Tuesday 14 June 2022

Together Entwined

A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
–Ecclesiastes 4:12b

It’s funny how things come together sometimes. In the first week of June, we held the meetings of our Academic Senate and Board of Trustees, as well as our first in-person Convocation since 2019. At our Senate meeting, ICS Senator and Vice Chancellor Dr. Beth Green referred to the passage from Ecclesiastes, quoted above, noting how strands of yarn are themselves made when wool fibres are twisted together, and how, in turn, bigger and even stronger cords are made from the twisting and twining of these individual strands.

With this image, Beth drew our attention to the importance of the creative twisting and cooperative flexibility we are called to assume in our various roles at ICS, as we faithfully strive to pursue our mission in Christian higher education. When we come together in that task, we become stronger as an institution and better able to create healthy, graceful communities of learning and discovery for the students we serve.

Yet for all its emphasis on the importance of coming together, this chapter of Ecclesiastes begins in a very different place, noting “all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun,” resulting in both the solitary suffering of victims, as well as the lonely existence of oppressors (vs. 1). The teacher then points to the fact that we all need each other to live healthy and abundant lives, that we utterly depend on each other both to survive and to thrive—“woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help” (v. 10b). An oppressive society is one that has allowed itself to unravel, leaving its individual strands to untwine and ultimately fray on their own.

Later, during the ICS Convocation, I recalled the image of the threefold cord when I gave my laudatio in honour of Benjamin Shank, who received his PhD degree. Benjamin’s dissertation highlights the crucial role played by the trust relationships we form in early childhood, which give us the ability to become healthy adults, people able to live with hearts wide open to one another and to the rest of God’s good creation. When our parents lovingly entwine themselves into our lives from our earliest moments, we ourselves become part of a stronger cord, and learn how to twist ourselves in ways that will build up the others we meet along life’s way.

When such trust fails, as it can, fear and anxiety may take over. While understandable, this is a tragic reaction, because at the end of the day our utter dependence on the support of others does not change simply because fear has taken the place of trust. Untwining ourselves and going it alone, as fear encourages us to do, is not a livable option, and that fact says something deep about the kinds of creatures we are.

A good way to think about our Christian faith, then, is as a deep trust in the Source of life, a trust that instills in us a desire to become entwined with a God who, in Jesus Messiah, shows us the path of healing and blessing. As we twist ourselves into the way of that God, we take steps toward the kingdom of shalom he promises is coming. In this way, we find ourselves coming together, mutually strengthening one another, and shaping a world where no one is ever made to go it alone ever again.

Thank you for entwining yourselves into the life of ICS, friends. You make us stronger and better able to serve all the different kinds of students who come through our doors seeking God’s wisdom for the world. I wish you all a restful and creative summer, and I hope to see you back in this space in September!


Ron Kuipers

Prayer Letter: Summer 2022

Wednesday, June 1 - Friday, June 3:

The beginning of June was packed with year-end events for us. Please take this opportunity to give thanks along with all of us for the productive and inspiring Senate and Board of Trustees meetings that took place on June 2 & 3. The discussions around both tables were forward-looking and uplifting, and Senate and Board members came away with a renewed sense of God’s presence in our midst.

As well, we give thanks for a joy-filled celebration at our Convocation on the evening of Friday, June 3. The ceremony included the granting of an honourary degree to Dr. Barbara Carvill, an address to our graduates from Dr. Carvill on the deep, ethical importance of Christian education to enriching the “how” of teaching and learning, and the granting of degrees to Junior Members across all our programs. Please join us in gratitude for Dr. Carvill and for each and every one of our graduates and their accomplishments. Congratulations!

Monday, June 6 - Friday, June 10:

On June 8–11, ICS hosted its 2022 Summer Community Conference, “Difficult Conversations, Difficult Journeys, Difficult Justice.” Senior and Junior Members, alums, and ICS/CPRSE institutional partners provided leadership through a number of keynote lectures, workshops, and community conversations. Friends of our community had the opportunity to reconnect to ICS, as well as to interact with staff, students, and faculty, in the context of this conference. We pray in thanksgiving for the success of this enriching event, and we hope that the challenging conversations it initiated continue to nourish our communities' reflection and action in the world.

This week and next are very busy in the Academic Registrar’s office so we ask for prayer for Elizabet Aras as she works to finish the tasks coming out of the Senate meeting and Convocation, prepares for the beginning of our remaining summer course next week, and continues work on our new student database. Please pray for rest and renewal in the short breaks she plans to take throughout the summer.

Please also pray this week and next for the Advancement office as they work with the DonorPerfect staff to complete the remaining steps in the data transfer process. Our goal is to go live in the first week of July and we are on track to be able to do that at this point. Please pray that the process will continue to go smoothly and for energy and focus for all members of the team.

As we quickly move toward the end of our fiscal year this month, we would ask that you prayerfully consider sending in your financial support if you have not already done so (you can find the Canadian support page here and the US support page here). We are so grateful for the continued and generous giving of our support community and we pray God’s blessing on each one of you.

Monday, June 13 - Friday, June 17:

This week, ICS/CPRSE published the fourth volume in its Currents in Reformational Thought series (Wipf & Stock) titled, Dancing in the Wild Spaces of Love: A Theopoetics of Gift and Call, Risk and Promise, by James Olthuis, Senior Member Emeritus in Philosophical Theology. In this book, Dr. Olthuis addresses one of the central anxieties and concerns of modern philosophy after the “discovery” of the historicity of human experience: what does it mean to be a human participant in the enduring process of existence? Please pray with us in thanksgiving for Dr. Olthuis and the gift of his scholarly and pedagogical work, as well as for the work of the editorial team in bringing this book to publication.

Please pray for Andrew Tebbutt as he leads his course, The Visible, the Invisible, and the Revealed: Phenomenology and Christianity which began Monday, June 13th and ends July 22nd. This course is delivered in an intensive format, so we ask for creativity and energy for Andrew as he guides the discussions and for new inspiration and learning for the students who are participating.

Please also pray this week for two of our MA-EL summer courses: Cultivating Learning Communities of Grace with Edith van der Boom, and Lead From Where You Are: Making a Difference in the Face of Tough Problems, Big Questions, and Organizational Politics with Gideon Strauss. Both have their third virtual class session on Thursday, June 16th, and finish with three sessions on August 9-11. Pray for continued creative energy for both Edith and Gideon as they lead the courses, and for all the participants that might find joy and inspiration in their learning experiences.

Pray too for the course Biblical Foundations with Nik Ansell and ICS PhD candidate Mark Standish, which continues to run through the month of June. Please pray for all the students and faculty that each class will be filled with interactive discussions and inspired moments of learning about the Scriptures.

Monday, June 20 - Friday, June 24:

The month of June has been busy for faculty as they get caught up on their supervising and mentoring responsibilities before the summer and begin to prepare for the new academic year in the fall. Pray specifically for those instructors who taught in the winter semester as course grades are due on June 18th. Pray for the space and energy in their lives as they work with the students in this important way. And pray also for their various projects and holidays over the course of the summer—that both work and rest may refresh them.

Pray for the students who have been accepted into programs for this fall, as well as for those who are still undecided. We ask God to bless them with wisdom as they discern this important step in their life, and pray that God will provide the necessary funding for their studies.

As the end of the fiscal year is upon us, we ask God for strength, clarity of mind, and encouragement for Harley Dekker, our Director of Finance and Administration. There is much to do throughout this month and into the summer, such as preparation for the year end financial audit, getting the books in order for the new budget year, and preparing for the start of the academic year in September. We give thanks for Harley’s unflagging dedication to this work.

As Thursday next week marks the end of our fiscal year, we want to say a huge thank you to all who have given of their time and financial resources! We are so grateful for the way God blesses us through you with your gifts and encouragement.

Monday, June 27 - Thursday, June 30:

We currently have two Junior Members starting their ICS studies in the fall who are looking for housing opportunities in Toronto before the start of the fall semester. One is named Robert Woods and the other is Traver Carlson.
  • Robert is looking for a location that is not too far from public transport (i.e., the subway) and can be contacted at robertwoods548@gmail.com.
  • Traver aims to move to Toronto in the first week of August and is looking for somewhere with parking and some means of preparing food (shared kitchen, kitchenette, space for electric induction tops, etc.). Access to laundry would be nice but it's not a deal-breaker. He is also fine with roommates and sharing space. Traver can be contacted at tcarlson@icscanada.edu.
If you or anyone you know has available Toronto housing opportunities for these new JMs, please don’t hesitate to email them directly with any leads. And please keep them both in your prayers as they seek somewhere to live in a new city.

Planning for the fall semester has begun early! So during this week and over the summer, please pray for our Senior Members as they start preparing for the courses currently slated for the Fall 2022 semester:
  • Biblical Foundations and Meaning/Being/Knowing, taught by Nik Ansell
  • Grace as an Aesthetic Concept, taught by Rebekah Smick
  • The Craft of Reflective Practice, taught by Gideon Strauss
  • Imagining the World with Ricoeur, taught by Ronald A. Kuipers
  • Transformative Teaching, taught by Edith van der Boom
Please also pray that over the coming months students may find their way to these courses in order to answer some of their own burning questions.

Over the next number of months, ICS will be conducting a search for a new Senior Member in Philosophy. Please join us in prayer during the search that news of this position may find its way to suitable candidates, and that the Search Committee will be granted wisdom in assessing these candidates and their potential contribution to the ICS academic community.

As we take a break from the Prayer Letter over the summer months, please keep in prayer all our Senior Members, Junior Members, and staff that everyone may find ways to rest deeply after what has proven to be a very full and fulfilling academic year. We pray the same for all of you, and are already looking forward to the fall with eager anticipation!

ICS Celebrates Graduates and Address by Dr. Barbara Carvill

On the evening of Friday, June 3, the ICS community gathered to celebrate the Convocation of our Junior Members for the first time since 2019. We also had the opportunity to grant Dr. Barbara Carvill the degree Doctor of Letters (honoris causa). 

Dr. Carvill delivered this year's Convocation Address, expounding upon the deep, ethical importance of Christian education to enriching the “how” of teaching and learning to those gathered in person and through our livestream. In her address, Dr. Carvill took us on a journey through the pedagogical work of Clarence Joldersma and David Smith and their contributions to distinctly Christian education, and into an imaginative exposition of a 15th-century vision for how to lead a godly life in our work, study, and community.

After this address there followed a litany of joyful and heartfelt celebrations of the successfully completed projects of our Junior Members over the past two years. Project topics ranged from improving Bible education and classroom dynamics in K-12 schools, to an investigation into a contemporary spirit of malaise; from an honest inquiry into some of the unintended but baked-in destructive characteristics of Christianity, to a Biblical exposition of the difficult question of redemptive violence; from a consideration of Indigenous ecologies on philosophies of education, to textual studies of figures like Heidegger, Irigaray, Seerveld, Goudzwaard, Aquinas, Ricoeur, and Kierkegaard. The array of work put forward by our Junior Members is inspiring, both deeply and honestly grappling with a host of today's difficult and pressing questions.

Congratulations to our Graduates!
Karin Boonstra (MA, 2022)
Grace Carhart (MA, 2022)
David Grills (MA, 2022)
Abbigail Hofstede (MA, 2022)
Theoren Tolsma (MA, 2022)
Fred VanderBerg (MA, 2022)
Danielle Yett (MA, 2020)
Jon Andreas (ICS PhD, 2021)
Benjamin Shank (ICS PhD, 2021)
Shane Cudney (ICS/VUA PhD, 2021)
Dean Dettloff (ICS/VUA PhD, 2021)
Josh Harris (ICS/VUA PhD, 2020)
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A video of the full ceremony, including Convocation Address, may be watched below and on ICS's Youtube Channel.


New Junior Members in Need of Housing

Two Junior Members who will be starting their ICS studies in the fall are looking for housing opportunities in Toronto before the start of the fall semester. One is named Robert Woods and the other is Traver Carlson.

  • Robert is looking for a location that is not too far from public transport (i,e,. the subway) and can be contacted at robertwoods548@gmail.com.

  • Traver aims to move to Toronto in the first week of August and is looking for somewhere with parking and some means of preparing food (shared kitchen, kitchenette, space for electric induction tops, etc.). Access to laundry would be nice but it's not a deal-breaker. He is also fine with roommates and sharing space. Traver can be contacted at tcarlson@icscanada.edu.

If you or anyone you know has available Toronto housing opportunities for these new JMs, please don’t hesitate to email them directly with any leads.

New Book by James Olthuis Added to Currents in Reformational Thought Series

Dancing in the Wild Spaces of Love; cover image by Jordan McIntyre
Cover image by
Jordan McIntyre
A new volume in the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics' Currents in Reformational Thought book series has just been published with Wipf and Stock!

James H. Olthuis, Senior Member Emeritus in Philosophical Theology at ICS, has authored the newest title in our series: Dancing in the Wild Spaces of Love: A Theopoetics of Gift and Call, Risk and PromiseThis book is available directly from the Wipf and Stock website as well as other online book sellers. Here is a synopsis of Jim's book from the publisher's site:

In the twenty-first century, amid globalized violence, rising demagogues, and the climate emergency, contemporary philosophers and theologians have begun to debate a fundamental question: Is our reality the result of the overflowing, ever-present creativity of Love, or the symptom of a traumatic rupture at the heart of all things? Drawing on decades of research in postmodern philosophy and experience as a psychotherapist, James H. Olthuis wades into this discussion to propose a radical ontology of Love without metaphysics. In dialogue with philosophers like John D. Caputo, Slavoj Žižek, Luce Irigaray, and others, Olthuis explores issues from divine sovereignty and the problem of evil to trauma and social ethics. Experience in therapeutic work informs these investigations, rooting them in journeys with individuals on the path to healing. Olthuis makes the bold claim that while trauma, pain, and suffering are significant parts of our human lives, nevertheless Love is with us to the very end. Creation is a gift that comes with a call to make something of it ourselves, a risky task we must take on with the promise that Love will win. We are all dancing in the wild spaces of Love: ex amore, cum amore, ad amorem.

Endorsements for Jim's Book:

“The sheer attractive force of this meditation on the love at the heart of everything draws biblical hermeneutics, Derrida and Irigaray, trauma theory and social ethics into an irresistible theopoetics. In this wild dance of a text, Olthuis may be loving theology itself back to life.”

Catherine Keller
George T. Cobb Professor of Constructive Theology, Drew University, The Theological School
Author of Facing Apocalypse: Climate, Democracy and Other Last Chances

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Dancing in the Wild Spaces of Love is everything we have come to expect from Jim Olthuis – a beautifully written, carefully argued, wide-ranging analysis of the centrality of love in our lives, a veritable philosophical hymn to love. Olthuis is a bright light in these dark days, a balm for an age of anger, rage and divisiveness in which love is an increasingly scarce commodity. We have never needed him more than now.”

John D. Caputo
Thomas J. Watson Professor Emeritus of Religion, Syracuse University
David R. Cook Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Villanova University

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“In every sense possible, Olthuis lives up to the subtitle of this remarkable book. This is indeed a theopoetics and must be engaged as such. Yes, of course there are erudite and close readings of the likes of Irigaray, Derrida, Žižek, Levinas and Caputo. But even here, Olthuis is dancing with these authors. There is a poetic allusiveness, imaginativity and generous empathy in these conversations. What else would we expect from a hermeneutics of love, informed and deepened by decades of psychotherapeutic practice? Having walked the path of trauma and profound brokenness, together with healing and hope, Olthuis embodies a wisdom born of tears. But tears can turn to dancing. So put on your dancing shoes when you read this book.”

Brian J. Walsh
Co-author (with Sylvia Keesmaat) of Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice

Forthcoming Volume on Irigaray from Ruthanne Crapo Kim

ICS alum Dr. Ruthanne Crapo Kim (Minneapolis Community and Technical College) has co-edited a collection engaging Luce Irigaray's work and pushing it in important new directions. The book is titled Horizons of Difference: Rethinking Space, Place, and Identity with Irigaray and is co-edited by Yvette Russell and Brenda Sharp. The book is due to be released by SUNY Press this July. 

If you'd like to get a copy for yourself, it is available for preorder through the publisher's website. A publisher's description and table of contents follow below.

Publisher's Description

Horizons of Difference offers twelve original essays inspired by Luce Irigaray's complex, nuanced critique of Western philosophy, culture, and metaphysics, and her call to rethink our relationship to ourselves and the world through sexuate difference. Contributors engage urgent topics in a range of fields, including trans feminist theory, feminist legal theory, film studies, critical race theory, social-political theory, philosophy of religion, environmental ethics, philosophical aesthetics, and critical pedagogy. In so doing, they aim to push the scope of Irigaray's work beyond its horizon. Horizons of Difference seeks conversations that Irigaray herself has yet to fully consider and explores areas that stretch the limits of the notion of sexuate difference itself. Sexuate difference is a unifying mode of thought, bringing disparate disciplines and groups together. Yet it also resists unification in demanding that we continually rethink the basic coordinates of space, place, and identity. Ultimately, Horizons of Difference insists that the fragmented, wounded subjectivities within the dominant regime of masculine sameness can inform how we negotiate space, find place, and transform identity.

Table of Contents

Ruthanne Crapo Kim, Yvette Russell and Brenda Sharp

Part I: Trans Identities and Sexual Violence

Chapter 1 – Tarrying with Sexual Difference
Athena V. Colman

Chapter 2 - Rethinking Feminist Resistance to Rape: Irigaray and Erotic Transformation
Yvette Russell

Part II: Sexuate Ontology

Chapter 3 - The Conditions of Emergence: Irigaray, Primordial Wombs, and The Origins of Cellular Life
Annu Dahiya

Chapter 4 - Irigaray’s Extendable Matrix: Cosmic Expansion-Contraction and Black Hole Umbilical Cords 
MD Murtagh

Chapter 5 - Irigarayan Ontology and the Possibilities of Sexual Difference
James Sares

Part III: Divine Women

Chapter 6 - A Theology of Lips: Beyond the Wounding of Desire
Wesley N. Barker

Chapter 7 - Hailing Divine Women in Godard’s Hail Mary and Miéville’s The Book of Mary
Tessa Ashlin Nunn

Part IV: Rethinking Race and Sexual Difference

Chapter 8 - White Supremacist Miscegenation: Irigaray at the intersection of Race, Sexuality, and Patriarchy
Sabrina L. Hom

Chapter 9 - Justice in an Unjust World: The Politics of Narration in Luce Irigaray and Frank Miller’s Sin City
Mary C. Rawlinson

Part V: Environments of Relational Difference

Chapter 10 - Artificial Life, Autopoiesis, and Breath: Irigaray with Ecological Feminism and Deep Ecology
Ruthanne Crapo Kim

Chapter 11 - She Speaks in Threes: Irigaray, at the Threshold between Phenomenology and Speculative Realism in Teaching Architecture
Michael Lucas

Chapter 12 - Commonality in Breath: Reading Northern Ireland’s ‘Peace Process’ through the Material Ontologies of Irigaray and Manning
Ciara Merrick

Now Hiring! Senior Member in Philosophy

ICS is looking to hire a Senior Member in Philosophy to start July 1, 2023! 

A full position description -- including guidelines and criteria for applicants -- is now available under "Employment Opportunities" on our website. The deadline for accepting applications is October 3, 2022.

Please share news of this employment opportunity far and wide with anyone you consider to fit the criteria linked to above and who might become a vibrant addition to the ICS academic community.