Redeemer students might have been surprised to overhear their professors, over a pleasant bowl of warm soup, chatting about first-person shooter videogames and zombie apocalypses. But these were the topics at hand at the newly coined Centre for Christian Scholarship (CCS) Soup Lunch Series. It’s a resurrected Redeemer tradition.
The CCS invited faculty and staff to break bread while discussing recent books by James K.A. Smith, Alissa Wilkinson and Kevin Schut. Smith, Wilkinson and Schut will speak on the power of Christians to impact culture at the annual CCS fall conference, which runs from October 26 to 27. This year, in a nod toward Redeemer’s new Media and Communications Studies program, the focus of the conference is on media and culture. Hence the videogames and zombies.
“These lunches are a kind of curricular oasis, where faculty and staff can pause, look at some of the big emerging questions and the books that capture them, and work them out together,” explains Dr. Robert Joustra, director of the Centre for Christian Scholarship. “My hope is that faculty especially will find ways to integrate these books into their courses, that co-curricular will find ways of working these big ideas into dorm and home life, and that generally when these authors and speakers join us we’ll have a great table set for life-changing conversations.”
The series opened in February when a number of Redeemer faculty and staff met to discuss the implications of secularization for modern Christian faith, reflecting on the book How (Not) to be Secular, by James K.A. Smith. Smith, professor of philosophy at Calvin College, has written numerous books on philosophy, faith and the church’s witness to culture.
In April, staff and faculty met to debate the value of videogames through the lens of Kevin Schut’s book, Of Games and God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games. Schut, a professor of media and communication at Trinity Western and an avid gamer, makes an impassioned plea for Christians to stop ignoring the hugely influential world of gaming and proposes a theological approach to the medium.
In May, the book under discussion was How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World, by Alissa Wilkinson and Redeemer’s own Robert Joustra. Wilkinson teaches at The King’s College in New York and is the chief film critic at Christianity Today. In this book, Wilkinson and Joustra explore our current age’s fascination with endtimes of all kinds, how it shows up in our media, and how Christians can understand and respond to it.
Dr. Gene Haas, who attended the series, comments, “The great feature of these discussions is that, while we are all united by a common Reformed worldview, we can interact with each other as we bring the perspectives of our various disciplines to the material. This brings a freshness and vibrancy to our discussions of current issues and topics in our culture.”
Joustra agrees: “Redeemer’s commitment to bring these authors in, and play host to these conversations, is – in my opinion – one of the fundamental and inspiring things a Christian university gets to do: working out a public theology for today’s biggest questions, for changed lives, and a changed world.”