Standup and Stand out – commitment & comedy on campus

Author name
Christy Lohr Sapp, Associate Dean for Religious Life, Duke Chapel

Thumbnail A friar, an imam and a rabbi walk into a lounge … This might sound like the start of a joke, but actually, it’s the start of an interfaith gathering on campus. The Duke Chapel Lounge is not a 70s-era bar with dim lighting, fruity drinks and mood music, but it is a place where connections are made and interfaith interaction happens on a regular basis. This semester, in particular, a motivated group of students has channeled their own sense of religious commitment and activism into a series of programs that transcend faith boundaries and highlight a common call for peace both in the world and in themselves. 

In September the Undergraduate Faith Council (UFC) designed a pilgrimage for peace connected to the International Day for Peace. Students gathered in front of Duke Chapel then moved around the West Campus quad offering prayers for peace in our broken world. This act of remembrance and solidarity was completely designed by UFC students and offered a moment to pause and reflect on the interconnectedness of life around the world.  When Muslims and Christians in Syria suffer, Muslims and Christians in Durham weep with them.  Students from different faith traditions offered up prayers and petitions for wholeness, justice and harmony on earth.

Thumbnail Later in the semester, UFC students organized an interreligious panel on faith and mental well being. Religious leaders and mental health professionals from different traditions challenged societal expectations of perfection and encouraged those present to look for communities built on trust, respect and vulnerability.  The call to cultivate inner peace paired well with the prayer for peace in the world shared earlier.

If all of this sounds a bit too serious, never fear! There’s also room for fun in Duke’s interfaith engagement. To celebrate the last day of classes this semester on Dec 6, the UFC will be hosting an interfaith standup comedy night in the Women’s Center Lounge. The community is invited to come and let off a little steam – and perhaps finally learn why, exactly, that friar, imam and rabbi walked into the lounge …