I was listening to G. Willow Wilson, the writer behind Marvel’s new Ms. Marvel and a Muslim, talk about the changing tide of femininity in fantasy and comics. Across the campus, Jeff Chu, author of “Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage In Search of God In America” was calling the idea of objectivity into question. Earlier that morning, Richard Foster enchanted a packed room as he described writing as a form of spiritual discipline before giving the stage to Miroslav Volf, who suggested that all religious impulse was rooted in an intrinsic human desire to “reach into the Transcendent.”
Women and men who don’t see eye-to-eye on critical social issues, sharing the same space and sharing the deeper conviction that what God is doing in and through the Arts is more critical than any of the particular issues we might allow to divide us.
And just as G Willow Wilson said the words “I write the books I wish were there for me to read” I thought to myself, “I wish everyone I knew could see this. This is a glimpse at the best of who we are.”
I naturally want things like the Festival of Faith and Writing to make more noise. I get nervous that the best of who we are as a religious tribe doesn’t make enough noise to drown out the shrill chaos of our lesser expressions. But in thinking this way, I would be expect the FFW to stop being, in essence, what it is – to sacrifice primary elements that make it a great expression of Christian culture.
What makes most any good culture is a combination of thoughtfulness and wisdom. Such qualities often come with living and building at a slower pace – spending time in quieter corners. Lesser culture tends to be loud and faster paced. Lack of quality and depth is often compensated for with volume and pizzazz.
Good culture often happens slowly.
I left the Festival of Faith and Writing with pages of notes. More than that, I left with a conviction to locate (and lead my tribe to) the smaller, slower, quieter spaces wherein our sisters and brothers are building, planting and fostering the best of who we are.