Sunday 16 February 2014

Lambert Zuidervaart on Hegel, Art, and Religion

Senior Member Lambert Zuidervaart has published an essay on art and religion in The Owl of Minerva, the journal of the Hegel Society of America. Titled “Art, Religion, and the Sublime: After Hegel,” his essay takes issue with James Elkins, who argues that art historians should abandon the concept of the sublime as a way to understand art. According to Lambert, Hegel’s conception of the sublime remains relevant both for interpreting contemporary artworks and for understanding how art, religion, and philosophy are related. He discusses two contemporary examples: Jonathan Berger’s composition Jiyeh, which was performed at ICS’s Art Talks! event in 2010, and Terrence Malick’s 2011 film The Tree of Life. Lambert’s essay appears in The Owl of Minerva 44.1-2 (2012-13): 119-42.

ICS Junior Members Carolyn Mackie and Joanna Sheridan to give papers at Ryerson University

Junior Members Carolyn Mackie and Joanna Sheridan are presenting papers at the Ryerson Graduate Philosophy Conference on February 22. Carolyn’s paper, titled "This Thinking Individual: Conscience and Subjectivity in Søren Kierkegaard and Hannah Arendt” began as her course paper for the ICS seminar “Community, Faith, and Judgment: Hannah Arendt and Religious Critique” led by Senior Member Ron Kuipers in the fall of 2012. Joanna’s paper is called "Identity and Difference in Derrida's ‘The Other Heading’" and was written for Senior Member Shannon Hoff's “Deconstruction and Politics” class last winter.

ICS Junior Member Joe Kirby to present papers

Junior Member Joe Kirby has been accepted to present at the "Philosophy, Life, Death" Penn State University Graduate Conference in Philosophy to be held on March 1 and 2. Joe will be presenting a paper titled "Ontology and Living Death: Solitary Confinement in Prisons and Monasteries."

Joe will also be presenting a paper at the 20th Annual Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference in Concordia University in Montreal on March 6. This paper is titled "Mysticism and Madness in Prison Awaiting Death."

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Open Letter to the Editors of The Banner

To whom it may concern,

Your recent story on the departure of Dawn and Tom Wolthuis from the Institute for Christian Studies is one-sided and incomplete. To begin, it contains several factual inaccuracies that need to be directly challenged. First, the story cites “sources close to ICS” who claim that “the presidents did not receive board support as they did necessary staff cutting that had been approved by the board….” Obviously, the ICS Board supported the very cutbacks that they themselves mandated. Although the entire institution laments the fact that these measures were necessary, these cuts were discussed and supported by the entire institutional leadership (including, in addition to the Presidents, the Director of Finance and Administration, the Director of the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics, and the Academic Dean).

Second, the article states that in late 2012, “financial statements showed that the school could accept students for only two more years unless it cut expenses by reducing faculty and staff and increased fundraising.” Prudent institutions make plans and projections based on the state of their current finances, and ICS is no exception. Reporting such a statement without further qualification, however, gives the misleading impression that ICS is closing its doors to incoming students this coming September. Of course, since 2012 we have taken measures that will allow us to continue to accept students this coming year and to commit to those accepted for the duration of their programs. In the meantime, we continue to work to bring ICS into a more fiscally sustainable future.

Anyone who knows anything about the history of ICS, including our wonderful donors and supporters, knows that it has been chronically underfunded for its entire existence. In that sense, today’s reality is not so different from yesterday’s, and in fact our current economic condition, at least for the near term, is much more stable than it has been at several crisis points throughout ICS’ history. In spite of these ongoing financial difficulties, the ICS has survived and thrived for over 45 years thanks to a group of passionate Christian intellectuals and administrative professionals who work for significantly less than market value because they strongly believe in ICS’ mission to integrate Christian faith and academic learning. Your article does their personal sacrifice for this important Christian cause a real disservice.

The article gives the impression of ICS as a rudderless ship that is crashing into the rocks. To the contrary, at a programmatic level the ICS has never been more robust. The current cohort of students is excellent, as evidenced by the fact that nine currently enrolled students are sharing their work at academic conferences or in publications this year. Our excellent faculty continues to publish in the best academic presses and journals, and their courses remain exciting, challenging, and innovative. Our research centre, the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics, is partnering with The King’s University College to host a conference on economic justice in May 2014, where Bob Goudzwaard will be a plenary speaker. Last year, the CPRSE also secured a two-year $200,000.00 research grant to explore how people in the Christian Reformed Church understand the relationship between faith and justice. $80,000.00 of that grant flows directly into CRCNA coffers to pay CRC staff to partner with us in that project. Here we have ICS helping to fund CRC work rather than the other way around! Some mention of these positive projects that are moving full steam ahead would have added some balance to this article.

Finally the article states that ICS has recently been running “deficit budgets” when actually, thanks to the generous bequest from the estate of Lowell Andreas, the budgets have been balanced. Unlike many of our sister institutions in Christian post-secondary education, ICS carries no debt. True, we are depleting the funds of that bequest, and we know we cannot continue this pattern indefinitely. While we are aware of the risk such spending involves, we see it as a strategic investment in our significant work, an investment that will ensure that ICS maintains its reputation as an institution of Christian graduate education worthy of generous financial support.


Dr. Ronald A. Kuipers
Director, Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics

Dr. Douglas Blomberg
Acting President

Henriette Thompson
Chair, Board of Trustees

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Announcement from the ICS Board Chair

The following is an announcement from Henriette Thompson, ICS Board Chair

A week ago, the Board of Trustees announced the departure of the Institute for Christian Studies Presidents, Dr. Tom Wolthuis and Ms Dawn Wolthuis, effective January 27, 2014. We thank you for your interest and prayerful support at this difficult time. Understandably, there is concern about what has happened and a desire to know more. For the benefit of all parties, it is vital that our communications respect the need for confidentiality, so we are limited in what we may share. 

In regard to the departure of the Wolthuises, we can say that the Board retained experienced Christian facilitators to guide a restorative process in order to address a complex organisational situation. After listening directly to all faculty, staff and the presidents, the Board decided that the process did not reach the conclusion we all hoped for. This led to a parting of ways between ICS and the Presidents. All involved deeply regret this outcome.

We want you to know that ICS continues to pursue its mission and holds the needs and interests of students in the forefront – those with us now, who have been very supportive, and those who have just applied. We are also engaged in a rich array of projects that enable us to serve others in non-academic contexts. In these tasks, your support obviously remains vital.

The Board is confident Doug Blomberg will serve ICS capably as Acting President and is grateful for the unity demonstrated by faculty and staff in their commitment to fulfil the mission and vision of ICS.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please contact Doug Blomberg.
Phone: 416-979-2331, x. 237

Monday 3 February 2014

A Message from Doug Blomberg, Acting President

ICS has always been an exciting place for me, since I first heard of it way back in 1972. It is no exaggeration to say that the course of my working life has been shaped by its influence. I have referred to it as my “spiritual home”, as it opened the Bible to me as the good news of Christ’s comprehensive and radical sacrifice and rule. And exciting things continue to happen. The MWS in Urban Ministry is now underway in Central America and other expansions of this program (one with an Italian connection) are in the planning phase. The Justice and Faith project with the CRC and the Economic Justice conference with King’s are indicative of the vibrancy surrounding our research centre and the partnerships it has enabled. We will celebrate two significant publishing projects in May – Truth Matters and the six-volume collection of Calvin Seerveld’s papers and presentations. And of course we will soon begin processing applicants for our MA and PhD programs, with the latter attracting more interest than perhaps ever before. They will join the enthusiastic and committed junior members already on campus, who are a real joy to work with.

So, after 40 years, my excitement has not waned. I studied at ICS in 1975-76. The reformational Christian vision of ICS gave me inspiration and direction as founding principal of the Institute for Christian Education in Australia in 1978. The Lord brought me to ICS full-time eleven years ago. It is a great honour and responsibility to step temporarily into the presidential role, though with regret that this is occasioned by the departure of Tom and Dawn Wolthuis. I value your prayers in this time of transition, also for my colleagues on the Leadership Team, Ed Hayley and Ron Kuipers, and the whole ICS community. Thank you for your continued support.


Doug Blomberg

Departure of ICS Presidents

The Institute for Christian Studies Board of Trustees announces the departure of its Presidents, Dr. Tom Wolthuis and Ms Dawn Wolthuis, effective January 27, 2014. We are grateful for the gifts the Wolthuises were able to bring to ICS over the past year, and pray the Lord will bless them in whatever roles they serve in future.

Dr. Doug Blomberg, currently Academic Dean at ICS, has accepted the appointment as ICS Acting President. The Board is confident that projects and programs will carry on as usual, and wishes to thank faculty, staff and junior members for their expressions of ongoing commitment to the mission and vision of ICS.

We thank all of our supporters for continuing to uphold the ICS in prayer.

Berkouwer’s Ecumenical Legacy: Dr. Eduardo Echeverria to speak at ICS

On Tuesday, February 25, Dr. Eduardo Echeverria, at one time a faculty member at ICS and currently Professor of Philosophy and Systematic Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, will be leading a seminar in ICS's Scripture, Faith and Scholarship series for doctoral candidates. His presentation is titled "Retrieving G. C. Berkouwer's Ecumenical Legacy." He is also presenting a paper titled "Revelation and Foundationalism: Towards a Historically Conscious Foundationalism" at the Interfaculty Colloquium on Wednesday, February 26.

Carolyn Mackie to give paper at Ryerson University

ICS Junior Member Carolyn Mackie is presenting a paper at the Ryerson Graduate Philosophy Conference on February 22. The paper is titled "This Thinking Individual: Conscience and Subjectivity in Søren Kierkegaard and Hannah Arendt.” The paper began as her course paper for the ICS seminar “Community, Faith, and Judgment: Hannah Arendt and Religious Critique” led by Senior Member Ron Kuipers in the fall of 2012. Read Carolyn's paper in our Institutional Repository.

Prayer Letter: February 2014

Monday February 3: We offer prayers of praise for the talents of Senior Member Shannon Hoff who has been elected President of the Canadian Society for Continental Philosophy, and has also just returned from giving talks at the University of Guelph and the University of Southern Illinois at Carbondale. Later this month Shannon will be speaking at Calvin College.

Tuesday February 4: We ask God to bless Tom and Dawn Wolthuis as He continues to lead them on their way.

Wednesday February 5: The Academic Council meets today. We ask God to guide them in their discussions and decisions.

Thursday February 6: Today we pray for blessings for the Friends of ICS Board and all those who are doing advancement work in the US.

Friday February 7:  We pray for blessings for Senior Member Doug Blombers as he begins his role as Acting President and comtinues in his role as Academic Dean.

Monday February 10: We thank God for all the applicants to our programs. We pray that the successful applicants will be able to join us in our mission.

Tuesday February 11: Doug Blomberg will be representing ICS at the Association for Reformed Colleges and Universities (ARCU) meeting in Los Angeles today and tomorrow. We pray for safe travel and fruitful dialogue.

Wednesday February 12: We ask God to bless Senior Member Ron Kuipers as he continues his work as Director of our Centre for Philosophy, Religion and Social Ethics.

Thursday February 13: Many of our Junior Members are working on their their Masters and PhD thesis projects. We pray for our Junior Members and ask that they will have time, concentration, and wisdom.

Friday February 14: We offer prayers of gratitude for the generous spirit that is always shown by you, our many supporters who have presented ICS with gifts of prayer, money, and expressions of appreciation. We are constantly blessed with your interest and support.

Monday February 17: Today is Family Day in Ontario. We pray that everyone has a happy and peaceful day with their loved ones.

Tuesday February 18: This is Reading Week! Please pray that our Senior and Junior Members will be able to use this break from classes to catch up, get ahead, or use the week for whatever they may need to help them in their studies. May God bless each of us with what we need during this week.

Wednesday February 19: There is a Leadership Team meeting today. We ask God to guide them in their discussions and decisions.

Thursday February 20: As Reading Week continues, please pray that it will be a fruitful week for the academic body at ICS as many Senior and Junior Members have projects they are working on beyond normal class work. Whether these are publications, papers for conferences, or other scholarly activities, pray that this week will afford extra time to make progress in these areas.

Friday February 21: We pray for energy and creativity for all those who are involved in the planning for the upcoming conference in Edmonton next May.

Saturday, February 25: Today Junior Member Carolyn Mackie is presenting a paper at the Ryerson Graduate Philosophy Conference. We pray for blessings on all who are attending.

Monday February 24: As classes resume, we ask for God's guidance and wisdom for all our Junior Members who are working hard in their academics and for a sense of balance as they deal with families and jobs as well.

Tuesday February 25: Dr. Eduardo Echeverria will be leading a seminar in ICS's Scripture, Faith, and Scholarship series for doctoral candidates. We pray for blessings on all who attend.

Wednesday February 26: The Interfaculty Colloquium will be held this afternoon. We pray for God's blessing on all participants, and for good and positive insights that will further important academic work.

Thursday February 27: We ask God's help and guidance for all those who are doing advancement work for ICS. Please pray that support for the vision and mission of ICS continues to grow.

Friday February 28: Junior Member Tina Covert’s nephew John Leslie will be competing for Canada in snowboarding in the Paralympics in Russia next month. Congratulations John! We pray for blessings and safe travel.