Search for Meaning Book Festival2019-07-26T14:44:24-07:00

Search for Meaning Book Festival

Browse through past Search for Meaning author and artist presenters in the tabs on the left.

Celebrating 10 Years of Search for Meaning

Search for Meaning Book FestivalOn Saturday, February 24, Seattle University hosted the 10thannual Search for Meaning Festival, an innovative literary, artistic and cultural event that the School of Theology and Ministry began in 2008 in the depths of the economic recession that almost led to another Great Depression. Every year the festival invites more than 50 authors to campus on one single day. The only thing that they all have in common is that each of them has explored in their books the human search for meaning, purpose, goodness, truth, and beauty. The energy of the authors and the attendees is different every year, but the Festival regularly invites authors writing from many different religious orientations – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Indigenous, Mormon, and even secular humanist. A curated art show focused on the human search to make sense of life was added several years ago, and a theater production two years ago. There is nothing like this event in the United States, although people in more than seven other cities have attempted to do so, including Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles and Indianapolis.

Growing out of the ecumenical character of the School of Theology and Ministry, and its growing national reputation for interreligious dialogue, the primary motivation for beginning the Festival was to create a safe space for people with very different worldviews and religious and secular meaning systems to model the possibilities of civil conversation about the deepest held human beliefs and values. It has always been the quintessential event for swimming against the tide of our polarized world.

Dismantling Racism Speech The Search for Meaning doubled and tripled in size in the early years and in 2014 because it grew to take over the entire campus, the Festival became a signature Seattle University event. The School of Theology and Ministry has continued to invite and host the authors, sifting through 600-700 nominations most years. This year the festival brought a record-breaking 62 authors, including two Pulitzer prize winners, and had a dynamic discussion of race and politics between Taylor Branch, the nation’s premier authority on the history of the Civil Rights movement, and Rev. William Barber, the leader of the Repairers of the Breach movement, a national effort to place the poor and marginalized more centrally in the nation’s public policy decisions. Rev. Barber has introduced a strong, measured faith-based voice into partisan politics that is reminiscent for many of the role Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. played in the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s-1960s.

Over the past ten years, approximately 15,000 people have attended the Festival, as well as nearly 500 authors. In the era of deep cultural reflection on the role and experiences of women in the United States, reflected most prominently in the #metomovement and #timeisup, 70% of the 62 authors attending this year were women.

Search for Meaning Book Festival 2009

Keynote Speakers: James K. Wellman, Jr. and Sherman Alexie

The School of Theology and Ministry’s first annual Pacific Northwest Spirituality and Theology Book Festival, “Search for Meaning,” drew over 400 participants to campus on Saturday, February 7. The festival celebrated the best regional works on issues of spirituality, faith, church-state matters, and theology. STM Dean Mark Markuly introduced the book festival as “a gathering space for all of those in the region who take their faith and spirituality seriously—who have made it a lifelong quest to search for meaning.

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Search for Meaning Book Festival 2010

Keynote Speakers: Kathleen Norris and Gustav Niebuhr

On February 13, 2010, the second annual Search for Meaning: Pacific Northwest Spirituality Book Festival brought together the best regional authors and works on issues of spirituality, faith, church-state matters, and theology. Co-Sponsored by Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle University Bookstore and Humanities Washington.

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Search for Meaning Book Festival 2011

Keynote Speakers: Anne Lamott and Tariq Ramadan

Join us for the Search for Meaning, Pacific Northwest Spirituality Book Festival, celebrating the best works on issues of spirituality, faith, ethics, church-state relations, and theology. Meet authors, hear them speak, purchase books and have fellowship with others who are searching for meaning in their lives.

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Search for Meaning Book Festival 2012

Keynote Speakers: Mary Oliver and James Martin, S.J.

Over 40 authors surrounding the human search for meaning on issues of spirituality, faith, and social justice.

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Search for Meaning Book Festival 2013

Keynote Speakers: Michael Chabon and Reza Aslan

Over 40 authors surrounding the human search for meaning on issues of spirituality, faith, and social justice.

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Search for Meaning Book Festival 2014

Keynote Speakers: Katherine Boo and Isabel Wilkerson

Over 40 authors surrounding the human search for meaning on issues of spirituality, faith, and social justice.

Read more about 2014 Festival >>

Search for Meaning Book Festival 2015

Keynote Speakers: Paul Vallely and Krista Tippett

Over 40 authors surrounding the human search for meaning on issues of spirituality, faith, and social justice.

Read more about 2015 Festival >>

Search for Meaning Book Festival 2016

Keynote Speakers: Suki Kim, Sam Quinones, and Tracy Kidder

Over 40 authors surrounding the human search for meaning on issues of spirituality, faith, and social justice.

Read more about 2016 Festival >>

Search for Meaning Book Festival 2017

Keynote Speakers: Anthony Doerr, Margot Lee Shetterly, and Doreen Carvajal

Over 40 authors surrounding the human search for meaning on issues of spirituality, faith, and social justice.

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Search for Meaning Book Festival 2018

Keynote Speakers: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, Taylor Branch, Rev. Dr. Barbara Brown Taylor, and Ruth Ozeki

Over 40 authors surrounding the human search for meaning on issues of spirituality, faith, and social justice.

Read more about 2018 Festival >>