Thomas LynchCritically acclaimed American poet, essayist, and undertaker Thomas Lynch will deliver his second public lecture as the McDonald Family Chair on the Life and Teachings of Jesus and their Impact on Culture on Wednesday, April 17.

That evening, Lynch will present “The Feast of Language” at 7:00 p.m. in the chapel of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta. The lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required. [Register now]

In his lecture, Lynch will discuss the feast of language, the search for our own voices, our own callings, and the voice of God. “The power of language to transform the common table into the sacred feast is never more evident than it is in prayer and poetry,” Lynch says.

He draws upon fellow poets to illumine the relationships among language, prayer, and feasting. “If, as Beckett believed, ‘all poetry is prayer,’ then the language arts are among our most precious gifts. If Auden is correct that ‘art is what we do to break bread with the dead,’ then Heaney is on to something when he claims ‘rhyme and meter are the table manners,’” he explains.

Lynch’s work has been the subject of two award-winning film documentaries—PBS Frontline’s The Undertaking (2007) and the BBC’s Learning Gravity (2008)—and provided creative inspiration for the popular HBO series Six Feet Under.

His essays, poems, and stories have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Times of London, The New Yorker, The Paris Review and elsewhere. Lynch lives in Milford, Mich., where he has been the funeral director since 1974, and in Moveen, County Clare, Ireland, where he keeps an ancestral cottage.

Lynch opened the McDonald Lecture series on March 19 with “The Good Funeral and the Empty Tomb,” where he looked at ways to measure the worth of a funeral. That lecture is now available in the “Jesus and Culture” album on Emory’s iTunes U.

About the McDonald Chair

The Alonzo L. McDonald Family Chair in the Study of Jesus and Culture was established at Emory in 1998 by the McDonald Agape Foundation, chaired by Alonzo L. McDonald, a longtime trustee of Emory. The McDonald Agape Foundation “supports lectures and other public presentations that deal creatively and imaginatively with the person and teachings of Jesus as they shape and form culture.” The foundation has established McDonald chairs at Emory and at Harvard University.

Past holders of the McDonald chair include Judge John T. Noonan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; composer Alice Parker; art historian Herbert Kessler; historian and documentary filmmaker Randall Balmer; and author James Carroll, among others.