SOUTHWEST REGIONAL CONFERENCES
The Art of Spiritual Friendship
Southwest Conference on Christianity and Literature
October 16-17, 2020
ONLINE, hosted by Dallas Baptist University
Dr. Paul Wadell, Keynote Speaker
Dr. Wadell currently teaches philosophy, Christian ethics, and theology at St. Norbert College. He is the author of The Christian Moral Life—Faithful Discipleship for a Global Society, co-authored with Patricia Lamoureux (2010); The Moral of the Story: Learning from Literature about Human and Divine Love (2003); and Becoming Friends: Worship, Justice, and the Practice of Christian Friendship (2002), as well as other books.
As Parker Palmer has observed, “The highest form of love is the love that allows for intimacy without the annihilation of difference.” For many, the experience of friendship offers a window into such a love, for though it may occur among lovers and family, as often it is found among those connected by only a shared passion or concern. Friendship, then, is not just a common regard and affection for others, but also a common task and joy. The literature of Christianity offers a rich tradition of reflection upon the many facets of friendship—with God, with our fellow humans, and with the natural world, and the “art of spiritual friendship” may be said to encompass not only the moral and intellectual skill of being friends, but also the cultural works that embody it in print, on stage, and in film.
"Solemn Geographies & Sacred Places: The Literature of Holy Location"
5-7 October 2017
Abilene Christianity University-Dallas Campus
16633 Dallas Parkway, Addison, Texas 75001
Keynote Speaker: Wilfred M. McClay, “Gardeners and Pilgrims: The Dual Aspect of Place in the Christian Imagination”
Dr. McClay is the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty and Director of the Center for the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma. He is the award-winning author of The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America; and co-editor of Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Public Life in Modern America. For 11 years he served on the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has been appointed to the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, which is planning events for the nation’s 250th anniversary. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Academy of Education.
Gaston Bachelard in his classic The Poetics of Space remarked that “the space we love is unwilling to remain permanently enclosed.” Instead, beloved places and locations are “felicitous space’ and ‘eulogized space” because “all really inhabited space bears the essence of the notion of time.” This is especially true of sacred places: churches, chapels, abbeys, hermitages, martyrs’ graves, family altars, fountains, monuments, and natural locations. As Bachelard realized, poems, stories, and essays are some of the universal ways that we experience such places and give words to our faith, doubt, love, fear, and mystery. In particular, the literature of Christianity, both by its believers and its skeptics, offers a rich and multi-faceted response to how we participate in holy places and how they give themselves to us in turn.
"Stewards of Culture: The Role of the Christian Writer in the 21st Century"
October 27-29, 2016
Oral Roberts University
Keynote Speaker: Gregory Wolfe, Editor and founder of Image and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Catholic Thought & Culture at Seattle University
Since the publication of H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture in 1951, Christians have been more conscious of how the church has, historically, related to its contemporary culture. Today, with many Christian communities dedicated to a “culture war,” and with orthodox Christianity becoming more obfuscated in entertainment and the arts, the Christian artist may feel an obligation to witness to his or her faith more directly than in earlier cultures. Can artists of faith serve the good of the work, or should they separate from their culture and use the work as a clear vehicle for faith? How can the good, the true, and the beautiful emerge out of a clear authentic Christian vision, one that is true to the artist’s creed and craft?
"Christ and Culture: The Interaction of Faith and Literature Through the Ages"
October 1-3, 2015
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Belton, TX
Keynote Speakers: Luke Ferreter (Baylor University) and David Lyle Jeffrey (Baylor University)
2015 is a significant year for literature and Christianity because it is the 100th anniversary of T. S. Eliot’s publication of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915), as well as the 50th anniversary of Eliot’s death (1965). His two essays “The Idea of a Christian Society” and “Notes towards the Definition of Culture,” published together as the book Christianity and Culture, have proven significant contributions to today’s understanding of the Christian’s role in society. Eliot’s voice cannot be ignored in discussions of culture, the arts, and the Christian’s relationship to them, and during the 2015 Southwest Conference on Christianity and Literature, we would seek to hear echoes of that voice in fresh and diverse ways.
The 2015 SWCCL has as its theme the exploration of those intersections of Christianity and Culture in a broad sense, with special attention given, of course, to the literary arts. This conference invites those who seek to explore the role that Christianity has played in shaping the arts of Western culture in particular. The issues associated with the faith’s influence on literature and, conversely, literature influence on the faith are as old as the founding of the Church; they have also been fraught with controversy and debate. (How should Christians read literature, secular or sacred? What impact should Christians see to have in the arts?)
"Has Literature Lost Its Faith?"
Nov. 14-16, 2014
John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR
Keynote Speaker: Randy Boyagoda, Ryerson University
In December 2012 Paul Elie wrote a New York Times article entitled, "Has Fiction Lost Its Faith?" which sparked conversation among many literati, including Dana Gioia, Gregory Wolfe, and Randy Boyagoda, about the status of faith and literature. This conference aims to continue this discussion. Papers will be considered from a variety of disciplines and fields but should pursue questions regarding the intersection of faith and literature.