I admit it: after all these days at home on my own, I’m growing tired of words. Maybe not “words,” exactly, and certainly not books. In fact, I’m probably not reading as much as I’d hoped, what will teaching and other work projects and general befuddlement. No, I suppose it’s more the cascade of articles and “hot takes” that greet me anytime I head online. Which I’m probably doing too much because—see above—I live alone.

Don’t get me wrong: many things I see are thoughtful and useful and well-written. But today, I just don’t have it in me to add to the pile. Silence seems more becoming. Do you really need to read one more thing today?

That’s undoubtedly a bad attitude (or at least slacking) if you’re supposed to write a blog post. Turns out: I don’t care. Sometimes we with spaces to talk need to shut up.

Instead, a small gift.

This week should have been the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Festival of Faith & Writing. It’s okay: it’s only postponed until April 2021. And I know it’s going to be amazing when we can finally gather together.

I’m extremely lucky to get to work on the team at the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing—and after almost two years of intense planning, we couldn’t let the week go by without sharing a few treasures.

One of them is a film we’ve been working on for the last couple of years. Under the direction of our mega-talented media producer, the Emmy-awarding Jon Brown, I got to interview much decorated children’s writer Katherine Paterson for what we’re calling a “short-ish documentary” to celebrate her extraordinary life. She’s one of our patron saints at the CCFW—modeling how belief and books can come together beautifully and honestly and faithfully.

Katherine is a long-time friend as well, so I’m delighted for you to be able to see the film on Friday here.

And yes, the film is about words. But more than that, it’s about embodiment—how the words become enfleshed in a life well-lived, into a way of being that is generative and gracious and collaborative at its core.

Words that inspire us to be able to speak again when we’re ready.

Watch the trailer here:

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). As an Army brat, I’ve never lived anywhere as long as I’ve now lived in Grand Rapids, a city I've come to love. I count myself rich in friends and family. 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 used to have a bumper sticker on my car that said: “I’d rather be reading Flannery O’Connor.” I don't have the car anymore, but the sentiment is still true.

3 Comments

  • Karl VanDyke says:

    Jennifer, I suspect you miss talking face to face very much. You love people and conversation.
    I wonder how that relates to our prayer life. Sometimes it feels stifled, other times it is fresh. Worship together fills another need for community.
    May all those frustrated feel their need for each other and may that feed our prayer life.

  • Daniel Bos says:

    Looking forward to Friday. One exclamation mark.

  • RLG says:

    I understand, Jennifer, your frustration with words. That’s because so many of the words are redundant. The news sounds the same everyday. Thousands upon thousands are dying of Covid 19. But then the notes, emails and cards of encouragement get old before long, as well. I agree, most of us get tired of words that we hear every day, if that’s your frustration. And further, I get tired and bored with all the Christian platitudes. “God is good — all the time!” “Amazing grace.” “Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” and on and on. Even at funeral services for loved ones who died of this pandemic, we praise God. For what? And Christians repeat over and over that when this all ends we will be able to thank God for his intervention. Well, he hasn’t intervened yet, despite the millions of prayers asking for God’s intervention. Jesus, apparently came to heal the sick, blind and lame, the physically infirmed. But apparently such a message has gotten lost by Jesus who is presently sitting on his throne. Really? Let’s hope medical scientists and health care professionals come up with a vaccine or remedy soon, so we have someone to really thank.

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