Rabbi Barbara Thiede lowrezI have pathologies. They include making sure there are not too many objects in any given room (there’s enough clutter in my brain, for God’s sake), ordering the dishwasher for maximum efficiency (the water has to flow freely but the contents should be full), and collecting degrees and ordinations.

I had sworn a solemn vow to cease and desist from the latter in January, 2012.  I now possess various paper documents, including a B.A., two M.A. degrees, a PhD, a smicha (ordination) as a rabbi, and a smicha as a spiritual director. For some reason I do not understand, the M.A. degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is the biggest of the bunch.  It’s huge, actually.

About a year after smicha, I was offered the opportunity to pursue a doctor of divinity. I mentally slapped myself and said no to Self. Several times. I am still saying no to Self, who occasionally asks me about this.

Self: Are you sure?

Self: YES, dernitall. Stop pestering me!!! Besides, all those degrees are just sitting in a drawer anyway. We haven’t framed the B.A., even, and we earned that decades ago!

Just so you know: I believe we all possess at least two selves. Three actually. (See Freud.)

Recently Self reminded me about the doctor in divinity thing. I counterattacked by telling Self that we really want to learn how to play jazz rhythms on our new guitar and take self-defense classes.

I am currently working writing Male Friendship, Homosociality, and Women in the Hebrew Bible: Malignant Fraternities, which will be published by Routledge Press. Hegemonic masculinity in biblical texts is not a pretty thing. It remains so in our day.

I teach at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, North Carolina. No, this is not “UNC.” Chapel Hill is not Charlotte, though UNCC prints bigger degrees.

I am proud of the fact that I belong to a truly collegial and amazing department at UNCC (Religious Studies). I teach all things Jewish, from courses on Judaism, Hebrew Bible and its component parts, to the history of European Antisemitism. I do the same sort of thing for ALEPH Ordination Programs, where I was ordained.

I also serve as the rabbi for Temple Or Olam, an eclectic Jewish Renewal havurah in Concord, North Carolina (www.or-olam.org). I volunteer at our local hospital as the only Jewish chaplain for many miles.

For nigh on twenty years I have written a very friendly column for the north Neighbors section of The Charlotte Observer named “On Common Ground.” I’ve always been about finding just that.

My partner and husband of decades, Ralf Thiede, is a linguist who specializes in the linguistics of children’s literature. Our son, Erik, is a theoretical chemist whose work I wish I could describe to those who ask. Our daughter-in-love, Serafina Ha is a social justice artist whose work reminds me to be hopeful about the future.

If you would like to comment, feel free. I am happiest when my students make me stop in my tracks with a question or observation I never considered. But I do not tolerate cruelty, meanness, or aggression. Posts of this nature will be ruthlessly stamped out. There is enough of that sort of thing in the world.

Welcome to adrenalinedrash!


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