Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Ground Motive Symposium Coming to Completion

The Ground Motive symposium on Lambert Zuidervaart's "Religion, Truth, and Social Transformation" is coming to completion in the sense that Lambert is now posting his responses to the writers who have taken the time to interact with his book of essays. There have been twenty-one formal responses in all (ie. not including responses in the comments section).

This is the largest undertaking at Ground Motive so far. It has yielded a wealth of excellent material for reading and reflection. Our thanks to all the writers who made it happen, Dean for his excellent stewardship of the project, and especially Lambert for the work that provided the occasion for this online symposium.

If you haven't already, we hope you will visit the symposium soon at www.groundmotive.net

Two Articles by ICS Faculty in the Latest Issue of Symposium

The latest issue of Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy (20/1--Spring 2016) includes two articles by ICS Senior Members Ron Kuipers and Lambert Zuidervaart. Kuipers' essay, "Cross-Pressured Authenticity: Charles Taylor on the Contemporary Challenges to Religious Identity in A Secular Age," is part of the journal's special section dedicated to the keynote lectures delivered at a 2012 conference at Ryerson University entitled Varieties of Continental Philosophy and Religion. Zuidervaart's essay, "Propositional and Existential Truth in Edmund Husserl's Logical Investigations," is published as a regular article in the same volume.

These articles can be previewed and purchased at www.pdcnet.org/symposium/toc

Monday, 30 May 2016

Prayer Letter June 2016

Wednesday, June 1:  The Board of Trustees is charged with overseeing the vision and mission of ICS. The decisions taken over the past few months, and particularly those at the meeting in Toronto early last month, were often weighty, and are featured for your prayerful support over the days of this month. As members of the ICS community, we give thanks to our Lord for bringing these people to us to serve in this capacity and ask you to uphold them before his throne. We invite you to pray especially for Ansley Tucker (Chair) and John Valk (Vice Chair) in their leadership of the Board.

Thursday, June 2:  ICS is an active member of a number of affiliations and partnerships: Association of Reformed Colleges and Universities; Toronto School of Theology; VU University (Vrije Universiteit), Amsterdam; International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education; Christian Educators Journal; Christian Higher Education Canada; Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. We are thankful to be connected with these institutions and organisations, and ask you to pray for their ongoing vitality and our involvement with them. As the IAPCHE conference winds up this week in Korea, we pray that further significant global collaboration ensues, in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that ICS continues to make a worthwhile contribution.

Friday, June 3:  We give thanks for Ethan Vanderleek's very successful defence of the MA thesis "'In the Embrace of Absolute Life': A Reading of Christology and Selfhood in Michel Henry's 'Christological Trilogy'". The defence took place on 24 May 2016 and was a real treat for those involved, especially Ethan, of course, but also his mentor, Dr. Nik Ansell. We also pray for Ethan as he continues to serve as Chaplain at the Multifaith Centre, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, BC.

Monday, June 6:  Tricia Van Dyk has completed her doctoral program at ICS and the VU University Amsterdam, with a dissertation titled “Narrative Companionship: Philosophy, Gender Stereotypes, and Young Adult Literature.” In August Dr. Van Dyk, her husband Benjamin Groenewold, and their two children Miriam and Peregrine will move to Lithuania, where Tricia and Benjamin will share a faculty position as Professor of Ethics at the LCC International University. Please join us in giving thanks for Tricia’s accomplishments and wishing her and her family Godspeed.

Tuesday, June 7:   Today Jonathan Polce defends his thesis, under the caring supervision of Senior Member Bob Sweetman. The thesis, titled "Unwrapping the Gift: Empty Notion or Valuable Concept?", examines Derrida, Marion and the U of Toronto's Kenneth Schmitz on the phenomenon of the gift, gift givers and gift receivers to argue that Aquinas' notion of “existence” (esse) is well thought of as gift (not just given and not as curse or burden). We pray for clarity of mind and peace for both the preparation and defence, and that, as always, all academic work done here would be for God’s greater glory. We also pray for Jon as he prepares to move to Texas for the next step in his theological training.

Wednesday, June 8:  As mentioned in May’s Prayer Letter and in our recent Public Statement, the sale of 229 College Street by the Receiver is going ahead. Pray along with us that the process will go smoothly and quickly. We are asking God to provide through the proceeds of this sale in such a way that we will have a healthy endowment for sustainability into the future, and also to meet some short-term financial needs.

Thursday, June 9:  We welcome Dan Jack, Board member from Calgary, to the Finance Committee. Dan brings significant expertise to this role, and we give thanks that he is willing to serve in this capacity. The other committee members are Ken Van Wyk (Treasurer), Ed Hayley (Director of Finance and Administration) and Doug Blomberg (President). Please pray for them as they continue in their deliberations on matters vital to our mission and provide advice to the Board of Trustees.

Friday, June 10:  We ask for your prayers this week as we engage in negotiations around our continued lease at 229 College Street. Pray especially for Director of Finance and Administration, Ed Hayley, as he works with the building manager to figure out space requirements and rental rates. Pray that God will smooth the way during discussions and that ICS will find favour in this process.

Saturday, June 11:  For the past few weeks, we have reached out to the broader ICS community in our annual Phone-a-thon campaign. Our fruitful conversations have once again demonstrated the unshakeable spirit of this community, which continues to support ICS with their dedicated time, prayers, and donations. Today we pray in thanksgiving for our committed members and donors, who throughout this Phone-a-thon have inspired us with their own stories about ICS, its history, its mission, and its relevance in today's world.

Monday, June 13:  The Leadership Team meets regularly every two weeks and on other occasions as required. This is an important means of ensuring our various functions are coordinated and decisions affecting ICS’s operations are considered collaboratively. LT convenes this morning, and while it is impossible to identify at time of writing the matters that will be discussed, Pat, Bob, Ron, Ed and Doug value your prayers today.

Tuesday, June 14:  We invite prayers of thanksgiving for Dean Dettloff's contribution to Christian reflection in his MA thesis, “From Cynical Reason to Spiritual Creativity: An Exercise in Religious Anthropodicy”. Dean followed Peter Sloterdijk's analysis of contemporary cultural cynicism, identifying cynical reason's slow inoculation of cultures against the effects of social critique. Dean showed how the spectre of Catch-22 fills the air, robbing us of the oxygen of hope. Nikolai Berdyaev’s reflection on creativity and newness offered Dean Christian intuitions pointing in the direction of hopeful effort toward a future in which God in Christ will fulfil his eschatological promise. Dean is currently pursuing a PhD in the conjoint ICS/VU program and we at ICS are mighty grateful to have him around yet for a while.

Wednesday, June 15:  Please pray for Pat Webb, Director of Advancement, and Vidya Williams, Manager of Donor Relations, as they strategise on initiatives for the upcoming year in sustaining and enlarging our supporting community and enhancing enrolments in our programs, particularly the Master of Worldview Studies where there is an important opportunity to build our capacity, also with respect to tuition income.

Thursday, June 16:  Last month at the Board meeting the budget for 2016-17 was approved. In order to keep our commitment to be debt-free, we have had to make some significant changes to our operational expenditures. One of these is decreasing our footprint to compensate for the increase in rental fees that are expected. Pray for wisdom as we determine how best to do this so our students, staff and faculty have adequate facilities for a quality and effective learning environment.

Friday, June 17:   The latest issue of Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy includes articles by Senior Members Ron Kuipers and Lambert Zuidervaart, respectively titled, "Cross-Pressured Authenticity: Charles Taylor on the Contemporary Challenges to Religious Identity in A Secular Age" and "Propositional and Existential Truth in Edmund Husserl's Logical Investigations". We congratulate Ron and Lambert, and give thanks for their academic works and their presence at ICS.

Monday, June 20:  Flora Sewell is the second graduate of our Art, Religion and Theology stream in the MWS. In the practical component, Flora explored two intertwined themes. One was a visual investigation of the theological themes underlying the issue of human making that led her to examine such myths as the Hebrew tradition of the Golem. The other was a series of images devoted to an investigation of the tradition of the Hamsa (Hand of God) as a protective sign used by Biblical women. Flora now works for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship as Study Abroad Office Coordinator in Madison, Wisconsin and we pray the Lord’s blessings on her in this ministry.

Tuesday, June 21:  Arvilla, spouse of Jim Olthuis, has recently undergone her third round of chemotherapy. Lord, bless Arvilla and Jim, and all their family. We pray for healing of the body and peace of the soul.

Wednesday, June 22:  Congratulations to Tanya Weber De Roo on the conferral of her Master of Worldview Studies, with an emphasis in arts, aesthetics and education. Pray for Tanya as she and her husband Neal De Roo raise their two children and this month move to Edmonton.

Thursday, June 23:  Another outcome of our reduced operational expenditures is a general reduction in salaries, and the loss of one staff member, Dr. Allyson Carr. We need God’s wisdom and direction in how to be effective and progressive in these reduced circumstances. We pray for focussed energy and his sense of hope as we work together to plan and implement our new initiatives and sustain the working out of our mission here at ICS.

Friday, June 24:  We give thanks for Marg Hoogland’s completion of the MWS (Social Justice stream), which culminated in an action-oriented project titled “Dancing with Big Feet”. Rooted in Marg and her husband Jake’s experience in Bolivia and Nicaragua, the thesis maps out a training program for visitors on short-term mission trips, so both visitors and visited might become more aware of and sensitive to each other’s worldviews. Please pray for the Hooglands as they continue as volunteers at World Renew as International Relief Managers.

Monday, June 27:  This week there will be a meeting at ICS with representatives of a potential institutional partner. As you know, our commitment to partnering now includes an emphasis on a federal relationship with one or more kindred universities. We covet your prayers for our Lord’s presence and guidance in this important conversation.

Tuesday, June 28:  Congratulations to Ruthanne Crapo on the award of the Doctor of Philosophy. In her thesis on the work of Luce Irigaray, entitled The Way of Love, she developed a global ethic. Pray for Ruthanne as she continues her challenging task as professor of philosophy in the very multicultural Minneapolis Community and Technical College in Minnesota.

Wednesday, June 29:  We give thanks that Caleb Ratzlaff has successfully completed an MA, with a thesis called "Relationship Issues: Forgiveness and Promising according to Hannah Arendt and Jacques Derrida." His thesis reflects a deep awareness of the practical challenges facing our attempts to be moral beings and shows him to be someone who will take up the challenges of living responsibly in an exemplary way, which will serve him well in his current pursuits: volunteering at his local church, helping to develop a communications strategy for Westview Centre4Women, and settling the daily disputes between two young boys.

Thursday, June 30:  Today we say farewell to Dr. Allyson Carr, Associate Director of CPRSE, with sadness, most certainly, but also with the knowledge that God will shine a light on her path. Please pray for Allyson as she moves onward in her career journey, for the time being as an independent scholar. She is currently completing a book called Reading for Change, which examines ways to work transformations in tradition when aspects of it have become toxic. May she have the perfect peace and hope that only God can bring.

Monday, 16 May 2016

The Gift of 229 College: A New Phase

Our supporting community has sustained the Institute for Christian Studies since its inception in many generous ways. One notable instance was through the purchase of 229 College Street. That building became the home of ICS.

For a number of years 229 College also provided a source of revenue for the Institute. This came initially through rental income and later, when considerable and costly renovations were required, through partnership with an investor. Unfortunately, a few years ago our partner declared bankruptcy and the building is being put up for sale.

The ICS Board contemplated purchasing our partner’s shares, but after prayerful and thoughtful consideration decided otherwise. Given the uncertainty of real estate markets today and the current skyrocketing cost of real estate in downtown Toronto, it was deemed that the purchase price of the building would move ICS into precarious territory, and stretch it financially beyond its limits. It seemed fiscally unwise.

The sale of 229 College, while regrettable in a number of ways, will nonetheless continue to benefit ICS. The proceeds received from the sale, when invested, will generate new income. The ICS Board felt this new endowment is the most prudent way to utilise a gift, given many years ago by faithful supporters, to sustain ICS into the future. Also, we will negotiate a lease, so the building can continue to be a home for ICS.

The Global Financial Crisis of the past decade has dealt a severe financial blow to ICS, as it has to many other institutions of Christian higher education. ICS continues to adjust to the new financial realities, thanks to the generous support of our donors. We are committed to remaining debt-free. The Board has sharpened its resolve not only to continue to reduce its expenses but to generate other sources of income. Further, with the investment income from the sale of 229 College, ICS will not only maintain itself, it will turn a corner and grow in a sustainable manner.

It is with heartfelt gratitude to all our supporters that the Board looks forward to finding new and better ways of ensuring the mission of ICS in higher education is fulfilled, in partnership with our faithful donors. Thanks to the dedicated work of faculty and staff, our graduate programs continue to change the lives of those who will, in turn, change the lives of others. ICS graduates work diligently and fruitfully as professors, teachers, campus chaplains, and in many other callings – as agents of renewal in our culture. May God continue to bless the vision and mission of ICS.

M. Ansley Tucker, Chair
John Valk, Vice Chair
Board of Trustees

Inch by Square Inch: Confessions of a Heartbroken Nationbuilder

For those of you who couldn't make it, and those who just want to hear it again, we present the address to the 2016 ICS convocation by Dr. Gideon Strauss. Watch it on this page or watch it on Youtube at youtu.be/Cj0z87XSHB8.