VST Speaker Series – Spring 2010

Vancouver School of Theology hosts a Speaker Series on alternate Wednesdays throughout the academic year. This series gives members of both our own and the wider community an opportunity to learn more about the work of VST students and faculty, as well as the wisdom of guest speakers both local and international.

Barry Morris
January 13, 1:00pm, Room 300
‘Illumining Canadian Urban Ministry via the hoping justice prayerfully triad’

The three major theologians of Reinhold Niebuhr on justice, Moltmann on hope and Merton on contemplative prayer are summoned for the task of exploring the important inter-relationship or conjunction of hoping justice prayerfully. In their journals, letters, and thankfully published autobiographies is evident the passion that fuels a shared compassion in the service of justice, hope that engages despair, and prayer which abides in the contemplative center of it all; thankful resources for long haul, steadfast ministry.
Barry’s eventual thesis will examine how this triad is evident in — and, illuminates and addresses the issues facing — current urban ministries. Such would include — along with my own grateful urban ministry opportunities — Victoria, B.C.’s “Our Society” urban mission, the Streams of Justice.org network in Vancouver and the Toronto Christian Resource Centre. The latter draws from the precedence of the East Harlem Protestant Parish; itself, supported out of Union Theological Seminary and Niebuhr’s influence.
Barry Morris is a United Church of Canada minister, currently with the east Vancouver’s Longhouse Council of Native Ministry, and prior to that, First United Church in Vancouver, St. Mathews-Maryland Community Ministry in Winnipeg and the Toronto Christian Resource Centre in Toronto. Graduate of UBC, Chicago Theological Seminary, and with a ThM with Vancouver School of Theology, where he is now pursuing a PhD part-time. Active in the Metro Vancouver Alliance and the StreamsofJustice.org groups, as well as his Presbytery’s Faithful Public Witness committee and a national United Church Theology, Inter-Church and Inter-faith committee.

Harry Maier & Robert Daum
January 27, 1:00pm, Room 300
Roundtable: ‘Christians and Jews in the Ancient Gymnasium: Athleticism, Religion, and Imperial Civic Identity’

Citizens in the Roman Empire were made not born. Exercise, self-control, regulated speech, care of the self, community association were some of the means by which men proved themselves worthy participants in the civic order. This round table presentation explores ways in which early Christian and early rabbinic traditions drew on these civic notions and social practices to negotiate their own developing religious identities in a complex social order. Sometimes these took the form of martyrologies, other times they expressed themselves as forms of ascetical-moral exercises. Control and regulation of self made Christians and Jews fit members of their communities. In pursuing these ideals they engaged their imperial cultural location and in the process transformed their Greco-Roman and native civic heritage. This talk invites us to consider how religion can function today as a means toward civic engagement and how we may be thoughtful citizens in our own contemporary context.
Rabbi Dr. Robert Daum is Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Jewish Thought and the Director of the Iona Pacific Inter-Religious Centre.
Dr. Harry O. Maier is Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Studies. Together they have received an Association of Theological Schools Collaborative Research Grant to explore the ways Jews and Christians used their religious heritage to construct civic identity in their imperial context.

Dan Oberg
February 10, 1:00pm, Room 300
Roundtable: ‘The Church and the Arts’

“In a recent edition of First Things, Philip Yancey wrote an article entitled, ‘What Art Can—and Can’t—Do.” Grünewald Guild Director Dan Oberg examines Yancey’s thoughts and provides images that illustrate the powerful role of art in the Church and the world. The famous scrawling of Paul Gauguin across his huge triptych of ‘Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going?’ illustrates the challenge of the Church to respond in a meaningful way through art.”
Dan Oberg has served as Director of the Grünewald Guild since November 2006. Prior to this position, Dan has been a family therapist, youth pastor, development director and administrator with nonprofit ministries for the past 25 years. A graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary with a MA in Marriage & Family Ministries, Dan also has a BA in Psychology from Western Washington University. www.artfaith.com

Ann Turner
March 10, 1:00pm, Room 300
‘A Keeping of the Hours’

Spiritual, not religious. This is the defining statement of a new generation of Cascadian citizens. We prize individualism, but cannot deny a deep longing to belong. We resist religious trappings, but cannot abandon a yearning to connect with heart, with spirit, with mindfulness. Our history is one of many cultures, many faiths, and we long for any kind of peaceful engagement. Thus, shared practice, not belief, appears to be the key. The Christian “Liturgy of the Hours” follows the rhythm of the body through the day. Why not widen this Christian practice to embrace the context in which we now live? My offering is a new “Liturgy of the Hours,” one with an interfaith, intercultural voice.
Ann Turner is a ThM student at VST. She works with culture and the arts as they intersect with theology and the city. One of her current projects is to produce a book of prayers and reflections that help us travel through the day in a mindful way.

Dr. Laurel Schneider
March 24,  1 pm, Room 300
What Does Queer Theory Offer to Liberation Theology?

Queer theory, an outgrowth of recent cultural criticism, feminism, post-structuralism and gay liberation efforts, is sometimes described as too esoteric, obtuse, and academic to be of use in theologies of liberation. In particular, its commitments to undermine identity politics and its tendencies to valorize and celebrate the “perverse” make it a challenging bedfellow for liberation theologies that depend upon some degree of identity stability. This talk will take up the question of queer theory’s usefulness in liberation theology, particularly in relation to contemporary LGBTIQ movements.

Laurel Schneider is Professor of Theology, Ethics, and Culture at Chicago Theological Seminary and the author of Re-Imagining the Divine: Confronting the Backlash Against Feminist Theology (Pilgrim Press, 1999); Beyond Monotheism: A Theology of Multiplicity (Routledge Press, 2008).

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