ConVersing/ConServing: Care, Creation, Communion

2024 West Regional Conference on Christianity and Literature

May 9-11, 2024

Trinity Western University

22500 University Drive

Langley, BC Canada V2Y 1Y1

In Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, our conference keynote speaker Marilyn McEntyre presents literary art and the study of literature as a form of stewardship. Caring for words is akin, she says, to environmental concern and action, for we hold both language and the land in common. We invite presentations and conversations exploring the relations between literature and conservation, of serving together creatively to keep and pass on what has been given to us. Our theme is intentionally broad as we seek to encourage and celebrate the creation, interpretation, and appreciation of literature from across historical periods and genres. We welcome professors, graduate and undergraduate students from within the discipline of literary studies, as well as scholars from other disciplines who engage with the theme.

Our keynote speaker: Marilyn McEntyre teaches and writes on topics including literature and the natural world and relations among spirituality, language, and healing.

Other special guests include: Loren Wilkinson, professor emeritus, Regent College and expert in Christian environmental ethics and earthkeeping. Leah Kostamo, Spiritual Care Counselor and co-founder of A Rocha Canada.

For conference website click here.


Literature as Vocation

Azusa Pacific University

Azusa, CA

March 16-18, 2023

Keynote Speaker: James K.A. Smith

James K.A. Smith is a professor of philosophy at Calvin University and serves as editor in chief of Image journal, a quarterly devoted to “art, mystery, and faith.” Trained as a philosopher with a focus on contemporary French thought, Smith has expanded on that scholarly platform to become an engaged public intellectual and cultural critic. In his latest book, How to Inhabit Time: Understanding the Past, Facing the Future, Living Faithful Now (2022), Smith shows that awakening to the spiritual significance of time is crucial for orienting faith in the 21st century. Integrating popular culture, biblical exposition, and meditation, Smith’s text provides insights for pastoring, counseling, spiritual formation, politics, and public life.

Why do we do what we do in the field of literary studies? Why does it matter? To whom? What redemptive or transformative work does literature do? When? Where? How? We invite reflection and conversation about the different kinds of work literature does to and through writers, readers, teachers, thinkers, and scholars. Our topic is intentionally broad as we seek to inspire, encourage, and celebrate the creation, interpretation, and appreciation of literature from any historical period and any genre. Our format is inclusive with panels for professors, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as scholars from multiple disciplines including English, Modern Languages, Theology, Education, Psychology, Science, and Humanities.


Literary Geographies – Space, Place, and Environments

Biola University

La Mirada, CA

April 7-9, 2022

“All theology is rooted in geography.”

—Eugene H. Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant: an Exploration in Vocational Holiness

Eugene Peterson’s statement highlights how our spiritual lives are rooted in the material reality of our daily lives. Keeping in mind how Christ transforms not only individual hearts but also entire neighborhoods—and remaining attentive to how literature documents and shapes that transformation—we invite papers that address textual representations of space/place, environment, ecological endangerment, displacement, and rootedness. How do these ideas shape individual and communal identities? How do embodied experiences of being in particular places affect our orientation toward the world and understanding of human flourishing? What does it mean to cultivate a meaningful relationship to place? How does the discourse around immigration and citizenship help us think about the effects of displacement and emplacement? How do literary texts illuminate what our response should be toward the environmental crisis? And what does it mean to think of place and environment not merely as backdrops to our lives but as agents and interlocutors?

Illuminating Darkness: Literature in an Age of Unbelief
April 4-6, 2019
Colorado Christian University

"Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate." Thomas Aquinas

Across the ages, literature has illuminated darkness: the darkness of sinful humanity, the darkness of confusion, the darkness of ignorance, the darkness of separation from God.

God is the agent who seeks to reveal Himself in the midst of darkness and unbelief.

In Psalm 18:28, a prayer of praise for God’s deliverance, David writes, “It is you who light my lamp; the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness” (NRSV).

Celebrate with us how literature of various genres, from origins both sacred and secular, illuminates darkness in our age of unbelief. 

Keynote Speaker: Jill Peláez Baumgaertner

Jill Peláez Baumgaertner is professor of English Emerita and former dean of Humanities and Theological Studies at Wheaton College (2001-2017), where she also served as Acting Provost in 2018. She received her Ph.D. from Emory University and taught at Valparaiso University.

Dr. Baumgaertner has authored ve collections of poetry, including What Cannot Be Fixed (2014); a textbook on poetry; a book on Flannery O’Connor; and edited the poetry anthology Imago Dei (2012). She has also written lyrics for compositions by Richard Hillert, Carl Schalk, Michael Costello, and Daniel Kellogg.

Dr. Baumgaertner was a Fulbright fellow to Spain, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and is the winner of the White Eagle Coffee Store Press’s poetry chapbook contest, the Goodman Award, an Illinois Arts Council Award, the Illinois Prize of the Rock River Poetry Contest, and the CCL Midwest Poetry Contest.

She currently serves as poetry editor of The Christian Century and is a past president of the Conference on Christianity and Literature. 



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?