posted February 13, 2012

Last Lecture Series to Feature Mark Husbands

Dr. Mark Husbands of the Hope College religion faculty will present a public lecture on doing Christian Theology in a Secular Age titled “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night,” on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

Husbands, who is the Leonard and Marjorie Maas Associate Professor of Reformed Theology at Hope, will be speaking through the “Last Lecture Series” organized by the college’s Alcor chapter of the national Mortar Board honorary society to feature members of the faculty.  The chapter will give away copies of the book “The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God” by Robert Louis Wilken to the first 50 in attendance, as well as copies of the “Last Lecture” to audience members following the address.

The title of the lecture series, which the chapter initiated during the 2008-09 school year, is rhetorical.  The lectures are not literally presented as the last that the speakers will deliver at Hope, but are meant to highlight the advice that they would most want to share if the event was indeed the final opportunity for them to address the college’s students.  The professors are being asked to reflect on their careers and lives, and to think deeply about what matters to them and about what wisdom they would like to impart.

The concept was inspired by the “Last Lecture” delivered at Carnegie Mellon University by Dr. Randy Pausch on Sept. 18, 2007.  Pausch, a member of the Carnegie Mellon faculty who had terminal pancreatic cancer--a fact known at the time that he spoke--presented “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”  He died on July 25, 2008, at age 47.

Husbands has been a member of the Hope faculty since 2007.  With exemplary training in dogmatic, historical, moral, and philosophical theology, his primary teaching and research emphases are the theology of Karl Barth, the doctrine of reconciliation, political theology, and world Christianity. His courses at Hope have included “Radical Hope and Moral Witness,” “Faith Seeking Understanding,” “Navigating the Christian Past,” “Political Theology and the Rule of Christ”, “World Christianity,” “Doubt and Faith: Believing Again in a Secular Age” and “Reformed Theology: Calvin and Barth.”

He was the opening keynote speaker during the college’s most recent Veritas Forum in January 2011, exploring the theological basis for thinking about identity, friendship and community through the address “Friendship, Knowledge and Love: What Emerging Adults Should Learn from Gandalf, Augustine, and Milosz.”  His involvement in the life of the college has also included leading the focus session “Water, Justice and Christ: Why Water is Thicker Than Blood!” during the college’s fall 2009 Critical Issues Symposium, “At Water’s Edge: Complacency, Thirst, Action.”

Husbands is the editor and co-author of seven books, including “Ancient Faith for the Church’s Future,” “The Beauty of God: Theology and the Arts,” “Essays Catholic and Critical,” and “Women, Ministry and the Gospel: Exploring New Paradigms.”  His monograph, “Karl Barth’s Ethics of Prayer,” is forthcoming from the prestigious “Columbia Series in Reformed Theology” (Westminster John Knox Press). His scholarship represents the work of a vital inter-disciplinary mind, addressing both historical and contemporary concerns, including the fact/value dichotomy and self interest in economics; wealth, Scripture, and the rule of Christ; John Calvin’s doctrine of revelation and Scripture; justice, Barth, and the political worship of the State; U2, justice, and Bonhoeffer; resurrection, ontology and the ministry of women; Verdi’s “Requiem”; and the promise of ecumenical dialogue between evangelical Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.

Prior to coming to Hope, Husbands was a member of the theology faculty at Wheaton College, where he had taught since 2001.  He had previously held administrative and faculty appointments at Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

A native of Cardiff, Wales, Husbands was raised in Canada; earning his undergraduate degree from York University (Toronto), he went on to earn a Masters of Religion degree in philosophical theology at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto, writing a master’s thesis on the language philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Martin Heidegger. His doctoral work under the supervision of one of the leading Barth scholars, Professor John Webster (formerly the Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford, now Chair of Systematic Theology, University of Aberdeen) led to the completion of a dissertation on Barth’s moral theology and actualist ontology.

Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, leadership and service, and provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to college and universities, and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community.  Since its founding in 1918, the organization has grown from the four founding chapters to 229 collegiate chapters with nearly 250,000 initiated members across the nation.

The Alcor chapter has existed at Hope since the 1936-37 academic year, although it did not become part of the national Mortar Board organization until 1961.  The chapter has received multiple awards at the Mortar Board National Conference during each of the past several years, including being named the top chapter during the national conference in July 2010.  During the conference this past summer, the chapter received a “Golden Torch Award,” 12 “Project Excellence” awards, and the second annual “First Book Award” for having been the top chapter in the national “Reading is Leading” Virtual Book Drive Challenge.

The chapter also sponsored a “last chance talk” during the 1960s.  The idea back then was to invite a faculty member to express his/her ideas under the hypothetical assumption that this would be the last opportunity to address the student body.  The late Dr. D. Ivan Dykstra, professor of philosophy, delivered the first “last chance talk” in the spring of 1962.

Also during the Feb. 21 event, Mortar Board will be selling items through two fund-raising projects, offering hand-carved walking sticks for $9 and hand-carved marshmallow throwers with marshmallows for $6.  There will also be a free-will donation box to help support the costs of the Last Lecture Series and other Mortar Board service projects.  In addition, free copies of Last Lecture addresses delivered since 2010-11 will be available.

The Maas Center is located at 264 Columbia Ave., on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street.