From Martin Luther King to Dorothy Day, work for social change throughout American history has been led by people who touched both the hope of heaven on earth and the hell of our inhumanity to one another. Like the Spirit that hovered over the waters of chaos in the beginning, people dare to speak in the face of the unspeakable, creating new worlds of possibility. But none of us are God. In the messy present of our daily lives, the torrent of oblivion threatens to silence us. Words can feel like such fragile tools when human lives are on the line. In a world of action, who has time to sit and write?
But at the heart of the Christian story is a God who creates with nothing but words. And when, in our story’s greatest act of love, God descends to earth, John’s gospel says that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” In the Christian story, everything seems to hang on words.
How, then, does the creative power of words fit within a Christian vocation to change the world that is into the world that ought to be? What are the temptations inherent to such work? What practices sustain those who want to root themselves in the Spirit’s power?
Join author Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove in a writing workshop focused on both the craft of writing and the vocation of tending to words for the sake of faithful social change. Jonathan will lead discussions each morning, drawing on his own experience as well as the examples of Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, Wendell Berry, Toni Morrison. In the afternoons, Jonathan will lead a writing workshop to focus on the craft of writing.
- Explore writing as a vocation and consider how it intersects with the call to work for social change.
- Examine and practice writing as a craft, learning to recognize not only when something is “good writing,” but also what makes it so.
- Participate in writing workshops that both hone particular skills and invite honest feedback about their own work.
- Make a writing “schedule” that will fit into their day-to-day schedule at home.
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a popular speaker and well-known peace and social-justice activist. With Shane Claiborne he founded the New Monastic movement, which emphasizes an intentional life of prayer, seeking consensus, and engagement in the world. Jonathan and his wife, Leah, founded Rutba House, a Christian community that welcomes visitors, guests, neighbors, and strangers. In addition, he serves as an associate pastor at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina. The author of more than a dozen books, his writings include The Awakening of Hope, The Wisdom of Stability, and Strangers at My Door.
The Collegeville Institute will cover travel expenses to and from the workshop, all workshop fees, and room and board. Those who join the workshop will be expected to reside at the Institute throughout the entire week. Participants will share apartment space, though each person will be assigned a private bedroom. The program is limited to 12 participants.
(Application deadline has passed. We are no longer accepting applications for this workshop.)
NOTE: There may be some advance preparation for this workshop, which may include both reading and writing.
Complete applications include three pieces:
- Application form
- Current resume or c.v.
- A sample of your own writing (2,000 words or less) of which you are proud
After the workshop concludes, each participant is encouraged to submit an original 500-word essay on a topic of his/her choice, intended for a general audience. Participants’ essays may be used as blog entries on the Collegeville Institute’s website or featured in other Collegeville Institute publications. Workshop participants should submit their essays to the Collegeville Institute within three months after the conclusion of the writing workshop.