The Veritas Forum at Hope College will feature internationally-known speakers, an art exhibit, a rock band concert and film panel discussion in exploring the concept of truth in post-modern culture in the context of Jesus Christ.

The forum will run Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 11-13. Keynote speakers Sharon Gallagher and Jeremy Begbie will be giving presentations on how modern culture has shaped conceptions of Truth. Marva Dawn will discuss the biblical basis for physical intimacy. "Over the Rhine," a band from Cincinnati, will be performing a Saturday evening concert in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. Other events include an art show at the Holland Area Arts Council, a showing of the film "The Matrix," and discussions on film and music.

Although the event has been planned for the campus community, the public is invited. Admission is free to all events except the "Over the Rhine" concert, for which there will be a $5 charge.

The Veritas Forum began at Harvard University 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 mimicked the Harvard model and held forums of their own.

"It [the Veritas Forum] has been a nationwide phenomenon since 1992, using the format of campus conferences to explore the Christian understanding of Truth. We are excited to bring it to Hope's campus this year," said Dr. Marc Baer of the Hope history faculty, who is one of four faculty and Hope alumni who have been planning the event since last spring. Other Forums this year will be at the Universities of California and Virginia, as well as Northwestern and Duke universities.

"We hope to get people at Hope to raise the level of thinking on campus by drawing out deep questions," added Baer. "We welcome and honor skeptics and their questions, and we will bring some [questions] of our own."

The Hope Veritas Forum is designed to be inclusive of music, film, ideas, sexuality, literature, art, theology and popular culture, and will listen to how God has worked in the whole lives of scholars, musicians, writers and artists. This year's program is the third presented at Hope through the Forum, which also ran in 1997 and 1999.

The event will open on Thursday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m. in the Knickerbocker Theatre with the keynote address "Mystery, Morality, and Meaning: What Woody Allen (and others) are saying about our culture" by Sharon Gallagher. Gallagher is editor and film critic for "Radix" magazine and associate director of New College, Berkeley.

The Veritas Forum is also sponsoring the Holland Area Arts Council's on-going exhibition "Contemporary Icons," which features works in a variety of media by local artists as well as Hope students and alumni. There will be a reception at the Holland Area Arts Council on Thursday, Jan. 11, at 8:30 p.m. The exhibition was juried by Bill Mayer of the Hope art faculty and Nella Kennedy, who is retired from the Northwestern art faculty.

The exhibition opened earlier this month will continue through Friday, Jan. 26. The Holland Area Arts Council is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

The Forum will continue on Friday, Jan. 12, with multiple events featuring Dr. Jeremy Begbie, who is associate principal of Ridley Hall, Cambridge, and an affiliated lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. Begbie will speak during the college's Chapel service on Friday at 10:30 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel, will present the keynote address "Sounding Hopeful" on Friday at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel and will participate in a "Coffeehouse Chat" on Friday at 9 p.m. at the Good Earth.

In addition, the Forum will present the film "The Matrix" on Friday, Jan. 12, at 3 p.m. in the Maas Center conference room. The 1999 film, which stars Keanu Reeves, explores the nature of reality, with the central character encountering a computer-generated world that, confusingly, seems just as real as the physical world.

The events on Saturday, Jan. 13, begin with the presentation "What Do We Really Want Out of Sex" by Dr. Marva Dawn at 9:30 a.m. in the Maas Center auditorium. Dawn is an author, an adjunct professor of spiritual theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and an educator with "Christians Equipped for Ministry."

At 11:15 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 13, a panel will address "Silver Screen Spirituality: Thinking Faithfully about Film" in the Maas Center auditorium. The panelists will be Gallagher; Dr. William D. Romanowski, who is a professor of communication arts and sciences at Calvin College in Grand Rapids; and Dave Anderson, a filmmaker with Compass Arts in Grand Rapids.

The band "Over the Rhine" will make a lunchtime presentation in the Phelps Hall Otte Room on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Formed in 1989, the Ohio-based band has released several full-length recordings and is currently signed with the Virgin/Backporch division of Virgin Records.

There will be a worship service on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 3 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium. The service will be led by Dwight Beal, who is director of music and worship at Hope.

The Veritas Forum will conclude with a concert by "Over the Rhine" on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 8 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. Tickets will be $5 each, and will be available beginning on Monday, Jan. 8, at Holland CD, located in downtown Holland at 48 E. 8th St., and at Hope's Student Union Desk, located in the DeWitt Center on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street. They will also be available at the door.