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Novels, the Bible, a Book Festival and Our Church

It has been said by a number of leading theologians and pastors that reading literature, especially fiction novels, may be the best way for people to understand the Bible. That is a bold and odd-sounding claim. But what they are saying is that the better one is versed in how to read a story, particularly a complex story like a novel, the better one can understand the nuances of the Bible itself.

Most of us read the Bible rigidly. Most of us want the Bible to be an answer book. What these theologians and pastors are saying is that the Bible is best understood in knowing it has many turns and plot twists, many details that only make sense as the story unfolds. This is exactly how a novel is read.

Christian Fellowship has become a major sponsor to a community event known as the Unbound Book Festival. This festival is gaining traction in our community even though it is only in its second year. I think Columbia, with its emphasis on education and its growing arts community, is the perfect location for a festival of this nature.

As a sponsor, we are not only supporting the festival financially, we are also providing volunteers for the weekend event to serve as ushers and support at the various venues. The Friday night opening takes place at Jesse Auditorium on the MU campus (no volunteers are needed for this one) and Saturday’s activities take place on the campus of Stephens College. Five venues will be used there.

Over thirty authors will be speaking about their books and sitting on various panel discussions. The authors’ works range from dogs, child soldiers, historical novels, storytelling, crime and justice, aging and sickness, mysteries, military engagement, poetry, growing up in Palestine and much more.

An additional idea we have for our CF members to get involved in this year’s festival is to have our own ‘One Read’ of one of the visiting authors. We have chosen the book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. This is the story of a young man who grew up in Sierra Leone as a child soldier. We plan to read the book and then have an evening discussing in the week before the festival.

Even if you do not consider yourself an avid reader, this festival is the kind of event where you can attend and hear a range of fascinating speakers and topics, and it just might make you want to read a book!


  1. It’s free!
  2. It’s called the Unbound Book Festival
  3. It’s Friday April 21 & Saturday April 22 (9:00am-3:00)pm.
  4. Friday night event featured speaker: Salman Rushdie, one of the world’s most renown authors. Most famously known for his book ‘The Satanic Verses’ for which Muslim extremists placed a fatwa or kill order upon him (I think this has been lifted)! Venue: Jesse Auditorium on the MU campus.
  5. Admission is free for Friday’s event, but they are currently sold out. If you come the night of the event, you may be able to still attend if ticket holders are absent.
  6. Saturday activities: Five venues on the Stephens College campus.
  7. Over 30 authors discussing their books plus various panel discussions.
  8. CF will host the venue at the Stephens chapel.
  9. We will need about 16 volunteers for this and other volunteers at CF’s sponsor table.
  10. Volunteer by March 14 Here
  11. CF’s ‘One Read’ idea: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah.
  12. We will read the book and then gather for a discussion on Wednesday April 19 at 7:00pm in the church multi-purpose room.
  13. Questions? Contact Lori Galaske at
  14. To view more information on the festival go to:
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