Valparaiso University and the University of Notre Dame will co-sponsor “A Round Table Conference on Brad Gregory’s ‘The Unintended Reformation’ “ on Sept. 15 at the Harre Union Brown & Gold Room on the Valparaiso University campus. The Notre Dame historian’s lively and unconventional work has already roiled scholarly waters and prompted sharp debates about the root causes of current divisions over secularism, morality, government, economic life, and academic knowledge.

“Could a book about the many-centuries-old division of Christianity shed fresh light on the most heated issues in modern American life, including some of those being debated in the 2012 presidential campaign?” asks Mel Piehl, dean of Christ College at Valparaiso University. “Some scholars have suggested that it could. Our discussions will address this and other topics relevant to today.”

Gregory’s book and the Sept. 15 Reformation summit represent the opening foray of the five-year countdown to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

“If anyone was looking forward to a warm and fuzzy celebration, one in which past divisions would be blurred and ‘ecumenical’ good will would be the primary sentiment, this book and the corresponding discourse around it has set things off on a quite different — and arguably more serious and profound — note,” says Ronald Rittgers, Erich Markel Chair in German Reformation Studies at Valparaiso University. “If nothing else, it will make American Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and secularists alike reflect more deeply and seriously about where we have come from, and where we are going.

“Gregory contends that the separation of economic and social life from religiously based views of human virtue means that modern societies can only mindlessly trumpet as their only unifying principle what he calls ‘the goods life’ — the endless, numbing pursuit of affluence and consumption — as distinct from ‘the good life’ of moral and spiritual growth that once shaped all Western cultures. With arguments such as these already receiving extended attentions in many academic journals, the Valparaiso-Notre Dame Conference on Sept. 15 promises to enhance its importance and deepen the debate.”

The conference will feature presentations by:
* John Hare — Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology, Yale University
* Susan Schreiner — Professor of the History of Christianity and Theology, University of Chicago
* Francis Oakley — Former President, Williams College and current Edward Dorr Griffin Professor of the History of Idea, Emeritus, Williams College

Confirmed attendees include of the Sept. 15 conference include: author and University of Notre Dame historian Brad Gregory, Evangelical scholar Mark Noll, Lutheran moral theologian Gilbert Meilaender, Northwestern University psychologist and author Dan McAdams, and Catholic historian Philip Gleason.

To review the conference agenda, request media availability for those involved or for more information, contact Nicole Niemi at

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