Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Prayer Letter: February 2023

Wednesday, February 1 - Friday, February 3

We ask for your prayers for the Chancellor of ICS and Chair of our Senate, Pamela Beattie, and her family. Pamela's mother, May Drost, passed away on January 20. May was the beloved wife of the late Wayne Drost. She was a loving mother to Pamela Beattie (Blake), Anne Drost (Peter), Christal Kapteyn (Lex), Amanda Drost (John) and Bronwyn Drost. Survived by siblings Deanne Kroon, Jack Vos (Debbie) and Pat Westerhof, as well as many grandchildren. According to her obituary, "May was the best mother, Oma, sister, aunt and friend. She was a devoted teacher. She was affirming and accepting, and recognized the value in every person. She was an avid reader and writer, and loved engaging in conversations with many types of people. She had a gift for seeing the best in everyone and making them feel loved.”

On Thursday, January 26, longtime ICS supporter Fred Reinders passed away. Fred was a stalwart leader and supporter of many Christian organizations throughout his life, ICS among them. He was a member of the ICS Board of Trustees in the 80s and 90s, also serving as Chair, and received an honourary doctorate from ICS in 2012. A public Visitation for Fred will be held on Wednesday, February 8th at 4-8pm at ClearView Church and a Celebration of Life Service will be held Friday, February 10th at 3pm at ClearView Church. Please join us in prayers of sympathy for Fred’s family and loved ones during this time of loss. 

February 1 is the Fall 2023 MA and PhD program application deadline. Please join us in gratitude for the applications we’ve received so far and pray for wisdom for the committee considering these applications, discernment for the applicants as they finalize decisions, and pray that applicants may still yet find their way to us in the coming weeks!


Monday, February 6 - Friday, February 10:

The ICS Senate met on January 21, and we want to thank our Senate members as well as our Board Chair for their active participation in the meeting and care for the academic life of ICS. We also want to pray for the Academic Council and the Educational Policy Committee for the work they will do this term considering courses and matters of academic policy. We thank God for the efforts of everyone involved in these groups and committees.

On February 8th at 6pm, Jim Olthuis will host the first Open Class session of the winter term in his seminar Nothing Can Separate Us…!: The Dialectical Materialism of Slavoj Žižek. Please pray for Jim, the students in the course, and visitors to the class that they might all spend a rich time together.

February is tax receipt month at ICS! Please pray particularly for the advancement office and the finance office as they prepare receipts for our donors and students. This is quite a time-consuming task and needs to be finished by the end of February. We ask for God’s sustaining grace for all involved.


Monday, February 13 - Friday, February 17:

Our MA-EL Open House is taking place online on February 15 at 4:15pm EST. This Open House will feature a presentation from Edith van der Boom, a conversation with current students in the program, and a question and answer time. Anyone interested in attending this event can RSVP to Elizabet Aras at academic-registrar@icscanada.edu. Please pray that teachers and school administrators who would benefit from this program may find opportunities to apply. 

On February 16 at 6pm, Bob Sweetman will open his class Spiritual Exercise as Christian Philosophy from Augustine to Bonaventure to interested students. Please pray that this time spent in conversation will prove inviting to course participants and visitors to this class.

Final grades for fall 2022 courses are due from our Senior Members on February 17. Please pray for the Senior Members as they engage the work of students in their courses, that they may be able to provide rich and meaningful feedback on students’ research and projects as the students continue their learning journeys.


Monday, February 20 - Friday, February 24:

It’s Reading Week at ICS! There will be no classes this week, which will provide a welcome opportunity for Junior and Senior Members alike to focus their attention on various readings and to concentrate on their current research projects. May they find joy and inspiration in their studies this week!

The CPRSE recently submitted a SSHRC Connection Grant in support of the May 7-9 Conference "Our Whole Society: Finding Common Ground in a Time of Polarization," organized by the Canadian Interfaith Conversation and taking place at Martin Luther University College / Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON. Please join us in giving thanks for the work Héctor, Ron, and other committee members put into writing this grant and in praying that the application might be favourably received.

Save the Date - President Ron Kuipers and Edith van der Boom will be making a trip West in early March to visit Edmonton, the Vancouver area, and Calgary. Please pray that all the pieces of this trip may fall into place in the coming weeks, and if you’re in one of these areas and plan to attend, start thinking about someone new you might invite to come along with you!


Monday, February 27 - Tuesday, February 28:

On February 28 at 10am, Bob Sweetman again invites visiting students into one of his classes, this time for Religion, Life, and Society: Reformational Philosophy. Please pray that these students will be intrigued by the historical insights put forward in Bob’s seminar and that they might take steps to join our academic community.

February 28 is the application deadline for this year’s ART in Orvieto program and we've just 3 more spots available. We thank God for the palpable interest in this year's program! Please pray for the applicants we’ve accepted thus far, that they might be able to quickly and easily finalize their remaining arrangements in order to travel and attend this exciting course. Please also pray for the program leaders Rebekah Smick, David Holt, John Terpstra, and Thomas McIntire as they continue making the necessary preparations to host and teach students in the beautiful town of Orvieto.


Getting With It

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

 – Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)


Ecclesiastes is what the kids today call “a whole mood.” In this book, Koheleth, our would-be teacher and assembler of sayings, presents us with an unrelenting skepticism toward the panoply of purposes to which we devote our lives. Possessions, fame, success, or riches? Forget about it. It’s all empty, whistling vanity. You would have better luck catching the wind.

While Koheleth may be right about the ultimate futility of our all-too-human purposes, the teacher offers us more than mere skepticism with respect to them. Beyond simply counselling the vanity of our various attempts to catch the wind, Koheleth also wants us to question why we should ever have desired to contain it in the first place. What makes us want to control something so fundamentally elusive? Is there another way to relate to the wildness that lies beyond human control than to seek to tame it?

In suggesting questions like these, Koheleth has a lesson to teach us that is particularly suited to our time. We live in an age where it goes almost completely without saying that the world has no meaning itself beyond the instrumental purposes to which we would submit it. We presume to have brought nature to heel and to have bent her to our will. And yet, for all the power we possess to manipulate and intervene in natural processes, things seem more out of control now than they ever have.

To all this vanity, Koheleth councils us to search our own hearts, and notice the eternity that God has set there. God has set eternity in our hearts so that we might awaken to wonder, so that we might become open and porous to the wildness around us and within us. We may not be able to catch the wind, but we can still feel it and be buffeted by it, still be warmed and cooled by it. We can even work in tandem with it by throwing up a sail or building a windmill. ICS emeritus professor Jim Olthuis has coined the verb “withing” to connote a way of relating to creation that contrasts with “controlling” or “dominating.” In this vein, we and the wind can set about “withing” together, without our needing to catch or tame it first. How much would or lives change if we considered our place in God’s cosmos in terms of such “withing”?

The teacher of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is something in our hearts that points us beyond ourselves. While no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end, yet God has made a time for everything in this eternity and given everything its good time. We can trust, then, that God’s good creation will be a home more than fit for human habitation—if only we can get with it. Koheleth helps us do so by showing us the vanity by means of which we hope to catch the wind. We must wake up from this dogmatic slumber and instead start to wonder at the fathomless depths of everything God has done for us, in gratitude for that grace.

Shalom, my friends! 
Ron Kuipers

Partnering with Calvin University to Offer Two New MA-EL Streams

Over the last few years, conversations have taken place about a partnership between the Institute for Christian Studies and Calvin University in regards to our respective Master of Arts in Philosophy in Educational Leadership (MA-EL) and Masters of Education (MEd) degrees. Recently, ICS and Calvin University have come to a formal understanding of how we might bolster each other's efforts to provide masters’ level training in the area of Education. 

To that end, interested Calvin MEd students may now take one or more MA-EL courses from ICS to fulfill one or more of their three elective options in their MEd degree. Likewise, Junior Members in ICS's MA-EL program will now be able to choose from two more specializations within the program: an Inclusion Stream and a Literacy Stream will be added alongside our Instructional Leadership Stream and School Administration Stream. Interested ICS students will be able to take courses from Calvin to pursue either the Inclusion or Literacy streams.

It's early days in this shared venture, but we're looking forward to exploring what opportunities this partnership might unfold for ICS, Calvin, and our Education students and Junior Members.

Webinar on Mining Justice from Development and Peace

ICS alums Dean Dettloff and Kiegan Irish are currently working with Development and Peace (Caritas Canada). On Thursday, February 16 from 7-8:30pm EST, Development and Peace will be co-hosting an online event with KAIROS and Student Christian Movement of Canada (SCM) featuring Indigenous and global partners who are advocating for mining justice.
 
These three groups have organized a learning and action series for students and young adults that includes an in-person study of Joan Kuyek’s book, Unearthing Justice: How to Protect Your Community from the Mining Industry

Everyone is invited to attend the February 16 webinar, during which Joan will moderate a panel of three global or Indigenous partners to deepen and expand this learning circle. Follow up to the webinar will include planning an action at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto in March.

The event is free to attend, but please register beforehand the the following link (the Zoom link will be sent in confirmation email): https://bit.ly/3j1udBw.

Studies in the Sacred Page: A New Volume Edited by Bob Sweetman

This past November, ICS Senior Member Bob Sweetman and Henrietta Leyser (Emeritus Fellow, St. Peter's College, Oxford University) co-edited a Festschrift in honour of Lesley Smith (Harris Manchester College, Oxford University) entitled Studies in the Sacred Page: Encounters with Medieval Manuscripts, Texts, and Exegesis.  

This beautiful collection of essays is published by the Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies Publications and looks at the emergence and development of the Scriptures as university textbook beginning in the late eleventh and early twelfth century. It examines that emergence and development from the point of view of what the surviving material witnesses to that transformation can tell us. According to the publisher's website:

This volume of twelve essays aims to honour the career and scholarship of Lesley Smith. The first section begins with two witnesses to Lesley’s excellence as teacher and culminates with an appreciation of her as a scholar. The second section explores the scholarly terrain in which Lesley has made her most signal contributions: the material and cultural sites and artefacts within and by which the Christian Scriptures emerged as a field of theoretical inquiry in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The third and final section explores Latin Christian use of scriptural inquiry and understanding so as to engage scholarly and religious traditions outside those of the Latin Church.

You can find more information about the volume--including a a fuller summary, table of contents, and how to order a copy for yourself--on the PIMS Publications website

Online Lecture with Lambert Zuidervaart on February 28

Lambert Zuidervaart, ICS Senior Member Emeritus of Philosophy, will present a talk and lead a discussion on “Truth Post-Truth: Reimagining Philosophy for a World in Crisis” as part of the online lecture series Philosophy in Times of Crisis

Everyone is invited to join Lambert’s talk at 2:00pm EST on Tuesday, February 28, 2023. More information can be found on the series website: https://philosophyintimesofcrisis.com/.

This lecture stems from Lambert’s work on his forthcoming book Social Domains of Truth: Science, Politics, Art, and Religion. Here is a summary of what he plans to say:

Truth is in trouble. Prominent contemporary philosophers have questioned whether the idea of truth is important: Does it deserve the emphasis scholars have given it in the past? Should it play a central role in intellectual endeavors today? Do we even need it? Their questions both reflect and reinforce broader trends in society, where many people wonder whether they either can or should pursue truth. Indeed, according to some pundits, we have become a “post-truth” society, one in which feelings trump facts in public affairs. 

This talk briefly introduces three positions that trouble truth in philosophy: deflationism, radical contextualism, and politicization. Then it proposes a new conception of truth called holistic alethic pluralism, and it shows why, despite academic skeptics and popular pundits, truth remains a substantive and socially significant idea. As explained in the book Social Domains of Truth (Routledge, 2023), this new conception of truth simultaneously reimagines the tasks of philosophy. Philosophy, I argue, should offer both social critique and social-ethical wisdom for a world in crisis.