As many of you know, I’ve been at teaching Biblical Studies at Eastern University since January of 2012, and it’s been both a privilege and a ton of fun.
I wanted to share some news with you. A few weeks ago Eastern University awarded me an academic chair. I am officially the Abram S. Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies (not yet sure if that means I need to change my birth certificate). This news came as quite a surprise, and I am deeply honored.
I imagine, though, that some of you may have some questions about all this. Here are a few I’ve fielded thus far. Please feel free to add your own.
- Q. How in heaven’s name did YOU get a chair?
- A. I was the 5th caller.
- Q. What exactly is a “chair”?
- A. Its origins are in ancient Assyria, when, after pillaging a town, the victor warrior was allowed to rest in a “charru.” That custom has carried over to the academic world: professors who terrorize the students best are, in keeping with this ancient custom, given a “chair.” Either that or it’s some sort of a medieval European thing. I haven’t really looked into it, to be honest.
- Q. Wait…back up…so you’re saying they actually made a conscious decision about this? It wasn’t a clerical error?
- A. I never said anything about anyone being conscious. That’s your word, not mine.
- Q. I mean, was there even a vetting process where outsiders were consulted to weigh on your fitness for receiving a chair?
- A. Yes, but they did it anyway.
- Q. Since it looks like we all just need to accept this, tell us a bit more. What sort of perks come with the honorable title?
- A. Students must stay outside of a 50 foot perimeter. They are no longer allowed to make eye contact, speak with me, or even touch the hem of my robe lest they surely die. I’m also (finally) getting a food taster.
- Q. Have family and friends treated you any differently now that you have been given this prestigious honor?
- A. Oh my, yes. My wife, for example, shows me much more honor. “Hey Abram S. Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies, if you’re not too absorbed in your own thoughts, do you think you could move your honored hind quarters in here and take out the garbage before it gains consciousness?” Or my offspring: “Hey Abram S. Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies, get out of my room and stay out.” My dogs seem to be quite taken by the idea, though, judging by how happy they are to see me when I walk in the door. Also, when I wander through the grocery store, people seem to look at me differently. I used to think it was because I wear crocs with white socks and shorts, but now I’m not so sure.
OK, all kidding aside–I am deeply thankful to Eastern for this honor, and happy and humbled to be a part of such a wonderful and welcoming Christian community, where “Faith, Reason, Justice” is not a slogan but a foundational vision and driving goal for Christian college education.