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Vancouver School of Theology

Public Events

Thursday, July 4th, 7:00pm – Rumi and the Hiddenness of God – Dr. Hossein Houshmand
Chapel of the Epiphany, 5030 Chancellor Boulevard on the UBC Campus

The idea of divine hiddenness is recognized by many influential advocates of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic monotheism. Discussing the moral and the epistemic aspects of the hiddenness of God, we will examine Rumi’s essential idea that God conceals himself from those who merely desire a propositional knowledge of his existence, whereas he does reveal himself to those who recognize and desire an intimate friendship (walāya) or life-changing knowledge of him.

Dr. Robert Alter
April 30 – May 1, 2012

Dr. Robert Alter has been Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California in Berkeley since 1967. He has published widely on the modern European and American novel, on modern Hebrew Literature, and on literary aspects of the Bible. The author of two prize winning volumes on literary aspects of the Bible, Dr. Alter’s works include Necessary Angels: Tradition and Modernity in Kafka, Benjamin, and Scholem (1991), The World of Biblical Literature (1992) and Hebrew and Modernity (1994). His most recent works are Canon and Creativity: Modern Writing, the Authority of Scripture (2000) and Imagined Cities (2005), The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary (2007), The Book of Genesis, translation by Robert Alter (2009), Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible (2010), and The Wisdom Books: Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes: A Translation with Commentary (2010). This event is co-sponsored by Vancouver School of Theology and the Iona Pacific Inter-religious Centre.

Workshop: Monday, April 30, 9:30 am – 3:30 pm: Translating the Hebrew Bible. No knowledge of Hebrew required. Fees and registration apply (Online registration will be posted on Monday, February 20th – please check back! )

Public Lecture: Monday, April 30th, 7 pm: Form and Meaning in the Book of Job. Free will offering – open to the general public

Public Noon Lecture: Tuesday, May 1st, 12 pm: Reading Biblical Narrative. Free will offering – open to the general public

Co-sponsored by Iona Pacific Inter-religious Centre, VST Centre for Public and Pastoral Leadership

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Iona Pacific Visiting Scholars:
Dr. Francisco Peña and Dr. Hussein Keshani , with Rabbi Dr. Robert Daum
IPT5/710 – Other Worlds: Religion, Science Fiction and the Problem of “Evil”

Both religions and Science Fiction literature wrestle with ultimate questions concerning human existence. Among these questions is what is the origin of “evil”, what is its nature, how is it imagined and how can it be overcome. This course will explore how various religious traditions and science fiction literatures confront the problem of evil by looking at the topics of Orthodoxies, Otherness, Utopias and real and imagined worlds.

Dr. Francisco Peña is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Critical Studies at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan campus). With a background in Religious Studies, Hebrew Literature, and Spanish Literature, his research interests include the influence of the Bible on literature, particularly medieval and early modern Spanish Literature. He also studies modern rewriting of Apocryphal and Pseudoepigraphic Literature in the genre of Science Fiction.

Dr. Hussein Keshani is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Critical Studies at UBC (Okanagan campus). He works on the art and architectural histories of South Asian and Islamic cultures and their religious traditions. He is interested in the relationship between religious beliefs and practices and material culture, in particular the way scripture is deployed in the architectural environs.

Rabbi Dr. Robert Daum is Director of Iona Pacific Inter-religious Centre and Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Jewish Thought at VST. He is an Honorary Associate Professor in Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies at UBC’s Vancouver campus, where he is also a Faculty Associate in the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies. At Simon Fraser University he serves on the Steering Committee of the Centre for Dialogue. His research interests include literary, rhetorical, and cultural studies of biblical and classical rabbinic texts; religious authority and interpretation; representations of gender and sexuality in religious cultures; and interreligious and intercultural dialogue.

“Other Worlds” is offered as part of a research collaboration between Iona Pacific Inter-Religious Centre (VST) and the Dialogues on Cultures, Religions and Spiritualities Initiative (UBC Okanagan campus). The collaboration is examining the intersections that take place between religion, science fiction and visual culture

View Course Outline

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Karen Armstrong will be there. Will you?

Student Conference on Compassion in Religion with Karen Armstrong

DR. KAREN ARMSTRONG, TED Prize winner 2008, prolific author, and Visiting Scholar at SFU
Inspired the “Charter for Compassion,” endorsed by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Thursday, March 29, 2012 from 9am-2pm
Chapel of the Epiphany, Vancouver School of Theology
6030 Chancellor Blvd, UBC-Main Campus
Sponsored by Iona Pacific Inter-religious Centre at VST
The principal sponsor in Karen Armstrong’s “12 Days of Compassion” is Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue

Come and be inspired!

Iona Pacific Inter-religious Centre at Vancouver School of Theology is proud to host a day-long student conference on compassion, religion, and society featuring internationally acclaimed scholar Karen Armstrong. The conference includes Karen Armstrong’s keynote and summary addresses, stories about compassion from eight different traditions, student-led discussions, and a nutritious lunch. Students can expect an invaluable learning experience and networking opportunity with students from regional universities and colleges, civic and community leaders, and storytellers from diverse religious and professional backgrounds.

This is a unique opportunity for you to exchange ideas in an inter-religious conversation about compassion, religion, and society. Register for this rare opportunity to interact with Dr. Karen Armstrong, “one of the most provocative thinkers on religion in the modern world.”

A feature of the Student Conference on Compassion in Religion will be the opportunity for delegates to hear a number of high profile storytellers from a broad range of traditions, including:

First Nations
Bahá’í faith


The Student Conference has limited space, and advance registration is required. To register, please click on “Register Now”.

Registration is open to current post-secondary students only. Please fill in the student portion of the form to confirm your student status.

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Compassion and Religion Poster

Stay up-to-date via Facebook: “Karen Armstrong Student Conference on Compassion”
“Like” the page and share it with students in your life!

If you have questions about the conference, please contact Aliya Hirji, Youth Leadership Coordinator at Iona Pacific Inter-religious Centre, at Professors with academic inquiries are invited to contact Iona Pacific Centre Director and Associate Professor, Dr. Robert Daum, at

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