Fall Issue 2
From the Editor | Ed Smith
Christian Literature in A Digitalized Urban Age | Alex Strohschein
Jenn and Amy's Weekly Review | Jenn Gill & Amy Anderson
Sister Sophia's Advice Column
"God's Grandeur" | Gerard Manley Hopkins
From the Kitchen | Kasey Kimball
"Board Members" | Stephen Berkenpas
"Space" | Zizian Zhong
The Green Sheet
From the Editor | Ed Smith
I once heard that Clint Eastwood, when asked in an interview about the secret of his directorial success, replied that he just sought to make the sort of movies that he would want to watch. That answer is great: it’s simple, humble, and yetprofound at the same time. It seems like an obvious thing: conceivably artists should always strive to create art that they like, and yet I suspect that this is all too often not the case. How often is art made with the critic in mind, with less concern for creating something enjoyable than creating something that will win critical acclaim and admiration?
The Clint Eastwood ethic, if I may call it that, is what I desire to bring to the Et Cetera. I want to put together the sort of school newspaper that I would like to read because I’m willing to make the dangerous assumption that the sort of newspaper I would enjoying reading is the same sort of newspaper that you would enjoy reading. I’m not just sharing this anecdote with you so you understand my editorial philosophy, but to encourage you to help to create the sort of newspaper that you would like to read. At various times in my life I’ve had moments of staggering egoism, but even in the worst of these times I’ve never imagined that a student body would be interested in reading a newspaper where all the articles were penned by me. To create a paper that’s going to appeal to a diverse readership requires the input from diverse writers. Even if I wanted to, and I certainly do not, I cannot create the Et Cetera by myself.
Last week as I was working on my first edition of the Et Cetera as editor, I experienced moments of doubt. My biggest concern was whether I would have enough content to put together the edition. Slowly, however, articles trickled in, and by the time everything was said and done I actually felt that there was a bit too much. Considering the number of weeks in the semester, I decided that I couldn’t afford to stress out about the Et Cetera, not if I want to preserve my mental health. (I do.) Instead I decided that as the weekly deadline approaches, I won’t stress about whether I receive enough submissions. I will not worry about tomorrow; sufficient for the day is its own worry. Give us this day our daily bread.
This week was the trial week of this new philosophy and in one way it was a smashing success. I didn’t stress about the paper and that was a wonderful change. However, as I’m putting the Et Cetera together I realize that I’m a bit short on content.
(Actually more submissions arrived in between the time I wrote my article and now, so I’mholding back on some things I was planning on including.)I’m not overly concerned. This provides me the space to print a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, something I’m happy to do for several reasons. For one thing, Hopkins is an absolute genius and ever since learning about him I’ve become evangelistic about sharing his work. But what‘s more, Hopkins’ name comes up enough in conversation here under the green roof that it’s worth knowing who he is if only to be able to take part in conversation. I had never heard of him before coming to Regent but I’m extremely grateful that I was introduced to his work. Did I mention that he was a genius? I recommend you read the poem aloud or you’ll miss its full brilliance.
I hope that you enjoy the poem and the rest of the issue. I feel confident that I’ve put together a lot of great content, but I also hope that as the year goes by, this paper will get better and better. For that to happen though, I need people to be invested in the Et Cetera. I hope that everyone will consider submitting an article - at least one over the course of the year. Write something that you would like to read. If you like movie reviews, write a movie review. If you like current events, discuss a current event. If you like top ten lists, write a top ten list. (Or ten of them.) If you like sports, write a sports column. If you enjoyed the Five Books column then volunteer to interview another faculty member. If you don’t enjoy reading the Et Cetera (but are reading this for whatever reason) then write whatever it is that you would enjoy reading.
Now some might suggest that the Clint Eastwood ethic isn’t enough if you want to create something other than popular fluff. I’m not convinced though, because one of the most powerful scenes that I’ve ever encountered in cinema was in an Eastwood film and Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote poems that his contemporaries ignored but that would eventually be regarded as masterpieces. In the same way, I wrote this article as something I’d like to read and it’s also a masterpiece. Well, maybe that’s not quite the takeaway. Just send me your articles at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d like to edit this more but I’ve got a deadline. Instead I’ll say, “Ed it’s done” in order that I might cash in one more time on a pun on my name and wrap up an already lengthy article. Happy reading!
Christian Literature in a Digitalized Urban Age | Alex Strohschein
Today we have a plethora of excellent evangelical scholarship but a paucity of good Christian literature. As the Church competes with the flood of counter-narratives to the Gospel in our culture, I hope that more thoughtful and creative Christians turn from dogma to drama. I do not pretend that writing good literature is any easier than writing rigorous, robust theology. Just as writing theological books requires research and consultation on a vast array of sources, so too does a story require rigorous character development, an absorbing plot, thoughtful insights and moving diction. (By “Christian literature,” I mean compelling narrative written by Christians that incorporates spiritual/religious themes). Pastors are uniquely aware of the complexity of men and women in that they deal with sinners when they are saints and saints when they are sinners (it is Father Brown’s perceptive insights into the human psyche through his experience hearing confessions that makes him a successful sleuth).
Not only is there a lack of Christian literature, but what does exist almost exclusively neglects modern, urban, technologized life which is the norm for the majority of North Americans. I hope to see Christian literature that explores technology and city life and how these increasingly affect our anthropology and spiritual formation. While some contemporary Christian authors do set their stories in urban contexts, these authors tend to produce fiction that is popular but not critically acclaimed - while Karen Kingsbury’s novels are wholesome and moral, they will not win the Pulitzer Prize.
Obviously the likes of Evelyn Waugh and Flannery O’Connor could not write about the Internet because they were long dead before it was invented. But it is interesting to observe how living Christian novelists tend to avoid writing about the present. Does this betray our own nostalgia for the past – a past that surely did have its own tremors and (repressed) turbulence, but that seemed simpler before the latter end of the twentieth century? Many of Frederick Buechner’s most lauded novels are set in biblical times or in the “Dark Ages.” Wendell Berry’s stories about Port William begin in 1888 but cluster in the 1900s and they are based in a small agrarian community. Alice McDermott’s novels, “After This” and “Someone,” feature the lives of Catholic characters and are largely set in mid-twentieth century New York City. Leif Enger’s debut novel, “Peace Like a River,” is primarily set in 1962 and mostly in a rural setting.
We’re not knocking the hipsters: we like our cold brew and our plaid shirts just as much as the next Vancouveress. However, we love stepping into the Epicurean, where atmosphere is a by-product and food, drink, and hospitality are matters of first importance. Marilynne Robinson’s chronicles of the Ames family are also largely set in the first half of the twentieth century. The Shack takes place in and around a dilapidated cabin.
When asked in an interview why Christian novelists gravitated towards the mid-twentieth century and away from the twenty-first, Marilynne Robinson replied “I think of the mid-20th century as a period in which great, slumbering issues awoke and demanded thought and articulation…The Internet is small change, ephemeral in terms of our national history. We like to play with it. Our relationships are our responsibility, as they always have been and can only be, and our faiths the same.” It is understandable that a 71-year old writer would underestimate the impact of technology on our lives, but most of us born in the 1980s and 1990s are well aware of how much the Internet, cell-phones and other technology have formed us as individuals and affected our relationships with one another. Examples abound: sending text messages may be more convenient than phoning, but something is lost when words on a screen replace the sound of the other’s voice. We no longer need to write out letters, go to the post office and pay for stamps to keep in touch with far-flung loved ones. Instead, we email or Skype, yet the preciousness of physical letters is lost.
Stories are powerful. My final paper in undergrad was for a Society & Religion class. Instead of writing a standard research paper, the professor encouraged us to read a novel that dealt with spiritual themes and examine how these affected the characters. In a city as secular and “disenchanted” as Vancouver, the professor realized it was hard for students to appreciate how religion impacts people’s personal lives; research papers increase our knowledge about religion but they doesn’t move us in quite the same way stories do. By following characters through dilemmas and triumphs and tracing how their faith sustains them through trials, readers can come to better appreciate how faith informs, shapes and inspires Christians. As much as we can admire and enjoy the “Great Tradition” of Christian literature, I hope that the Church will cultivate a new generation of novelists who can craft compelling stories that ultimately point readers to the “true myth” of Christ while grappling with what the city and technology have wrought in us.
Jenn and Amy's Weekly Review | Jenn Gill & Amy Anderson
Greetings, dear readers! We’re back on the weekly review wagon, and recommitting ourselves to the noble cause of providing the Regent community with friendly, unsolicited, and (semi-)weekly reports on the fine establishments that proliferate in our fair city. This year, finding ourselves facing the unavoidable financial reality of a third (3rd!) year at Regent, we are rethinking our approach to life in Vancouver. As such, we bring you (drum roll, please) Jenn and Amy’s Weekly Review - The Budget Version! Yes, yes, we know. Settle down, folks. It’s just going to revolutionize your lives.
The ground rules are as follow:
- Everything will be cheap.
- Nothing will be lame. Or, if it is, we’ll let you know.
- Pubs are fine in their place, but we need more culture in our lives. Art galleries, bistros, and fringe festivals, here we come!
- Although we’ve said that everything is going to be cheap, and we’ve distanced ourselves from weekly trips to the local watering hole, we reserve the right to disregard all of the guidelines set out above. Because, after all, what’s student life without blowing the budget and hitting up a few pubs every once in a while?
In that spirit, we kick off this year’s inaugural column with this recommendation: whether you’re new to the city or on year 10 of a seemingly endless M.Div., you’ll find respite and refreshment at the Epicurean Caffé Bistro on Cypress and 1st.
This charming, authentic Italian Café is a great palate cleanser if you’ve studied in one too many hipster-esque coffee joints. On this lovely Saturday morning, we find ourselves in the company of two endearing elderly couples, an adorably awkward couple on a first date, and an Italian waiter who (we hear) has been known to make a heart or two flutter. The conversation around us has a cheery, homey feel as we waste an hour or two lounging around a table with our housemates and the Arts and Travel sections of the Globe and Mail.
The only downside to a visit to the Epicurean is that the cinnamon twists go so fast that you’ve got to get there early to enjoy their crunchy deliciousness. Jenn, who is a little particular about her coffee, found the cappuccino a bit dry, but Amy, who is admittedly a bit less discerning, thought she may have had the best latté of her life. The tables go quickly, so you may have to sit outside; however, this isn’t necessarily a drawback. Provided you bring a wooly sweater or a nice scarf, you may find (as we did) that there is a particular charm to sitting under an awning and enjoying a hot drink as the falling rain makes the morning sidewalk shine.
Conclusion: the coffee isn’t cheap but coffee and breakfast is still one of the nicest and least expensive ways to enjoy the city on a weekend. Great people-watching, pleasant atmosphere, and charming service. A strong 4/5.
Sister Sophia's Advice Column
Dear Sister Sophia,
What is the best strategy to approach church?
Dear Truncated Ecclesiology,
Here are a few tips to finding “the one.”
1. Make sure it makes you feel good. Whether it’s the right amount of light streaming in the windows, the appropriate chair-comfortability (which rules out pews), the warmth of the greeter’s smile, or the quality of the free coffee, you should feel comfortable. If you’re going to be able to hear and respond to the living God speaking to you, all of these things must be in good order.
2. Make sure it’s the right demographic. We all know, I think, that a few children are nice to see before and after the service (Jesus did say, “Come unto me,” after all), a few “wiser ones” are helpful in case we find ourselves in the rare circumstance of needing wisdom from a non-peer (rare, I say!) or in case we want to remember that our lives as they are will not last forever, and some assortment of races is nice to remind us that we are a universal people of God.
3. Make sure you don’t serve. They (the existing church-goers or pastors) definitely shouldn’t ask you to do anything. We are a busy group of students. We are busy learning theology in order to serve the church sooner-later or even later-later (right?).
4. Make sure there’s coffee. Lots. Free. Good. Fair trade. Organic. Gluten-Free.
5. Make sure there’s just the right amount of liturgical movement. This, of course, comes down to personal taste. You may prefer a long, direct sermon sandwiched on either side by 2-4 songs. Or perhaps you think weekly Eucharist may be of some importance, sacramentally or otherwise (if there is an otherwise). No one likes confession, so that’s easy to avoid.
You may want to hear an absolution, though, so that may be something to watch for, even if you haven’t confessed anything.
6. And, the music. We finally come to the crux of the issue. Look for multiple mic stands signalling
harmonic vocals, a drum kit, keyboard (no, a piano will not do), and multiple types of guitars (bass, electric, and acoustic to start). A stringed instrument like a cello or violin would make your church decision sure. The best thing is to make sure that the “joyful noise” made by the people of God is a little bit drowned out.
There you have it! Except, not at all.
My first word is simply, “let’s go.” Let’s go to church. Let’s go and gather with the all and sundry that are the body of Christ. Let’s weigh carefully all that helps us receive the word of God and experience the goodness of our embodied existence. These things are of some definite importance.
It doesn’t always bode well to start a sentence with “At the end of the day” because it signals that many important considerations are about to be discarded, ignored, or set aside. But, at the end of the day, receiving your place within Christ’s body and recognizing that place by arriving at a spatiotemporal location where other members of his body are gathering to be invited and ushered into the worship of our Almighty God is fairly important. The actual spatiotemporal location of that gathering and the shape that the service takes is, dare I say it, of lesser importance. “Why?” you ask. Because, as one pastor preached this past Sunday in a church somewhere, “Church is not for you.” It is about being invited into the life of God personally and ecclesially.
Also, did you happen to take your pseudonym from Gordon Smith’s class this past weekend? I am pretty sure he got that from his mom.
God's Grandeur | Gerard Manley Hopkins
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
From the Kitchen | Kasey Kimball
Zesty Chicken and Rice Soup
• Canola oil
• 1 onion, diced small
• 4 carrots, peeled and diced small
• 3 celery ribs, diced small
• Black pepper
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• ½ teaspoon coriander
• ½ teaspoon chili powder
• Pinch cayenne pepper
• 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 5 cups chicken stock
• 3 – 3 ½ cups cooked, shredded chicken breast
• ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
• ½ corn kernels
• 1 teaspoon lime zest
• 1 tablespoon lime juice
• 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
• 3 cups cooked rice (I like to use jasmine for the additional flavor)
• Jalapeño slices, tortilla strips, and lime wedges, for garnish
Place a medium-large soup pot over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 4 tablespoons of oil; once the oil gets hot, add in the onion, carrots, and celery, and saute for a 1-2 minutes.
Add in a couple of good pinches of salt and black pepper, plus the cumin, coriander, chili powder, and pinch of cayenne pepper, and saute for a few more minutes, until the veggies begin to become tender.
Stir in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the chicken stock.
Bring the soup up to a rolling simmer, and then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until veggies are tender.
Finish the soup by adding in the shredded chicken breasts, peas, corn kernels, lime zest, lime juice, and chopped cilantro; check to see if any additional salt or pepper is needed.
To serve, add some of the rice (about ½ cup of so) to the bottom of your bowl, and ladle over the hot soup; garnish with additional lime, some sliced jalapenos, or some crispy tortilla strips.
Board Members | Steve Berkenpas
Space | Zizian Zhong
The cartoon characters in the background represent this world and everything within it. It is animated, meaning that not everything within this world is real. God exists in this piece in the form of calligraphy, both in English and in Chinese. This shows God is totally different from the world. He is beyond the limits of culture barriers and language gaps. It is the word from a different space, beyond the experiences of animation characters. Meanwhile, as the word, God makes a difference in this art piece. When it appears, the animated world fades away.
As is written in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
[ Photograph used with permission. Unsplash: Robert G Allen Photography ]