By Kristen Johnson, Upper School Religion Teacher
For a religion enthusiast, there is nothing as exciting as witnessing those who would otherwise be seen as perfectly “normal” people break into an intellectually heated debate about Israel’s emergent theories in the lobby of the Hilton hotel in Baltimore, MD. Yet for four days these were types of conversations I got to eaves drop on – and participate in – at the Society of Biblical Literature & the American Academy of Religion’s joint annual meeting. For me, it was great to spend time with my colleagues outside of the classroom and get to experience their interests and share beliefs more intimately. Together we attended lectures and workshops which allowed us to specifically discuss how we could become more engaging religion teachers at Westtown. Moreover, I had the privilege of indulging in my personal interests attending presentations on Hebrew Bible, History and Archaeology, the Pseudepigrapha (falsely attributed texts), and Historical Jesus. I also widened my scope of knowledge by hearing papers on topics like Hinduism and Mysticism, the Study of Islam, and Buddhist philosophy. Overall, the most invigorating part of the conference was the encouragement I felt from seeing the success of the multitudes of others who, like myself, have what might otherwise be viewed as an obsolete and esoteric interest in these topics.