Naidia Bolz- Weber

On March 5th Naidia Bolz- Weber came to speak as part of the Lenoir- Rhyne Visiting Writers Series.  She had two events during that day. The first one was in the morning and was just an interview. The second one was in the evening and was focused on her writing.  I went to see her at both times. In the morning event was a simple Q&A mostly based off her career as a pastor. The one question that I will never forget is when a member of the audience asked for “How can someone repent for homosexual sex?” Her response was wonderful. She cut the young man off mid- question stating that she could not answer that question because she didn’t view that as a sin. She then said that it was her belief that god doesn’t care about sex.  She talked a lot about the way the Christian community views the LGBT+ community. She talked about the video that she did for a group called The Nines. The topic was “the issue of LGBT” Nadia’s response to LGBT+ people being referred to as an issue was wonderful. Her video was of members of her church that are also part of the LGBT+ community telling these people that they are not an issue but part of the church.  Another point that she made in her morning talk was about the saying “love the sinner, hate the sin.” She talked about how that wasn’t really love. That the statement was just a way to pride yourself as being Christian without having to truly love and accept everyone.

The evening talk was more focused on her writing as well as stories about her church. She started the night with wanting to see just what religions were there. After that she talked a bit which led to her reading a some from her new and not yet published work. She talked about demons. She started with saying about how in the bible Jesus would be able to case out demons and they will run in fear. She talked about what are demons and if it was just mental illness or if they were real beings. She then talked about her depression, explaining how she had gave it a name and how she would live with it.  She was able to make her depression sound like a real person, and not a mental illness. She talked about her anger issue, telling a story of how holding a baby was able to calm her down. After she was done talking she was able to answer some questions and finding some people that knew her and knew the people that go to her church.

Naidia Bolz- Weber was an  amazing speaker, she was funny and honest. She made it known that she believed in being truthful to her peers and not showing them someone she is not.  She doesn’t hide. I grew up in a small southern baptist town. Everyone that is part of the church lies and hides about who they really are out of fear. For me it was refreshing to hear from someone, from a pastor, that wasn’t afraid. It was empowering and a good change. It’s a change that we need to see more members of the church make, be yourself not what you think god will want you to be.

Here is a link to her amazing video:


Paul Muldoon

Last week the poet Paul Muldoon was scheduled to speak as part of the Lenoir- Rhyne Visiting Writers series. But because of the bed weather the event was cancelled. Instead of talking about what I heard from him I will be talking about one of his poems, Hedgehog. I find this poem to be every interesting mostly because of my on way of interpreting it. The poem starts out by saying that a snail and hedgehog are different because a snail shares it’s secrets while a hedgehog doesn’t. At first this was something that I didn’t pay any mind to, I was too interested in what the poem ended with, god.  After reading it over a few times i had an idea that the hedgehog was a metaphor for god while the snail was one for man.  The first reason that I believe this is because of the opening of the poem,

“The snail moves like a

Hovercraft, held up by a

Rubber cushion of itself,”

Hovercraft and rubber are man made objects, the only ones that are said in the poem and both having to do with the snail. Now for the reason that I came to the conclusion that the hedgehog represents god was at near the end.

“We forget the god

under this crown of thorns.”

I think that the hedgehog’s  quills are the “crown of thorns” that the poet is talking about. But these are not the only lines that made me think that the hedgehog and snail are metaphors of  god and man.

There is another line that states that the snail is “sharing it’s secret” Then a line about the hedgehog states that it “shares it’s secrets with no one.”

The reason that these two lines stood out to me is because man is an open book. As social creators humans don’t hide things well, people learn, people find out, and sometimes we want them to fin out.  Also man cannot hide from god, god is known for seeing all, knowing all, we have no secrets from him.  Meanwhile god is nothing but a secret to us. We want to know what god is, what god’s secrets are. The poem states about the hedgehog

“… We want

Your answers to our questions.”

The poem ends on:

“We wonder what a hedgehog

Has to hide, why it so distrusts.

We forget that never again

will a god trust in the world.”

Which leaves me with the question why should a hedgehog have trust when god doesn’t?

You can read Hedgehog here:

Katherine Howe

On February 12th I went to hear Katherine Howe speck as part of the Lenoir-Rhyne Visiting Writers Series.  The event was every entertaining, Katherine Howe spoke about many topics that had to do with her writing, mostly her inspiration and the topics that she loved to study and write on. Katherine Howe talked about her how she has been thinking about ghost stories, the topic of class she is teaching at Lenoir-Rhyne.  She talked about the house She had while she was still in school and the haunted history that the house and the town she lived in.  Then she talked about the Salem witch trials, something that she has done much research on and has written on. She talked about how she wanted to see a different side of the Salem witch trials story and that it was the goal of her first novel. She also talked about the history of the trails, talking about the little known facts that most people didn’t know about. She even talked about the fact that she is distantly related to three of the women that were put on trial. She also read a piece of the novel that she is now working on.

I think that the one thing that I learned from her was to write about something that you are passionate about. During the talk i had no doubt that she loved what she was writing about, that she enjoyed learning about the topics, and loved sharing that knowledge with the world.

Jesmyn Ward

On the 19th Jesmyn Ward was a spoke as part as the Lenoir-Rhyne Visiting Writers Series. During the event she talked about what motivated her as a writer and did a few readings from her books. She talked of her life, the people that she lost, and the struggles that she and her family had been through. What stood out to me the most was when she talked about loving her characters too much in her first novel. She stated that she loved her characters too much to give the ending that the book needed, she wanted them to be okay at the end and that was her mistake.  She talked about how hard it can be to let go of characters and giving the ending that the story would need. This made me think about the struggle of letting the story be want it needs to be and not what will be a happy ending, something that i think is harder to do when the characters remind you of someone you know in real life.  This is a struggle that I think that all writers go through, a character is their creation. Writers put a lot of time and energy developing their characters and sometimes it can be hard to have them suffer in the story.  But much like real life, without the suffering how would we grow? We can’t grow if we don’t suffer, the same applies to the characters we write or see in all forms of media.

The last piece of advice Jesmyn Ward gave was to write everyday. She said that she made it a personal rule to write two hours for 5 days of the week. She said that if she waited for when she felt like writing nothing would get done. This advice was helpful to me, for I have a bad habit of never finishing my own writing projects, I hope to make use of this advice.