Essay

A Soundcloud of Witnesses

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About a week ago–probably because I’m always tempted to do anything else when I’m supposed to be grading–I agreed to participate in a survey about my news consumption. (Don’t judge: I was promised a sizeable Amazon gift card at the end of it, and book addiction is hard, y’all!).

In any case, three times a day over five days, I was prompted to fill out a quick survey to determine what I viewed on TV, listened to on the radio, and viewed on web sites and through social media. As you would expect, it made me quite conscious of the news I was consuming–and just as importantly, the places from which I was consuming it. And how much time was I actually devoting to reading in-depth analysis instead of the quick hits of an always roiling Twitter feed. Let us say it gave one pause.

We all sense that things have gotten ever noisier. But now more as much as any time in my lifetime, I think we crave media where we can slow down, where we can’t just scroll through. It’s part of why I think podcasts have become so popular. They take an investment of time; at their best, they encourage reflection.

So I wanted to call your attention to Rewrite Radio, the new podcast from the Calvin Center for Faith and Writing’s Festival of Faith and Writing (and yes, full disclosure: I am the co-director of the CCFW).  But even if I had no association, Rewrite Radio is an incredible resource. Produced by the CCFW’s Creative Director Jon Brown and hosted by the CCFW’s managing director Lisa Ann Cockrel, the podcast showcases sessions from past Festivals, along with new conversations to frame the sessions’ content. It’s available in iTunes and Soundcloud. And we already have almost a dozen episodes available–and a new one comes out every other week.

I was excited to get to chat recently with Lisa about one of the jewels in our archive: Frederick Buechner’s 1992 lecture, “Religion and Art.” It’s a wonderful place to start among many wonderful talks, interviews, and panel discussions. Perhaps we’ll have to say now that we have a Soundcloud of Witnesses.

Even 25 years later, it made the day less noisy for me.

 

Jennifer L. Holberg

I’ve taught English at Calvin College since 1998–where I get to read books and talk about them for a living. What could be better? Along with my wonderful colleague, Jane Zwart, I am the co-director of the Calvin Center for Faith and Writing, which is the home of the Festival of Faith and Writing as well as a number of other exciting endeavors. Given my interest in teaching, I’m the founding co-editor of the Duke University Press journal Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition and Culture (and yes, I realize that that is a very long subtitle). I also do various administrative things across campus. As an Army brat, I’ve never lived anywhere as long as I’ve now lived in Grand Rapids. I count myself rich in friends and family. I enjoy kayaking and hiking. I collect cookbooks (and also like to cook), listen to all kinds of music, and watch all manner of movies and tv shows. I love George Eliot, Jane Austen, Marilynne Robinson, Dante, E.M. Delafield, Tennyson, Hopkins, and Charlotte Bronte (among others). And I have a bumper sticker on my car that says: “I’d rather be reading Flannery O’Connor.” Which is true.

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