A Festival of Wealth


Where do I even start?

It has been a couple of weeks since this great Festival and it has taken some time for me to digest all that occurred.

This was my first trip to the Festival of Faith & Writing. Honestly, it was all that I could have imagined and some. The comment was made during the festival that the one thing that people look forward to is the surprises. I experienced the surprises, not just around me in the people that I had an opportunity to meet and converse, I also had the opportunity to be surprised by the things that arose within me.

My interest in poetry was piqued as I listened to both Christian Wiman and Scott Cairns share some of their stories and process of writing poetry. I have dabbled a little with poetry in the past and am now wondering what it could mean for my contemplative life and sermon preparation as I sit with scripture to pen my own poetry.

The authors represented at the festival ranged across the spectrum of genre and the ones that I had an opportunity to listen to, each had a little nugget to share. I had the opportunity to hear from many people, including Janise Ray, M.T. Anderson, Zadie Smith, Tobias Wolff, David Kim, and many others. One person that drew me to the festival was Nadia Bolz-Weber, a colleague in the ELCA. Her message is transforming for many that hear it and is a reminder that God is at work through all people. Her openness to say what she is thinking is a blessing and unfortunately frowned upon in some areas in the church. This is the world though and we are all living in it. As she said, “The jagged edge of humanity is what connects us to one another.”

During the morning of the third day I looked around and realized what a “white” conference this truly was. Honestly, it was not surprising, given that it was hosted at a Reformed college and attracted many other protestants. Cindy Brandt shared this in a post, and she can reflect it much better than me.

Overall, it was a great three days, and I look forward to seeing the lineup in two years as I contemplate to fit it into my schedule once again.

By Alex Steward

I am a husband, father, and pastor within the ELCA. I did not grow up in the church and thus come at this pastoring thing with an unique perspective.

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