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Poetry and Spiritual Discernment
with Dr. Matthew Wickman
Saturday, September 9, 2023
9:30 to 11:00 am CDT

"Happy are they who understand the words of Jesus, but happier still are they who listen to His silence." So remarks a spiritual theologian in evoking the peculiar silence of the Holy Spirit, what scripture describes as the still, small voice. Gifts of the Spirit include feelings of love, joy, and peace as well as a greater abundance of understanding and wisdom, a sense of connection to the world around us, and enhanced capacities to think and feel. So how can we become more discerning of the Spirit? This seminar will explore how the arts - in our case, poetry - can attune us more deeply to the Spirit by helping us attend more fully to nuances of spiritual meaning. We will discuss insights by scholars of Christian spirituality as well as poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins, Denise Levertov, R. S. Thomas, and others.

Dr. Matthew Wickman is Professor of English, Associate Coordinator of the Faith and Imagination Institute, and Founding Director (Emeritus) of the BYU Humanities Center at Brigham Young University, Utah. He also serves on the University Council for Interfaith Engagement and hosts the ecumenical Faith and Imagination podcast. A scholar of Christian Spirituality, he is especially compelled by ways that literature accentuates the nuances and vitality of spiritual life. Related interests include the connection between religion and literature, post-secular criticism and theory, and literary and intellectual history. He is the author of more than forty scholarly articles and three books, most recently Life to the Whole Being: The Spiritual Memoir of a Literature Professor (2022). He and his wife, Kerry, are the parents of two adult children.

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