ARCU Lectureship

The Association of Reformed Colleges and Universities (ARCU) has established a lectureship on Reformed Christian Higher Education. The Lecturer(s) is selected from member institutions in January and will be available for the following academic year, from September until May. 

The Lecturer(s) is selected by the ARCU Executive Committee from the nominations made by the President's and Chief Academic Officers of member institutions. Then Lecturer(s) is an established scholar whose work is a model of the type of scholarship that is distinctive at these colleges. Member institutions can apply for a grant toward the cost of bringing a Lecturer to campus.


The purpose of the lectureship is to:

1. Provide models of scholarship that reflect the mission and character of Reformed Christian institutions.

2. Present theological and philosophical foundations of Christian higher education.

3. Shape a community of Reformed Christian higher education and scholarship.

The Lectures are intended to support faculty development efforts on the ARCU campuses.

ARCU Lectureship 2014-2015

Craig E. Mattson, Ph.D
Trinity Christian College
6601 W. College Dr.
Palos Heights, IL 6046


Craig Mattson (PhD, communication studies, Regent University) conducts rhetorical inquiry into the interaction of discourse and attention, grounding his work in the thought of Michael Polanyi and William Desmond. Craig has completed undergraduate and masters‑level work in interpretive performance and spent his years before Trinity hosting a morning radio program. He has taught and studied at Trinity since 2002 and serves as chair of the Communication Arts Department and as Director of the Honors Program. His wife, Rhoda, serves as Trinity’s Director of the Education Unit and is active in education policy on behalf of the college both in Springfield and in Chicago. They have four children and live in Midlothian, Illinois.

Lecture Topics :

Rhetoric and the Ethics of Attention
Contemporary citizens are anxious about how screens and speakers and gadgets have contributed to a culture-wide attention deficit disorder. See the punditry of wildly popular titles, many of which have short titles for distracted readers: Blink (Gladwell), Rapt (Gallagher), Quiet (Cain), and The Shallows (Carr). But these works offer a thin account of the interaction of discourse and attention. This lecture draws on the thought of theologian William Desmond and phenomenologist Michael Polanyi in order to notice the ways that discourse and attention intersect, often at points where discourse sounds like nonsense and where attention looks unfocused.

Cause-Related Economics of Attention
How can Christians fold together the everyday concerns of first-world life with extraordinary commitments to care for third-world predicaments? One answer put forward today is that we should change the way we notice things—or as Richard Lanham would say it, change our economics of attention. This lecture examines this counsel with a case study on cause-related consumerism. Pro-social corporate messaging has long sought both to raise and to complicate consumer awareness by adroitly shifting attention between consumption and philanthropy. This talk examines one such successful campaign, Bono’s Product RED campaign, which has drawn fascination and the ire for its integration of ordinary material practices and identity formation. Rhetorical analysis of two of the campaign’s major mission statements, the RED Manifesto and the RED Idea suggests how cause-related marketing can foster a consumer identity formation that is flexibly amenable to both ordinary and crisis experience. Buying stuff and saving lives, in other words. But attention to the importance of Christian teaching, especially in regard to the Incarnation, suggests that such identities may also prove hard for consumers to sustain because they subtract gritty, material concerns from lived experience.

What Is Eloquence Good for?
The accepted wisdom of the day is that eloquence is good to the degree that it helps a speaker adapt a message to an audience. Not everyone agrees, of course. Literary critic Denis Donoghue argues that eloquence should not be good for anything, at least not in a utilitarian sense. Rhetorician Richard Lanham argues contrarily that eloquence and goodness have a great deal to do with each other, so long as we acknowledge that they keep switching places. This talk examines the question of what eloquence might be good for by turning to Christian theology, particularly that of William Desmond and David Ford, in order to argue that eloquence is primarily good for invention rather than adaptation. Put differently, eloquence is a way of coping with the excessively good and giving speech of God by becoming copious oneself.

Past Lectures

Ryan McIlhenny, Professor of History, Providence Christian College

Dr. Deborah Bowen, Professor of English, Redeemer University College

Dr. Donald Sinnema, Professor of Theology, Trinity Christian College
Dr. Keith Charles Sewell, Professor of History, Dordt College
Dr. Peter J. Leithart, Senior Fellow of Theology and Literature, New Saint Andrews

Dr James Payton, Jr, Professor of History, Redeemer University College

Dr John Wood, Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies, King's University College

Dr Charles Adams, Professor of Engineering, Dordt College
Dr Susan Felch, Professor of English, Calvin College
Dr Michael Vander Weele, Professor of English, Trinity Christian College


For information about ARCU or the Lectureship, please contact Carl E. Zylstra, Executive Director zylstra@reformedcolleges.org

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