Precisely three years ago, at this very hour on Sept. 19, 2012, I was in a meeting…a meeting called by the president of my former institution because (and this is a verbatim quote from his e-mail) “of some serious concerns expressed as a result of your Huffington Post blog” (which appeared on August 31, 2012, an article about the Bible’s marginalization of women and the sad perpetuation of that in the modern world).
I went into the meeting concerned, but also knowing that I had tenure, knowing that my institution’s faculty handbook had the AAUP’s statement about academic freedom enshrined in it, and knowing that I had not been required to sign a statement of faith at any point. But I was wrong….little did I know that I should have been very concerned…..because at that fateful meeting, I was told that I would need “to resign or be fired.”
Thus began an ordeal, a saga, a journey. I was forced to resign, something that became effective December 31, 2012. Then began some twenty months of “living out of a suitcase”….good things….a visiting professorship at GW, then an NEH in Jerusalem, and a visiting professorship at Tel Aviv….but a period of tumult and “suit-case living” as well. Then, ultimately, an offer of a tenured position came along from George Washington University (something that a true Mensch named Eric Cline faciltated, in ways that border on miraculous…and with many of you writing letters of recommendation for me, paving the way for everything)…and I accepted.
So today, as I reflect on these three years, and as I begin my second year at GW, I marvel at the difference a year, or two, or indeed three, can make. I absolutely love teaching at GW….and I am grateful for the students, faculty colleagues and administrators at GW. So today especially, I hold the GW banner high….with gratitude for everything….and with delight at the wonderful things that have developed since that fateful and painful meeting three years ago this morning. I’m really loving the music of life and all that it can bring.