While you are reading this, if all has gone well, I'm at a United Methodist Church Summer Theology Workshop at the Koronis Assembly Grounds on Lake Koronis near Paynesville, Minn. Don't believe I've yet mentioned UMC/KAG in "Threescore and Ten." KAG is the best place for a summer meeting, Methodist or otherwise, that I know of. Elaine and I had been there in the 1970s-'90s occasionally, and started attending STW in the mid-2000s.
Related contentAt the end of a workshop, we choose a topic for the next summer's STW, and usually a book for suggested background reading. We used to invite a speaker or two and pay them an honorarium, but eventually that plus KAG's room and board cost too much. Also, some of us were underwhelmed by particular speakers.
So, several years ago, we switched to half-hour DVD lectures from The Teaching Co. You may have seen their ads in "Time," "Scientific American," "The New Yorker," "National Geographic," "Smithsonian," or similar magazines. We arrange with The Teaching Co. for permission to use the lectures; they are most obliging because we are a nonprofit and are not charging admission to view them; also some of us may even get hooked on their products.
Koronis is still a bargain. We stay in Sunrise Inn, basically a high-end motel with double rooms, each with two queen-sized beds and a private bath. The difference is, you make your own beds. When we leave, a housekeeping crew cleans, replaces the bedclothes, towels, and such and gets everything ready for the next comfort-conscious camper group.
In other buildings, there are cheaper double rooms (with bathrooms down the hall), at various prices, for young and adult campers. We STW campers are all in Sunrise Inn, where our meeting rooms are (with microwaves and small fridges). If you have a roommate, cost per person for four nights and 12 meals is $350. I room alone, so pay more, $415. Where else can I get four comfy nights, private bath, 12 good meals, stimulating conversation and a beautiful lake for that?
Everybody eats (often more than we should) in the mess hall down by the lake. It's cafeteria food, but remarkably good, if KAG still has the imaginative chef that came in 2017. Since STW is early in the camping season, the mess hall is not crowded. When full of young campers, it's a tad noisy.
This June, our topic is "Science and Religion," and I've been working on it for months. I am proposing a lecture or two from six Teaching Co. courses: Frederick Gregory, "The Darwinian Revolution;" Stuart Sutherland, "A New history of life;" David Helfand, "The Physics of History"; Lawrence M. Principe, "Science & Religion;" Barbara J. King, "Biological Anthropology;" and Steven L. Goldman, "Science in the 20th Century." I've reviewed the six courses twice, and have learned a lot.
The lecturers are all good, but the lectures themselves are intended to follow one another within a course, so we often have to provide some context. Further, lectures in natural sciences present a chronological problem not as common to some other topics. Example: lecture No. 8 in Phillip Cary's 2004 course on Luther is "The Indulgence Controversy." Luther posted on indulgences in 1517. Theologs have gone back and forth on them for 500 years; there's not a lot of new material.
In contrast, Barbara J. King's 2002 lecture No. 13 about Neanderthals, stating that modern humans probably could not interbreed with contemporary Neanderthals, is already out of date: some people today contain up to 4 percent Neanderthal DNA.
You should know that The Teaching Co.'s courses (in various formats: DVD, CD, and download) have list prices, but often sell for much less. Some ads list discounts. You can visit "The Teaching Company" or "The Great Courses" online, and they will also mail you sale catalogs.
One often hears that clergy in Methodist and other "mainline" Protestant denominations, plus the Vatican, many priests, and many rabbis have no problem with science in general and evolution in particular. Having discussed evolution with many of them (not with the Vatican), I gather that many clergy and laypeople have only superficial understanding of what it is they "have no problem with."
Some might have problems if they understood it better, though I believe an intelligent person of faith should be unable to integrate a reasonable faith with current understanding of the evolution of living things and of the cosmos. I do.
Will maybe report back on STW another time.
Evan Hazard is a retired BSU biology professor.