Saturday, September 02, 2023

Bishop Willimon on the ‘Charismatic Determination’ of Dean Powery’s Recent Book

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Writing in The Christian Century magazine, Bishop William Willimon, professor of the practice of Christian ministry at Duke Divinity School, reviews Duke Chapel Dean Luke Powery’s recent book Becoming Human: The Holy Spirit and the Rhetoric of Race.

“Other scholars have told the truth about our racialized culture, but few have told it as beguilingly and as accessibly as Powery,” says Bishop Willimon, who served as dean of Duke Chapel from 1989 to 2004 before serving as a bishop in the United Methodist Church for eight years. “Few theologians have traversed this terrain as adroitly as Powery, and none as pneumatically.”

“Many books on America’s racialized past and present, even those written for the church, are sociological, psychological, or political rather than theological in their analyses and remedies,” Willimon says. “Luke Powery, teacher of preachers at Duke Divinity School and dean of Duke University Chapel, takes a different approach. He talks about race as if the third person of the Trinity makes all the difference for faithful preaching.”

“Preachers will find strong encouragement in Powery’s charismatic determination to speak like a Christian into America’s racial crisis and to have us do the same,” Willimon writes.

In addition to being dean of the Chapel, Rev. Dr. Powery is a professor of homiletics at Duke Divinity School and is a professor in Duke’s Department of African and African American Studies. In Becoming Human, he contrasts a view of humanity that sees race as essential and valuing some bodies over others with a theological understanding of humanity, shaped by the biblical account of Pentecost, that sees the diversity of human bodies as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Becoming Human was selected as the 2023 Book of the Year by the Academy of Parish Clergy.

Click on the links below to watch/listen to interviews in which Dean Powery discusses Becoming Human: