Holly’s been a bit of a connection point for people here this month. Not just me and Cheryl but that woman in Shanghai who wants to proselytize through counselling, Rod and Bert Lobe and now this Naomi, an American German who’s doing a dissertation on the Chinese church. She was introduced to Wang Xuefu through a woman named Katherine in Munich. She’d talked with Don Snow the day before and was hoping to get more introductions through Xuefu’s connections at the Nanjing seminary. Evidently they don’t like foreigners coming wandering in without an appointment (as we tried to do with Cheryl).
In my limited interactions with Naomi (as usual Holly talked with her more) she seemed dumb as mud. Holly says her Chinese was good, which is always a big plus in her view, but when she spoke in English it made me mad that people might have to call her Doctor whatever her surname is. Maybe it was an act designed to gather information. All “Shucks golly whatever could be going on with seminaries in China?” so people would tell her more, like she was some sort of child. She’d done a literature undergrad then a German Studies Master’s and now she thought she’d like to do a PhD in something she was interested in, like China. She doesn’t have a theology background but wanted to do something theological because her father and grandmother are theologians. She also wanted to do a PhD which would be solely a dissertation so she didn’t have to learn anything else. A friend of her father’s said he could swing that through the University of Wales and now here she is making connections and finding out stuff like “Going to house churches and studying them would put them in danger” and that China’s really big, so maybe some focus might be in order.
I guess some of my dislike for her came from this connection-making which seems to be her means of success in whatever form. As someone who has no connections and no means of making or using connections (see my failed attempts to use that whole Mennonite thing post-CEE) I like to see people display ability. And that she didn’t do. In my eyes. She was so focused on the details of who to submit her questionnaire to she didn’t listen to what Wang Xuefu was saying to her. She was incredulous at an 8:40am meeting he arranged, though she didn’t turn it down. Maybe I was just turned off by her “That was really tough” outside the Massacre Memorial. Maybe it was her accent. I just want people who have more credentials/esteem/status/whatever in society to seem like they should be in that position. Just because I’m slumming along at a nothing kind of job I get resentful of stupid people climbing a career path I got out of.academia cheryl woelk dissertation don snow holly nanjing naomi seminary the hangman theology university of wales wang xuefu