12 January 2016

Practising Vocational Wayfinding

“What am I to do with my life?” “Who am I?” There appears to be an inextricable connection between the work that we do and our sense of who we are. As the poet David Whyte has suggested, work is for all of us a pilgrimage of identity. It is not, however, a pilgrimage for which any of us are provided with a GPS device, allowing us to navigate in straight lines with comfortable certainty towards clear career objectives that cohere in obvious ways with an immutable sense of our identity. Instead, this pilgrimage is more like the experience of Polynesian sailors, who traversed the vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean with the help of the stars, memory, and close attention to the patterns of the waves on the surface of the ocean as these reflected features of the ocean (including far-off islands). Polynesian wayfinding was a way of navigating that required alert improvisation and frequent reorientation from within a perpetually shifting context. Our vocational pilgrimages require of us to find our way in a similar manner. 

In this course we will explore particular practices, frameworks, and tools, by means of which we can engage in vocational wayfinding. Prompted by our readings we will consider some of the relationships between work and identity: How does my work prompt my discovery of my sense of self? How do I try out possible selves in relation to whatever in the world is calling me toward particular kinds of work? What am I to do with my life? We will give close attention to those passages in our lives (in particular young adulthood and the middle passage of life) when both our work contexts and our experience of our identity are most obviously in flux. In addition, we will consider how to contribute skilful leadership and insightful mentoring to others as they engage in their own vocational wayfinding, particularly in the contexts of the workplace and educational institutions.

ICSD 132502/232502 W16
Dr. Gideon Strauss

(MWS, MA, PhD)


Required Texts:
Ibarra, Herminia. Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career. Harvard Business School Press, 2004.
Parks, Sharon Daloz. Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Emerging Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith. Revised 10th Anniversary Edition. Jossey-Bass, 2011.
Smith, James K.A. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Baker, 2009. 
Whyte, David. Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity. Riverhead Books, 2001. 

11 January 2016

Neon Bibles and Broken Hallelujahs: Soundsings in Theology and Pop Culture

Popular culture is a “matrix of meanings”: a complex network of texts, images and “memes” characterized above all by its mass accessibility. In contemporary, media-saturated society, television, music, movies, sports, fashion and social media constitute much of the cultural atmosphere in which we live, breathe, and are formed as individuals – a social reality almost impossible to circumvent. In particular, a younger generation growing up in an age of ubiquitous social media, streaming video and various portable devices is saturated with music, images and information in a way unprecedented in human history. Moreover, pop culture is constantly evolving, with its constant emphasis on what is “in” always threatening to leave the less savvy on the margins. Theological engagement with “pop” or “mass” culture has traditionally been characterized by 1) avoidance; 2) a dismissal of popular culture in favour of “high” culture; or 3) a lack of vocabulary with which to discuss its patterns of meaning. However, a number of books over the course of the last decade have sought to creatively engage Western pop culture from a Christian perspective. Taking as methodological approach the idea that theology must always mediate between living Christian faith and a cultural “matrix,” this course aims to explore the nature of a dialogue between theology and pop culture, looking for theological “signs of life” in popular culture while effectively “mediating” the Christian gospel in a fluid social environment.

ICSD 132401 W16
Instructor: Brett Potter



Required Texts:
Detweiler, Craig and Barry Taylor. A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Pop Culture. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003.
Romanowski, William. Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2007.
Turnau, Ted. Popologetics: Popular Culture in Christian Perspective. Philipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2012

In Medias Res: Media, Technology, and Culture

According to Michel Foucault, the “blueprint” of the 20th century was the prison or hospital.  However, we might say that the “blueprint” for the 21st century is the computer network: namely the Internet.  With the technological revolutions of the 21st century, we see the digitalization and informationalization of everything.  Learning to live, think and act within this sort of society is increasingly difficult and requires new diagnostics of culture, politics and the self.  This class will engage with these questions in light of the importance of materiality and embodiment in the community of faith’s ongoing reflection upon Christian life and mission.

ICSD 132301 W16
Instructor: Matt Bernico



Required Texts:
Galloway, Alexander R. 2004. Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
McLuhan, Marshall and Quentin Fiore. 2001. The Medium is the Massage: an Inventory of Effects. Corte madera, CA: Gingko Press.
Sconce, Jeffrey. 2003. Haunted Media: Electronic Presence from Telegraphy to Television. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Wisdom and Schooling

This course explores a biblical understanding of wisdom as an alternative to the theory into practice paradigm, which has dominated the way in which schooling is conducted at virtually all levels. According to the theory/practice story, schooling is the process by which theoretical insight and abstract academic understanding lay the foundations for an abundant life. The Christian gospel proclaims, however, that walking in the way of Jesus is truth and life. The challenge to the Christian school and the Christian teacher is how to be in the world of schooling while not being of it. The implications of a wisdom perspective for schooling in general will be considered; however, as learning and the curriculum are the foci of other courses, this course attends more closely to issues related to teaching.

ICSD 120306/220306 W16
Instructor: Dr. Clinton Stockwell

(MWS, MA, PhD)


Required Text:

Melchert, C. (1998). Wise teaching: Biblical wisdom and educational ministry. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International. [NOTE: This title is no longer in print. ICS will have several copies available for loan. Please contact the library at library@icscanada.edu].

8 January 2016

For the Love of Wisdom: Scripture, Philosophy, and Creation Order

If philosophy may be seen as “the love of wisdom,” how might this (western) wisdom be related to the wisdom literature of the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) and to the sapiential sensitivities and concerns of the wider biblical canon? Is the focus on (creation) order that many OT/HB scholars find in the wisdom literature indicative of a kind of philosophical awareness? Or is this an imposition of a later western “wisdom” onto the biblical writings? Does biblical wisdom thinking naturally lead to the development of a Christian appreciation for, and development of, philosophy? Or does a potential clash between rival (biblical and western) wisdom traditions suggest that the notion of “Christian philosophy” is oxymoronic? In conversation with the writings of Gerhard von Rad, Roland Murphy, Pierre Hadot, and others, this course will explore how wisdom thinking, as disclosed in Scripture, provokes a re-examination of the roots of western philosophy and the scholarly implications of biblical revelation.

ICS 220810 W16
Dr. Nik Ansell
Friday 9:30am-12:30pm

(MA, PhD)


7 January 2016

Philosophy at the Limit: Richard Kearney

A study of Kearney’s trilogy Philosophy at the Limit as well as his recent Anatheism, focusing on his exploration of that “frontier zone where narratives flourish and abound.” Participants will examine Kearney’s attempt to sketch a narrative eschatology that draws on the work of Heidegger, Levinas, Derrida, and Ricoeur.

ICS 220508 W16
Dr. Ron Kuipers
Thursday 1:30pm-4:30pm

(MA, PhD)


Required Texts:
Kearney, Richard. 2001. The God Who May Be: A Hermeneutics of Religion. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
_____. 2003. Strangers, Gods, and Monsters: Interpreting Otherness. London and New York: Routledge.
_____. 2004. On Stories. London and New York: Routledge.
_____. 2010. Anatheism: Returning to God After God. New York: Columbia University Press.

6 January 2016

IDS: Problem-Historical Approaches to Philosophy, Theology, Psychology, and Art History

This course is designed to examine and appraise the critical practice manifest in the problem-historical tradition of reading texts in a variety of disciplines as to the ability of that practice to bring to the surface deep spiritual intuitions and concerns at play in those texts, and ability that fosters both a person of faith's open learning from and knowing criticism of those same texts.

ICS 2400AC W16
Bob Sweetman, James Olthuis, Nik Ansell
Wednesday 9:30am - 12:30pm

(MA, PhD)


5 January 2016

Spiritual Exercise as Christian Philosophy from Augustine to Bonaventure

This seminar examines the notion of spiritual exercise as it evolved in Hellenic and Hellenistic philosophy to understand the emergence of ‘Christian philosophy’ as a cultural project within the Augustinian tradition of theology and spirituality, a tradition that begins in Augustine’s own writings and can be said to find its medieval high point in the work of St. Bonaventure.

ICS 220402 W16
Dr. Bob Sweetman
Tuesday 9:30am-12:30pm

(MA, PhD)


4 January 2016

Democracy and Diversity

Modern democracies are not only made up of diverse individuals but diverse cultures. How ought liberal democracies address cultural pluralism, especially when the claims of cultures conflict? This question is explored principally by critically examining liberal multiculturalism, which argues that group-differentiated rights are not only consistent with, but required by, the basic liberal democratic values of freedom and equality. Ultimately the course goes beyond a secular multiculturalism by seeking to understand cultural pluralism within a political theological framework. Will Kymlicka and Nicholas Wolterstorff are among the theorists considered, and particular attention is given both to Quebec and Islam as case studies.

ICS 222601 W16
Dr. Phillip Shadd
Monday 9:30am - 12:30pm

(MA, PhD)


Note: Readings for the Week 1 have now been posted in the Syllabus.

Required Texts:
Will Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship. (Oxford, 1995)
Tariq Modood, Multiculturalism, 2nd ed. (Polity, 2013)
Nicholas Wolterstorff, Understanding Liberal Democracy: Essays in Political Philosophy, edited by T. Cuneo (Oxford, 2012)