This Week: Sept. 19 - 25

Published: September 19, 2011

Reflections for the Upcoming Week

He must have mercy in his shoes.
The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver

 The main character in Barbara Kingsolver’s 2009 novel, The Lacuna, discovers at a young age his poetic gifts when his mother notices in his journal the words “he must have mercy in his shoes.” His mother had never noticed much of anything about him before this, so the moment is significant for him. What this fledgling poet actually uses the image of mercy-infused shoes to describe is dancing. Underneath the concreteness of this description is his youthful though wise commentary, spoken in a teasing fashion to his husband-seeking mother, on the social and economic gap between the rich and poor of Mexico in the late 1920’s. 

Another poet also recognized the power of the image of feet:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
    who brings good news, who announces salvation…
 (Isaiah 52:7)


Reading Kingsolver’s novel this week and being reminded by her young poet of Isaiah’s image of beautiful feet upon the mountains have stirred for me several questions:  How do we walk upon the earth? Do we have mercy in our feet, and beauty, as we travel the mountains and valleys of this world that God created? 

In recent years, questions about how we, as humans, move upon this earth—in other words, questions about care of creation and sustainability—have become increasingly important to theological education. Faculty and students at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity explore in varied ways links between faith and our environment, between Creator and creation.

Several upcoming events reflect the School’s commitment to consider, from scholarly and practical perspectives, how humans and the rest of God’s good creation can flourish together:

  • Are Religious Convictions Bad for the Planet?
    Margaret A. Steelman Lecture and Opening Convocation
    Thursday, September 22
    4:00pm, Wait Chapel
    Speaker: Dr. William Schweiker, Director of the Martin Marty Center and
                   Edward L. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of Theological Ethics
                   University of Chicago Divinity School
  • Healing Communities: Conversations Toward Shalom
    Friday, September 30
    8:30am – 3:00pm, Wait Chapel
    Topic: Explore how our understandings and practices of “shalom” as God intends it
               for all creation may contribute to the healing of our communities. 
  • Moving Planet: Some Thoughts for the School of Divinity
    Community in Worship at Chapel
    Tuesday, September 20
    11:00am, Davis Chapel

At the School of Divinity, third year students have the opportunity to design one of the school’s weekly chapel services. Third year student Caleb Pusey has, from the outset of his studies at the School of Divinity, emphasized the spiritual and theological significance of caring for the earth. Caleb’s chapel offering is centered on this theme. One website cited by Caleb as valuable to him as a ministerial leader and as he imagined the chapel service is with its focus on climate change.

Eco Theo is a School of Divinity student group whose focus is on care for the earth and on other issues related to sustainability. Eco Theo is representative of the School’s broader concern for these issues. The School of Divinity is connected as well with the University’s Office of Sustainability ( and is seeking stronger connections with the national Green Seminary Initiative. For more information about the initiative, see  

New Zealander, Shirley Erena Murray, scripted the lyrics to a hymn that carries the title “Touch the Earth Lightly.” The lyrics of the first and last stanzas of this hymn stir for me images of people who have beauty in their feet and mercy in their shoes:

Touch the earth lightly, use the earth gently,
Nourish the life of the world in our care;
Gift of great wonder, ours to surrender,
Trust for the children tomorrow will bear.
God of all living, God of all loving,
God of the seedling, the snow and the sun,
Teach us, deflect us, Christ reconnect us,
Using us gently and making us one.

The School of Divinity community will sing this hymn during our Tuesday, September 20, chapel service. The singing of this hymn emerges, I think, out of our shared commitments to the wonders of God’s creation and our ongoing efforts to understand what it means for our generation to travel with care and respect creation’s mountains and valleys.  

News from the Office of the Academic Dean

  • Incomplete work from the Spring and Summer terms are due to the instructor by September 30.
  • The last day to drop a course with permission is October 5.

Multicultural Context Updates

  • Applications for CDS Nicaragua: Global Health and Cross-Disciplinary Development are due by Friday, September 23, 2012.
  • Students who want to enroll in MIN 595 Multicultural Contexts: Jews Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land should express their interest to Professor Neal Walls by Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You can view more detailed information on the multicultural context courses for Spring 2012 here.

Blessings on your week,

  Jill Crainshaw
  Associate Dean for Academic Affairs