Saturday, 1 October 2022

Prayer Letter: October 2022

Monday, October 3 - Friday, October 7:

October 3 is the application deadline for the opening for a Senior Member in Philosophy at ICS. We are grateful for all of the applications we have received, and we pray for the Search Committee as they now begin to evaluate candidates and start the interview process. Please pray that the committee may be granted wisdom in assessing these candidates and their potential contribution to the ICS academic community.

October 3 is also the first Educational Policy Committee meeting of the year at ICS. At this meeting, the EPC will consider the results of a survey of ICS students and instructors that was conducted earlier this year and will advise the Academic Council on the assessment of student work on the basis of those results. Please join the EPC in its own prayers for its work, from the collect for the feast of Hildegard of Bingen: God of all times and seasons: Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation, and show forth your glory in the world; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

CPRSE Associate Director and PhD candidate Héctor Acero Ferrer will be preaching this week at the CRC Campus Ministries at the University of Toronto’s Wine Before Breakfast service. Héctor’s reflection will focus on the image of God the pilgrim as articulated by Liberation Theology. Please pray for Héctor as he prepares his reflection, and pray in gratitude for the important work done by the CRC Campus Ministries, as they provide a space for faithful reflection and fellowship for the university students in the GTA.  

Senior Members Edith van der Boom and Gideon Strauss will be travelling to Grand Rapids, Michigan on October 5-7. Edith and Gideon will be meeting with the Friends of ICS on the evening of the 5th to give an update on the latest news and projects at ICS. Edith and Gideon will then attend the Kuyers/INCHE Conference at Calvin University. On October 6, Edith will present on “Decolonizing Christian Education for Human Flourishing” and on October 7, Gideon will present on “The Question in Hand: When Teaching Change Leadership Demands Change.” Please pray for Edith and Gideon as they travel and spend this valuable time meeting with colleagues and ICS supporters.

Monday, October 10 (Thanksgiving) - Friday, October 14: 

During this week of Canadian Thanksgiving, we want to join together and give thanks for the many answers to prayer this year. We have been blessed by our ICS community again and again as you faithfully supported us in our times of need and we have been encouraged by the grace and strength that God has given us during the difficult times. We are beyond grateful for the presence of each of our Junior and Senior Members and the unique contributions they make to the ICS community, and we give thanks for all of the ICS staff and the ways in which they faithfully serve the educational mission of ICS. 

Earlier this fall, Dr. Neal DeRoo joined the ICS team in the capacity of CPRSE Postdoctoral Research Associate. Dr. DeRoo is thrilled to put his experience and knowledge at the service of our ICS community. Please pray for Dr. DeRoo as he joins the CPRSE team, for a fruitful and smooth transition into his new role.

Our first staff meeting of the academic year will take place this week. This is a busy time of year for ICS administration, with many projects on the go and deadlines approaching. Please pray that the ICS staff might find mutual encouragement for their individual and shared tasks during this meeting and in their ongoing work together. 

During the month of October, the Critical Faith podcast will resume its activities after a year-long hiatus. The podcast’s re-launch episode will feature an interview with Eric Van Giessen, Toronto activist, artist, and PhD student at York University. Please pray for the Critical Faith team as they start activities for this academic year.

Monday, October 17 - Friday, October 21:

On October 17, the Academic Council will receive and discuss a report from Senior Member Nik Ansell reflecting on his own practices as a learner, teacher, and lover of Scripture. We pray that this might be a time of gratitude and celebration for Nik’s singular contributions to the academic and spiritual life of the ICS community.

On the evening of October 19, we will host an online Info Night for ART in Orvieto 2023. This event will feature an overview of the art, religion, and theology seminar led by Senior Member Rebekah Smick, the Artists’ Workshop led by David Holt, and the Writers’ Workshop led by John Terpstra. There will also be a Q&A period for any questions hopeful attendees may have. Email if you or someone you know would like to join us and find out more about this wonderful learning opportunity. And please pray that the event will prove both helpful and inspiring to those who attend.

Our Academic Integrity & Citation Management Workshop is taking place on October 20, led by Librarian Peter Gorman. Please pray for Peter as he prepares for this session and for the students who attend this event, that they might gain valuable insights and tools as they pursue their research projects and interests in the coming academic year.

The 16th Annual Society for Ricoeur Studies Conference is being held on October 20-22 in Los Angeles, California. CPRSE Associate Director Héctor Acero Ferrer, ICS alums Andrew Tebbutt and Abbi Hofstede, and PhD candidate Mark Standish will all travel to this conference to present the panel “Public Fragility, Fragile Publics: Ricœur’s Political Thought from Root to Branch.” Please pray for this ICS delegation as they share with the Society’s international audience the product of their reflection on the political, economic, and religious thought of Paul Ricoeur. 

Monday, October 24 - Friday, October 28:

It’s Reading Week at ICS! Please pray for our Junior and Senior Members during this week that they might make the most of this opportunity to attend to the various projects on which they’re working. Please pray for our Junior Members and 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 educational vocations at ICS.

The next issue of Perspective will be on its way to a mailbox near you shortly! In this issue, you’ll be able to read some reflections from Senior Members Ron Kuipers and Bob Sweetman, alumnus Drew Van’t Land, Kristin Kobes Du Mez, as well as our newest Junior Members on the traditions in which they find themselves and the life they find therein. Please join us in thanksgiving for each of these contributors and the time they’ve spent sharing their insights, and please pray for the editors, designers, and printers as they put the final touches on this issue.

Please hold the Board of Trustees in your prayers as they oversee the vision and mission of ICS, especially as they plan for their next major Board meeting coming up in mid-November and attend to the details of the upcoming Annual General Meeting on November 19 as well. Pray for strength and wisdom for each Trustee as they continue to provide support and leadership in the working out of God’s call to ICS now and into the future.

On Thursday, October 27 at 3:00pm at Regis College, the ICS community will gather to celebrate the publication of Seeking Stillness or The Sound of Wings: Scholarly and Artistic Comment on Art, Truth, and Society in Honour of Lambert Zuidervaart, the second volume of the Currents in Reformational Thought book series. The celebration of this publication will also be an opportunity to honour the contribution of Senior Member Emeritus Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart to the Reformational philosophy tradition. Please pray in thanksgiving for Dr. Zuidervaart, as well as for the numerous contributors to the volume and all those involved in the planning of this celebration.  

Monday, October 31:

Please pray today for the Advancement and Finance teams as they work to organize and send out the necessary materials for the AGM on November 19th and this year’s Advent Appeal. Pray especially for Harley Dekker as he works with the auditors to finalize the annual audit of our financial records for the fiscal year which ended on June 30, 2022. We continue to be amazed by the generosity of our support community and have seen positive financial developments even amid the global financial stresses of this past year. We give thanks for God’s enduring care for us.

A Living Tradition of Faithfulness

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.

—Psalm 85:10-11

At ICS, we spend a lot of time thinking about and imagining what it means for a Christian tradition to be faithful. How do we recognize faithfulness when we see it? This question is harder to answer than it first seems, because we must avoid confusing faithfulness with the mere adoption or repetition of the intellectual beliefs or doctrines that have been codified by previous generations of Christians. Faithfulness goes deeper than that. Active reception and appropriation of a tradition includes an effort to make it “one’s own,” and that effort involves the communal discernment of what it means to be faithful in one’s own time. The answer to that question, an answer that is ultimately revealed by the fruit of faithful living, often is, and should be, different than the answers previous generations have produced. Yet somehow the faithfulness remains recognizable as a continuation of what had come before.

We know that faithfulness has something to do with accepting Scripture’s invitation to share a vision of a redeemed—a healed and transformed—world, the one so beautifully portrayed in Psalm 85. The psalmist envisions a world where chesed (steadfast lovingkindness and mercy, giving oneself completely in love and compassion) and emet (truth as faithfulness) meet, where tzedek (righteousness or justice) and shalom (peace, harmony, wholeness) kiss.

How can we be faithful to that vision today? While there is no automatic or simple answer to that question, we must never cease striving to answer it . Thankfully, the Spirit of our Maker and Redeemer is here to help us in this task, and Scripture provides much needed guidance and orientation for our approach. Even so, we still have the responsibility to discern for ourselves, in faithfulness, what faithfulness in fact requires of us today (and tomorrow, and the next). 

Scripture bears witness to God’s people struggling with this question time and again, and even shows them coming up with new answers that they are convinced remain faithful to this scriptural vision. I think we understand these people’s efforts at discernment better if we come to understand faithful living as something akin to a craft or skill, a way of living that organically evolves over time as it is passed from person to person and from generation to generation. While past virtuoso performances provide the necessary examples and inspiration to guide our current efforts, we remain called to contribute our own unique, novel performances, thereby making space for the spirit at work in this tradition to breathe new life into our own time and open an alternative future than the destructive one that today’s powers and principalities are constructing.

Friends, let us pray together for the eyes and ears that will help us notice and celebrate all the new ways of inhabiting our tradition that expand our imagination about what makes for faithful living, and which build our desire for our Maker’s chesed, emet, tzedek, and shalom!

Ron Kuipers

CPRSE at Society for Ricoeur Studies Annual Conference

The CPRSE will travel to present at the upcoming 16th Annual Society for Ricoeur Studies Conference, held on October 20-22 in Los Angeles, California on the theme of Capability, Fragility, and Joy. The event will feature keynote addresses by Brian Treanor (Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles) and Christina Gschwandtner (Fordham University, New York City) as well as a number of presentations and workshops from international conference participants.

CPRSE Associate Director Héctor Acero Ferrer will moderate some of the conference sessions. Héctor and ICS alums Andrew Tebbutt and Abbi Hofstede, and PhD candidate Mark Standish will also together present the panel “Public Fragility, Fragile Publics: Ricoeur’s Political Thought from Root to Branch,” exploring the political, economic, and religious thought of Paul Ricoeur.

You can find out more about the Society for Ricoeur Studies and their annual conference here.

October 4 - Season of Creation: Panel Discussion

On Tuesday, October 4, 7pm - 9pm EST, The Church of the Redeemer in Toronto will host a panel discussion on the church and climate change titled: "The Season of Creation - What If...?"

This event will be both in person and online, and will be moderated by the Rt. Rev’d Andrew Asbil, Bishop of the Diocese of Toronto. The panellists include: The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, (26th Governor General of Canada and an Anglican), Paige Souter, (Member, Bishop’s Committee for Creation Care), The Rev’d Alison Hari-Singh (adjunct lecturer at Trinity College), and Brian Walsh (activist theologian, former ICS Senior Member and former pastor of the Wine Before Breakfast community, Wycliffe College).

Please register here if you'd like to attend (whether in person or online). There will be a reception to follow the in-person event.

Tuesday, October 4, 7-9pm EST


Church of the Redeemer (162 Bloor Street West, Toronto)
Also possible to join online. Register for the link.

Save the Date: Online AGM on November 19

This year's Annual General Meeting for ICS Members will be held on the afternoon of Saturday, November 19th. The meeting will take place online so that ICS supporters can join from anywhere in the world to hear the latest on what's happening at ICS.

Voting materials, an agenda, and details for how to join the meeting will be sent out in the coming weeks, so keep an eye on your inboxes and save the date in your calendars. 

Edith van der Boom & Gideon Strauss in Grand Rapids

Dr. Edith van der Boom and Dr. Gideon Strauss will be travelling to Grand Rapids, Michigan from October 5-7. On October 5th at 7pm, Edith and Gideon will spend an evening with the Friends of ICS, providing an update on the latest news and projects at ICS. This event is being graciously hosted at the Woodlawn Christian Reformed Ministry Center by FICS President Barbara Carvill and Woodlawn CRC's Mike Abma. 

If you haven't already, you can let us know you'd like to attend by emailing

On the 6th and 7th, Edith and Gideon will then attend the Kuyers/INCHE Conference at Calvin University. On October 6, Edith will present on “Decolonizing Christian Education for Human Flourishing.” Here is an abstract of her presentation:

In this session I will highlight some of the history of residential schooling which was set up across Canada for the purpose of eradicating the culture and language of Indigenous peoples. I argue that those of us who are settlers need not only to continue to learn more about Indigenous peoples and our history but we also need to begin the task of decolonization for human flourishing. I suggest the practice of critical reflection as a means to expose unconscious assumptions, biases, and other forms of injustice. 

On October 7, Gideon will present on “The Question in Hand: When Teaching Change Leadership Demands Change.” Here is an abstract of his presentation: 

I teach a course in the graduate-level educational leadership program of the Institute for Christian Studies with the title Lead from Where You Are. At the heart of the course is an introduction to the practice of change leadership in the face of tough organizational problems. This paper is an account of how my annual teaching of this course over the years 2018-2022 demanded I exercise precisely those skills which I try to teach my students, including the cultivation of trust through the presentation of vulnerability. As such, this paper offers testimony to my lived experience of scholarship as discipleship. 

More information about sessions at the Kuyers Conference can be found here.

Friday, 30 September 2022

ART in Orvieto Online Info Night - October 19

On October 19 at 6pm EST, we will host an online Info Night for ART in Orvieto 2023. This event will feature an overview of the art, religion, and theology seminar led by Rebekah Smick, the Artists’ Workshop led by David Holt, and the Writers’ Workshop led by John Terpstra. There will also be a Q&A period for any questions hopeful attendees may have. 

Email if you or someone you know would like to join us and find out more about this wonderful learning opportunity.

Monday, 26 September 2022

October 27 - Zuidervaart Festschrift Celebration

Almost two years after the publication of the second volume of ICS’s Currents in Reformational Thought book seriesSeeking Stillness or The Sound of Wings: Scholarly and Artistic Comment on Art, Truth, and Society in Honour of Lambert Zuidervaart, we are finally ready to celebrate this splendid collection of essays! 

Join us on Thursday, October 27th, 2022, as we gather in person to celebrate the contribution of ICS Senior Member Emeritus Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart to the tradition of Reformational Philosophy and reflect on the diverse contributions made to this festschrift in Dr. Zuidervaart’s honour. The event will feature a presentation on the book and a panel discussion, followed by a light reception. 

Thursday October 27th, 2022 at 3:00 - 5:30pm

Regis College, University of Toronto (100 Wellesley St. West)
Book presentation and panel discussion – St. Joseph Chapel 
Reception - Christie Mansion

Please RSVP to if you would like to attend this event in honour of Dr. Zuidervaart. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Dr. Pamela Beattie Appointed Senate Chair and Chancellor

The Institute for Christian Studies is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Pamela Beattie as the Chair of the ICS Senate and ICS Chancellor. Dr. Beattie is Chair of the Department of Comparative Humanities and Associate Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Louisville (Kentucky, USA), and has served on the ICS Senate since 2018. She is a specialist in medieval religious culture with a particular focus on the thirteenth century Catalan philosopher and missionary Ramon Llull.

Dr. Beattie is originally from London, Ontario, and graduated from London District Christian Secondary School. She was in the pioneer class at Redeemer University, and graduated from Calvin University before attending the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies and the University of Toronto. Dr. Beattie succeeds Aron Reppmann as Chair of Senate and Chancellor. Her term started on Wednesday, September 7, 2022.

Thursday, 1 September 2022

Surprised by the Spirit

And God, who knows the human heart,
testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit,
just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith
he has made no distinction between them and us.
—Acts 15:8-9 (NRSV)

Discerning the new ways that God’s redemptive Spirit is moving in our world today can be a messy, risky business. Our hearts and guts—the wellsprings of our desire for compassion, restoration, and justice—may pull us one way, and everything we have been taught to believe about what scripture says may pull us in another.

In Acts 15 we see our Messiah’s early followers in a similar quandary. The traditional interpretation of their scriptures convinces many of them that, to be counted among Jesus’s followers, it is necessary for everyone, including Gentiles, “to be circumcised and ordered to keep the laws of Moses” (vs. 5). Other leaders disagree, believing they have discerned a new way that the Spirit is moving outside of the people God originally chose to bear witness to the shalom way.

What to do? One way they could have gone was to apply, simply and directly, what centuries of religious tradition had told them their scriptures demanded. It is tempting to treat scripture this way, as a kind of algorithm through which one might run any controversial situation or disagreement, counting on it to produce a clear-cut answer that will not require us to engage in the difficult yet necessary task of discerning whether God’s Spirit might be doing something new in our midst. Thankfully, that is not the way the apostles eventually choose, opting instead for the latter, more challenging path.

When the apostles and elders gather to work through their disagreement, Peter stands up before them and testifies to his experience of bringing the good news to the Gentiles. Through this experience, Peter has become convinced that, outside of strictly keeping the law, the gift of God’s Spirit has still somehow cleansed these people’s hearts and enabled them to become a blessing to their communities. After Peter speaks, “the whole assembly kept silence, and listened” as Paul and Barnabas proceed to tell of “all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles” (vs. 12).

In his speech, Peter describes God with an intriguing adjective: “heart-knowing” (kardiognostes). Because we trust and follow such a “heart-knowing” God, we are called to become heart-knowers ourselves. What does that require? Perhaps the first step, to which the story itself alludes, is to keep silence and listen. Heart-knowing, it seems, requires sitting down and tarrying with people long enough to hear and feel the stories of their hearts. It takes intimacy, trust, and a vulnerability that must not be abused. Only when we sit and break bread with these ‘outsiders’ will we be able to perceive the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, and to trust it when we see it.

Did Peter, Paul, and Barnabas, then, simply ignore scripture when they found it to be inconvenient for their purposes? Hardly. To the contrary, I would suggest that their ability to see the Spirit working in a new way is born out of their spiritual practice of allowing scripture to read them. This deep immersion in scripture, as opened to them through the life and teaching of Jesus Messiah, shapes in them an imagination capable of recognizing God’s new thing when they come across it. Their utmost concern during this assembly, then, is to discern how this new spiritual movement might best remain faithful to the heart-knowing God revealed in scripture, the God whose Spirit allows them to perceive new signs of God’s coming Kingdom in the lives of once strange, unfamiliar, and even despised or dreaded others.

Let us strive to be as faithful as these early leaders of our Messiah’s church, friends! May God give us the strength and wisdom to keep silence and listen when we don’t have all the answers, or perhaps especially when we think we do have all the answers. In this way, let us allow our heart-knowing Maker to cultivate in us an imagination sensitive enough to notice and celebrate all the new things and people that, perhaps to our surprise, serve God’s ancient way of shalom!

Ron Kuipers

Prayer Letter: September 2022

Thursday, September 1 - Friday, September 2:

Today, we share the sad news of former ICS student Hans Groen’s passing on the night of August 10-11. Hans Groen studied at ICS during the 1985-1986 academic year, taking courses in political theory and aesthetics, before returning to the Netherlands where he received his PhD in 1990 from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam with a thesis on John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice.  Hans is survived by his husband of 36 years, Scott, and by his brother and sister-in-law Maarten & Mariëtte. A service was held in Hans’ memory on August 25, and we would like to add our condolences and continued prayers of comfort for Hans’ family and friends.

ICS alumnus Drew Van’t Land (MA, 2014) was recently appointed to the position of Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) in Pittsburgh, PA. Drew will be teaching remotely this semester, having been hired late this summer, but he and his family are looking for a house in Pittsburgh and hope to move there in December. Please join us in prayers of gratitude for Drew’s hard work coming to fruition in the form of this exciting new career opportunity.

Monday, September 5 - Friday, September 9:

September marks the beginning of the 2022-23 academic year, and a continuation of online learning at ICS. This year, Senior Members will continue to offer online seminars, sessions, and guided readings to our Junior Members residing both in Toronto and elsewhere in the world. Our Junior Members are all at various stages of their programs, and as well as starting up classes once again, are also starting or continuing to work on their respective research and projects. Please pray for all our instructors and students, both new and returning, as they begin this new academic year at ICS.

We are looking forward to welcoming a number of new Junior Members this fall in our different programs! Please pray along with us that these JMs will have a successful start to their studies at ICS:

  • Three new MA students: Jimmy (a graduate from The King's University), Robert (a graduate from Queen's University), and Yutong (a University of Montreal graduate);

  • Four new MA-EL program students: Angie, David, and Kelsey (all in the School Administration stream); and Josh in the Instructional Leadership stream;

  • Tracey-Ann, who has transferred to ICS from Wycliffe to start the MWS-ART program with Rebekah Smick;

  • And Todd, a Brock University graduate who has already taken several courses at ICS as a special studies student and is now embarking on the PhD program.

Please pray this week for the staff, Senior Members, and Junior Members as they participate in ICS’s Orientation Week. This year, Orientation Week events will be a mix of online and in-person events. Pray that this week will be an inspiring time together to launch the new school year and (re)connect with one another. Please pray for our Registrar, Elizabet Aras, and our Academic Dean, Dr. Gideon Strauss, as they plan the details involved in each day. Please also take a moment to join us in prayer for each day’s tasks and activities during Orientation Week:

  • Tuesday, Sept 6: Orientation Week this year will begin with a presentation by Brenda Kronemeijer and Carol Scovil, with Christian Campus Ministries at the University of Toronto. In the evening, we will offer part one of a two-part workshop for Junior and Senior Members and ICS staff titled “Your Next 5 Years,” led by Dr. Gideon Strauss. 

  • Wednesday, Sept 7: This is the day that our Junior Members complete their course registrations for the semester. There will also be meetings with Elizabet Aras and Harley Dekker about financial matters. The second part of the “Your Next 5 Years” workshop will be held in the evening.

  • Thursday, Sept 8: We have invited Marg Smit-Vandezande from Shalem Mental Health Network to introduce the Counselling Assistance Program for ICS Students and Staff (CAPS) this morning. Following this, Danielle Yett (Health & Safety Officer) will present a training session for staff, faculty, and students on our Workplace Anti-Violence and Harassment Policy. A Library Workshop will then be offered by our Librarian, Peter Gorman, for all our Junior and Senior Members in the afternoon in order to introduce everyone to how they might make the most of library materials, online resources, and more during their studies at ICS. 

  • Thursday/Friday, Sept 8/9: We will offer a virtual Fall Retreat on Thursday evening, where we will interview our new Junior Members as well as our Senior Members as a way of getting to know one another. We will then offer an in-person Fall Retreat on Friday, at the Toronto Island. At our in-person retreat we will celebrate the new academic year with a welcoming liturgy, and get to know one another better over lunch and with a variety of organized and less organized activities. Pray these words from our welcoming liturgy in solidarity with us: As we search for glimpses of truth, we journey together. As we search for signs of possibility, we journey together. As we search for reasons to hope, we journey together.

Monday, September 12 - Friday, September 16:

This is the first week of classes at ICS! Please especially pray for each Senior Member as they continue to find creative ways to teach course material online, dive deep into important and complex topics, and provide experiences that enhance a sense of community in their classrooms. Pray also for the students participating in each class that, despite the differences in time and place, it will be an inspiring and interactive learning experience for all! These are the courses to keep in your prayers this week and throughout the semester:

On Tuesday from 4:15 to 7:15pm (EST), Biblical Foundations: Narrative, Wisdom, and the Art of Interpretation led by Dr. Nik Ansell will begin. This course will explore the Bible as the ongoing story of and for God and all God’s creatures, and attempt to identify the hermeneutical methods which best help us discern its significance in present-day life—all the while paying special attention to how Christians might study Scripture and pursue wisdom in an Academy that believes biblical witness restricts human freedom, and a tradition that sees Scripture as disconnected from the issues of our time.

On Wednesday from 10am to 1pm (EST), Dr. Ronald A. Kuipers will be teaching Imagining the World with Ricoeur: Narrative, Action, and the Sacred in Ricoeur's Hermeneutic Phenomenology. This course will consider Paul Ricoeur’s evolving thoughts on topics such as textual interpretation, action, imagination, revelation, and a religious imaginary in two of his essay collections: From Text to Action: Essays in Hermeneutics, II, as well as Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination.

On Thursday from 10am to 1pm (EST), Grace as an Aesthetic Concept with Dr. Rebekah Smick begins. This course will examine the concept of grace within its theological, philosophical, literary, and art theoretical contexts in an effort to more fully understand its historical significance, the points of intersection between its contemporary uses, and its potential usefulness for the philosophy and theology of art today. 

Also on Thursday from 4:15 to 7:15pm (EST) the first session of The Craft of Reflective Practice with Dr. Gideon Strauss will take place. Course participants will learn how to do critical reflective practice by telling stories about their everyday professional life—and in the process, learn qualitative research skills, receive an introduction to phenomenology, and develop their own approach to praxis, and, most significantly, come to terms with who they are in what they do. 

From 4:30 to 7:30pm (EST) this same day, Dr. Edith van der Boom will host the first session of Transformative Teaching: The Role of a Christian Educator. Students in this course will consider their role as a Christian educator called to be a transformer of society and culture by seeking justice for those who are marginalized and disenfranchised, as well as to transform culture in their school, their local community, and the world. 

Finally on Thursday evening from 6 to 9pm (EST), Dr. Nik Ansell will begin teaching Meaning/Being/Knowing: The Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Implications of a Christian Ontology. Junior Members in this course will explore the nuances of Dooyeweerd’s idea that, “Meaning is the being of all that has been created and the nature even of our selfhood” (New Critique of Theoretical Thought), and consider how to do the work of Ontology well, by drawing upon a pre-theoretical form of Knowing, and a spiritual grounding and hope, that will always precede and exceed understanding.

Please continue to pray for our Senior Members, Junior Members, and students in these courses during this term. Pray that they might experience a close, communal learning environment as much as possible via Zoom and across various time zones.

Monday, September 19 - Friday, September 23:

A number of ICS alums and PhD candidates also start teaching courses at different schools this month. Andrew Tebbutt was recently appointed Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Trinity Christian College in Chicago and will teach philosophy courses there this year. Mark Standish and Abbi Hofstede will both also be teaching courses at The King’s University in Edmonton this year—Mark in philosophy and Abbi in politics and economics. Héctor Acero Ferrer, as an Adjunct Faculty member at Martin Luther University College in Waterloo, will likewise be teaching courses on intersectionality, interfaith/intercultural dialogue, and overseeing senior projects. Please pray for these and our many other ICS alums in the wide variety of careers they are called to pursue, as the month of September often brings with it new beginnings across all spheres of life. 

We would appreciate prayers for the Leadership Team as it continues to work out the ICS strategic plan, which is geared to enhancing our academic programming and increasing our tuition revenue and institutional longevity. We pray also for the ICS Academic Council as it resumes the work of academic governance during this month. The council will focus on ICS's academic policies with regard to the assessment of student work during this term. Pray for clarity and wisdom in our thinking as we develop, and continue to implement, ways that will enable us to keep pursuing our goal of offering truly distinct educational opportunities to the students who come our way.

Please pray for those involved in preparing and contributing to our upcoming fall issue of Perspective as authors, editors, organizers, designers, and printers. This issue will highlight some of the voices and stories of our incoming Junior Members (among others) and should offer an exciting glimpse into their work. We ask our Lord to grant all contributors creativity and insight as we aim to send this issue to our supporters in the coming months.

The fourth and latest volume in ICS’s Currents in Reformational Thought book series with Wipf & Stock Publishers was published this past June: Dancing in the Wild Spaces of Love: A Theopoetics of Gift and Call, Risk and Promise by Senior Member Emeritus Jim Olthuis. Please pray with us in particular gratitude for Jim’s latest publication, and for all those involved in the authoring, preparation, and publication of this manuscript. Pray also for those involved in the ongoing planning and preparation of future volumes in this series, that those who read them might continue to find deep wisdom and insights in their pages.

Monday, September 26 - Friday, September 30:

We ask for your prayers for Director of Finance Harley Dekker as he prepares for the auditors and the preparation of the year-end statements this month. This is always a very detailed and lengthy process, so please pray for strength and clarity of mind for Harley as he seeks to complete this task as quickly as possible in the midst of the many other aspects of administration in which he is involved.

The 2022-23 academic year will be a time of celebration at the CPRSE, including book launches for three recently published volumes of ICS’s Currents in Reformational Thought book series. The second of these volumes honours the scholarly work of Senior Member Emeritus Lambert Zuidervaart, through a festschrift entitled, Seeking Stillness or The Sound of Wings: Scholarly and Artistic Comment on Art, Truth, and Society in Honour of Lambert Zuidervaart. This festschrift will be celebrated at the facilities of Regis College on Thursday, October 27th at 3:00pm. Please pray for the organizing team as they plan this event in honour of Dr. Zuidervaart. 

During the month of September, the CPRSE team will be planning its annual cycle of research projects, publications, and public outreach events. This year, many of our events and publications will focus on questions surrounding the notion of tradition, particularly as our institution seeks to carry forward the rich tradition of inquiry and scholarship that animates the work and lives of our Senior and Junior Members. Please pray that the CPRSE’s work will be fruitful and responsible, and that the programming offered can serve as a space for transformative reflection for our community and beyond.

On September 27-29, MA-EL Director Edith van der Boom and Recruitment Coordinator Brenna Wehrle are attending the 2022 Christian Schools Canada Conference in Winnipeg. ICS is a sponsor of this year’s event, and it will be a great opportunity for Edith and Brenna to connect with some of our Christian school colleagues. Please pray for safe travels for Edith and Brenna, and for many learning and networking opportunities for them both as they attend this conference.

We pray for the search for a new ICS Senior Member in Philosophy. The Senior Member in Philosophy contributes to the MA and PhD programs of ICS by mentoring students, teaching courses, and supervising MA theses and PhD dissertations in modern and contemporary European continental philosophy as well as in either ancient or medieval European philosophy. The October 3 application deadline for this position is quickly approaching. We are grateful for the applications we have received so far, and we pray for a final push of inspiration for anyone still fine-tuning their application. Please also pray with us for the search committee, that they may be granted wisdom and discernment as they begin to evaluate applications and start the interview process.

We pray for the families and households, friends and faith communities of the members of our ICS scholarly community. We are grateful for their company and encouragement, aware of their sacrifices, and prayerful for their flourishing. As summer shifts into fall, we pray for the adjustments in our schedules and in our priorities to go well, and for our hearts to beat along with the seasonal rhythms of our lives. For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3, NRSV).

ART in Orvieto 2023 is Coming!

ART in Orvieto, July 16 to August 6, 2023

The dates for the 2023 iteration of our ART in Orvieto program have now been set! 

From July 16 to August 6, 2023, ICS will host an advanced summer studies program in art, religion, and theology located in Orvieto, Italy, a magnificent hill town 90 minutes north of Rome. The program offers an ecumenical exploration of Christian understandings of the arts. It provides a three-week residency designed for artists, art teachers, graduate students in relevant fields, and other adult learners interested in engaging the intersection of art, religion, and theology. 

The main components of the program are a seminar on the topic of art, religion, and theology with Rebekah Smick, and/or the option to join either an artists' workshop with David Holt or writers' workshop with John Terpstra.

Early Bird applicants will be eligible to receive a $500CAD Ruth and Inès Memorial Scholarship for Artistic Education. These scholarships will be available on a first come first serve basis to applicants who submit a complete ART in Orvieto application by the December 31 early bird deadline. 

Visit to find out more about the program -- and please share this wonderful learning opportunity with anyone who may be interested!

Thursday, 25 August 2022

Forthcoming Anthology on Existential Gratitude by Harris, DeRoo & Lougheed

A new anthology entitled Philosophical Perspectives on Existential Gratitude: Analytic, Continental, and Religious will be published by Bloomsbury in March 2023, and is currently available for preorder on the publisher's website

The volume is edited by ICS alums and The King's University professors Joshua Lee Harris and Neal DeRoo, and Kirk Lougheed of LCC International University, Lithuania / University of Pretoria, South Africa. Harris was awarded a research grant in the fall of 2021 to study the psychological, philosophical, and theological dimensions of gratitude. That original grant has since fed into a symposium on the topic, articles, podcast interviews, and most recently, the forthcoming publication of this collection of essays. You can read more about this volume below.

Publisher's Description

Existential gratitude—gratitude for one's very existence or life as a whole—is pervasive across the most influential human, cultural, and religious traditions. Weaving together analytic and continental, as well as non-western and historical philosophical perspectives, this volume explores the nexus of gratitude, existence and God as an inter-subjective phenomenon for the first time.

A team of leading scholars introduce existential gratitude as a perennially and characteristically human phenomenon, central to the distinctive life of our species. Attention is given to the conditions under which existence itself might be construed as having a gift-like or otherwise gratitude-inducing character.

Drawing on a diversity of perspectives, chapters mark out new territory in philosophical inquiry, addressing whether and in what sense we ought to be grateful for our very existence. By analyzing gratitude, this collection makes a novel contribution to the discourse on moral emotions, phenomenology, anti-natalism, and theology.

Table of Contents

Joshua Lee Harris (The King's University, Canada), Kirk Lougheed (LCC International University, Lithuania /University of Pretoria, South Africa) and Neal DeRoo (The King's University, Canada)

Part I. Gratitude in Human Life
1. Grounding Existential Gratitude: A Social Form Account 
Joshua Harris (The King's University, Canada) 
2. Gratitude and Resentment: A Tale of Two Weddings
Graham Oppy (Monash University, Australia) 
3. Gratitude and the Human Vocation
Brian Treanor (Loyola Marymount University, USA)

Part II. Gratitude and Existence

4. Generous Existence? Gift, Giving, and Gratitude in Contemporary Phenomenology
Christina Gschwandter (Fordham University, USA) 
5. Analogia Gratiae: Creation, Existence, and Gift in the Christian Metaphysics of Erich Przywara
Eric Mabry (St. Mary's Seminary and University, USA) 
6. Gratitude for Life-Force in African Philosophy  
Thaddeus Metz (University of Pretoria, South Africa)

Part III. Gratitude and the Divine

7. The Dilemma of Gratitude
Michael Almeida (University of Texas at San Antonio, USA)

8. Is Gratitude Necessary? Avicenna on Existential Dependence
Catherine Peters (Loyola Marymount University, USA)

9. Do we Owe Gratitude to God for Our Existence?
Kirk Lougheed (University of Pretoria, South Africa) 
10. Thank You: William Desmond's Ethic of Gratitude and Personal God
Ethan Vanderleek (Marquette University, USA)


Shattering Silos: New Book on Knowledge from Lambert Zuidervaart

Lambert Zuidervaart, ICS Senior Member Emeritus in Philosophy, has published a new book of essays in reformational philosophy titled Shattering Silos: Reimagining Knowledge, Politics, and Social Critique (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2022). 

Knowledge, he argues, takes different forms in various social domains, and all are subject to political struggle. Interweaving epistemology, social criticism, and political thought, Shattering Silos offers a new way to think about truth and politics in a supposedly post-truth society. 

The book is funded in part by grants from the Reid Trust and the Andreas Center at Dordt University. It is dedicated to Nicholas Wolterstorff. 

More details can be found at the publisher’s website.

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
  • 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
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)
- - -

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

  • 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

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

- - -

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

- - -

“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. 

Monday, 30 May 2022

How to Join the ICS 2022 Convocation Livestream

On June 3rd, ICS will have its first Convocation in over two years. The ceremony will include the granting of degrees to Junior Members, and Dr. Barbara M. Carvill will be awarded the degree Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa), and deliver the Convocation Address.

Convocation will begin at 6:30pm EDT on June 3. We have reached the capacity limit of the space, but we invite you to watch a livestream of the whole ceremony on our YouTube channel at: 

We hope you will be able to join us virtually for this special night celebrating the accomplishments of our Junior Members and the contribution of Dr. Carvill to the work and legacy of ICS.

Join the Livestream!

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Updated: ICS During COVID-19


During the 2022-2023 academic year ICS learning will continue to take place online, using a combination of Zoom video-conferencing and Google Classrooms. Exceptions to this arrangement (to allow in-person learning) can be made at the written request of all the participants in a particular course, seminar, colloquium, or symposium with the written approval of the Academic Dean.



In the interest of serving the needs of our global community of students and out of concern for the health of our students, instructors, and staff, ICS will continue to offer all learning interactions remotely during the Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 academic terms. The ICS executive leadership team will assess conditions during the Winter 2022 term to determine if it would be appropriate to offer some learning interactions in person as of the Summer 2022 term. Students who started ICS programs remotely can rest assured that remote learning will remain an option with regard to all courses and mentoring, even if ICS resumes some in-person learning, also after the Winter 2022 term.

Course information can be found in our Course Catalogue throughout the year. Please reach out to Elizabet, course leaders, or our Senior Members if you have any questions or concerns.



The following is an important change in the start date for winter term classes in January. ICS will be following the lead of the University of Toronto, Knox College, and the Toronto School of Theology by delaying the start of the Winter 2021 semester by one week. 

This means that classes for the winter term will now begin on Monday, January 11, 2021. For regular 13-week synchronous courses, final assignment deadlines will also be extended by one week. The dates for Reading Week remain the same (February 15-19, 2021). The Academic Calendar has been updated to reflect these changes, and a list of Winter 2021 courses is available here.

Below is a brief note from President Ronald A. Kuipers about this schedule change:

To quote President Gertler of the University of Toronto, these decisions are “prompted by the fact that we’ve all been under an extraordinary amount of stress for months now, because of the burdens imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.... [W]e care deeply about the wellness of each and every one of you. We want to make sure that you’re able to rest and recharge, and to make the most of the upcoming holiday break.”

Let me echo President Gertler's comments, and offer my own words of encouragement to the ICS community. The global pandemic has thrown many challenges our way, and has dramatically changed our daily working and studying routines. I deeply appreciate the efforts everyone has made to maintain community in the midst of our relative isolation. Let's continue to support, pray for, and reach out to each other. If you are struggling, please let us know, so that we can find ways to care for you or address any concerns that you have. Let us continue to bless each other as we have since this all began.

I wish you all God's strength and peace as we continue on this strange journey,


Please reach out to Elizabet, course leaders, or our Senior Members if you have any questions or concerns.



After a successful summer of online learning, ICS has made the decision to continue to deliver all of our course offerings remotely for the fall semester. We believe this will best enable our Senior and Junior Members to stay safe and healthy while still allowing classes to meet at a distance. We'll miss the presence of our students on campus, but we have growing anticipation for the start of another academic year and of ICS community life (albeit a virtual one!) with new and returning students alike.

Course syllabi are being finalized over the remainder of the summer and details are being ironed out, but the Fall Course Schedule has been set and course descriptions are now available. Our roster of fall courses can be found here: And, as always, you can reach out to our Registrar Elizabet Aras with any questions you might have about what the upcoming semester will look like.


ICS Leadership, staff, and faculty have been hard at work in past weeks monitoring the daily developments to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, strategizing, and discerning immediate and long-term ways forward for our programming, courses, and events. Today, ICS had to make a number of difficult decisions regarding quickly-approaching events, deadlines, and courses.

Unfortunately, in response to current public health recommendations and the enforced limitations on travel and public gatherings, we must CANCEL Convocation 2020, the honourary doctorate celebration of Dr. Barbara Carvill, and ART in Orvieto 2020. Lord willing, we will have the opportunity to revisit these celebratory and educational opportunities again next year. Thus, our current intention is to honour our 2020 graduates together with our 2021 graduates at our Convocation next May, and to likewise gather to celebrate Dr. Carvill at that time. We also intend to offer ART in Orvieto again during summer 2021.

We've also decided to adapt the original plans and deadlines for our Undergraduate Workshop, the summer course on Hannah Arendt, and admission to our MA-EL and MWS-ART programs. For this year's Undergraduate Workshop, we have tentatively rescheduled the event for Fall 2020 and extended the submission deadline until July 31. For our MA-EL and MWS-ART programs, we've extended our standard application deadline until August 1. And for the Hannah Arendt course, we're currently considering the possibility of the course being delivered remotely.

Given the unpredictability of current circumstances, ICS will continue to offer its courses remotely until further notice in order to remain as adaptable as possible in our efforts to make an ICS education readily available. So please stay tuned for more information regarding upcoming summer course opportunities currently in development, as well as increased possibilities for online education into the next school year. And, if you have any questions about these or any other ICS courses, programs, and events, please do not hesitate to reach out to us by phone or email!

We remain cautiously hopeful in these days and, as always, invite your prayers for students, staff, and faculty alike in their various callings and day-to-day lives.

MARCH 17, 2020 UPDATE:

Following the city of Toronto's increased social distancing recommendations, and the University of Toronto's closure of most of their library locations, ICS will close its administrative offices and library effective today until public health authorities declare it advisable to resume in-person operations. We greatly value the health and safety of our staff, faculty, and students--as well as our neighbours--and we consider this a small but important step to slowing the spread of this virus.

ICS staff and faculty will continue working regular hours remotely during this time, and may be reliably contacted by email if you wish to get in touch for any reason. We will continue to monitor the public health situation daily and will make any important updates (including the status of upcoming events and summer courses) known to you here as soon as possible. To that end, we also continue to invite applications to our Undergraduate Workshop in May, our course on Hannah Arendt in April-June, and ART in Orvieto in July-August. No fees for these courses/events will be charged until it is clear that the courses/events will in fact take place.

In the meantime, our Senior and Junior Members forge ahead with classes and projects, our staff go on planning and executing everyday operations, and we all pray for safety and swift healing for those affected by this health crisis. 


In light of the ongoing development of the COVID-19 virus, and in conjunction with our colleagues at the Toronto School of Theology and the University of Toronto, ICS has determined that it is appropriate to cancel all ICS in-person seminars for the remainder of the Winter semester (March 16-April 10). Junior and Senior Members have already been notified accordingly about how to participate in their respective seminars via teleconference during this time period.

Because we share a campus with both Knox College and the University of Toronto, ICS has committed to following the lead of Knox College, the Toronto School of Theology, and the University of Toronto with respect to the implementation of any social distancing measures deemed appropriate.

For the latest on these specific measures, you can read a message from the President of UofT here. For the latest on Canada's COVID-19 monitoring, national response, and prevention and preparation advice, please visit the Government of Canada website or the Toronto Public Health page.

Following campus measures, the ICS offices and library will remain open during this period, and we will continue with daily operations. We will keep you updated as to whether any of this changes, and about the status of upcoming ICS events as we continually monitor the state of affairs on campus, locally, and globally. We also request during this time that anyone who feels ill stay home and seek appropriate healthcare if necessary.

ICS is grateful for your patience and support as we adjust and attend to the unfolding situation day to day, and as we seek to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our students, staff, and faculty.