Prof. Robert Cargill on Iowa Public Radio to Discuss Issues of Separation of Church and State in Iowa

I’ve been invited to discuss matters pertaining to the separation of church and state on Iowa Public Radio‘s “River to River” with Ben Kieffer tomorrow, Monday, June 2, 2014, from noon to 1pm.

Iowa Public Radio mugWe’ll likely be discussing the recent proclamation signed by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, as well as the use of public Iowa funds to build a Christian themed park in Sioux City, recent court decisions dealing with prayer at government meetings, and my favorite, the placement of religious monuments on government lands and buildings.

You can listen to the discussion live by clicking on the LISTEN LIVE button on the top of the page here.

Tune in tomorrow. Should be fun.

Khirbet et-Tannur: A New Approach

Be sure to check out the fascinating work being done by Cale Staley, a graduate student in Religious Studies at the University of Iowa working in Digital Humanities research. He digs at Tel Azekah in Israel and is doing much of the modeling on Iowa’s Digi-Tel Azekah archaeological model.

Above, he has modeled the Nabataean temple at Khirbet et-Tannur, located in Wadi Hasa built atop Jebel Tannur, about 70km north of Petra.

Full Text of Prof. Robert Cargill’s 2014 University of Iowa Graduation Speech (AKA “The Hashtag Speech”)

The following is the full text of my 2014 Commencement speech to the graduates of the University of Iowa (Twitter: @uiowa) College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Twitter: @UIowaCLAS) at the 1:00pm ceremony on May 17, 2014 in Carver Hawkeye Arena.

Here is just my speech:

Here is the full commencement ceremony:

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Vice President Rocklin,

Dean Djalali,

Members of the Platform Party,

All 10,000 Statues of Herky scattered throughout Iowa City

Families, Friends, Alumni,

and most importantly,

graduates of the University of Iowa Class of 2014.

I am honored to have been invited to give the faculty address, but I only have a few minutes to speak. And since most faculty speeches say the same thing, that is, “Congratulations”, “We’re proud of you”, “Good luck”, etc., I thought I’d use my time instead to give you something a bit more memorable.

Not only is this graduation ceremony being streamed live, but because my speech has to be so short, and because I’m also a professor working in the digital humanities, I’m going to be live tweeting my speech as I speak.

And I’ll be using the hashtag #UIGrad2014.

And I’m going to start with some pictures, but I need your help. I need you to take some pictures with me. And then you can tweet your photos using the hashtag #UIGrad2014 while the other students’ names are being read.

And you can re-tweet this speech and my photos available at my Twitter account: Robert Cargill, which is @XKV8R, that’s at X-K-V-8-R, as well.

So listen to the speeches, and then re-tweet during the reading of the names. Got It?

OK. Let’s start out with the ultimate “Class of 2014” graduation picture. Parents and friends up in the stands, you can play along too. We’ll all take pictures together.

Ready? What’s that? No, I will not take a picture with your camera.

OK, ready? Please, please…do not flash the graduation speaker.

OK, ready? One, two, three.

#UIGrad2014

OK. Now here’s a picture you can’t get. Here’s a picture of the platform party.

#UIGrad2014Platform Party #NotAnACTUALParty

OK, and now for the speech.

=====

Greetings University of Iowa “Class of 2014”. # Greatest Iowa Graduating Class EVER!

Congratulations! You guys did it! # Some Of You After 5 Years

Soon, you will be University of Iowa graduates and will either enter the workforce, or graduate school. # Either Way You Will Be Underpaid

And what’s even better, you will soon be receiving phone calls from the Alumni Association. # Send Money

Your time at the University of Iowa has been and will forever be remembered as one of the greatest periods of your life

when life was fun! # In Relatively Good Shape # Relatively Thin # Weren’t Bald

[Takes off cap and bows.]

I speak from experience.

In fact, you will soon catch yourselves saying thing like,

“College life was so good“.

“Iowa was awesome.” # Often While Sitting At Your Desk At Work # Or Changing Diapers # Of Twins (True story!)

But I want to give you a quick heads up about what to expect from this day forward.

Because you will also remember your time at the University of Iowa as one of the most transformative periods in your life.

And you will quickly learn that these changes do not stop once you graduate. They actually come faster. # And Become More Expensive

Just ask the people sitting up here.

But your personal transformation as a Hawkeye doesn’t end today.

In fact, in many ways, life as a Hawkeye really begins today.

And for some of you, that life will be spectacular.

You will have tremendous success, you will be happy, and will make lots of money. # The Alumni Association will Definitely Be Calling You.

And be proud! The University of Iowa has prepared you for that success.

But for some of you, life will be very difficult. You will face challenges.

You will lose jobs. Relationships will be strained. Money will be tight.

But believe it or not, the University of Iowa has prepared you for this as well.

Because we the faculty, and your college experience at Iowa didn’t just teach you about math and science,

and most importantly, classics and archaeology # Shameless Plug

But your University of Iowa college experience has prepared you to think on your feet, embrace life,

and yes, deal with disappointments, and deadlines, and challenges.

And this is when you must,  you must, learn to rely on each other, your University of Iowa network

because from this day on, you are all Hawkeye Alumni. AND HAWKEYES ALWAYS, ALWAYS STICK TOGETHER! # And Are Very Nice About It

And part of being a member of the University of Iowa family means looking out for one another and helping each other out wherever life takes you.

Because you will meet Iowa alumni everywhere you go.

I remember the day I was hired to teach here at Iowa.

I was still living in California, and I had bought a University of Iowa sweatshirt when I had interviewed here for the job.

So the day I was hired, I put on my sweatshirt, and, I kid you not, I went hiking out in Yosemite National Park, at 7000 feet,

and was proudly wearing my new Iowa sweatshirt, when some random hiker passes me and yells, “GO HAWKS!”

And I didn’t KNOW the proper response yet! I had just been hired and I didn’t KNOW to say, “GO HAWKS”, back in response, or “ON IOWA”!

So…I hesitated, and was caught off guard and said something like, “Uh…Soarin’ High”.

I didn’t know whether I was supposed to screech like a hawk # Makes Poorly Executed Sound of Hawk

I had no clue! I didn’t know what to say, # Not What A Hawk Actually Sounds Like

but I’ll be damned if there wasn’t an Iowa Hawkeye alum hiking at 7000 feet in the middle of Yosemite National Park screaming “GO HAWKS!”

By the way, # Cargill Did NOT Just Tell Iowa Graduating Class Of 2014 To “SOAR HIGH”. I just want to get that cleared up.

But now I know what it means to be a Hawkeye.

And I also know that your degree from the University of Iowa will prove to be one of the best investments you will have ever made.

In fact, you will never spend money that pays off as much as the money you spent going to the University of Iowa.

Actually, let me say that again: For some, YOUR PARENTS will never spend money that pays off as much,

as the money THEY spent putting YOU through the University of Iowa. # Some For five Years

So be proud! You ARE the University of Iowa.

And if you can handle six-month winters covered in snow, # The Planet Hoth, then you can handle anything!

So take it from a highly educated man wearing a beret and a blue dress. # Fashion PhDiva

Do me three favors today:

First, say thank you to your parents or grandparents or whomever put your through college.

In fact, give them a hand right now. # See Mom, I Love You. Please Send More Money

Second, find a faculty member after the ceremony and say, “Thank you.” Maybe send them an email. # Or Endow Their Chair

And finally, find a student you don’t know, or never really talked to, and say, “Hi”, and give them a hug. # Guys, This Is Your Last Chance. # I’m Trying To Help.

Because you never know when that fellow Hawkeye graduate is going to bail you out. # Of Prison

So…graduates of the University of Iowa Class of 2014,

on behalf of the faculty of the University of Iowa, # Professional Nerds, CONGRATULATIONS on your graduation!

We are very proud of your accomplishment,

because not long ago, we too were graduating just like you. # Except We Are Not Moving Back Into Your Parents’ Basement For The Summer

And you are always welcome to come back to campus and visit us. # Preferably Sometime BEFORE You Ask Us For A Letter Of Recommendation

To Leah DeGrazia and Andrew Deloucas, and to all my students graduating today, I love you. Congratulations and good luck!

Thank you all again. Be safe and have fun tonight! #GO HAWKS

=====

Some other pictures I took from the platform:

Tassel turning ceremony

Pic with University of Iowa Board of Regents student representative Hannah Walsh

And a member of the audience captured the second half of the speech. Thank you!

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For more images and tweets from the 2014 University of Iowa commencement ceremony, visit the hashtags #UIGrad2014 and #UIGrad14.

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I also want to acknowledge my inspiration behind this speech by thanking Ellen DeGeneres for her Oscar antics that inspired the Twitter pics of the graduates, to Stephen Colbert‘s “The Wørd” segments and Kevin Nealon‘s SNL “Mr. Subliminal” sketches for inspiring the idea behind the hashtag punchlines, and to Conan O’Brien for making graduation speeches fun. And many thanks to Cale Staley for his work behind the scenes. Thanks to all of you!

 

 

NY Court of Appeals Upholds 19 Convictions Against Raphael Golb in Dead Sea Scrolls Case

Raphael Golb had multiple convictions upheld by the NY Court of Appeals. He had appealed the 29 counts on which he was convicted and which the Appellate Division had upheld.

Raphael Golb had multiple convictions upheld by the NY Court of Appeals. He had appealed the 29 counts on which he was initially convicted and which the NY Appellate Division had upheld. The NY Court of Appeals upheld 19 convictions.

The NY Court of Appeals today affirmed and upheld a total of 19 convictions of Raphael Golb, son of Dr. Norman Golb, Ludwig Rosenberger Professor in Jewish History and Civilization at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, in a bizarre internet cybercrime case stemming from crimes committed beginning in 2007.

The NY Court of Appeals upheld 9 convictions of criminal impersonation and all 10 forgery convictions in the case of the People of NY v. Raphael Golb, in which the defendant created an army of pseudonymous online sock puppets to criticize, harass, and ultimately impersonate various scholars who disagreed with the academic findings of his father, Dr. Norman Golb, concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The court vacated the top charge of identity theft (felony), 5 criminal impersonation convictions, all aggravated harassment convictions, as well as the conviction on the count of unauthorized use of a computer.

For the reasons that follow, we affirm the convictions for nine counts of criminal impersonation in the second degree and all of the convictions for forgery. We vacate the conviction for identity theft in the second degree; five of the convictions for criminal impersonation in the second degree; all of the convictions for aggravated harassment in the second degree, and the conviction for unauthorized use of a computer.

(For more, visit the NY Court of Appeals “Decisions” page.)

The vacating of the lone felony charge may mean reduced or no jail time for Dr. Golb, but that will be for the NY Supreme Court to decide, as the case has been remitted to them for resentencing:

Accordingly, the order of the Appellate Division should be modified by vacating the convictions for Counts 2, 3, 5, 23, 29, 40, 42, 44, 48, and 51, dismissing those counts of the indictment, and remitting to Supreme Court for resentencing, and, as so modified, affirmed. [emphasis mine]

Keep in mind, however, that while the now vacated felony count carried a sentence of six months and 5 years probation, the misdemeanor counts also carried three month prison sentences and three years probation of their own. So there is a chance that Dr. Golb’s prison sentence may be reduced, but as 19 misdemeanor counts were affirmed, he could still serve time.

(For a list of convictions that were earlier upheld by the Appellate Division, see my earlier post from Jan. 29, 2013 here.)

Reaction

I offered an initial response when Dr. Golb was initially sentenced. I’ll add only the following:

For all those involved, this has been a grueling time. At the end of the day, Dr. Golb has been found guilty on 19 counts in a truly groundbreaking cybercrime case, which I’m sure many future cases will reference.

Raphael Golb is not only an internet troll, but he’s also a criminal and now a convict. A jury of his peers, the NY Appellate Division, and now the NY Court of Appeals have all said so.

And while one might argue that sending pseudonymous letters to multiple supervisors containing speech that is intended to harass and “destroy the career prospects of a really nice guy” is not criminal harassment, it is difficult to argue that forgery and criminal impersonation are “protected” speech. That is where Dr. Golb’s actions became criminal, and that is what the court has upheld.

Throughout this ordeal, we also learned that Raphael Golb’s father, Dr. Norman Golb, not only knew about some of the activities of his son, but participated in informing them.

This is simply a sad case of academic pride run amok, and an example of the lengths to which some scholars will go to defame and injure those scholars who happen to disagree with their theories, including knowledgeably working with one’s children, who have created an army of internet sockpuppets to commit crimes against others.

While I don’t feel any better now that the NY Court of Appeals has determined that I wasn’t harassed (at least not “criminally”), I am satisfied that Dr. Golb was found guilty on multiple counts, and that both the Appellate Division and the NY Court of Appeals have affirmed these convictions.

I should like to think that this will be the end of this mess, but I’m certain that this saga will continue. Dr. Golb has already vowed further appeals all the way to the US Supreme Court if allowed. For now, I take satisfaction in knowing that the wheels of justice, however slow, have once again arrived at a correct decision, and will continue to do so.

DEVELOPING…

What if Everyone Voted? Iowa City panel discussion open to the public, Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

What if...I’ll be speaking on the role of religion in politics as part of the University of Iowa Public Policy Center‘s popular public forum series, “What If…”

This week’s topic: “What if everyone voted?

The University of Iowa Public Policy Center invites you to join us for a series of public forums where our researchers will examine different hypothetical scenarios and their unintended consequences, and present their relevant research.

The last event in this series asks, “What if everyone voted?” Full voter turnout would have myriad consequences for our electoral system, political campaigns, and representation by government officials. Experts will provide thought-provoking reflections on this scenario in order to spur further discussion.

Title: What If…Everyone Voted?
When: Tuesday, April 29th, 2014, 7:00-8:30 PM
Where: Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A

Topics raised will include:

  • questions about campaign contributions and potential changes to campaign strategies
  • election reform
  • presidential nominations (including the Iowa Caucus)
  • election administration, costs, benefits, and other factors
  • the role of religion in politics
  • effects on public policy and the role of political/social inequality

Come for an evening to ponder what really would happen if everyone actually voted.

 

This series of events is co-sponsored in kind by:

 

Robert Cargill to give AIA lecture tonight on “New Approaches in Digital Archaeology at Tel Azekah, Israel”

Tel Azekah digital model, University of Iowa.

Tel Azekah digital model

I’m giving a lecture tonight for the Iowa chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America entitled “New Approaches in Digital Archaeology at Tel Azekah, Israel.”

Info for this AIA Iowa Society Lecture Program is as follows:

Title: “New Approaches in Digital Archaeology at Tel Azekah, Israel”
Presenters: Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D., Asst. Prof of Classics and Religious Studies, University of Iowa
Cale Staley, MA Student, Department of Religious Studies, University of Iowa
Location: Room 116 of the Art Building West, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Date: Feb 24, 2014
Time: 7:30 PM

Abstract: This presentation examines the University of Iowa’s 3D, virtual reconstruction of Tel Azekah, located in the Elah Valley just west of Jerusalem after its initial two seasons of excavation. The presentation offers a new methodology for the systematic digital cataloging, visualization, and reconstruction of archaeological excavations as they progress.

About the Presenter: Robert Cargill is Assistant Professor of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Iowa, where he has taught since 2011. He came to Iowa from the University of California, Los Angeles Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. While at UCLA, he also served as the Instructional Technology Coordinator for UCLA’s Center for Digital Humanities. He is part of the Public Humanities in a Digital World cluster of faculty.

Sponsored by: The AIA Iowa Society Lecture Program, with the support of the Office of the State Archaeologist, the University of Iowa Departments of Anthropology, Classics, Religion, Art and Art History, and the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History.

Audience Type: General public

Tel Azekah digital model, University of Iowa.

Tel Azekah digital model, University of Iowa.

Prof. Robert Cargill to Appear on Iowa Public Radio’s “News Buzz” Today at 12:45c to Discuss List of Most and Least Bible-minded Cities

I’m scheduled to appear on Iowa Public Radio’s “News Buzz” segment today (Friday, January 24, 2014) at 12:45 (central) with Ben Kieffer.

I’ll be discussing a new report completed by the American Bible Society and the Barna Group, which ranked the most and least Bible-minded cities in the US. Specifically, I’ll be addressing the Cedar Rapids/Waterloo/Iowa City area, which ranked the 5th least Bible-minded city, up (or down, depending on your perspective) from #9 on last year’s inaugural list.

America's Most (and Least) Bible-minded Cities for 2014. (Image source: American Bible Society/Barna Group)

America’s Most (and Least) Bible-minded Cities for 2014. (Image source: American Bible Society/Barna Group)

The results were based upon responses to over 46,000 surveys of adults nationwide over a seven-year period asking whether respondents had “read the Bible withing the past seven days” and whether they “agreed strongly in the accuracy of the Bible”. According to Barna, “respondents who report reading the bible within the past seven days and who agree strongly in the accuracy of the Bible” are identified as “Bible-minded” individuals.

The Top 10 Bible-minded cities are:

1. Chattanooga, TN
2. Birmingham, AL
3. Roanoke/Lynchburg, VA
4. Springfield, MO
5. Shreveport, LA
6. Charlotte, NC
7. Greenville/Spartanburg, SC/Asheville, NC
8. Little Rock, AR
9. Jackson, MS
10. Knoxville, TN

By contrast, the least Bible-minded cities:

1. Providence, RI/ New Bedford, MA.
2. Albany, NY
3. Boston, MA
4. San Francisco, CA
5. Cedar Rapids/Waterloo, IA
6. Buffalo, NY
7. Hartford/New Haven, CN
8. Phoenix, AZ
9. Burlington, VT
10. Portland, ME

Time’s Denver Nicks points out that “many cities in the East Coast continued to rank as the least Bible-minded in 2013,” and suggested that New York City’s “large Jewish population may have rescued it from the bottom ten.” (The survey allowed respondents to determine for themselves whether or not reading the Torah counted as reading the Bible for the purposes of the survey.)

The Blaze’s Billy Hallowell has a nice analysis of the data.

The American Bible Society notes that of the top 25 most Bible-minded cities, only three of them have populations over one million people, suggesting an inverse relationship between urban population and Bible-mindedness. Smaller towns tend to be more Bible-minded.

Christianity Today notes that small towns that are home to Bible colleges tended to rank as much more Bible-minded. They note that “19 of the top 20 most ‘Bible-minded’ cities host sizable Christian colleges.”

I’ll contribute the following:

1) The highest ranked Bible-minded city in the upper-Midwest is #28 Indianapolis, IN, which coincidentally was the only Great Lakes state that voted from Romney in the 2012 Presidential election.

2) Iowa City lawyer and friend, Steve Klesner, points out that this may be due to the fact that the immigrants that settled the upper-Midwest are from places that traditionally value and abide by the rule of law and the authority of secular governments more so than, for instance, those immigrants that settled the South, who traditionally might be more likely to settle disputes personally (with fists or guns). This may be due to the historical South’s tendency to distrust the federal government and its legal system (dating all the way back to pre-Civil War days), or may be a result of a reliance on what Southerners believe to be a “higher authority” made knowable only through the Bible. In such a case, we might expect those who read the Bible both more frequently and literally to be less supportive of the federal government, while those who do not read the Bible as frequently or as literally might place more trust in the fairness of the government.

3) The above supports what appears to be an obvious correlation between traditional “red states” and “blue states” and this survey of Bible-mindedness. Note that the Bible Belt is home to most of the top Bible-minded cities, whereas the northeast and west coast are home to many of the least Bible-minded cities.

Note that the Top 20 Bible-minded cities are all in states that voted for the Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential election with the exception of the swing states of Virginia and Florida. The exceptions can be explained by noting that both exceptions listed in the Top 20 (#3 Roanoke/Lynchburg, VA in western Virginia, and #18 Jacksonville, FL in northeastern Florida near Georgia) are considered conservative strongholds within these swing states.

2012 US Presidential Election Electoral Results

2012 US Presidential Election Electoral Results

4) This correlation is also consistent with surveys that have ranked the smartest cities and/or states in America. According to multiple surveys, there is an inverse correlation to overall education level of a state’s residents (based upon high school graduation rate, percentage of residents with college and graduate degrees, etc.) and what this survey would characterize as Bible-mindedness. That is, with few exceptions, the cities that rank as the smartest cities in the nation generally correlate with cities listed as the least Bible-minded in the survey. So for cities in Iowa to be listed along side well known intellectual centers like Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area is a well-deserved achievement, and accurately reflects the priority Iowans place on education as well as the payoff we are beginning to realize on the investment Iowans are making in public education.

5) Specifically addressing the Waterloo/Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area as the 5th least Bible-minded city, this may be explained by the fact that Iowans, and in this case, eastern Iowans are relatively highly educated, fiercely independent, and do not take well to being told how to think by any organized group, whether it be a religious group, a political group, or any other kind of organization. Kevin Hall of the Iowa Republican writes that:

“Democrats in Iowa outnumbered Republicans 640,776-636,315, a difference of 4,461…Both parties are dwarfed by the number of registered independents, which surged to 722,348.”

That is, there are more registered Independents in Iowa than either registered Republicans or Democrats, again supporting the independent-mindedness of Iowans.

6) Without a doubt respondents who answered that they neither read the Bible nor believe the Bible to be accurate must contribute to some of these Cedar Rapids/Waterloo/Iowa City numbers. Thus, we cannot overlook the fact that a large concentration of Iowa independents and free thinkers necessarily suggests a growing number of increasingly proud and vocal atheist, secularist, and humanist groups in Iowa.

7) However, I believe it is also important to differentiate between the two criteria used by the survey to describe “Bible-mindedness”, as the survey’s questionable methodology may undervalue the presence and significance of a large number of progressively-minded Christians. While many respondents in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area may have reported reading the Bible within the past seven days, the frequency of one’s reading of the Bible is quite different from how one might judge the “accuracy” of the Bible, which may or may not be understood as “inerrancy” or “infallibility” of the biblical text by those taking the survey. That is to say, there may be many quite faithful Christians in this area who may have been educated in a non-confessional religious studies department like the University of Iowa’s Department of Religious Studies in which I teach, where the approach to the biblical text is one based upon literary critical, archaeological, and generally more academically analytical approaches, as opposed to the more apologetic, theological, and/or confessional approaches employed by the faculties of many of the small Bible colleges present in 19 of the Top 20 Bible-minded towns.

Thus, a respondent who felt the Bible is not factually “accurate” with respect to stories such as a six-day creation, the biblical flood, etc., may be identified as not Bible-minded by the survey, despite the fact that they read the Bible daily and may be an active, confessing Christian. That is, the survey may be better described as a survey of “fundamentalist Bible-mindedness” or “Biblical-literalist cities,” as the survey tends to equate Bible-mindedness with a belief in the “accuracy” of the biblical text – something that progressive-minded Christians are more inclined to reject as evidenced by other recent surveys that show that nearly two-thirds of Christians now accept human evolution.

[Again, note that in this Pew research poll, a disproportionate number of white, evangelical Protestants (who would make up a large percentage of those believing in the inerrancy and infallibility, and therefore the "accuracy" of the Bible), still reject evolution and cling to the biblical account of Creation.]

For more, be sure to tune in at 12:45 today to listen.

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