I am an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at West Virginia Wesleyan College. I like books, movies, music, art, food, poetry, politics — and I like to think and write about how religion intersects all of these arenas. I am Roman Catholic, and am currently working on a project about theology, ecology, and poetry. My most recent book is Happiness, Health, and Beauty: The Christian Life in Everyday Terms (Cascade, 2015). I serve on the board of The Ekklesia Project and also post occasionally to its lectionary blog, bLOGOS. Visit me on Facebook.

19 Responses to “About”

  1. Roger Underwood Says:

    Debra, I need to know of some resources that you shared with me last spring. They had to do with a theology of change. I think you recommended something on theology of church but I can’t recall. Could you check and resend if you still have the titles?

    Thanks much. and how is it going for you in West Virginia?

    1. debradeanmurphy Says:

      Hi Roger,

      Refresh my memory on the context our conversation–I’m not remembering anything specific. Sorry. Just jog my memory a little!

      Debra

  2. Charlie Gray Says:

    Debra,

    Hope you and your family are doing well. We miss you at FVUMC. Take it easy on Sarah – she’s just a product of the same politicelebrity machine that created our President. Donna and I think of you often. I think the book club really misses you !!!!!

    charlie gray

  3. paul mckay Says:

    Wonderful blog! I posted from it on my blog today (Maundy Thursday) at jitterbuggingforjesus.com.

    1. debradeanmurphy Says:

      Thank you, Paul.

  4. EleanorMcLaughlin Says:

    Hello Debra, I am a retired Episcopal priest who has served as Rector until two years ago in the very hard pressed North country of New Hampshire. I am a Christian Socialist in the Anglo-Catholic tradition and preaching/celebrating this sunday…wondered how it was the only person who caught my ‘eye of faith’ as I perused the Commentaries was a woman…thanking you for your comments implicitly on the structural evil of American capitalism and the scriptures for this Sunday…wondered who you were? God bless you. Oh, Raymond Brown on John was also helpful! Ellie McLaughlin+


  5. Dean,

    Your recent column in United Methodist Reporter on the need for civiility is profoundly important as a word that every pastor and every church needs to accentuate this Fourth of July. Your column about the doctor in Haiti combines the catholic spirit of John Wesley with the inherent nature of civic democracy. Thank YOU!


  6. […] the question at the top of this posting is one of 10 questions raised by Debra Dean Murphy in her fabulous blog. See below for the rest of her Top Ten List of good questions. And as an aside that I’m […]

  7. Kristen Senne Says:

    Dear Debra,

    I love your piece “Powerpointless.” We are struggling with the screen issue in our church. We use one for contemporary worship and we are actually considering folding it up and using paper instead. Do you know of any clinical research regarding the cognitive disruption argument? You talk about the “stacking” aspect of powerpoint and how it fragments the experience of the text. What might be observed consequences for cognitive and even spiritual development? In other words, how might this negatively impact spiritual formation of individuals and communities?

    1. Mel Malton Says:

      Hi, Kristen – I studied this issue in some depth for my master’s thesis at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax, Nova Scotia. If you’re still interested int he topic, I’d be glad to share some of my findings with you.
      Cheers,
      – Mel Malton, Digby, Nova Scotia

  8. debradeanmurphy Says:

    Kristen,

    I don’t know of any clinical research on the subject. You might check out the Tufte essay I mention; below is a link (you have to buy it, unfortunately).

    https://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/powerpoint

    1. Kristen Senne Says:

      Debra,

      Thanks. I did read an excerpt of Tufte’s essay, which seems to be dealing mostly with the presentation of technical data. I assume his alternative is to have presenters offer their content on paper and then verbalize reasoned conclusions, lead discussions, highlight important points, and allow time for feedback once individuals have had a chance to view each piece of data in context. I see how the same can be applied to the projection of song and liturgy texts. While it’s not “technical” data that is being displayed, there is a cognitive interruption in absence of context, which leaves emotional and visceral response. Essentially the screen is instructing, “Say this now. Do not reflect upon it. Leave the thinking to us.” I’ve heard that the majority of the population (American) does tend to respond emotionally ahead of the intellect, which very well may have been programmed into us by the social engineering of television. Perhaps the Church can, through more use of print materials, honor the intellect and invite reflection, which is essential for growth as a follower of Jesus. Of course, it is not only the intellect that is nourished by reflection. Understanding a text within its context is perhaps the only way to perceive its emotional depth as well. I love this discussion. If you do come across clinical research regarding the cognitive effects of powerpoint and projection technology in general, please do share. I will keep looking too. Thanks!

  9. William C. Tubbs Says:

    Dr. Murphy

    I just discovered your blog and have read the last few posts and comments. It appears that you are reaching a wide spectrum of people! Thanks for your work.

  10. Paul Wallace Says:

    Thank you so much for being a thoughtful, faithful, open-eyed, and compassionate voice on a web full of thoughtlessness, cynicism, myopia, and anger. It is refreshing, I tell you, refreshing.

    I have just read your article at RD and the last few posts here. Beautifully done. I’m a fan.

  11. debradeanmurphy Says:

    Thank you so much, Paul.

  12. Justin Simoni Says:

    Dr Murphy,

    You articulate so well what I suspect a great deal of people feel about religion. I love your observations (Halloween, Sarah Palin to name a few) and the manner in which you present your ideas.

    Thank you for the time and effort and for sharing! I am grateful!

  13. B Herrman Says:

    The H of G concept left a big impression on me when I read “Mountains beyond Mountains” and I just found your blog after googling the phrase! what suggestions do you have as to how to teach the concept.

    1. debradeanmurphy Says:

      That’s a good/hard question, B. Herman. Off the top of my head I would just say that this is the kind of “concept” that is taught be seeing it lived out. It’s a practice, after all, more than an idea. The life of Jesus wouldn’t be a bad place to start.


  14. I’m writing to invite you to join the new Bible Gateway Blogger Grid (BG²). If you’d like details, email me. Thanks.

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