January Series 2022 speakers revealed; N.T. Wright to make record-breaking sixth appearance

Calvin unveiled the 35th January Series speaker lineup on Thursday, including a sixth appearance by new testament scholar N.T. Wright, a record for the series. 

The 2022 lineup features two other returning January Series speakers. In addition to Wright, retired admiral James Stavridis and Calvin professor and best-selling author Gary Schmidt have previously presented at the January Series. Other prominent names on the program include travel show host Rick Steves, the musical group “Simply Three,” and Brad Montague, creator of the popular web series “Kid President.”

“I am really excited about the lineup for 2022,” Kristi Potter, director of the January Series, said. “I think an underlying theme that will come out through all the presentations is the theme of empathy and the importance of listening to each other’s stories.”

“[N.T.] Wright has become a friend of Calvin at both the January Series and Worship Symposium. It’s become a tradition to invite him back every five years and since he enjoys his interactions with scholars at Calvin he accepts our invitations.””

Notably, Wright will appear in his sixth January Series, breaking the record for the most January Series’ lectures by a single guest. Wright previously appeared in 2017, 2012, 2007, 2003 and 2002. (Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble gave musical performances seven times between 1992 and 2007.) 

“[N.T.] Wright has become a friend of Calvin at both the January Series and Worship Symposium. It’s become a tradition to invite him back every five years and since he enjoys his interactions with scholars at Calvin he accepts our invitations,” said Potter.

Repeat January Series speakers are relatively rare. Out of 453 speakers over 35 years, only 43 have received multiple invitations. Potter said that speakers are only re-invited if they have something “new and timely” to share. “Since it is our 35th anniversary year it seemed fitting to invite a couple of favorites back,” she said. 

Retired admiral James Stavridis is an expert on global security. He will be speaking about cyber threats at the 2022 January series (Photo courtesy of calvin.edu)

Stavridis spoke about global security at the 2015 January Series. His lecture in 2022 will focus on cyber threats.

“This year when cybersecurity and China seemed like especially timely topics, Admiral Stavridis seemed the perfect person to invite. He loved his experience at Calvin last time and was eager to accept our invitation to return,” Potter said.

Schmidt, a Calvin professor and best-selling author, previously spoke at the January Series in 1999 about the patterns of stories. “He seemed the perfect fit to be the final speaker of our 35th year of the January Series,” said Potter. Schmidt’s 2022 talk is titled: “In the Tangles of Our Minds: Why Stories Move Us.”

The importance of stories is a common theme of several 2022 January Series talks. Speaker Colum McCann’s presentation is called “Making Peace with Stories.” Reuben Miller will speak about the human costs of failures in the American criminal justice system.

2022 will also mark the start of a change in how some audience members experience the January Series. Previously, all Calvin students and faculty had the opportunity to attend the program in person because a mid-day break was scheduled during Interim for that purpose. Now that interim no longer takes place in January, some students and faculty will be in class during the January Series. However, the virtual option implemented last year will return.

Calvin professor and award-winning author Gary Schmidt will speak at the 2022 January Series. Schmidt previously spoke at the January Series in 1999. (Photo courtesy calvin.edu)

“I am thankful that last year we learned how to have the January Series virtually with on-demand viewing each day until midnight,” Potter said. (Before 2021, the January Series lectures were livestreamed, but most of them were not available for viewing after 1:30 p.m.) “My hope is that students and faculty who are in class during the 12:30-1:30 p.m. lecture are able to join us later in the day on their own devices as their schedule allows.”

The 2022 January Series will run from Jan. 10 through Jan. 28.