What is your response to hatred?

Divinity - Spire E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

November 2017

Dear alumni/ae and friends,

What is a faithful response when hatred comes to the streets of our towns—uninvited, unbidden, unwanted—as it did in Charlottesville, Virginia? When this question moved from the theoretical to the real in the Nashville area, we learned that there are a variety of responses.

Some organized as nonviolent protesters and witnesses against malevolent hatred. Some built vigils away from their towns after building coalitions with those who would stay to provide the visual witness against specious calls that channeled the atrocities of the Holocaust and lynching and not whatever making America great again should represent. Some folks kept their silent individual prayers that violence would not become physical. And there were probably many other constructive responses.

White supremacy marches are only the visual representations of a deep-seated problem in our society that various forms of “isms” are alive and thriving and have not died out as some have argued. It is in times like these that I find myself resting in and finding the will to continue to resist such evil by drawing on the power of a robust and ornery hope. This hope is the awareness that we are not powerless in the face of the events unfolding around us in this country or in our neighborhoods and towns. This hope is unequivocal and unambiguous.

It does not detach the human spirit from the present through mad delusions and flights of fancy that hatred will go away if we ignore it or try to call it another name or deny that we may harbor it in our minds and hearts. This hope is one that pulls the promise of the future into the present with a respectful nod to the past and places the present into the dawn of a future that is on the rim bones of refusing to bow down to the loathing of tiki-torch scare tactics.

This is more than just saying no; it is to fight hatred by promoting acceptance and inclusion with every fiber of our beings and then setting about the tasks of building the worlds we seek.


Emilie M. Townes

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


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VDS in the News

Community activist Penny Campbell, BS’77, MDiv’89, to be remembered with a historical marker, reports WPLN.

Bruce Morrill and Joel Harrington are quoted in the Tennessee Register on the significance of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Erik Broeren, MDiv’10, named rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Copperhill, Tennessee.


VDS professors ‘on the road

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

November’s “Read This Book” is a review and recommendation by Teresa Smallwood.

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