Jonathan Dudley ’09 M.A.R.
B.S. Calvin College 2006
I entered Yale Divinity School in the fall of 2006 with an interest in medical mission work and, more generally, the interaction of faith with science and medicine. I had studied biology as an undergrad, was planning to go on to medical school, and hoped an M.A.R. in Ethics would enhance my ability both to serve as a medical missionary and to think competently about the role of religion in science. Although I didn’t anticipate getting overly involved in my studies—a brief trek through the requisite courses and I’ll be off to med school, I thought—the divinity school sucked me in and piqued my curiosity in ways I could not have anticipated.
Far and away, the best part about Yale is the people. I was challenged via encounters with gifted students of all persuasions, whether evangelical Christian or liberal Episcopalian, agnostic or Jewish, Republican or Democrat. In a diverse environment like Yale Divinity School, nothing can be assumed and every student is forced to think critically about beliefs he or she may have taken for granted previously. The outcome of this interaction is usually not to displace students from their faith traditions but to force them to inhabit those traditions more self-consciously and intelligently.
My intellectual development was furthered by the gifted teaching and exciting research of Yale professors: from Dale B. Martin, I learned about the role of theology and ideology in biblical interpretation; from David H. Smith, I learned to think competently as a Christian about contemporary bioethical dilemmas; from Randall Balmer, I learned the history of my own evangelical tradition; and from Willis Jenkins, I learned how different faith communities have drawn on their unique resources to respond to environmental degradation. I also benefited from the opportunities available in the larger Yale community. I conducted laboratory research on Leukemia at the Yale School of Medicine, helped draft a set of ethical guidelines for HIV/AIDS research for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and wrote a column series for the Yale Daily News exploring the intersection of the Bible, Biology, and politics in the evangelical community.
As my time at Yale comes to a close, I can happily say that it met and exceeded my expectations. After I finish expanding my column series into a Master’s thesis (which will be published in book form by Doubleday in 2010, with the provisional title: The Bible, Biology, and Boundaries), I will begin an M.D. at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the fall. Although I am not entirely sure where my study of medicine will take me—to the mission field, the laboratory, the policy table, or the clinic—I am sure that wherever I end up I will be better prepared as a result of my journey through Yale Divinity School.