Here Comes Everybody

“And here comes everybody-
The closet renegades
The weary, hungry soldiers
From the children’s lost crusade
Here comes the restitution
We’d all but given up
This evening we’re content believing
That love will be enough”

  • Joe Henry, “Love is Enough”

I can’t say whether James Joyce had, as some people claim, the Catholic Church in mind when he spun the phrase, “Here Comes Everybody,’’ in Finnegan’s Wake. You’d have to ask Joe Henry what he meant when he used it in a song on his luminous CD, Civilians. I know this – it gets to the heart of last weekend’s conference at Notre Dame: “Trying to Say ‘God’: Re-enchanting the Catholic Literary Imagination.” Latino bishops and queer poets, Jesuit astronomers and everyday mystics, recovering alcoholics and college deans, all gathered in auditoriums, classrooms, and hallways, their conversations pulsing with creativity and generosity. Oh, yes – and love, too – the kind that changes lives. What better time and place to out yourself as a wretched Papist in a world that insists you keep such things to yourself.

Thanks upon thanks to Jessica Mesman Griffith, Jonathan Ryan, and Ken Garcia for planning and pulling off a first-time, unqualified success of a conference.

Some personal highlights:

Talking to Brother Guy Conosolmago, Director of the Vatican Observatory, about “big-idea” science fiction and the unaccountable explanatory power of mathematics in a mysterious universe.

Chatting about Coleridge with Malcom Guite on an internet connection before his online part in a panel on darkness and complexity in spiritual writing.

Meeting new friends who immediately felt like old friends, including Heather King and Father Joseph Brown.

Great panels – too many to choose from – including Kevin Johnson and Cassidy Hall on silence, and Brother Guy, John Farrell, and Rebecca Bratton Weiss on science writing.

Encountering the poetry of Natalie Diaz.

Collaborating on two panels with writers I truly admire: Laura Bramon and Jessica Wrobleski (Place, Affliction, and the Catholic Writer), Paula Huston and Martha Serpas (Rendering the Body in Words).

Meeting in person folks I had, until then, only known online, including Leticia Adams, Cassidy Hall, David Russell Mosley, and Eve Tushnet.

Hanging out with friends I don’t see often enough, including Lisa Ampleman, Randy Boyagoda, Joe Durepos, David Griffith, Caroline Langston Jarboe, Sam Martin, Mary Ann Miller, Kathleen Tarr, and Suzanne and Greg Wolfe.

Listen to some of the goodness here.

And get ready for more goodness in 2019, when the second coming of “Trying to Say ‘God’” lands at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto.

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