Tagged with jessica mesman griffith

Trying to Say God—Saturday and it’s over

The Matthew Boudway, Greg Wolfe, Heidi Saxton, Joe Durepos, Jonathan Ryanday 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 theJessica Wilson, Mary Ann Miller, Angela Cybulski 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 Dave Griffith, Kathleen Tarr, Gordon Oyer, Cassidy Hall 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 Karl Persson, David Russell Mosley, Kevin M. Johnson, Jessica Mesman Griffithfinal 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’sTim Powers 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.

Guy Consolmagno, Jonathan Ryan, Tim Powers

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Trying to say God—Friday afternoon and evening

After lunch, I heardValerie Sayers Valerie Sayers talking about the genesis of her novel, The Powers, talking about the use of photographs, not only in the research for the book but in the final novel itself.

When asked about her timeline for her books, she said that she spends more time on them now, but when she first started out she had a two year timeline: the first year was dedicated to anxiety, research and procrastination; the second year was write write write.

The second session of the afternoon was “The future of Catholic literature in a secular age.” 
Dave Griffiths, Randy Boyagoda, Joshua Hren, Kaya Oakes, Lisa Ampleman

This is, along with a similarly titled talk tomorrow morning, to me the centerpiece of the conference.

I did find myself wishing that there had been a working definition of “Catholic literature” offered. Back in the ‘90s, I attended a talk by a Fordham University Jesuit at the New York Catholic Worker on Catholic literature where he defined it as literature which deals specifically with some point of Catholic doctrine and he considered a fair amount of what was considered in the popular imagination as Catholic literature as being instead just supplied with “Catholic furniture.”

There were some interesting observations made. Kaya Oakes’s “Pope Francis keeps telling us to take our faith to the margins. Why don’t we take our literature there too?” Randy Boyagoda’s observation that Roman Catholic (as opposed to merely Catholic) carries with it the implication of a mixture of sacred and secular; and later his suggestion that maybe we need to direct young Catholic serious about literature into internships in publishing/agenting so that they might be in a position to start influencing the direction of literature down the line.

Asked for their suggestions as to who represents the future of Catholic literature now, they offered the following:

  • Lisa Ampleman: Natalie Díaz, When My Brother Was an Aztec.
  • Kaya Oakes: Rebecca Brown, American Romances.
  • Joshua Hren: Glenn Arberry, Bearings and Distances
    Lee Oser, The Oracles Fell Silent
  • Randy Boyagoda: Elena Ferrante, Neapolitan Quartet.

After a wine andJessica Messman Griffith, Jonathan Ryan hors d’oeuvres reception, we had the launch from Loyola University Press of Jessica Mesman Griffith’s and Jonathan Ryan’s Strange Journey from which both Ryan and Griffith read excerpts.

This was followed byHeather King Heather King speaking and then a concert of sacred music from the Notre Dame Vocale and then after a bit of wandering to find a suitable venue, the open mic night which ran past midnight.

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