Finally, Zoroastrians sue Snoop Dogg (Snoop Dogg!) over a music video. The video, by Iranian singer Amitis, juxtaposes the rasta-rapper and scantily-clad pole dancers with sacred religious symbols. Officials claim that the video makes their religion seem very awesome is offensive and are seeking damages. (RNS)
This week in Satanic Temple News: A legal victory compels The Temple to abandon plans for an Oklahoma Baphoment statue. (TPM)
Finally, while renovating their Jerusalem home, one couple discovered an ancient mikvah below their living room. Homeowner Tal Shimshomi says that the finding, which has been validated by the Israeli Antiquitites Authority, is cool and all but totally ruins his awesome man-cave plans and now he’ll be forced to hang out with his buddies in the garage. (RNS)
Finally, a stray cat who watched over a Japanese subway station was deified as a Shinto goddess after passing away last week. Mourners, who numbered around 3,000 at her funeral, say the beloved feline can haz special status and that it is nothing to LOL about. (Guardian via @AnnetteYReed)
Last week, I finally graduated from York with an honours bachelor’s degree. Moreover, I graduated in the top 3% of my faculty, and received the the highest honour in the Canadian university system, Summa Cum Laude. After five years of hard work, it was nice to go out on a positive note!
Rather than detail my experiences as an undergrad or whatnot, I thought I would provide some quick tips for those who are thinking of going to school. York is not my first school; it is the fifth post-secondary institution I’ve attended (sixth if you count a non-credit course at Ryerson). I was 35 when I began classes, and I’m 40 now. Like many of you, I’ve had an nontraditional educational trajectory, but I’d like to think that my experiences contributed to my success. So here are my tips for going back to school and getting your degree:
1. Start Where You Can
You don’t have to look at going back to school as a massive project that gets done all at once, just put one foot in front of the other and see where it goes.
Older students often have obligations that younger students don’t have, like work and family, which means you may have to take it slow and there is nothing wrong with that. (In my case, I worked at a law firm while going to university and picked up side work as a research assistant to pay the bills.)
Classes add up. So even if you can only fit one in here or there, eventually you will reach your goal.
2. Have a Big Goal and a Small Goal
I went back to school with two goals. The first was simple: get my degree so that I was more competitive on the job market. The second, larger goal, was to go to graduate school. The big goal helped me set my long-term approach to my studies. But my small, attainable goal ensured I stayed focused when graduate school seemed far away, and reminded me of my basic reason for going back to school.
3. Find Like-minded People
It will help you greatly if you can find people who work in areas that you are interested in. These people may or may not be your professors, and they may or may not be your fellow students. The good news is that even if you find yourself alone on campus, the internet provides a ton of ways to meet others. Contact some folks through academia.edu. Join a professional society. Attend local (or far away!) conferences. These days, there are so many ways to get involved that you don’t have to toil in the darkness.
4. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
While it’s good to have goals and look to others for how to progress through your academic career, it’s easy to look around you and feel like other people are getting advantages or moving ahead while you are stuck in place. I know I often looked at my fellow classmates who received student funding or lived at home with their parents and got insanely jealous that they didn’t have to spend three hours a day on a jam-packed bus or reduce their course-load when home emergencies cut into their savings, as I had to do on a number of occasions.
Obviously, this sort of attitude can easily lead to bitterness and resentment, which is certainly not productive or healthy. Conquer the green monster by focusing on your game. The only person you should be measuring yourself against is you! It may be difficult to do at times, but the best strategy is to be happy with small victories, focus on your work, and ignore the rest.
5. Try Community College
I am proud to say that my first degree was from a community college! Forget the naysayers and look at the benefits: the courses are cheaper, the schedule is flexible, and often you can transfer your degree to a four-year university without issue. Bonus: Your local community college likely offers the same core curriculum as a big name university for a fraction of the price.
6. Avoid Debt
Sure, the promise of a fancy education sounds great, but the truth is, despite the promises of recruiters, there may not be a similarly fancy job waiting at the end of the rainbow. Rather than pile-up the student debt, be smart. Work your way through school, and pay cash for your classes (and everything else!). You might not be living the life of luxury (I know I’ve eaten my fair share of pasta dinners over the past few years!), but you’ll be happy when you have the financial freedom to chart your own course post-graduation.
7. Do Something You Love
I’m not going to bullshit you with the old adage, “Do what you love and the money will follow!” Let’s face it, that is not a realistic approach. If it were, I would be getting paid to eat burritos and sing advertisement jingles.
Right now, academia is a bad place to be. Good jobs are disappearing and being replaced with bad ones, and cut backs mean that there is a lot of competition for the few positions that do exist. Why mention this? Because this dim scenario is all the more reason to do something you love! The skills you learn in university are definitely transferable to the private sector, so you might as well spend your time working on things you find interesting, and building your skill set that way, rather than slaving away towards a profession that may or may not exist in ten years.
8. Be Grateful For Your Support Network
Although going to class, studying, and writing research papers is 100% on you, no one works in isolation. I was enormously lucky to have a husband who encouraged my studies. Having his support made everything much, much easier. I was also fortunate to have professors who encouraged my work and provided me with amazing opportunities, friends who offered timely advice, colleagues who helped me grow as an academic, and a boss who gave me the day off if there was a big test that needed studying for. All these people contributed to my success in one way or another, and I am eternally grateful for that.
Going back to school isn’t always easy, but with a little determination it can be done. If you keep your goals realistic and take things one step at a time, you’ll find yourself succeeding in ways you never imagined sooner than you think!
Finally, the Roman fertility god Priapus, who was often depicted with an erection, may have suffered from a penis-related medical condition. Critics say it’s hard to believe, but the scholar advancing this theory says his case is firm and he isn’t jerking anyone around. (Pictorial)
On Tuesday, I will be graduating (finally!) from York. This will bring to a close a chapter of my life that was an enormous amount of work but also enriched my life in so many ways.
Before I leave the campus for good, I want to share with you some good news: I received a few more awards in conjunction with my academic work. I anticipate this will be the last stretch of awards for a bit, so if you don’t mind, I am going to enjoy the moment:
2. Vanier College Council 50th Anniversary Award
This one was a bit of a surprise as it’s given to a student who has demonstrated commitment to the student body. Sure, I was a peer advisor, but I was honored when this came through the door. My thanks to whomever put me up for this award!
Finally, teenagers are over planking and turning to something more on fleek to pass the time: summoning demons. Reports suggest that said demons can be summoned with commonly found objects, like pencils and paper, and that the spirit who appears will totally freak you out, tell you what on fleek means. (Jezebel)
Applying to graduate school was quite an involved process. There were transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation, and resumes that had to be prepared and sent to every department. In addition to these materials, I also applied for a government scholarship to pay for my studies. This award, the Canada Master’s Scholarship, is awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of the government of Canada. It is given to the nation’s top scholars to facilitate their research.
The objective of the Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s (CGS M) Program is to help develop research skills and assist in the training of highly qualified personnel by supporting students who demonstrate a high standard of achievement in undergraduate and early graduate studies.
The CGS-M Program provides financial support to high-calibre scholars who are engaged in eligible master’s or, in some cases, doctoral programs in Canada. This support allows these scholars to fully concentrate on their studies in their chosen fields.
The CGS M Program supports 2,500 students annually in all disciplines and is administered jointly by Canada’s three federal granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The selection process and post-award administration are carried out at the institutional level, under the guidance of the three agencies.
This scholarship will help to fund my research into Dionysiac associations of the Roman Empire, which intends to explore the nature of religious identity in antiquity.
It goes without saying (but it must be said) that I offer my thanks to everyone who helped make this happen, including my referees and the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. And, of course, my thanks to the powers that be that award these scholarships. Huzzah!
My understanding is that my text, which I am translating from a Greek manuscript, has some bits that the other accounts lack. I do know that there is sex and murder in my version, so we already have two main ingredients for an interesting story!
Burke and I will be presenting these texts on June 1st at 1:30 (that’s a Monday). For those who may want to swing by and hear some new (or sorta new) biblical stories, the abstract is below:
Tony Burke and Sarah Veale (York University) Two Martyrdoms of John the Baptist
In 1904 Alexander Berendts (Die handschriftliche Überlieferung der Zacharias-und Johannes-Apokryphen. TU, N. F. 11/3. Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs) published a comprehensive survey of five martyrdoms of John the Baptist extant in Greek and Slavonic. Of these, only Passion 5 (the Life and Martyrdom of John the Baptist; CANT 181) has seen much attention—a critical edition and French translation was published by François Nau (“Histoire de saint Jean Baptiste attribuée à saint Marc l’Évangéliste,” PO: 521-41) and an English translation was prepared by Andrew Bernhard for New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures (forthcoming). As for the other four texts, there is much confusion in Berendts’ and Nau’s reports about the contents of the unpublished manuscripts. This paper seeks to make some progress in sorting through the various witnesses by presenting editions and English translations of two texts: Berendts’ Passion 2 (the Decapitation of John the Forerunner attributed to his disciple Eurippus; CANT 180.2) and an unedited, related but lengthier text (untitled but also attributed to Eurippus; CANT 180.4). The translations will appear along with introductions in the second volume of New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures.
For more information, you can download the full CSBS programme here. I hope to see you there in Ottawa!