Mays to deliver Somerville lecture

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  • September 23, 2007

{mosimage}TORONTO - Does Christianity have anything important to say about the growth of our complex, diverse, chaotic cities? John Bentley Mays thinks the answer is yes and he will explain why in the seventh annual Henry Somerville Lecture on Christianity and Culture.

The lecture, to be held Oct. 18 in Toronto and repeated the next day at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ont., is called The Creative City: The Future of Christian Urbanism.

“Toronto has become a city of strangers,” Mays says. “Pressed by globalism, and drawn by the undeniable allure of metropolitan life and work, people from across Canada and the world have come here, speaking their myriad languages, practising rites that, more often than not, spring from religious traditions foreign to Christianity. We keep to ourselves, building lives, families and friendships within the small circles of ethnic and professional enclaves — discovering some happiness in the vast, impersonal city, while putting ourselves at risk of losing all sense of life-giving urban community. Moreover, Christians find ourselves and our message being pushed from the public forum by secularism and aggressive indifference.”

How will we sing the songs of the Lord in this strange city? How are we to make manifest the Kingdom of God in this complex place?

Mays will offer three answers to these questions, drawing on the writings of American Baptist theologian Harvey Cox, author of the Secular City, French Calvinist philosopher Jacques Ellul, and Canadian Catholic priest and poet, Fr. Pier Giorgio DiCicco, Poet Laureate for the City of Toronto and an advocate of a new encounter with the city grounded in love and justice.

Mays is an award-winning journalist, whose columns on art, architecture and culture have graced both the Globe and Mail and National Post. He currently writes a weekly architecture column in the Globe as well as a bi-weekly column in The Catholic Register. He is also the author of several books; his next book is on some of the key people who have shaped Toronto's culture and public life.

The Somerville Lecture is named after Henry Somerville, the longest-serving editor of The Catholic Register, serving 1933-1953. In past years it has drawn on high-quality Catholic speakers, including Vatican expert John Allen Jr., Toronto Star columnist Richard Gwyn and spiritual writer Fr. Ron Rolheiser. It is sponsored by The Catholic Register and co-sponsored by the Newman Centre (in Toronto) and the St. Jerome's Centre for Catholic Experience as part of its annual lecture series.

The Oct. 18 lecture will be at the Newman Centre (89 St. George St.), the Catholic chaplaincy at the University of Toronto, beginning at 7:30 p.m. A reception will follow.

On Oct. 19, the lecture will be repeated, starting at 7:30 p.m. It will be held in C.L. Siegfried Hall, on the St. Jerome’s University campus at the University of Waterloo.

Both lectures have free admission. No tickets are required. For more information contact (416) 934-3410, ext. 407.

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