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Issue #50 | May 15, 2004


Announcing the 2004-5 Milton Center Fellow: Linda Wendling
Songs Inspired by The Passion of the Christ
Acquainted with the Night: The Shadow of Death in Contemporary Poetry
Nicholas O'Connell: On His New Book and Online Writing Classes
Call for Entries: 2004 IFRAA / Faith & Form Awards Program for Religious Art & Architecture

Message Board
Space and Spirit: Artistic Interpretations of Sacred Place

Spotlight on the Glen Workshop: Playwriting and Screenwriting
The SPU MFA: It's Official
Reminder - Trinity Arts Conference: Innocence and Experience
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ImageAnnouncing the 2004-5 Milton Center Fellow: Linda Wendling
The Milton Center @ IMAGE is pleased to award its 2004-5 postgraduate fellowship in writing to Linda Wendling of St. Louis, Missouri. With twenty applications this year, competition for the fellowship was particularly fierce. Wendling completed her B. A. in English, summa cum laude, from the University of Missouri in 1990. She has earned both an M. A. in English and an M. F. A. in Creative Writing from the University of Missouri in St. Louis. Wendling is a Best New Writers of the South winner, a Heartland Fiction Prize winner, and a Ploughshares "Emerging Writers" nominee. Her stories and novel excerpts have appeared in River Styx, Microfiction: An Anthology of Really Short Stories, and New Stories from the South: The Year's Best. Wendling currently teaches writing and editing courses at the University of Missouri, where she has been a faculty member for the past ten years. She has been an instructor at the St. Louis Writer's Workshop since 2000 and works as a writing coach and consultant. An active member of St. Louis Mennonite Fellowship and co-founder of the Mennonite group Flat Mountain, Linda has been involved in St. Louis life for many years. We are looking forward to welcoming her to Image and Seattle Pacific University this fall.

For more information on the Milton Center and its postgraduate fellowship, go to:

ImageSongs Inspired by The Passion of the Christ
Whether or not you are a proponent of Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ, this CD ought to be of interest. Songs Inspired by The Passion of the Christ is not the film's soundtrack, but a completely separate collection of songs assembled to honor the occasion of the film. One of the people responsible for putting this album together is our friend, Lian Lunson, a filmmaker and music producer. There is nothing sentimental or maudlin about these songs, which span the gamut of styles, from a capella singing of country star Ricky Skaggs to the alt-noir broodings of Nick Cave. There are tracks by two musical giants who've long explored the spiritual dimension of our lives-Leonard Cohen ("By the Rivers Dark") and Bob Dylan ("Not Dark Yet"). Dolores O'Riordan of The Cranberries does a haunting rendition of the traditional "Ave Maria" and Elvis Presley is represented by "Where No One Stands Alone." One track that we find particularly memorable is "Precious Lord," recorded by The Blind Boys of Alabama, with a single electric guitar for accompaniment. The songs gathered here may be somber, but that's appropriate for the subject-and perhaps for a culture that's too addicted to trivia and triumphalism.

To learn more about the album, click here.

Acquainted with the Night: The Shadow of Death in Contemporary Poetry by Jeffrey Johnson
Faith and art often make for uneasy bedfellows. As Jeffrey Johnson puts it, "art darts into the attic" while "faith invites those who gather to kneel for communion." However, despite their differences, there is one area where the two have historically overlapped and gone into dialogue: the problem of death. But what does this look like in our own time? How do modern-day poets deal with this age-old enigma? It's a question that Johnson, the pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Wayland, Massachusetts, aims to answer. His recent book, Acquainted with the Night: The Shadow of Death in Contemporary Poetry, examines the ways five contemporary poets-Geoffrey Hill, Scott Cairns, Mark Jarman, R.S. Thomas, and Wendell Berry-represent death in their work. Framed within observations by literary artists and critics, theologians, cultural critics, and religion scholars, Johnson's analysis takes a distinctly Judeo-Christian bent, though it's broad enough that readers unfamiliar with biblical details can still appreciate his insights. Candidly exploring the ins and outs of what he refers to as the "'push-me-pull-you' symbiotic relationship" between faith and art, Johnson digs deep into what these poets' reflections on death have to say about our faith, our doubt, and ultimately our lives as a whole. There's a thoughtful historical perspective that tempers Johnson's analysis: he reminds us that we're not the first age to struggle with death, and we won't be the last, either. So if you're keen to explore how contemporary poetry wrestles with the theme of death, or just want a unique introduction to these five wonderful writers, Acquainted with the Night is bound to strike the right chord.

To learn more about the book, click here.

ImageNicholas O'Connell: On His New Book and Online Writing Classes
When asked how his faith intersects with his two great loves - Northwest literature and wine-making - Nicholas O'Connell notes that in order to experience a sense of the transcendent, we must first go through the things of this earth. Nick is a Seattle-based friend of ours who is working on an essay on the artist James Turrell for Image. He has written several books dealing with the literature and landscape of the Pacific Northwest, including On Sacred Ground: The Spirit of Place in Pacific Northwest Literature (University of Washington Press, 2003). In his most recent work, O'Connell examines the literature of the Pacific Northwest from its origins to the present, charting along the way the changing attitudes of the landscape. From the animistic traditions of the early tribes, to those who saw the region as a place to make a fortune, and to those now who revere the land as a spiritual home to be protected, O'Connell looks at how literature possesses a unique ability to transform a landscape into a sacred place. In addition to authoring numerous books and articles, O'Connell also conducts online and campus-based writing classes. After founding the Narrative Nonfiction program at the University of Washington in 1993, one of the first such programs in the country, O'Connell decided to develop an online and campus-based writing program that would combine the best of fiction and nonfiction writing. The Writer's Workshop is the result. The program offers a variety of courses and tutorials to meet the needs of a wide range of writers. Through detailed analysis of stories, one-on-one tutoring, and precise critiquing, O'Connell helps writers to master the forms of fiction and nonfiction. While the format may not be suitable for everyone (unlike a classroom setting, there are no deadlines), it offers a much more personalized course of study for motivated writers.

For more info on Nicholas O'Connell, his publications, and online or campus-based writing classes, visit

ImageCall for Entries: 2004 IFRAA / Faith & Form Awards Program for Religious Art & Architecture
The Annual Religious Art and Architecture Design Awards program is co-sponsored by Faith & Form Magazine and the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture (IFRAA), a professional interest area (PIA) of the American Institute of Architects. The Awards program was founded in 1978 with the goal of honoring the best in architecture, design, and art for religious spaces. There are three primary categories for awards: religious architecture, liturgical/interior design, and religious arts. The Religious Architecture category (open to architects licensed in the United States) includes awards for New Facilities, Renovation, and Restoration. Liturgical/Interior Design Awards recognize how the design reflects the understanding of a particular theology and its ritual symbolism. The Religious Arts category includes Visual Arts Awards for paintings, mosaics, stained glass, sculpture, iconography, textiles, etc., as well as awards for Liturgical Furnishings and Ceremonial Objects. Entries are welcomed and encouraged from architects, designers, artists, and consultants. Any person responsible for the original work of art may enter regardless of project location (worldwide), project size, budget, or style. To be eligible, an entry must be an original work of fine art/craft in one of the above categories, and completed since January 1999. Award recipients receive significant recognition, including printed and framed citations, recognition at an IFRAA awards presentation, full-page coverage in Faith & Form's Annual Awards Issue, and project board exhibition at the AIA National Convention. Entry forms must be postmarked no later than June 11, 2004. For further submission requirements and other criteria, please contact: Tanja Franke, The Duke Endowment, 100 N. Tryon Street, Suite 3500, Charlotte, NC 28202. [email protected].

If you are interested in subscribing to Faith & Form Magazine, please visit




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(For a complete catalogue of continuing events and announcements supplied by Image Update readers, check out "What's New Elsewhere.")

"Space and Spirit: Artistic Interpretations of Sacred Place"
If by definition a "sacred place" is where one meets God, then many questions beg to be asked: Does God designate this place or do we? Do we set the criteria for sacred place or is it revealed to us? Do we require it to be a place of worship already in existence, or is it created when and where two or three are gathered? If so, can we then experience this space alone? What does this space consist of? If God is everywhere, are all spaces sacred? How then are they defined? How does one move into or experience a Sacred Place? The Center Art Gallery at Calvin College is seeking submissions that explore the idea of Sacred Place. Responses to this Call for Entries will be juried by a committee. From January 5-29, 2005, the accepted artwork will form an exhibition that will be held in conjunction with the 2005 Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Arts. All media welcome. Some size restrictions may apply. The Gallery anticipates variety and the impetus for further dialogue with all who attend the exhibition. Deadline for entries is August 16, 2004.

For further information and submission details, click here.


Spotlight on the Glen Workshop: Playwriting and Screenwriting
In this section of ImageUpdate, we will be presenting short features on individual workshops and other aspects of our acclaimed summer program in Santa Fe, New Mexico that might tempt you to join us this August 1-8...

Featured Glen Workshop: Playwriting and Screenwriting Workshop with Jeanne Murray Walker

Ask yourself some questions: how many times have you found yourself watching a TV program or movie, only to be nauseated by the terrible quality of the script? Are you the sort of person who bemoans the absence of screenwriting talent these days? Do you have adamant convictions that you could have produced something better even in high school? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then we invite you to turn your attention to a Glen workshop that will help transform your story ideas into a viable film or play script. If you have written scripts, if you aspire to write scripts, or if you've acted in plays, you are welcome to join Jeanne Murray Walker this summer as she conducts her acclaimed workshop. Since the discussions will emphasize structure, both playwrights and screenplay writers will find this workshop useful. The sessions will provide readers the opportunity to try out your scenes and an audience to respond - both of which are crucial for developing a play or film script. We will also talk about pacing, reversal, developing complex characters, how to pose a dramatic question, and how that question may be relevant to Christian faith. We will probe the differences between a stage play and a screenplay. By July 1 please submit 1) a scene, either of a theatre script or a screenplay, of not more than 10 double-spaced pages and 2) a two-page synopsis of the whole script. If you're a beginner, send a sketch of your idea. Jeanne Murray Walker's scripts have been produced in theatres across the United States and in London. She has garnered several prestigious awards, including two William and Arlene Lewis Playwriting Prizes and the CITA Playwriting Prize. Her sixth book of poetry, A Deed to the Light, was published in April. She is currently working on several theater commissions.

For more on the Glen Workshop, to be held in northern New Mexico August 1-8, click here.

The SPU MFA: It's Official
About ten days ago, we sent out a message to y'all that our host institution, Seattle Pacific University, has officially approved a new, low-residency Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. Image will be playing a central role in the program. For those of you who want to know more about the program: be patient. We are now putting together web pages, brochure copy, etc., etc. You'll be the first to know when that sort of thing is ready. In the meantime: please spread the word. Ours will be the only university-sponsored MFA that incorporates the Christian faith into the curriculum - a first in Christian higher education. If you know someone who might be interested in applying for the program - scheduled to begin with the first residency in August, 2005 - have them send an e-mail with their contact info to us: [email protected].

Reminder - Trinity Arts Conference: Innocence and Experience
Whether you are ruing the lack of a fall Image conference this year (yup, we're taking a well-earned sabbatical!), or you are just looking for an entrancing event to attend, listen up! For the eighth year, the good folk running the Trinity Arts Conference, under the co-sponsorship of Image, will bring together artists of all ilks to ponder the theme of Innocence and Experience. Among the questions to be asked: what does it mean for the redeemed to make art in a complex, conflict-bound world? As Christ linked the holy with the mundane and corrupt, how do we, the creation, embody that paradox in our own work? Speakers include poet Scott Cairns, superb singer/songwriter Kate Campbell, composer J.A.C. Redford, and our own Suzanne and Greg Wolfe. Attendees can also look forward to the quirky Lip n' Slide, an open mike session in which participants may present whatever they want of their own work-poetry, slides of artwork, prose-as long as they keep it under five minutes. In the glowing words of our editor, "The themes are carefully chosen and provide food for thought, long after the event is concluded.. This one's a keeper."

The Trinity Arts Conference will be held June 17-20 on the University of Dallas campus in Irving, Texas. To register or learn more about the conference, go to the Trinity Arts Conference website.

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Publisher: Gregory Wolfe
Editor: Brenna Thompson
Layout: James Williams
Contributors: Brenna Thompson, James Williams, Gregory Wolfe

ImageUpdate is the biweekly e-mail newsletter from Image, a quarterly print journal that explores the relationship between Judeo-Christian faith and art through contemporary fiction, poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture, film, music, and dance. Each issue also features interviews, memoirs, essays, and reviews.

ImageUpdate brings you news about books, CDs, organizations, websites, conferences, exhibitions, and tours—all of which inhabit the intersection between faith and imagination. ImageUpdate will also notify you whenever a new issue of Image is printed, an Image event is upcoming, or new content is posted to our website.

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Copyright © 2004 Center for Religious Humanism. All rights reserved.