The Euphemist

Reflections on Jewish Studies and many other subjects big and little, by a perpetual student who sometimes searches a little too long for just the right word ...

My Photo
Location: Minnesota, United States

Christian, truth seeker, husband, son, brother & uncle, Lutheran pastor, musician (cello, etc.), Jewish Studies grad student, intellectual historian, aquarium enthusiast & pet owner, philologist, astronomer, Norwegian-American, Ford pickup driver, buffoon.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Choosing my battles (or, "Only the mediocre are always at their best")

Once upon a time I came upon a blog entitled "Ah Yes, Medical School." The blogger had drawn a following by writing about his ongoing med school experience in an entertaining way. I got the "bright" idea that I could do a sort of stream-of-consciousness blog about my ongoing experience as a Jewish Studies grad student via distance education. In part that is how I envisioned the blog you're reading now. But I haven't posted any such posts for many moons, partly because I found I really didn't have the time to do it justice, and partly because it didn't seem to be drawing any real interest.

Then, the other day, I discovered that my deepest fear had been realized: a Jewish person had been offended by a post. UPDATE 4-26-08: I removed the post, since he had clearly identified himself. I may eventually repost the same post and comments with identities more concealed. A deep point I'm taking to heart from this is, the topic of Jewish Studies is too important for me, as a Jewish Studies student, to treat in a mediocre manner. If I have something to say about it, it has to be something important, written in an excellent manner. Otherwise it's best for me to keep quiet. So in the interest of damage control I've deleted a number of posts on the subject. Most of them drew no apparent interest anyway, and I'm hoping the rabbi who took the time to write doesn't represent a number of others who were also offended but didn't write. But he easily might.

There are those who thrive on conflict, and who might think I should be defending myself more assertively. But I'm simply a thin-skinned person who meant well, and putting out fires caused by unintended offenses is not a battle that I have the time, energy, or stomach to fight. The battle I choose to fight instead is the one to attain excellence in my chosen field, the type of excellence described by Professor Steven Dutch in this interesting and sharply written article. So I'll stick to doing my work, completing my assignments, gathering the expertise to have something excellent to say, and say it excellently. So that's what I'm doing in the long silences between posts. So, in the meantime, watch this space for relatively harmless diversions such as my dog's next birthday or the next meme someone tempts me with. And if I missed something that offends someone needlessly, please let me know.

UPDATE: My respondent lifted my spirits considerably by receiving my response well.