Bonhoeffer Conference at Perkins School of Theology

"In the Face of Barbarism:" Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Culture, Humanity and the Importance of Ordinary Life.

On February 13-14, 2020, Perkins School of Theology will be sponsoring a short conference, “‘In the Face of Barbarism:’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Culture, Humanity and the Importance of Ordinary Life.”

Most scholarly and popular portrayals of Bonhoeffer focus on the exceptional circumstances in which he found himself. The conference, by contrast, is focused on the importance of everyday life in Bonhoeffer’s theology and ethics. Lecturers Victoria Barnett, Michael DeJonge, and Natalie Carnes will help us to position the intersection of art and theology as related to everyday life. The conference will conclude with a one-person play on the legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as adapted and performed by Al Staggs.

This conference is generously supported by the Robinson Fund at Perkins, which encourages work at the intersection of theology and the arts. This is appropriate given Bonhoeffer’s interest in music especially and in the way in which the arts were woven into the everyday life of the Bonhoeffer family and the student community at Finkenwalde.


Registration for the full conference is $10 for students and $25 for the general public. Pricing includes lunch on Friday. 
Please note that both the keynote lecture on Thursday evening and the one-person play on Friday evening are free events open to the public.


Conference Schedule

Thursday, February 13
7 - 9 p.m.  
Keynote Lecture by Victoria Barnett
"Bonhoeffer's Challenge to Nation and Culture"
Perkins Chapel
6001 Bishop Blvd. 
Dallas, TX 75205
This lecture is free and open to the public.

Friday, February 14
9 a.m. Morning Gathering  
Perkins Campus, Kirby Parlor 

9:30 - 11:30 a.m. Morning Session with Natalie Carnes and Respondents
"Why this Waste? Defending Art in a World of Poverty"
Respondents: Natalia Marandiuc and Dallas Gingles
Perkins Chapel

11:45 a.m. - 2 p.m. Lunch and Conversation
Meadows Museum

2:30 - 4:30 p.m. Afternoon Session with Michael DeJonge and Respondents
"Before Resistance: Bonhoeffer and the Cultivation of Ordinary Life"
Respondents: Rebekah Miles and Robin Lovin
Perkins Chapel 

7:30 p.m. “A View From the Underside: The Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Al Staggs, in conjunction with Meadows School of the Arts
Jones Theatre, Meadows School of the Arts
This play is free and open to the public.

Speaker Information

Victoria Barnett

Victoria Barnett

Victoria Barnett is well-known as a scholar of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany, and the history of religious groups during the Holocaust. From 2004 to 2019 she served as the Director of the Programs on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and she was one of the general editors of the 17-volume English Edition of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works published by Fortress Press. Her most recent book is "After Ten Years": Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Our Times.


Natalie Carnes

Natalie Carnes

Natalie Carnes is a constructive theologian interested in how Christian doctrine can speak to the complexities of modern life. Drawing on literary and visual works, she interprets theological ideas together with a range of themes, including images, iconoclasm, beauty, gender, and childhood. Her work has been published in two books, Beauty and Image and Presence, as well as a number of scholarly journals. In spring 2020, her third book comes out. It’s titled Motherhood: A Confession. She is currently at work on two new book projects. One probes the intersection of poverty, luxury, and art; the other treats reading practices in feminist theology.

Natalie trained at Harvard, University of Chicago, and Duke before coming to Baylor, where she is an Associate Professor of Theology in the Religion Department and an affiliated faculty member of Women’s and Gender Studies. She lives in Waco with her three daughters, two cats, and one husband.


Michael DejongeMichael DeJonge

Michael DeJonge is Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at the University of South Florida. He teaches in the areas of the history of Christian thought, theories and methods in religious studies, modern religious thought, and theoretical issues in religion and politics.

Prof. DeJonge earned his Ph.D. in Religion from Emory University in 2009 and has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Fellow of the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, a Volkswagen/Mellon Fellow at the Leibniz-Institute for European History in Mainz, Germany, and Visiting Dietrich Bonhoeffer Professor of Theology and Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

His scholarship has focused on the twentieth-century German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, with monographs including Bonhoeffer’s Theological Formation (Oxford, 2012), Bonhoeffer’s Reception of Luther (Oxford, 2017), and Bonhoeffer on Resistance (Oxford, 2018).


Al Staggs

Al Staggs

After serving as a parish minister for more than twenty years, Al began a new career as a performing artist presenting his highly acclaimed, original one-person dramatization entitled A View From the Underside: The Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer to churches, synagogues, colleges and organizations throughout the world. He has performed at Chautauqua Institution; Trinity Church, New York; the National Cathedral in Washington, DC; the International Arts Festival in Caux, Switzerland; Riverside Church, New York as well as more than one hundred colleges and seminaries and hundreds of churches representing a wide diversity of denominational affiliation.

During the mid-1990's, Al began expanding his repertoire to include original interpretations of the lives of Clarence Jordan, Walter Rauschenbusch, Oscar Romero, Martin Luther, Roger Williams, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Merton, William Sloane Coffin and William Stringfellow.

In 2008, Al published his first book, a collection of poetry entitled A Pilgrim in Rome: Cries of Dissent, accompanied by endorsements from Walter Brueggemann, Bishop John Shelby Spong and Bill Moyers.