Thursday, March 28, 2019 - 12:00am to 11:59pm
JB Duke Hotel, 230 Science Dr., Durham, NC 27705 (Map)
Dr. Brett McCarty

The Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative at Duke Divinity School will present the third annual conference of the "Out of Our Meds?: Theology and Pharmaceuticals" series. This year's conference, "'But I Am Afflicted': Attending to Persons in Pain in Light of the Opioid Crisis," will consider the contemporary opioid crisis through a theological lens in order to develop faithful and fitting resources for both churches and healthcare practitioners.

The conference aims to gather theologians and healthcare practitioners to address a moral question: In light of the opioid crisis, how should clinicians, pastors, and support networks of friends and family respond to those who suffer pain? This is no easy question, as the opioid crisis has complex theological, philosophical, socioeconomic, and institutional roots. By considering our approach to pain in a theological context, we can better understand the multifaceted nature of the opioid crisis and develop fitting responses.

To that end, we also aim to generate new resources that help clergy and clinicians overcome barriers preventing them from uniting to address the opioid epidemic. The project will produce scholarly manuscripts and other resources to aid clinicians, clergy, and congregants as they seek to coordinate their support of those in pain. Not merely clinical primers, these resources will be oriented toward helping practitioners address the pressing moral question: In light of the opioid epidemic, how should I respond to my neighbor (my congregant, my patient, my friend) who is experiencing pain?

The conference is being sponsored with support from the McDonald Agape Foundation.

Plenary Speakers



Farr A. Curlin, M.D., Josiah C. Trent Professor of Medical Humanities at Duke and co-director of the Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative


Ellen Davis


Ellen Davis, Ph.D., Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Duke Divinity School



Brett McCarty


Brett McCarty, Th.D., St. Andrews Fellow in Theology and Science at Duke Divinity School



Eleonore Stump


Eleonore Stump, Ph.D., the Robert J. Henle, S.J., Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University



Joel Shuman

Joel Shuman, Ph.D., professor of theology at King's College




John Swinton


John Swinton, Ph.D., RMN, RNMD, professor of practical theology and pastoral care at King's College, University of Aberdeen


7:30 a.m.   Coffee available
8:00 a.m.       Welcome: Farr Curlin and Brett McCarty, Duke Divinity School
  Overview of the problem: Farr Curlin and Andrea Clements, East Tennessee State University
8:30 a.m. Ellen Davis, Duke Divinity School, “No Soundness in My Flesh”  
9:00 a.m.  Panel of persons living with pain
10:00 a.m. Break
10:30 a.m.

John Swinton, University of Aberdeen, “Faithfully Responding to Pain: Addiction and Christian Homefulness”

Response: Philip Kenneson, Milligan College

11:30 a.m.

Eleonore Stump, Saint Louis University, “Suffering and the Love of God: An Exploration of Christian Doctrine"

Response: Todd Whitmore, University of Notre Dame


12:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m.

Brett McCarty, "Transforming Symptoms into Signals: Medicalization and Agency in the Opioid Crisis"

Joel Shuman, King's College, "Brokenness, Friendship, and Redemption: Health and Healing in the Opioid Crisis"

Response: Carl Elliott, University of Minnesota

Response: China Scherz, University of Virginia

3:00 p.m. Break
3:30 p.m.

Farr Curlin, "Wisely Responding to Pain: Patristic Theology and Clinical Considerations"

Followed by Q&A

4:15 p.m.

Concluding Responses

Larry Greenblatt, Duke University School of Medicine

Lydia Dugdale, Yale University

Warren Kinghorn, Duke Divinity School

5:15 p.m. Wrap up, adjourn to reception



Registration deadline: March 25

Early bird registration through March 15: $50.

Registration between March 15-25: $75.

Duke faculty, staff, and students with Duke Unique ID: free

Parking: Science Drive Garage rate: $2.00/hour; daily maximum: $12.00


We have a limited number of rooms available at the JB Duke Hotel for those requiring lodging. Registrants are responsible for their own reservations and associated costs. Reservations may be make using the following booking link:

Theology, Medicine, and Culture Symposium, Duke Divinity School

Note: If you encounter any problems opening the link hold down the CTRL key while clicking on the link

or call JB Duke Hotel at (919) 660-6400 and request reservations referencing the following information: Theology, Medicine, and Culture Symposium, Duke Divinity School (Group ID:  723164).