1. The Creative Voice and the Voice of the Creator (Steve Guthrie) - Plato describes creativity as a kind of "spirit possession" in which the Muse robs the artist of her own voice, making her a passive conduit for the god. A Christian artist, of course, will hope that God is working in and through her. But does this mean that her own voice and identity must be silenced in the way Plato describes? This session will draw on the Council of Nicea to develop a much more satisfying and less dehumanizing vision of the relationship between the voice of God and the voice of the artist.
2. On Patience and the Imagination (John Hodges) - Art and music require that we allow works to speak to us in their own ways. Reading the Bible is no different, in fact, it is the model. This session will include dramatic readings from Hamlet, Job, and an in-depth excursion into a movement of Brahms’ famous Requiem to describe how great artists imitate the work of the Holy Spirit, but can only stand in awe of His accomplishments.
3. Reason to Believe: Spiritual Hunger in the Music of Bruce Springsteen (Matt Conner, Andrew Osenga, John Barber, Mark Geil, Chris Yokel) - Few musicians understand humanity better than Bruce Springsteen. Like Guthrie and Dylan before him, Springsteen has spoken for the common man—their fears, their desires, their heritage, their dreams, and especially their spiritual hunger—for a half century. Through discussion and songs performed live by Andrew Osenga, this session will look at how Springsteen's music speaks to our longing for the Promised Land.
4. Pushing the Bus Uphill: Forming a Creative Community (Bill Wolf, Adam Whipple, Janna Barber, Palmer Gregg) - How is it possible to cultivate creative community where you are? The panelists explore their experiences of making it happen. Between them they’ve started songwriter circles, arts journals, an independent publishing company, writers’ groups, collegiate and church-based creative teams, and more. Finding creative community and accountability can be difficult. Come be encouraged, and figure out what a home-based creative group might look like for you.
5. A Hidden Ministry: The Art, Music, and Story of Caregiving (Sally Zaengle, Allen Levi, Mitzi Pierce, Laura Brown, Kevan Chandler) - From their varied perspectives of caring for children, elders, and a sibling, or being cared for, the panelists discuss how the unseen and mundane acts of giving care are beautiful and honoring to God.
6. Balm for Broken People: Why Scenes, Sights, and Sounds Matter (Mark Meynell) - This session will reflect on why the arts are so vital for those battling mental health challenges, with particular reference to the writing of When Darkness Seems My Closest Friend. Whether or not this is your own battle, this topic has wider importance for pastoring and relating to a world that is broken and in pain.
7. Memento Mori: The Morbid Truth About Joyful Work (Jonathan Rogers, Matt McCullough, Chris Slaten) - Facing death and loss will either steal your appetite for pleasure, or stoke your appetite for what Jesus promises. This session will examine the ways in which loss provides context for Jesus’ promises about eternal life—promises that make it possible to enjoy even those things we’re going to lose. The entry point to this conversation will be through art—the ways in which writers and artists have used their work as a way to deny or defeat death. We’ll look at the dangers of this approach to loss and art, but we’ll also celebrate the creative freedom found in Jesus’ defeat of death. Though art will be the way into this conversation, we will be talking about truths that apply to all work.
8. Fools and Dreamers: Vocational Faithfulness for the Creative Misfit (Jennifer Trafton, Lanier Ivester) - What do La La Land, George Eliot’s Middlemarch, and the 19th-century artist and missionary Lilias Trotter have in common? Drawing from a variety of sources but anchored in the life of Trotter (whom John Ruskin believed might have been the greatest painter of her day), this session will explore the tensions and struggles inherent in pursuing a unique vocational obedience that seems senseless to other people, and challenge common assumptions about art and vocation for Christians in general and for women in particular. Which is more important—public influence or hidden faithfulness? How do we define success? What if that journey (whether we want it to or not) brings singleness or childlessness along with it? How can we give ourselves permission, and find the courage, to walk the path God has called us to walk even when it is out of step with those around us—in the culture and sometimes in the church?