Kathleen Norris, a poet and bestselling author of “The Cloister Walk,” “Dakota” and “Amazing Grace,” will speak at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, in the Winebrenner Theological Seminary’s TLB Convocation Center, with a book signing to follow the presentation in the seminary atrium. Books will be available for purchase.
This event is open to the public. There is no cost to attend.
Norris is a presenter in the Dr. and Mrs. DeBow Freed Contemporary Christian Lecture Series. Norris wrote The New York Times bestsellers “The Cloister Walk,” “Dakota: A Spiritual Geography,” “Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith” and “The Virgin of Bennington.” Norris’ work explores the spiritual life, and it is described as “at once intimate and historical, rich in poetry and meditations, brimming with exasperation and reverence, deeply grounded in both nature and spirit, sometimes funny and often provocative.”
Norris’ first book of poems is called “Falling Off,” and it was the 1971 winner of the Big Table Younger Poets Award. Later, she and her husband, the late poet David Dwyer, moved to her grandparents’ home in Lemmon, S.D., where they lived for more than 25 years. The move to South Dakota inspired Norris’ first nonfiction book, “Dakota: A Spiritual Geography,” which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was selected as one of the best books of the year by Library Journal.
While living in Lemmon, Norris joined the Presbyterian Church, where her grandmother has been a member for 60 years. When the church was between full-time pastors, members called on her to fill in: “You’re a writer, you can preach,” they said.
In 1986, Norris became an oblate, or associate, at a Benedictine monastery, Assumption Abbey in North Dakota. She spent two years in residence at the Ecumenical Institute at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn. “The Cloister Walk” is structured as a diary of her monastic experience interspersed with meditations on a variety of topics.
“Amazing Grace” continues Norris’ theme that the spiritual world is rooted in the chaos of daily life. In the book, she sheds light on difficult theological concepts such as grace, repentance, dogma and faith. “The Virgin of Bennington” is a continuous narrative in which she shares the period of her life before “Dakota.”
Norris’ newest book is “Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks and a Writer’s Life,” which was published in September 2008. It is a study of acedia, the ancient word for the spiritual side of sloth.
Widowed in 2003, Norris resides in Hawaii, where she volunteers at a local Episcopal Church. She regularly travels to speak to students, medical professionals social workers and chaplains at colleges and universities, as well as churches and teaching hospitals.
The Freed Contemporary Christian Lecture Series was established in 2010 by The University of Findlay, Winebrenner Theological Seminary and the Churches of God, General Conference, in honor of Dr. DeBow and Mrs. Catherine Moore Freed, the 16th president of the University and his wife.
The series invites nationally known speakers to explore the nature of possible Christian responses to existing and emerging contemporary issues in an increasingly pluralistic world. The series is intended to engender reflection, discussion and values-based action on the part of the students, faculty and staff of each sponsoring institution, as well as the broader community. It is funded by private financial support from donors of each institution.
Norris’ appearance is presented by arrangement with the Steven Barclay Agency.