Mid-Twentieth Century Blues. Chapter Three!

Campus Culture.  Misogyny 

Prelude

This is another chapter in my book. You can find it on Amazon!

The vignettes of campus life below seem to be only on the fringe of my experiences. There was so much more!  This chapter hops from one skirmish to another, like battles in a war.  Terrorists hurled bombs in my way.  I never knew when they were coming!

Until I entered college, I was unaware that females were hated.  Neither did I understand what it would be like working in an educational environment where most people claimed they were celibate or chaste (vow of chastity)!

Only recently have we as a nation, become aware of how political parties attempt to suppress the votes of minorities, the poor,  immigrants, and seniors.  We saw it in North Dakota, Florida, Kansas, Alabama, Arizona, Indiana,  Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.  Missouri has also attempted to suppress votes.

And while the topics of voter suppression and misogyny don’t seem to go together, they do.  Throughout ALL of my career, there was a politic of suppression that aimed to stop women from achieving, working, learning, and creating a healthy life. They might hire you, but you were supposed to absolve yourself of ambition and creativity!

Can this be Real?

Many private academic institutions in the twentieth century had rigid rulebooks for their students. Sexes were separated and students lived under the penetrating eye of deans who held the rules close to their hearts.  There were always challenges in fitting into the campus culture of a new school.  Sometimes the rules harmed you and at other times they had “your back.” When I think about all the hurdles I encountered, I wonder why I continued with my education?  I suppose it was my love of learning.  Every class, even if poorly taught or organized, was an adventure into something about which I knew nothing.  I could not leave this landscape, in spite of everything.

Manipulating Students

While in high school I was dating a boy who was invited to take an aptitude test in the Psychology Department at a state university.  If he did well, he would win a scholarship.  I rode along with him to the university and decided to take the test with him.  He did not do well on the test, but I topped it out.  They offered me the scholarship and amenities.  Later in my career, I would interview at that same institution for a teaching position. That story will come soon.

Some of my friends were traveling south to explore a small college in Indiana.  They invited me.  I had never considered going to a small private college.  When we arrived, they treated us like kings and queens.  (They used a false marketing scheme and suspended all of their social rules for the day.  What?) It was a beautiful campus and parks nearby were gorgeous.  It was much more welcoming than the block and steel state university. So, I applied and was accepted.  The only problem was that I did not have any money to pay for college.  I also applied to a couple of private colleges out East after this experience and was accepted, but back then there was virtually no financial support from private colleges.

A New Car is Behind Door #3!

My father and mother wanted me to go to State.  It was a matter of money.  They could not help me with any expenses in college.  My father had told me when I was ten years old that he was going to stop paying for my clothing and the things I needed at school.  And he kept his promise.

Now, when I was about to leave home, he told me that he would buy an automobile for me if I would go to State. He wouldn’t buy a car for me when I was in high school. That was my responsibility.  Even though this was a generous offer, it angered me. Like a rebellious 17-year-old headstrong girl, I decided not to go to State.  I think my father was afraid of any college that was religious in nature, and to an extent, I should have been afraid too. He had experienced rabid fundamentalism in Tennessee before World War II and stayed away from religious people.

My Dad’s Point of View was the Correct View

The college I attended was religious and very strict.  I had no idea that there were rules about dating, how long your skirts could be, and when you had to be in your dorm at night.  (They suspended the rules on recruitment days as mentioned above.) You could not even hold hands with a boy and there was something called the six-inch rule. You could not even sit together. None of those things were discussed with us when I visited the college with my friends.  It was a shock when I arrived on campus.

Skinny Knees were Showing

During my tumultuous first semester, the dean of students reprimanded me because my skirt was too short.  I wonder who reported me?  (Can you imagine taking a ruler and measuring someone’s skirt?  It had to be below your knees.)

The dean told me that they were giving me three days off to fix my clothing.  I told her that I did not have other clothing and all the hems on my skirts had been lengthened.  (No britches allowed!)  They decided to give me only one day of suspension.

Little did I know that if a student was suspended that all grades would be lowered 10% for each day of suspension. My excellent grades went down the drain.  If they had kept their promise of three days, I would have failed the semester.  They also suspended two women who lived next to me in my dorm because they were lesbians.  They left in the middle of the semester.  One day they were there and the next they were being dragged down the hall crying!  No wonder the college went out of business!

I thought it was time for me to leave also, but I had made so many friends that I stayed.  It is safe to say that probably my dad was correct; I should have enrolled at State. My life would have been a lot easier. But, on the other hand, the classes in which I was enrolled at this college were very small.  You could not escape the eye of your professor and I soon learned how to discipline myself to achieve even better grades.  On the other hand, if I had gone to State, I would be a psychologist today!!

No Money

At this time there were virtually no loan programs for students except a government-sponsored teacher program.  So, I had to pay for everything myself and this was a private college that cost three times as much as a public institution.  Rarely could anyone borrow money to go to college back in the 1960’s.  You either had to win a grant or scholarship, come from a well-to-do family, or work your way through school.  This meant that I had to work (sometimes) three part-time jobs.  But this was not enough money to pay for my education.  And it was hardly enough money to pay for rent and buy food.  I often had to go to a food pantry to survive.

Every semester the college would send me notices that they were going to drop me (kick me out of the college)  if I did not pay my tuition.  I was always on the edge.  When summer came I worked two full-time jobs and saved as much of the money as I could for college.  My parents had no cash to help me; they were dealing with issues surrounding a younger brother. One semester an anonymous donor paid for all of my tuition. Another semester the church back home sent some money.  Both of these helped to soften the load. I was grateful!

My grades were very good in college but they would have been better if I had worked only one job at a time.  I was so strapped for funds that I began working full time during my last year of college.  I finished the degree through correspondence courses.

The Greatest Hoax

Immediately I started applying for admission to graduate schools after winning an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies.  Little did I know that my college was unaccredited? (I guess that is how Trump students felt!)  I did not even know what that meant.  Of course, no one around me ever told me that it was not accredited with the North Central Accrediting Association.  Because of that fact, the graduate schools that would accept my credits were few. It was disheartening.  But I am sure that many students have faced the same issues. Neither my family, nor anyone in my neighborhood, nor anyone I knew personally in Michigan had gone to college. (I did date a boy who went to State when I was fifteen but we didn’t talk about accreditation.)  I did not even know how to ask the questions about college.  There was a nurse, a part-time teacher, and a social worker living on our street but no one offered advice.

I found a couple of colleges that would accept my credits if I passed their qualifying tests.  Fortunately I passed the tests but was put on probation for a year at a prestigious graduate school.  It was a thrill to be able to go on to graduate work and not one person measured my skirts! I earned all “A’s” my first semester.  This was a good time in my life.  The professors supported my work and honored me with the graduate award for my thesis, Luke. The Feminist. The M.A. in New Testament and Greek was only my first step toward becoming a professor.

A Graduate School of Celibates for Celibates

If I had known how difficult the path would be to obtain a Ph.D., I am sure that I would have run the other way.  Stepping into a program with professors who literally hated or were afraid of females was probably not a smart thing to do.  But I did not know the path and the people and the difficult days that were ahead of me.  I never dreamed that the cards would be stacked against me.  I was so naive!

During the years prior to entering a Ph.D. program, I taught at a small private college in the south and then became a Personnel Director (Human Resources) for a large retail company.  The small college was Wesleyan but upon arrival I discovered that it was also charismatic.  This meant that at faculty meetings people would scream, dance, and speak in tongues.  I had never experienced this very athletic and vocal type of religious activity.  They actually fell down on the floor.  I became so sick during the first faculty meeting that I had to leave.  In spite of all the issues I encountered at this school, like short skirts again, students voted to give me the Professor of the Year award.  This college was not for me, so I left.  I did miss the free breakfasts!

Human Resources, here I Come!  Underpaid!

In a single day, after resigning from the teaching job, I received several offers of employment.  I took the job as assistant director of personnel responsible for three retail stores. Within months my boss was fired.

He had given me a day off when time sheets were due.  All of these sheets went into the home office in another state.  Detail work was not his forte’ and he failed to include the salary sheets of all the managers.  This meant that the local office professionals had to cut their checks, so they learned how much their superiors were being paid.  The owners of the company were furious!

Without hesitation the managers offered the job of director to me. Of course, it was one third less pay than my boss was making, without an assistant. (They made me work two jobs.) They decided to take advantage of me.  When I took the job they were surprised, “We thought you would argue for higher salary.”  I did not argue about anything because I was planning to leave as soon as I was accepted into a Ph.D. program.

Treading Water until My Ship Arrived!

Very few graduate schools would accept females into a Religious Studies program in the 1970’s. The Civil Rights Actvhad been passed in 1964 and Title IX in 1972 but it had little real effect on admissions. I began applying for entrance into graduate schools around 1974.  The world was just beginning to get used to women being educated at traditionally all-male colleges and universities.  I remember reading The Women’s Room(1977) that captured how females were treated at Harvard.  There were no restrooms for women and a single restroom had to be created.  I faced all of the same problems that the major character in this book faced when I began attending graduate school.

A Midwestern university in the United States accepted me into a Ph.D. program to study Biblical Languages and Literature. Acceptance required a personal interview.  I told them that I had a job and I could not afford to fly out to the university.  So they interviewed me on the phone and they agreed to admit me.  At that time there were no graduate assistantships so I had to pay my own way. I explained to the interviewers that I would have to wait a year so that I could save up money for tuition.  And in 1976 I began my graduate studies.

Translation Work and a Sexist Boss!

Koine Greek Manuscript

Since I did not have a job when I arrived to begin my Ph.D. work, I applied for every job I could find.  A nearby library at another college offered the job of proofing German and other language texts to me.  The advertisement required the ability to read five languages.  Fortunately I had studied German, French, Spanish, Greek, and Egyptian Hieroglyphics.  I spent the next year pouring over texts for them.

When I started applying for jobs as a professor, I went back to my supervisor at the library and asked for a letter of recommendation.  He said that he could not give me a letter because he believed it was a “sin” for women to teach religious studies.  He believed that only males should be allowed to teach.  My credentials were the best for the job at the library and he hired me. Yet I was a female and could not possibly take a career position that should belong to a male in the field of Religious Studies?  Physiology disqualified me from the jobs!!

The Big Decision

“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and who ….”

 In the second year of my Ph.D. work, I was offered an academic advising assistantship.  The job was in the dean’s office of the undergraduate school.  Soon they promoted me to Director. I spent a year in that office and loved it.  In about two years funds became available for a graduate teaching assistantship in the Religious Studies Department.  To my surprise, the priests and brothers voted to offer it to me.  It paid less than my job with the undergraduate college, but it meant that I would have the opportunity to teach.  So I accepted the offer.

My graduate advisor, the Father, came to see me after I had moved into the office where Religious Studies was housed and said to me, “I did not want to vote for you.  But my conscience made me do it.  You are the best student in the program.”  I started to thank him but he interrupted me. “Do you understand that you will be taking away money from a man and his children?  Do you want babies to starve?  You should not be in graduate school.  You are taking the place of a more-deserving male.”  Clutching his Greek Bible to his heart, he pivoted, and briskly walked down the hall and away from me.  It was that very day that I bought a poster of Princess Leia from Star Wars and placed it on my office door.

I have to teach ……… What?”

Something historic had happened in the same Religious Studies department, the new chair was not a priest.  He was a layperson with a Ph.D.  Things were going to change.  One of the first things the new chair did was assign a class on “Marriage and Family” to me.  I protested, “I have never studied this topic.”  And he assured me that I was capable and would do fine.

I studied tons about the history of marriage while teaching this class. Some of the priests heard that I was assigned to teach the class and they protested also.  They argued that a priest must teach this class so that students would be given specific Catholic teaching on the topic.  The chair agreed and told me that some time during the semester a priest would take over teaching my class for a couple of weeks.

Two class days before finals, the chair came to me and said that he had forgotten about the arrangement for a priest to teach my class and that I would have to allow a priest to teach the last two days.  I could not allow him to do that.  This was the end of the semester and the students needed a review and summary of what would be on the final.

He called me into his office and said that if I didn’t allow the priest to come into my class that he would lodge a complaint against me with the graduate dean.  I stood strong. This was a show down!  He picked up the phone and started to dial but then put it back down.  He said he was not going to lodge a complaint against me and that I had every right to want the best for my students.  I never taught that class again nor was it offered to me.

Abusive Males and Gauntlets

While researching ancient texts for my dissertation, I was in a special collection area in the library and translating very old Greek manuscripts when one of my fellow students came over to my table.  He asked me what I was doing.  I was having a great time looking at the scripts and markings left by monks hundreds of years ago on the manuscripts.  Later, while scouring the stacks for reference works, this same student was on the other side of a huge bookshelf.  He looked through the bookshelf at me and yelled, “Bitch!”  What? He never spoke to me again. This was one of those bombs!

And this is the response that I got from many males during my entire career. If they concluded that I was a better candidate at what was important to them, they did not want to be friends with me. They did not want to compete and possibly lose! They verbally assaulted me.

Toward the end of my career, an old friend with whom I had worked on special projects earlier at another college contacted me.  We had the same mentor who recently passed and he had read a remembrance that I published.  He wanted to talk and so invited me to dinner at the next national meeting.  We emailed back and forth and I sent him the website address for my Center for Religious Studies. After seeing my web pages, he wrote back and said, “You work too hard!”  And that was the end of that! No dinner and no conversation ever again!

The Gauntlets I Ran

Agrippa Wells

This is an account of Agrippa Wells and his capture near Lake George, New York by Native Americans 1738-1809.6

 “On approaching the fort, through large numbers of naked, painted savages who were formed into two long ranks, I  was obliged to run the gauntlet. I was told that if I ran quick it would be so much the better, as they would quit when I got to the end of the ranks. I started in the race with all the vigor and resolution I was capable of exerting. When I had      got near the end of the lines I was struck to the ground with a stick or the handle of a tomahawk.

On recovering my senses I endeavored to renew the race, but as I rose someone threw sand in my eyes, which blinded  me so that I could not see where to run. They continued beating me until I was insensible; but before I lostconsciousness I remember wishing they would strike the final blow, for I thought they intended killing me, and that they were too long about it. I was sent to the hospital, and carefully tended by a French doctor, and recovered quicker than I expected.

I asked a Delaware Indian who could speak some English, if I had done anything to offend them which caused them to  beat me so unmercifully? ‘No,’ he replied, ‘it was only an old custom the Indians had, and was like “how do you do?” After this,’ said he, ‘you will be well used.”

Other Native American tribes also used this ritual of “Running the Gauntlet” for prisoners or to punish someone, but they used knives during the run. Throughout my graduate days and career, I ran many gauntlets.

Prolonging the Gauntlet and Setting a Trap for Me

Let’s begin with my language classes.  I majored in Koine Greek (Common Greek spoken by the masses.)  and Classical Hebrew.  I had no experience in reading or writing Hebrew when I entered a Ph.D. program, but I was very interested in it. Placed in a class of three male Jesuit novices, the Father would assign pages in our grammar and then review them during class.  I had a very difficult time vocalizing the Hebrew letters after I had memorized them. My classmates seemed to excel in reading and vocalizing the Hebrew.  I was lagging behind.  Languages had always been my forte’ so I did not know what was happening.

A friend told me that my professor, the Father, was tutoring the males outside of class.  So when they came to class they were performing in an excellent manner.  I realized that I had been set up to fail. And while I had paid an enormous amount of money for this graduate class, I dropped it.  I searched for an acceptable introductory class in Hebrew at other institutions and found a kind Orthodox Jew at a community college who agreed to tutor me in Hebrew.  I had no trouble learning how to read, to write, and to vocalize Classical and Modern Hebrew.

There is one caveat. My Jewish teacher taught me how to vocalize Hebrew with an Ashkenazic accent but my teachers in the Ph.D. program vocalized with a Sephardic accent.  Ashkenazic was steeped in German tradition and Sephardic had Spanish roots.  So this created a little tension when I read Hebrew in class.  They were always correcting me!

The Orthodox Jew was a wonderful person.  He even invited me to a Jewish service on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath).  And while I sat side by side with him in class, I was told that if I visited the local Jewish synagogue, I would have to sit in the back with the women. The men ran the service at the front of the temple.  I declined the invitation! But at other synagogues during my career, I was asked to read the Scriptures in Hebrew for Jewish congregations.  What an honor that was!

I was also taught classes in Judaism by an adjunct (part time) Reform Rabbi for two semesters.  The Rabbi was so creative.  He used multiple forms of teaching strategies in the classroom, which included games, music, fun facts, singing, funny quizzes, and more.  As I look back at my graduate days, I think he was the one person who taught me how to strive to be an excellent teacher in the classroom!

Bombs Away!  Passing a German and Greek Exam

A couple of years before entering the Ph.D. program, I had enrolled in German classes at a college in North Carolina and passed them.  But my advisor discounted those classes. I was told that I would have to pass an oral exam to fulfill the German requirement. My advisor gave me a twenty-page technical German article to translate.  I spent an entire week hovered over the article.  The exam was to be oral and had to be taken in his office, “with the door open” (as he told me).

It was my first oral exam and very odd indeed.  The Father would point to a sentence and ask me to translate it. He did this many times.  In the middle of the test, he asked me if I had memorized the article?  What?  The last sentence he asked me to translate had one word in it that I could not find anywhere.  Remember, we did not have computers at this time.  So I did my best with the sentence except for this one word.  He said, “You fail!”  I asked why?  And he said that I did not know the one word.  So I asked him,  “What does the word mean?”  He answered,“I don’t know.  You pass.”

This happened to me many times.  I suppose it taught me to stand up for myself.  During one final oral exam in Greek, the Father was doing the same thing.  We had read at least 100 pages of Greek in the class and I had to sight read from anywhere he pointed.  (I had to translate the Greek without any notes.) The same thing happened again.  I missed two or three phrases or sentences or I translated in a way of which he did not approve.  He failed me!  I argued that I was the best student in the class.  I handed in all of my work with excellent grades and never missed a class. “How could you fail me?”  He simply said, “Okay, you pass with an A.”

Tests that are not Tests but SOMETHING ELSE!

Studying the Dead Sea Scrolls was one of the highlights of my graduate education.  I enrolled in a class on the Gospel of John and created a research paper comparing the “Teacher of Righteousness” in the Scrolls with stories of Jesus found in the Gospel of John.  What a great adventure this was because I was translating both Hebrew and Greek!

Every day in the “John” class our professor would give us a Greek language test over the current assigned reading.  My first quizzes were all “D’s.”  I could not understand it because I had been studying Greek for several years.  (As above, I had a M.A. in Greek.) And The Gospel of John is a very easy text to translate.  So I asked the fellow next to me if I could look at his quizzes.  He had substantial errors but achieved all “A’s” on the quizzes.  How could that be?

I took several quizzes to the Professor and pointed out that the deductions on my quizzes were wrong.  I also took my classmate’s quizzes and showed him that he had many errors but was given a top grade.  The professor never gave a quiz over the Greek again and he never explained the reasons for discontinuing them.

My first guess was that my professor did not know Greek as well as I did. (Later, I discovered that he had majored in Hebrew.  And, his Greek was minimal.) My second guess was that an assistant was grading the quizzes and marked them incorrectly.  Could the downgrading of my quizzes been intentional?  I never discovered the truth.

Artemis is Here!

A reproduction of Artemis!

During a history class, one of the Fathers decided that he was going to describe the ancient Goddess of Artemis.  Artemis stood at the gateway to Ephesus in the first century C.E.  She had “a thousand” breasts and represented fertility on the grandest sense.

The Father began describing this many-breasted goddess as she stood in ancient times.  Then he continued by explaining that she had long brown hair, hazel eyes, etc., with a description of the clothing I was wearing and my body.  Everyone in the class began to look at me and laugh because he was describing me, but I did not “get” it.  It was really an embarrassing moment.  I suppose that it would be called “harassment” today.   I wonder where the Father’s mind was?  Yes, I am sure it was there.

Archaeology More or Less and an Apology?

I loved studying archaeology, enrolled in several classes on the undergraduate and graduate level. Perhaps I would work as an archaeologist some day? While working on my Master’s Degree, I studied ancient languages like Akkadian, Ancient Sumerian, Egyptian Hieroglyphics and read extensively in Middle Eastern Archaeology.

So I enrolled in an archaeology class during my Ph.D. program. The same thing happened to me, as in other classes, with the grades.  I knew how to begin to evaluate an archaeological site (I had had plenty of experience in other classes.) and presented papers on different sites in Israel. All were marked with low grades.  I talked with the professor and he would not change a grade nor help me in any way.  (I was the only woman in the class as I was in many other classes.) I was given a “B” in the class.

A decade after graduating I met my archaeology professor at an academic conference and we began to talk about archaeology.  He told me that he still “felt” bad about the grade he gave me.  (How could this be?) He knew it was not reflective of my work, but most of the professors did not want women in their classes, and giving us poor grades was a way of deterring us.  This professor was not a priest.  I should mention that there was only one other woman in the Ph.D. program at the time.

What Happened to My Research Paper?

 In those days, the 20th century, we would hand in our papers at the end of the semester and retrieve them when we returned from semester break. I was given a “B” in a class where I had received “A’s” on everything except the research paper. I went to talk with my professor about the paper.  Could I have it?  “No.”  “What do you mean, No?”  “It has been thrown away?”  “Why?”  In all my years of college, I had never made copies of a paper before I submitted it to a professor.

I inquired about my grade.  “Oh, it was a failing paper.”  “Do you know why?”  “No, I don’t remember. ” I was caught without evidence of my work.  After that experience I always kept a copy of the papers I submitted for grades. To make this story even worse, this professor (a priest)  published my research (the very paper that he said had a failing grade) as his own.  I was horrified to see my paper published in a journal with his name attached.  But what could I do? (I decided to contact my professor after all these years and confront him while I was writing this book.  Unfortunately or fortunately, he had passed away.)

The Sisters and Me

 As a young graduate student, I did not have enough money to pay for an airline ticket plus a hotel room to attend a national conference.  The first meeting of the American Academy of Religion I attended was in New York City and I shared a room with a Roman Catholic Sister. Eventually I took over teaching her classes.  One of the classes was, “Woman in Theological Perspective,” which I changed to “Gender and Religions.”  I really appreciated this Sister.  She was on the cutting edge of redefining gender over 40 years ago.

I shared a room with her again when we attended another national convention in Texas.  We had different schedules and I was giving papers and meeting with publishers, so I did not see her during the first day of the conference.  When I arrived back at our hotel room late at night there was another woman in bed with the Sister.  What was I to do?

This Sister was senior professor in my graduate program and I did not know what was going on and she was not about to tell me.  That woman, whom I did not know (and the Sister did not introduce me), stayed in the room during the entire conference without introducing herself or paying anything.  That was the last time I shared a room with the Sister.

The Dissertation Mentor.  A Bright Star in My Life

Ages have passed through your mind.  Your questions penetrate and my inquiries seem so mundane.  Forty years of research. Forty years of publishing.  Forty years of inestimable meetings with minds who are changing the world.  Your reprimands could be brutal, my experience so lacks.  Your inquires could be edged with venom, my soul is so vulnerable.  Yet, gently you encourage me.  Quietly urging me to complete my dissertation.  Then, one day, without the slightest hesitation, you staunchly stand when I arrive and claim me as, “Colleague,” “Comrade,” and “Doktor!”  April 1, 1980 Marla J. Selvidge

As I traveled through my classes, I came across a very intelligent professor who was not a priest.   I will call  him “mentor.”  He allowed me to design my own assignments in the classes I enrolled with him. How creative he was!  I wrote and wrote and wrote!  He became my friend for many years!

The time came for me to research and write a dissertation.  For years I had produced papers on a variety of topics on women in the New Testament.  I decided to study the topic of “women” in the Gospel of Mark.  My Father professors made fun of me.  They said, “There are no tulips in Mark.”  This sexual metaphor was a way of attempting to intimidate me.

I began my research.  I would write thirty pages and my advisor, the Father, would write 30 pages of criticism. This went on for months.  I finally realized that the Father was never going to allow me to graduate.  I appealed to the graduate dean.  I told him my story and he suggested that I choose a dissertation director from outside the university.  He recognized the bias that I was facing.  (This Father was eventually asked to leave the university because of his verbal abuse of undergraduate female students.  Parents complained!)

Mentor came to mind to serve as a dissertation director, so I asked him, and he agreed to help me.  For the next year we worked on the dissertation.  There were two Jesuits who were on the committee.  One of the Fathers decided not to review my dissertation during the time I was writing it.  In those days, we did not have computers.  And I did not even own a typewriter (I could not afford to buy one.). I had to rent an IBM Selectric typewriter so that I could make corrections as I was typing. Over the course of a year, I typed the 250-page dissertation at least six times.  It was a very high mountain to climb.

Finally it came down to a couple of months before graduation and the Father who had never read any of my dissertation, rejected it.  He wrote that it was blasphemy and I would harm the public image of the university. He ordered me to rewrite and cut out sixty pages of it.  Well, that would have meant that it would take me months to complete and, even then, there was no assurance that the father would pass me. So, I gave up!

I waived a White Flag!

I give up!

I had spent four years battling the priests and other professors and I did not have any energy left to continue the battle.  So I informed the chair of the department and the dean of the graduate school that I was dropping out of the program.  Within days the graduate dean called me and told me that I was going to graduate and that I should not worry about anything.  The Father who rejected my dissertation called me and cursed me out and told me that I would be a “laughing stock” as a professor.  What a fight! I lost twenty pounds going through this ordeal.

This experience taught me that sometimes when you give up, you may win. I never expected the call from the graduate dean and I thought my career in Religious Studies was over.  But it wasn’t.

Publishing and Finding a Job.  The Perilous Advisor!

 Well, the Father was wrong about me and in a few months my dissertation, Woman, Cult, and Miracle Recital, was published.  In those early days, I had to submit my work with only my initials so that the editors would not know that I was a woman because females and their abilities were discounted.  It really helped me to find publishing outlets.  After they accepted my work and I had a signed contract, then I used my real name.

My advisor, the Father, when asked to write a letter of recommendation for me, told schools that I would make a good “secretary.”  This was a code word to others that I was an incompetent scholar.  So, the Father ruined my chances of landing good jobs at several colleges before I found out what he was writing.  After that, I would not allow anyone to send a letter of recommendation without my knowledge of its contents.

It was during those times that colleges and universities were made aware that women were humans too, and that they should be interviewed for jobs. I don’t know how many interviews I went on one semester, maybe a dozen, but the people at the colleges and universities did not want to hire a female.  They wanted to demonstrate that they had considered a female for a job so that they would not be charged with discrimination.  I was just fulfilling a quota.  Somehow I was offered jobs but it was a miracle that it happened.

Jealousy and Abuse

A dean at one of the institutions where I worked asked me how many colleges or universities wanted to interview me.  I told him that I had a dozen or so interviews but none of them was the job I wanted.  In an angry voice I will never forget, he said to me, “Little girl, you better take one of those jobs.  I had one interview for a dean’s position and I convinced the people here at this university to hire me.”  He told me that I was being selfish and how he had to humble himself and almost beg for a job.  He was angry that a woman would have more opportunities than he did.  But did I really have more opportunities?

The Bureaucrats Win!

Earlier I mentioned a State university.  One of the first institutions where I interviewed for a job immediately after receiving my Ph.D. was at State.  I thought “wow” life has come full circle.  This was the same university that my parents wanted me to attend!  What a wonderful time we had at the interview and they told me that I would be receiving a contract offer in a couple of days.  I waited and waited.  Finally I called and they told me that there would be no contract.  They would not give me a reason.

At least four years later, a woman came up to me at one of the national conferences and told me that their department had been watching my career. Huh?  Years ago they had voted to give me the job at State but their dean had his own candidate.  If they did not hire his candidate they would lose the position.  They had no choice.  She told me that the man who they hired was coming up for promotion and tenure and he would not get it.  The job would be open again and would I apply?  Wrong!  The position was never advertised.  The dean gave his candidate promotion and tenure.  He over-ruled the wishes of the department again.  Such is the power that a bureaucrat uses for his friends! 

Planning a Defence and Fighting Back

 As I reflect upon some of these nightmarish experiences, I believe they taught me to stand up and argue for myself in the face of the powerful.  It also taught me never to completely trust males.  I protected myself when males tried to sexually assault me, but I also saved myself hundreds of times from personal, political, and hate-filled attacks in the academy. In spite of everything, I was a survivor! Yahoo!  And I am not really sure “why” and “how” I survived!

The next chapter will highlight the underside of faculty in higher education!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Misogynism, Misogynism in Higher Education, Religious Beliefs destroy females careers, Religious hatred, Strategies to derail females, Terrorists and their Religions, Uncategorized, Violence Against Women | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mid-Twentieth Century Blues, Chapter Two!

Choosing College

 I was privileged to come from a family of working poor and knew that I could survive on very little cash.  (I say privileged here because my childhood prepared me for the rest of my life.)  All of us had to pitch in if we were going to have good meals all week long.  My parents taught me practical skills like cooking, canning, gardening, lawn maintenance, painting and fixing almost anything, managing money, responsibility, and sacrifice.

This is another chapter in my book. You can find it on Amazon!

I remember one time the ice cream truck was heading down our street and mother wanted to purchase an ice cream for us.  All she could find was 5 cents and that would buy one ice-cycle (I think that is what they were called?) that my brother and I would split.  No ice cream just colored frozen water!

I started babysitting children when I was around eight years old and landed a real part-time job at fifteen for seventy-five cents an hour.  All of my clothing was purchased by putting it on lay-away and then paying it off gradually as I earned money from babysitting.  My parents made me responsible for purchasing everything in my bedroom except the bed.  And when the time came to drive, I bought my own car.  Throughout high school, I worked at one job or another and hung out at the libraries in my spare time.

No Engineering Degree for Me!

There was always a choice for me.  I could stay home, just outside of Detroit, Michigan, and work for one of the BIG THREE (GM, Ford, or Chrysler) or go to college.  Although some of my close neighbors asked me later in life, “How did you know to go to college?  We didn’t have any money and didn’t know how to do it!”  I don’t really know why I went to college and most of the kids in my neighborhood did not. And why did I have the knowledge about how to do it? I was in a college-preparatory track in high school but they never told us anything about colleges.

Most people could earn a living if they lived near the Motor City. Almost everyone I knew worked for one of the Big Three or a factory that supplied parts to the three.  One of my cousins designed automobiles, an uncle worked on designing and testing tires, and an adopted uncle built plants for GM.

Both my mom and dad worked in small factories with low pay that supplied parts to automobiles and military jeeps. Our next-door neighbor worked for Chrysler and they seemed to have more money than we did, with a new car every year. Unfortunately those job opportunities in the auto industry are virtually gone for many people in Michigan today.

General Motors offered an institute where I could have studied engineering.  But I wanted more out of life than to work on a factory floor like my mother and father and many aunts and uncles.  I had been around the making of cars my whole life.  I dreamed of a different life outside of reading automobile magazines and a fixing a transmission on the floor of our garage. Earning money is a necessity but wealth was never a goal in my life.

I applied to many schools and was accepted at some of the best schools on the East Coast.  I wanted to attend Vassar, but there was not even enough money for car fare! Oh, and who paid for my college?  I did.  I worked two full-time jobs in the summers and several part-time jobs during the school year!!

I Wanted more than a Pay Check From a College Education

Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva!

When I entered college, I hoped it would answer many of the basic questions I had about life.  Why am I here?  Do we have a purpose in living?  From where did humans originate?  Is there a central mind of the universe?

I wanted college to teach me about other cultures and languages with the hopes of visiting those countries.  I wanted to write, and think, and talk with others about a host of ethical and personal issues. I wanted to meet and make friends with people of other faiths, ethnic backgrounds, and countries.  I guess I wanted college to lead me to the Promised Land.

I had read many books about religions including Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet all through high school, and recently re-discovered him in my research on Elvis Presley.  There was wisdom in his writings that I think stayed with me my entire life.

The Prophet

“Say not, I have found the truth, but rather, I have found a truth. Say not, I have found the path of the soul.  Say rather,   I have met the soul walking upon my path. For the soul         walks upon all paths.  The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.  The soul  unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.” (55) And again he writes,   “Your daily life is your temple and your religion.  Whenever you enter into it take with you your all. (78)”3

Studying languages with different scripts and the peoples who created those scripts was so appealing.  It went to the top of my list of things to study.   I wanted to understand world politics and social issues. I wanted to help others to understand each other and the peoples on the planet.  I wanted to be involved in life in a different way than just earning a living!

College never reached my high expectations, but it did lay a foundation for me to explore my interests for the rest of my life. At the writing of this book, I have visited around seventy-five countries, fifty states in the U.S.A., and numerous islands in the Caribbean and other places in the world.

And college never really answered my primary questions. Traveling, socializing with people who lived across the pond, and intellectual conversations had to be developed outside the academy.  There was only limited conversation and contact with international colleagues for a variety of reasons at the institutions where I worked.  The academic societies to which I belonged became lifesavers and supporters and filled the hollowness of my academic experience.

This may sound very unreal for people who have attended college.  I can remember only one conversation with the librarian who purchased books for Religious Studies that was insightful and stimulating.  Most of the conversations I had with colleagues mirrored grievances and fears of the bureaucrats.  Other discussions involved incidents and news on campus.  Not one colleague ever stirred my soul with unanswerable questions or challenging thoughts.

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Mid-Twentieth Century Blues” from “Signals from Mars”

Excerpts from the book, 

Final Exam Jihad.  An Opportunity for Loneliness

Signals from Mars is a blog where I write about controversial issues.  Final Exam Jihad is a heartfelt attempt to explain what it was like to work as a female professor in the male professions of Religious Studies and Biblical Studies.  I was always breaking down doors, crawling around them, negotiating a key, wedging them open, tunneling under them, painting them, or sitting in the dark waiting for them to open.  Sometimes there was no door to open and I fell down the well!

Someone said after reading the above book,  “You would never believe that these things happened to someone.”  Or, as another person exclaimed, “She is exactly right.  This is the way it is.”  For the next few months in this blog, I will publish excerpts from Final Exam Jihad, a book published in 2017.

My jobs were dynamic.  I loved curriculum development, marketing the major and minor, taking students around the world, creating edgy classes like “Elvis Memphis Messiah,” and inviting guest speakers to lead us to the promised land of their religions.  Every moment was fraught with controversy.  Every moment required a encyclopedic imagination.  Every moment required full throttle energy.  I chose it.  I did it. And I am so happy that I survived until retirement.

The Excerpts

Each time I release an excerpt, I will email you.  If you would prefer not receiving this blog, please notify me.  My blog http://www.motoringwithmarla.com is fun and exciting and full of wonderment.  The trails are stocked full of adventure.  Final Exam Jihad will challenge you to see through the idealistic rhetoric of higher education to its often shady corps.  Even to this day, as much as I believe in education as a path to happiness and economic security, I am stunned by my own experiences and the types of peoples that surrounded me.  The #MeToo! movement could never unearth all the the abuse and cultural bias toward females in our country.  So here goes!

Introduction

 “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”  Vivian Greene1

The mid-twentieth century was not kind to females seeking to enter graduate schools with Ph.D. degrees in Religious Studies.  (Mine was in Biblical Languages and Literatures.)  Federal civil rights laws gave women a chance at entering some of those graduate schools but it did not guarantee that they would graduate.  If the divine was a male then surely only a man could represent the divine or even discuss the divine.

Women had no place in that hierarchy.  In fact, the only other female in my graduate program told me that she thought that females were not created in the image of the divine.  They are tainted and should never assume a leadership position in a religious organization. Why was she in graduate school?

In the 1970’s I was the first (or second female?) to be admitted into a Ph.D. program in the historically all-male school where I studied.  I was the first female to teach at a small college in Wisconsin and the second female (first lay woman) in a religious school in Ohio.  Ironically I was the first woman to teach Religious Studies at a women’s college in the South and another religious school in the North. In my final job, I created a program in Religious Studies where there had not been one for more than a hundred and fifty  years.

Other jobs in the fields of religion were equally challenging for females, except for missionaries.  It seemed as if religious organizations did not mind sending women to underdeveloped and under-supported countries.  The hoops that women had to jump through in the twentieth century are evidenced in the titles of books that were published during this time period. Women were changing traditional ideas about religions.

Consider:

Lethal Love. Feminist Literary Readings of Biblical Love Stories

Sexism and the War System

Changing of the Gods

After Patriarchy.  Feminist Transformations of World Religions

Her Story.  Women In Christian Tradition

A Lesser Life

You Just Don’t Understand

Sexism and God-Talk

And there were hundreds and hundreds of other books published as women broke down the doors to the graduate schools and helped us to think differently about the male interpretation and domination of the Bible and world religions.

Phyllis Trible was one of those scholars who broke through the barriers and opened the doors to give us insight into the kind of life a woman has if she chooses a career in a field of Religious Studies. I will never forget her short piece entitled “The Opportunity of Loneliness.  The Ordination of Mary Beale,” published in 1978.

“Mary Beale is set apart for the ministry in an age when the church stands on the boundary….  And she will know the loneliness of being set apart, ‘ Why, Mary, you don’t           look old enough to be a minister,’ some will say.  And Mary will know the loneliness of age.  ‘Why, Mary, you’re too pretty to be a clergyman!’  So runs the ugly compliment                  which isolates, alienates, and objectifies a human being; the loneliness of beauty intertwined with the loneliness of sex.”

Certainly I was not on a path to become a minister,  but I was studying with priests who did not want to open any door for a woman. When Trible published this piece I was in the middle of my graduate studies and everything she observed was certainly true of my career from the beginning until the end.

On the pages of this book are chronicles of a few of my struggles while working as a professor in higher education. It is not a pretty story. Bullies and abusers dogged my trail and I soon learned to keep a written record of their attacks, and many of those notes are included in these pages.  I wish I had documented more of the cruelty that I experienced while I was in college and graduate school.

Here are some of the files I saved and used for this book.

During that forty-year relationship with higher education I was offered full-time contracts at approximately six colleges and universities.  While working full-time at one institution, I often taught a class or two for other institutions.  Pay was so low that you had to teach at other institutions to survive.  So the number of colleges where I actually taught is far larger.

My long career covered many institutions because tenure-track (permanent) jobs were not always available.  I obtained a one-year contract, a three-year contract, and finally I was offered tenure-track positions.  I never really found an institution that I loved.  There were people in those institutions that I cherished, but I kept searching for the best place for me.

So often I was competing with people from Harvard, Princeton, Chicago, or other top-notch schools.  Sometimes I won the job and sometimes I did not.  I always wondered if the Ivy League gang won better jobs (and environments) than I did? In the end, I began to grow older, and knew I had to settle somewhere. My utopia did not exist!

This collection of stories is taken from experiences in many institutions. Details have been omitted that could pinpoint which institution or person I am discussing, so the construction of occasional sentences might seem odd. The most vicious examples of hate mail are omitted because the letters are too painful to share.  Also omitted are stories of some very difficult battles that are impossible to describe in a few pages because the documentation may be hundreds of pages, and so personal that I cannot share them.  Sometimes I will refer to an issue but I will not go into detail about it.  Some of my former colleagues or students might read this book and see themselves on the pages; this may or may not be correct because of the breadth of years this book spans.

One college where I taught was very different. I did not understand reasons for the hostility toward students and faculty that was so freely exhibited by bureaucrats.  I did not understand why faculty would not return my phone calls or emails, or why I felt that people were just going through the motions in their jobs. Staff was anxious and moody and did not seem to get along with each other either.

I decided to read several textbooks on abnormal psychology.  They helped me to identify the strange behaviors that I encountered.  This was not the first time that I had experienced abnormal behavior, but I think it was more pronounced.  And abnormal behavior comes in many forms. A disproportionate number of my stories come from this time in my career.

One job directive was to create a Center for Religious Studies where there had been no department.  I did not know when I accepted the position that there would be little, if any, support for Religious Studies or me on campus. The bureaucrats would never authorize another full-time person to work with me.  That first budget consisted of $100 which was not enough money to staff office supplies for a month let alone a year. It was a lonely and challenging job because, in the main, most people did not understand the academic study of religions. Anxiety gripped those on campus who were afraid of outsiders and their anger came running at me.  They argued that their brand of Christianity was the only brand to teach!

The title of the book is unusual. Within Islam “jihad” is a term that refers not necessarily to a physical war but a war that is waged within a person to make herself better. I waged both a ceaseless internal and external war in higher education.  “Final Exam” refers to the end of my war. I graduated to a new life outside the system.  As you read this book you will begin to understand the subtitle, “An Opportunity for Loneliness.”

Critics might suggest that the prose in this memoir is simple, and it is.   I consciously chose to use common language.  I could have organized the book into highfalutin categories with opaque terms that other academics would appreciate, but then I would have left out the rest of the world.

There is a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox that speaks to the pain in writing this book.

Ella Wheeler

Solitude (1883 in the public  domain.)

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;

Weep, and you weep alone;

For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,

But has trouble enough of its own.

Sing, and the hills will answer;

Sigh, it is lost on the air;

The echoes bound to a joyful sound,

But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;

Grieve, and they turn and go;

They want full measure of all your pleasure,

But they do not need your woe.

Be glad, and your friends are many;

Be sad, and you lose them all….

                                                                   (1883 in the public domain)

I am hoping that this “woe” book about my life will not drive away readers. The life and career of a newly minted professor in the latter part of the twentieth century may shock you. Your first inclination will be to think, “I don’t believe her.  This does not happen.”  But it does happen and it is still happening every day to female professors (and other minorities) in the United States, in spite of all the laws on the books against it.

While editing this volume, we elected a new president. The bullying, emphasis on white male supremacy, hate, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and winning at all costs were something that I experienced throughout my career as a professor.

I remember discussing this type of environment with Canadian colleagues at a national meeting more than ten years ago, and they thought that I was out of my mind.  They argued that females had gained equal standing and were supported by their institutions.  They did not live in the United States and had never experienced the marginalization and alienation that I had.  Now, with the onslaught of the new presidential regime, I feel vindicated, yet sad.  These guys have always been out there abusing somebody. Every day I read a vicious tweet or verbal attack, it brings me back to the academic institutions and my own post-traumatic feelings.

While there were many detractors, predators, and downright mean people with whom I worked, as I plowed through thousands of files, I discovered that there were also wonderful people who supported and appreciated my contributions. This was an ah-hah moment for me! Digging up the dossier (evidence of scholarship, community work, and committees) I submitted for promotion I found scores of wonderful letters. They humbled me.

During the throes of a “war” you sometimes forget that there are supporters.  I think I forgot them because the last ten years of my career were more than horrible. But often, when I had a proposal before a committee, someone who I did not know would champion my cause.  I was so grateful for these anonymous supporters!  It is to these people and other gentle souls that I dedicate this book. They helped me to make and survive the long journey.

This is not an advertisement to purchase my book.  I  have decided to share it to everyone who wants to read this blog, for FREE!  But if you would like to purchase it, click here!

As always, this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

Posted in #MeToo, Misogynism in Higher Education, Terrorists on Campus, The Secrets of Women, Uncategorized, Violence Against Women | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Call an Ambulance! She is Heading for the Classroom Again!

No Credit – Travel Workshops are Right Around the Corner!

Retired in 2014, I thought my academic days were over!  It was time to start a new chapter in my life, whatever that was!  Post-professor life included four years of  learning how to read music and play the piano.  I threw in a few other music theory courses along the way.  During this same time, a slew of words found their way to my computer and several books emerged.  Now — I am changing gears and taking a break from publishing.  Without hesitation I am stepping into the waters of community education.  Click on “community education”  to discover Longview classes.

Coming in the Fall!

This fall, I am privileged to offer three travel workshops at Longview Community College.  Next spring I will be offering Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament, Septuagint, and early Christian writers.  What an exciting journey this will be.  If you are local and reading this blog, join me at Longview!  See descriptions below!

Purchasing an RV: Roadie Advice

A Guide to RVing across Alaska  

Lecturing on Cruise Ships: How to Get Through the Door  

Canada Place is gorgeous!

Purchasing an RV: Roadie Advice 

Do you know what it means to dump your RV?

If you are considering an RV purchase, you probably have a lot of questions. Which one is best for you?  How much should you pay for an RV? Get advice from someone who has camped all of her adult life, beginning with a tent, then a pop-up trailer, a Class B motorhome, and now a Class A motorhome. You will learn about different types and brands of RVs, negotiation tactics, inspection points, and take home some resources to help you make your decision. At the end of class, we will discuss great spots across North America to take your RV. 
Instructor: Marla J. Selvidge
Date: Tuesday, Oct. 9
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Fee: $24

A Guide to RVing across Alaska

This is the first slide of my presentation!

Are you dreaming of visiting Alaska? Whatever your idea of adventure is, you will find it in Alaska.  Consider flying to Anchorage and renting a motorhome for a few weeks, or take a cruise along the Inside Passage and then rent an RV for another two weeks. One of the best ways to explore the byways of this beautiful state is in an RV. Get acquainted with the best roads to travel and exciting things to see and do. You will come away with resources to plan your trip and photos to inspire you. Optional book for purchase will be available in class ($10, payable to instructor).  
Instructor: Marla J. Selvidge
Date: Tuesday, Oct. 16
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Fee – $24

Lecturing on cruise ships is a bit like being a rock star!

Lecturing on Cruise Ships: How to Get Through the Door  

If you enjoy taking cruises and can put together a PowerPoint presentation, you could cruise for free! Learn the process of applying and finding opportunities to lecture about a variety of topics. Discuss types of topics that cruise directors are looking for and strategies to develop your presentation. Your well-traveled instructor will review some delightful cruise ports that you may be interested in visiting. 
Instructor: Marla J. Selvidge
Date: Tuesday, Oct. 23
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Fee: $24 

Coming in the Spring!

Koine Greek 101 or Ancient Greek

Koine or “common” Greek was the language of every day people from about the 4th century B.C.E. until the 6th century C.E. in the Middle East.  It was also the language used by the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament), the New Testament, and the early Christian writers. In this introductory class, students will study the Greek alphabet and grammar, while learning how to pronounce and spell basic vocabulary words.  We will throw in a few phrases and help the students to learn how to find words in a Greek dictionary.  By the end of the class students will have the ability to translate simple Greek sentences.   “Why Study Greek?” may help a student to understand the importance of the language on many different levels. You can find the video here.  

This  blog is entitled, “Signals From Mars.”  Mars was a nickname someone gave to me when I was a kid.  This is the place where I write about controversial subjects.  I thought that my new courses did not necessarily belong in http://www.motoringwithmarla.com or maybe they do?

Again, come out and join us for the fun! Email if you have questions!

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Students Were Afraid to Learn About Other Religions!

The Classroom Became a War Zone!

Excerpt from

Final Exam Jihad.  An Opportunity for Loneliness.

 “You and Me”

We started together, you and me.  We were new on campus.  We found new friends and faced new challenges.  Some of us were away from our family for the first time.  We struggled together. We listened to each other.  We even shouted at each other.  Somehow we managed to say “Good Morning” to each other.  Each day we met to discuss a new way of looking at religions. You and me, we even grew up a little. You and me, we made it through dull days, high days, lonely days, low days, snow days, test days, homework days, think days, and project days.  You and me…I’m so glad that we made it to the end together!          

Combative and disrespectful students became the norm!

This poem was composed following my first semester of teaching at a very small college. (In fact, it is the college where I met Tom!) Life and teaching was very different in 1980 than it is today. In the beginning, students were more respectful and generally eager to learn. In the beginning students were dedicated. Those years were spent teaching in private colleges or universities. As the years wore on, the students wore out. They did not necessarily enroll in college to learn.

At one college, I experienced a hostile breed of students who feared other religions. They were shocked at each world religion we studied so they began an assault. Besides the notes and hideous cartoons placed under my door, students also taped my lectures and brought them to the president to prove that I was teaching “heresy,” whatever that meant to those students. There were flyers taped on my door and letters to the editor in the school newspaper. (I wish I had saved more of these.)

Here are a few of the notes that were placed under my door:

            “Dear Dr. Selvidge, My Sunday School class decided to tell   you about the Bible. They said, “Believe in the Bible.” The  reason why you need to believe in the Bible is because, “It’s   True!” You need to believe in God. You love him. We are  going to pray that you will believe in the Bible.”

Eight students signed this note. I suppose I received it because I was teaching the history and development of the New Testament rather than using the bible as a rulebook or spiritual book by which to live. Another note came with an invitation to meet with “Spirit-filled Christians.”

“Come and join us if you can stand being that close to the Holy Spirit.”

Another student seemed to think that I was making fun of Christians and invited me to her Baptist church so that I would learn about “real” Christianity. I was teaching about the history of Christianity about which she had never been exposed!

Students dared me to teach them anything!

Misguided students haunted my office often waving their arms in the air as they walked back and forth in the hallway. One wanted to bring his denomination on campus and teach classes in his faith. He argued that other colleges did it. But I argued that as a state university we have to be neutral with regard to religions. We cannot teach faith. We can teach about the religions but not teach people to be religious. He was very upset and complained to everyone he knew that I was discriminating against his faith.

A Muslim student did not like a cartoon that he said was posted on one of the bulletin boards outside my office. He complained to a professor in another department and they came down to reprimand me. Their ammunition was verbal abuse. But, they could not find the cartoon? Maybe the student had seen it on another bulletin board? They were so irate I had to call security. And the professor sent an apology to me after being counseled by security and his chair.

I received many letters from one student who claimed he was the Messiah.

            “I still believe that I am the Messiah, especially the David of  Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and the Psalms. And I also believe that am “The faithful and True Witness, the First-begotten From the Dead, and The Root and  Stock of David….”

            Well, Marla, what I am trying to say throughout this whole letter is that I   am lonely for intellectual stimulation, and I   would like to hear from you.    I would be glad to answer all of your questions.” What?

There was always a fear that a student would harm you!

I have shared only the tip of the iceberg with you in this excerpt.  Soon students would bring a gun to my office, place a fist in my face, (as a faculty member had done), hit and kick students as they left class, stand up and shout at me in class, and stalk me for years.  And the local radio station would call me “The Whore of Babylon.”

One student stood up in class and told my guest speaker, “We would kill you in my country!”  And other shouted, “Who the hell are you to grade my paper?” And another student thought that I had a sub-machine gun behind the desk! Huh?

 

Thanks for reading the blog.  I hope you will have the time and interest to read the book.  It will be a real eye-opener as to what a professor experiences in her  lofty (?) job in higher education.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.

 

 

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Disillusionment in Higher Education, Education not War, Higher Education, Hostility and Violence on Campus, Jihad, Killing a Professor, Misogynism, Misogynism in Higher Education, Religious Beliefs destroy females careers, Religious hatred | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Final Exam Jihad is Published!

A Professor’s Memoir That May Shock You!

Creating this memoir about my career in higher education was both a wrenching and uplifting experience.  As I scoured the thousands and thousands of documents that I had saved over decades, I realized that I had forgotten many of the battles I fought in the schools where I worked.  Also lost in my memory were many of the wonderful people who supported me in the journey.  Thanks to all of you!

I am also so thankful that my very grounded childhood provided  the strength and practical mentality to keep me healthy through all of those years.

I was going to upload several excerpts from the book but Kindle has stolen my thunder and made available at least two chapters on Amazon.  They have chosen the introduction and prelude which lay the foundation for the book.  You can find those words at this  link.  (Click on the word “link.”)  I think I will eventually share one additional piece from the 280 page book on this blog site.

I must apologize for Kindle’s formatting on the digital version.  Those problems are not (and not mine) found in the hard copy which you can also purchase.   You do not have to own a Kindle to be able to read this book.  You can download a digital version to a laptop or whatever.

The first excerpt I will share with you is a fun piece I wrote long ago.  I imagined what would happen if all the women were forced to leave campus.  It has a similar message found in  the movie “A Day Without A Mexican.”  The tall dark and handsome men become the losers.  He He!

 

“The Women are Gone!”

The plan, conceived in the secret hallowed meeting rooms of the top dog administrators, was declared a monumental success. Only males were to be allowed on campus. Signs were erected all over campus.

POWER TO MALES!  FREEDOM AT LAST ! NO MORE FEMINISM!  DOWN WITH EGALITARIANISM!  FOR THE BOYS ONLY!  MEN ONLY!

Fireworks were set off from the administration building and the rest of the campus danced their brains out.  The feeding frenzy on campus was amazing. All of the female restrooms sported new “Men Only” signs. The men could do what they wanted whenever they wanted to do it! No competition! No criticism of techno-oppression or rampant greedy capitalism. No hen-pecking about equality and fairness.

It took a couple of weeks before the campus community realized how successful their militaristic campaign against women had been. They began the reign of terror by targeting strong female leaders on campus. Misogynistic plans and strategies began with tenured female professors. They were prohibited from chairing committees and given large teaching loads.

Next there were abusive confrontations with female staff and administrators who also jumped ship. Some of the women were humiliated by being assigned to inexperienced younger females half their age.

Any academic program containing diversity, such as gender studies, devoted to analyzing the dominance of males and creating a foundation for female support was axed or sidelined. They forced some of the younger women to leave by firing their husbands. The spouses, buddies, and female gatekeepers of the top dogs were the last to go.

These women who had been handpicked for top dog jobs were assigned the dirty deed of verbally abusing and keeping other women in line. This kept the paws of the top dogs clean and often kept them from lawsuits for sexual harassment or discrimination. But finally even these loyal servants were pushed out of their jobs and off campus.

Questions kept popping up. Who was going to order the supplies, pay the bills, cook the food, clean the buildings, or stand in front of the check-out booth at the library? None of the males wanted to clean the tables in the union or plant the flowers outside of the top dog buildings. All of the males in the English department had to teach four composition courses that were usually assigned to lesser females. They males were actually grading grammar and sentence structure in papers!

The top top dog, a very short rotund man, had to step in and create order. He began by designating males to certain types of work. His decisions were based upon color of hair and height. The shortest males were assigned to the assistant top dog positions. The more burley types were assigned to making coffee, fixing the copy machines, and sorting the mail. The taller and broad shouldered males were assigned to secretarial and support-type positions. It never occurred to the top top dog that he was discriminating against the tall, dark, and handsome males.

These good-looking, body-building males didn’t like being marginalized and targeted because of their hair or stature. They complained that they were pressured into sexual relationships. Their jobs were threatened if they did not comply with the advances. They were experiencing a loss of self-esteem. They were more intelligent and had greater skills than the top top dog but they were assigned to “dehumanizing” work just to keep them under control. They began to weep at odd moments for no reason.

And they began to understand–that all of the positions that were assigned to the majority of females and termed menial–were the “glue” that kept the university functioning. Yet as important as the jobs were, the males did not want them.

So the campus became more and more dysfunctional. All the female students left. Classes were not meeting and the staff rarely showed up for work or stayed an entire day. Bottles of distilled spirits were found in waste bins all over campus. Male students began applying for entrance into other schools. Enrollment was so low that it looked like many of the dogs might lose their jobs.

Some of the disgruntled handsome males began secretly meeting in the old women’s restrooms. They hatched a plan that they thought would make everybody happy and restore order to campus. They wrote a “Declaration of Crimes against Tall, Dark, and Handsome Males.” Together, more than 200 professors and staff appealed to the top top dog to BRING BACK THE FEMALES. It would make their lives so much better. Women could take the brunt of bullying and marginalization and serve as scapegoats for the rest of the administration.

They could do all of the jobs that the top dogs did not want to do. It would free up the males from the drudgery so that they would resume playing golf, music, and planning. Since the women had been forced out most of the males had been lethargic. They never realized that brainstorming and making plans on how to control the females had kept the place together.

To date, the handsome males are still waiting for an audience with the top top dog. In the meantime, they are meeting with attorneys with plans to sue the top top dog for sexual harassment and discrimination.

 

As always, this piece is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

Posted in Cause of Violence, Disillusionment in Higher Education, Feminism, Feminists in the Classroom, Higher Education, Hostility and Violence on Campus, Killing a Professor, Misogynism, Misogynism in Higher Education, Religious Beliefs destroy females careers, Religious hatred, Strategies to derail females, Stress and Professors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cry for the People of St. Croix

St. Croix. The best place in the world to live!

dscf2814Remains of conquerors, their religions, and big business are on the right and left as you crisscross the 28 mile island. It appears that the very small roads were built between sugar plantations. Columbus came to the Salt River but was beaten back by the indigenous tribes. He claimed the land for Spain. As one volunteer for the National Park told us, “He didn’t discover the land. The indigenous had been here for more than a thousand years.” Ultimately the indigenous peoples were exterminated, as is the case in many South American countries and Caribbean islands.

e530786e8c5fe367f28093cd156a8393The Danes, the Spanish, the French, Great Britain and more claimed this land as their own. And the U.S.A. purchased it from the Denmark in 1917. There is a church on almost every turn of the road. All of them came to convert and socialize the locals into their way of thinking. The Danes brought Lutheranism. The Spanish brought Catholicism. The French allowed the Knights of Malta to rule for a few years. England brought Anglicanism and Methodism. The Church of God, Seventh Day Adventists, the Baptists, the Pentecostals, Islam and Judaism, all have a presence on this population of 50K.

The fort is right behind this sign!

The fort is right behind this sign!

Recently we were in Christiansted where more than 40,000 slaves were auctioned off in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Slaves revolted in 1848 against the Danes but that was only the first civil war. They kept revolting against inhumane treatment, even when they were paid. (There are only 50K residents on the island today.)

As you tour Christiansted and Fredriksted you weep. The dock and frontage roads at Frederiksted have been improved to greet the lonely cruise ship that visits the island every Monday. It would take billions and billions of dollars to restore these historic towns. The massive structures appear to have been built to last forever with over twelve inch wide walls.   They have withstood all the hurricanes.

Gorgeous boardwalk in Christiansted.

Gorgeous boardwalk in Christiansted.

All over the world towns like this have been designated “UNESCO World Heritage Sites.” This organization funnels money into the cities to repair and restore them. Cartagena, Ciudad Viejo in Panama, Angkor Watt, and hundreds of other places around the world. These towns need to be placed on this list also.

The people on the island are warm and inviting. At the Christmas boat parade that was attended by thousands, people were polite and quiet. How can this be? How can people be so forgiving? How does a people recover from successive despots that claim their land? How do they know WHAT is their heritage? How do they find their identity? Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, a Hawaiian who has passed on, captures the heartbreak of a people who has lost their land and identity, “Cry for the gods, cry for the people, cry for the land that was taken away….”

dscf2701

One of the sturdy buildings facing the dock in Fredriksted.

One of the sturdy buildings facing the dock in Fredriksted.

Many locals sport dreadlocks as a way of identifying with Rastafarianism from Jamaica. I don’t know if they moved from Jamaica or have just accepted the revolutionary religion. Today many are called Rasta and look like a Rastafarian but they do not always adhere to the beliefs and ethics of Rastafarianism. Dreadlocks are the St. Croix look.

It is so ugly and so big and so imposing!

It is so ugly and so big and so imposing!

Even today, Hovensa, (an economic conqueror) one of the largest oil refineries in the world is defunct since 2012. It takes up beautiful coastal space for miles. (So ugly!) When it left it was pumping more than $100 million into the economy through taxes. It employed 2200 people. Locals tell us that about 2000 houses on the island were abandoned because people lost their jobs. The island was devastated. Hovensa had been given cash subsidies from the government of the Virgin Islands and signed contracts to keep the refinery working until at least 2020. But they left.

At our hotel on St. Croix!!!

A view at  our hotel on St. Croix!!!

Every time we met a local, they invited us to move to St. Croix. Many tell us of the bargains in real estate and how this is the best place in the world to live. And we are going back in November of 2017. We loved the island!

 

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

 

 

 

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Remembering my Father “Les” Selvidge! 1912-1971

Well dressed all of the time!

Well dressed all of the time!

Factory Work is Honest and Good Work!

The picture above is of my father and three relatives at an Xmas party, probably in the 1960’s. He worked for Bower Roller Bearings as an inspector. Every morning he dressed for work and he looked like he was going to an office job, not a factory job. He was very proud of the work he did. Notice in the photo that my dad is playing cards. He is wearing a tie, white long-sleeved shirt, and a suit. The rest of my relatives are wearing casual clothing.

(The following is taken from my book, Life Everlasting and the Twelve Mile Blues.)

This book took 20 years to research and write!!!

This book took 20 years to research and write!!!

“Daddy was single, although he didn’t like the idea. Marriage suited him, but he hadn’t much luck with the other women he had married. One died in childbirth (my half-sister), and the other he caught making love with another man in his own bed. And we don’t know what happened to the others. When Daddy loved, it was complete. And so when he gave all of his money to a wife, including a mink coat, he thought love would last forever. He was willing to wear sole-less-newspaper-lined shoes just to make her happy. Yet nothing he could give or do could make her love him as much as he loved her.

The Selvidge walk!

The Selvidge walk!

Daddy was of medium height, slightly on the thin side, with glossy black hair that shined until his death. Dark skin hinted at his Cherokee ancestry. Always impeccably dressed, even on the floors of Bower Roller Bearings, he used to boast about his weight that always stayed between 155-160. As a child, my father loved learning, thinking about the world, and reading, but was forced to quit elementary school in the sixth grade and work on the farm.

Dad taught me how to make a garden and to survive on nothing!

Dad taught me how to make a garden and to survive on nothing!

 

 

 

One day when he was plowing a field, the mules jerked his arm and broke it. His family wrapped it up without taking him to a physician to get the bones set. That disfigured and scarred arm was frozen at a right angle for the rest of his life. When World War II was raging, he could not enlist because of his arm. He felt humiliated by this childhood defect all of his life, and almost always wore long-sleeved shirts. He smoked and always held the cigarette or cigar in his left hand so that no one would notice.”

My father died when I was only 22 but I will always be thankful for the hammer and paint brush he put in my hands. He taught me how to mow the grass and hoe a row of anything.

On hot days we would sit on the picnic table in the back yard. Most of the time we argued about politics and world events. He smoked and drank Carling’s Black Label or Pabst Blue Ribbon. One day I said I wanted to smoke. He said, “Here, I will give you a cigarette and you can smoke it.” So he stuck a Camel cig in my mouth and lit it. I choked. The paper and leaves stuck to my mouth and lips, and then I threw up. I never ever thought of smoking again. It was the same thing with alcohol. I could have had as much as I wanted, but I never wanted. It was always available.

One more story is interesting and frightening at the same time. My dad was also a detective for Selvidge Secret Service in Detroit. (His cousin owned it.) I searched for the name on Google but it must be gone now. During vacations we would visit relatives in Kentucky and Tennessee. One day a car followed us and kept shooting at us. I guess my father had discovered something they did not like. It was not long after that he quit his moonlighting job as a detective.

I am so thankful for the open, progressive, and critical side of my dad. While we did not agree on much of anything, he opened my mind and trained it so well that I was able to win a Ph.D. from the Jesuits. I think the Ph.D. belongs to him. He would have certainly gone on to college if he had had the opportunity or the cash. Just before he died, he said,

“Go on with your education, no one can take that away from you.”

Here is one more pic of him!

I used to think he was old in this picture but now I am 20 years older than he was and he looks young!

I used to think he looked old in this picture but now I am 20 years older than he was and he looks young!

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Folk Alliance International. The Kansas City Folkfest was the BEST!

Angels of Music Descend Upon Kansas City

Folkfest Poster

Folkfest Poster

We are adults.  Who da’ thought that we would love Music Camp.  Isn’t that for kids?  Tom and I had never been to a music festival.  Someone said that there were 1600 musicians at the event.  They were playing their instruments in the hallways, restrooms, next to the waste baskets, and in their rooms.  Everyone was carrying at least one instrument.

Probably the highlight for both of us was the Gospel Session with Ken Whitely and Friends.  Our own Millie Edwards (one of the Wild Women) was up on stage with The Sojourners and Linda McRae from Canada,  The Birds of Chicago, and more.

Millie Edwards

Millie Edwards

Millie gripped the audience with her solos.  The singing was heart challenging and left you in tears.  Grammy Winners eat your heart out!  These singers and their backup were the best that we have ever heard.  How lucky we are that they came to town!

Gospel Session

Gospel Session

Blind Boy Paxton

Blind Boy Paxton

Blind Boy Paxton

Blind Boy Paxton

On Music Camp day, Tom went to guitar workshops, and I chose to attend Blind Boy Paxton’s “Blues and Ragtime Piano Styles.”

Radoslav Lorkovic

Radoslav Lorkovic

He challenged me to play twelfths and led us back 100 years, it seemed, to people like Willie the Lyon Smith, Luckey Roberts, Fats Waller and James P. Johnson. He was much older than his 26 years. “Practice what you love.” “Get the harmony before you get the melody.” “Play the piece very, very slowly. Fast will come soon.” He was a gentle and engaging person and hugged me before he left.

Later we listened to his concert broadcasted live on KKFI, the sort of radio free USA of Kansas City. It was stunning!

 

 

“Composition through Improvisation” sounded daunting to me, but I enrolled anyway.  Radoslav Lorkovic, a Croation born classical pianist, asked me to sit at the piano with him.  He helped me play a Jazz scale and with my left hand, a bass beat.  He demonstrated many different ways to improvise on the piano.  “Knowing the chords helps, but you can get by with a lot of strategies.”  One of the most interesting things he said was, “When classical pianists are hired, I have to deconstruct their education so that they can play for American audiences.”  It was a stellar experience.

The Sojourners

The Sojourners

 

Tom and I both attended a session by the Sojourners, “The Roots of Freedom Songs.”  They explained that slaves who escaped before the Civil War traveled all the way to Canada, where they were welcomed.  Most of the time was spent teaching us how to sing Freedom songs, “I shall not be moved.”

 

At the Artisan market, filled with friendly and knowledgeable people, Tom tried playing a guitar made from a cigar box.  Please note here that everyone was so helpful and encouraging when it came to playing an instrument.  It did not matter if you were a beginner of professional.

Tom playing the cigar box guitar.

Tom playing the cigar box guitar.

 

Cigar box guitar

Cigar box guitar

 

 

 

 

 

The mission of the Folk Alliance International is “to nurture, engage and empower the international folk music community-traditional and contemporary, amateur and professional-through education, advocacy and performance.”

I would say that “hit the nail on the head,” for us!

 

 

 

 

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Dr. Strangelove Is Back on My Mind!

Titan II Missile is a Wonder to Behold!

Titan II MuseumI will never forget the last scene of Dr. Strangelove (nor Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev’s declaration, “We will bury you.”)  We were watching the movie at a drive-in theatre in 1964.  The last scene shows a detonation of a nuclear bomb that destroys the world.  That plume is still in my mind.

Those of us who grew up during the “cold war” were always afraid.  My sister’s husband who lived in Florida even built a fall-out shelter under his house, equipped with food and canned water.

Titan II Museum Building

In Sahuarita, Arizona

 

I never understood, and still do not understood, the propensity that men have toward violence and the power it brings to them.  I remember arguing with an Economics professor on a cruise ship once who said, “Ultimately it has to do with money, economics.”  I have other theories.

Tom and I have attempted to visit missile sites in other states but were only allowed to look into a silo, for instance, in South Dakota.  In Sahuarita, Arizona near Tucson, we visited the last surviving Titan II missile housed in a museum.  Cost was about $10 per person and worth every penny.

Notice that you wouldn't know that you were looking at a missile site from the road.

Notice that you wouldn’t know that you were looking at a missile site from the road.

Our guide was a 73-year-old Civil Engineer, Bob, who worked on the site for most of his career.  There were only four military people who could launch the missile, but over 400 maintenance people  kept it running from 1963-1987.

“Can you walk down 50 something steps,” asked the volunteer, after we viewed a film about he missile.  About ten of us walked down what seemed like 10 flights of stairs to the central command station.  We learned about the guidance system, the key, the security, the advanced communication system they used long before cell phones.  It was a marvel.

One of the main corridors that leads to the silo that housed the Titan II Missile.

There were long hallways with tubes everywhere.  I kept thinking of some of the science fiction movies I have watched, including episodes dealing with the “Borg” in Star Trek.  Next Generation.  Steel walls were a foot thick and doors were tested in case there was a nuclear attack from another country or a mishap on site.

Inside the silo looking up at the missile.

The Titan II is about 103 feet long and could deliver a nuclear bomb to a target approximately 6300 miles away in about 30 minutes.  The devastation was complete.  It was retired because the military had developed better and more lethal missiles, The Minute Men.  Our guide said that one of these missiles could destroy everything in Los Angeles, nine times over, in a matter of seconds.

Command Center

Command Center about 100 feet away from the main silo.

Looking down at the missile from a glass dome on top of it.

The overall theme of this museum, lead by volunteers, is “Peace through Deterrence.”  None of the missiles were ever launched but they kept our enemies on their toes because they knew that within minutes of an attack that our missiles would be launched.

Unfortunately some people died during the building and maintenance of the Titan II missiles.  Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia that chronicles some of those accidents.

In August 1965, a fire and resultant loss of oxygen when a high-pressure hydraulic line was cut with an oxyacetylene torch in a missile silo (373-4) near Searcy, Arkansas killed 53 people, mostly civilian repairmen doing maintenance.

On August 24, 1978, one airman, SSgt Robert Thomas, was killed at a site outside Rock, Kansas when a missile in its silo leaked propellant. Another airman, A1C Erby Hepstall, later died from lung injuries sustained in the spill.

On September 19, 1980, a major mishap occurred after a socket from a socket wrench rolled off a platform and punctured the missile’s Stage I fuel tank, subsequently causing the missile to collapse. Due to the hypergolic propellants involved, the entire missile exploded a few hours later, killing an Air Force airman, SrA David Livingston, and destroying the silo (374-7, near Damascus, Arkansas). Thanks to the warhead’s built-in safety features, it did not detonate.

(See:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGM-25C_Titan_II )

A Bomb

A Bomb on display in the visitor’s center.

I understand the military philosophy of peace through deterrence but I kept thinking of all those millions and billions of dollars that could have been spent on education and our infrastructure.  So far, the military’s approach is working.  “We never intended to launch a single missile,” said our host.

If you ever visit Arizona, spend time at the museum and learn about the dedication of both civilians and the military hoping to protect us from harm.  Thank you to all of them.

Personal Note

My absence from writing has been due to five surgeries that I had during the last three months of the year.  I am on the mend so my mind (free from those awful drugs) is flying again.

RantingFor over a year I have ranted about the abysmal state of higher education, its abuse of faculty and students, and misuse of funds.  After leaving UCM I have discovered that there are many, many other faculty who work in even worse conditions than I did.  (How can this happen?) I want to shout rants for them too.

Those rants will soon be captured in a novel about higher education.  “Jihad” will be one of the important words in the title.  This blog will change its direction to a variety of  other subjects.

Shortly, I will be developing “Motoring with Marla” a new website that will chronicle our travels in our motorhome.  One of the sections of this website will be “Candid Camper” where I upload photos of unusual ways people camp. You would never believe how people camp.  Recently we saw a camper that had been created out of a one-horse carrier.  There were no windows in it, only a small door. (Wonder how the horse survived?)

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Violence as an Agent of Change

“When War Broke out in Heaven…”

Violence is Local

Terror and violence permeates our lives these days.  It is on the news, in games, in television shows and movies, on the streets and in our living rooms.  Every nine seconds a woman is physically abused or beaten by an intimate partner.  Seventy-two percent of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner. Ninety four percent of the victims are females. (NCADV)  There have been almost 300 mass killings in the United States this year.  (Washington Post) And violence is more than just murder, it undergirds poverty and hopelessness.

Origins of Violence

For many years I wrote about violence and its origins.  Why are human beings so violent?  Some religious groups would point to “original sin” or a genetic defect.  Others would point to the influence of family and the immediate culture.  Others would point to the reality of defense and protecting yourself.   Some would argue that violence is a way to bring about change.

 

 

 

Islam


We are all faced with the fear of ISIS.  Their targets are random.  Their aim is to conquer the world for their God, Allah.  On “Here and Now” on a PBS radio station I heard a young woman argue that ISIS has hijacked their peaceful religion.  ISIS is not Muslim.  If we look back to history, we could argue that her point of view is in error.

Islam began in violence.  Muhammad suffered so much abuse that he had to leave his beloved home in Makkah for Medina where he was protected by a Jewish community.  He led raids against his enemies and shed blood in the name of his God.  Some claim that there are over one hundred verses in the Quran where adherents are told to kill.  Here is an example of one:

Quran (2:191-193) – “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing…
but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone.

From the eighth century through the middle ages, Islam conquered  most of the Mediterranean world all the way to Spain. The wars went on for hundreds of years.

Judeo-Christian Traditions

In the name of God Christian missionaries conquered most of North and South America.  They believed that God had given them the land, even though indigenous peoples had owned and lived on the land for thousands of years.  They believed that they were going to “save” the inhabitants but they left behind blood and death. In countries like Uruguay, the indigenous population was totally wiped out!

Christianity also has a history of conquering its foes through violence from the time of Constantine through the Inquisition or witch trials of the late Middle Ages.  The Judeo-Christian Bible is filled with violence and violent stories.  How could Jephthah kill his own daughter?  Why would anyone want to cut up a concubine and send her parts to all the tribes of Israel? Why is the sacrifice/murdering of a beloved son at the heart of the gospels?

I have written many articles on the violent language found in the gospels of the New Testament.  In my research, I determined that Acts of the Apostles was a violent etiological legend that set the stage for violence as an agent of change.  Everywhere Paul went there was violence.  The founding of Christianity was filled with violence.

Revelation is among the most violent of books in the New Testament.

“The beast and the ten horns you saw
will hate the prositute. They will bring
her to ruin and leave her naked; they
will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.
(17:16)

And, of course, according to the Book of Revelation, the earth will be destroyed to make way for a new heaven and earth.  And, of course, war broke out in heaven!

Islam and Christianity

This is a quick view of both of these religious traditions.  They both have peaceful people and peaceful texts in their documents.  But, within those traditions are peoples who believe that their TRUTH, their Divine (whether Allah or  Yahweh, Jesus (God))  is the only TRUTH and only way.  They believe that our current way of life must be destroyed in order to bring about a change that would be better for everyone,  and especially for them.

I always wonder about people who advocate violence as a way to change things for the better?  Were they beaten as a child?  Did they experience rape or violence in their homes? Were they homeless?  Were they tortured and kept in a closet for most of their lives? Did their parents kill one of their siblings or mother or father? Were they always told that their lives were worth nothing?  Were they so poor that they could not go to school or find a good meal every day?

A Thought

Religion can give direction, meaning, and hope to people.  And many of those people who are killing and killing themselves are dedicated to their religious beliefs, but they are caught up in a “ghost dance” and an illusion.  That illusion has been embraced by millions throughout history, even in our own Salem.

Since our culture is so permeated with violence, have we become a breeding ground for ….

As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

Posted in Cause of Violence, Hostility and Violence on Campus, Killing a Professor, Terrorists and their Religions, Uncategorized, Violence and Religion | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Undergraduate Despair and Hopelessness

Cartoon Captures a Snapshot about the Failings of Higher Education

Chan Lowe created a portrait of Higher Education in the United States “The American Undergrad’s Prayer.”  (I am repeating the prayer here, just in case they pull the cartoon from this blog)

“O, Lord!  Please protect me from campus killing rampages so that I amy earn my worthless degree and drown in student debt forever and ever, AMEN.”
Cartoon by Chan Lowe published in the KC Star on 11/8/15

Cartoon by Chan Lowe published in the KC Star on 11/8/15

This creative soul has captured the tragic feelings of many lost undergraduates in our country.

Lowe Has a Narrow View of Higher Education

As I have mentioned in an earlier blog, I grew up just outside of the now war-torn Detroit, Michigan when the “Big Three” automakers were responsible for the economic growth and well-being of millions of people.  Almost everyone I knew worked for one of the Three or a factory that supplied parts and more to the Three.  One of my cousins designed automobiles, an uncle worked on designing and testing tires, and an uncle-friend built plants for GM.

I knew that General Motors had an institute where I could learn to be an engineer.  But I wanted more out of life than to work on a factory floor like my mother and father and many aunts and uncles.  I had been around the making of cars my whole life, but I wanted to see life outside of an engine magazine and a transmission on the floor of a garage.

I was privileged to come from a family of working poor and knew that I could survive on very little.  I did not go to college to study something that would guarantee a job.  I knew I could find a job to support myself at any plant around the corner.

And here is where I think Lowe makes a huge mistake.  Money is not everything in life.  There are a lot of other values that propel people to attend college.

I wanted a challenge and began studying languages with different scripts.  I wanted to travel.  I wanted to write.  I wanted to understand world politics and social issues. I wanted to help others to understand each other and the peoples on the planet.  I wanted to be involved in life in a different way.  And, even after retiring, I am studying music.  It is adding a wonderful dimension to my life.

Worthless Degree.  Life is more than a Job

No degree is worthless.  If you have studied well, you have learned how to read and write and communicate with the rest of the world.  These are basic skills that undergrads lack. Many of my students could not spell, write a good sentence, reason critically, and were extremely lazy and undisciplined.  They could not understand what was being offered to them, so they threw the time in college away.

I often worked three jobs in order to pay for my college.  Rarely could anyone borrow  money to go to college back in the 1960’s.  So you either had to get a grand scholarship, come from a well-to-do family, or work your way through school.  College students should be required to work when they attend college.  It would help them with time-management and, perhaps, with their negative view of the future.

Most everyone I knew thought that my degree was worthless.  I have a PhD in Hebrew and Greek.  But, I had a tremendous career with many different job opportunities, traveled the world, and created many, many books, lectured on cruise ships, gave academic papers at national conferences, and more.  You learn to turn your degree into many interesting pursuits.  How do you know that the skill you are learning is going to be relevant when you graduate.  Liberal Arts skills are always relevant and will help you to re-create your future.

If you want to go to college just to get a “job” then don’t go to college.  Find a nice program somewhere that gives you the skills you need to get into the job market.

I finished a Certificate in Web Design and learned how to create Websites recently. It only took a couple of semesters, not four years, and I could be hired as a designer today at a good salary.  Study one programming language that is in vogue, and you will be given offers by several companies.  But you will have missed what I think is the the heart of education, which is the Liberal Arts that connects with history, people, poetry, great literature, art, music, theatre, religious studies, and more.

Violence on Campus

At my previous university only one student and one professor were murdered during my tenure.  This does not compare with what has happened on other campuses, but both of those killings should have never happened.

I stopped teaching in the classroom about 8-10 years before I retired and developed classes online.  They protected me from abusive, manipulative, and violent students.  It did not stop them from emailing and calling me a “motherfu…”

I had one student place a gun on my desk demanding a better grade.  I had five Middle Eastern students attempt to bribe me for a better grade.  Several offered me free sex.  One student stood outside my office swearing and walking back and forth threatening me.  Another female clenched her fist in my face after she received a grade she did not like.  There is so much more that I could list here.

And students are allowed to act out such behavior because university bureaucrats don’t want to lose one student.  That would hurt their student-credit-hours and cash that they would lose to fund their own private parties and trips.  Students know they are “used” and they resent every minute of it.

Students are Lost

Students don’t know what they want today.  They can’t see their own future and this is the despair that is reflected in the cartoon.  They are so wrapped up in their phones, their games, their sport’s teams and parties,  that they don’t have time to think about the importance of those wonderful classes in which they are enrolled.

And the top officials of universities are in the same bucket.  They are wrapped up in their own careers, and salaries, and influence,  to the detriment of our students.

 They are also lost,  and so they lead the students into a bitter darkness reflected in this cartoon.


 

Personal Note:

I may write another blog on this cartoon that addresses even more of the cancer that I have experienced on campuses.

My apologies for being away from the desk since August.  I have had five surgeries and been floating around Colorado for three weeks.  Several people have asked me to begin writing again. This was a good day, because it is my last surgery, and there was time.

Talk to you soon.  As always, this blog is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge.

Posted in Disillusionment in Higher Education, Education not War, Higher Education, Hostility and Violence on Campus, Killing a Professor, Misogynism, Misogynism in Higher Education, Stress and Professors, Students at risk, Terrorists on Campus, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

New Book “Politics of Feminisms” is Now Published

Politics of Feminisms

Is There More than ONE Feminism? 

I am happy to share the good news with you that I have published a new book, Politics of Feminisms.  For most of my career I published in many fields of feminist interpretation.  Some of those articles were lingering on my desk for years.  Time slips away.  This book represents two years of research on feminist biblical interpretation, misogyny in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Secrets of Women, and feminist politics in a modern classroom.

Below are a couple of excerpts.  I wanted to entitle this book, “Misogyny for a Hundred Thousand Years,” but I thought that would be stretching it a bit.

Long ago, in the mid-twentieth century, when I was only seventeen, I began to study the Hebrew/Old Testament and New Testament while in college. I had this unshakeable faith that a Divine Being would never create inequality among human beings. There were passages in the Bible that confirmed my belief. People were created equal in Genesis one, and stood side by side in the formative years of the early church. Surely, after reading the Genesis passage and many stories in the New Testament, people would agree that females and males should be treated equally in society.

            I was naive. Having been raised in a family with a strong mother who stood beside her husband as an equal, I could not even fathom that females should be treated differently just because their biology differed with males. I soon learned that females and males were treated differently in society.

A second excerpt:

The Bible is a historic collection of thoughts that has shaped countries and peoples for millennia. Communities have centered their faith activities in the Bible, brought unlikely people together, and serviced many needy people in spite of its misogyny, advocacy of male supremacy, and war-like tendencies. Communities like this provide havens and extended families for people. For some, to give up the study and research of the Bible may result in losing those friends or a haven. The flight of some Protestants away from feminist biblical traditions is understandable because they believe it essentially erodes their belief-system about order in society and community life. They cannot risk the loss even if it means redeeming oppressed females and others who constitute more than half of their congregations.

            Feminists also desire control of the interpretation of the text to disseminate their truth, because it often legitimates an alternate power structure and serves to control myth. And, yes, they want more power in their lives and more control over the people who oppress, marginalize, and exploit them. But perhaps they could also open their research and hearts to others who also suffer in much the same way.

 

A third excerpt:

While we may be publishing new ideas about how we should interpret the Bible differently, or discovering people in the past who have shared the same dream, or how culture should change, or how political power should be shared, on a very basic level the average person does not understand shared power, and many have an unimpeachable belief in male supremacy that systematically excludes those who would challenge it.

            Significant positive change may have come to some religious communities for women, but not to society as a whole in my view. Naomi Goldenberg threatened that feminism would be the end of traditional religions when the male God would be eliminated in her book The Changing of the Gods in 1979. “God is going to change…. We women are going to bring and end to God…. We will change the world so much that He won’t fit in anymore.”x[i]x Naomi Goldenberg’s prophecies failed to materialize. Little has changed.   Perhaps her prophecies will come true … someday.

xlx Naomi Goldenberg, The Changing of the Gods. Feminism  and the End of Traditional Religions Boston: Beacon   Press, 1979 p. 3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Apple Stores are a Lunatic Experience!

Apple is in the Tank!

I have been an avid user and fan of Macs since around 1983. Even when my university attempted to bribe me with a new PC, I did not falter, I kept my MAC.  And I have always appreciated the support and quality of machines that I have purchased.

The Problem

Recently Apple emailed with a recall of a Western Digital hard drive. Dutifully and trustingly, I brought my iMAC to the Apple Store in Leawood, Missouri. The hard drive was replaced in about two days. I was happy with the time frame. But I was not happy with the result. The iMAC would not start. I tried everything I knew to get the thing going. Called an Apple Genius? and he could not get it up and running.

When I returned to the store, the Apple Geniuses were flabbergasted. This does not happen. They did not believe me. They did not apologize. But after several attempts at jump-starting the machine. They decided that it needed to be fixed. My patience was gone!

I asked for a new iMAC since they trashed my old one. In unison they sang. “That could be considered.” But no one would make the decision. I think they were reading the lines from their iPads. A few days later, I brought the machine home. Oral tradition has it that a cable and the screen were broken. Huh? Did someone drop it? I asked for a new machine again and no one would respond. Applecare should have covered it, I think they wanted me to suffer a bit more before they gave me a new machine. When I arrived home my Magic Mouse would not work with the machine. What next?

I told them that crashing my computer was like someone taking your car and crashing it. You wouldn’t want the old car back, you would want a replacement. The Apple ears did not hear me.

The Environment

Have you been to an Apple Store lately. There are hoards of worker drones in jeans and dark blue t-shirts that look like they need some advice on grooming. Most of them kept their heads buried in their iPads and never looked at you. I think they take a pic of you when you enter the store, and your pic shows up next to your appointment time? Huh? All I got from these drones was, “Sit here?” or “Wait here!” I said that I was perfectly happy where I was but I was told that I was in the way.

(On the plus side, as soon as I entered the store someone talked to me, even though the place looked like it was in total chaos.) It is difficult to hear above the roar of the people clicking, swiping, and complaining. My iMAC is pretty big and they told me to look around the store, but then said that I should keep my hands on the computer because I could lose it.

Fun Stuff


There were as many as fifteen people in a line at once asking for help.  Some problems were handled immediately, like a phone that was in pieces, and other people, like me were sidelined for more than a half hour. I saw a two year old playing and talking on an iPhone.  A six year old had dropped his iPhone and it was no longer linked to his new Apple watch. How much did that watch cost? People lost their passwords or locked up their machines or could not use the software. I was watching someone trying to teach a class on how to create a video. He was shouting and no one could hear him.

What a lunatic experience!

Apple is no longer on my “A” List

I wish there was a better machine (I have four of them) for me, I would buy it and leave Apple in the dust. But the truth is that I have thirty years of data on disks and drives that are only formatted for the MAC. To change all of this to a new format would be an impossible task.

So I am stuck with the drones.

Wouldn’t it be great if the drones wore ironed polo shirts, and they actually looked at you. Buy better shirts for your employees, will ya? They look like they found those shirts in a second-hand shop! Burn them!

And maybe, if they didn’t pay some of their executives $89 million a year, they could do more for their customers.

 

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

 

 

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Obama Administration Caves into the Cries of Bureaucrats


“The U.S. Department of Education has retreated from its controversial plan to create a giant college-ratings system, top officials revealed on Wednesday. Instead, by late summer the department is now promising to produce a customizable, consumer-oriented website that won’t include any evaluations of colleges but will contain what one official described as “more data than ever before.” In effect, it will be a ratings system without any ratings.” (Chronicle of Higher Education)

The problem with public Higher Education today has little to do with affordability and more to do with greedy, power hungry, and misdirected bureaucrats. When did the ‘business model’ become the foundation of managing educational institutions?

At the last place where I taught, greedy professors and bureaucrats in fields of business, demanded and got higher salaries and perks than the rest of the university programs and professors. Did they publish more? Were they creative and innovative in their classes? Did they teach better? Did they counsel students better? Were they involved in the community? Of course, they were not and did not. Their argument was based upon market, and they argued that market should control their salaries. Too bad that the rest of us were left out of their selfish scheme!

I don’t know how to solve the problem of greed and selfishness at the top and through the bureaucratic ranks of public universities. The accepted standard or ethic is to exploit those around you.   At my former institution, the number of bureaucrats multiplied exponentially while the number of faculty went down.

Bureaucrats Use Hyper-and False-Advertising to Fund their War Chests 

The bureaucrats still  kept claiming that there was a 15 to 1 ratio in the classes at my former university.  All of our classes were open for 25 or more students and I taught classes of 125 for years.  Yes, there were smaller classes, but those were usually 4000 level classes that majors were required to take.  They also kept claiming that 90% of students obtained jobs almost immediately upon graduation.  What a lie this was!  I worked my way through college and so did many of our college students.  Most students have some type of job while going to college.  The bureaucrats led people to believe that their degrees were so sought after that students were hired immediately. I asked the bureaucrats if the jobs the students obtained were the ones they had while a student.  They stopped using this strategy for a while, and then came back to it.

Telling parents that their child will be assured a job is a bold-faced lie and also telling them that your professors will know your first name, is also untrue.  When you have 100-200 students to teach a semester, it is impossible to know each student by their first name.  You could wish that you could know each student, but it is an impossible task.

Bureaucrats use models on their websites to portray an attractive and beautiful student population.  What is the matter with using “real” photographs of “real” students?  They photoshop crowds together and create an illusion of happy, hard-working, and hard-playing students.  Where is the real campus? Isn’t this dishonest?

Bureaucrats Rarely Support Programs that Require Critical Thinking Skills

Their goal is to attract as many students to campus as possible, so that they can grab the cash that comes from the student-credit-hours produced by those students.  They scheme up unnecessary universal testing because the state rewards the university $100 per student for each test that is taken.  They are reductionistic and hope to combine programs so that the university has a more stream-lined appeal.  Why not reduce all of the majors to about ten?  That is much more marketable!!  In fact, they support programs that seem to lead to one type of “job” more than they support those departments that help students to understand the humanities and complexities of life.  Their goal is to get them in and get them out! They really don’t want them to learn to think, evaluate, read, write, and speak well in public!

Bureaucrats Exploit Everyone to Fulfill their Own Career Goals

When will the revenue that is raised through student-credit-hours come back to the faculty and departments that produce them?  This does not happen.  Like workhorses or mules, faculty become the means whereby bureaucrats achieve their own personal goals.  Those goals might be building projects, increasing athletics, building a new home for themselves, hiring their friends or relatives, the use of a jet, cooperative agreements with governments that enhance their personal power, and so much more.  The funds do not come back to departments for faculty raises or support of curricula.  Most faculty back-peddle hoping for a break, but that break never comes.

President Obama, Something Has to be Done!

The Bureaucrats are many and have loud voices.  They are powerful.  They know about power because it is at the center of their careers and goals.  They won’t let anyone take away that power.  Faculty could do it.  Faculty could step forward and challenge the bureaucrats.  As in any civil war, there would be casualties.  But Faculty do not want to risk their tenure or what little of their own status that they have obtained.  Faculty know that bureaucrats are destroying (have destroyed) higher education and they will do nothing about it.  It is time for an outside agency to investigate and punish greedy bureaucrats.

But who has enough power to do it?  Where are you Edward Snowden?

 

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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Destroying or eliminating General Education classes is barbaric. The Visigoths are at the door!

General Education Classes are at the Heart of Higher Education

“The first act of the Islamic State was to kill the people with knowledge of Religion.” Zaid AlFares

For more than two decades at my last job at a state university, I had to fight tooth and nail to preserve the Religious Studies programs. As I have mentioned in an earlier blog, politics on campus can be quite complicated and visceral. Our greatest opponents were professors and administrators in fields other than normally found in General Studies programs.  They argued that our university did not need General Education. Other universities have walked down this path, where they have attempted to become majors only institutions. From my point of view, destroying or eliminating General Education classes is barbaric.

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking helps to foster success in a person’s life!

I met a student who lives in Columbia the other night. He argued that General Education classes were a waste of time. Students should not be required to take classes they don’t like or don’t want to study. Universities should eliminate those worthless classes.  This point of view is both reductionistic and destructive.  The consequences of eliminating General Education classes would undermine our colleges and our country as a whole. And my reply to this student is that he should seek out a technical or for-profit school that does not include the classes he does not like in his program.

If you are a privileged human being who has grown up with lots of cash, traveled the world, and been tutored all of your life by high-end educators, then perhaps some of the General Education classes would seem to be a bit stifling. But many students in the state of Missouri, and especially at the institution where I taught, were first generation college students.

General Studies

General Studies enhances critical thinking skills and awareness of the world in which we live!

All students need to survey topics that they have never even considered studying in their lives. Those classes can open doors to possible careers and avocations. They lay a foundation that helps link students to all sorts of other people and careers. They can give “meaning” to a person’s life. You begin to understand the world around you, and interact with it in a more intelligent way after studying in a General Studies class.  What would life be like if we did not study history, art, theatre, literature, creative writing, sociology, psychology, communication, women’s studies, languages, music, and even religious studies? We would all become automatons or mechanical people without hearts or brains. And isn’t that the point, and the goal, of those who would eliminate General Studies?

Music

Music Adds to Our Lives

At the moment I am enrolled in a Music Appreciation class.  (Yes, I am retired.) It is true that I do not like all of the music we have studied, but on the other hand, I have discovered other music I love.  In Zumba classes I now can hear melodies in the Zumba tunes that were written hundreds of years ago.  The class has made me very aware of all of the music around me, and I can read and understand the newspapers and advertisements about music about which I knew nothing. This is all thanks to a General Education class.

Most humanities courses help students to learn how to be critical thinkers. They help students to learn how to express themselves clearly and to speak with passion and care. Many of the professors who did not teach General Education courses at my university, complained that they should not be held accountable for their student’s lack of good writing or critical-thinking skills. As long as they knew content in the discipline of a class, the other skills were not needed. This argument harms students.  They are not teaching in the best interests of students.  Their point of view is skewed and narrow.

Students may even need General Studies classes to determine what types of professors they want in their major area. I remember one of my students who had taken Greek from me, asking a question in one of her major classes, where the professor was misusing, misunderstanding, and mispronouncing Greek words. She questioned him and he did not like it.  And there were many other religious studies students who went on to challenge professors on campus who did not engage in critical thinking.

When you want to obtain control over a people, you eliminate the thinkers who have the knowledge to speak out, to be critical, to help others. We have seen this time and time again in Communist Countries, even yesterday with the murder of a high profile official in Russia. In Cambodia and Vietnam, thousands if not millions, of educated people were murdered because they had the knowledge.

Greek Symbol

This is a Greek symbol employed to protect Christians.

Knowledge is precious and can be life-saving. Education is more than getting a ticket to find a good job. Life is more than a paycheck.  Without General Education classes, and especially without religious studies classes, people cannot well assess their lives, their futures, their employers, and their own religious traditions. I can’t tell you how many times military people have come to me, and told me that they wished with all of their hearts that they had taken a World Religions class with me before they were deployed. Their lives would have been so much richer. They could have taken advantage of the opportunities that were presented to them in foreign ports of call. They would have understood the cultures and experiences better.

Shame on the student who carelessly complains about General Education classes. His mindset is similar to ISIS. Destroy the educated, so we can rule!

(The symbol refers to Yeisous (Jesus), Christos (the Christ), Theos (God), Huios (Son), and Soter or Soteria (Savior or Salvation). (The transliteration is mine.)  It was a code that allowed Christians to enter meetings during times of harassment by the government.  It saved their lives!

As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge

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