Friday, June 09, 2006

Talk at the Smithsonian

Last week, I was in Washington DC staying with friends and speaking once at a gathering of clergy women at the Cathedral School and at the Smithsonian Resident Associates program on Saturday June 3rd from 9-1pm. The Smithsonian program was a panel with Profs Carol Meyers of Duke and Elizabeth Johnson of Fordham. Each of us gave separate talks on Miriam, Mary and Mary Magdalene followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with the audience.

It was a wonderful occasion for cross-disciplinary discussion and interfaith reflections some of which we got into after the presentations. Elizabeth Johnson, for example, proposed that traits of Mary are attributed to the Holy Spirit by Protestants. Carol Meyers argued that the term "coming/going out" describes the action of women musicians celebrating miraculous events such as deliverance at the Red Sea (Miriam), celebrating David's victory after killing the Philistines (I Sam 18:6), and Mary Magdalene who went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord" (John 20:18).

The Smithsonian specifically asked that we make power point presentations with handouts. Mine used music and images from the Biblia Pauperum to show the expansion of dialogue between Jesus and MM at the tomb in John 20 by incorporating material from the Song of Songs. Since the technical people could not get either Carol Meyers or my power point presentations to work at the outset, we reversed the order of presentations to finish with material from the Hebrew Bible. By 11.00am order was restored and Carol presented. I was reduced to using handouts alone although they did manage to play my music. It was hard to concentrate on content and points of dialogue when worrying about delivery.

All of this goes to show that having plan B is essential and that plan B must not mentally be second best. Perhaps practising a day ahead is optimal. I did appreciate the simplicity of Elizabeth's lecture and handout presentation :)


Rev Dr Mom said...

Oy, technology! You are so right about needing a Plan B. I'm sure it was a fascinating presentation though. Perhaps you can put up your power point here.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Dear Deirdre,
What IS it with powerpoint? Unless one is doing an art study, or has interesting graphs, I've yet to see a PP presentation in which seeing text bullet points added anything to my understanding. Perhaps the idea is that PP will force the authors to think more clearly by having to create an outline. Little evidence of that, from the presenationas I've seen! And surely not one of your problems, O font of clarity and incisive inquiry! ;-)

I'd much rather listen to a persuasive speaker and concentrate on hir voice and gesture than be distracted by words, words, words on a barely legible screen.

So glad to see you blogging; I check in from time to time but haven't posted a comment before. I find I call on things you taught me in NT almost every week...

All the best...