For Holy Week in 2015, Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts (DITA) partnered with King’s College Chapel, Cambridge for their annual Easter at King’s. The week was the third festival DITA has participated in through the Duke-Cambridge Collaboration, which began in 2009. Featured were DITA collaborations with composer James MacMillan, theologian and author Lord Rowan Williams, pianist Cordelia Williams, poet Micheal O’Siadhail, and painters Makoto Fujimura and Bruce Herman.
On March 4, Karin Coonrod gave a lecture entitled, “Hound Dog on a Scent: Flannery O’Connor’s Words in the Theatre Space” as part of the Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts (DITA) Distinguished Lecture Series. Coonrod spoke about her experience adapting and directing O’Connor’s short story “Everything Rises Must Converge” for the stage and illustrated her comments with video clips from a 2009 production of the play in Rome. After the lecture, attendees had the opportunity to ask questions about the challenges Coonrod faced in translating O’Connor’s work for theatre as well as explore the theological and aesthetic implications made possible by a different medium.
David Lyle Jeffrey, distinguished professor of literature and the humanities at Baylor University, presented “Bathsheba in the Eye of the Beholder: Rubens vs. Rembrandt” on Feb. 10. In his lecture, Jeffrey explored the theological and ethical implications of various visual and textual portrayals of the biblical character of Bathsheba and argued that Rembrandt offers a much needed corrective to the allegorizing or prurient tendencies in both doctrinal and artistic interpretive traditions.
Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts (DITA) has announced the launch of a new research project, “Theology, Modernity, and the Arts.” The initiative is aimed at exploring the role of the arts in the theological dynamics of the modern age.
Roger Lundin, Holmes Professor of Faith and Learning, Wheaton College served as the first Visiting Fellow in the DITA program at Duke Divinity School in Spring 2014. He reflects on his expereince below.
On Sept. 24, the Rev. Dr. Malcolm Guite concluded a month-long stay as the Divinity School’s first artist-in-residence with a lecture on Samuel T. Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” The lecture grew out of the research Guite conducted while at Duke and gave the audience a preview of a new spiritual biography he is writing that uses the poem to frame often-neglected dimensions of Coleridge’s spiritual and theological development.
On Nov. 13, Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts will welcome Matthew Milliner, assistant professor of art history at Wheaton College, for a lecture entitled “Towards a Visual Ecumenism.” The lecture will investigate junctures in the history of Christianity where visual art transcended verbal disagreements and fostered unity within the church. It will also attempt to demonstrate how “visual ecumenism” can provide an investigation into places where verbal theology stalls. Two questions will be addressed particularly: Can visual art ameliorate Christian fragmentation, and has it been doing so all along?
On April 9-13, Duke Divinity School, Duke Chapel, and the Duke Music Department hosted “Sounding the Passion: Encounters in poetry, theology, and music,” a series of events that marked the culmination of the first phase of the Duke-Cambridge Collaboration in theology and the arts, organized by Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts. This phase focused on the production of a piece co-commissioned by the Divinity School from Scottish composer James MacMillan, a St. Luke Passion for choirs and orchestra, which had its U.S. premiere in a packed Duke Chapel on Palm Sunday, April 13.
On April 8-9, Duke Divinity School will host documentary filmmakers Rudy and Shirley Nelson. On April 8 at 8 p.m. they will present a showing of their film, “Precarious Peace: God and Guatemala.” The film explores questions on what it takes to end a war and ensure peace. On April 9, the Divinity School will host a discussion of the Nelsons’ recently published novel, The Risk of Returning, at 2:30 p.m. The book is a historical novel set in Guatemala in the 1980s reflecting the tragedy and heroism co-existing within Guatemala’s religious communities.
From February 16-18, Duke Divinity School and Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church in Durham hosted “The Word Made Fresh,” a series of lectures, concerts, and workshops that focused on theology and the arts through the lens of poetry, music, and Scripture. The events featured poet, priest, and English literature scholar Malcolm Guite, singer-songwriter Steve Bell, and Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts director and theologian Jeremy Begbie. Audio recordings of the event are available on iTunes U.