August 6-8

At this time, Gutenberg College still intends to host this year’s Summer Institute, “Struggle & Hope.” We will be taking important health and safety precautions at the event to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Summer Institute is an enjoyable and informative time to experience Gutenberg by sharing meals, discussing the works of influential thinkers, and listening to speakers from the Gutenberg community. We hope you can join us for Summer Institute 2020. Check back for more details as they are available.

“In the world you have trouble, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Life is hard. Most literature and art produced by human beings over the centuries is about suffering, troubles, and struggle. We all experience such troubles in our own lives. And of course, this is one of the major themes explored in the Bible. “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14: 22). And yet Paul tells us that we also exult in those tribulations (Romans 5:3). The struggle of faith is in part a struggle to hold on to meaning and hope in the face of the sufferings brought upon us by the world, by each other, and by ourselves. Join us at this year’s Summer Institute to explore the challenge of growing in hope as we face the struggles of life.

Register for In-Person Attendance

(If Gutenberg must cancel the in-person meeting due to COVID-19, participants will be refunded their full registration fee, or they may register for the remote option.)

Register for Zoom Attendance


Institute Details


Thursday night, August 6, 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Friday night, August 7, 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 8, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


Gutenberg College
1883 University Street
Eugene, OR 97403

In-Person Cost*

(includes dinner on Friday night; continental breakfast on Saturday morning; and lunch on Saturday):

Before July 1: $85 (Individual); $115 (Family); $40 (Student)
July 1 and after: $100 (Individual); $130 (Family); $45 (Student)

* Financial Aid: Limited financial aid packages are available for those who wish to attend. If you wish to apply, please contact the office.
* Volunteer opportunities: We can also offer reduced costs for volunteers. If you would like to volunteer, please contact the office.

Remote (Zoom) Option

In our current COVID-19 environment, we recognize that travelling, meeting in person, and eating together present significant challenges for some. Thus, we are offering a Zoom option for those who would like to attend the Summer Institute remotely. The option includes the following:

  • Live Zoom streaming of all the lectures and the QA panel at the end.
  • Recorded video and audio of the lectures and the QA panel at the end.
  • Live Zoom discussion groups for remote participants led by dedicated discussion leaders. These discussion groups will be made up of remote participants only. You will be able to see the discussion leader and other participants and be able to talk in real time with each other.

To participate, you will need a reasonably good internet connection and a computer with a built-in or external webcam and mic. Our technical team will do a trial run with Zoom attendees to make sure that their connection works well, and a Zoom technician will be available throughout the conference.

Remote (Zoom) Cost*

$50 (Individual); $65 (Family); $25 (Student)



(See details of readings and lectures under Institute Format below.)

Thursday Night

5:30-6:15 p.m. Check In
6:15-6:30 p.m. Welcome
6:30-8:00 p.m. Discussion of Reading One: “Hardship Is the Road” by Søren Kierkegaard
8:00-8:15 p.m. Break
8:15-9:00 p.m. Lecture 1: Chris Swanson, “Suffering: A Cultural History”

Friday Night

5:00-6:00 p.m. Dinner
6:00-7:30 p.m. Discussion of Reading Two: The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy
7:30-7:45 p.m. Break
7:45-8:30 p.m. Lecture 2: Nancy Scott, “Sources of Hope: The Restorative Gifts of Nature and Art”


8:30-9:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast
9:00-10:30 a.m. Discussion of Reading Three: A Grief Observed (abridged) by C. S. Lewis
10:30-10:45 a.m. Break
10:45-11:30 a.m. Lecture 4: Chris Alderman, “Weeping (With Those Who Weep)”
11:30-12:30 p.m. Lunch
12:30-2:00 p.m. Discussion of Reading Four: Bible reading (TBA)
2:00-2:15 p.m. Break
2:15-3:00 p.m. Lecture 4: Ron Julian, “Good Trouble: God’s Surprising and Difficult Tools of Redemption”
3:00-3:30 p.m. Q and A


Format: Discussions & Lectures

Gutenberg College Summer Institutes are an opportunity to explore a topic while getting some of the “Gutenberg” experience. That is, we discuss readings from important works in our culture and also listen to talks related to the topic. The presenters/discussion leaders are listed below. A reading packet (PDF) will be emailed to participants.

Thursday Night

6:30-8:00 p.m. Discussion of Reading One: “Hardship Is the Road” by Søren Kierkegaard

8:10-9:00 p.m. Lecture One

Chris Swanson: “Suffering: A Cultural History”

Everywhere we look, we see suffering: difficult relationships, physical injuries, unkind words, depression, and despair. It is a part of life. The question that suffering raises, then, is not “How can I live without suffering?” The question is “How will I live with suffering?” Our answer depends largely on our underlying beliefs about man and society. In this talk, Chris will explore how the answer to that question has taken shape as a result of developments in history and philosophy. He will focus on views about personal responsibility in the face of suffering.

Friday Night

6:00-7:30 p.m. Discussion of Reading Two: The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy

7:40-8:30 p.m. Lecture Two

Nancy Scott: “Sources of Hope: The Restorative Gifts of Nature and Art”

Our culture’s denial of suffering runs deep, whether secular or Christian. Once we choose to acknowledge our pain, our grief can be utterly overwhelming. Where can we turn for hope and companionship on this difficult path? In this talk, Nancy will explore some sources of comfort and company found in the natural world and in art that are available to us as resources along our way.



9:00-10:30 a.m. Discussion of Reading Three: A Grief Observed (abridged) by C. S. Lewis

10:40-11:30 a.m. Lecture Three

Chris Alderman: “Weeping (With Those Who Weep)”

In a culture that idolizes strength and success, we may be tempted to suffer in—and to meet the suffering of others with—silence. One need look no further than the Book of Job, however, or almost any one of the Psalms to see on display a very different model for dealing with distress. In this talk, Chris will consider the place of lamentation in the life of the individual and the community.


12:30-2:00 p.m. Discussion of Reading Four: Bible reading (TBA)

2:10-3:00 p.m. Lecture Four

Ron Julian: “Good Trouble: God’s Surprising and Difficult Tools of Redemption”

Paul describes himself as “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” A strange combination, surely, and yet a profoundly biblical one.  From Genesis to Revelation, the biblical authors agree that God uses difficulties and sufferings to teach, correct, refine, and encourage. We don’t understand our God or ourselves very well, and the Bible tells us unambiguously that God intends to us to learn through troubles. Ultimately He secures for us the supreme joys of salvation through the maturing and transforming fires of suffering. We cannot or should not glibly tell a sufferer that “God intends it for the best.” None of us is good enough for that. And yet, that is the hard truth that every believer must wrestle with and ultimately accept. In this talk, Ron will explore the unbreakable connection God makes between suffering and hope.


Chris Alderman

Chris Alderman is a tutor at Gutenberg College, where he teaches writing, Greek, and German. He has a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Language and Literature. For two years he pursued a Ph.D. in comparative literature at the University of Michigan, where he taught English composition to freshmen and did graduate coursework in German and Classics. Chris has self-published two collections of poetry, Poems in Verse and Ephemerides.

Ron Julian

Ron Julian began as a teacher at McKenzie Study Center in 1982, where his teaching focused on biblical exegesis and communicating the gospel, and he has been a tutor at Gutenberg College since it opened its doors in 1994. He has a B.A. in linguistics from the University of Oregon and an M.A. in religion from Reformed Theological Seminary, and he is the author of Righteous Sinners and a co-author of The Language of God: A Commonsense Approach to Understanding and Applying the Bible.

Nancy Scott

Nancy Scott is a marriage and family therapist in private practice. She has a B.S. in zoology, an M.S. in biology, and an M.A. in marriage and family therapy. Until 2009, she served for many years on the staff of McKenzie Study Center and then on the faculty of Gutenberg College. In 2016, Gutenberg College welcomed Nancy back as a volunteer advisor to its Residence Program.

Chris Swanson

Chris Swanson is the president of Gutenberg College where he has been a tutor since the college opened its doors in 1994. He has a B.S. in physics and math and both an M.S. and Ph.D. in physics. He has also done post-doctoral research at the University of Oregon and taught at Westmont College in California.