By Bill Walsh
Starting way back in 1999, a small group has been meeting in the office/library of the Chapel almost every Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
There are usually between five and 10 of us, with new people joining and others moving on from time to time. Only my wife, Alice, and I have been there from the beginning. The discussion focuses (mostly) on something we are all reading, but like the participants, the texts under discussion have varied a great deal through the years.
In the beginning we started as a Bible study group. We read and discussed various books of the Bible with the professional help of the Rev. David Searfoss, a retired pastor. David, his wife Murial and often their daughter met with us for over 10 years.
When David decided it was time to “retire again,” we were happy to welcome as leader our neighbor Dale Tucker. Dale, a Southern Baptist Seminary graduate with deep family roots in Bible study, helped us stay focused on Scripture for another three years or so.
When the Tuckers moved to Chicago in 2013, several of us decided to continue meeting each week, but as we had no leader trained in Scripture, we would shift our study to American literature. (Maybe because I had been a literature teacher in a previous life.)
We started with American fiction from the early 20th century and tried to stick with “classic” American novels, proceeding from decade to decade until the 1970s.
A year or so ago, we began expanding our focus — reading and discussing other sorts of books, as well as American, Russian, Brazilian, Colombian, Nigerian fiction plus non fiction, poems, plays, whatever seemed to inspire one of us at a particular time.
Our more recent book choices would give you a good idea of where we are at this point.
In 2017, our reading has included Samuel Beckett’s play “Endgame,” followed by Christopher Lasch’s analysis of “progress” in a book called “The True and Only Heaven.” From there, we took up Douglas Hofsteader’s “Gödel, Escher, Bach.”
Hofsteaer’s book was, frankly, pretty overwhelming — 750 pages and mostly very esoteric. Most of us didn’t finish it; we were, however, inspired by the parts that focused on J.S. Bach, so we decided to go onto Paul Elie’s recent book, “Reinventing Bach.”
We’ll probably be finishing up with this book about the time this issue of the Chapel News gets to you.
We would love to have two or three more people join us. We know ours is not a typical book group, but we hope some might want to give our Tuesday nights a try.
Keep the Chapel Weird!