The day started with “The future of Catholic publishing” which was tied up closely with the future of publishing in general. It was observed that the devotional and catechetical sides of the business (for the publishers associated with religious orders) are doing well, but the trade side of the business is diminishing.
Greg Wolfe’s observation is “There is no Catholic publishing, only protestant publishing… Catholic publishing apes protestant publishing.”
I skipped the next session to take a nap and finished the morning with “Imagining the editor as artist” which featured the editor of Presence, a new Catholic poetry journal, an editor for Wiseblood books and a professor editing an unfinished novel by Flannery O’Connor.
After lunch, my next session was Notes from a contemplative: Thomas Merton on the art of writing as resistance and protest.” which, after some recounting of the last decade of Merton’s life went into how Merton’s contemplative life and writing were employed as the spiritual roots of protest.
My final panel session, “Rendering the world strange: Folk piety and imagination,” was, I think, my favorite, perhaps because everyone was a little punchy as the conference wound to its conclusion.
Jessica Mesman Griffith, after stating that she was not actually a witch (a reference to the description of the panel from the conference booklet), talked about how her upbringing in Louisiana with its folk religion incorporating faith healers and the occult helped shape her worldview.
Kevin Johnson talked about how in the early days of Catholicism, Catholicism, was practice, what you did at home, but both the protestants and the Catholics were affected by the reformation and belief became about ideas instead of praxis and discussed the distinction between encounter (“we”) and experience (“I”).
The evening’s final keynote was Tim Powers who gave a wonderfully humorous talk before sitting down for a discussion about science fiction and fantasy with Jonathan Ryan and Br Guy Consolmagno.