Hidden Perspectives

Bringing the Bible Out of the Closet

Orange is the New Bible Interview: Elena Rodriguez-Falcon

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1. Hello! Tell us about yourself… who are you and what do you do?
Hi, I am Elena Rodriguez-Falcon and I am a Professor in Mechanical Engineering at The University of Sheffield. Yes, I am an engineer!

2. How did you get involved with/interested in Orange is the New Bible?
I have been loosely involved with Hidden Perspectives for a few years now. As a member of the LGBT community and a non-practicing Catholic, I became fascinated by the work that Hidden Perspectives do in this particular area. Also as a female engineer on ‘a mission’ to change the strikingly low levels of participation of women in this area, I worked with Dr Katie Edwards on a project to explore the impact of popular culture on the perceptions of engineering among children.

I love Orange is the New Black so when I heard about #OITNBible I got very excited, so much so that I had a dream that I was presenting at the conference! In my dream I had brought OITNB, the Bible and engineering together. I woke up at 4.30am and had to text Katie to ask her if she’d ask Jo and Lucy if I could do it. And they said yes!! #engineeringgoesbiblical ☺

3. What interests you about Orange is the New Black and the Bible/your discipline?
It is ALL about tying my discipline up to the Bible, which may appear to be a difficult thing to do but having watched OITNB (a few times!) I can assure you that there is plenty of material there for me to do something exciting, something fitting of the topic and of SIIBS, a truly interdisciplinary centre.

4. How can Orange is the New Bible relate to your everyday work?

The way you relate to your fellow coworkers, to your family, friends and so on, very much depends on how you perceive each other. How you have learnt to relate to them based on their backgrounds, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, etc. We see how ‘communities’ form and disband and why, and in turn, we decide to take part or not. OITNB allows us to look at ourselves, and our lives, through ancient and contemporary lenses and make sense of what we do and perhaps, why we do it.

5. OITNBible is a Hidden Perspectives project. How do you think OITNBible can help ‘bring the Bible out of the closet’?
The Bible has been interpreted and (mis)used in uncountable numbers of ways and for very different purposes. The more I think about it and the more I learn from my Biblical Scholar colleagues, the more I believe that the ‘closet’ is the interpretation of the scripture with a purpose.  In other words, the day people are able to read the Bible critically and objectively, without an end game in mind that will be the day the Bible will truly be out of the closet. And I think OITNBible is giving us the space to do precisely that.

6. If you’ve seen the TV show, tell us about one character and why they interest you?
It will have to be Leanne Taylor, who until you understand why she ended up where she is and why she behaves the way she does, tends to be a touch disagreeable. Leanne has made me think a lot about communities, what they mean to society and what they can do to your own sense of self and the way you interact with others.

Without giving anything away, Leanne will be part of my attempt to get engineering to go Biblical!

7. What other projects are you working on and/or what is next for you??
I am an engineer and I love being an engineer. However, we have challenges like the number of women studying and working in engineering, the lack of visibility of LGBT engineers, the low attainment of BME students, more and more issues with mental health, etc. So, I will continue to challenge the status quo and work with colleagues to bring about change.

8. What would you like to see OITNBible do next?
I think getting people around the world to send something like a 2-3min video of their own take of #OITNBible would be an amazing way to start a new campaign to get the Bible out of the closet and into the modern world!

9. Is there anything else you’d like to say about OITNBible at the moment?
OITNBible is a great concept and I am absolutely certain that it will be a great success. Thanks Jo and Lucy for giving me the opportunity to get involved with the project even if I am not a Biblical Scholar.

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Author: Hidden Perspectives

A research project within the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) at The University of Sheffield.

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