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 2001-2002, building on activity during 1999-2000 and 2000-2001.

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 2001 suggestions

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

S. Chandrasekhar, Truth and Beauty: Aesthetics and Motivation in Science, University of Chicago Press, 1991. Chandrasekhar received the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Paolo Coelho, The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream, HarperCollins, 1998.

Dennis Richard Danielson, Ed., The Book of the Cosmos: Imagining the Universe from Heraclitus to Hawking, Helix Books, 2000.

Dalai Lama, Ethics for the New Millennium, Riverhead Books, 2001. The Dalai Lama received the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.

Lois Lowry, The Giver, Laurel Leaf, 1994. [Newberry Medal.]

Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, Jossey-Bass, 1999.

Arthur Peacocke, Paths from Science Towards God: The End of All Our Exploring, Oneworld, 2001. Dr. Peacocke is winner of the 2001 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, and is speaking at Augustana on Oct 25, 2001.

Ann Pederson, God, Creation, and All That Jazz: A Process of Composition and Improvisation, Chalice Press, 2001.

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

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

Mary Doria Russell, Children of God, Fawcett Books, 1999.

David Toolan, At Home in the Cosmos, Orbis Books, 2001.

Margaret Wertheim, Pythagoras' Trousers: God, Physics, and the Gender Wards, Norton, 1997.

We welcome further suggestions of appropriate books.

Gary Olson suggests:
Michael Shermer, foreword by Stephen Jay Gould, Why People Believe Weird things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time, W H Freeman, 1998.

Mike Chapman and Marlys Vant Hul suggest:
Wendell Berry, A Place on Earth: A Novel, Counterpoint Press, 2001. Revised version; original version 1983.

For further information please contact Arlen Viste.


Spring 2002 suggestions

Wendell Berry, The Memory of Old Jack, Counterpoint Press, 1999.

Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow, Counterpoint Press, 2001.

Reynold Nesiba recommends
Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel, W W Norton, 1999.

Jan Brue Enright recommends
Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections, Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2001. This is an Oprah edition, and reviews are widely varied, which may suggest lively discussions.

Sharon Gray recommends this book as an even-handed discussion of the abortion controversy.
Cynthia Gorney, Articles of Faith: A Frontline History of the Abortion Wars, Touchstone Books, 2000.

Kay Christensen recommends books by David Halberstam, who is speaking at the Peace Prize Forum in March.
David Halberstam, The Children, Fawcett, 1999.

David Halberstam, War in a Time of Peace, Scribner, 2001.

Robert Hudnut, Call Waiting: How to Hear God Speak, Intervarsity Press, 1999.

Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Healing a Broken World: Globalization and God, Fortress Press, May 2002.

Barbara Lundblad, Transforming the Stone: Preaching Through Resistance to Change, Abingdon Press, 2001.

We welcome further suggestions of appropriate books.

For further information please contact Arlen Viste.

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.

Envoraging book discussion groups 1999-2000 and 2000-2001.

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