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
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
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
Norris’ appearance is presented by arrangement with the Steven