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Reading Groups – Spring 2015

Spring 2015 reading group covers


We’re hosting some exciting reading groups this spring, and we’d love to have you join us.

Our reading groups are open to everyone—students, faculty, and community members (with a few exceptions—noted below). If you’re interesting in participating, you can register via the registration form at the bottom of this page.



1. Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Charles Marsh

  • Facilitator: Joel Lawrence, PhD (senior pastor at Central Baptist Church; author of Bonhoeffer: A Guide for the Perplexed)
  • Day/Time: Mondays, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Dates: 3/2, 3/16, 3/30, 4/13, 4/27
  • Location: MacLaurinCSF Study Center

(From Amazon) “In the decades since his execution by the Nazis in 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor, theologian, and anti-Hitler conspirator, has become one of the most widely read and inspiring Christian thinkers of our time. Now, drawing on extensive new research, Strange Glory offers a definitive account, by turns majestic and intimate, of this modern icon.”

  • Genre: biography
  • Subject: church history/German history
  • Required reading: 80 pages/meeting
  • Keywords: politics, resistance, church history, WWII, Germany, Third Reich, political theology



2. Theology and Economics

  • Facilitators: Jay Coggins (Prof. of Applied Econ, UMN) and Andrew Lucius (PhD candidate in Political Science, UMN)
  • Day/Time: Mondays, 7:30 – 9 p.m.
  • Dates: 2/2, 2/16, 3/2, 3/16, 3/30, 4/13, 4/27
  • Location: MacLaurinCSF Study Center

In this group, we will explore the relationship between Christianity and the modern economy. Starting with William T. Cavanaugh’s Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire, we will explore how Christians should think about the nexus of institutions, norms, and practices that undergird global capitalism. Drawing on what piqued the interest of the group during this discussion, we will then choose another work that explores an area in greater depth, repeating the process until we run out of dates. If you’re interested in a diverse, free-wheeling discussion on this topic, please join us!

  • Genre: nonfiction
  • Subject: theology & economics
  • Required reading: TBD
  • Keywords: economics, theology, markets, capitalism, value, inequality, ethics, wealth, sustainability, desire



3. First Things Reader’s Group

  • Facilitators: David Hoffner, MA and Paul Calvin, MA
  • Dates/Time: Second Wednesday of each month, 8:30 p.m., starting Sept. 10
  • Location: Blue Door, Longfellow (3448 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis, 55406)

This group meets each month to discuss articles in the newest issue of First Things. If you’re not a First Things subscriber, feel free to stop by the MacLaurinCSF Study Center to read the latest issue in the comfort of our living room. (We’ll even make you a free coffee!)

At the group’s January meeting, they’ll be discussing—appropriately enough—the January issue. Several of the articles from that issue are available for free on the First Things website.

  • Genre: essay
  • Subject: faith & culture/faith & public life
  • Require reading: one or two essays per meeting
  • Keywords: First Things, public life, culture, politics



4. Toward a Christian Environmental Stewardship

  • Facilitator: Derek Rosenberger (PhD candidate in Entomology, UMN)
  • Dates/Time: TBD
  • Location: MacLaurinCSF Study Center

This groups meets in conjunction with the Au Sable Grad Fellows Program, and is open to U of M faculty and students (and non-U of M participants by approval). Please contact us if  you are a graduate student (MA, PhD, or Postdoc) in an area of natural sciences and are interested in learning more about the Au Sable Grad Fellowship.

  • Genre: essay
  • Subject: environmental stewardship
  • Require reading: ~20 pages/meeting
  • Keywords: environment, stewardship, natural resources, creation care, Au Sable, science



5. Politics After the Fall

  • Instructor: Bob Osburn (Director, Wilberforce Academy)
  • Cosponsor: Wilberforce Academy
  • Day/Time: Tuesdays, 6:45 – 9 p.m.
  • Dates: 1/27, 2/3, 2/10, 2/17, 2/24, 3/3, 3/31, 4/7, 4/14, 4/21, 4/28, 5/5, 5/12
  • Location: MacLaurinCSF Study Center

Can we transcend partisanship and bitterness in politics?
Is maximizing our personal freedom the essence of political life?
How does Christian faith shape our vision for public life?

Come investigate how Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, G. K. Chesterton, Abraham Kuyper, C.S. Lewis, Os Guinness, and others have crafted a vision of public life that is realistic enough to contain moral evil and yet lofty enough to propel us toward a Kingdom vision for peace and justice. This course on a Christian vision for public affairs is co-sponsored by Wilberforce Academy and MacLaurinCSF.

Registration is limited to eight students; minimum registration is four students. International students and visiting scholars are especially encouraged to apply, because the course is uniquely designed for those from other societies, though it will be accessible to American students as well. Registration for this seminar-style course is free, but students will need to buy or borrow the required texts. If you want more information about how to earn independent study credit at the University of Minnesota or any other course information, please contact Dr. Robert Osburn, the course instructor, for further information: 651-402-2600 or

  • Genre: course
  • Subject: politics & theology
  • Required reading: TBD
  • Keywords: politics, theology, public affairs, modernity



6. Cities & Human Flourishing

  • Facilitator: Sara Joy Proppe, MA (Founder of the Proximity Project)
  • Cosponsor: The Proximity Project
  • Day/Time: Every other Thursday, 7 – 8:15 p.m.
  • Dates: 2/5, 2/19, 3/7, 3/19, 4/2, 4/16
  • Location: MacLaurinCSF Study Center

Cities are organic yet planned; chaotic yet structured; beautiful yet broken. What makes for a good city? Is there such a definition? This group will read through key parts of Jane Jacobs’s classic work The Death and Life of Great American Cities to explore how city design relates to human community and flourishing. We will also compare and contrast Jacobs work with other great urbanist thinkers, such as Robert Moses and Lewis Mumford.

  • Genre: nonfiction
  • Subject: urban design
  • Required reading: ~50 pages/meeting
  • Keywords: cities, urban planning, urbanism, human flourishing, design, built environment, human scale



7. The Civil War as a Theological Crisis by Mark Noll

  • Facilitator: Dave McEachron, MA
  • Day/Time: Wednesdays, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Dates: 2/11, 2/18, 2/25, 3/4
  • Location: MacLaurinCSF Study Center

(From Amazon) Viewing the Civil War as a major turning point in American religious thought, Mark A. Noll examines writings about slavery and race from Americans both white and black, northern and southern, and includes commentary from Protestants and Catholics in Europe and Canada. Though the Christians on all sides agreed that the Bible was authoritative, their interpretations of slavery in Scripture led to a full-blown theological crisis.

  • Genre: nonfiction
  • Subject: American religious history
  • Required reading: ~40 pages/week
  • Keywords: Civil War, theology, slavery, race, Bible, biblical authority



8. Graduate Student Reading Group: The Weight of Glory and Other Essays by C. S. Lewis

  • Facilitators, Dates/Time, and Location all TBD



9. Home and Lila by Marilynne Robinson

  • Facilitators: Cheri Burkum & Bethany Hansen
  • Day/Time: Tuesdays, 8 – 9:30 p.m.
  • Dates: 2/3, 2/10, 2/17, 2/24, 3/3, 3/10, 3/17, 3/24
  • Location: MacLaurinCSF Study Center

Description forthcoming

  • Genre: fiction
  • Subject: novel
  • Required reading: TBD
  • Keywords: American fiction, religious fiction, Iowa



10. The Healer’s Calling by Dan Sulmasy

  • Facilitator, Day/Time, Dates all TBD
  • Location: MacLaurinCSF Study Center

(From Amazon) With extraordinary grace and passion, Franciscan friar and physician Daniel Sulmasy speaks to the spiritual longing of healers. He points to where God may be found in health care; how faithful clinicians might persevere in the midst of the suffering and uncertainty that is part of daily practice; how and when a doctor or nurse might pray; and how genuine Christian joy can still be found in the healing arts.

  • Genre: nonfiction
  • Subject: medicine
  • Required reading: TBD
  • Keywords: TBD


Again, if you’re interested in participating in any of these groups, register using the form below. Hope you can join us!

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