I have been at the AWP conference, one of the biggest annual conferences for writers in the U.S. It's grounded in writing programs (think MFA primarily), and thus, it's more prone to the genres traditionally taught in those programs. So, there's lots of panels for poets and fiction writers, less for everyone else.
Happily, I write in a variety of genres, so I always find something interesting when I go. But I was academically trained in a time of deconstruction, so I do tend to notice what's missing.
Last year, there were about 4 sessions that had anything to do with theology. This year there was one, maybe two, if you count a session that had something to do with witches--I went to something else, so I can't be sure. And the one session that mentioned faith in its title also mentioned sexual preference and one other element.
I have wondered if the lack of sessions means that the conference organizers don't get proposals for sessions that explore the writing of theology or if they get proposals but assume that there's not much audience for them.
Yesterday I had an interesting encounter as we waited for an elevator. I talked to a very young looking woman who had just gotten her MFA, and she asked, "Are you a poet?"
I said, "Yes. And I write theology."
She asked, "Fictional theology?"
I was flummoxed, and I can't remember exactly what I said. Perhaps, "No, the regular kind."
I spent the rest of the day thinking about the idea of fictional theology. My grad school friend and I talked about it briefly. She said she didn't think it was such an odd question. She said, "Think about the works of Madeleine L'Engle. It makes sense that someone going to this kind of conference would think that you meant something like that."
I found that a much more comforting idea than my initial thought, which was that this person who had just gotten a graduate degree didn't understand what I meant when I said I wrote theology.
And it's not lost on me how many people might see the theology that I write as fictional, but I don't think the woman waiting for the elevator meant to talk about whether or not God is real. But then again, it's hard to know for sure.
feeling the feelings…
2 years ago