MOUNT VERNON – Dr. Grant C. Lilford, Brewton-Parker College (BPC) Professor of English, and his daughter, Candace Lilford, presented separate papers at the East/Southeast Regional Meeting of the Conference on Christianity and Literature. The conference was held at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia this past summer.
The theme of the conference this year was “Images of the Hero: Heroism in Literature.” Dr. Lilford presented his paper, “For the First-Born Are Mine: Priest as Hero in George Herbert and R. S. Thomas” during the session focused on heroic priesthood. George Herbert was a seventeenth-century Anglican priest. His best-known work is The Temple, a small volume of devotional poetry. Originally published after Herbert’s death in 1649, The Temple remained in print for over a hundred years. Dr. Lilford’s paper focuses on Herbert’s poem “Aaron,” in which the poet laments his failure to be a priest after the model of Aaron. He realizes that he must turn to Jesus.
The paper involved extensive research into the book of “Leviticus,” which has given Dr. Lilford a whole new appreciation for that Book of the Bible. “Leviticus provides a roadmap for how to be holy so we can enter into fellowship with God. As George Herbert reveals, we as sinners can never achieve its standard of holiness. Our only hope is that God chose to enter into fellowship with us. By showing us the costs of drawing near to God, Leviticus reveals the awesome significance of God drawing near to us, and the value of his sacrifice,” Dr. Lilford shared as he reflected on his research.
Dr. Lilford’s daughter, Candace, was a dual-enrollment student at BPC from 2017-2018. After graduating from high school, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Anderson University in 2021. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Renaissance Literature in the Hudson Strode Program at the University of Alabama.
In a session on “Poetry,” Candace Lilford presented a paper entitled, “Performance and Praise Poetry in George Herbert’s ‘The Quip.'” She compares that poem with classical and African praise poetry.
Candance Lilford has been interested in poetry and theater since a very young age. Growing up she was also involved with various drama programs. During her undergraduate years, Candace discovered courses that dove deeper into her passions. “I remember hearing as a child how to fully understand poetry and plays, both needed to be read aloud with emotion for the full impact to be understood. I have always thought of the two as connected because of that and was interested to explore that both theatrically and academically. The opportunity presented itself in a graduate class I was taking where I noticed how George Herbert’s poetry had components that would work well in a performative setting, especially reminding me of oral poetry and liturgical worship. It proved to be a fascinating project that helped me grow as a scholar, a performer, and a Christian.”