News, VOLUME 11

Festival of Faith and Writing 2018 – An Update

A brief report on the goodness that is happening at the
Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College this week. 

by ERB Editor
C. Christopher Smith

If you have never been to a festival, I highly encourage to attend one in the future. They are hosted by Calvin every two years in mid-April of even years. The fest attracts a diverse group of writers and readers from across the swath of the Christian tradition, and I suspect the majority of Christians who work in the publishing industry (many publishing companies, but also agents, publicists, journalists, and more).

This Festival is my fifth, and the ERB has had a booth at all five of these festivals. The best part of the festival so far has been all the ERB readers and writers who have said hello or struck up conversations.

Between minding our booth and a smattering of meetings with people that I rarely get to see except at the Fest, I’ve only made it to one session so far. That session was a panel conversation on the Evangelical Mind with John Wilson (formerly editor of Books and Culture), Macy Halford (author of the superb memoir [easyazon_link identifier=”0307957985″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]My Utmost: A Devotional Memoir[/easyazon_link], and Heath Carter, historian of American religion at Valparaiso University.  The conversation was superb but way too brief, and reminiscent of a similar conference on this very topic — in which Wilson and Carter were key participants — in Indianapolis last fall. [ Read John Fea’s reports from this conference, or watch for the book on the conference by IVP, forthcoming in the next year or so]


I was delighted to meet Jonathan Merritt for the first time today, and to find out that he’s a fan of the ERB. I’ve long been a reader of his RNS blog, and appreciate the questions he is asking about Christian faith and culture. Jonathan was kind enough to give me an advance copy of his soon-to-be released book, [easyazon_link identifier=”1601429304″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words Are Vanishing–and How We Can Revive Them[/easyazon_link], which looks amazing on a brief skim, and very pertinent to my own work on conversation and the ways that we use language in it.

I also had the profound delight of very briefly meeting Padraig O’Tuama, an Irish poet and peacemaker, whose work has long been an inspiration (and when I introduced myself, he said that he had heard of the ERB… truly a small world!)  If you are not familiar with Padraig’s work, you must listen to his conversation with Krista Tippett of On Being. [ It’s one of our Top 10 episodes of On Being ].

I got to sit down with my friends and kindred spirits, Ashley Hales and Shannan Martin, both of whom have important books on place and presence coming in October of this year (Shannan’s forthcoming book, [easyazon_link identifier=”0718077482″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Waking Up to God’s Goodness Around You[/easyazon_link] and Ashley’s [easyazon_link identifier=”0830845453″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much[/easyazon_link])

This evening I met Alan Noble for the first time, whose work with Christ and Pop Culture I have long-admired, and who has a book that I am eagerly hoping to read soon, [easyazon_link identifier=”083084483X” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age[/easyazon_link].

Hard to believe that there’s only one day of the Festival left, but if you’re reading this and you are here at the Festival, do stop by our booth tomorrow and say hello (and enter to win some of the amazing books that publishers have provided for us to give away!)


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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at:

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