Summer Institute 2017

2017 Summer Institute

Why do we suffer? How can we flourish? We humans have always asked such questions.

In times past, our culture embraced (or tolerated) a Christian worldview that provided a foundation for answering those questions: meaning and purpose derive from our transcendent Creator. Today, however, we live in a thoroughly secular era, and answers are hard to come by.

How did our culture end up here? How can a person of faith pursue a transcendent vision of life in such a culture? Gutenberg’s 2017 Summer Institute will explore such questions.

We’ll search passages from the Bible, from the classics, and from contemporary works to find timeless truths and practical ways for pursuing God and flourishing in a secular age.


Institute Details

Thursday night, July 27, 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Friday night, July 28, 5:00 to 8: 30 p.m.
Saturday, July 29, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Gutenberg College
1883 University Street
Eugene, OR 97403

Go here to register. Or call the Gutenberg College office: 541-683-5141.

Cost (includes dinner on Thursday and Friday nights; coffee, tea, and muffins on Saturday morning; and lunch on Saturday):
$90 (Individual); $125 (Family); $40 (Student)

* Financial aid: There are available limited financial aid packages for those who wish to attend. If you wish to apply, please contact the office.

Volunteer opportunities: We can also offer reduced costs for volunteers. If you would like to volunteer, please sign up here (scroll to the bottom of the page, click the Summer Institute box, and click Apply).

Childcare: If you are interested in childcare, please email for more information.

Stream the Summer Institute
This year Gutenberg College is pleased to make some lectures and discussions of Summer Institute 2017 available for streaming for those who can’t attend in person. Go here for details.


(See details of readings and lectures under Format below.)

Thursday Night: Introduction

5:00-5:15 p.m. Check In
5:15-6:15 p.m. Dinner
6:15-6:30 p.m. President’s Welcome (Chris Swanson)
6:30-8:00 p.m. Discussion of Reading One
8:00-8:10 p.m. Break
8:10-9:00 p.m. Lecture 1: Charley Dewberry

Friday Night: How Did We Get Here?

5:00-6:00 p.m. Dinner
6:00-7:30 p.m. Discussion of Reading 2
7:30-7:40 p.m. Break
7:40-8:30 p.m. Lecture 2a: Chris Swanson
Lecture 2b: Eliot Grasso

Saturday: Responses

8:30-9:00 a.m. Coffee, tea, and muffins available
9:00-10:30 a.m. Discussion of Reading 3
10:30-10:40 a.m. Break
10:40-11:30 a.m. Lecture 3a: Wes Hurd
Lecture 3b: Tim McIntosh
11:30-12:30 p.m. Lunch
12:30-2:00 p.m. Discussion of Reading 4
2:00-2:10 p.m. Break
2:10-3:00 p.m. Lecture 4: Ron Julian
3:00-3:30 p.m. Q and A


Format: Discussions & Lectures

Gutenberg College Summer Institutes are an opportunity to explore a topic while getting some of the “Gutenberg” experience. That is, we discuss readings from important works in our culture and also listen to talks related to the topic. The readings, lectures, and presenters are listed below. A reading packet (PDF) will be emailed to participants.

Thursday Night: Introduction

6:30-8:00 p.m. Discussion of Reading One: Preface and Introduction to How (Not) to Be Secular by James K. A. Smith

8:10-9:00 p.m. Lecture 1
Charley Dewberry: “Life In the New Secular Age According to Charles Taylor and James Smith”
According to Charles Taylor and James K. A. Smith, we have entered a secular age unprecedented in history. Prior to the nineteenth century, virtually all societies were religious, and their political structures were usually as much religious as they were political. In the nineteenth century, two features emerged—the sacred/secular split and the secularization of public space—that marked the beginning of secular culture. Recently, a third feature has emerged: a shift in the plausibility of religion, specifically Christianity. The crucial difference here is not what people believe as much as what is believable. Historically, belief in God was unchallenged. Now it is one of many options—and not the easiest option to believe because it is challenged by the culture. This talk will explore this new feature of secularization and how it affects believers and non-believers.

Friday Night: How Did We Get Here

6:00-7:30 p.m. Discussion of Reading Two: Chapter 3 of On Liberty  by John Stuart Mill

7:40-8:30 p.m.Lectures 2a & 2b (choose one):

Chris Swanson: “God’s Gone: A Guided Tour of Transcendence in Western Culture”
Every aspect of the ancient world was fully permeated by the divine: events, nature, law, and life. Today the divine is largely absent. This talk will explore the causes and effects of the loss of transcendence in the Western mind.

Eliot Grasso: “A Brief History of Human Authenticity: Existential Honesty or Cultural Imposition?”
What do people mean today when they say they are looking for an authentic experience? What does it mean for someone to act and speak with authenticity? This talk will investigate the historical trajectory and varied contemporary meanings of authenticity in order to shed light on how those meanings affect the individual and reflect culture.

Saturday: Responses


9:00-10:30 a.m. Discussion of Reading Three: Chapters 2 and 5 and the Epilogue of The New Demons by Jacques Ellul

10:40-11:30 a.m. Lectures 3a & 3b (choose one):

Wes Hurd: “The Arts: Finding Our Humanity in a Secular World”
This talk will discuss some ways human art making provides paths to profound levels of knowing and understanding ourselves in the present world.

Tim McIntosh: “Is More Than Me Required to Be Good? The Constantinian and Benedictine Responses to Our Moment”
There are two popular Christian responses to growing secularity of our contemporary world. The Constantinian model seeks to preserve and protect norms and structures that nurture virtue and integrity. The Benedictine model believes secularity is too entrenched and thus seeks to retreat (partially) and create alternative structures. This talk will provide an assessment and response.


12:30-2:00 p.m. Discussion of Reading Four: Prayers of the Apostle Paul

2:10-3:00 p.m. Lecture 4
Ron Julian: “A Biblical Perspective on Meaning and Flourishing”
We live in a culture where the transcendent has almost disappeared and individuals are left alone and autonomous to find meaning for their lives. This talk aims to step back and get a larger biblical perspective on our situation. What is the biblical picture of the life of a believer in a fallen world? Where is meaning to be found? What is true human flourishing? What role does “calling” play in our response to the world we live in?


Presenters / Discussion Leaders

Charley DewberryCharley Dewberry (M.S. Stream Ecology; Ph.D. philosophy) is the dean and a tutor at Gutenberg College. He is the author of Saving Science and Intelligent Discourse: Exposing the Fallacious Standoff Between Evolution and Intelligent Design.

Eliot GrassoEliot Grasso (M.A., Ethnomusicology; Ph.D., Musicology) is the provost and a tutor at Gutenberg College. He is also an internationally known musician.

Wesley HurdWesley Hurd (M.A., Biblical Studies; M.F.A., Painting; Ph.D., Educational Policy) is an artist, lecturer, mentor, and the Director of Education for Watershed Arts Foundation. He was a tutor at Gutenberg College until he retired in June 2012, and he is now on the college’s board of governors.

Ron JulianRon Julian (M.A., Religion) is a tutor at Gutenberg College, the author of Righteous Sinners, and a co-author of The Language of God: A Commonsense Approach to Understanding and Applying the Bible.

Tim McIntoshTim McIntosh (M.A., Theology) was a tutor at Gutenberg College from 2009 to 2017 and provost of the college from 2016 to 2017. He is also a playwright, screenwriter, and actor.

Chris SwansonChris Swanson (M.S., Physics; Ph.D., Physics) is the president and a tutor at Gutenberg College.

2015 Summer Institute


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