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Newsmakers

Divinity people in the news

A Matter of Degrees

Students will begin study for three new degree programs in the fall of 2011, pending approval this summer by accrediting agencies.

The degrees are part of the school’s updated strategic plan in response to the global economic crisis and the church’s need for a greater variety of educational offerings from seminaries.

“The financial crisis accelerated our plans,” says Dean L. Gregory Jones, “but we would have faced many of the same issues without a recession. We were determined to respond missionally to the needs of the church.”

Beginning in fall 2011, the school hopes to offer a master of arts in Christian studies (M.A.C.S.), a master of arts in Christian practice (M.A.C.P.), and a doctor of ministry (D.Min.).

Two of the degrees—the M.A.C.S. and D. Min.—will combine courses taken at the Divinity School with web-based learning platforms, a first for the school.

“None of these degrees would diminish the school’s commitment to existing degree programs, especially our core master of divinity (M.Div.) program for local church ministers, or to residential learning,” says Jones. “Rather, they are meant to fulfill needs of churches and individuals that we are unable to address with our current offerings.” 

Study, Worship, Renew at Duke

Study Leave for Ministry Professionals is for Christian institutional leaders and pastors of all traditions who want to spend a week immersed in learning and renewal through self-directed study, worship, and prayer on the Duke University campus.

While on campus, participants have full access to university libraries, community worship, and lectures. Special arrangements can be made to audit courses or meet privately with Divinity School faculty.

Unlike traditional continuing education, Study Leave allows each participant to propose a topic for the five-day program. Past topics have included church history, Scripture, worship, ethics, and preaching.

Twenty hours of study are expected during the week, for a minimum award of 2.0 CEU.

2010- 2011 academic year Study Leave dates and registration information .

Divinity Sign Makes Prime-Time

Director of Financial Aid Sheila Williams made the final stitch on an impromptu “Duke Divinity School ‘loves’ CBS” banner just in time to hand it off to middler Laura Steed for her afternoon flight to Indianapolis, Ind., for the 2010 NCAA Basketball Championship game.

Earlier in the day, the Admissions Office had e-mailed students challenging any who were attending the game to “hold up a Duke Divinity School sign that can be seen on TV!” When Steed, who works as a student assistant in admissions, offered to take a sign with her to the game, her colleagues rallied. In less than two hours, a recruitment table runner had a new message intended for prime-time: “Duke Divinity School ‘loves’ CBS.”

The banner and a more hastily drawn sign (held by middler Megan Burt) showed up twice during halftime.

“My husband said I was more excited about the sign than I was about Duke winning the game,” says Williams, who had cut out the heart and CBS letters and stitched them in place. “I was excited about both!”

An Angel Named Kaos

By Judith M. Heyhoe

Writing a novel at 18 was “as much about having fun as exploring the forces of good and evil,” says author Brad Acton, whose first book, Kaos, was released in 2007.

The novel tells a version of the Miltonic story of Satan’s rebellion and fall from grace, but from the point of view of an angel named Kaos. “I wanted to present spiritual warfare and angels, but I wasn’t too concerned about orthodox views,” explains Acton. “Kaos is in many ways like Jesus; he is an angel, but Christlike.”

In addition to Milton, the book’s literary influences include Tolkien, whose ability to tell a story Acton admires, and Steinbeck, whose fiction provides a model for characters who are palpably real and earthy. The strong visual nature of the prose makes this Christian fantasy indebted to the graphics often found in contemporary computer games.

While Acton never intended for the novel to be a “vessel of orthodoxy,” he says he hopes that it manages to convey some truth about God. And he readily acknowledges that the forces of good and evil are much grayer than he depicted them in Kaos.

Acton was born and raised in a Baptist family in Birmingham, Ala., where his interest in writing began, and was encouraged by teachers at the Presbyterian school he attended. When he received a laptop computer as a gift, he began writing the rough draft of what later