Back to Calendar

November 2015 Third Thursday Panel

11/19/2015 From 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM


The Big Questions:

Writing About Religion and Spirituality

Thursday, November 19, 2015, 7 PM

BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd., 3rd floor*


*(please use the elevator in the back of the store to get to the third floor)

We've all heard the adage "Write what you know." But what if you want to delve into the mysteries of life? What if your plot, themes, or main subject matter deals with religion or spirituality?

What people believe in, what they worship, and how they choose to live are compelling topics for a writer to tackle. But how can one do that in a respectful manner, while still achieving the desired impact? How can one portray religious people or retell well-known religious stories or even inject doubt or humor in a way that is both fair and effective?

Join us Thursday, November 19, to hear how four authors handled religious subject matter in their writing.


Meg Barnhouse is minster of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin. After graduating from Duke University and Princeton Theological Seminary, Meg spent a chapter of her life in Spartanburg, SC, working first as a college chaplain teaching Public Speaking, Human Sexuality, and World Religions, trying not to get them mixed up. She was active in the community, preaching and teaching in many churches, recording commentaries for NC Public Radio and "Weekend All Things Considered," serving as Interim Minister in several congregations, and helping to found the SAFE Homes Network for battered women. Her books, Rock of Ages at the Taj Mahal, The Best of Radio Free Bubba, Waking Up the Karma Fairy, Return of Radio Free Bubba, and Did I Say That Out Loud? are compilations of stories from the radio. Her newest book, Broken Buddha, is a compilation of columns from the UU World online.


Sarah Cortez, a Councilor of the Texas Institute of Letters, has poems, essays, book reviews, and short stories anthologized and published in journals, such as Rattle, The Sun, Pennsylvania English, The Texas Review, Arcadia, Texas Monthly and Post Road. Winner of the PEN Texas Literary Award, her debut poetry collection is entitled How to Undress a Cop. Her second book of poetry, Cold Blue Steel, placed finalist in the Writers’ League of Texas awards. An anthologist of seven volumes, she has won the Southwest Book Award, multiple International Latino Book Awards, and the Skipping Stones Honor Award. Her latest poetry anthology is Goodbye, Mexico: Poems of Remembrance (Texas Review Press).


Greg Garrett
is the author or co-author of twenty books of fiction, memoir, or nonfiction, including the acclaimed novels Free Bird, Cycling, Shame, and The Prodigal. The 2013 Centennial Professor at Baylor University, where he teaches creative writing, literature, and film, Greg has also read, spoken, taught, and led workshops across the US and Europe. He has taught highly-rated courses for the Writers' League on novel writing, point of view, dialogue, humor, and many other topics, and enjoys the chance to meet and work with writers at every stage of their careers. He lives with his wife Jeanie and their family in Austin.


Donna M. Johnson is the author of Holy Ghost Girl, a critically acclaimed memoir deemed “enthralling” by the New York Times and “compulsively readable” by Texas Monthly. Oprah named the book to her "Memoirs We Love" list twice. Holy Ghost Girl won the Mayborn Creative Nonfiction Prize and took top honors at the Books for a Better Life Awards in Manhattan. Donna’s work had been collected in several anthologies. She has written about religion, family, and culture for Huffington Post, The Rumpus, Shambhala Sun, the Psychology Today blog, the Dallas Morning News, and other publications.


This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at

WLT would like to thank BookPeople for helping to make the Third Thursday program possible. In addition to providing space for the program, BookPeople kindly offers a 10% discount to WLT members. WLT and BookPeople applaud your support of independent bookstores and local businesses.