Contemporary Issues Group Seeks Input, New Members, And Options

To the St. Nicholas Community:

We have long had an adult education program known as the “contemporary issues” group. Most recently it has operated as a book club, but has not always. The idea of the group is to provide a congenial but substantive learning experience, where we look into issues that are possibly a bit off the beaten path for church adult education – entirely apart from bible study, for instance – but meaningfully related to spirituality, ethics, broad religious studies, etc. The book club the membership has gradually dwindled and new members have not been attracted. We are considering a new – or older – format and need to find out if there is interest.

Years ago, the structure consisted of fairly regular meetings on one specific subject of study, chosen by the group, meeting on that topic for as long as it seemed to deserve and then moving on to another. One, a few, or all members might take responsibility for doing some research and leading the discussion of a given topic. Past topics have included Islam; World War II; Science and Religion; and others. (See for some past information.) Newer topics might include, for instance:

· Politics and Religion
o separation of church and state
o state religions
o religious influence on political decision-making
· Religion and Philosophy
o Knowledge, belief, and faith
o Survey of major philosophies of interest – existentialism, utilitarianism, determinism, traditional and ancient approaches such as epicureanism and Platonic ideals
· The Protestant Reformation and the Anglican Schism
· Justice, law and the church
· Marriage: civil, religious, and personal aspects; role of the state as distinct from the church

But we are completely open to new ideas as to topics and as to the overall plan. Please think about what would interest you, and tell us.

We also need to discuss when and where to meet. In the past we have had meetings right after the Sunday liturgy; Saturday mornings, over breakfast at a restaurant; and various weekend evenings. The goal is to find a way most people who are interested are actually likely to participate.

If you have any potential interest, please reply one way or another! And please spread the word if there are others in the community who may be interested, but may not have been included on this message. Click here to e-mail Steve Gruenwald (

Book Club Gathering Tonight at 6:30pm in Holy Innocents Hall

Ready, set, start reading and sharing

The book group has completed its study of Bible and Sword, and is now reading An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Redfield Jamison. The author, a highly respected professor of psychology and psychiatry (tenured first at UCLA and later Johns Hopkins), describes her experiences coming to grips with her own bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depressive disorder), which had plagued her since early adulthood. This is a striking and highly readable work, by someone uniquely qualified to discuss mental illness as it really happens from both the clinical and the personal point of view. One focus of our discussion will be how such a disorder complicates the concept of “what kind of person” someone really is.

The group will meet at St. Nicholas this Friday, September 27th at 6:30pm in Holy Innocents Hall. All are welcome. Please contact me for more information.