Et Cetera is Regent College’s weekly paper of miscellany, featuring opinion, news, poetry, fiction and more. it Is published 24 times a year by the Regent College Student Association.

Editor | Matt Nelson
Copy Editor | Ed Smith

Fall Issue 3

Fall Issue 3

Contents

To the First Years Who Don't Have Time to Read This | Andy Stromberg
Why I'm Not Going to Buy a Computer | Ed Smith
Lepers in Our Midst | Eddie Wong
Sister Sophia's Advice Column
From the Kitchen | Kasey Kimball
Can't Elope | Steve Berkenpas
I'm Citing That!
Five Books Recap: Part I


To the First Years Who Don't Have Time To Read This | Andy Stromberg

I am currently entering my last year here at Regent.  I started my studies back in 2012, which feels like a long time ago now.  These past few weeks it has been a joy to meet so many new people and to remember what it felt like to dive in to things at Regent for the first time.

This place, as welcoming as it is, can be a bit overwhelming. So, I thought I’d articulate some guidelines to help you survive your first year.  A lot of these you’ll pick up as you go, but hey, just maybe I can save you from a bit of unneeded frustration...

1) When in doubt, talk it out.  It can be intimidating to speak up in a small group when, for instance, you may be sitting in between a Chinese scholar who already has her doctorate and a 40 year old pastor from a denomination you’ve never even heard of.  All of us at one time or another look around and wonder if we’re really meant to be here (an impulse which confronts me just about every time I get a poor mark on a paper!).  Trust me, you have something to offer.  Whether you’re here just for the semester or you’re planning to max out the system with an MDiv, you can (and should) contribute to the conversation.  No one else has your specific background, experience, and personality; if you don’t take the risk to chime in and ask questions we all miss out on God’s grace through you.  At Regent, just like everywhere else, if you are vulnerable and pray for God to use you, he will.  None of us are experts in everything, and your thoughts may just provide the spark that another student (or even a professor) needs to hear.

2) Get an early start on your routine.  This is grad school, which means the onus is on you to get your work done.  Let’s be honest, there are just more good things to do at Regent than there is time to do them.  There are more fascinating people than you can possibly to get to know.  And you probably have more theological baggage to sort through than can be dealt with in a conversation, a week of meetings, or even a semester of studies.  Many of you have traveled from far away and are dealing with significant cultural differences.  All of us are navigating the ins and outs of a new social group and new theological content (which will take a lifetime to process and fully work through!). 

One thing that can help to alleviate these stresses is simply sitting down, looking over your whole semester, and budgeting how you will get it all done. Knowing what is coming will help you to say yes to what is most important and say no to some of the good things that may ultimately make your schedule too hectic.

3) Have a drink/be social.  Let me elaborate, lest you think I’m some sort of licentious hippy.  I would say about a third of what I’ve learned at Regent didn’t come inside the classroom, the library, or out of some dusty old theology book.  What really cemented those resources was the opportunity to work them through in casual social settings.  Don’t drink?  No worries.  It is still worthwhile for you to head out with your classmates (and by the way, if you’re lucky this can be a great way to get to know some of your profs outside of class). 

4) Take breaks.  This is just a good study habit, but I think we need to be reminded that we have limits.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, go for a walk.  If you feel maxed out, watch some mindless TV (late night talk shows like Stephen Colbert and Conan are my go-tos).  You are not a machine and you can only take so much.  You’re not wussing out or being unspiritual by giving yourself permission to do these things.  You’re actually acknowledging and feeding an important part of your humanity, which may need to be encouraged if you’re really going to fully give yourself to your studies at Regent.  Often I find that even a small break lets my mind recover and refills my tank so that I have enough energy to finish the task at hand.
I hope you will find Regent to be an inexhaustible source of resources for you, both theologically and relationally.  We’re all here to help one another succeed for God’s glory and the flourishing of all His people.  May He grant you many tasty brews, meandering chats, and much peace in the midst of all your new experiences this semester.


Why I'm Not Going to Buy a Computer | Ed Smith

There are several of you who will not have the attention span to finish this article.  I’m not going to judge you for that, since my attention span is not so good either.  I first noticed that it was a problem when I realized that I would often be unable to read a paragraph without having my mind wander to what was in the fridge, what my friends were doing on Facebook, what the score of the hockey game was, or whether I had received any new emails recently.  I knew that this was a major problem, not only because I used to have the attention span to read whole books at a sitting, but mainly because just before starting the paragraph I had eaten a snack while checking my Facebook, email and the hockey game (simultaneously). 

I started wondering if the depleted attention span had something to do with the way I consumed online media.  I would read articles online, opening interesting hyperlinks in multiple tabs while also having separate tabs for Facebook, email and YouTube.  I would also wonder why, when it came time to do schoolwork, I couldn’t simply close all the tabs and then effectively and efficiently concentrate on the task at hand.   Worst of all was the desire to continually check to see if anyone else had “liked” my most recent Facebook posts.  There’s no writer’s block like the writer’s block that follows posting something great on social media.
I started by ditching Facebook. Because there is always something new happening I was never able to completely remove myself from the desire to check my newsfeed. This meant that nothing else was able to occupy my full attention and to me that felt like a problem.  Furthermore, although I always felt like my online life was something like a cheap counterfeit of real life, it bothered me when one day I realized that I had started to prefer the counterfeit over the real thing.  My online life robbed me of the pleasures I previously got from doing things I loved.  I liked updating my goodreads account more than I liked reading books.  

It was just about a year ago when my computer stopped working and, instead of replacing it, I started using the school computers.  I found that my attention span improved significantly almost instantly.  (Although it’s still nowhere near as good as I would like.)  And I also discovered that there are other benefits to not having a computer in the house.  

For one thing I like the fact that certain emotions are motivating once again.  Previously if I was lonely I could look for something to post online that would get me some attention but now I have to make sure to spend time interacting with real people in real life.

And when I do spend time with people in real life I’m able to be fully engaged in that moment rather than thinking about what’s happening online.  What’s more, I also discovered that now when I’m alone I have the full benefit of solitude.  When I was plugged in I never really was alone with myself, I was still thinking about other people and what they were doing online. 

Another motivating emotion is boredom; now when I’m bored I’m motivated to find something to do rather than look for online entertainment.  I’ve often wondered if one of the fundamental elements of humanity, something that defines being made in God’s image, is the desire to create.  The internet robbed me of the desire to create and replaced it with the desire to be entertained; but entertainment is depleting whereas creating is satisfying. 

While I do miss certain aspects of computer ownership, I don’t miss losing track of time,  bathed in that artificial glow, mindlessly surfing, always consuming and never producing and then going to bed in the darkest hours of the night overly tired and unfulfilled.  I don’t miss wanting to check social media endlessly or clicking links without end trying to find that one article or video that would satiate my need for entertainment.  I don’t miss living with the knowledge that I have instantly accessible pornography available at all hours of the day and night.  I don’t miss spending time with a technology that puts me at the center of the universe. 

It would be too much to say that ever since I’ve given up my computer I’ve been actively creating, fully focused, effective in my solitude, and fully present in my personal interactions, free from lust and free from pride.  However, at least I feel like I’m moving towards this rather than away from it, and that is definitely a positive change.  Some might say that my issues with computers and the internet are ones of self-control, and that may be the case.  Perhaps.  Regardless, cold turkey was doable where moderation proved impossible.  I would not say that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with owning a computer.  But if you hear me talking about my computer-free stance know that I’m not boasting,  I’m celebrating the fact that I traded sickness for health.    


Lepers In Our Midst | Eddie Wong

This is my story.  I hope it will be a message of hope for those who need it.

Lepers are social outcasts.  Until recently, they were banished to the outskirts of settlements, shunned by people, and left to live with their incurable disease in helplessness and hopelessness.  In a similar way, I was a leper for over 20 years.  While not suffering from skin diseases, I was affected by the epidemic that is crippling our church today—pornography.

I discovered pornography on television when I was 13.  A few years later, I got online, and the rest is history.  Pornography, while promising pseudo-intimacy with minimal effort and no risk, never delivers.  It simply leaves one wanting more.  As a dog returns to its vomit, so I went back for more—more frequent in usage and more explicit in content.  However, I was never satisfied but was led deeper into emptiness and loneliness.  I knew I was trying to quench my thirst by drinking sea water, but I felt powerless to stop.  I was addicted to pornography.

Then I became a Christian.  I thought that would be the end of my struggle.  After all, my former self is dead and I am filled with the Holy Spirit.  How wrong I was!  I went right back to pornography.  However, as a Christian, not only did I feel empty and lonely afterwards, I also felt guilty and ashamed.  “What kind of a Christian are you?”  “Is this how you thank Jesus for dying on the cross for you?”  “How can you even go to church on Sunday morning knowing what you looked at the night before?”  “Are you even worthy to worship God?”  The condemnation and accusations never stopped.

I prayed fervently, begging God to break the chains of my bondage.  Perhaps in an attempt to gain favour with God or to make myself feel better, I served tirelessly at church and gave generously.  Behind my carefully-maintained facade, I was still living a dark and secret life.  I was sinking further into the miry clay.  Moreover, since sex was never mentioned at church and I thought I was the only person with this problem, I never considered asking my pastor or other Christian friends for help.  I dreaded to think what their reactions would be if they knew of my struggle.  I felt like a modern-day leper, destined to live with my incurable addiction for the rest of my life.  Isolated and shunned.  Helpless.  Hopeless.

Then I came to Regent College.  I again thought that would be the end of my struggle.  After all, I would be studying the Bible and be surrounded by Christians all the time.  Wrong again!  I now know that my addiction stems from a broken relationship with God, so changing my external circumstances will not solve the problem.  During Orientation, a Regent alumnus introduced his accountability group for men with sexual addictions, especially pornography.  I felt gripped, as though he was speaking directly to me.  I knew I needed help, but was paralyzed by fear and shame to reach out.  After my hypothesis that attending Regent would end my addiction turned out to be false, I contacted him.  A few weeks later, I attended one of the groups.

For the first time in my life, I confessed to others about my addiction.  I exposed my secret sin and dragged it into the light.  Although I was extremely nervous, it was a tremendously liberating experience.  I also saw that other Christian men are struggling with the same issue.  I was not alone.  Furthermore, there are men who have been free from pornography for months and even years.  It is possible to break free and stay clear.  There is hope!
The past three years have been a long and difficult journey.  However, I am now living in freedom from pornography, enjoying a much closer relationship with God, and experiencing His love in ways never possible before.  God has since put a desire in my heart to help men break free from their sexual addictions.  Last year, I started working with these groups as part of my supervised ministry.

I am now appealing directly to my male readers.  My dear brothers, if you are struggling with pornography, you are not alone.  We have been there and we want to help.  By the amazing grace of God, you can be free.  These groups are confidential and safe environments that are free from condemnation and judgement.  Please contact freedomfromporntoday@gmail.com.
Sisters, if you need help in this area, please contact kirsten@journeycanada.org.
There is hope for all.  Be lepers no more!

“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.”  (Ps. 40:2, KJV)

 


Sister Sophia's Advice Column

Dear Sister Sophia,

I don’t think I’m going to be able to all the work that my professors want me to do, plus manage having friends, going to church, having a job, and maybe sleeping.  What is the best approach to surviving Regent College?

-Struggling Student


Dear Struggling Student,

There are three approaches that you can choose from in terms of survival.  Like all things in life, each one has its selling features and drawbacks.  I recommend taking each one and making a pros and cons list in terms of how it lines up with your proclivities in order to systematically determine how to shape your life until Christmas.  As you read and begin to imagine a new way of being, rest assured that each approach I recommend has been tested and tried in the fiery furnace of life.  Consider yourself free to choose the life program that best suits your needs.    

1. The Rigid Life.  The rigid life sounds harsh.  Because it is.  It has to be.  The situation it addresses is dire.  The demands on you are many and this requires drastic action.  First, practice locking and unlocking your locker lock at home so that you can do it in under 5 seconds.  This will reduce the chances that you will be locked into a conversation at your locker when you simply meant to grab something before rushing off to your next task.  Second, don’t talk to anyone in the bathroom.  The bathroom is another notorious place for getting stuck.  You want to get in and get out.  Third, avoid making eye contact with anyone in the atrium.  Learn to “smile and glide” past everyone that tries to talk to you.  This is of the utmost importance.  Just. Keep. Moving.  Know that if you stop, you will be rooted in that spot for at least 10 minutes.  That knowledge alone should keep those feet moving. Fourth, schedule meetings with only your dearest friends. This requires determining who those people are and how to let the others down.  

2. Ambivalence. This is classic.  It’s quite fool-proof, though I suppose it comes with disadvantages. 

Basically, if you choose this approach you will be intentionally training yourself to disassociate from most everything.  The simple decision to “just not care” has the positive effect of dismantling the grip that stress may have on you.  Through the lens of ambivalence, neither grades nor even simply trying really matter.  Work doesn’t carry enough weight to force you to take any action.  Your accomplishments, though few, come from what you actually want to do; illusive concepts like responsibility, duty, and obligation have no place.               

3. Shalom.  I really shouldn’t include this here at all.  In the name of thoroughness I must, but I fear that you may choose to live this way and actually risk not completing every task, answering every email, returning every phone call, writing every paper, reading every word…  Now, at the outset, don’t be fooled by the name given to this approach.  It sounds biblical, perhaps even Hebrew-related, but this does not by any means give you the assurance that it will provide what you need right now.  You need to get stuff done.  You cannot reframe your day to see it flowing out of the rest you received over night.  You cannot reframe your week to see it flowing out of the rest you received in Sabbath.  You cannot reframe your year to see it flowing in and out of times and seasons of replenishment and weariness.  You cannot ask for eyes to see life, life, and more life in every squirrel charging across a telephone line, in every small child bravely facing puddles in head-to-toe rain gear, in every strange and wonderful face staring blankly across from you on the bus.  You cannot sit for five minutes to hear the word of God, Jesus Christ himself.  God himself.  In a man.  The one that gives you life.  And gives you your self in his self.  No, you must do. Go. Be. Save. Cook. Act. Write. Preach. Create. Feed. Make.  You don’t have time to live.  You’re too busy.  

I know.  Because I am too.

Sincerely,

Sister Sophia


From the Kitchen | Kasey Kimball

Harira (North African soup)
serves 4-6

4 c. vegetable broth
2 tbs. oil
1 c. chopped onions
1 c. chopped carrots
1/2 c. diced celery
1 c. undrained canned diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c. diced potatoes
1 c. dried green lentils
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1 tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
garnish: minced fresh cilantro

Cook onion, carrots and celery, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add spices. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

2. Add tomato, stock, potatoes and lentils. Cover. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until soup thickens slightly and potatoes and lentils are soft.

Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with cilantro garnish.


Can't Elope | Steve Berkenpas

 

I'm Citing That!

This is a place to post all the gems you find in the midst of your academic research.  You know the ones.  They’re the quotations that are irrelevant to your paper but you’re going to find a way to work them into your paper anyway.  These are the quotations that make you think, “I’m citing that!”

(On the primarily psychological value behind rudimentary Chinese gunpowder weapons)

“The efficiency and rationality of some these devices may be inferred from their names: ‘the eight-sided magical awe-inspiring wind-and-fire cannon’ or the ‘nine-arrows, heart-penetrating, magically-poisonous fire-thunderer.’  They were apparently valued as much for their noise as for their killing power.”
David S. Landes in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, pg. 53.

(On the Book of Proverbs and the Solomonic wisdom)

“Proverbs is a ‘how to be book,’ not a ‘how to’ book.  Solomon is a better theologian than Frank Sinatra.  Sinatra sang, ‘Do-be, do-be, do’.  Solomon sings, ‘Be-do, be-do, be.”
Bruce Waltke, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, pg. 104.

(Ostensibly on Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Wreck of the Deutschland but even in context I’m not really sure what Mariani is going on about)

“And it is Victorian in its fascination and repulsion with the self, which is both god- and wombat-like.”
Paul L. Mariani, A Commentary on the Complete Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins pg. 48.


Five Books Recap: Part I

Hans Boersma

The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Jaroslav Pelikan
What Paul Really Said, Tom Wright
Tradition and Traditions, Yves Congar
Discerning the Mystery: An Essay on the Nature of Theolog, Andrew Louth
The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God, Robert Louis Wilken
Scripture in the Tradition, Henri de Lubac
The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Christian Spirituality, Bernard McGinn

Ross Hastings

Resurrection and the Moral Order, Oliver O’Donovan
Church Dogmatics, Karl Barth (or The Great Passion: An Introdcution to Karl Barth’s Theology by Eberhard Busch, if Church Dogmatics is a touch too demanding.)
A Treatise on the Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards
Science and the Trinity, John Polkinghorne
Preachers and Preaching, D. Martin Lloyd Jones
Oor Wullie (A Scottish comic strip, to help lighten an otherwise heavy, heady list)

Bill Reimer

Joyful Exiles, James Houston
Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery, Seymour Drescher  
What Hath God Wrought, Daniel Walker Howe
Death of Christian Britain, Callum Brown  
Children of Men, P.D. James  
Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand  
The Life and Spirituality of John Newton, John Newton  
The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom
The conversion narrative of James Gronniosaw in Slave Narratives, edited by William Andrews and Henry L. Gates

Gordon Smith

Life Together, Dietrich Bonheoffer
The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Crime and Punishment, Leo Tolstoy
Household of Faith and The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, Lesslie Newbigin
John Wesley’s Journal
For the Life of the World, Alexander Schmemann (“an absolute must read!”)

Fall Issue 4

Fall Issue 4

Fall Issue 2

Fall Issue 2