July 2019 – Spiritual Writing Week at Drew Theological School provided inspiration and practical advice on the craft of spiritual writing and the logistics of getting published.
The gathering, which was co-sponsored by the Theological School and Drew’s Social Justice Leadership Project, included confabs, presentations and workshops featuring Christian authors, journalists and representatives from the Christian publishing industry.
“Spiritual Writing Week gathered persons who write about issues of faith, justice and hope,” said Nancy Lynne Westfield, founding director of the Social Justice Leadership Project. “We particularly supported persons of color who are often ignored by publishers. The publishers gave generously of their time so the voices of marginalized persons might get more books published.”
Barbara Brown Taylor, an award-winning spiritual author, delivered an uplifting message on distinctions between the language of beholding and language of belief. “The language of beholding calls me to attention of what really happened on Earth. When I’m in service to the language of beholding, my responsibility is to what is real,” Taylor said. “When I am in service to the language of belief, my responsibility is to serve what is right.”
The author further explained how beholding precedes believing, asking her audience to keep the language of beholding alive as it is the primary language for people of faith. “When I try to be faithful to that language in a sermon, my purpose is to say something that sounds true to life to them,” she said. “That may lower a defense, remove a barrier, deepen a feeling or allow a moment of recognition, so that the listener beholds the opening for his or her own direct encounter with the divine.”
Author and journalist Sophfronia Scott talked about finding her social justice voice, with help from the work of Thomas Merton, the prolific writer and Trappist monk. Scott relates to Merton’s ideals and imagines he would stand on modern-day issues. His writings helped her engage in activism and social justice. “You answer a call because there’s work to do that others can not,” Scott said.
Author Kathy Khang addressed the challenge of finding relatable authors who empathize with her Korean-American culture. “I believe that writers and readers are missing out by not hearing us, not reading our stories. I know that our words as writers of color bring something different, bring something unique—not just to readers, but to the world,” Khang said. “Write the book God is inviting to you write. It impacts our beloved communities.”
Over 100 aspiring authors attended the event. Here’s a closer look.
Join us on campus from July 25-26 for:
Attendees gather in song and worship to explore the theme of “Worship in the Borderlands: Welcoming the Stranger in Liturgy and Song.”