Juvenile Instructor » Women in the Academy: Melissa Proctor
 


Women in the Academy: Melissa Proctor

By: Guest - June 06, 2010

I am pleased to welcome fellow Yalie Melissa Proctor as the next participant in this series. Her academic journey has led her through the worlds of Near Eastern Studies, philosophy of religion, and Mormon women’s history. Her interview reflects her passionate pursuit of her interests as well as her significant contributions to the study of Mormon women.

Education

B.A. BYU Near Eastern Studies (1998)
M.A. Yale Divinity School (2001)
visiting scholar Princeton (2005­-2007)
visiting faculty Harvard Divinity School (2007-2008)
visiting faculty the college of the Holy Cross (2008-2009)
visiting fellow, Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah (spring, 2010)
Ph.D. candidate Brown University (2010)
Currently I’m a Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fellow through the Reed Foundation in New York City.

How did you become interested in your area (s) of expertise/specialization?

My academic journey has been circuitous with twists and turns I could never have imagined or anticipated. I actually began as a vocal performance major at BYU. During a study abroad in Jerusalem the fall of my junior year, however, I became so enamored with the ancient world that I switched my major to Near Eastern Studies so I could continue to study languages and history.

I always knew that I wanted to go to graduate school, but as late as the fall of my senior year of college, I was undecided about what direction to take. I remember requesting catalogs from a number of departments at Harvard, thinking I might continue with Near Eastern Studies or perhaps political science. I’d peruse each of these glossy books as they’d arrive, but nothing ever felt quite right. One afternoon, I decided to get online (the internet was still relatively new then and it had not been my initial go-to source). I remember looking at all of the different options on the Harvard homepage and having no clue what “divinity school” really was. I clicked on the site and began to read the course descriptions: advanced Biblical Hebrew, the poetry of Isaiah, Aramaic, the History of Biblical Interpretation . . . the descriptions alone had me salivating. I applied to a number of divinity schools, won a scholarship to Yale, and began my studies the next year.

While at YDS, I continued to study the languages of ancient scripture. When I left BYU I had many trusted professors warn me against studying certain kinds of things because of their “corrupting influence” and their potential to damage one’s testimony so I avoided some classes my first year that in retrospect I wish I’d taken. Luckily, I had the opportunity to TA in a variety of different departments for Yale College while I was there. My experience as a TA in the philosophy department for a class on the problem of evil was particularly transformative for me. So intent on pursuing my newfound passion, I declined an acceptance to do doctoral work at UPenn in Hebrew Bible so I could stay a third year at Yale and take some philosophy courses. To my delight, I got to take one of Nicholas Wolterstorff’s last seminars at Yale before he retired. If I recall correctly, the class was simply titled “God.” I was the only woman in the class and it absolutely blew me away.

Now I had a dilemma. By the middle of my third year, I’d already been accepted to the Hebrew Bible program at Brown University, but I had increasing interests in philosophy of religion. What to do? After my first semester at Brown, I petitioned the graduate school to let me switch my program focus. It was a big risk to take since I was one of only two students that had been accepted into the program that year, but I had become accustomed to following my intellectual bliss wherever it led. Luckily, I was accepted and I began exploring a new field. I loved taking classes in religious ethics, moral philosophy, theory and method, and other classes that fall broadly into the category of modern Western thought.  This was one of the most wonderfully decadent seasons of my life. Brown is a small program so most of my classes were held in my advisor’s office with two or three other students. We’d choose a book or two to read every week and then spend Friday afternoons in John Reeder’s office discussing and debating. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

The summer of 2003 I was accepted as a Joseph Fielding Smith Institute fellow to work on contemporary LDS women under the fearless leadership of Claudia Bushman. I’d already read most of the important books in Mormon women’s history in my New Haven book group and had been doing a lot of reading in feminist theory, but up to that point, I had not pursued anything explicitly Mormon themed in my own work. That summer changed everything for me  . . . yet again! I chose to study changing LDS policies regarding contraception but wanted my paper to trace more than just official church pronouncements because I was interested in understanding the choices that women actually made about birth control and why.

The experience that summer turned me on to larger theoretical questions in the study of women and religion in contemporary America. The next semester I traveled to Harvard to take a class on this topic with Ann Braude. When we got to the unit on Mormon women, there wasn’t anything comparable to the sociological studies we’d been reading for the other traditions so we read a personal memoir. When I asked her about this during community tea one afternoon, she suggested I fill the gap in the literature with a dissertation on the topic and that if I did, she’d be on my committee. However, the department at Brown had no Americanist on faculty. With my advisor’s blessing, I applied to be an exchange student at Princeton so I could work with Marie Griffith in the Religion Department and sociologist Bob Wuthnow at the Center for the Study of Religion. The two years I was at Princeton were formative for me. During this time I wrote my prospectus and conducted all the oral history interviews for my dissertation.

What are you currently studying, or what are some of your current projects ?

After leaving Princeton, I accepted a full-time visiting position at Harvard Divinity School one year and then at the college of the Holy Cross the next. I won a fellowship from the Reed Foundation this year that has afforded me the luxury of being able to get back to my writing. I’m currently revising my dissertation, which explores the strategies that LDS women use to negotiate their identity as moral agents in a patriarchal church. I’m happy to discuss my teaching and/or research in greater detail in the comments if folks are interested. My next project will be a comparative look at Catholic women and others. I’m spending three months in Italy next spring for the initial research.

What has your experience been like as a woman in the academy?

This question as it stands is a little difficult for me to answer because my experience in the academy has been shaped not only by the fact that I’m a woman, but also by the perception of me as Mormon woman. I think that some of my experiences might be translatable to other academic women, but others might not be. I think a woman in chemistry has a different experience from a woman in English, from a woman who is perceived as personally religious in the field of religious studies. I’m not saying that it’s harder or easier, but it’s important to note the differences. For instance, I am often asked about my personal religious beliefs in professional settings. I’ve had students ask me hoping that I’m one sort of Mormon or wary that I might be another sort. Of course, colleagues always want to know where I stand, and I’ve had divinity school deans ask me during job interviews. It’s challenging to have one’s professional work be tied to one’s religious beliefs (or lack of belief) whether positively or negatively. This is a problem that I think is largely unique to religious studies, however.

Speaking to the question of women in the academy more generally, most structural challenges that women have faced in the past have been removed. For example, most universities now have terrific maternity leave policies, even allowing women to stop the tenure clock when they have a child. The gender-specific challenges that remain are largely cultural, but that’s not to say they are trivial. Some fields are still largely dominated by men, and the professional culture that gets created can be alienating to women. The men who dominate these fields are usually conscious (even self-conscious) about it, and some go out of their way to include women. These efforts at inclusion can backfire, however, and sometimes come across as patronizing or insincere. If the men get together after a conference panel to go to a cigar bar, the women might tacitly be invited to come, but no one really expects them to show up. Within the study of religion, there is also a rather striking divide between those who do historical work and those who do normative work. There are relatively few women who do constructive, theoretical and/or philosophical work compared to other subfields (like history) in the field of religious studies. I’ve heard some people say that that is simply a reflection of women’s interests, but I’m not convinced it’s quite as simple as that.  That said, my primary advisor and some of my dearest friends through graduate school were men.

In your field who are some women you admire? Why?

This is another difficult question partly because I work in a number of fields. Ann Braude has been incredibly supportive to me as a teacher and mentor. Her work on contemporary American women is both broad and deep, which is always a difficult combination to achieve. Marie Griffith’s ethnographically informed work has been an important influence methodologically on my own. In the field of religious ethics, I think that Jean Bethke Elshtain’s tremendously prolific output is admirable. Sally Gordon has always been a wonderful example to me both as a scholar and a friend. I think her work in law and religion is among the very best.

For someone who is interested in studying what you do, what are some books you would recommend on the subject?

Since I work in a number of areas, I’m going to break my list up into subfields. To keep the length manageable, I’m also only going to mention authors and not titles as that should be sufficient. This is only a sampling, of course, and some of the authors could be included in more than one list. Also, given the audience, I’ve left off Christian Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, and Hebrew Bible as categories because I’m not working in them at this very moment. I am happy to provide recommendations in these subfields too if there’s interest.  Being a sort of walking religious studies department is one of the good things about having such an intellectually promiscuous past, I suppose.

Women and Religion

Ann Braude, Marie Griffith, Saba Mahmood, Carolyn Rouse, Lynn Davidman, Michelle Dillon, Marla Frederick, Leila Ahmed

Feminist Theory/Feminist Ethics /Feminist Theology

Carol Gilligan, Valerie Saiving, Mary Daly, Seyla Benhabib, Judith Butler, Virginia Held, Margaret Farley, Diana Meyers, Nel Noddings, Sara Ruddick, Marilyn Friedman, Nancy Chodorow, Judith Plaskow, bell hooks, Sally McFague, Emilie Townes, Rosemary Ruether

Religion and American Public Life/ Religion and Politics

John Rawls, Michael Sandel, Jeff Stout, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Richard Rorty, Michael Walzer, Stephen Carter, Charles Taylor, Nancy Rosenblum, Martha Nussbaum, Richard John Neuhaus, Robert Wuthnow, Paul Weithman, Christopher Eberle, Michael Perry, Alan Wolfe

American Religious History

Sally Gordon, Leigh Schmidt, Ann Taves, Jon Butler, David Hall, Harry Stout, Robert Orsi, Mark Noll, Al Raboteau, Judith Weisenfeld, Wallace Best, (Ann and Marie belong here too)

Theory and Method

Durkheim, Freud, Weber, Talal Asad, Clifford Geertz, Jonathan Smith, Catherine Bell, Peter Berger, Rudolf Otto, Mircea Eliade, William James, Nancy Jay, Russell McCutcheon, Wayne Proudfoot, Pascal Boyer, Pierre Bourdieu

Mormon Studies (mostly historians and sociologists)

Richard Bushman, Armand Mauss, Jan Shipps, Philip Barlow, Kathleen Flake, Terryl Givens, Marie Cornwall, Kathryn Daynes, Mike Quinn, Lavina Fielding Anderson, Brian Birch



23 Comments

  1. Melissa, I’m wondering if anyone has recently published a survey of the state of Mormon women’s studies, including the work that has been produced and the work that people are doing now. In your mind, where are the gaps? I also found this statement interesting:

    There are relatively few women who do constructive, theoretical and/or philosophical work compared to other subfields (like history) in the field of religious studies.

    What are your thoughts on why that is?

    Comment by Elizabeth — June 6, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

  2. I clicked on the site and began to read the course descriptions: advanced Biblical Hebrew, the poetry of Isaiah, Aramaic, the History of Biblical Interpretation . . . the descriptions alone had me salivating.

    Indeed! That was my experience headed off to grad school as well.

    Comment by Ben S — June 6, 2010 @ 2:20 pm

  3. I’m thrilled to see this series continuing. Thanks for your participation, Melissa (and as always, thanks Liz for your efforts).

    Melissa, perhaps I missed it, but is there a timetable for completing your dissertation? And are there plans to publish upon completion?

    Comment by Christopher — June 6, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

  4. I had many trusted professors warn me against studying certain kinds of things because of their “corrupting influence”

    Actually, I would think this isn’t the best advice. The academic world has so much to offer and we LDS people should have nothing to fear. As a graduate student in physics, I have taken plenty of classes and attended several seminars on topics that people have warned me about.

    The reality is all true principles discovered by the world will benefit the church.

    The classic example is evolution. The church and its members are in a position to receive as many benefits by embracing evolutionary truths as mankind received when they finally accepted the earth wasn’t flat. Example: how blessed our we in fighting off diseases because we now know germs mutate and adapt into new “strains” because people have been willing to apply evolution to medicine?

    The church should have nothing to fear and has everything to gain.

    Comment by Joseph Smidt — June 6, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

  5. Melissa’s intellectual promiscuity is one of the best things about her. :)

    Comment by Kaimi — June 6, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

  6. Liz,

    To my knowledge no up-to-date exhaustive bibilographic reference exists along the lines you describe.

    As far as gaps to be filled, the major and most obvious have to do with 20th century and contemporary issues. I think this is largely due to the sometimes political division of labor within universities. Most academics who have studied Mormonism have been professional historians and so have tended to concentrate Mormonism’s past. As “Mormon Studies” has come into its own as a field of study within Religious Studies (and departments of Religion) it has fallen under the umbrella of American Religious History (as a 19th century phenomenon). So, even though they are trained as scholars of religion, younger academics are still largely preoccupied with historical questions.

    Sociologists like Armand Mauss and Marie Cornwall have done some important work on contemporary Mormonism, but I think it is the rare sociologist who could work mostly on Mormonism in their professional capacity.

    I personally think that Mormonism can and should be relevant to a wide spectrum of subfields in the academic study of religion from philosophical ethics to feminist theory to theology and I have tried to pursue that kind of disciplinary boundary crossing in my own work.

    Comment by Melissa — June 6, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

  7. There are relatively few women who do constructive, theoretical and/or philosophical work compared to other subfields (like history) in the field of religious studies.

    What are your thoughts on why that is?

    I’ve thought about this question a lot, and I think the reasons are complicated. Women are subtly encouraged in one direction over the other in a number of ways. It can be nefarious in that normative work is perceived by a few as more important/difficult than historical work. In the rare cases when this mentality influeces the gender division (i.e. the women should be storytellers and the men philosophers) it’s not pretty. That said, however, I think that precedence is probably the biggest factor.

    Women’s philosophy professors tend to be male (just for fun take a look at the philosophy department faculty page at BYU), their fellow classmates in philosophy and theology classes are men, the vast majority of the philosophers they read in class are men . . . no matter how talented, invested, or passionate a woman might be, it’s unusual for her not to get the sense along the way that somehow she doesn’t belong there. And, if she wants to break away from the old white men and do feminist philosophy or feminist ethics or feminist theology that’s even more challenging unless she has faculty members who will support her in these pursuits.

    There’s a very active group of young women philosophers in the Boston area (all of whom are faculty at local universities) who provide just this kind of mentoring.

    I’ve really lucked out in that I’ve had the opportunity to wear different hats in my career and do both historical and philosophical work, which is really due to the exceptional vision of my primary advisor.

    Comment by Melissa — June 6, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

  8. Hey Kaimi!

    Comment by Melissa — June 6, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

  9. Christopher,

    The dissertation will be finished this summer. Two university presses have already expressed interest in publishing it so I plan to revise the manuscript speedily.

    Comment by Melissa — June 6, 2010 @ 7:33 pm

  10. Thanks for this, Melissa. Your circuitous journey reminds me of my own, and I’m still early on in my voyage. I’m excited to see the fruits of all your labor.

    And thanks to Liz for continuing this fantastic series.

    Comment by Ben — June 6, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

  11. Liz, thank you for your work in putting this series together and thank you Melissa for participating. A question about the following statement which I found striking:

    “It’s challenging to have one’s professional work be tied to one’s religious beliefs (or lack of belief) whether positively or negatively. This is a problem that I think is largely unique to religious studies.”

    I have a friend at a Mormon Studies program just last week tell me he felt some apprehension about applying to grad schools in religious studies and whether his degrees at Utah schools would hurt him (the concern being that Utah=Mormon in many minds). This apprehension was actually fed by his adviser. I have to admit, whether from naivete or whatever, I found that idea odd, but your statement seems to verify the influential nature of one’s religious affiliation (or perceived affiliation). I have to say, though I hear stories here and there about an isolated scholar or department in History that makes someone’s Mormonism an issue, it sounds more systematic in religious studies as you’ve described it. Why do you think that is so in religious studies?

    Sorry for the excessively long question.

    Comment by Jared T — June 6, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

  12. Like you, I am of a philosophical timber, and given your answer and my own reflections on the subject, I find it interesting that I am being drawn to historical studies rather than to philosophy or theory. The lack of female philosophers is certainly something that I would love to see change. But I wonder what is going to have to take place for that to happen?

    A bit of personal history: I began taking a feminist philosophy of religion course last semester but dropped it because I honestly did not feel the Spirit there. I disliked the discourse challenging Truth, which the class identified with a male god father-figure type. No doubt acknowledging different modes of or avenues to truth is important. There is much Truth to be found in female epistemology and religious discourse. But I did not feel at home in the environment. I felt that Truth was being questioned in a real way, and since I happen to believe in Truth, I removed myself from the situation. It felt like the right decision for me but left me disillusioned with secularism in the academy. I wonder if there was something wrong with the discourse or something wrong with the environment in which I found myself or something wrong with me. Why couldn’t I stomach it and use what I found useful and discard what I did not? I would like to think that if I had been studying the subject with other LDS women, I would have felt more at home.

    I don’t know whether other Mormon women have had similar experiences with the academic study of philosophy of religion (from your interview it sounds as though they have been positive; I would be interested to hear if they have been otherwise). If Mormon women do feel similarly, however, must they take their study outside the academy to find a balance between truth and error? How do they study with integrity and say what they have to say without fear?

    Comment by Elizabeth — June 7, 2010 @ 12:03 am

  13. Jared T,

    Your friend’s apprehension makes perfect sense given the climate in some Religious Studies departments. (I’m not sure whether his advisor is Brian Birch at UVU or Phil Barlow at USU, but both of these scholars know what they’re talking about). Occasionally, scholars of religion are wary of accepting students perceived as very religious into their programs (especially without some intermediate experience at a divinity school whre they might have been exposed to a wider array of ideas). The concern is that the student will be interested solely in classes, texts, topics, and conversations that support and defend his or her faith, and be unable or unwilling to entertain challenges to that faith tradition. Given the nature of graduate work, this kind of problem would be significant. Any successful applicant would therefore need to demonstrate a willingness (even an eagerness) to be challenged in his or her preconceived ideas and biases. That is, after all, what it means to learn.

    Given the advice that is sometimes given to LDS students(including myself) about avoiding certain kinds of classes, these concerns on the part of admission committees are not entirely unfounded.

    Still, your friend should let the warning deter him from applying. Very religious people get accepted into doctoral programs in Religious Studies all the time.

    Comment by Melissa — June 7, 2010 @ 12:40 am

  14. Liz,

    My response to you is not unrelated to what I said to Jared.

    I want to start by saying that I very much relate to your experience. As I mentioned in my narrative, I did not take a number of classes at YDS my first year there because I was worried they would unsettle or upset me. I did not take Feminist Ethics with Margaret Farley when I had the chance, for example, because I was unsure of what I would encounter. What a terrible mistake! I’ll always regret not taking that class with Margaret, a scholar I greatly respect and whose work I’ve grown to admire over the years.

    You say that the reason you dropped the class was because you didn’t feel the Spirit there, but I’m not sure exactly what you mean by that. You go on to explain that you “disliked the discourse challenging Truth” and “did not feel at home in the environment.”

    I can appreciate the discomfort you felt. I want to suggest, however, that being exposed to ideas that are unfamiliar can be uncomfortable but is necessarily part of the learning process.

    You said that you felt that Truth was being questioned in a real way . . . so you removed yourself from the situation. If I can be blunt, it sounds like you were afraid. In my own experience, it was only when I was fully willing to open myself up to just this kind of real questioning that my knowledge and understanding began to expand.

    You ask, “why couldn’t I use what I found useful and discard what I did not?” I think that this is mostly due to a lack of experience with certain debates and modes of discourse. My very best suggestion to you is to sign up for the most challenging classes you can find, the ones that will require the most of you in terms of stretching and reconceiving the world as you know it. You don’t necessarily have to embrace any philosophy you read about or study in a class, but grappling with difficult ideas, ones you think you disagree with, will make you strong and wise. This is why we pursue higher education in the first place. Besides those classes need you too! How will those mind-expanding debates occur unless someone objects to the argument on the table and gives an articulate counterargument? Be intellectually curious and then let yourself be surprised. Don’t be sure that you already know what you think . . . and don’t prove those admission committees right!

    Comment by Melissa — June 7, 2010 @ 1:22 am

  15. Perhaps I was afraid. My process has been the reverse of yours–being more open at the beginning and growing increasingly gun-shy and conservative. But, that doesn’t mean I need to remain so. Thank you so much for your thoughts!

    Comment by Elizabeth — June 7, 2010 @ 7:27 am

  16. Elizabeth’s reasons for dropping a feminist theology course precisely parallel my reasons for finding things to occupy me in the hallway during Gospel Doctrine class.

    Comment by Kristine — June 7, 2010 @ 8:29 am

  17. Melissa, you don’t know me but your name once came up in a funny conversation. Several years ago I was visiting campuses to get a feel for where I wanted to apply for PhD programs. When I arrived at Brown and chatted with the office staff in the Religious Studies office they asked where I had done my undergrad and I said BYU. The one woman then said, “Oh! Are you a Mormon, we have a Mormon here!” She was really excited about this. Anyway, she gave me your contact info but I never got around to emailing you.

    Glad to hear your name again.

    Comment by oudenos — June 7, 2010 @ 9:23 am

  18. This is great, JI. I love Melissa, but I confess to a longstanding confusion over the twists and turns of her academic wanderings, and it’s something I’ve always been curious about. This explained it very well. Thanks, M! You’re da bom.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — June 7, 2010 @ 10:49 am

  19. Kevin,

    I had to laugh when I read about your “longstanding confusion”! I never intended to be mysterious and would have been happy to tell you my story at any point along the way . . . ;)

    You’d be surprised at how many scholars of religion start somewhere other than where they end up. The chair of the department at Brown who works on Religion and Social Theory (Rousseau), for example, began as a scholar of Coptic. In some ways the study of religion lends itself to this kind of movement because it is a field instead of a discipline (i.e. the study of religion is not defined by a particular methodology like sociology or philosophy) It might sound odd to describe it this way, but I’d go so far as to say that students of religion are dilettantes by training.

    Comment by Melissa — June 7, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

  20. Liz,

    I woke up thinking about you so perhaps I should say a little bit more.

    Among the classes I taught while I was faculty at Harvard Divnity School was a course on Women and Religion. There were two men in the class, but mostly it was a seminar full of women, studying women, taught by a woman. There were two Latter-day Saints in the class. One was cautious about what we were studying, the other was curious. Their attitudes influenced their approach to everything they read, the comments they made, and the papers they wrote. The student who felt threatened was hesitant, uncertain, and sometimes defensive in class. The student with the insatiable appetite for new information, a willingness to be challenged and even to change her mind, learned more in the class and had a better experience.

    Obviously, my earlier post seem to advise approaching new topics with the zest of my curious student. Everyone starts in a different place, however, and it is true that there can be costs to relentlessly pursuing one’s intellectual passions. Mother Eve is the right symbol here. She partook of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because it was desirable to make her wise. She risked her relationship with Adam in the process, and was ultimately banished from the Garden to the lone and dreary world for her choice. A lot of hard work, pain, and suffering ensued. It was the right decision in the grand scheme of things, but there were real costs attached. One might squabble with me over this loose reading of Genesis and the metaphor is not a perfect one, but it is true that ignorance can only be overcome by sacrificing one’s innocence about certain things. Some people might be justified in their fear of the changes that can result in the exchange. Gaining knowledge can be painful, disorienting, and disillusioning (not always, but potentially). Without tasting the sweetness in advance, you have to decide if the reward is going to be worth it because there’s no returning to the Garden.

    Nick Wolterstorff once said something like, “whatever a little philosophy seems to destroy, a lot of philosophy fixes” and that might be the best response here.

    Comment by Melissa — June 7, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

  21. I’ve really enjoyed reading the post and the comments. Wolterstoff is right, and so was Pope when he observed “A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again.” On the question of Mormons in PhD programs in religion, it’s true that religiosity (rather than religious identity) tends to be a factor, but in my experience it isn’t a snap judgment on the part of admissions or hiring committees. They are looking for people who can bracket things off because, as I have heard some prominent people in field observe, “we aren’t in the business of training apologists.”

    Comment by SC Taysom — June 7, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

  22. I especially appreciate your metaphor, Melissa, and your mention of Eve. Before going to YDS a former student told me that there was no returning to the Garden, and from what you say it seems that there is actually a series of departures from the Garden. And thank you for the Wolterstorff quote. It’s good.

    Comment by Elizabeth — June 7, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

  23. Wow, I am impressed. I heard your name recently as a rising star in intelectal commuity, specializing in religion and ethics. I wondered, could this possibly be the Melissa Proctor I knew from choir. A quick internet search and there you are. But it appears as though you are more than a rising star, and more of a guiding star. It is good to see that you have found so much success in the twists and turns of life and intelect. I am very impressed with your writing style. I found it enging as well as intelectual, a difficult combination to acheive. I will keep my eye out for your future work. Best of luck in all your future endeavors.

    Comment by Robert R — December 22, 2010 @ 1:55 pm