• Marion, Indiana

News for IWU’s Campus

A promotional event for a John Wesley Honors College professor’s upcoming book sparked interest and conversations among students and faculty this week.

Lanta Davis, a professor in the John Wesley Honors College, took part in a conversation Monday afternoon with acclaimed writer and speaker Karen Swallow Prior.

Davis’s book, “Becoming by Beholding,” discusses the role of the imagination in Christian spiritual formation. The book will come out in July.

Davis said she was excited for her conversation with Prior, who has written about similar subjects.

“Her book on the imagination is in very many ways doing the diagnosis to what my book is trying to offer some correctives for,” Davis said.

During the event, which took place in the Globe Theater, Prior asked questions related to Davis’s book and the Christian imagination. The two writers talked about what the Christian imagination is as well as how Christians have understood it throughout history.

Clay Herring, a junior studying English and writing at IWU, attended the book launch event and said he appreciated the attention to medieval literature and art as well as Davis’s discussion of symbolism.

“I really like that kind of partnership of humans being able to use their creative—creativity given by God to point to his higher form of creativity,” Herring said.

For Kendall Moss, an English education and honors humanities major, Davis’s emphasis on physical spaces stood out. As a future educator, Moss said Prior and Davis’s conversation made her consider how she will think about the spaces she inhabits as a teacher.

“I just feel like I’m taking away, like, her Christian, like, perspective on space, and how that can … transfer to like, more secular spaces,” Moss said.

“Becoming by Beholding” focuses on how the Christian imagination can help shape and reshape our identity. Davis said the impetus of the book is the titular idea that people become what they behold.

“We can hold in ourselves what we pay attention to,” Prior said during the event.

Davis said her book asks how narratives like nationalism, consumerism, and social media form us as we pay attention to them — and how the Christian imagination can respond to that formation.

The impetus for the book came from classes Davis taught at IWU, conversations she had with students and fellow faculty, and her travels, Davis said.

“I just kept encountering, I think, new things in the Christian tradition that I had never heard of and that I just fell in love with and wanted more people to see, to know, to understand,” Davis said. “And so this book is very much a collection of just, to put it colloquially, cool things about the Christian faith that I really like and think other people should know about.”

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