2014 ESR Ministry of Writing Colloquium

Writing and the Nonviolent Life
Featuring Keynote Fr. John Dear (Watch video)

October 31 - November 1, 2014

New This Year:

Writers and Friends Dinner

Friday, Oct. 31, at 5 pm

Kick off your colloquium with a catered dinner, learn about ESR’s writing program, and hear work from our students. The $30 cost (in addition to registration) includes a small donation. Please come – and please register by Oct. 24.

Afternoon Roundtable

What Difference Does Writing Make? In addition to our normal slate of workshops, presenters will gather to discuss if, and how, they think their work makes a difference in the world.

Online Registration

 Click here to register online!

Colloquium presenters:

Keynote Fr. John Dear

What does it mean to live – and write – the nonviolent life?  Drawing on his latest book, The Nonviolent Life, Fr. John Dear will reflect on his 35 years of teaching Gospel nonviolence, working for peace, and writing prophetically. With stories of writing in war zones and in jail cells, of blogging and meeting book deadlines, Dear will invite us to use writing as one tool in the Christian life of prophetic ministry and lead us in a short writing exercise to cultivate our vocation as Christian peacemakers.

Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Fr. Dear has proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus and the way of nonviolence for more that 30 years.  He has led peace organizations, worked in homeless shelters, traveled in war zones and been arrested more than 75 times for acts of civil disobedience against war.  As a writer, he has published more than 30 books, including Living Peace, Jesus the Rebel, The God of Peace, Peace Behind Bars, The Questions of Jesus, Lazarus Come Forth, A Persistent Peace, and his latest book, The Nonviolent Life.


Brent Bill - Promotion in 140 Characters or Fewer: Getting Noticed in the E-World

You’ve done the writing, now it’s on to the business of being a writer, notably marketing your work in an electronic age.  We’ll explore various ways to connect with your e-public via blogging, facebooking, tweeting, linking-in, tumblring, websiting, you-tubing, and more.  Bring your suggestions of “electronic author stuff” that you think works to share.

Brent Bill is the author of eighteen books and a contributor to six others, including the acclaimed Awakening Your Senses: Exercises to Experience the Wonder of God (InterVarsity Press), the forthcoming Finding God in the Verbs: Crafting a New Language of Prayer (with ESR alum Jennie Isbell) and The Bad Quaker's Guide to the Good Life. A Friends minister, Brent is also a retreat leader and photographer.

Tracy Groot - What can Historical Fiction Do?

What gives historical fiction its enduring value? What makes for well-crafted fiction about the past? Tracy Groot will explore both questions in this workshop. Part one: Reacquaint yourself with the value of historical fiction by exploring its power and place in the literary landscape. Part two: Explore elements of the craft of historical fiction, including research techniques and characterization through period culture. You’ll learn ways to bring your findings hot to the page through Tracy’s writing mantra, “See it, feel it, write it.”

Tracy Groot’s historical fiction has won two Christy Awards. The first honored Madman (2006), a novel exploring the gospel account of the Gerasene demoniac. The second came for Flame of Resistance (2012), set in World War II. Her most recent novel, The Sentinels of Andersonville, is set in the Civil War. Currently, Groot is at work on a novel about the miracle evacuation of the British army from Dunkirk in World War II. She is the mother of three sons, loves to knit, read, hike, watch movies, drink coffee, play Settlers of Catan, and eat as many sweets as she can get away with. She lives with her husband and a manipulative Jack Russell Terrier named Murphy in Hudsonville, MI.

David Carlson - Sharing Your "Two-Cents" Worth

Opinion pieces, editorials, and letters to the editor are often the first pieces that new writers publish. Opinion writing is also an excellent way to share concerns and educate the local community about an issue. Yet while newspapers and periodicals welcome readers' responses, they are often quite selective in who they choose to publish.  What are editors looking for? This workshop focuses on key elements of a well-written editorial or opinion piece, as well as suggestions for establishing long-term relationships with editors.

Dr. David Carlson is the Charles O. and Kathleen B. Van Nuys Deans Fellow in religious studies at Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana. He received his B.A. in political science from Wheaton College; his B.A. in Biblical studies from American Baptist Seminary of the West; and his Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. In addition to teaching, he also writes editorials on religion, politics, and culture for the Columbus Republic, the (Franklin, IN) Daily Journal, and the Indianapolis Star. David’s book, Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World, published by Thomas Nelson in 2011, was given a starred review by both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. Library Journal also named Peace Be with You as one of the best books of 2011 in the area of spiritual living.

Sarah Beth Childers - Writing Memoir about Religious Background and Experiences

In this session, we’ll discuss the ways you can use the quirky details, emotions, experiences, and characters from your religious background or affiliation to create a meaningful and publishable memoir. We’ll talk about methods for creating a complex portrait of your religious experience, allowing you to honestly and respectfully portray the positive and negative aspects of your current or former religious culture and belief system. We’ll also discuss issues of audience, such as the amount of information you need to include so that outsiders can understand your specific religious subculture.

Sarah Beth Childers is lives and writes in Richmond, Indiana, where she teaches creative writing at Earlham College. Her memoir-in-essays, Shake Terribly the Earth: Stories from an Appalachian Family, weaves together her personal story with the lives of four generations of her family in West Virginia. Her essays and stories about Appalachia have appeared in various literary journals, including Brevity, Wigleaf, SNReview, and The Tusculum Review. During the past eight years, she has also taught creative writing at Colgate University, the low residency MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, and West Virginia University, where she earned her MFA in creative nonfiction.

Lynn Domina - Appearing and Disappearing: What God's Doing in Our Poems

A burning bush, tongues of flame, a gardener: God assumes several forms in the Bible, and God assumes many other forms in traditional and contemporary poetry—from the conventional to the bizarre. In this workshop, we’ll look at several examples of poems that feature God as a character, and we’ll begin writing some of our own. What happens if you take God shopping for shoes? Or you see God at the county fair selling cotton candy -- or on the street corner hawking Rolex knockoffs? Or God appears to you in a dream singing a new Christmas carol—what are the words? Participants will leave with a good start on at least two new poems and ideas for several more.

Lynn Domina is the author of two collections of poetry, Corporal Works and Framed in Silence, and the editor of a collection of essays, Poets on the Psalms. Her recent poetry appears in The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Massachusetts Review, Christianity & Literature, The Friends Journal, Poetry Daily, and many other periodicals. She teaches at the State University of New York in Delhi, NY, where she has won a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarly and Creative Activities. She is currently completing an M.Div. at the Earlham School of Religion. For more information: www.lynndomina.com.


Friday, October 31st  
5:00 pm Welcome Reception/Dinner                          
7:00 pm Presenter Readings & Mullen Fellowship Award Presentation
Saturday, November 1st  
8:00 am Registration & Breakfast
8:40 am Optional Worship
9:00 am Welcome
9:15 - 10:15 am Keynote - Fr. John Dear
10:15 - 10:45 am Q & A
10:45 - 11:00 am Break
11:00 - 12:15 Workshop Session I
12:15 - 1:45 pm Lunch
1:45 - 2:45 pm Roundtable
2:45 - 3:00 pm Refreshment Break
3:00 - 4:15 pm Workshop Session II
4:30 - 5:00 pm Closing
7:00 - 9:00 pm Open Mic

Registration Cost:

  • Early registration: $85 by October 11th
  • $90 after October 11th
  • $35 for grad/undergrad students
  • Writers & Friends Dinner (Friday): $30 in addition to Colloquium registration fee (includes small donation to the writing program)

Contact Mandy Ford, ESR Director of External Relations at fordma@earlham.edufor more information.

Event Date: 10/31/2014 (All day) - 11/01/2014 (All day)