Commonweal Magazine presents "Spirituality in a Time of Disruption." Inspired by longtime Commonweal columnist John Garvey's writings on prayer and the spiritual life, the Orthodox tradition, and moral decision-making, Commonweal has planned a series of public conversations across the country. Influential thinkers will share their perspectives on how the current era of growing economic anxiety and increasing religious disaffiliation affects our traditional understandings of spiritual practice, and what may emerge to support, displace, or replace them. And on Monday, April 30 Commonweal brings Christian Wiman in conversation with Anthony Domestico to W83 Ministry Center.
In a 2009 interview with Bookslut editor Jessa Crispin, discussing what he hopes readers might take from his work, Wiman stated, “I have no illusions about adding to sophisticated theological thinking. But I think there are a ton of people out there who are what you might call 'unbelieving believers,' people whose consciousness is completely modern and yet who have this strong spiritual hunger in them. I would like to say something helpful to those people.”
He is the author, editor, or translator of ten books, including Hammer is the Prayer: Selected Poems (FSG, 2016), My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (FSG, 2013), and Stolen Air: Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam (HarperCollins/Ecco, 2012).
Of his work as a whole, Marilynne Robinson writes, “His poetry and scholarship have a purifying urgency that is rare in this world. This puts him at the very source of theology, and enables him to say new things in timeless language, so that the reader’s surprise and assent are one and the same.” Mr. Wiman has been a Jones Lecturer in Poetry at Stanford and a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Northwestern, and for three years he served as Visiting Scholar at Lynchburg College in Virginia. From 2003 until 2013 he was the editor of Poetry magazine, the premiere magazine for poetry in the English-speaking world. During that time the magazine’s circulation tripled, and it garnered two National Magazine Awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors. For the magazine’s centennial year, Mr. Wiman edited, with Don Share, The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of Poetry Magazine (University of Chicago Press, 2012). Mr. Wiman has written for the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, the Atlantic Monthly, and numerous other publications. He is a former Guggenheim Fellow and holds an honorary doctorate of humane letters from North Central College. His particular interests include modern poetry, the language of faith, “accidental” theology (that is, theology conducted by unexpected means), and what it means to be a Christian intellectual in a secular culture.
This series is made possible by the John Garvey Fund, instituted in 2017 with a generous gift from Thomas Higgins.