Geez Magazine, editor Melanie Dennis Unrau, selected two of my short pieces to go in Geez’s fall issue. One of them, Undercover at the Festival of Faith and Writing, you can read as a web-exclusive. The other “As the Spirit Moves Me” is available in the newsstand print copy.
If you came here from Geez 27, thanks! and Welcome! You’ll find some additional pieces from my trip to the Festival of Faith and Writing. Think of them as addendums–things I couldn’t fit into such a small space.
Gay at Calvin College: more about going to the festival and wanting to do something to help those who are gay at Calvin College
The Last Supper: Johnny’s Cafe remix: mainly a photo where I asked students in the cafe to recreate Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
Christians (Wanting to) Talk about Sex: where I go into depth about one of the seminars there—as no one recorded it for later discussion.
Marilynne Robinson, Hero–which talks in depth about her keynote address and the reaction of the crowd, and later comments at the college
Together, they comprise most of my Calvin College experience. I should write up more of the seminars–and I will. Certainly they will not be what others gathered there. Take into consideration who I am and what I felt being there. I am a Christian, a Writer, and a gay man.
I enjoyed Calvin College’s conference immensely and will go back in two years.
I hope these four supplemental blogposts will enrich the essay you did read in GEEZ.
It’s sometimes impossible to boil down an experience into 1000 words, or 1500, or 750.
“As the Spirit Moves Me” is a 500 word piece on going to my birthmother’s church, at Camp Chesterfield, a famous psychic institution. I need to write the full story there—it’s quite amazing.
Attending the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College, I was very happy to hear that Marilynne Robinson would be giving their keynote. Each of her three novels are highly prized. Ms. Robinson received a Pulitzer Prize for her second novel, Gilead. Her first novel, Housekeeping, won a Hemingway Foundation/PEN award and was nominated for a Pulitzer. Her latest novel, Home, was a finalist in the National Book Award, and won the Orange Prize for Fiction.
No slouch, Marilynne.
She’s written, as well, a number of nonfiction books of essays on culture and thought, most often about religion and faith.
She’s a Congregationalist with a bright Calvinist core.
She’s an amazing, award-winning writer–and has been motivational in speeches in the past. Calvin College and the Festival of Faith and Writing invited her because a) she is a Calvinist, and b) she won a Pulitzer, and c) she won the Pulitzer for a book about a minister’s life. She could motivate their writers. And she had been a keynote speaker at the festival in 2006 as well as given an address then to the Calvin Seminary, which was hailed as magnificent.
But Marilynne is no trained monkey as some at Calvin College discovered the night of her keynote address. She is a mama bear.
No doubt some folks there believed she would be addressing writing, or faith, and talk about craft. The Festival is the premiere venue for writers of faith–the best writers, in the most literary style, and probably some of the more left-leaning thinkers in the Evangelical Christian writing world attend this event. Writers in general tend to be progressive. It’s hard to be a reader and be closed-minded.
Still, I think most at Calvin College didn’t know quite what to do with Marilynne’s address, “Casting out Fear.”
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