Autumn 2019: September 12 – November 21
Winter 2020: January 9- March 26
Summer 2020: On Sabbatical
Friday Night Lecture Schedule 2019
All lectures begin at 7:30PM and are held at L’Abri
49 Lynbrook Road Southborough, MA 01772
Join us for tea and treats at 7:15PM.
Winter 2020 Lecture Schedule
Jan 17 Caring for Creation V: Dappled, Strange, & Glorious: What Can Variety and Abundance Reveal?
By Anna Friedrich
This lecture is part of our ongoing series on the goodness of creation and our unique role as humans to explore, care for, protect, and delight in it. We will look at two things revealed in what we see around us and what we read in the Bible — Variety and Abundance. What can these two teach us about who God is and who we are?
Jan 24 “It was meant to be good”: Becoming More Human in the Kitchen and Around the Table
By Sarah Chestnut
What does good food mean? What makes food good? Can learning to cook- or even just hanging around the kitchen- make us more human? Is eating a spiritual act? In an age of individualized diets that can become their own religions, is there hope for “family style” eating and true hospitality? Does what and how we eat really matter? With these questions and many more in mind, we will explore the significance of cooking and eating for the recovery of our true humanity.
Jan 31 “Can Christian People hope to have a redemptive influence in the polarization of American Politics?”
By Dick Keyes
Political Polarization threatens to cripple our government. There seem to be few solutions on offer, but could Christian people willing to stand under the whole counsel of God make a difference?
Feb 7 ‘For Your Name’s Sake’: Living for the Reputation of God
By Ben Keyes
The biblical writers often tell us that God acts in the world ‘for the sake of his name.’ Biblical characters sometimes plead with God to intervene ‘for His name’s sake.” What does it mean that God defends his reputation to people? What difference would it make to pray with the glory of God’s name in mind?
Feb 14 In the Garden of Delight: Reading the Song of Songs for a Broken World
By Joshua Chestnut
What was once the most popular and most commented on book in all of the scriptures, the Song of Songs (or sometimes called the Song of Solomon) plays little role in shaping contemporary imaginations about what it means to be human. Often assumed to be simplistic love songs, these ancient Hebrew love poems hold beautiful and timely wisdom on the goodness of human love, the problematic dynamics of abused power, the significance of place as well as the delight of life with God.
Feb 21 The Vineyard and the Vine: Reflections on the Biblical Theme of Wine Making
By Ben Keyes
In ancient Israel vines, vineyards, grapes and wine making were a part of every day life and good wine was considered a sign of God’s blessing. The cultivation of grape vines also provides a rich source of metaphorical imagery throughout the bible. This lecture will attempt to follow the thread of vine imagery throughout scripture to see what is communicated about God and his saving relationship to his people.
Feb 28 Violence in the Bible from Joshua to Jesus (Part 1 of 2): Joshua and the Conquest
By Dave Friedrich
How are we to understand the violence we encounter in the Bible within the broader culture and context of Scripture? That will be our guiding question as we look at Joshua’s Conquest in Canaan and address further questions surrounding genocide, the inspiration of Scripture and the goodness of God.
March 6 Violence in the Bible from Joshua to Jesus (Part 2 of 2): Jesus and the Cross
By Dave Friedrich
What are we to make of the similarities and significant differences between Joshua and Jesus, especially as it relates to the role of violence in the Promised Land? That will be the guiding question of this lecture as we look at how Jesus ‘conquers’ in the gospels and the book of Revelation.
March 13 Between the Cross and Resurrection: Reflections on Jesus’ Death and Our Own.
By Joshua Chestnut
This lecture will be an exploration of the theology of Holy Saturday. Taking what the Apostle’s Creed refers to as Jesus’ “descent to the dead” as our starting place, this lecture will consider what it means that Jesus was dead as well as what this might mean for us as we consider the inevitability of our own death.
March 20 (topic to be announced)
Dr. Brandon Unruh
Autumn 2019 - Friday Night Lecture Schedule
Sept 20: Anna Friedrich
What is God’s relationship with all the bad things that happen? What does the Bible actually offer us in our suffering? The very old “problem of evil” continues to haunt and nag. We’ll look at one helpful metaphor employed by many Biblical authors and invite this imagery to reawaken our imaginations and our prayers.
Sept 27: Joshua Chestnut
Whether we simmer in silence and suppression or explode in rage and violence, anger is a part of all of our lives. In this lecture we will look at the nature of anger, what it is telling us, and what we can do with it.
Oct 4: Ben Keyes
Are we really prepared in the affluent west for what the bible has to say about the hardships of the Christian life? We are part of an entitled culture that believes success should come easily. For many, ease is a determiner of what is worth pursuing in life. This lecture will engage with the work of secular positive psychologist Angela Duckworth. What does Duckworth’s understanding of ‘grit’ have to do with biblical perseverance and long-suffering?
Oct 11: Sarah Chestnut
An earlier version of this lecture was given in 2016. Turning to three new poems, we will consider in a format more discussion than lecture what it means about God, and what it means for our humanity, that Jesus was fully divine and fully human. For those who would like to read the poems in advance, see “Every Riven Thing” (Christian Wiman), “Descending Theology: Christ Human” (Mary Karr), and “Hill Country” (Tracy K. Smith).
Oct 18: Dick Keyes
It seems that God does not only want us to know what is right and good, but to do it. But that is not all. Jesus wanted much more for us – that we hunger and thirst for what is right and good; that we love and desire it. We probably know something about learning ideas and behavior, but how do we learn the right desires and how can we teach them to others in a world which is skilled at shaping human desires for its own purposes?
Oct 25 Joshua Chestnut
Though he never had to deal with particular modern troubles like social media, student loans or internet porn, St. Augustine just like so many of us did have to navigate complicated relationships with parents, disappointment with religious community, haunting memories and seemingly unshakeable bad habits. In this lecture we will look at how in his most well known book the Confessions, Augustine opens up about all of this and more, offering help for those of us still navigating the “restless years” of becoming adults.
November 1st & 2nd Theme Weekend*
Ecclesiastes and Something New Under The Sun
All lectures given by Dave Friedrich
What are we supposed to do with this strange and wonderful book? What kind of wisdom is this? And how are we to understand its place within the Bible and its fulfillment in Christ? These will be our guiding questions as we look at three major themes of Ecclesiastes: vapor, joy and a different kind of fear.
7:30 Friday Night: Everything is Vapor
How would you describe that which is fleeting? What would you call grasping for what is beyond your grasp? How about “vapor” and “herding the wind”? That is how the Assembler, otherwise known as the Preacher or Teacher, describes everything human. He takes a hard look at life and concludes that it is all ephemeral, enigmatic, and frustrating. Is he a cynic? Or is he a realist telling us what it is like to live and work in the shadow of the fall? Could he even be one of the wise, telling us how to live in the wilderness, in exile, somewhere between the promise and the promised land?
9:00 – Arrival
9:30 Saturday Morning Lecture: A Table In the Mist
The Assembler declares that everything is vapor, but he also sees “a table in the mist,” with food and drink and other good gifts from God that we are meant to enjoy. He says, in fact, there is nothing better than when God enables us to see and receive what is good. Is this true? And can we find this joy even in the mist of the wilderness?
1:30 Saturday Afternoon: A Different Kind of Fear
For many, fear is an unpleasant and unwanted emotion that steals our joy and diminishes our lives. Ecclesiastes, and the Bible as a whole, calls us to a different kind of fear, one that broadens our lives as we recognize the frightening difference between us and God: we are a vapor, but He is eternal. This is the fear of God, a God-ward orientation of holy awe that surprisingly gives us reason to hope, rejoice, and live our lives to the fullest.
*If you would like to join us for the day on Saturday, please email us your reservation no later than Thursday, Oct 24th to firstname.lastname@example.org. The seminar is free, although there is a suggested donation of $5.00 to offset the cost of lunch on Saturday.
*The Saturday portion of this seminar is being given in conjunction with our lecture on Friday evening. Attendance both days is not required.
*Limited overnight accommodations may be available at L’Abri. Please email email@example.com if you would like to add your name to the waiting list for overnight accommodations, and you will be notified if/when space becomes available.
Nov 8: Dr. Brandon Unruh
A Christian Response to Suicidality
This lecture begins by developing pertinent background including a basic theology of the mind and theodicy of psychological disorder, while dispelling some Christian concerns about suicide that have resisted lessons from psychiatry and psychology. Then it will draw upon contemporary evidence to explore how common pathways to suicide reflect core spiritual problems of our age. It then investigates the roles of both God’s action and creaturely agency in the lives of afflicted biblical figures who long for death or die by their own hands. Finally, it compares and contrasts helpful but imperfect therapeutic responses with God’s ultimate answer on the Cross.
Nov 15 Ben Keyes
Psalm 19 tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God. What is being declared about God as we look up at the stars? Does the rest of creation have anything in particular to declare? What is the relationship between God’s particular revelation in scripture and his revelation in the natural world, which is available to all? In this lecture we will contemplate the value of creation both in itself and in its ability to teach theology.
Spring/Summer 2019 Lecture Schedule
A Creation Care Weekend at L’Abri
featuring co-founders of A Rocha International
art by Heidy Sumei Chuang
poetry by Anna A. Friedrich
Saturday, May 11th
10:00 AM: Butterfly Project, Art Exhibition
– Opening words from the artist, Heidy Sumei Chuang
– Poetry Reading by Anna A. Friedrich
12:30 Lunch: All are welcome, suggested donation $5
2:00-4:00 PM: Sustaining Hope on our Groaning Earth with Peter and Miranda Harris
May 17 – Joshua Chestnut
Children’s development specialist Margaret McFarland taught that “anything human is mentionable, and whatever is mentionable is manageable.” This simple yet profound insight into being human was also a guiding principle of Fred Rogers, one of America’s most beloved TV personalities. In this lecture we will consider Rogers’ life, work and faith through the lens of some of his most famous children’s songs in order to see the gentle wisdom of this quirky and endearing Christian man who was fiercely committed to the dignity, intelligence and emotional capacity of children in a culture which all too often overlooked them.
May 24 – Ben Keyes
Why is it that we often find ourselves longing for adventure and security, for new challenges and for the comfort of what is known? While individuals differ greatly in how they experience and act on these two desires, we all seem to have elements of both in our hearts. We will explore these twin desires to ‘set out’ and to ‘come home’ as clues to our God-designed nature. Is it naïve to expect the fulfillment of these two seemingly contradictory longings?
May 31 – Dave Friedrich
“A Shelter For Conversation”
June 7 – Joshua Chestnut
Pornography, Shame and What to Do With Unwanted Sexual Behavior
For many of us our internet searches and browser histories reveal a record of unwanted, compulsive behavior which compounds a deep sense of shame and self-loathing. Addiction specialist Gabor Mate writes that often it is “emotional isolation, powerlessness and stress which are the conditions that promote the neurobiology of addiction.” Starting with Mate’s basic insight, we will look at the neurological, human and spiritual nature of pornography addiction including practical ways to move through unwanted sexual behavior.
June 14 – Ben Keyes
Have you ever felt that if Christianity were really true, it would be easier to live out? This is a very common contemporary sentiment, but what does it presuppose? What are our expectations of the Christian life and how are they influenced by the modern belief that ‘ease determines right.’ What does the bible encourage us to expect of life following Christ?
June 21 – Dick Keyes
Letting God be God in a Fragmenting World
In a fragmenting world a Christian must guard against fragmentation not only in the world but within the Christian faith itself. It often comes in the form of false choices, separations which should not be separated. To counter this problem, we will look at the need to treat God as God in two examples of false choice.
June 28 – Marta Crilly, Archivist
From segregated seating in the 1840s to the Memphis Kneel Ins of the 1960s, America’s white congregations have a long and painful history of working to promote segregation in church pews. Examining the long tradition of segregationist theology, polity, and culture in the white church sheds light on the current racial situation in American churches, and helps us to understand why 11:00 on Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour for American Christians. This lecture delves into the pro-slavery and pro-segregation theology accepted in many white churches in the 19th and 20th century and how that theology manifested in local church practice.
July 5 – Mardi Keyes
Why did Feminism happen in America? In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote a letter to her husband John, who was a member of the committee drafting the Declaration of Independence. She asked, “…in the new code of laws…remember the ladies, and…Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” She was referring to the law, by which women, upon marriage, lost their civic identity, all rights to their property, to their bodies and their children. The “rebellion” she predicted was later called “Feminism.” John Adams responded dismissively, “Depend on it, we know better than to repeal our masculine systems…” Why is it that in culture after culture, “masculine systems” have defined men as entitled to liberty and justice, while women are not? What light can the Bible shed on these questions?
July 12 – Dr. Andrea Gurney, Professor of Psychology, Westmont College
In a world that is more connected than ever before, we are somehow missing the mark on the very thing we were created for — loving, intimate relationships. As a society, we experience more depression, anxiety, and suicide than years past, and it is postulated that a primary reason for the increase in suicide is lack of social connections. This lecture will seek to provide practical tools from relationship science and Biblical truths to equip us in building healthy relationships.