Mixing Water with Wine? Innkeepers at the Borders of Secular and Sacred

April 13-15, 2018

George Fox University

When wrestling with the “secular” / “sacred” divide, many interpreters of the Bible came to see secular wisdom as represented by water, sacred wisdom by wine. In Isaiah 1:22, innkeepers are blamed for mixing water with wine, leaving many to conclude that sacred and secular wisdom should not be mingled. However, Thomas Aquinas suggests that a problematic mixing comes not when the secular and sacred are brought into contact, but only when we lose sight of the distinctiveness of each. By bringing secular works, secular wisdom, “into the service of the faith, [we] do not mix water with wine, but rather change water into wine.”

Keynote Speakers:

Gina Ochsner is the author of the short story collection The Necessary Grace to Fall, which received the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and the story collection People I Wanted to Be. Both books received the Oregon Book Award. Her novel The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight received the Grub Street Book Prize in 2011 and was long listed for the Orange Prize in 2010. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, Glimmertrain and the Kenyon Review

Darryl Tippens co-edited Shadow & Light: Literature and the Life of Faith, a popular anthology featuring fiction, essays and poems by 48 writers, now in its third edition and author of Pilgrim Heart: The Way of Jesus in Everyday Life. He served as Provost at Pepperdine University from 2001-2014 and is currently University Distinguished Professor at Abilene Christian University. Tippens is President of The Conference on Christianity and Literature.


May 11-13, 2017

Point Loma Nazarene University

San Diego, CA

Like many other Christian colleges, Point Loma Nazarene University exists on the boundary of higher education in the United States. Committed to educating students for places of employment and service in the culture of the United States and other modern nation-states, the college is also committed to forming Christian disciples. Teaching in the humanities in this context presents both great challenges and amazing opportunities. Literature is at times embraced and at other times marginalized by both of the university projects—it is sometimes seen as an unneeded luxury for students preparing for employment and a challenge (or even a detriment) to Christian formation. Conference organizers invite projects that explore living and teaching on this border. In addition, Point Loma sits geographically in a large metropolitan city near the border of the United States and Mexico, so conference organizers also invite papers and panels that explore the crossing of borders between national traditions in the humanities, between the sacred and the secular, between sharply proscribed gender roles and greater gender openness, and between traditional disciplines. In the spirit of Christian communion and intellectual dialogue, this conference invites papers, panels, creative presentations, and roundtable discussions regarding the exploration of boundaries and the crossing of borders in all manners. We welcome proposals from a variety of perspectives including, but not limited to, literature, creative writing, faith communities, film, visual arts, philosophy, popular culture, and pedagogy and practice.


"Shepherding Language: Restoring Faith in Words"

May 12-14, 2016
California Baptist University
Riverside, California

Recent headlines abound decrying the death of academic disciplines traditionally concerned with the care and tending of language.  Has a loving and lyrical approach to language become an antiquated notion?  Everything from research studies on the relationship between literature and empathy to informal conversations about the power of a good story attest to language’s enduring capacity to incite wonder, motivate compassion, or provoke reflection.  Words, indeed, serve as the means through which restorative faith is expressed to, explored with, and embraced by the reader.

In the spirit of Christian fellowship and intellectual dialogue, this conference invites papers, panels, creative presentations, and roundtables regarding representations of faith in literature as well as issues concerning contemporary stewardship of language and literature.  We welcome proposals from a variety of perspectives, including but not limited to literature, creative writing, religion, film, art, philosophy, popular culture, and pedagogy and practice.


“Literature, Film and Religion in an Interdisciplinary Age”

May 22-23, 2015
Seattle University 
Seattle, Washington

Proposals are welcome on such issues as: Theology and Film or Literature; Humanities and Religion in Film or Literature; Social Science (or Science) and Religion in Film and Literature; Religion and Literary or Film Theory; Leading Critics or Theorists on Religion, Film, and Literature; Religion in Particular Film or Literary Works. Other topics relating religion to film or literature are also welcome, as is creative writing or original short films.



"The Religious Turn: Secular and Sacred Engagements in Literature and Theory"

May 15-17, 2014

Westmont College

Santa Barbara, CA

Call for Papers: For the past decade or so, the academy has witnessed a turn to religion in literary studies, critical theory, and continental philosophy. Philosophers such as Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, and Slavoj Žižek have initiated a Pauline revival; Radical Orthodox theologians have promoted Christianity as the only alternative to a disenchanted modernity; and various scholars have challenged the Enlightenment's thesis of inevitable secularization, while revisiting Carl Schmitt's political theologies of sovereignty and exception. To what extent has the religious turn led to increased interfaith dialogue in literature and theory? How do literary interpretation, biblical exegesis, and historical contextualization respond to these new theological overtures? Can a new epistemology that merges reason and revelation be constructed? How do the secular and the sacred interpenetrate in literature? This conference invites papers that address various literary periods and that consider topics related to secular/sacred intersections, political theology, and interfaith dialogue in literature and theory, including (but not limited to) the following:

• literature that blurs the secular/sacred dichotomy

• incarnational and sacramental readings

• contrapuntal reading

• post-secularism in literature and theory

• reconsiderations of the secularization thesis in literature and theory

• suspicion of the hermeneutics of suspicion

• New Historicist and feminist responses to the religious turn

• hermeneutics of hope, charity, or hospitality

• re-enchantment

• theological aesthetics

• theories of gift-giving and sacrifice

• Badiou's concept of the Event (or his four truth procedures),
as applied to literature

• alternatives to Schmitt's political theology

We also welcome papers more broadly interested in the intersections of Christianity and literature, not just limited to the 20th- and 21st-century.