2012 Workshops and Faculty

Seen and Unseen: Writing the Spiritual Memoir (Weeklong AM- Level: All) – Sarah Sentilles

Flannery O’Connor wrote that “Fiction is the concrete expression of mystery—mystery that is lived.” So, too, are spiritual memoirs. In this workshop, we will tackle the tricky business of writing a spiritual memoir and will work toward mastering craft. We will investigate the differences between rich description and syrupy blather, between the effective use of metaphor and a reliance on cliches, and between the expression of one's vision and the pitfalls of preachiness. Special attention will be given to the attempt to say the unsayable; the body; belief and its undoing; memory; truth as fiction, fiction as truth; creativity and the possibility of hope; violence and injustice; meaning-making; suffering; redemption; and responsibility. Workshop sessions will involve responding to one another's work as well as guided discussions about exemplary texts and techniques.

Sarah Sentilles - photo credit Hillary Maybery

Sarah Sentilles (www.sarahsentilles.com) is a scholar of religion, an award-winning speaker, and the author of three books, including her recent memoir Breaking Up with God: A Love Story (HarperOne, 2011). She earned a bachelor's degree in literature from Yale and a master's and doctorate in theology from Harvard, where she was awarded the Billings Preaching Prize, was the managing editor of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, and wrote a dissertation on the photographs from Abu Ghraib. She is currently working on a novel and an edited volume that investigates the intersections of torture and Christianity.