Duke Divinity School will celebrate the role of fiction in the Christian life by adopting a novel for community-wide reading and discussion this fall. The novel is Alice Sebold’s best-selling book "The Lovely Bones," published in 2002.
Two reading-group-style conversations, led by faculty and staff, will take place from 12:20 to 1:20 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14 in Room 0012 Westbrook, and on Tuesday, Oct. 27 in Room 0014 Westbrook. A panel discussion of the book’s theological themes will follow from 12:20 to 1:20 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18 in Room 0016 Westbrook.
The entire Divinity School community is invited to participate in this new initiative by reading the novel and attending these events, which are free and open to the public.
“Fiction invites us to imagine other possible lives, to approach questions of reality and truth by focusing on the particular and the concrete rather than the general and the abstract,” says Professor Stephen Chapman , an organizer of the project. “Increasingly churches are sponsoring book clubs as lay people seek more profound aspects of life than are commonly on offer in contemporary society. We hope not only to extend our students’ education to include fiction as another mode of theological reflection, but also to prepare them to guide their future parishioners in the attentive exploration of fictional works.”
In "The Lovely Bones," 14-year old Susie Salmon tells the story of her own murder and its aftermath. She watches from heaven as her family tries to come to terms with her death and searches for justice. The book explores the impact of violence on family and community life, the mystery of evil, the finality of death, the emptiness that often accompanies suburban life, the limits of a scientific worldview, the fragility of human embodiment, the rich emotional life of childhood, and the deep human longing for forgiveness and reconciliation.
A major film adaptation  of the novel is set for release by Paramount Pictures on Dec. 11, 2009, directed by Peter Jackson and starring Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon, and Stanley Tucci.
Copies of the book are available for sale in the Divinity School’s Cokesbury Bookstore.
For details about Divinity Reads, contact Chris Brady , director of the Offices of Student Life and Formation.