Reading Groups

Throughout the spring we explore different books and topics through our reading groups. Whether the book under consideration is written by a Christian author or not, our reading groups offer a community and a context in which to discuss together different aspects of life and culture in relation to the Christian faith.


These groups are open to everyone—students, faculty, and community members. Unless indicated otherwise, groups meet at the Anselm House study center. Find a reading group (or two) that interests you and register below!

Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians by Chris Armstrong

Fridays, 2:30pm | Oct 14, 28, Nov 11, 18   Medieval_Pluralism
Facilitator: Jenn Carnell

Has modern Christianity too quickly dismissed the Middle Ages as irrelevant for modern life? Are there values held by medieval Christians that would benefit the church today? We’ll explore these questions by considering how C.S. Lewis was shaped by medieval wisdom toward a more robust understanding of how the gospel speaks into the ordinary rhythms of everyday life.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Uncle_Toms_CabinTuesdays, 7:30pm | Sep 27, Oct 4, 11, 18
Facilitator: David McEachron

This book is perhaps one of the most influential texts in changing the way Americans view slavery. When published in the early 1850’s, Stowe’s provocative tale fueled the growing anti-slave movement in the United States. We’ll explore the original intent and impact of the book, its theological underpinnings, and its relevance to the ongoing conversations of race in the United States today.

The Justice Calling: Where Passion Meets Perseverance by Bethany Hanke Hoang & Kristen Deede Johnson

Justice_CallingSaturdays, 10am | Sep 17, Oct 1, Oct 29, Nov 12, Dec 3, Dec 10 | @ Humble Cup
Facilitators: Andrea Meitler, Anna Hemze, and Rachel Jeffries

Consider a comprehensive biblical theology of justice, explore stories of injustice around the globe today, and discuss practical ways to join God’s work of setting things right in the world. The book’s authors root their passion for justice in persevering hope, fueled by knowing the God of rescue and restoration.
This group is hosted in partnership with the UMN chapter of the International Justice Mission.

Confident Pluralism by John Inazu

Confident_PluralismTuesdays, 7:30pm | Sep 20, Oct 4, 18, Nov 1, 15
Facilitator: Eric Watkins

How do we live with the deep differences that exist in American society in the 21st century? John Inazu argues that we can and must live together peaceably in spite of these deep and sometimes irresolvable differences over politics, religion, sexuality, and other important matters. We’ll consider his argument that it is often better to tolerate than to protest, better to project humility than defensiveness, and better to wait patiently for the fruits of persuasion than to force the consequences of coercion.

You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith

What_You_LoveTuesdays, 7:30pm | Sep 20, 27, Oct 4, 18, 25
Facilitators: Andy Bramsen and Andrew Garnett

Who and what we worship fundamentally shape our hearts. And while we desire to shape culture, we are not often aware of how culture shapes us. Smith argues that our hearts are being taught to love rival gods instead of the One for whom we were made in ways in might not even realize. We’ll explore the formative power of culture and the transformative possibilities of Christian practices.

Men, Women, & the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights from John Paul II’s Love & Responsibility by Edward Sri

Men_Women_MysteryWednesdays, 7pm | Sep 21, Oct 5, 19, Nov 2, 16, 30, Dec 14 | @ St. Lawrence Catholic Church & Newman Center
Facilitator: Allison Kolodzinski
Open to graduate/professional students

In 1960 Pope John Paul II published an analysis of the true meaning of human love is life-transforming and practical, shedding light on real issues between men and women. Edward Sri unpacks the contents of this great work, making it accessible to every reader. We’ll explore the practical implications of John Paul II’s work as it relates to love, the meaning of friendship, marriage, pornography, and more – important topics in the face of ever blurring lines in human sexuality today. The bulk of the reading for this group will happen during our meetings.
This group is hosted in partnership with St. Lawrence Catholic Church & Newman Center.

Readers of First Things Group

2nd Wednesday of each month, 7pm | @ Groundswell Coffee
Facilitator: David Hoffner

This is an ongoing group that meets monthly to discuss articles in the newest issue of First Things. Several of the articles from the current issue are available for free on the First Things website. 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!)

Theology and Economics Group

Tuesdays, 7:30 pm | Every other week (exact dates TBD)
Facilitator: James Emmet

This is an ongoing group to explore the relationship between Christianity and economic theory and practice. If you’re interested in a diverse, free-wheeling discussion on this topic, please join us! The first book the group will read this fall is The Worldly Philosophers, a time-tested history of economic thought in the form of chapters summarizing the work of famous economists.

The Territories of Science and Religion by Peter Harrison

Date: February 27th (please note the new date)
Time: 7:00-9:00 pm
Location: Study Center
Facilitators: Jennifer Alexander, Andrew Hansen
Often we investigate the relationship between science and religion by assuming at the outset that we know what we mean by these categories or domains of knowledge and life. Historian of science Peter Harrison challenges our common understandings by showing the history of these concepts. In so doing, he suggests that perceptions of conflict between religion and science may be due in part to how we’ve come to conceive of these domains. This is a single-evening book discussion.

Making Sense of God by Tim Keller

Date: 2/12, 2/26, 3/12, 3/26, 4/9
Time: 7:00-8:30 pm
Location: Study Center
Facilitator: Philip Merdinger
What does God or religion offer of value in our present age where most seem to value empirical reason and authenticity? Tim Keller invites the reader, especially the seeker and the skeptic, to ponder Christianity’s answers to some of life’s most pressing concerns, showing that the Christian faith will meet our deepest needs.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Date: March 9th
Time: 7:00-9:00 pm
Location: Study Center
Facilitators: David McEachron, Casie Szalapski
Dr. Jekyll attempted to separate his evil desires from his upright Victorian character, but without success. Why couldn’t this brilliant doctor control his own experiment? What does the character of Hyde say about the capacity of evil? Explore the answers to these questions as we discuss this novella in a fun and lively one-night book event.

The Man Born to be King by Dorothy L. Sayers

Date: April 6th
Time: 7:00-9:00 pm
Location: Study Center
Facilitator: Katy Wehr
Originally written as a twelve-part radio drama, The Man Born to be King faithfully engages the four New Testament gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, while drawing readers into a fresh narrative experience of the incarnation. This is a one-night book event where we will read the play out loud together and then discuss.

Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin

Single-evening book night in April
Date: TBD
Time: TBD
Location: Study Center
Facilitators: TBD
This highly acclaimed novel, translated from the Russian, tells the story of Arseny, a healer and “holy fool” in 15th-century Russia, and his journey across medieval Europe. Written by a renowned expert in medieval Russian history and folklore, Laurus provides a fictional window into the realities of medieval Russian life and Orthodox Christianity, while also (in the tradition of great Russian novels) raising fundamental questions about our notions of time, love, and nature. This is a single-evening book discussion.

Theology and Economics Group

Date: January 16th (This group meets every other Tuesday)
Time: 7:00-8:30 pm
Location: Study Center
Facilitators: Jay Coggins, Don Wilson
This is an ongoing group to explore the relationship between Christianity and economic theory and practice. If you’re interested in a diverse, free-wheeling discussion on this topic, please join us! Our book we’re reading this spring is Daniel K. Finn’s Christian Economic Ethics: History and Implications.

The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God by Robert Louis Wilken

Date: Every other Thursday (Beginning Jan. 25th)
Time: 9:00 am
Location: Keller Hall, UMN East Bank campus.
Facilitator: Michael Tetzlaff
This is an ongoing group for UMN graduate students and faculty. In this introduction to early Christian thought, Wilken examines the tradition that figures such as St. Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and other set in place. Wilken demonstrates how these early thinker constructed a new intellectual and spiritual world that still is relevant in the modern world. Discussion began this fall, but jump into the conversation this spring!


Hosted in partnership with Graduate Christian Fellowship at the University of Minnesota.