Curriculum Vitae


Diploma, Linden-Kildare High School, Linden, Texas, 1959 (valedictorian)

  1. A., Texas A&M University-Commerce, 1963 (with academic distinction).
  2. A., Texas A&M University-Commerce, 1965.
  3. M., University of Chicago, 1968.

Ph. D., University of Chicago, 1975.


Lecturer in English, North Park College (Chicago), 1966‑67

Instructor, Assistant, Associate, Professor of Religion, Wake Forest University, 1971‑90

  1. Allen Easley Professor of Religion, ibid., 1990-97

Distinguished Professor of Religion, Samford University, 1997-98

University Professor of Theology and Literature, Baylor University, 1998-present


Phi Eta Sigma, Alpha Chi, and Sigma Tau Delta honorary fraternities.

Graduate teaching fellowship, Texas A & M University-Commerce, 1963-1965.

Full tuition fellowship, University of Chicago, 1965‑71.

Secretary and tutor, Theology and Literature field, University of Chicago, 1969‑70.

Ph. D. examinations passed with special merit, 1971.

Reid-Doyle Junior Faculty Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Wake Forest University, 1979.

  1. J. Reynolds Research Leaves, Wake Forest University, for study at the Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici, Florence, Italy, (1977); and at King’s College, University of London (1988).

Chairman of the Arts, Literature and Religion section of the Southeast American Academy of Religion, 1978‑80.

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for College Teachers, 1982‑83. Topic: “The Comedy of Redemption: Literary Vision and Theological Doctrine in Six Modern Writers.”

Chief author of a successful proposal to the Henry Luce Foundation for a three-year program entitled “Religion and the Social Crisis,” 1981-1984.

Editorial Advisory Board, The Flannery O’Connor Review, 1982-present.

Book Review Editor, Perspectives in Religious Studies, 1988-2003.

Editor-at-Large, The Christian Century, 1988-present.

Manuscript Reviewer, Christianity and Literature, 1989-present.

Manuscript Referee for Princeton, Pennsylvania State, Illinois, Missouri, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Yale, and Oxford university presses, as well as for Eerdmans, Abingdon, and Rowman & Littlefield commercial publishers.

Jon Reinhardt Award for Distinguished Teaching among Senior Faculty, Wake Forest University, 1991.

Winner of the Associated Church Press 1993 Award of Merit for Critical Reviews. “Words Under the Rocks” [an essay on the film version of Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It], Christian Century 110, 2 (January 20, 1993): 44-6.

One of 12 scholars invited to participate in the American Literature and Religion Project sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Erasmus Institute of Notre Dame, 2001-2005.

Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A & M University-Commerce, October 2002.

Board of Directors of the Flannery O’Connor–Andalusia Foundation, 2006-2016.

Mary Ann Remick Senior Visiting Fellowship at the Center for Ethics and Culture, University of Notre Dame, 2007-2008.

Editorial Board for VII: An Anglo-American Literary Review (devoted to the work of George MacDonald, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Dorothy Sayers and Owen Barfield.

Associated Church Press 2010 Award of Excellence for Best Critical Review. “Russia’s Gospel Writer,” Touchstone 22, 6 (July-August, 2009): 28-33.

Seventh occupant of the Reverend Robert J. Randall Distinguished Chair of Christian Culture, Providence College, Providence, Rhode Island, 2010-2011.

Winner of the Lionel Basney Award for the Outstanding Essay published in Christianity and Literature for 2011: “Flannery O’Connor, Benedict XVI, and the Divine Eros,” Christianity and Literature, 60, 1 (Autumn 2010): 35-66.

  1. BOOKS

Editor, Civil Religion and Transcendent Experience: Studies in Theology and History, Psychology and Mysticism (Vol. III in the Luce Lectures at Wake Forest University on “Religion and the Social Crisis”). Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1988.

The Comedy of Redemption: Christian Faith and Comic Vision in Four American Novelists (Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, John Updike and Peter De Vries). Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988. Reissued in paperback, 1993.

Contending for the Faith: Essays in the Church’s Engagement with Culture. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2003.

The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-earth. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003. Translated into Korean by Seung-Jin Lee (Seoul, South Korea: Christian Literature Crusade, 2004). Translated into Japanese by Kazuo Takeno (Tokyo: Board of Publications, United Christian Church of Japan, 2006).

Flannery O’Connor and the Christ-Haunted South (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2004).

Literature and Theology [Horizons in Theology Series] (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon, 2008).

Preaching and Professing: Sermons by a Teacher Seeking to Proclaim the Gospel (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2009).

Chesterton: The Nightmare Goodness of God (Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2011).

Tolkien Among the Moderns, ed. Ralph C. Wood (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2015.