Yesterday I drove down to Bourbonnais, IL to present a paper at the Midwest Regional SBL. As always, a good time. Regional meetings of the SBL are wonderful, and I’m always sad to see that they aren’t more well attended. That said, the small size does have some benefits.
Reasons why the Midwest Regional SBL is awesome:
- It is relatively easy to get a paper (or two) accepted.
- Graduate students in attendance are allowed to take home a free book (all but two of the publishers participate in this giveaway). This year, I scored a copy of Greg Beale’s massive A New Testament Biblical Theology. Not my favorite so far, but you can’t beat free (actually, you could beat free if a publisher paid you to take home a book, which would really be great).
- The meeting feels less like a conference and more like a place where you can go to share your ideas and get some good feedback (as opposed to being violently ripped to shreds in front of your peers and prospective employers).
I can think of only one reason that I don’t like the Midwest Regional SBL: the most direct route from Milwaukee to Bourbonnais involves toll roads in Chicago. Said toll roads are exorbitantly expensive. I left the house with a fair amount of cash in my wallet, and I had to stop at an ATM on the way back. Upshot: the tollway “Oases” that span the road present frequent opportunities for Chinese food (via Panda Express), Starbucks coffee, and relatively clean restrooms. Of course, driving on Chicago toll roads also means that you have to tolerate Chicago drivers, for whom speed limit signs might as well be invisible.