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Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. John Brubacher

Dr. John Brubacher, Assistant Professor of Biology, has worked at CMU since 2008.

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What do you love about your work here?

One of the things I appreciate is that at CMU, we have our four commitments: Educate for Peace – Justice; Learn through Thinking and Doing; Welcome Generous Hospitality… Radical Dialogue; and Model Invitational Community. To work at a place that’s seriously trying to make those sorts of things the undergirding aspect of an education is exciting.

What are you excited about teaching in the coming school year?

This winter I’m teaching a course called The Genetic Revolution. I’ll guide students through a series of the greatest experiments in the history of genetics. I’m excited because I’ll be teaching it in historical progression, with the idea being that it will help give students some insights into not just what we know about genes and how they work in organisms, but how we figured it out.

What are you researching and writing right now?

I’m researching little flatworms that are called planarians. You can take one and chop it into 100 pieces, and each piece can regenerate and remodel itself to form an intact worm. That allows us to start asking all sorts of questions about how these flatworms – and animals generally – develop and heal. I’m working with colleagues at the Morgridge Institute for Research in Wisconsin, and I’m helping them with a micro anatomical study of the worms to understand how the cells are arranged in a normal worm, and then how they behave when you cut a piece off the worm. The cells need to migrate around – they need to differentiate and specialize to become different types of cells, and we still have a lot to learn about the basics of cell behaviour in that process.

What are you reading for enjoyment?

I like a little mindless mystery every now and then, so I picked up a commemorative set of four famous mysteries by Agatha Christie featuring one of her most famous characters, the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. I just started Murder on the Orient Express. But these days, I’m mostly reading for school and watching the Olympics.

Where or how do students give you hope?

There’s a sense of generosity to our students that gives me hope. One thing that exemplifies what I’m thinking of is that every November, students celebrate Tuition Freedom Day, which marks the end of the fiscal year paid for by student tuition, and the beginning of the year made possible by grants and donations from the Manitoba government, churches, and individual donors. Students host a big festival to celebrate the importance of donor and government funding just to keep this place operational. That’s really powerful.

What saying or motto inspires you?

For my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary, an aunt of mine cross-stitched them a wall hanging of Micah 6:8: “What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” I grew up with that on the wall and that’s always been one of those things to aim for.

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Articles Faculty Profiles

Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Irma Fast Dueck

Dr. Irma Fast Dueck, Associate Professor of Practical Theology, began her teaching career at Canadian Mennonite Bible College, one of CMU’s predecessor colleges, in 1991.

What do you love about your work here?

I love the students and I love my colleagues. I also love the fact that we’re a small enough university that we can’t develop silos. Theology spills into music, which spills into math, and so on. Our lives don’t fit into neat categories—most of our lives are this muddy, murky in-between—and we have a university that embodies that.

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What did you teach this past year that most excited you?

Theologies of Power. It’s an upper level course in theology, and students come from all over the place, including business and communications. It was fascinating to teach them a concept in thinking of power, and then watch them take that concept and read it through their discipline. Power is so insidious—it’s everywhere. For these students to recognize that and work in this interdisciplinary way was awesome to watch.

What are you researching and writing right now?

I’m working on a book about baptism, which I’ve been researching and writing for three years now. The big question that I’ve been wrestling with is: Why aren’t young adults getting baptized? I’ve noticed in my tradition, Mennonite Church Canada (MC Canada), many young adults are actively involved in church organizations but aren’t baptized. Why is that? Why are they hesitant to make commitments to the church? What’s going in in terms of how they interpret the meaning of baptism?

What are you reading for enjoyment?

I just finished reading Lawrence Hill’s The Illegal, about a marathon runner who becomes a refugee. And, I’m always reading poetry, so Mary Karr and Kei Miller are two poets that I’m working through right now. Someone introduced me to them when I was on sabbatical in Scotland. I read a poem a day by each of them.

What do you most long for in your work?

What I long for is that love is at the core of who students are, even as they are aware of the complexities and problems of life, and deal with very real fears. I hope that in spite of the complexities, they don’t slide into cynicism or despair, but that they still love—they love God, they love creation, they love the wonder of this world, they love each other, and they love those who are different from them.

Do you have any interesting projects underway in the broader community or church?

I just finished the Listening Church project with my friend, Darryl Neustaedter Barg, where we interviewed Mennonite LGBTQ people about their experiences in MC Canada congregations and created a video. That was a great project—it gave me a sense of hope for the church. Right now, I’m on the steering committee put together by MennoMedia, MC Canada, and Mennonite Church USA that is overseeing the development of a new Mennonite song collection. We are trying to figure out what congregations need and how the church can resource them for their singing and worship. I’m excited about it.

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Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Tim Rogalsky

Dr. Tim Rogalsky, Associate Professor of Mathematics, has taught at CMU since 2000.

What do you love about your work here?

There are so many things. One is that my students are really, really fun to work with. I just taught a chaos theory course, and student papers at the end of the semester included a paper on spirituality and environmentalism, a paper on Shakespearean literature, and a paper on God’s omniscience. I love the way they think deeply about so many different but interconnected things, and the way they come up with some really profound insights derived from the mathematical theory of chaos and its applications.

05 - Tim Rogalsky (June 2016)

What did you teach this past year that most excited you?

My favourite course is Intro to Calculus, because it’s easy to apply. That’s what makes math really exciting for me: To think about how the way the real world operates can be understood through mathematics.

What are you researching and writing right now?

I just finished a project on Salvador Dali that I would like to continue. Salvador Dali is fairly well known as a surrealist painter, as someone who was rather crass, someone who you certainly wouldn’t think of as a religious person, but there are a lot of depths to him that I’ve found, and some of those depths involved using mathematics and science as a conduit to spirituality. I call it mathematical mysticism.

What do you most long for in your work?

I love the a-ha moments. Sometimes it’s in the classroom and I watch the light bulb come on in a student’s eyes. Sometimes it’s in my own mind or in my heart; I’m teaching a concept and I suddenly get these intense shivers, and I think about how amazing all of this is in the way that it works together. Sometimes it’s in my own research. I can be in the shower or wake up in the middle of the night, and suddenly there’s this idea that just kind of pops forth in full glory that the day before, the hour before, the minute before I didn’t know, but in that moment I suddenly know and understand.

Do you have any interesting projects underway in the broader community or church?

I have given a handful of noon-hour talks at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. In April I presented, “Why Beauty Matters: The Art of Nature,” on some of the really beautiful mathematical patterns we find in the world. I’ll be sharing a version of that at a CMU Face2Face event in November. Explaining mathematics in ways that are understandable to people who don’t have a mathematics degree is something that I love to do. Watching an audience of non-mathematicians says, “Wow!” about mathematics is so, so cool.

What saying or motto inspires you?

The Franciscan friar and author Richard Rohr has been known to say that mystery is not that which is unknowable, but that which is endlessly knowable. That is so often true in both mathematics and theology. We’re always learning, always striving to know better, and that journey is always thrilling.

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Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Candice Viddal

Dr. Candice Viddal, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Physics, has taught at CMU since 2010.

What did you teach this past year that most excited you?

I began teaching a sequence of courses in biochemistry. Biochemistry is essentially a course about the chemical reactions that underlie the way that biological organisms work. I find it very fascinating. In particular, I really enjoy learning about proteins. Proteins are essentially the workhorses of the cell. They do all kinds of different things and each protein has its own task. In the last 50 years, there have been so many advances in our knowledge of what specific proteins look like in terms of their three dimensional structure. I can often find in the literature new stories, new contemporary findings, and new discoveries to share with students in the class.

04 - Candice Viddal (May 2016)What are you researching and writing right now?

I study protein dynamics with computer modeling. This means that I track the motions of the tens of thousands of atoms that compose a protein as a way of trying to understand how it performs its function. When proteins do their job, they have to jiggle around. They’re generally very, very dynamic. One of my particular interests is in tracking the energy flow. That is, if an event happens in a protein, I’m interested in knowing how the information of that event, like the binding of a chemical, transmits throughout the protein so that the rest of the protein responds to it.

What are you reading for enjoyment?

I’m reading Stone’s Fall by Iain Pears. It’s a historical mystery novel about the rise and fall of a wealthy man named John Stone around World War I. The story has a very interesting structure: three different people in three different locations at three different times tell it. What I find particularly interesting about the book is that Iain Pears understands the human condition very well. He gets into the characters’ minds and plumbs the depths of their experience, which makes for an engaging narrative.

What do you most long for in your work?

One dream I have is for CMU to eventually offer a Bachelor of Science degree program. Another dream I have is to teach a “Big Ideas” course in science. Right now, I teach very rigorous scientific courses, and I enjoy that. But I would also love to be able to teach courses that engage with students that are not necessarily interested in the real heavy duty mechanics of the subject, but maybe are intrigued by the concepts. I’d love to teach “Science for Poets,” or something like that. It always fascinates me to think about how I would approach a course like that.

What saying or motto inspires you?

I don’t know who said it, but “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” I often think about that. It inspires me to grow daily and to live courageously. It also serves as a reminder that we can do a lot more than we imagine sometimes.

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Faculty: In Their Own Words – Andrew Dyck

Andrew Dyck, Assistant Professor of Ministry Studies, has taught at CMU since January 2013. Prior to coming to CMU, Andrew worked as a pastor for 16 years in Abbotsford, BC.

What are you researching and writing right now?

I’m working to finish my doctoral dissertation this summer. I’m writing about the nature of Mennonite Brethren spirituality. I’m looking at 150 years of Mennonite Brethren history and asking what place spiritual direction or Taizé singing, and lectio divina—these so-called contemplative practices—have in a tradition that wouldn’t normally have gone there, but that includes people who are finding those practices helpful.

Where or how do students give you hope?

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I teach a graduate seminar called Supervised Ministry Experience. The course provides an opportunity for a supervised internship experience in a congregation or other ministry setting, and runs for two or three semesters. In the last six weeks of their last semester, I watch students own their identity as a Christian minister. My priority is to say, it’s not just about what skills you have, it’s about what kind person you are. And I watch them becoming those kinds of people. Seeing men and women becoming leaders gives me a lot of hope.

What do you most long for in your work?

At CMU I interact with students from all over the world and from all different Christian backgrounds, including Mennonite, Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, and more. One of the things I long for is that Christians will treat each other with generosity from their different backgrounds; that they will say, “I can learn from you,” and vice versa: “I’ve got something to offer that I think you could use.” CMU started as two denominations committed to doing that. Now, there’s this explosion of all kinds of other groups here, and that generosity is something I long for and I think is happening.

Do you have any interesting projects underway in the broader community or church?

Last year, I spent about five months memorizing the book of Ephesians. I did it walking to and from work. Thirty hours of work and it was basically memorized. I’ve had a chance to recite it as a sermon three times now, and I’ve just gotten another invitation from a church to do that. It takes 17 minutes, and then afterward we talk about what people heard. People hear things they’ve never heard before, which I can relate to: I’d taught Ephesians at Columbia Bible College, and I’d preached it as a pastor, but by memorizing it I saw connections I’d never seen before. It’s very powerful.

What saying or motto inspires you?

In Matthew 13:52, Jesus says, “Every scribe [or Bible scholar-teacher] who has been discipled for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” That verse sums up what I try to do. I get to draw on treasures from ancient times and from current times, and I get to package them and offer them to people and say: Look, is there something here you can use? Hopefully I do it in a way that’s in the service of the Kingdom.

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Audio Faculty interviews Sunday@CMU Radio

Gordon Matties – Holy Land Tour Reflections 2010

[audio: http://media.cmu.ca/audio/100214GordonMatties2.mp3]
“About meeting Jesus in the Holy Land”

This interview aired originally in February 2010 on the Sunday@CMU radio program, just prior to Gordon’s sixth tour to the Holy Land.  See the tour blog http://cmustudytour.blogspot.com. Gordon’s next Study Tour will take place in April-May 2012 (exact dates TBA).

Dr. Gordon Matties is Professor of Biblical Studies & Theology.

Gordon grew up in Abbotsford, B.C. He studied at Briercrest Bible Institute; the University of British Columbia; Regent College in Vancouver; and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, where he earned his M.A. and Ph.D.

Gordon and his wife Lorraine have two children. The family attends River East Mennonite Brethren Church, where Gordon serves on the Faith and Fellowship Commission. He is also a member of the Editorial Council of the Believers Church Bible Commentary.

Contact: gmatties@cmu.ca

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Audio Faculty interviews Sunday@CMU Radio

Gordon Matties – Holy Land Study Tour and the Meaning of Stones

[audio: http://media.cmu.ca/audio/100207gordonmatties1.mp3]
“Ancient stones, living stones:  The Holy Land in perspective”

This interview aired originally in February 2010, just prior to Gordon’s sixth tour to the Holy Land.  See the tour blog http://cmustudytour.blogspot.com. Gordon’s next Study Tour will take place in April-May 2012 (exact dates TBA).

Dr. Gordon Matties is Professor of Biblical Studies & Theology.

Gordon grew up in Abbotsford, B.C. He studied at Briercrest Bible Institute; the University of British Columbia; Regent College in Vancouver; and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, where he earned his M.A. and Ph.D.

Gordon and his wife Lorraine have two children. The family attends River East Mennonite Brethren Church, where Gordon serves on the Faith and Fellowship Commission. He is also a member of the Editorial Council of the Believers Church Bible Commentary.

Contact: gmatties@cmu.ca

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Audio Faculty interviews Sunday@CMU Radio

Irma Fast Dueck – A Passion for Teaching

[audio:http://media.cmu.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/010131-IrmaFastDueck2.mp3|titles=Irma Fast Dueck2]

“An H1N1 teaching moment…”
Irma is Associate Professor of Practical Theology at CMU and was born and grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has been a university chaplain and a pastor before beginning her teaching career at CMBC (a predecessor college of CMU) in 1991. She received her Doctorate of Theology from Victoria University at the University of Toronto, a Masters of Divinity from the University of Winnipeg, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Waterloo.

When not hanging around CMU or travelling, Irma hangs out with her two favourite guys, husband Ken and son Zachary—who, among other things, love canoeing and wilderness camping. In addition, she enjoys cycling, is an avid novel reader, quilts with her sisters and unabashedly loves all food and social functions (preferably together). She and her family are actively involved with the saints at Bethel Mennonite Church.

Contact:  ifdueck@cmu.ca