Stanley L. Olsen
Stanley L. Olsen

Augustana College
Sioux Falls, SD

Stanley L. Olsen
Chair of Moral Values

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Encouraging book discussion groups

The Stanley L. Olsen Chair of Moral Values is encouraging the formation of book discussion groups again during 2000-2001, building on activity during 1999-2000.

What we have in mind is to encourage the formation and activities of book discussion groups, cutting across lines of faculty, administration, and staff.

Here are several possibilities for books with which a group might begin.

Fall 2000 suggestions

Karen L. Bloomquist and John R. Stumme, Editors, The Promise of Lutheran Ethics, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1998. (Arlen Viste is particularly interested in the contributions of Larry Rasmussen and Cynthia Moe-Lobeda in Chapter 8 and elsewhere. Portions of the book have generated some online discussion.)

James H. Burtness, Consequences: Morality, Ethics, and the Future, Fortress Press, 1999.

Herman E. Daly and John B. Cobb, Jr., For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future, 2nd ed., Beacon Press, Boston, 1994. This book is recommended by Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, who will be visiting and presenting a public lecture at Augustana on 3 April 2001.

James Davison Hunter, The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age Without Good or Evil, Basic Books, 2000. This book was referred to by Gracia Grindal at the Bush Fall Faculty Seminar, on 23 August 2000.

David C. Korten, When Corporations Rule the World, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco and Kumarian Press, West Hartford, 1995. This book is recommended by Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, who will be visiting and presenting a public lecture at Augustana on 3 April 2001.

Dalai Lama, Ethics for the New Millennium, Riverhead Books, New York, 1999.

Frank McCourt, 'Tis: A Memoir, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2000.

Vandana Shiva, Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge, South End Press, Boston, 1997. This book is recommended by Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, who will be visiting and presenting a public lecture at Augustana on 3 April 2001.

Dava Sobel, Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love, Walker and Co., New York, 1999. This is related at least tangentially to the 27 Sept 2000 Augustana visit and presentation by Prof. William Carroll.

Russell Stanard, Ed., God for the 21st Century, Templeton Foundation Press, Philadelphia, 2000.

We welcome suggestions of other appropriate books.

The Stanley L. Olsen Chair of Moral Values will gladly purchase and supply copies of whichever book the people in a potential discussion group decide that they would like to read and begin to discuss together. We encourage groups to include reflection on connections with ethics and moral values. Since we take a rather broad view of these terms, that should not be very restrictive.

For most of 20 years, a number of faculty have been blessed by being involved in an Augustana book group, mostly couples but with some singles, which in its more active phases has met several times a year in homes, typically with a Sunday evening potluck dinner and book discussion. As we recall, several such groups began with a little financial support from the ELCA and/or ALC, aimed at faculty theological development. Don Sneen was one of the conveners. The financial support bought the books. This is an example of a small amount of financial support doing a lot of good.

If you might be interested in participating in a book discussion cell group along the lines described, please contact Arlen Viste. The group is welcome to meet in whatever manner it finds congenial - individually or as couples, on or off campus, during the week or on weekends. All Augustana faculty, staff, and administration, and their spouses or friends, are invited and welcome to participate.

Meeting times to consider might include Wed noon, 4:00 Tues or Thurs, Sunday evening, or 10:00 Thurs. If other times appeal to you, please suggest them.


Spring 2001 suggestions

Thomas Berry, The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future, Bell Tower, 1999.

Wendell Berry, Life Is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition, Counterpoint, 2000. [This book and Edward O. Wilson make a contrasting pair.]

Maeve Binchey, Tara Road, Delacrte Press, 1998.

Harold Bloom, How to Read and Why, Scribner, 2000.

J. Budziszewski, How to Stay Christian in College: An Interactive Guide to Keeping the Faith, NavPress, 1999.

Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, HarperCollins, 1996.

Thomas A. Easton, ed., Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Science, Technology, and Society, 4th ed., Dushkin/McGraw-Hill, 2000. This is part of an extensive series. Some others in the Taking Sides series include Controversial Moral Issues, Controversial Issues in Health and Society, Controversial Bioethical Issues.

Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius: Based on a True Story, Vintage, 2001.

Thomas Frank, One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy, Doubleday, 2000.

Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible, HarperPerennial, 1999.

Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer, HarperCollins, 2000.

David C. Korten, The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism, Kumarian Press, 1999.

Lawrence M. Krauss, The Physics of Star Trek, HarperCollins, 1995.

Lois Lowry, The Giver, Houghton Mifflin, 1993. [Newberry Medal.]

Donald W. McCullough, The Trivialization of God: The Dangerous Illusion of a Manageable Deity, NavPress, 1995.

Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, Penguin Putnam, 1998.

Larry L. Rasmussen, Moral Fragments and Moral Community: A Proposal for Church in Society, Augsburg Fortress Press, 1993.

Ravi Ravindra, Christ the Yogi: A Hindu Reflection on the Gospel of John, Inner Traditions, 1998.

Richard Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope, Penguin Books, 1999.

Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow, Fawcett Books, 1997.

Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief, HarperCollins, 2001.

Barbara Brown Taylor, When God Is Silent, Cowley Publications, 1998.

Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, Random House, 1999. [This book and Wendell Berry make a contrasting pair.]

It is also OK to select from previous suggestions, such as Frank McCourt, 'Tis: A Memoir, Scribner, 1999.

For further information, please contact Arlen Viste.


Envoraging book discussion groups 1999-2000

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