Getting A Word In: Writing About Faith
This workshop focuses on improving skills for writing about belief – writing publishable articles or essays about personal faith or spiritual life in the wider world. The course invites participants to expand their own public witness or sense of personal vocation by writing for a reading public. Central to the course will be daily writing assignments and attention to craft. These assignments can be regarded as potential op-ed pieces, essays, or posts – with publication in mind. The instructor will offer daily editorial feedback. Assignments can be tailored to meet an individual’s own writing goals. We will discuss writing strategies, noting the contemporary media climate of spiritual writing and focusing on questions of clarity, audience, and hindrances that get in the way of doing it better. Classroom time is also set aside for the option of reading one’s drafts to the group for feedback. Depending on size of class, participants can also bring work from current writing projects for consultation with the instructor. Two assumptions animate the week: 1) Readers today need trustworthy interpreters and translators of the life of faith in pluralistic, unpredictable times. 2) The act of writing can bring about self-understanding, empathy for others, accountability for one’s ideas, and connection with a wider community. (This course is capped at nine students.)
Ray Waddle, editor of Reflections at YDS, has 30 years of experience as a religion writer. He produces a regular column on faith and spirituality, speaks at writing conferences, and leads retreats on poetry and theology. His latest book, Undistorted God (Abingdon Press, 2014), won an award for nonfiction with the Associated Church Press. He is also the author of Against the Grain: Unconventional Wisdom from Ecclesiastes and A Turbulent Peace: The Psalms for Our Time, both published by Upper Room Books. A Louisiana native, Ray has a journalism (B.A.) degree from the University of Oklahoma and a religious studies (M.A.) degree from Vanderbilt University. He worked many years as religion editor of The Tennessean and has also written for The New York Times, Christian Century, Huffington Post, Image Journal, and other publications.