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Bus Pull

News from the Religious Studies Chair October 2015

Bus Pull, Meyer-Schreiber Conference, David Cayley Talk, Conference Participation and Invited Talks, Publications, Graduate Student Presentations

Oct 31, 2015

A significant event in our year of celebration for the fiftieth anniversary of our graduate programs was the conference organized by our graduate students in October. The theme of the conference was Religion and Law and the weekend proved a spectacular success, attracting presenters and attendees from across Ontario and beyond. I was delighted to be asked to say a few words of welcome. In terms of organization, efficiency, warmth (emotional at least, the heating in UH 122 failed), quality of catering, and intellectual atmosphere, this event outdid many more lavishly-funded conferences. Everything was planned, conceived and executed by our talented students. Our deepest thanks to all of the students involved, especially the program committee and the volunteers who worked so hard to ensure the success of the conference and to help celebrate this milestone anniversary.

Just to give some flavour of the weekend, here are a few shots taken by the photographer for the conference, Adel Hashemi (PhD candidate, Western).

Bus Pull

The department entered a team--The Religious Studies Rebels--in this year's Bus Pull to raise money for the United Way. We pulled well and came out at the top end of the table, although we weren't quite the fastest team this year.  Congratulations to all who participated in the pull, and all those who came out to cheer us on. We appreciated your loud and enthusiastic support. We will start training soon for next year's event. You can see many more photos of the Bus Pull on our Facebook page.

Meyer-Schreiber Conference

The Library and the Department hosted a conference as the concluding event of the Meyer-Schreiber Lecture Series commemorating the friendship between Ben Meyer and Herb Schreiber. It was entitled, "What Our Grandparents Couldn't Have Imagined: 50 Years of Jewish-Christian Relations" Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration Nostra Aetate, on the Church’s Relationship to Non-Christian Religions, 1965-2015. The guest speakers were Dr. Mary C.  Boys, Dean of Academic Affairs and Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and Dr. David Fox Sandmel, Director of Interfaith Affairs at the Anti-Defamation League. Eileen Schuller gave a response. The event was well attended by members of the University and the local community.

David Cayley talk

The Department was delighted to welcome David Cayley to give a talk on "Christ and Antichrist in the Thought of Ivan Illich." David Cayley is renowned for producing many outstanding documentaries for the CBC Ideas series, on thinkers such as William Blake, Simone Weil, George Grant, Rene Girard, and Ivan Illich, as well as a range of topics from prisons to ecology to the new atheism. He has posted the text of his talk to us on his blog.

Conference Participation and Invited Talks

James Benn, invited discussant at a conference at University of British Columbia on "Paper, Print, and Cyberspace: The Perspective of a Global Network for the Multimedia and Interdisciplinary Studies of Buddhism and East Asian Religions."

Sherry Smith facilitated a workshop on “Physician Assisted Suicide in Canada” as an invited guest for the Bereavement Ontario Network’s 25th Annual Conference, Geneva Park, Orillia, Ontario.


Shayne Clarke, “Vinayas” entry in Brill’s Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Edited by Jonathan A. Silk. Leiden: Brill, volume 1, pp. 60–87.

Graduate Student Presentations

The following students presented papers at the graduate student conference on Religion and Law.  

Nida Ali (MA student, Western), "The Call for the Reexamination of the Subjective Prohibition of Marriages Involving Muslim Women and Ahl al-Kitab Men: A Contemporary and Gender Equal Analysis."

Crystal Beaudoin (MA student, Asian), "Appeasing the Kings of Purgatory: Chinese Imperial Law versus the Practice of Death Rituals from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE)."

Miriam DeCock (PhD candidate, Biblical), "The Reception History of Matthew 23:2–3 in the Patristic Period." 

Rachel Lambie (MA student, Biblical), "Countering Cooties: Ritual Purity in Ancient Judaism and Today."

Brian Min (PhD student, Western), "Sovereignty and Calling of the Church and State in the Political Theology of Karl Barth."

Matthew Pawlak (MA student, Biblical), Do What I Do, Not What I Did: The Rhetorical Function of Paul’s Relationship to the Law in Galatians 1:11-2:21 and Philippians 3:2-21."

Jordan Ryan (PhD candidate, Biblical), "The Art of Persuasion: Jesus and the Mechanics of Legal Interpretation in Public Synagogue Settings."

John VanMaaren (PhD student, Biblical), "Pharisaic Teaching on Oaths and Vows: A New Approach"

Simon Zeldin (MA student, Biblical), "Of Menstruants and Misogyny: Reevaluating Critical Approaches to Biblical Purity and Religious Law."

Recent Defences

Christopher Koop (PhD, Western), "The Politics of Christian Forgiveness: An Augustinian Assessment of Hannah Arendt."

And Finally...

Thanks for reading October's News from the Chair.  Please let me know of any errors or omissions.  Please remember that you can always find the department on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Be seeing you!

James A. Benn