Catholic Speaker Series

(VIDEO) "Gold Out of Egypt": Christian Art and International Influences with artist Daniel Mitsui

"Gold Out of Egypt":
Christian Art and International Influences
with artist Daniel Mitsui

Scroll to end of post for video.

The Saint Benedict Institute hosted, “‘Gold out of Egypt’: Christian Art and International Influences,” a lecture by artist Daniel Mitsui, on Thursday, April 20, at 7 p.m. in the Fried-Hemenway Auditorium of the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication at Hope College.

The Apostles of Jesus were instructed to go teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. In every nation, Christianity has encountered a different culture, and worked to establish its own belief with it. Catholic artist Daniel Mitsui discussed the ways in which the conflicts and concords between religions, cultures and nations are expressed in Christian religious art. 

Mitsui examined the ways, historically, in which Christian artists have claimed elements of Classical and Islamic art as their own; will argue the necessity of their continuing to seek inspiration from foreign art; and discussed the dangers of treating the art of a single nation or culture as the basis of Christian aesthetic identity. 

Daniel Mitsui specializes in ink drawing and his meticulously detailed creations, done entirely by hand on paper or vellum, are held in collections worldwide. He is especially inspired by medieval illuminated manuscripts, panel paintings, prints and tapestries; as well as by the Arts & Crafts movement, biological illustration, Japanese woodblock prints and Persian art. Mitsui lives in Chicago with his wife and family. More of his work can be seen at

The event was co-sponsored by the Departments of Religion, Art and Art History, Asian Studies, International Studies, and the Center for Ministry Studies at Hope College.

On April 20, 2017, Daniel Mitsui presented "Gold Out of Egypt: Christian Art and International Influences" at Hope College as part of the Saint Benedict Institute Catholic Speaker Series.

“Voices from the Global Church”: Upcoming Panel Discussion with Berta Carrasco, Miguel Abrahantes, and Marissa Doshi

“Voices from the Global Church”

Upcoming Panel Discussion with Berta Carrasco, Miguel Abrahantes, and Marissa Doshi

"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12). The Saint Benedict Institute is hosting a panel discussion, “Voices from the Global Church,” followed by a festive evening of fellowship on Tuesday, March 14, at 7 p.m. in the rotunda of the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication at Hope College, Holland, MI.

Hope College has many Christian professors from all around the world who share their experience and unique perspective on what it means to live the Gospel from within their own cultures. Professors Berta Carrasco, Miguel Abrahantes and Marissa Doshi will tell stories of faith, persecution, interreligious communities, and what it means to grow up Christian in Spain, Cuba and India.  Dessert with coffee and tea will be served.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

Berta Carrasco de Miguel is an assistant professor of Spanish. After completing her undergraduate degree from the University Antonio de Nebrija in Madrid, Spain, she earned her master’s and Ph.D. at Western Michigan University in Spanish women’s writings, focusing on the testimony of women who were in prison during the Spanish Civil War. Related to this topic, she researches how the change of generations affects the way women define themselves. Besides her interest in women’s writings, Carrasco also conducts research on hybrid learning and teaching.

Miguel Abrahantes is an associate professor of engineering. His fields of interest include modeling, simulation and control of systems in areas of robotics and mechatronics. Abrahantes’ current research includes non-wheeled rovers and autonomous multi-unit robot systems. He is originally from Cuba where he received his undergraduate degree in electronic engineering from the Universidad Central de las Villas. He went to Argentina for his graduate studies and finished his Ph.D. in control systems at the Universidad Nacional del Sur in Bahia Blanca before coming to the U.S.

Marissa Doshi is an assistant professor of communication. She holds a Ph.D. in communication and a master’s in science and technology journalism from Texas A&M University, and a bachelor’s in life sciences and biochemistry from St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, India. Doshi's research draws on feminist perspectives to examine the creative and cultural dimensions of the media and technology practices. Her work has been published in journals such as Journal of Communication Inquiry, Communication Research, and Journal of International and Intercultural Communication.

The event is being co-sponsored by Campus Ministries, the campus-wide GROW (Growing Relationships through diverse Opportunities to strengthen involvement in an ever-changing World) initiative and the communication, engineering, modern and classical languages, and religion departments at Hope.

The Martha Miller Center for Global Communication is located at 257 Columbia Ave., at the corner of Columbia and 10th streets.

(VIDEO) Recap of R.R. Reno's "Restoring Love to the Intellectual Life"


by Carly McShane, ‘17

On Wednesday Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. students, professors and members of the Holland community gathered at Hope College to hear R.R. Reno give a lecture on “Restoring Love to the Intellectual Life”. Dean Marc Baer introduced Dr. Reno (Ph.D. Yale University), the editor of First Things magazine and former professor at Creighton University.

Reno began his lecture by laying out his concerns with our current educational culture. He fears that superficial intellectualism has become the norm and that an attitude of knowingness has replaced truly knowing. Secondly, he is concerned with the age of suspicion and distrust where students are encouraged not to accept any claim without thorough investigation on their own. Reno puts forth that critical thinking has become the goal of higher education, the essence of the intellectual life. Professors and administrator want student to ask questions and think critically rather than present answers to questions of consequence. While thinking critically can be good it must not be overemphasized. Instead, the intellectual must devote herself to truth because larger truths are elusive and we must be “animated by love’s reckless passion for truth”.

Next Dr. Reno pointed us to the post-modern mindset influenced by Jacques Derrida’s method of deconstruction and the materialism of Epicurus and Lucretius. Reno claims that both deconstruction and materialism seek to weaken truth in order to lead people to live more peaceful lives. The skeptic or deconstructionist highlights that fact that if nothing is worth fighting for no one will fight and if nothing is worth sacrificing for then no one will sacrifice. While the materialist claims that everything, even philosophy, is just our physical state, which can be explain by the methods of science. Reno points out that neither of these claims are attempting to be nihilistic, they are simply trying to protect people from disappointment. In other words, don’t hope for too much goodness because the world will disappoint, but if nothing matters we can relax not having to worry about the deep need for meaning in our lives.

Unfortunately, this is the spirit of thought that most often dominates the classroom. Often faculty members want to challenge students on their religious beliefs by filing them with doubt, lacking a deep love for truth. They do this not because they do not care for their students but because having intense, substantive beliefs about truth is seen as dangerous. If we want people to be more tolerant and inclusive then a deep belief is a detriment to their ability to live peacefully in an all-affirming society. Having deep beliefs means you will eventually encounter someone who you do not agree with regarding something of consequence, sexuality and marriage for example.  So it would seem that it is the job of our education system to ensure that student do not take their deeply held beliefs with them into adulthood. Professors see this as a positive duty because they are forming students into tolerant, peace-seeking individuals. Reno asserts that we dream of a utopia with loose beliefs and no grasp on truth so critical thinking becomes the ambition of higher education, disenchantment a therapy of the soul, and value is given to developing tolerance rather than cultivating a fierce love for truth. Reno digressed for a moment stating that many could claim that the natural sciences and mechanical professions do lead student to pursue truth. Reno insists that while this is accurate in some fashion, the truth that these fields uncover is existentially inconsequential. For example, “your biology class doesn’t help you know what to say to your dying parent.”

Then there must be a better way to encourage devotion and love of truth. Reno believes that we need to be romanced away from error. He points to the book of Proverbs where a group of men are seduced by prostitutes. Lady Wisdom wants to teach them their error by using arguments but her efforts do not win them over. So she tries a different approach wooing the men with a banquet in her palace and beautiful maidservants to call them in. Reno uses this to say that if we wish to cultivate a desire for wisdom we need to enchant rather than disenchant. We need a greater, truer love to pull us away from our false loves. Enchantment can come from the traditions and rituals of our schools (perhaps professors should wear their robes all the time). Professors who are devoted to their subjects and believe in the truth of what they teach enchant students by inviting them into their discipline. In this world of educational enchantment lectures are performances that draw us in and the books that line our professor’s shelves remind us that our love of wisdom has no end.

So, while we should not rid our institutions of critical thinking it cannot be the goal of education. Critical thinking must take place in the larger context of love and devotion. Instead of leading students towards indifference and tolerance we need a pedagogy of enchantment that looks to the transcendent to seek truth and wisdom. 

On November 2, 2016, the Saint Benedict Institute co-sponsored editor of First Things, Rusty Reno's lecture, "Restoring Love to the Intellectual Life."

In the News: Jared Ortiz's New Book on St. Augustine's Confessions Featured in Holland Sentinel

The Holland Sentinel recently featured Saint Benedict Institute director Jared Ortiz and his new book on St. Augustine's Confessions. To read the full story, click here or see below.

"You Made Us For Yourself": Creation in St. Augustine's Confessions was released April 2016 by Fortress Press. Dr. Ortiz will speak on the book on October 13 at 7 p.m. in the Maas Auditorium, Hope College. All are invited to attend.

“You Made Us for Yourself: Creation, Worship, and Human Destiny in St. Augustine” with Jared Ortiz (VIDEO)

“You Made Us for Yourself:
Creation, Worship, and Human Destiny in St. Augustine”

Talk and Book Release Party with Jared Ortiz, Hope College professor and Executive Director of the Saint Benedict Institute

Dr. Jared Ortiz, who is a member of the Hope College religion faculty and executive director of the Saint Benedict Institute, spoke about his new book, “You Made Us for Yourself: Creation in St. Augustine’s Confessions,” on Thursday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium at Hope College.  Ortiz’s lecture, “You Made Us for Yourself: Creation, Worship, and Human Destiny in St. Augustine,” explored Augustine's rich understanding of creation as God's gift of a beautifully ordered cosmos which is in dynamic motion back toward Him and whose destiny is to be transfigured through Christian worship.

A video of the lecture is available below.

Jared Ortiz (Ph.D., The Catholic University of America) joined the Hope College faculty in 2012 as an assistant professor of religion. He teaches Catholic studies and is co-founder and Executive Director of the Saint Benedict Institute, the Catholic spiritual and intellectual center that serves Hope College. Ortiz teaches courses on the Incarnation, church history, Catholic Christianity, theological hermeneutics and early Christianity. His scholarship focuses on early Christian theology, especially St. Augustine. He also has scholarly interest in liturgy and Latin patristic thought. Ortiz’s book “You Made Us for Yourself: Creation in St. Augustine’s Confessions” was published with Fortress Press in April 2016.

The event was co-sponsored by the Center for Ministry Studies and the Department of Religion at Hope College.

On October 13, 2016, Dr. Jared Ortiz, assistant professor of Religion at Hope College and executive director of the Saint Benedict Institute, delivered a lecture on Augustine's Confessions, "You Made Us for Yourself: Creation, Worship, and Human Destiny in St. Augustine."

"Art is a Jealous God" with James Matthew Wilson, Catholic Poet and Villanova Professor (VIDEO)

How does the serious artist represent the religious and spiritual dimensions of human experience, especially in a culture suspicious of art that contemplates the divine? Award-winning scholar and poet James Matthew Wilson, Ph.D. (Villanova University) addressed this question and others in his talk, “Art is a Jealous God: Aesthetic Autonomy and the Claims of the Divine," on September 7, 2016 at Hope College.

James Matthew Wilson is Associate Professor of Religion and Literature in the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions at Villanova University.  An award-winning scholar of philosophical-theology and literature, he has authored dozens of essays, articles, and reviews on subjects ranging from art, ethics, and politics, to meter and poetic form, from the importance of local culture to the nature of truth, goodness, and beauty.

Wilson is also a poet and critic of contemporary poetry, whose work appears regularly in such magazines and journals as First Things, Modern Age, The New Criterion, Dappled Things, Measure, The Weekly Standard, Front Porch Republic, The Raintown Review, and The American Conservative.  He has published six books, including most recently the major critical study, The Fortunes of Poetry in an Age of Unmaking (Wiseblood, 2015), a collection of poems, Some Permanent Things, and a monograph, The Catholic Imagination in Modern American Poetry (both Wiseblood Books, 2014).  Wilson also serves on the boards of several learned journals and societies.

Wilson was educated at the University of Michigan (B.A.), the University of Massachusetts (M.A.), and the University of Notre Dame (M.F.A., Ph.D.), where he subsequently held a Sorin Research Fellowship.  He joined the faculty of Villanova in 2008.

The event was co-sponsored by the Religion and English departments at Hope College.

On September 7, 2016, James Matthew Wilson spoke on "Art is a Jealous God: Aesthetic Autonomy and the Claims of the Divine" as part of the Saint Benedict Institute's Catholic Speaker Series.

The Fate of Religious Liberty with Chad Pecknold

The Saint Benedict Forum was pleased to partner with their friends at Hope College's Tocqueville Forum to bring Chad Pecknold to campus on Thursday, April 7th, to speak on “Freedom for Truth: The Fate of Religious Liberty in Liberal Orders.” You can watch Dr. Pecknold's astute talk below.

Pecknold crop BW

C.C. Pecknold, PhD (Cambridge) teaches historical and systematic theology in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America. He is the author of Transforming Postliberal Theology (T & T Clark 2005), Christianity and Politics: A Brief Guide to the History (Cascade 2010), and has edited several volumes of essays, including the forthcoming T&T Clark Companion to Augustine and Modern Theology (T&T Clark 2012) with Tarmo Toom.

Gay and Christian: Exploring Vocation, Friendship, and Celibacy

Gay and Christian: Exploring Vocation, Friendship, and Celibacy

The Saint Benedict Forum is pleased to host an ecumenical symposium, "Gay and Christian: Exploring Friendship, Vocation, and Celibacy." Eve Tushnet, Wesley Hill, and Joshua Gonnerman will all be speaking at this timely event. The symposium is free and open to the public.

Have a Heart: Dr. Anthony Esolen on the Value of a Christian Liberal Arts Education (VIDEO)

Have a Heart: Dr. Anthony Esolen on the Value of a Christian Liberal Arts  Education (VIDEO)

Dr. Anthony Esolen of Providence College lectured on “Liberal Arts and the Christian College in a Post-Christian World.” Dr. Esolen spoke of the rare and precious gift that only a Christian liberal arts college can bestow - an education with a heart.

Duncan Stroik on Architecture for the Poor (VIDEO)

LA Cathedral and St. Patrick NYC (2)
LA Cathedral and St. Patrick NYC (2)

On October 15, 2015, Duncan Stroik gave a fascinating lecture, entitled, "Architecture for the Poor."  He asked: What sort of architecture is appropriate for the poor? Should the buildings we construct for the disenfranchised express their poverty through economical materials, humble proportions, and functionalist interiors? Do beautiful, ornate churches disregard those who struggle for basic comforts? A rousing, thirty-minute Q & A session followed Stroik's talk.

The event was co-sponsored by Hope College's Religion Department, the Art and Art History Department, Sociology and Social Work Department, Markets & Morality, and the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Duncan G. Stroik is a practicing architect, author, and Professor of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame. His built work includes the Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel in Santa Paula, California, the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Prof. Stroik is also the author of The Church Building as a Sacred Place: Beauty, Transcendence, and the Eternal, and edits the journal Sacred Architecture.

Dawn Eden Gives Hope to the Hurting (VIDEO)

Dawn Eden Gives Hope to the Hurting (VIDEO)

On September 16, author and popular speaker, Dawn Eden, gave two talks on the campus of Hope College: "How Jesus’ Sacred Heart Healed My Memories" and "Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On"