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2009 Seminars

Imaginative Reading for Creative PreachingPlantinga
July 6-17, 2009

Directed by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. (Calvin Theological Seminary)

Funds provided by the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary

Seminar Description

People often assume that preachers who read widely are on the prowl for illustrations. These people are right. Preachers are hunter-gatherers: they search not only the world’s literary masterworks, but also contemporary middle-brow fiction, crime journalism, and biography, hoping to dig up fresh and angular illustrations. But preachers are not merely in search of useful stories. Reading deepens the preacher’s knowledge of human cries of the heart—for example that we reap what we sow. In fact, the preacher’s reading deepens preaching because it deepens the preacher. The preacher who presumes to speak for God, or even for the church, has to struggle every day to understand human character, divine grace, and the surprises that gather at their intersection. To do so faithfully, most preachers will need the kind of vicarious experience that arises from immersion in well-chosen literature. Accordingly, this seminar will explore some of the sources, methods, and homiletical impact of imaginative reading for creative preaching.

Persons involved full-time in church ministries and those who prepare such persons for ministry are welcome to apply.

About the Director

Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. is President and Charles W. Colson Professor of Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. This is his sixth consecutive year directing the seminar Imaginative Reading for Creative Preaching.

About the Guest Speakers

Susan Felch is Professor of English at Calvin College and the Director of the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship.  With Gary Schmidt she has edited and contributed to the Spiritual Biography of the Seasons series of books (Skylight Paths Press) and The Emmaus Readers (Paraclete Press), the lattera series of essays on contemporary novels. Her academic work focuses on 16th century British literature, and her publications include articles as well as The Collected Works of Anne Vaughan Lock (RETS); Bakhtin and Religion: A Feeling for Faith (Northwestern University Press), co-edited with Paul J. Contino; Elizabeth Tyrwhit’s Morning and Evening Prayers (Ashgate); and Elizabeth I and Her Age, a Norton Critical Edition co-edited with Donald Stump (Norton).

Gary Schmidt teaches in the English Department at Calvin College, focusing on courses in medieval literature, children's literature, and writing. He is the author of the Newbery Honor books, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, and The Wednesday Wars. He and his wife and their six children live on a nineteenth-century farm in Alto, Michigan, where they seem to spend a lot of time running border collies.