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2020 Charge to the Graduates

May. 2, 2021—Delivered by Emilie M. Towes on May 2, 2021 You are the only graduating class to get two charges from the dean. I’m not sure if this will help or hurt but here we are. In this unusual moment, let me begin by reminding you that last year I began by quoting Thomas Paine and...

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This is the first step not the conclusion

Apr. 20, 2021—A reflection from our dean, Emilie M. Townes Guilty on all three counts. These three counts can be—and hopefully will—be positive steps to not only police reform but to our very broken criminal justice system where the scales of justice are not blind but often tilted against the poor, people of color, women, queer, trans,...

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the power of words to harm and heal

Apr. 2, 2021—Emilie M. Townes Spring Faculty Assembly Presentation Delivered 1 April 2021 download a PDF of this presentation with its original formatting.   perhaps you are familiar with this childhood chant: sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me i remember my teachers, grandmother, parents, aunts, and other mothers teaching it...

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A response to Atlanta area killings

Mar. 18, 2021—  by Emilie M. Townes, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society Hearts and souls reach out to the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities in Atlanta and beyond.  The senseless deaths of eight people, six of them Asian women, joins the list of massacres that are becoming a dominant narrative of our...

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A statement of solidarity from the Vanderbilt Divinity Student Government Association

Mar. 18, 2021—To the Vanderbilt Divinity School community, In the wake of Tuesday’s murders of Asian American persons in Atlanta and amidst a disturbing nationwide trend of violence, discrimination, and xenophobia directed against the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community, the Vanderbilt Divinity School Student Government Association declares our solidarity with our Asian, Asian American, and...

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Looking for joy

Mar. 4, 2021—  A monthly reflection from Emilie M. Townes, Vanderbilt Divinity School dean. Our family has been dealing with the deaths of three of our elders over a five-month period in the last months of 2020.  Their passing would have been hard without a pandemic raging around us, but the pandemic made it more so because...

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A blessing for the imposition of ashes

Feb. 17, 2021—Maker of all things, In a season when we long for touch, presence, connection, we remember our place in the vastness of creation. As we enter a season of 40 days of spiritual preparation, we confess the habits of oppression often come more easily than the practices of sharing resources and challenging bigotry. We seek...

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The end and the beginning

Feb. 17, 2021—Read a blessing for the imposition of ashes >> An Ash Wednesday reflection by the Rev. Laura M. Cheifetz Maybe I am just familiar with the ways white supremacy works Maybe my familiar reminds me to always call a thing exactly what it is… – J Mase III Some say the only constant is change. Others say...

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We the people

Feb. 1, 2021—Dean’s message from the January 2021 Spire e-newsletter It begins with a country being formed by taking the land of others because darker-skinned people were (and are still) judged as less than lighter-skinned people.  This founding kernel of our country has grown over the years and has emerged at various times with supremacist values on...

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My vote counts

Nov. 3, 2020—Guest post by Emilie M. Townes, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society. This reflection originally appeared in the November 3, 2020  “Spire”electronic newsletter. Growing up in the liberal segregated south of Durham, NC in the late 1950s and 1960s, one of the things that was drummed into little Black kids’ heads was the power...

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