Bonhoeffer Conference Set For Feb. 13-14 at Perkins School of Theology



DALLAS (SMU) – Perkins School of Theology will host a short conference, “In the Face of Barbarism: Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Culture, Humanity and the Importance of Ordinary Life,” February 13-14, 2020, at the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas.

The conference kicks off on Thursday, February 13 at 7 p.m. with a keynote lecture by Victoria Barnett, “Bonhoeffer’s Challenge to Nation and Culture,” at Perkins Chapel, 6001 Bishop Blvd., Dallas. Barnett is a well-known scholar of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Confessing Church in Nazi Germany, and the history of religious groups during the Holocaust. This lecture is free and open to the public.

The program continues on Friday, February 14, with lectures by Natalie Carnes, Associate Professor of Theology in the Religion Department at Baylor University, and Michael DeJonge, Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at the University of South Florida, with Perkins faculty responding to each lecture. The program concludes on Friday evening with a one-person play on the legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as adapted and performed by Al Staggs.

While most scholarly and popular portrayals of Bonhoeffer focus on the exceptional circumstances of his life in Nazi Germany, this conference will focus on the importance of everyday life in Bonhoeffer’s theology and ethics.

“Bonhoeffer advocated paying attention to the quotidian and the everyday in ways that build up human flourishing,” said Dallas Gingles, who coordinated the event with the office of Perkins Dean Craig Hill.  Gingles is Associate Director of Perkins’ Houston-Galveston Extension Program, where he teaches as an adjunct professor.

Organizers hope the event will draw on Bonhoeffer’s example of integrating art into every phase of his life.

“From his constant love of music to his collection of prints on the walls of his underground seminary Finkenwalde, to his attempts to write fiction from within a Nazi prison, Bonhoeffer did not allow pressing political problems to crowd out critical thinking about basic human activities like art,” Gingles said. “These human activities help make up the social bonds that hold us together. Reflecting closely on them promises a way to elevate our political discourse beyond contemporary partisan talking points.”

This conference is generously supported by the Robinson Fund at Perkins, which encourages work at the intersection of theology and the arts. The Friday night play, performed by Al Staggs, is co-sponsored by SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.

The conference coincides with Inside Perkins, an event that brings prospective students to the SMU campus on Friday, February 14, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In addition to the Bonhoeffer conference, visitors will have the opportunity to visit classes, meet faculty and current students and experience the warmth of the Perkins community.

For full details on the Bonhoeffer conference schedule and speaker bios, visit

Registration for the full conference is $10 for students and $25 for the general public. Pricing includes lunch on Friday. However, the keynote lecture on Thursday evening and the one-person play on Friday evening are free events open to the public. Registration is available on our website here.