Rising above gender bias and racism

Divinity - Spire E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

April 2017

Dear alumni/ae and friends,

The love of learning was one of my playmates as I was growing up. I was surrounded by educators and sages and the foolish, and the textures of my days meant living and breathing in a fascinating and constantly shifting community of learning.

This world had adults in it like Mrs. Edna Wynne who ran what now would be considered an illegal day care center out of her home. But to kids like me who had two working parents, she provided a safe place to come home to and kids to play with. She taught us about the ways of some white folks as we were all dutifully parked in front of the television set to watch the afternoon soap operas when the Southern heat of the day kept us inside.

I learned that beautiful lives do not beget beautiful people; that powerful white men must be treated with circumspection and care—do not fear them but know how to deal with them; that even the most evil of people could be brought low by circumstance; and that there was something wrong in a town that had no children. No wonder, I thought, that these folks live lives of drama and angst—they don’t have any children to play with them!

The one thing that was constant in how I was raised was the importance of truth and honesty in my words and deeds. The folks who helped raise me were not perfect, but they tried to live and model a life of integrity that was grounded in their religious beliefs.

Today, you and I must take up the lesson plans from these now-departed wisdom bearers and continue to demand that the societies in which we live be grounded in a robust honesty. In a postmodern world of post-truth and post-facts that are served up as alternative facts, the most faithful and prophetic thing that we can do, some days, is to stand up for truth-telling and then live it.


Emilie M. Townes

E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair
Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society


The Rev. Dr. Eboni Marshall Turman delivered the 2017 Antoinette Brown Lecture.

The Rev. Jim Fitzgerald, PhD’99, will become chair of the Southern Nazarene University School of Theology and Ministry in Bethany, Oklahoma, July 1.

The Rev. Shantell Hinton, MDiv’16, joins Vanderbilt as assistant chaplain and assistant director of religious life June 1.

David J. Livingston, PhD’98, will become president of Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois, July 1.

The Rev. Donna Parramore will become district superintendent of the United Methodist Church’s Tennessee Conference in June.

VDS in the News

The Tennessean and Nashville Scene reported on the Divinity School’s public conversations on policing.


Baptist Press: Amy-Jill Levine joined evangelical New Testament scholar Ben Witherington III in a dialogue in faith and culture at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.


Dean Emilie Townes and Dean Emerita Sallie McFague are on a list of “10 Important Women Theologians That You Should Be Reading.”


The Rev. Paula Calderini Hoos, MS’75, PhD’82, MDiv’01, of Franklin, Tennessee, died January 24 in New Zealand.


Your gifts matter. Join the Class of 2017 and make a difference!


Visit our job listings for alumni/ae and current students.


April’s “Read This Book” is an encore review and recommendation by Victor Anderson.

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