Course title: “Do Not Go Gentle: Reading and Writing for Spiritual Formation, Prophetic Imagination, and Cultural Change”

Course description: Franz Kafka is famous for saying that we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. “If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? …A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”  If this is true, it behooves us as Christian leaders and writers to read books and poetry that wake us up and shake us up, beautifully and dangerously. This workshop will discuss the kind of reading that disrupts and reconstructs our spiritual selves, our writing/preaching life and our congregation’s social consciousness.


Brian Keepers is an ordained pastor in the Reformed Church in America, a regular blogger for TheTwelve (Perspectives Journal), and a fierce lover of books.  He received his M.Div. from Western Theological Seminary (Holland, MI), where he is completing a D.Min on preaching and the missional imagination.  In addition to serving as the Senior Pastor at Fellowship Reformed Church (Holland, MI), Brian is an adjunct professor at Western Seminary and sits on the board of the James I Cook Endowment in Christianity and Literature.  Brian is passionate about integrating the disciplines of reading and writing into the pastoral life for the church’s flourishing and the life of the world.


Marijke Strong is the Executive Secretary for the Regional Synod of Canada (RCA). She studied English, Theatre and Theology, was a camp director, lived in an intentional community and worked with Brian Keepers at Fellowship Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan. Marijke is an ordained pastor, a spiritual director, a book hoarder, writer and aspiring poet. Her poetry has been featured in The Twelve, she co-created a creative writing workshop for youth in the West Bank and she is currently working on a collaborative children’s book about Israel/Palestine. Marijke is intrigued by the potential for creative writing, literature and poetry to be instruments for community building, spiritual formation and social change.