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March 17, 2021

By The Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, Ph.D., Dean of Trinity Lutheran Seminary

What We’re Reading on Campus

“Of making many books there is no end …” (Ecclesiastes 12:12)

I’m part of a campus book group that is reading together the Rev. Dr. Anna Madsen’s book, I Can Do No Other: The Church’s New Here We Stand Moment (Fortress, 2019). Madsen, a Trinity alum, has a gift for making theology and church history relevant in our own context in clear language with vivid images. The book is sparking good conversations, and I highly recommend it.

What else are folks at Trinity reading right now?

Julie Hutson, Director of Contextual and Experiential Formation:
I’m on my second time through Katherine May’s “Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times.” It’s a meaningful look at May’s own season of struggle and the ways she learns about herself and life in it. Of course, the invitation for the reader to learn, especially in what feels like a yearlong winter, is there as well. The references to the liturgical seasons that fall within winter were a reminder of the rhythms I sometimes ignore or overlook or rush past. May’s writing is soulful and provocative, and invites us not to leave winter without recognizing how we’ve been changed.

Tori McGraw-Rowe, Manager for Seminary Strategic Partnerships:
My Life with the Saints by James Martin, SJ
Fun, honest, and insightful, this memoir enthralls the reader with a Jesuit priest’s stories and reflections from page one. I struggle with finding good end-of-day books, and this one is a perfect nighttime read. It is easy to get into; intellectually engaging, though not mentally taxing or demanding; and because each chapter is self-contained, it’s easy to set down when it is time to turn off the light.

Drew Tucker, University Pastor:
Robert Chao Romero’s Brown Church: Five Centuries of Latina/o Social Justice, Theology, and Identity
This is an excellently written historical analysis that details the unique challenges Latina/o Christians faced and the numerous contributions of what Romero calls the “Brown Church” to the entire church’s theology.

Paul D. Numrich, Professor of World Religions and Interreligious Relations:
A History of Christian-Muslim Relations by Hugh Goddard.
I have assigned this comprehensive and superbly written history as a course textbook for years. The book epitomizes William Faulkner’s wisdom: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Joy A. Schroeder, Professor of Church History and Trinity Chair in Lutheran Heritage:
Ariel Sabar, Veritas: A Harvard Professor, A Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife (Doubleday, 2020).
In 2012, Dr. Karen King made international news by announcing the discovery of an ancient papyrus in which Jesus referred to “my wife.” Journalist Ariel Sabar tells the gripping story of a Harvard professor who was duped and how an unlikely combination of individuals proved the document was a forgery. (Characters include an independent scholar in Portland who read PDFs of ancient texts in his basement laundry room office, and a Coptic language expert employed by Hobby Lobby’s fundamentalist Museum of the Bible.) As a historian committed to careful research, I find this book to be a terrifying cautionary tale about the scholarly academy’s relationship with the media—with gender issues and the intrigue of the antiquities market thrown in.

We are called to love God with our whole mind. Each of these titles is stretching us to do just that!

The Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, Ph.D.

Trinity Lutheran Seminary forms leaders for Christ’s church at work in the world.