bra and clear heels and opinions!"

There's plenty more where that came from, and a lot of the same from people associated with Driscoll and Mars Hill. It all just smacks of "Aw, aren't these little ladies so CUTE when they stay in their place and don't get uppity?" There's just so much condescension and disrespect dripping off of his words. People keep saying, "Oh, his words were taken out of context!" Well, I don't care what context they're in, they're still demeaning towards women and they're still disgusting to see in someone who is supposed to be shepherd of a flock of men AND women. Actually, when you stop to think about it, Driscoll's attitude is just as demeaning towards men as it is towards women. He's trying to fit everyone into rigid, compartmentalized roles based on what he thinks masculinity and femininity are. And that just won't fly. If this is the new face of evangelical Christianity, it sure looks a lot like the old face. Dressing his message up in tattoos and rock music and Snoop Dogg doesn't make Driscoll any less of a misogynist. It certainly doesn't make him more "relevant." I just hope the kids out in Seattle realize this eventually.

And indeed there will be time
for the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
there will be time, there will be time
to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
there will be time to murder and create,
and time for all the works and days of hands
that lift and drop a question on your plate;
time for you and time for me,
and time yet for a hundred indecisions,
and for a hundred visions and revisions,
before the taking of a toast and tea.

So, this is my umpteenth attempt to start some sort of blog online. Every other try has been given up within a post or two, I think, but this one's going to make it. I can just feel it.

Usually the reason why my attempts at blogging don't last is simply because my life has long been far too boring to write about and expect people to read it. I don't think even my family really wants to read about all the dull minutia of my average day. Since starting library school, however, I sometimes feel like I might actually have something to talk about occasionally. I know, most people aren't going to view librarianship as the most fascinating subject, but trust me when I say it's an improvement over the past two years or so. So, anyway, this will be my place to muse about the joys and frustrations of graduate school and the library world, as well as my life in general. So, uh, stick around.

If this isn't a post calculated to entice people in, I don't know what is.

Newer Posts Home