Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Shaping a Just Canada: CPRSE Event with Citizens for Public Justice

Shaping a Just Canada
When: Thursday, October 3, 7:00-9:30pm
Where: Christ Church Deer Park, 1570 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4T 1Z8

The Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics (CPRSE) at ICS is pleased to partner with Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) to host Shaping a Just Canadaa non-partisan forum aimed at equipping voters with the knowledge needed to fully engage in the Canadian political process. CPJ is a faithful voice for social justice in Canadian public policy focused primarily on poverty in Canada, ecological justice, and refugee rights. CPJ’s fall tour will provide a non-partisan look at major issues leading up the fall federal election.

ICS/CPRSE and CPJ invite all members of the public to participate in this event as a means of gaining a clear and practical understanding of the key issues facing Canada in the upcoming election. Such understanding and engagement is especially key for Canada’s faith communities who bring important perspectives to our public discourse. 

The event will feature remarks from CPJ’s new Executive Director, Willard Metzger, and a panel presentation on immigration, refugees, and political participation led by members of Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) and CPRSE's own Héctor Acero Ferrer.

ICS/CPRSE is grateful to Christ Church Deer Park, an Anglican parish in midtown Toronto, for lending the use of their building for this event.

The event is free, but please register to attend at

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Prayer Letter: October 2019

Tuesday, October 1 - Friday, October 4:

Please pray with us this week and next as we work to finalize the compilation of our Fall edition of Perspective. We desire to have the issue in the mail to everyone just after Thanksgiving and so in these days we ask God for energy and clarity to ensure that all the details are taken care of before it goes to print. Pray particularly for Danielle and Héctor as they oversee the receiving and editing of the articles from the seven contributors.

On October 3rd, ICS/CPRSE is partnering with Citizens for Public Justice in “Shaping a Just Canada” a gathering that promotes a better understanding of key policy issues in preparation for the upcoming federal elections. Please pray that this collaboration might serve as an opportunity for fruitful dialogue about the role of religion in the public sphere and a space for reflection on the responsibility of faith groups in Canadian political life.

Please pray for Gideon Strauss this week as on October 4th he will be delivering a paper titled, "Beautiful Work: Experimental and Collaborative Design in the Launch of the Institute for Christian Studies’ MA (Phil) in Educational Leadership" at a conference hosted by the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning and INCHE (the International Network for Christian Higher Education) at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

On October 6-8, by special invitation, ICS President and Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion Ron Kuipers is participating in Brigham Young University's Twenty-Sixth Annual International Law and Religion Symposium on “Human Dignity and Religious Freedom: Preventing and Responding to Persecution." Ron will speak in a breakout session on "Human Dignity and Religious Freedom: Conceptual Frameworks" with Tore Lindholm (Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo), Alberto Melloni (University of Modena), and Reggio Emilia (UNESCO Chair on Religious Pluralism and Peace, University of Bologna). Please pray for all the participants at this important international conference, that their efforts might enhance our understanding of religious diversity and promote the cause of international peace.

Monday, October 7 - Friday, October 11:

This month, ICS/CPRSE welcomes Junior Members Mark Standish and Theoren Tolsma as Research Assistants. Mark and Theoren will support the production team of Critical Faith, our institutional podcast. Please pray for Mark and Theoren as they begin to take on their additional responsibilities as CPRSE Research Assistants, interviewing guests, editing recordings and helping plan upcoming episodes.

Please pray for the students in the Principal Stream of ICS's Masters in Educational Leadership (MA-EL) this fall as they visit Halton Hills Christian School (Georgetown, Ontario), King's Christian Collegiate (Oakville, Ontario), and Providence Christian School (Dundas, Ontario), to study best practices in hiring, professional development and crucial conversations.

Pray for ICS, and especially Harley Dekker, this week and next as he works with the auditors to finalize the annual audit of our financial records for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019. We continue to see some positive financial developments this past year and we give thanks to God for his watchcare over us.

Monday, October 14 - Friday, October 18:

This being the week of Canadian Thanksgiving, we want to join together and give thanks for a number of answers to prayer last month:

On September 9, our Registrar, Elizabet Aras, was finally granted permanent residency in Canada. She is very grateful that this process at long last is complete and gives thanks for all the prayers and support from the ICS community throughout the process.

On September 10, Danielle Yett submitted a complete draft of her MA thesis and now awaits notification of acceptance and a date for the defense.

On September 11, Helena Hoogstad successfully completed her pre-thesis examinations for the PhD program.

On September 16, Joshua Harris successfully completed his PhD defense at the VU in Amsterdam.

The ICS Library welcomes Junior Members Jueun Moon and Abbigail Hofstede as Research Assistants. Jueun will be expanding the ICS Repository to reflect a wider array of published work by Junior Members and Senior Members, diversifying the library's digital resources. Abbi will be making an inventory of potential archival acquisitions and assisting in preservation, laying the groundwork for ICS to grow its archives. Please pray for Jueun and Abbi as they begin their projects to improve the digital and paper archival holdings at ICS.

Monday, October 21 - Friday, October 25:

Today marks the start of Reading Week for ICS Junior and Senior Members. Please pray for our students that they might have the creative energy and space to complete their writing and study assignments. Pray too for the faculty that God would graciously encourage and refresh them in their vocation at ICS.

Please pray with us this week as we, along with our volunteers, work hard to prepare the latest Perspective issue for mailing. We are thankful for the joyful atmosphere as we work together. We are also thankful for those volunteers who take the time to help and we trust that God will bless all of us in this important task.

Gideon Strauss, and the students in the Instructional Leadership Stream of ICS's Masters in Educational Leadership (MA-EL) will host a roundtable conversation about Deeper Learning practices at the Edvance Christian Educators Annual Gathering on October 24th, and facilitate the Fall 2019 ICS Scripture, Faith, and Scholarship Symposium at ICS later this month. Please pray for both these events that they might be edifying and encouraging to all the participants.

On October 25, Bob Sweetman will give a paper at the conference "Omnia disce: A Celebration of Father Leonard E. Boyle OP on the Twentieth Anniversary of His Death." The paper is titled "Boyle's Nod to Bodily Piety as Echo of Aquinas's Nod to Bodily Understanding." This is a conference put on by the Boyle Chair in Manuscript Studies, the University of St. Michael's College, the Dominican Institute of Toronto and our own Institute for Christian Studies.

Monday, October 28 - Thursday, October 31:

Junior Member Samir Gassanov undergoes ICS's pre-thesis examination process: a combination of essay writing and oral exam in which he will defend the thesis proposal he has formulated during his program of PhD study at ICS. Samir will be defending his proposal to examine the debate between Nicholas Wolterstorff and Oliver O'Donovan about human rights from the point of view of property and property rights—rights which seem to be missing from the debate despite their importance for the historical materials both Wolterstorff and O'Donovan draw on. The thesis he proposes to write is titled: “Doing Justice to Property: What Augustinian Theorists can Learn from Medieval Mendicants and Modern Jurists." He will write between 25 October and 1 November. The oral exam will take place on Friday, November 8th.

Please include in your prayers Academic Dean, Gideon Strauss, as he focuses on three institutional priorities during the 2019-2020 academic year: the future of the ICS MA-EL program; a review of ICS's MA and PhD curricula by the Education Policy Committee, Academic Council, and Senate; and, a review of ICS's academic policies by the Education Policy Committee, Academic Council and Senate.

Please uphold the Board of Trustees in their oversight of the vision and mission of ICS, especially as they head towards the Board meeting during the day on November 15th, and the AGM in the evening. Pray for strength and wisdom for each one as they continue to provide support and leadership in the working out of the vision and mission of ICS into the future.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Adorno’s Critique of Capitalism

The Times Literary Supplement has published a new essay by Lambert Zuidervaart, ICS Senior Member, on the life and work of Adorno, a prominent philosopher and social critic in the Frankfurt School. Titled “Theodor W. Adorno: Exposing Capitalism’s Blind Domination,” the essay is online in the Footnotes to Plato series, at

Prayer Letter: September 2019

Monday, September 2 - Friday, September 6:

Please pray this week for the staff, faculty and students as they participate in Registration Week, that it will be an inspiring time together to launch the new school year. Please especially pray for our Registrar Elizabet as she takes care of the many details that are involved in making sure each day fulfills its potential.

Tuesday, Sept 3: This is Orientation Day for all of our new students which will consist of faculty presentations in the morning, followed by lunch. In the afternoon there will be a presentation about the Christian Campus Ministries and a Library Tour of Caven Library, ICS Library, and Robarts Library with our Librarian Hilary Barlow.

Wednesday, Sept 4: This is the day that our Junior Members in Year 1 & 2 finalize their registration for the semester. There will also be meetings with their Senior Member mentors, with Elizabet our Registrar, and Harley Dekker about financial matters.

Thursday, Sept 5: This is Retreat Day which this year will be held at Evergreen Brickworks located in the Don River Valley for the first time. The morning will consist of reflection and chapel and community meeting, followed by lunch. In the afternoon, there will be breakout sessions with the Junior and Senior Members, followed by silent meditation and free time to explore the hiking trails in the area.

We have new students moving from France, Indonesia and Alberta to study at ICS this month. At least two have been offered residency at Knox College. Please pray this week for safe and speedy journeys, that our two international students will find their immigration process smooth, and that all of them will get settled in quickly and happily.

Monday, September 9 - Friday, September 13:

This is the first week of Fall classes, and it is fitting to begin with one of our Foundational courses: “Biblical Foundations” led by Dr. Nik Ansell. Please pray for lively interaction and edification for all the participants as they explore the Bible as the ongoing story of and for God and creation, paying special attention to the way in which God's story is intertwined with that of humanity and the world.

On Tuesday, Dr. Jim Olthuis begins his course “Twentieth-Century Postmodern Theories of (Inter)Subjectivity”. Pray for Jim and the students as they engage the material in an effort to understand the philosophical anthropologies of four 20th Century post-modern Continental philosophers, and how each thinker develops a view of the human self.

On Wednesday, we see the commencement of two courses: “Religion, Life, and Society: Reformational Philosophy”, an exploration of central issues in philosophy, as addressed by Herman Dooyeweerd, Dirk Vollenhoven, and the “Amsterdam School” of neoCalvinian thought, with Dr. Bob Sweetman, and “The Divine (at) Risk: Open Theism, Classical Theism and Beyond” which will explore the different ways in which the God of history is viewed by advocates and critics of “Open Theism” with Dr. Nik Ansel.

Once again on Thursday, two courses will begin: “Aristotle, Aquinas and the Scholastic Approach to the History of Philosophy” with Dr. Bob Sweetman. Pray for Bob and the students as together they examine the role that philosophy or theology's history plays in the conceptual constructions of scholastic thinkers, and what they think is truly first and deepest in the history they study. “Beauty: Theology, Ethics, or Aesthetics?” with Dr. Rebekah Smick also starts today so we ask for your prayers for Rebekah and the students as together they examine a variety of subjective and objective views of beauty in the history of Western philosophy and theology from antiquity to the present, and then consider the implications of these views of beauty for the production of the visual arts, music, and literary culture in Western religion and society.

Monday, September 16 - Friday, September 20:

We would appreciate prayers for the Leadership Team as they finalize the draft of a strategic plan for ICS, geared to enhance our academic programming and increase our institutional revenue. Pray for clarity and wisdom for all those who will be involved in the refining discussions in preparation for the final plan to be presented to our Board of Trustees in mid-November.

Please pray for those involved in preparing our Fall issue of Perspective, as authors, editors, organisers, designers, and printers. It is always a challenge to get such a publication ready in a timely manner, and we ask our Lord to guide and uphold all contributors to the process as they aim to mail this issue to supporters in early October.

We ask for your prayers for the three distance learning courses that start up this month: “The Soul of Soulless Conditions” with Dean Dettloff, “Wisdom and Schooling” with Joonyong Um, and “How to Coach a Strong Team” with Gideon Strauss.

Monday, September 23 - Friday, September 27:

We ask for your prayers for Harley Dekker as he prepares for the auditors this and the preparation of the year-end statements this month. Pray for strength and clarity for Harley as he does this in the midst of the many other aspects of administration in which he is involved.

ICS/CPRSE’s regular podcast Critical Faith is starting up again for the school year. Our Communications Coordinator, Danielle Yett, will continue hosting. This academic year she will be joined by two Research Assistants who will be brought on board the podcasting team. We ask for prayer as the team organizes and plans new content for this year’s episodes. The podcast is a great way for us to showcase the kinds of conversations that happen at ICS, so we also pray that those conversations might prove both enjoyable and edifying.

As the academic year begins, CPRSE staff and research assistants prepare to work on a number of exciting initiatives, including publications, institutional collaborations, and community outreach. We pray that CPRSE continues to be a source of life, activity, and inspiration for all members of the ICS community.

Monday, September 30:

On October 3rd, ICS/CPRSE is partnering with Citizens for Public Justice in “Shaping a Just Canada” a gathering promoting a better understanding of key policy issues in preparation for the upcoming federal elections. Please pray that this collaboration might serve as an opportunity for fruitful dialogue about the role of religion in the public sphere, as well as reflection on the responsibility of faith groups in Canadian political life.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

JM Dean Dettloff Article Publication

Junior Member and PhD candidate Dean Dettloff recently published an article entitled "Žižek’s Ruptured Monism: A Comparative Typological Reading of Less Than Nothing." The article considers whether D.H.Th. Vollenhoven's problem-historical "types" might illuminate the thought of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižekparticularly by enabling the recognition of what Dean calls a "ruptured monism" at play in his work. 

This article stems from Dean's participation in ICS's Winter 2016 Interdisciplinary Seminar, "IDS: Problem-Historical Approaches to Philosophy, Theology, and Art History," which considered the continuing relevance of Vollenhoven's methods for contemporary thought. The article appears in a 2018 issue of the journal Philosophia Reformata (vol. 83, issue 2).

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Prayer Letter: August 2019

Thursday, August 1 - Friday, August 2:

Please pray for Bob Sweetman as he goes to Boston in order to participate in the Boston College Colloquy in Historical Theology taking place on August 1 through 3. Bob has attended this colloquy twice before and the quality of the papers has been consistently very high. (He is smiling when he says this as he gave a paper at this event in its 2017 iteration.)

Monday, August 5 - Friday, August 9:

Please pray for Gideon this month as he will be contributing to a gathering of the current cohort of fellows of Triga Ventures, a cross-sector training program in South Africa which gives emerging entrepreneurs access to inspiring peers, generous mentors, a global network and value-aligned investors and donors.

Please pray for our president, Ron Kuipers, and the leadership team as they develop a strategic plan for ICS, geared to enhance our academic programming and increase our institutional revenue. Pray for wisdom for all those involved in this process as they lead visioning meetings with faculty, staff and members of the Board and Senate.

Monday, August 12 - Friday, August 16:

Please pray along with us for one of our international students who has been facing difficulties receiving a Canadian study permit. We ask that God would smooth the process with the Immigration Office so that he might be able to start school on time in September.

We also want to pray for the various projects on which our Junior Members are working: theses, proposals, reading lists, dissertations, independent research, presentations and coursework. We pray that the summer season has been an opportunity for them to follow through on these projects and that it brings renewed inspiration and vigour for the upcoming school year.

Currently, ICS/CPRSE is exploring new partnership possibilities with other academic institutions and community organizations that share in our spirit of inquiry and engagement. Please pray that CPRSE continues its history of collaboration through innovative research, effective outreach and rigorous scholarship. 

Monday, August 19 - Friday, August 23:

In two weeks time we will welcome our Junior Members, both returning and new. Please pray for all of them as they wrap up their summer projects, academic and otherwise. Please pray especially for our new students as they make their travel plans and all the other personal decisions that are needed to successfully settle into their new home in Toronto. It is always a joyous time as we all start afresh as the ICS community, and we pray that God will once again be present with us

Please pray this week for our Registrar, Elizabet Aras, as she prepares for registration and orientation, as well as the student retreat coming up on September 5th. There are myriad details to take care of so we ask God for clarity and discernment in the planning and implementation of these important events at the start of our school year. 

Please pray this week for Gideon as he travels back to Canada, and quickly takes up once again his teaching and facilitating responsibilities in an intensive course in ICS's MA in Educational Leadership during the Christian Teachers Academy at Hamilton District Christian High.

Monday, August 26 - Friday, August 30:

Please pray this week for two new students from abroad who are flying into Toronto at the end of the month. We ask for safe travels and pray that all goes well with the customs and immigration officials at the border.

We ask for your prayers this week for our faculty and administrative staff as they ensure that all the preparations are in place for the beginning of the school year next week. Pray that they will be encouraged by the largest incoming class in some years and the work that they do. We ask for God’s grace and wisdom as they work together, and for keen discernment in meeting the opportunities and challenges facing ICS at this time. We give thanks to God for sending them to serve the Institute’s mission with commitment and dedication.

As the summer season ends, the ICS/CPRSE team finishes the planning of a number of exciting initiatives that will take place in the new academic year, including publications, institutional collaborations and community outreach. We pray that CPRSE continues to be a source of life, activity, and inspiration for all members of the ICS community and beyond.