Christena Cleveland is a social psychologist, public theologian, author and professor. She is the first Associate Professor of the Practice of Reconciliation at Duke University’s Divinity School and the author of Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart.
As a child growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Christena was exposed to the richness of cultural difference. The kids on her neighborhood block represented 9 different nationalities, where she quickly discovered that, “Be there in 5 minutes,” means different things depending on who’s saying it. At the multi-ethnic church that her parents planted, she learned that different cultures experience and perceive God differently – and that is a good thing.
When she wasn’t heading off to an Oakland A’s game to catch the Bash Brothers in action, she was studying – ultimately attending Dartmouth College where she double-majored in psychological and brain sciences and sociology, and UC Santa Barbara, where she earned a Ph.D. in social psychology. Recently named one of “5 online shepherds to follow” by JET magazine, Christena has devoted much of her vocation to teaching in higher educational institutions as well as serving the Church and broader society by regularly writing, speaking and consulting with organizations. Now at Duke Divinity School, Christena teaches classes on race, reconciliation, and conflict, and leads a research team that is investigating self-compassion as a buffer for racial stress.
She’s also finishing her second book, The Priesthood of the Privileged, which examines inequality in the church and offers a theology of privilege.
A recent transplant to the South, Christena has fallen in love with the Carolina woods, savors the time she spends on her farm with friends, and is thinking about becoming a Durham Bulls fan.
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