Saturday 29 June 2019

Prayer Letter: July 2019

Monday, July 1 - Friday, July 5:

On July 4, ICS Junior Member, Ted Avram S.J. returns to his home within the Society of Jesus. He will have managed to defend his MA thesis "The Nature of Belief in the Philosophy of Alvin Plantinga and Bernard Lonergan: A Propaedeutic for an Extended Synthesis" on June 28. He still has two papers to finish before completing the requirements for his MA from ICS. Pray for him as he heads back to Ireland for the next stages of his formation to Jesuit life and finishes off the last requirements of his MA degree.

As we begin this new fiscal year, we give thanks for the forward movement of last year. We are encouraged by the possibilities the Lord will bring our way in the coming months, and seek His wisdom and guidance. We are very grateful for our new home at Knox -- for the comfortable environment it provides to work and study and for the new opportunities this new location presents.

Monday, July 8 - Friday, July 12:

Please pray this month for our Registrar, Elizabet, as she looks after the academic details in preparation for the beginning of the school year in September, such as new courses being approved, registration of students, course schedules, and working with the faculty to get all the course syllabi up on the website. Pray too as she works with the fifteen new students in their application process and decisions around course selection.

The Leadership Team would appreciate prayers this month as they work on formulating a strategic plan that focuses on new program development with an accompanying funding plan. We are encouraged by the opportunities that have presented themselves, particularly the Master of Education Leadership program. Pray that they have wisdom in the development of focused strategies to enhance this opportunity.

Monday, July 15 - Friday, July 19:

Please continue to pray for Gideon Strauss in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where he is concluding a research project on "Inequality, forgiveness, and political agency: lived theologies among young adults in post-apartheid South African churches" in partnership with Nadine Bowers Du Toit at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Stellenbosch. (This project has been supported by the Nagel Institute for World Christianity at Calvin College with funding from the Templeton Religion Trust.)

July being a month in which some of our staff and faculty take holidays, we ask that you pray that their time away will be refreshing and renewing. Some are travelling long distances so we ask God to grant them safe and hassle-free travels.

Monday, July 22 - Friday, July 26:

Just because Gideon is in South Africa doesn’t mean that his work as ICS’s Academic Dean stops. Pray for him as he will be participating via Zoom video meetings and email in the work of ICS's Educational Policy Committee, Academic Council and Senate.

Pray also for Gideon as he once again facilitates a multi-session workshop on vocational wayfinding/life design in partnership with a local Christian community of faith, Stellenbosch Gemeente (SG). This year Gideon will also partner with SG to offer a multi-session workshop on Jamie Smith's book You Are What You Love. SG is also organizing two "long table conversations" facilitated by Gideon, on the relationship between discipleship, citizenship, and ownership in the South African context.

Monday, July 29 - Wednesday, July 31:

Pray for Bob Sweetman and Meg Giordano (VU/ICS PhD candidate) this week as they will be in Wayne, Pennsylvania on the campus of Villanova University for the Annual Aquinas Studium (this year's topic: Friendship). May this event be helpful for their research and writing on Aquinas. Meg is writing a dissertation on the nature of violence and the resistance to violence in the thought of Thomas Aquinas, while Bob is working on finishing a book on the virtues of religion and science in the shape of human flourishing according to Thomas Aquinas.

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Glory to God in the Kitchen: an Art Exhibition by ICS Graduate Ann Post

Still Life with Copper Pot (2018) by Ann Post 

"Sharing the beauty and mystery of art with others has always brought me tremendous pleasure and satisfaction. During the course of my life, I have loved looking at art, making art, displaying art, teaching art; as well as writing about it. In my experience, art connects with every aspect of life: spirituality, nature, people, places, and objects. There is virtually no end to what art can do to enrich and to enhance life. Art has felt like a religious calling or 'vocation' for me. And I believe that art is not meant to be greedily hoarded only for one’s own personal pleasure or monetary gain as a commodity. Rather, it is to be shared with others in this world which God has made and has so freely and graciously given to us. We have been made in the Divine Creator’s image. There is a natural rhythm built into our nature; to give and to take; to make and to share."  

- excerpt from Ann Post's project reflection

In the fall of 2018, recent ICS graduate Ann Post (MWS, 2019) put on her first solo exhibition of still life, landscape, and floral paintings in Mount Vernon, New York. This exhibition was hosted in the gallery of the Mount Vernon Library and was a great success. The exhibition was the culmination of work that Ann began earlier in 2018, and continued to work on during the summer while attending ICS's ART in Orvieto program with Rebekah Smick in Orvieto, Italy. 

Her time spent in the Artists' Workshop in Orvieto gave her the time and space to focus her artistic efforts on creating a series of still life paintings inspired by the aesthetics writings of Calvin Seerveld—specifically, a chapter in his Rainbows for the Fallen World (1980) with which her exhibition shares its title: "Glory to God in the Kitchen."

As part of her final project for her MWS degree, Ann described the intersection of reflection and practice made apparent to her through the process of creating her exhibition. She highlighted these influences and put careful consideration into the craft of developing this particular art exhibition with special attention to the audience, the space and logistics, the various interactions of the individual pieces, and the overall desired outcome of displaying her work for others. All these various aspects of her project came together to solidify her desire to make her own experiences of the "gift" of art available to others in her community—to bring it into contact with people in the midst of living their everyday lives. 

ICS is grateful for the time Ann has spent studying and exploring her artistic vocation with us, and we eagerly look forward to keeping an eye out for her future work!

Monday 24 June 2019

Richard Middleton Elected President of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies

ICS Alumnus Richard Middleton, Professor of Biblical Worldview and Exegesis at Northeastern Seminary, has been elected President of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies (CSBS), the oldest academic humanities society in Canada, founded in 1933. Middleton was elected Vice President/President Elect at the 2018 CSBS annual meeting at the University of Regina; he became President on June 1, 2019, during the annual meeting at the University of British Columbia.

Originally from Jamaica, Middleton immigrated first to Canada (where he studied at the ICS and received his PhD from the joint ICS/VU program), then moved to the United States to take up a faculty position. He became a member of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies in 1992 and has presented seventeen academic papers at CSBS over those years (as well as twenty-three papers at other academic societies that meet as part of the Congress).

Richard has also published a blog post on being both a Kuyperian and a Wesleyan (originally written as the Foreword to a book on Christian Worldview for Brazilian Christians).

Wednesday 5 June 2019

Graduates and Undergraduates Talk God and Politics in 2019 Workshop and Joint Course

On May 23-25, 2019 ICS hosted its third annual Undergraduate Workshop that invited undergraduate students from all over to join us in Toronto and to get a taste of graduate education. This year, we were joined by ten undergraduate presenters from the following institutions in Canada, the U.S., and Qatar: Greenville University, Canadian Mennonite University, Cornerstone University, The King's University, Memorial University Newfoundland, and Georgetown University in Qatar. 

Undergraduate participants presented their own research
to the group and fielded questions
These students presented their own academic research as it related to the theme of this year's workshop: God & Politics: Religion and Public Life in the 21st Century. Paper topics ranged from a deep engagement with Indigenous writers thinking about the practice and possibility of "nation-to-nation" sovereignty in Canada today to a historical narrative study of the work and life of Saint Oscar Romero from El Salvador; from a critical study of the Minjung liberation theology movement in Korea to a thorough exploration of Immanuel Kant's reading of the ethical and moral implications of the story of Abraham and Isaac. 

Dr. Ronald A. Kuipers welcoming everyone
to the workshop
The undergraduates' papers received formal responses from ICS Senior Members, Junior Members, and alumni, with each response being followed by extensive group discussion. Each of the undergraduates displayed a remarkable depth of research ability and an admirable aptitude to respond to hard-hitting questions. ICS was proud to host these talented students and wishes each of them well in their ongoing academic work.

Dr. Jeffrey Dudiak introducing prevalent themes
for the workshop and course
The Workshop occurred in conjunction with another undergraduate-graduate joint event: a summer intensive course titled “To the Unknown God”: Paul and Some Philosophers. ICS and The King's University joined together to offer this course, which included a preparatory reading portion, participation in the Workshop, and an intensive one-week in-class portion following the Workshop. During the course, students read a number of philosophers who consider the writings of the Apostle Paul and their relevance to contemporary political questions. The course was led by ICS President and Senior Member in Philosophy of Religion Dr. Ronald A. Kuipers and King's Professor of Philosophy Dr. Jeffrey Dudiak.

Outside of class time, students explored the new ICS location, the University of Toronto campus, and the city of Toronto. King’s alum and ICS Board Member Lynnette Postuma also hosted a dinner with students and professors to celebrate the joint efforts of the two universities to offer this engaging course in Toronto. We at ICS are thankful for the chance to work alongside The King's University, and for the participation of the students who took up the challenge with aplomb, and we look forward to future shared learning opportunities like this one.

Visiting course participants enjoying a dinner hosted by
King's alum and ICS Board member Lynnette Postuma

Course participants taking a tour of campus

Participants in the ICS-King's joint course
"To the Unknown God": Paul and Some Philosophers

Both the Workshop and the course were graciously hosted at Regis College by the Msgr. John Mary Fraser Centre for Practical Theology. ICS would like to extend its thanks to both Regis and the Centre for their hospitality during these events.