Ground Rules for Participation and the Focus of the New Men’s Group
The new men’s group and study will function in the spirit of a graduate school seminar. That is, we will be focused on sub-stantive texts that engage topics on contemporary Christian life which include history, philosophy, ethics, and theology. This men’s group will agree while politely, respectfully, but nevertheless firmly insist that the ticket to participation in the conver-sation within this group will be preparation. We will be much more interested in what participants think rather than what they feel. We will insist that any and all comments be grounded in the text we have agreed to study. We will insist that if you de-sire to participate in the conversation you have done your homework for our meeting. The men desiring to start this group are looking for a rich, substantive intellectual conversation. Respectfully, if men show up and participate without doing the read-ing the entire group will suffer as a result. We are looking for a quality conversation.
• We will meet the 4th Sunday every month beginning Sunday, January, 27th.
• Our meetings will begin promptly at 7:30 AM and will last until 9:00 AM.
• We will be serving breakfast.
• At 7:30, breakfast will be served. We will chat and settle in over the first fifteen minutes.
• At 7:45, the conversation will begin which will focus on a reading that will be distributed at or before the meeting the month prior.
• The reading that will serve as a basis for our discussion will be, for example, a scholarly article or a selection of about 30-60 pages or more from a book.
• If the selection comes from a book we will purchase one copy for the church library. Those who desire can purchase the book on their own if they choose, but our discussion will be around the selected reading.
• Our discussion will last one hour, from 7:45 AM until 8:45 AM
• At 8:45, the reading for the next month will be introduced
• Our meetings will conclude promptly at 9:00 AM.
Our first discussion will focus on a book by Brad S. Gregory, The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society. You will no doubt be able to tell from the summary below as it appears on Amazon.com that this book might produce controversy, elicit opinion apart from the text, evoke strong feelings, you may want to agree, plead your case for disagreement, or offer any number opinions grounded in anecdotal experience or examples etc., etc., etc., ALL apart from the text. In other words, you do not need to read this book by Gregory in order to have an opinion. You will find, respectful-ly, that you will have to stick to the text and actually do the reading in order to participate in our conversation. Here is the summary:
In a work that is as much about the present as the past, Brad Gregory identifies the unintended consequences of the Protestant Reformation and traces the way it shaped the modern condition over the course of the following five centuries. A hyperpluralism of religious and secular beliefs, an absence of any substantive common good, the triumph of capitalism and its driver, consumerism—all these, Gregory argues, were long-term effects of a movement that marked the end of more than a millennium during which Christianity provided a framework for shared intellectual, social, West.
Before the Protestant Reformation, Western Christianity was an institutionalized worldview laden with expectations of security for earthly societies and hopes of eternal salvation for individuals. The Reformation’s protagonists sought to ad-vance the realization of this vision, not disrupt it. But a complex web of rejections, retentions, and transformations of medie-val Christianity gradually replaced the religious fabric that bound societies together in the West. Today, what we are left with are fragments: intellectual disagreements that splinter into ever finer fractals of specialized discourse; a notion that modern science—as the source of all truth—necessarily undermines religious belief; a pervasive resort to a therapeutic vi-sion of religion; a set of smuggled moral values with which we try to fertilize a sterile liberalism; and the institutionalized assumption that only secular universities can pursue knowledge.
The Unintended Reformation asks what propelled the West into this trajectory of pluralism and polarization, and finds answers deep in our medieval Christian past.
I am very excited about our new 4th Sunday Men's Club!!!