The purpose of professional meetings

I am about to go to the meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature, Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars, Institute for Biblical Research, etc. in Atlanta. Why would one fly a distance to live in an hotel in the center of a city and roam with 8000 or so other scholars?

There are the papers that I will hear read, which will give me new information and new perspectives, but they are rarely the main benefit. Perhaps they were when I was younger. The ideas that are worth the most are later found in journals. I think that the main purpose is personal contact. Through the networking one gets involved in new projects, learns of new ideas, builds relationships that will bear fruit later, identifies oneself as an involved scholar, and even receives new job offers (or looks for new recruits, if one has jobs to offer). This cannot be done through email or video conferencing or the like. It needs to be done in person. It is the personal that is the reason for these conferences, and the academic papers are the framework in which that happens.

About Peter H. Davids

I am a retired Director of Clergy Formation for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, a retired professor, and an active Catholic priest (and former Episcopal priest for 34 years, writer, and editor). My present appointment is Chaplain to the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist in Our Lady of Guadalupe Priory in Georgetown, Texas. I am also a priest available to parishes and communities in the Diocese of Austin, and the resident priest for the Austin Byzantine Catholic Community. I am married and so am a husband and also a father, and a grandfather.
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