I’m sure someone must have had the idea before, but if they had, I hadn’t found it – a writing exercise and meditation book for writers who happen to be Christian (note I didn’t say “Christian writers”).
But there’s now Making Manifest: On Faith, Creativity, and the Kingdom at Hand by writer and poet Dave Harrity, and it’s a good one. And it’s more – far more – than simply a series of writing prompts.
The book includes 28 readings and exercises (designed to be covered in a month). Some are simple; some are more complex. Some simply ask you to write down your thoughts about a meditation. Others ask for a poem, or more. All are designed with one purpose: “…to help you ‘re-vision’ the way you understand and interact with the kingdom of God.” That doesn’t mean that its purpose is to help make you a better writer, although I suspect that will one of the unexpected benefits of reading and completing this book.
While the temptation is great to skip right to the exercises (okay, yes, I peeked), I discovered the meditations to be insightful and thought-provoking. They’re written from the perspective of a writer and a poet. They’re about words and language, but also faith and belief. Some are meant to be explications of Scripture, to stimulate thinking and possibly even prayer.
Like you might expect from a writer writing for writers (and that’s writers in the broadest possible sense, not just professionals), Making Manifest is what I call “a quiet book,” the exercises best undertaken is solitude, preferably in a quiet place. But once an exercise and a reading are done, they can be used for group discussion as well, and Harrity includes a section for group discussion as an appendix.
Another bonus is also included in the appendix, a short article entitled “Five rules for believing writers.” My favorite is Rule #3: “Remember that what you create is something close to holy.”
Harrity has a volume of poetry being published in 2014. He leads workshops about faith and imagination across the country, and helped found the online publication Antler. He and his family live in Louisville, Kentucky, and he’s taught creative writing courses at Asbury Theological Seminary. He’s not partial to capital letters, but he does use them in Making Manifest.
If you want to use your writing (and poetry) to gain a deeper understanding of the Kingdom of God in a deliberate, focused way, Making Manifest is a fine and insightful way to do it.