reposted from Seattle University’s “Common” Newsletter

Novel influenced by School of Theology and Ministry


Story by: Hannah Crivello, School of Theology and Ministry
Published: 2014-03-25



The newly released novel  Sinful Folk  recounts one mother’s journey across medieval England following a suspicious house fire that burned five children to death in December 1377. With Mear, a former nun, as its central character, the story begins with heartbreak and ends with redemption. It’s not necessarily the kind of offering you’d expect from someone immersed in the software industry. And yet it all makes sense when you consider author Ned Hayes’s own story-a story in which Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry and Associate Professor Mark Taylor factor prominently.

Sinful Folk , last month’s #1 best-seller in Amazon’s historical fiction category, was partly inspired by a 14 th  century story Hayes read while doing graduate work in medieval literature. However, it was his time in the School of Theology and Ministry’s Master of Divinity program that really planted the seeds for what would become his first novel.

Currently a senior product manager at Intel, Hayes says his SU experience got him to look at theology through the new lens of a feminist and Catholic perspective. “I don’t think I think I could have written a book on a Catholic feminist theologian with Jewish roots without Seattle University and the diversity of perspectives afforded to me by Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry.

“What I found really inspiring about the school was the ability for people of different approaches to find common ground and to learn from each other. I found that to be really very healthy, inspiring and stimulating. The experience opened my eyes to things I had never considered before-a lot of the work around feminist theology, Hebrew understanding of scripture and also Catholic and Jesuit approaches taught me how to write from different perspectives, and honor those voices.”

After studying at SU Hayes continued attended Luther Seminary as a Heritage Fellow. In time, he came to the realization that full-time ministry as leader of a faith community wasn’t for him, and yet, even as he continues his work at Intel, Hayes sees his ministry coming out in writing as he tells sacred stories of forgiveness.

“I really credit Dr. Taylor  and Seattle University for inspiring me to write stories that are about redemption and transcendence. The theology I studied was relevant for me in ways I hadn’t anticipated.”

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