Curriculum Vitae


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

  • BA., Texas A&M University-Commerce, 1963 (with academic distinction).
  • BA., Texas A&M University-Commerce, 1965.
  • AM., 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
  • 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.
  • 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.


  • 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.