Canadian Mennonite University presents a number of annual lecture series, including:
Founded in 1978 by Canadian Mennonite Bible College, the J. J. Thiessen Lectures are named in honour of a founder and long-time chairperson of the CMBC Board. The lectures seek to bring to the Canadian Mennonite University community something of his breadth of vision for the church.
October 14-15, 2014
Dr. John Swinton, Professor and Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies, University of Aberdeen
John Swinton is Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care in the School of Divinity, Religious Studies and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. He has a background in nursing and healthcare chaplaincy and has researched and published extensively within the areas of practical theology, mental health, spirituality and human well-being, and the theology of disability.
His publications include:
Dr. Swinton's lectures will focus on the theology of disability and how the experience of profoundly disabled people impacts upon our understandings of God, creation and the meaning of humanness. The primary focus will be on the nature and purpose of time and the ways in which certain forms of disability draw attention to forgotten aspects of time and timefulness and in so doing call all of us, together, to engage in a more faithful discipleship.
The lectures will focus particularly on people with profound intellectual disabilities and people with cognitive disabilities such as advanced dementia. People with such life experiences perceive and live out time in ways that are quite different from the expectations of our speed driven culture. To move quickly and to be swift in thought is often assumed to be a marker of successful humanness. Its easy to forget that Jesus would have walked slowly; partly because of the heat, but partly because he understood the meaning of time. He had all the time in the world to do what God wanted him to do. People with profound disabilities draw attention to the significance of time and point towards the fact that true knowledge of God and faithful discipleship is slow and gentle; not bound by the assumptions of speed, worldly success, and the quickness of one's intellect. The timefulness of such people's lives reveals new dimensions of discipleship and the nature of Christian vocation.
If those with profound intellectual disabilities and people with advanced dementia are disciples with a God-given vocation, then learning to join with people in slow and gentle discipleship may be a revelation of our humanness and, perhaps, the "salvation" of the church.
Time is the mysterious underpinning to everything we do, and yet despite its power and influence over us, we rarely reflect on its implications for the ways in which we understand and structure our lives. This lecture will examine St. Augustine's idea that time is fallen and needs redemption. It will explore ways in which "clock time" is measured by productivity and has been made into "real time" in ways that are deeply problematic for everyone, particularly for those deemed unable "keep up." Time and disability are intimately connected, not only because disability challenges the idea of time but because certain key assumptions that comprise the category 'disability' are premised on mistaken and dangerous understandings of time. In these ways time has fallen and has become the oppressor of all who fail to meet the criteria for living well in a world ruled by clocks. Time needs to be redeemed.
What does it mean to redeem time? This lecture will examine a theological understanding of time through a critical reflection on the ideas of Sabbath, providence, slowness and gentleness. Furthermore it will develop a model of discipleship which reclaims the power of timefulness and the significance of inactivity. It is through the recognition of the gentle, slowness of God that the prophetic witness of disability can be understood.
What does discipleship and vocation mean for people living with profound intellectual disabilities and people living with advanced dementia? What does it mean to be a slow and gentle follower of Jesus and not to comprehend intellectually who Jesus is? This lecture will explore the idea of discipleship without words. Can the body of Christ be whole without the discipleship of all of God's people? What is the vocation of individuals with profound cognitive or intellectual disabilities within God's Kingdom? It is hoped that through examining these questions the debates around inclusion can be turned into a conversation around discipleship rather than identity politics.
Past annual J.J. Thiessen Lectures published by CMU Press.
2013: Dr. P. Travis Kroeker, Professor of Religious Studies, McMaster University
Topic: Mennonites and Mammon: Economies of Desire in a Post-Christian World
2012: Dr. Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Helen H. P. Manson Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Princeton Theological Seminary
Topic: From Powerlessness to Praise in Paul's Letter to the Romans
2011: Dr. Peter Widdicombe, McMaster University
Topic: Scripture and the Christian Imagination: Text, Doctrine, and Artistic Representation in the Early Church and Beyond
2010: Dr. Belden Lane, Saint Louis University
Topic: From Desert Christians to Mountain Refugees: Fierce Landscapes and Counter-Cultural Spirituality
2009: Dr. Peter Ochs, Edgar Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies, University of Virginia
Topic: The Free Church and Israel's Covenant
2008: Dr. Mark Noll, Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame
Topic: A Yankee Looks North: Toward an Appreciation and Assessment of the History of Christianity in Canada.
2007: Dr. Ellen Davis, Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School
Topic: Live Long on the Land: Food and Farming from a Biblical Perspective.
2006: Dr. Joel J. Shuman, King's College, Wilkes-Barre, PA
Topic: To Live is to Worship: Bioethics and the Body of Christ
Published by CMU Press
2005: Dr. Paul J. Griffiths, Schmitt Professor of Catholic Studies at University of Illinois at Chicago
Topic: Curiosity: Towards a Theology of Intellectual Appetite
Published by CMU Press
This lecure series has been offered at CMU since 2007. The series addresses the various dimensions of Christian apologetics (theory, evangelism, Gospel and society, singularity of Christ in a multi-cultural context, etc.).
Click to listen to audio recordings of past Proclaiming the Claims of Christ Lecture Series.
March 12-13, 2012: The Unique Gift of Christ
CMU welcomes Professor Robert Benne as keynote speaker in March 2012. Dr. Benne is Jordan-Trexler Professor of Relgion Emeritus and Director of the Center for Religion and Society at Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia. He is the author of 11 books, his most recent being Good and Bad Ways to Think about Religion and Politics (Eerdmans 2010).
March 15-16, 2010: Proclaiming the Unique Claims of Christ; Negotiating the Christian-Muslim Interface
March 16-17, 2009: Radio broadcaster and media commentator Michael Coren will speak about being a Christian in the public media.
March 17-19, 2008: John Stackhouse, Regent College. Topic: Proclaiming Christ in a Post-Christian World.
2007: Joe Boot, evangelist, apologist, author and the executive director of Ravi Zacharias Ministries in Canada.
The John and Margaret Friesen Lectures in Anabaptist/Mennonite Studies are co-sponsored by Canadian Mennonite University, the Mennonite Heritage Centre and the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies. The inaugural lectures in November 2002 were delivered by Dr. Abraham Friesen, the generous donor who initiated the lecture series. He is Professor of History in the History Department of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
2009: Mennonite Women in Canadian History: Birth, Food, and War
Lecturer: Marlene Epp of Conrad Grebel University College.
2008: Church and ethnicity: The Mennonite Experience in Paraguay
Lecturer: Alfred Neufeld, Dean of the School of Theology of the Protestant University of Paraguay.
2007: Mennonite Identity in the 21st Century
Lecturer: John D. Roth.
2006: Sacred Spaces, Sacred Places: Mennonite Architecture in Russia and Canada
Presenters: Rudy Friesen, Harold Funk, Roland Sawatsky.
2005: Recovering A Heritage: The Mennonite Experience in Poland and Prussia
Peter Klassen, Professor Emeritus of History, California State University, Fresno.
The CMU Winter Lectures is an annual public lecture series that seeks to highlight the arts, science, humanities, and interdisciplinary studies at CMU and to foster dialogue between these disciplines and the Christian faith.
Click to listen to audio recordings of past Winter Lecture Series.
January 25-26, 2011: Dr. Romand Coles, McAllister Chair in Community, Culture, & Environment at Northern Arizona University. Resonance, Receptivity and Radical Reformation
January 26-27, 2010: Vern Redekop, Associate Professor of Conflict Studies at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. Topic: Paradoxes of Reconciliation
January 26-27, 2009: Dr. Norman Wirzba, Research Professor of Theology, Ecology and Rural Life, Duke Divinity School. Topic: Placing Our Faith in a Placeless World?
January 29-30, 2008: Erica Grimm Vance, Assistant Professor and Visual Arts Coordinator, Trinity Western University. Topic: Art, Beauty and Christian Theology.
2007: Robert Russell, Professor of Theology and Science, Graduate Theological Union, and Director for the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. Topic: Cosmology, Evolution and Resurrection Hope.
January 30-31 2006: Alvin Dueck, Evelyn and Frank Freed Professor of the Integration of Psychology and Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary—Topic: Psychology and Theology.