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 4

Fall Issue 4

Contents

Sports Column What? You Will? | Steve Berkenpas
The Simulacra of Modern Being | Tim Tse
Flowcharts | Adrienne Redekopp
Sister Sophia's Advice Column
From the Kitchen | Kasey Kimball
Five Books Recap: Part II


Sports Column What? You Will? | Steve Berkenpas

For three years I have seen the Et Cetera sitting on the tables of the atrium and for three years I have refrained from reading. The reason being that it is out of touch with the real world, the things of importance; it lacks the only reason I’ve seen anyone turn to the newspaper on the bus: it lacks a sports section. Sports: the arena of life, the place we have turned to for millennia for our entertainment and joy – a channel for our desires and a conduit of both elation and disappointment. How could they have been so absent from Regent’s weekly newsletter for so long? How am I going to find out about the all of the important details of the latest Canucks game? Or more importantly – how can I grapple with the existential crisis I go through after wasting time watching yet another game? Regent needs a sports column for these reasons and more.

A flashback to my first semester at Regent: after months of coming to Regent, I noted a lack of a certain swagger. I saw no place for the jock, nobody wearing a letterman jacket or strolling through the hallways in their sweats, proudly displaying the numbers they wear for whatever team they represent. “What repressed treachery must this place be?” I asked myself. And then, one day, I saw it. The first sunny day after months of downpour, with hand over the eyes, Regent students ascended from the depths of the library and squinted their way into sunlight. A football emerged as if from nowhere and they began tossing it back and forth. Only their movements lacked a certain grace, their elbows too low, their hips not turning at the right time, their receptive hands held out too rigidly to softly take a ball in – inwardly I wanted to coach, outwardly I averted my eyes. I diagnosed my early dis-ease: Regent is a place where the jock is absent.

Not having learned my lesson from High School Musical I promptly made the choice.* I must become one of them.

I will abandon my previous sporting days for a life of academia. I will gain their trust with books and words and they will accept me as one of them. So I hit the books. I continued in this direction until two years later I went to my first Friday afternoon soccer match.

Within seconds my world had flipped. I was not a sporting man amongst the book-learned. I was a tall, somewhat gangly child trying to kick a ball around with the grownups. Oh what a fool I was! I watched in awe as fellow students and librarians danced up and down the pitch with a grace reserved for the wind. Boldness and courage were well matched by their sportsmanship and charitable invitations. These Regent students were not what I had thought. They too have logged their hours in competition, played through injury, have made an aggressive slide tackle and perhaps have even pulled an opposing team’s jersey from time to time.
Yet, the Et Cetera still lacks a sports column. What is more, it lacks a place where students can see historical, sociological and theological reflection on sports. Perhaps, with the start of the start of NHL season just around the corner (my hockey pool draft is later today), it is time. ‮


*High School Musical – a 2006 box-office sensation where one of the main characters (Troy Bolton) faces the dilemma of being a star basketball player who also desires to be in his high school’s musical. Desire is pitted against social expectations in this high paced drama, which IMBD gives a solid 5.1.


The Simulacra of Modern Being | Tim Tse

Modern moral progressives often have the implicit assumption that western morality is, well, progressive. But this notion of our sort of progress relies on having accumulated enough distance so as to preclude the need to deal with the (meta)physical fallout of our choices. Rather, our choices have the illusion of consequence, even though consequence itself has largely been removed from our modern life. I do not mean that different choices do not lead to different outcomes (they do), but by and large in the West, consequence has been buffered in so many ways as to be essentially unnoticed. This is, of course, unevenly true across the spectrum - a farmer sees much more immediate and tangible results than a policy-maker or a pastor - but it is true nonetheless. Let us take both a positive and a negative example.

Charitable giving is perhaps the most ubiquitous positive example of (meta)physical disconnect between actor, action, and consequence. To be clear, I am not strictly opposed to charitable giving. Rather, I merely aim to point out the paradox that many current Western models of charity face: much of Western charity is based upon monetary contribution, and is therefore impersonal and essentially cost-less. Money, by its nature, represents the divorce of work and outcome. I doubt many of us have use for the base metals or slick sheets of plastic that are the physical expression our monetary system. Money is therefore of no intrinsic worth; its worth lies in its potential to convince others of its worth, and so to accept it in exchange for goods and services. To give money away, then, is to give potential. At its best, the potential of charity is the potential to accomplish good; and at its worst it serves as potential moral catharsis for the guilty.

The disconnect represented by money is then made geographically disconnected by the transfer of wealth to foreign spaces. By this I do not mean, necessarily, that these spaces are distant - only that they are outside the purvey of one’s regular interaction, whether that’s the downtown east side or the African desert. We give money because we do not (or perhaps cannot) go to these places. We give so that someone else can go.

Now, I do not wish to be mistaken: the injection of material wealth, capital, education and the rest has had (some) positive, if uneven, effects worldwide. What I do mean to point out is that the basic assumption, that we ought to give money for someone else to go work somewhere else is essentially a disconnected one. We go through several intermediaries (money, the organization, the worker) to enact an effect, the consequence of which is filtered back to us through those same intermediaries (who often have a vested interest in reporting positive results as to encourage more giving). Modern charity therefore represents a disconnected way of being (contrast, perhaps, hospitality.)

And now for a negative example.

We, as North Americans, export not only our charity, but our sins in a disaffected manner. When the twin towers fell, it was a great and horrific tragedy to be sure. But America did not respond with commensurate force, with lex talionis. Death totals from the Afghan war now exceed 26 000 civilians, 30 000 allied forces, and 20 000 - 40 000 Afghani forces.
To be clear, I do not wish to play a numbers game. Death is the final enemy to be defeated by the eschatological resurrection, and God does not delight in death, even of the wicked. We await with hope the new life of the new creation.

The point I do wish to make is this: 9/11 was a largely symbolic attack. (I do not wish to discount the lives lost or the family’s affected). Its date was chosen for its symbolism; its targets for their grandeur. The loss of life, though important to the terrorists goals, could not have been the final goal. Several thousand lives is but a (heart-wrenching) blip in the total population of the United States.

And from the ideological warfare perpetrated against America, America launched an equally disembodied response. Though there are boots on the ground, as it were, the total population of American soldiers is far less than the total population of Americans. For most ordinary Americans, the war is essentially fiction. This is not to suggest that the war did not occur, but that most Americans have no tangible connection to it. It is a budget line in a growing national debt. It is a commodity for country singers to capitalize on and and for politicians to turn into soundbites. It is a story told to captivate and to terrify the nation nightly, alongside Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Kanye West (and the birth of their unfortunate son North), alongside sports statistics and business speculation. It is a figment of the communal myth of the American nation, told to us in fragments and flashes of imagery.

We, as a culture, are frequently disconnected from events which we are involved in.

Therefore, we live in a world that is essentially fictitious - again, this is not to suggest that it is not real, only that we are largely disconnected from the network of cause and effect within it. And because we are so buffered and so isolated, it is easier presume upon our own goodness and morality than to face the true consequences of our actions, for good or for evil. The classic Christianese phrase is, if I am not mistaken, “we were just planting seeds.”

Now, I recognize that no single person can do all or track all, and that we must trust in the Holy Spirit’s work apart from us. And far be it from me to disagree with the great Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians, or the ability of God to redeem any and all circumstances. But perhaps we should work with more than our presumptions about our good intentions.

(un)Fortunately, the only way to (meta)physically reconnect to God’s good world is to be an embodied member of the communities in which one is acting, and this is costly. To face the ones we may have helped or hurt, to offer our company, to be incarnate human beings; all this takes so much more than cutting a cheque, so much more than rhetoric, so much more than assuming we have done good simply because we have willed it. But our Lord has shown us the way - when faced with a broken world, he became Immanuel.


Flowcharts | Adrienne Redekopp

Decisions, decisions, decisions – almost every moment in life involves choice on my part: do I eat toast or cereal for breakfast? Catch the 25 or the 22? Buy bread or buy wine? (Or buy both and have a personal Eucharist…?) Go to the Wolf and Hound or go to bed early? Do Hebrew homework or not do Hebrew homework? Some questions have easy answers (read: Wolf & Hound), while others require slightly more thought. How do we make life decisions?

Today, I was reminded that flowcharts are an incredibly useful tool.

I bought a super-fun agenda this year (let me tell you, I could have used a chart to make that agonizing decision) and the very last page contains a chart that tells me whether or not I need to wash my hair. I love it, because it inevitably leads to “No.” And that’s a lot less work for me. Phil Long gave me a flowchart for the definite article. When I figure out how to read it, that will be very helpful, too.

Another favourite chart tells me emphatically whether or not I’m wearing pants (Google: Tights Are Not Pants flowchart). This seems incredibly pertinent given the dearth of women these days who understand whether or not they have fully clothed their legs each morning. It’s comforting to know that someone else has worked through these issues, going over every eventuality, and is willing to share this wisdom in an easy-to-digest format.

There may be those of you who expect me to turn this (attempt at an) article into something meaningful. “How might this point us to God?” you ask expectantly. Or perhaps, “Is there a lesson to be learned here?” It’s certainly possible that each of these questions could be answered well.
I will not be doing that today.
Instead, I am going to share a flowchart that is close to my heart. May it help you, as you make this all-important decision in the future.


Sister Sophia's Advice Column

Dear Sister Sophia,

I was with a friend on the bus the other day.  I asked him how he was doing and he launched into a loud response including the inner workings of his soul.  He mentioned God.  On the bus! It was awkward. What should I have done?

-Busses-Are-Secular


Dear Busses-Are-Secular,

Thanks for writing. This is an important question to consider. It has to do with more than bus etiquette: namely, whether you’re “Blocking Bunny” or “Lounge Lizard” or even “Hungry Hamster.”* Talking loudly on the bus itself is at least somewhat of an infraction of bus etiquette, so it certainly includes it.  As with all weighty things, it includes the thing and at the same time points beyond it. So it is with the question you’ve asked, the issue you’ve raised, the dilemma you’ve proposed.  Indeed, what should you have done?
Let’s start with the obvious and somewhat frivolous observation that your name betrays an assumption you’re making in approaching this situation.  Now, don’t throw me off the bus for this one. If you don’t mind, I’d like to propose to you that perhaps-busses-aren’t-so-secular-after-all. I know, I know. This isn’t the crux of the issue for you. You want me to tell you that your friend was being a “Noisy Gnat” (to follow Translink’s exemplary pattern of de-humanizing those with poor etiquette) and that you should be able to ask or tell him to pipe down and save his personal revelations for counselling, spiritual direction, confession, or, preferrably, his journal.

I’m afraid I can say nothing of the sort. 

All evidence, like those blank faces andthat tinny second-hand music, contradicts the reality that those same busses that limit your sense of the city to a patterned grid and inflict you with various smells and bells are, in fact, not secular at all. Sit with this for a moment. Those same busses are carrying precious cargo to and fro through a city teeming with the presence of -- wait for it -- God.  The cargo itself testifies to the sustaining breath of the one who grants life.  
When your friend talks about his soul, and even God, on the bus he is actually naming reality. He is aligning his speech with what is. He is affirming that on the 25 or the 84 or the 14 or even the 99 (shoot - too far!), God is infusing life, turning hearts, causing movement, and inviting us to attend to him and receive ourselves. So when your friend, that “little Christ”, verbally participates in what God is doing and unwittingly proclaims his participation to those near (and not-as-near) unsuspecting bus riders, your one response should be, “Louder, friend! Louder!” Or, perhaps, “Dear friend, I affirm your affirmation and participation in God’s participation in the world.  In order to give you my full attention could we talk about this over a meal?” Or even, “Thanks for sharing. Can we talk at my place?”      

Alternatively, you can ignore him completely, get off the bus one stop early, dial a friend, or yell louder to drown him out.

Yours on the bus, and in Christ,

-Sister Sophia       

 


Five Books Recap: Part II

Jonathon Wilson

  • Andrew Connington, Grace Irwin
  • The Masters, C.P. Snow
  • Brother to a Dragonfly, Will Campbell
  • Thirst, Mary Oliver
  • Catch 22, Joseph Heller

Don Lewis

  • Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner
  • My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok (and also Potok’s Davita’s Harp and The Chosen)
  • Master and Commander, Patrick O’Brian (Part of a series, for those who really enjoy the work)
  • Anything written by George Eliot (aka Marianne Evans) or Thomas Hardy
  • Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
  • The Mind Has Mountains, Paul R. McHugh Chrysostom, J.N.D. Kelly
  • Shame and Attachment Loss, Joseph J. Nicolosi
  • Charles Simeon of Cambridge, Hugh Evan Hopkins

Jeff Greenman

  • The Christian Mind, Harry Blamires
  • A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, Helmut Thielicke (For new students)
  • Life Together, Dietrich Bonheoffer
  • The Presence of the Kingdom, Jacques Ellul (first recommended to Jeff by Loren Wilkinson!)
  • Foolishness to the Greeks, Lesslie Newbigin
  • Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace, James Torrance

Archie Spencer

  • Russian Literature: Dostoyevsky, Solzhenitsyn, and Tolstoy
  • Confessions and On the Trinity, Augustine

 


From the Kitchen | Kasey Kimball

Caribbean Ham and Black Bean Soup
Serves 4

½ cup chopped onion
2 tsp. olive oil
3 cups water
1x19 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1x19 oz. can tomatoes
1 cup diced cooked ham
½ cup corn kernels
¼ cup long-grain rice
1 tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. hot sauce
½ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. ground ginger

In a large stock pot, cook onion in olive oil until translucent. Stir in remaining
ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20
minutes or until rice is tender. Serve and enjoy!

Fall Issue 5

Fall Issue 5

Fall Issue 3

Fall Issue 3