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Festival connects faith and the arts

March 21, 2003

By Marion Hixon

Baylor will be flooded with talented authors and theologians this weekend as the Art and Soul Festival takes place at various locations on campus. Art and Soul is presented by the Institute for Faith and Learning.

The festival began at 2 p.m. Thursday and will continue through Saturday evening. Art and Soul has been held since 2000, when it grew out of the Pruit Memorial Symposium. Its purpose is to explore the intersection between religion and the arts, and several hundred people are expected to attend the presentations.

'The conference provides a concrete illustration of what it means for our academic community to strive for artistic and scholarly excellence while celebrating and upholding its commitment to the Gospel of Christ,' said Dr. Aaron Urbanczyk, a post doctoral fellow in English at Baylor and a presenter this weekend.

Headlining the festival is award-winning poet and New York Times bestselling author Kathleen Norris. Her reading will be at 8 p.m. today in Mary Gibbs Jones Concert Hall, in the Glennis McCrary Music Building. As one of the nation's top writers on spiritual living, Norris is well known for her books Amazing Grace, The Cloister Walk and The Virgin of Bennington. Tickets to the reading cost $10.

Since its beginning, the festival has attracted major presenters. Experienced authors and professors from around the world will teach workshops, hold panel discussions and read papers.

Scott Cairns, a professor at the University of Missouri, has been known as one of the best young Christian poets in America. Theologian and professor Jeremy Begbie from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland is respected for his ability to connect religion and the arts particularly well. Several Texas authors, including Chris Seay and Joy Jordan-Lake, have participated in the past festivals.

'Art and Soul brings these luminaries to our community and we get to interact with them. It helps Baylor be known far beyond its Texas constituency,' said Dr. Ralph Wood, professor of theology and literature and presenter at the festival. Wood's presentation is titled Mystery of Inequity.

Ronny Fritz, director of the Institute for Faith and Learning, said he was very optimistic about the weekend. 'We are hoping to attract faculty, students, and fans of the authors,' Fritz said. 'There is a wide audience to which we want to appeal.'