John Grisham to Headline Religion and Literature Conference

Jan. 28, 2000

Best-selling novelist John Grisham, author of The Firm, The Testament and the soon-to-be-released The Brethren, will make a rare public appearance at Baylor University Friday, Feb. 25, to help launch Art & Soul, a program of public lectures and readings on faith and writing, scheduled for Feb. 24-27 at Baylor. Grisham's lecture will begin at 10 a.m. at Waco Hall on campus.

Grisham, a devout Baptist and baseball fan, will combine those passions in his Waco visit. He will speak before what promises to be a sell-out crowd on Friday morning, then attend the Bears' Big 12 opening game at Ferrell Field against the Oklahoma State Cowboys that afternoon.

"Grisham's talk headlines what we think is one of the most exciting literary events in Texas this year," said Dr. Greg Garrett, director of religious faith and literary art, the Baylor program coordinating Art & Soul public lectures, writers conference and an international scholarly symposium on religion and literature, all being held concurrently. "His attention to faith in his own life and in his recent novels like The Testament made him a logical guest at Art & Soul, and we are truly grateful to him for volunteering to come."

In addition to Grisham, several other well-known writers will participate in the event. African-American novelist Charles Johnson, winner of the National Book Award, will deliver a public lecture at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25; Oprah Book Club author Bret Lott, author of Jewel and The Hunt Club will speak at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26; and Dennis Covington, nominee for the National Book Award for his Salvation on Sand Mountain, will appear with his wife, novelist Vicki Covington, at 7 p.m. on Saturday. These lectures will take place in the Barfield Drawing Room in the Bill Daniel Student Center on campus. Approximately two dozen other writers will participate in public readings, panel discussions and master classes for writers.

"Baylor is a logical place to host a gathering of people interested in religion and literature," said Garrett. "As the world's largest Baptist university, we have name recognition as a faith-based institution, and we are grounded in the Baptist tradition that we can remain true to ourselves while welcoming people who differ from us in what they believe and how they express it.

"Our program this year features members of virtually every Christian denomination, Jews, Buddhists, Baha'i, Sikhs and others who are still looking. The conversation will be vital, interesting and maybe even inspirational," Garrett said.

All Art & Soul presentations, with the exception of Grisham's lecture, will be free to the public. General admission tickets for Grisham's talk are $10 and are available by mail through Feb. 11 and at the door from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Feb. 25. Conference registration for the Art & Soul writing conference or the Religious Faith and Literary Art symposium costs $60 for the general public or $30 for students and includes admission to Grisham's lecture.

For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Religious Faith and Literary Art, P.O. Box 97404, Waco, Texas 76798, call the Institute for Faith and Learning at (254) 710-4805, or visit the conference's web site at http://www.baylor.edu/~Rel_Lit/.

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