The implications of Jesus Christ's humanity for contemporary life will be the focus of the seventh biennial Veritas Forum at Hope College, being held on Thursday-Sunday, Jan. 8-11.
This year's forum is titled "The Body: Implications of the Incarnation." The event will consider the way that moral and social issues including hunger, sexuality, art, torture and human enhancement can be informed by thoughtful reflection on Jesus Christ's assumption of human form.
The forum will feature three keynote addresses, two panel discussions, a concert by Derek Webb and a culminating worship service.
Although the Veritas Forum has been planned for the campus community, the public is invited. Admission is free to all events except for the concert.
"This is a topic that for 2,000 years has been a distinctive among Christians who have been trying to understand both Jesus and themselves," said Dr. Marc Baer, who chairs the Veritas Forum's planning committee and is a professor of history at Hope. "It has implications for all our lives."
"If God chose to enter the world in a human body, then that should cause us to think about the implications for our bodies and others' bodies," he said. "And in a global age, what does that mean for us in terms of our concern about others halfway around the world?"
Baer noted that he has been pleased to observe among students in recent years an increased sense of their Christian faith's implications for engagement with the world. A deeper understanding of the underpinnings of that faith such as the forum seeks to provide, he thinks, can prove sustaining even - and especially - when challenges arise.
"I hope that such engagement is something that will continue," he said. "But if it's going to continue, people have to have a solid intellectual foundation for doing something that is often sacrificial and sometimes painful."
The Veritas Forum began at Harvard University in 1992 as a way to get students to think about what the school was founded upon: the Veritas, or truth, of Jesus Christ. Since then, dozens of campuses in the United States and abroad have emulated the Harvard model and held forums of their own.
The Hope Veritas Forum is designed to include the arts, ideas, theology and popular culture, so as to listen to how God works in the lives of writers, musicians, social activists, educators and artists. The forum has run every two years since its 1997 debut on campus.
This year's opening keynote, "'This is My Body': Modernity Confronts the Incarnation," will be presented by Roger Lundin on Thursday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. Lundin is the Blanchard Professor of English at Wheaton College.
Lamin Sanneh will speak during the college's chapel service on Friday, Jan. 9, at 10:30 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. Sanneh is the D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity and a professor of history at Yale Divinity School.
A panel discussion focused on "Implications for the Arts" will take place on Friday, Jan. 9, at 4 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium. The panelists will include Josh Banner, minister of arts and music at Hope, and Susanna Childress, who is a Lilly Fellow and lecturer in the humanities and English at Valparaiso University, who are also husband-and-wife songwriters; Matt Joynt, a member of the band Anathallo, which will be performing at Hope on Friday, Jan. 9, at 8 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre; Charlie Peacock, a Grammy-winning, multi-format songwriter and record producer; and Joel Schoon Tanis, a Holland-based artist and 1989 Hope graduate who is also the creator and star of the locally-produced children's television show "Come On Over!"
The forum's second keynote address, "The Global Body," will be presented by Lamin Sanneh on Friday, Jan. 9, at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.
The activities on Saturday, Jan. 10, will open with the keynote address "Dwelling in Christ: Facing our Fractured Bodies and the World" at 10 a.m. by Deborah Dortzbach in the Maas Center auditorium. A nurse by training who has lived and worked in Ethiopia and Kenya, Dortzbach is the director of health and social development with World Relief.
Dortzbach's talk and the messages of the previous two days will be the focus of a closing panel discussion on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 11 a.m. in the Maas Center auditorium. The panelists will include Dortzbach, Lundin and Peacock.
Derek Webb will perform on Saturday, Jan. 10, at 8 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre. Webb, who was with "Caedmon's Call" prior to embarking on a solo career in 2003, also performed during the 2007 Veritas Forum.
Advance tickets for the concert are $10 for the general public and $5 for Hope students, and are available at the ticket office in the front lobby of the DeVos Fieldhouse, which can be called at (616) 395-7890 but will operate with reduced hours during the college's Christmas break. The office will be open through Friday, Dec. 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 29-30, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; and on Monday-Friday, Jan. 5-9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Any remaining tickets will also be sold at the door at the Knickerbocker Theatre for $12 for the general public and $7 for Hope students.
The Veritas Forum will conclude with the college's weekly Sunday evening worship service, "The Gathering," on January 11 at 8 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. Trygve Johnson, who is the Hinga-Boersma Dean of the Chapel at Hope, will preach "Eating the Body."
Additional activities for the campus community scheduled in conjunction with this year's Veritas Forum include a competition for the college's students to present poetry and visual art related in some way to the Incarnation. The poetry will be presented in a special edition of the "Opus" campus literary magazine, and the artwork will be displayed in the elevator gallery of the De Pree Art Center.
In addition, students are also being invited to prepare stage performances in song, dance or theatre that they can audition to present in conjunction with the forum.
The De Pree Art Center is located at 160 E. 12th St., on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street. The DeVos Fieldhouse is located at 222 Fairbanks Ave., between Ninth and 11th streets. Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located at 277 College Ave., on College Avenue at 12th Street. The Knickerbocker Theatre is located in downtown Holland at 86 E. Eighth St. The Maas Center is located at 264 Columbia Ave., on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street.