Find, share what the Holy has planted within you

Divinity - Spire E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

March 2017

Dear alumni/ae and friends,

What a time we have with all the roads in life we have before us, and we should not be afraid to take them. Or if we are afraid, we must step out with that peculiar thing we call faith. Faith is that movement within us that we see in the biblical record—Moses, Ruth, Mary and many more. Folks like Dorothea Dix, Howard Thurman, Jim Wallis, Bishops Minerva Carcaño and Michael Curry, and Bree Newsome have all challenged us to look at the world around us and find ways to eradicate its miseries and to celebrate care and compassion.

Faith fuels the prophetic and pastoral edges of our lives and helps us take that first step, as Martin Luther King Jr. so powerfully reminds us, when we do not see the staircase. Faith seeps deep within our hearts and into our souls like a yearning, or like fear that has said a prayer, and then we trust that the Holy will be there with a guiding hand, a willing spirit, a relentless love or a cattle poke to help us on the way.

The challenges of our day must be met with many things—courage, determination, a sharp, critical and analytical eye, an ability to listen and to speak up, and robust faith. In times like these, it is wise to see the world as it is; we also see the world as it can be. We must work hard to break down the walls that separate us and keep us from coming to truly know each other, and we must refuse to practice mediocre religion in an apathetic world that is often controlled by fear.

As we continue to move through the first hundred days of this new administration, it is wise, I think, to focus on the world around us, and to also look deep within ourselves for the song, the mission that the Holy has already planted there—just waiting for us to open the closet door, turn the lock, click on the light, pull back the curtains and let what we have within us out into the world as a gift of love and justice and rejoicing.


Emilie M. Townes

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

Sounds of dropped balls and laughter from fledgling jugglers can be heard during an unusual course at Vanderbilt Divinity School.
Chandra Taylor Smith, BA’83 and PhD’01, a tireless advocate for equality, faith and the conservation movement, has died.
Cameron Barr, MDiv’12, writes in Faith & Leadership on “The Pastoral Vocation in the Age of Trump.” Also, a Tennessean opinion piece on immigration policy was signed by several Divinity faculty, staff and students.
Triptych, a new exhibit hosted by Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture, invites us to encounter narratives of identity, as expressed by six artists.


VDS in the News

Stacey Floyd-Thomas delivered the 2017 Mafoi Carlisle Bogitsh Lecture.

The Rev. Sherry Cothran, MDiv’10, has released a new music video, “Tending Angels,” to bring a sacred face to homelessness.

Willa Johnson, MA’95 and PhD’99, was honored for her diversity efforts at the University of Mississippi.

Submit your nominations by April 1 for 2017 Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion Distinguished Alumni/ae.

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

March’s “Watch This Film,” a review by faculty and staff on VDS Voices, is by Dave Perkins.

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