Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet Returns to Duke

Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet Returns to Duke

Can the quest for communion with God heal the broken places in the soul as well as the body?

In Psalm 42 we hear the voice of one who longs for God — “As the deer longs for the water, so my whole-being longs for you.”

Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet returned to Duke Divinity on Tuesday, March 5th, 2019, to present a pair of dance pieces as contemporary reflections on how anguish and hope intermingle in the longing for God expressed in Psalm 42. In the process of developing the choreography for these two pieces, the dance company committed to meditating upon that Psalm while also seeking out and listening to the stories of those who live with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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Above Us Only Sky?

Above Us Only Sky?

This fall DITA hosted ​”Above Us Only Sky? Re-imagining the Cosmos with Dante and C.S. Lewis” with Dr. Michael Ward (Oxford) and Dr. Malcolm Guite (Cambridge). “With apologies to John Lennon, should we imagine there’s no heaven, that Planet Earth is surrounded by empty space?”

Using Dante’s ​Divine Comedy ​and Lewis’ ​Narnia ​series, Ward and Guite asked how a Christian imagination can deepen our understanding of earth, the cosmos, and creation. Guite and Ward argue that in writers like Lewis and Dante we can see a model for a reconciliation of reason and imagination in the human experience. ​

The audio for the entire lecture is available ​here​.

When asked if a rich theological imagination is important for leaders in the church, Guite recalled C.S. Lewis’ struggle before his conversion:

The two hemispheres of my mind were in the sharpest contrast. On the one side a many-islanded sea of poetry and myth; on the other a glib and shallow ‘rationalism.’ Nearly all that I loved I believed to be imaginary; nearly all that I believed to be real I thought grim and meaningless.
–C.S. Lewis, ​Surprised by Joy

 

Guite suggested that when church leaders cultivate a theological imagination they are able to point people toward that reconciliation, citing Ephesians 3:18:​ “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth… [of God’s love.]” T​here is no single way of experiencing that breadth and depth, and the arts help Christians, especially church leaders, know that.

The event was part of a two-part series with the Center for Christianity & Scholarship. After the lecture, students in DITA’s Certificate for Theology & the Arts program spent an evening with Drs. Ward and Guite asking follow-up questions and in conversation. Dr. Guite will be a speaker and chaplain at DITA’s upcoming conference, DITA10.

Malcolm Guite

Poet-priest Malcolm Guite is Chaplain of Girton College, Cambridge, and teaches at the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. He lectures widely in England and North America on Theology and Literature and has published poetry, theology, and literary criticism, including his most recent work, ​Mariner: A Voyage with Samuel Taylor Coleridge.​

 

Michael Ward

Michael Ward is Senior Research Fellow at ​Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford​. He is the author of the award-winning ​Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis​ (Oxford University Press) and co-editor of​ ​The Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis​ (Cambridge University Press).

 

The Publication of Micheal O’Siadhail’s The Five Quintets

The Publication of Micheal O’Siadhail’s The Five Quintets

DITA celebrates the publication of ​The Five Quintets b​y Irish-poet Micheal O’Siadhail. It is a work of poetry and cultural history, and it ​o​ffers a sustained reflection on modernity―people and movements―in poetic meter.

The work was commissioned by DITA as part of the ​Theology, Modernity, and the Arts​ (TMA) project, our current major research initiative. ​The TMA project aims to bring theologians and artists together to ask how the arts can help us better understand from a Christian perspective the modern ideas, forces, and movements that have made us who we are. The results are both academic and artistic.

Watch Micheal O’Siadhail read from ​The Five Quintets

In the book’s introduction, O’Siadhail asks: ​how would we describe the contemporary world? He suggests that in order to better understand our present moment and our future trajectory, we must know our history. O’Siadhail spent 9 years writing ​Quintets​ and ​j​ust as Dante, in his ​Divine Comedy,​ summed up the Middle Ages on the cusp of modernity, ​The Five Quintets ​takes stock of a late modern world on the cusp of the first-ever global century.

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The First Annual Certificate in Theology and the Arts Research Colloquium

The First Annual Certificate in Theology and the Arts Research Colloquium

This spring, five graduating students in Duke Divinity’s Master of Divinity (M.Div) and Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.)  programs presented their terminal theses as part of DITA’s new Certificate in Theology and the Arts (CTA). This was the first research colloquium for the Certificate, which provides Masters level students an avenue to integrate the arts into their faith and work.

Presentations ranged from speculative theology to cultural criticism to service-learning projects completed during field education placement.

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Jeremy Begbie Speaks at St. George’s Episcopal Church Art Show in Nashville

Jeremy Begbie Speaks at St. George’s Episcopal Church Art Show in Nashville

In April 2018, DITA director, Professor Jeremy Begbie spoke at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee for their seventh annual art show.

Sixty artists showed 80 works that included paintings, photography, mixed media, and sculpture. The show was organized around the theme of light inspired by a parish initiative to encourage being a “light in the city.” Professor Begbie gave an evening talk on “Hearing Freedom Through Music” as a part of the weekend opening of the show.

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An Evening of Story, Song, and Conversation with Dr. Richard Hays

An Evening of Story, Song, and Conversation with Dr. Richard Hays

This spring, students pursuing the Certificate in Theology and the Arts (CTA) had the opportunity to participate in an evening of discussion, storytelling, and song with Dr. Richard Hays. Dr. Jeremy Begbie kicked things off by conducting an informal interview of Dr. Hays, asking him about his journey to New Testament studies and how his love of literature influences his scholarship.

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Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet Performance and Panel Discussion

Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet Performance and Panel Discussion

This spring, DITA co-hosted Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet with Duke Divinity Center for Reconciliation to perform at Duke Divinity chapel services and take part in a  lunchtime panel discussion. Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet serves to “love and serve all” as the church embodied through the visible form of dance. The performance, “Roar of Nations,” was based on renditions of various Psalms on God’s comfort and God’s majesty over the nations. The dances were accompanied by readings in Hebrew.

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The New Iconoclasm with Dr. Natalie Carnes

The New Iconoclasm with Dr. Natalie Carnes

DITA welcomed back Dr. Natalie Carnes as part of our Distinguished Lecture Series in Theology and the Arts in the Spring of 2018.

Dr. Carnes’ lecture, titled The New Iconoclasm: A Christological Reflection on Making and Breaking Images, drew important historical and Scriptural connections between modern images and how people both break and make them. Iconoclasm responds to the way images are more than their literal existence — the way they mediate something beyond their materiality.

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