How can writers of faith participate in current justice movements? Where can activists on the frontlines of movements find the rest and relationships necessary for a sustainable writing life? And what role does community and accountability play in the lives of writers who address issues of injustice in their work?
In Season 2 of the Unlikely Conversations podcast, we are listening to activists and writers of faith who are using words to change the world. Our esteemed guests in this initial episode, Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, co-led a writing workshop in 2019 through the Collegeville Institute called Writing for Mystic Activists. It was a week-long retreat centered on writing as a contemplative practice for activists and clergy, an opportunity for 12 participants to connect with a long tradition of resistance writers.
Topics and resources discussed in this episode:
- Origins of the Writing for Mystic Activists writing workshop at the Collegeville Institute
- Letter From a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
- The “Children’s Crusade” of 1963
- “Write the vision and make it plain,” from Habakkuk 2:2
- Advice for aspiring writer-activists
- The process of writing I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation by Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes
- The call for activists of faith to inner transformation as well as outer transformation
- Need for affirmation and modeling as writers
- Social media for writer-activists
- Writing as a spiritual practice
- “His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones,” from Jeremiah 20:9
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir by Haruki Murakami
- Flannery O’Connor’s quote: “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
- The importance to schedule time to write
- How writing is like prayer
- Including research, reading, and taking notes as writing time
- Finding motivation and discipline to write
Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes is Associate Professor of Practical Theology at the Mercer University McAfee School of Theology. She is the author of I Bring the Voices of My People and Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength. A prophetic voice for healing, justice, and reconciliation, her personal mission is to dismantle white supremacist heteropatriarchy while practicing good self-care. Dr. Walker-Barnes is an ordained ecumenical minister. Follow her on social media at @drchanequa [Twitter, Instagram, Facebook].
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a preacher, author and moral activist based in Durham, North Carolina. He has been part of the “Moral Mondays” movement in North Carolina since 2006 and currently serves on the National Steering Committee for the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. The author of more than a dozen book, Wilson-Hartgrove’s titles include Revolution of Values, Common Prayer, Reconstructing the Gospel, Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers, and The Third Reconstruction, with the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
Ellie Roscher is a writer, theology teacher, and host of the Unlikely Conversations podcast. She is a board member at the Collegeville Institute and the author of 12 Tiny Things, Play Like a Girl, and How Coffee Saved My Life. Ellie holds an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in Theology from Luther Seminary. She lives in Minneapolis with her spouse and sons. Follow Ellie on social media at @ellieroscher [Twitter, Instagram, Facebook].