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Almost two years ago exactly, I took part in a very difficult conversation: to postpone the 2020 Festival of Faith & Writing. It was particularly gut-wrenching because it was the 30th anniversary Festival and we were incredibly well-prepared to welcome 2,000+ attendees to celebrate. Years of work by many hands had gone into it. And also so disappointing because we were very excited about the programming–the speakers and publishers and editors and book people that would be gathering for the rich conversations that are a hallmark of the Festival.

But COVID-19 had other plans, and as authors and publishers began to indicate that the pandemic meant they could not travel, we knew that postpostment was the only course of action. And within a week, our campus was also shut-down, and we all entered that strange spring of 2020 in lockdown.

As this academic year began, we again had to consider whether an in-person gathering was possible as COVID-19 was still causing massive disruptions. Given its size, the Festival is a huge ship to guide, so it felt irresponsible to plan an on-campus gathering when so much was up in the air. Instead, we began to dream about what possibilities a smaller, virtual gathering might offer. We were so grateful that all the keynote speakers from 2020 were willing to participate in our virtual 2022 programming, so we started to plan.

Next week, I hope you’ll join us to see the fruits of those imaginings. We will be celebrating that 30th anniversary in style with an amazing lineup of speakers, including Pulitzer Prize winning author Anthony Doerr, Newbery Medalist Katherine Paterson, Peabody-award winning journalist and podcast host Krista Tippett, National Book Award nominee Min Jin Lee, Calvin’s own Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt, and more. The full schedule is available on the registration page, and you are welcome to watch any or all sessions whenever it works best for you.

I’ll even be doing two live Q&As: one with Min Jin Lee and one with Katherine Paterson. We’d love to have you participate.

Best of all, we can offer it all for FREE, though it does require registration at ccfw.calvin.edu. Content premieres March 21-24 and is viewable on-demand through April 7.

We’re already hearing about schools and book groups, churches and college classrooms gathering together for watch parties. I hope you’ll join us, too!

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? I also now chair the department. And 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.

2 Comments

  • Ron Wells says:

    I had been on the Calvin faculty for over twenty years when The Festival of Faith and Writing began. As it grew and developed under the leadership of the late Dale Brown, it became a marvel of creativity every year, and much for which to look forward. In recent years, the leadership of Jennifer Holberg and Jane Zwart has kept the quality consistently high.

    “Thanks” is too small a word, but I’ll say it anyway. It is heartfelt. It is a great encouragement to an old colleague to see Calvin carrying on so well in its vocation of a Christian institution engaging culture.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ron Wells, History Dept., 1969-2006

  • Bruce Buursma says:

    What Ron said! Bravo, Jennifer, Jane, and Calvin!

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