Audrey Niffenegger: Why My Manchester Lit Fest Sermon Confesses My Inadequacies

Recently Sarah Walters interviewed Audrey for the Manchester Evening News in advance of her delivery of the Manchester Literature Festival’s Gaiea Manchester Sermon. The original interview can be found here, the following is an excerpt.

Born into a ‘quasi-Catholic’ family and educated at Catholic school, Audrey says the sermon will be her “confessing her inadequacies to the venue. It’s a humbling thing to do and I knew when I took it on it was going to be difficult.
“What this focuses on is my conversion from Catholicism to art. The organisers didn’t say, ‘Go stand in a room and give a lecture’, but I’m not sure they realise how wrong I am for this job!” Audrey laughs.
“I went back and read everyone’s sermon from past years. One of the reasons I took it on is because I’ve been working in art schools for years and one of the things we strive to do is encourage students to rise to the challenge and take on the thing they’re not comfortable with. We’re constantly berating people – ‘Get out of your comfort zone!’. So this is not my comfort zone; let’s go do it!”
Religion, Audrey says, proved a foundation she’s grateful for, but it no longer occupies a big space in her life. “People are constantly questioning and it’s part of the role of religion to ask difficult questions.
“I do think there are things we don’t know about; there are always things we don’t know about. But you look out in this world, especially at this minute, and you see religion trashing society; I don’t understand it.
“I’d rather stand aside and be as ethical and morally sound as I can, more based on philosophy than religion.”