Panel Topics

The Climate for Christian Publishing.  Christian publishing includes everything from the “Left Behind” series to prize-winning novels, from devotional works to contemporary theology. This panel of editors and publishers of Christian writing will help writers and readers by exploring some of the issues and challenges of the current publishing environment. 

The Climate for Religious Writers.  Does the religious posture of one’s community and colleagues—the Lutheran college, the private liberal arts college, the state university, the community of independent writers—affect the tenor of a writer’s work? Some writers whose work takes religious issues seriously find it difficult to get published in a secular marketplace. How can writers in the Lutheran tradition encourage and support each other? How does a writer link personal belief with artistic work? How might theology shape one’s writing?  This panel will wrestle with these issues of the writer’s life, environment, and vocation.

Fiction, Faith, and Form.  How does (or should) one’s personal faith or doubt take shape in one’s writing? To what extent is the narrative process—shaping event into order and meaning—a form of education or an act of faith? Does a writer’s faith or skepticism affect the way the story is envisioned? Does the Lutheran tradition cast any light on these issues? This panel of storytellers will probe how these questions shape their own and others’ views of fiction-writing.

The Word in the Public Sphere.  Writers in some Christian traditions have come together to sponsor public conferences or to publish literary anthologies. Others have become public intellectuals who speak out on crucial issues of justice and morality. American Lutherans have been a relatively invisible group in the public sphere. One innovation of this festival is the Lutheran Writers Book Club, a way of bringing writers from this conference and other writers in the Lutheran tradition to the local and wider church and to the world. Other spheres might include communities in cyberspace. This panel will explore how we might bring to a larger audience this writing that can illuminate lives.

Freedom In and Out of Form.  Martin Luther saw grace as both liberation and discipline. Some modern writers consider poetic form a kind of bondage that inhibits the creative process and imprisons a poet’s natural cadence and rhetoric, while others argue that using form is a kind of liberation, with formal concerns unleashing imaginative energy rather than reining it in. To what extent can shaping experience into poetic form be an act of faith? This panel’s poets, who write formal poems as well as free verse, will explore the ways that tradition and innovation work together in shaping the word. 

The Graceful Shapes of Memoir. Writing one's own life presents special challenges: how do you shape a life that isn't yet completed? How do you find form in the disparate material of an actual, rather than imagined, life? How can you be true to events which might have epiphanic force? To what extent does one’s religious posture—faith or doubt—inform how one shapes a life? The panelists will explore how these issues work themselves out for a writer in some way shaped by a religious/Christian/Lutheran tradition.