I graduated from Duke in 1969 and started that fall at Yale Divinity School. I had an automatic IV-D deferment as a divinity school student, and I felt guilty about it–but not guilty or courageous enough to turn down my deferment and claim conscientious objector status or burn my draft card. I was involved in social justice issues, but I was, to put it frankly, terrified of war. I remember driving past National Guard installations in my home state of New Jersey during the war, seeing soldiers drilling, and cringing at the thought of having to do military service.
My freshman roommate at Duke, Bob B., dropped out after his sophomore year and immediately enlisted so as not to be sent to the front lines. He spent a couple of years on a Navy reconnaissance ship off the Vietnam coast. Then he came back and finished at Ohio University.
I was at the Duke Vigil in 1968, and I was an assistant organizer at the 1970 May Day Rally at the New Haven Green, where I met Abby Hoffman.
As it happened, after I enrolled at Yale Divinity School, I pulled a number that was almost as safe as my IV-D exemption. I still felt guilty. At the time, there were a number of divinity students there who were pretty obviously avoiding the draft. One is now a well-known art gallery owner in Manhattan. I did go into the Methodist ministry as was my plan. But at the age of 32 in 1979, I went back to Duke for my Ph.D. in American Religious Studies, and I have been teaching ever since.