Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Ellen Maria Gorrissen Fellow - Class of Spring 2010
Charles Marsh is professor of religious studies and director of the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia. He is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and the University of Virginia, where he earned his PhD in 1989.
After publishing Reclaiming Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Promise of His Theology (Oxford, 1994), Marsh began considering the religious and moral paradoxes of his white, southern, Protestant upbringing. He was struck by the complex ways theological commitments and convictions came into dramatic conflict in the civil rights movement in the American South. The religious beliefs and social practices of ordinary people of faith illuminated a new way of writing theology for him, the first being God’s Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights (Princeton, 1997), which won the 1998 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. His memoir, The Last Days: A Son’s Story of Sin and Segregation at the Dawn of a New South (Basic Books, 2001), is the account of a minister’s son in a small Mississippi town that was home to the White Knight of the Ku Klux Klan. In The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice, from the Civil Rights Movement to Today (Basic Books, 2005), he developed a new narrative of the civil rights movement based on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s remark that “the end [of the movement] is not the protest; the end is not the boycott; the end is redemption, reconciliation, and the creation of beloved community.” Marsh’s book Wayward Christian Soldiers: Freeing the Gospel from Political Captivity (Oxford, June 2007), offered a theological analysis of the Christian Right’s support of the presidency of George W. Bush and was excerpted in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, and the Boston Globe. Marsh also co-authored Welcoming Justice (InterVarsity Press, 2009) with his lifelong friend and mentor, the civil rights activist John M. Perkins. The book is based on lectures given at the Teaching Communities Conference at the Duke Divinity School Center for Reconciliation. Marsh is the recipient of a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in the Creative Arts.