Home : NewsMakers

A Call for Restraint

“Hope to belong to your place, to know it and to care for it.

This line, from an upcoming book of new poems by Wendell Berry, offered perhaps the best distillation of  “Our Daily Bread: A Theology & Practice of Sustainable Living,” the 2007 Convocation and Pastors’ School held Oct. 8-10 at Duke.


A new appreciation and concern for all things local may be our best and only hope for survival, Berry said. “We are clearly at the point in life and the economy where we have to think of restraint,” said the noted novelist, essayist, poet and farmer. “Not just self-restraint, that old killjoy, but communal restraint. We have gone from ‘anything goes’ to a strenuous warning, ‘Attend to context, or else.’”

The event also featured lectures by Wes Jackson, founder and president of The Land Institute, a Kansas non-profit research and educational organization, and Norman Wirzba, professor and chair of philosophy at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky., and a frequent writer on agrarian issues and environmental ethics.

The long process by which food arrives at our tables is inappropriate, unjust and violent, evidencing little or no gratitude for creation, said Wirzba. “Jesus understood himself as the bread of life. But if we view bread as just one more product on the shelf, then we misunderstand Jesus’ message.” 

Jackson presented a sobering assessment of agricultural production and overall energy use. A biologist and former professor of biology, he called for a re-conceptualization of the way humans think about themselves and the planet. “We belong to the world,” he said. “The eco-sphere is beyond people. It is before us in time, large in inclusiveness, creativity and diversity.”

New Chair in Catholic Theology


Paul Griffiths, an internationally known scholar in the field of Catholic studies, has been appointed as the Divinity School’s first William K. Warren Foundation Professor of Catholic Theology.

Griffiths, Schmitt Chair of Catholic Studies at the University of Illinois in Chicago for the last seven years, began work at Duke in January and is teaching this semester.

“We are delighted to welcome Paul to our faculty and to have this opportunity to strengthen our ties with the Catholic community at Duke and in the Triangle area,” said Dean L. Gregory Jones.

Griffiths’ books include The Vice of Curiosity: An Essay on Intellectual Appetite (CMU Press, 2006), Reason and the Reasons of Faith co-edited with Duke Divinity School’s Reinhard Hütter (T. & T. Clark, 2005), and Lying: An Augustinian Theology of Duplicity (Brazos Press, 2004).

His main intellectual interests and topics of publication include Catholic theology and philosophy; the philosophical and political questions arising from religious diversity; fourth- and fifth-century African Christian thought; and Gupta-period Indian Buddhist thought.

Griffiths was born in England in 1955 and lived there until 1980. Since then he has lived mostly in the United States, and he became a U.S. citizen in 1994. He and his wife, Judith Heyhoe, have two children. Previously Anglican, Griffiths and his family were received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1996.

The professorship was established with gifts from the William K. Warren Foundation and the Warren family of Tulsa, Okla., including John-Kelly Warren, a 1987 graduate of the School of Engineering at Duke University.

Thomas Langford’s Reflections on Grace

Cascade Books has released Reflections on Grace, a posthumously-published presentation of Thomas Langford’s views on the centrality of grace in Christian theology.

Langford (1929-2000) served as professor of theology and dean of the Divinity School and as provost of Duke University. He was ordained a Methodist minister in 1952, after earning his master of divinity at Duke.

The author or editor of 14 books, Langford had been writing the work that became Reflections on Grace during the last years of his life. He was the primary author of the United Methodist Church’s Our Theological Task (1988) and a member of the World Methodist Council bilateral theological discussions with the Roman Catholic Church, the World Lutheran Federation and the World Reformed Alliance.

Reflections on Grace was edited by Philip A. Rolnick, professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., and Jonathan R. Wilson, Pioneer McDonald professor of theology at Carey Theological College. Wilson completed his Ph.D. at Duke under Langford’s supervision in 1989.

Teaching Communities Week 2007

Civil rights activist John Perkins of Mississippi and Charles Marsh, professor of religion at the University of Virginia, were keynote speakers Nov. 4-7 at Duke’s first Teaching Communities Week.

An annual event sponsored by the Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation, the week brings together a leading practitioner and theologian, each dedicated to Christian reconciliation in a divided world, to teach divinity students and to engage local churches and ministries.

Although Marsh has written about Perkins’ work as a legacy of the civil rights movement, this was the first time the two had lectured together. Marsh is the author of The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice from the Civil Rights Movement to Today. Perkins is founder of the Christian Community Development Association.

The week’s events included a joint presentation and faculty panel discussion entitled “America’s Unfinished Business: Justice, Reconciliation, the Church and Post-Civil Rights America”; a community workshop attended by more than 100 students, church and civic leaders at Durham’s St. John’s Baptist Church; a breakfast with divinity students; and a lecture and Bible study hosted by local churches.

Photo by Butch Usery/D.U. Photo
Keynote speakers John Perkins (l) and Charles Marsh at the first Teaching Communities Week.

Perkins’ and Marsh’s presentations from the week will be the subject of one of the books in the Center for Reconciliation’s forthcoming series, Resources for Reconciliation, to be published in partnership with InterVarsity Press.

Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche Communities, and Stanley Hauerwas, Rowe professor of theological ethics at Duke, will be the keynote speakers for the November 2008 Teaching Communities Week.

Learn more or listen to the 2007 presentations.

Word Made Flesh Founders in Residence

Chris and Phileena Huertz, leaders of the international ministry Word Made Flesh, spent fall semester at the Divinity School as  the Center for Reconciliation’s practitioner fellows.

Through the program, fellows are invited for a semester of renewal, writing and engagement with divinity students. The couple spoke Oct. 16 about their ministry at a brown-bag lunch open to the public. Word Made Flesh, which has a staff of 200, has created communities of justice and shalom for the poorest of the poor in nine countries.

Media Fellow Rachel Zoll

Rachel Zoll, an award-winning national religion writer for the Associated Press, spent a month as the Fall 2007 Divinity Media Fellow. The program, which attracts mid-career journalists from around the world, is co-sponsored by Duke’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy.


At an Oct. 24 brown-bag lunch, Zoll spoke about the challenges of her work and why so much coverage of religion seems inadequate.

A package of stories Zoll co-wrote on the growth of African Christian churches received the 2007 Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council and was nominated as Story of the Year by the Religion Newswriters Association. She has covered Scripture debates in mainline Protestant groups, the struggles of American Muslims, religion and politics, and trends in evangelical churches. She also was part of AP’s team in Rome covering the death of Pope John Paul II.

Seven Join Board of Visitors

Duke University President Richard Brodhead has appointed seven new members to the Divinity School’s 34-member Board of Visitors. These men and women are lay or clergy leaders from across the nation who meet twice annually at Duke. James Harnish, a United Methodist pastor from Tampa, Fla., chairs the group.

Erin Blair Boyd D’07 of Atlanta, Ga., is a clinical pastoral education resident in pediatrics at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta and a candidate for ordination in the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. While at Duke, she served on the admissions committee, the Alliance of AIDS Services of the Carolinas, and as a summer intern with the John Umstead Psychiatric Hospital.

Terri Dean of Philadelphia, Pa., is senior vice president of global communications for Verizon Business. Dean serves on several community, philanthropic and advisory boards and chairs the Norfolk State University School of Business advisory council. She is a former hospice volunteer and current trustee and chair of finance for Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Germantown, Pa.

Cammie R. Hauptfuhrer of Charlotte, N.C., is a civic leader and retired attorney. Active with the outreach commission of Christ Episcopal Church, she chairs the boards for Discovery Place and the Levine Museum of the New South. She also serves on boards with the United Way, A Child’s Place and Charlotte Country Day School.

Scott J. Jones of Wichita, Kan., is bishop of the Kansas Area of the United Methodist Church. Prior to his election to the episcopacy in 2004, he served on the faculty of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University teaching in the fields of evangelism, United Methodist Studies and Wesley Studies. He is a member of the executive committee of the World Methodist Council and the author of several books.

Charles L. Overby of Nashville, Tenn., is chair, CEO and president of the Freedom Forum (formerly the Gannett Foundation) and the Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University. The former editor of The Clarion-Ledger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in Jackson, he worked as a reporter, editor and corporate executive for Gannett Co. He is an active member of Nashville’s First Baptist Church and serves on the boards of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.

Cay Barton Posey of Cary, N.C., is a former executive associate at Glaxo Wellcome (now GlaxoSmithKline) and middle school teacher. She currently teaches and leads Bible study at White Plains United Methodist Church, where she also serves as chairperson for evangelism, and as a leader with Emmaus and Chrysalis. She also serves with the Center for Volunteer Caregiving in Cary.

William S. “Bill” Shillady D’81 of New York, N.Y., is senior pastor at Park Avenue United Methodist Church. He serves with the Board of Ordained Ministry and is vice chair for the Board of Pensions and Health Benefits for the New York Annual Conference. He is active with the Partnership for Faith, the Leadership Council for Habitat for Humanity, the Interfaith Community of the Upper Eastside, and Planned Parenthood. In 2005 he received a National Clergy Renewal Grant from Lilly Endowment.