Winter Issue 1
SHINE THAT LIGHT!
Thoughts from the Editor
by Matthew Nelson
How do we enjoy and work for the welfare of the communities around us? How can we be more than consumers? There are at least a hundred articles waiting to be written on this subject.
What about Regent’s community? Perhaps there is something good, bad, or ugly you’d like to draw our attention to. Perhaps a thought on what it’s like to be single, or married, or from a certain cultural background? What wisdom do you have about navigating various life stages or relational complexities at Regent and in Vancouver? What laughing or mourning can we join in on?Speaking of laughing and mourning: how’s church going for you? What challenges or joys are involved with church commitment as a theology student? Is your faith and/or the faith of those around you growing or stagnating as you increase knowledge and have all these fantastic (and/or fantastically frustrating) theological conversations? I have a hunch that some of you also enjoy art of various kinds. Gimme those thoughts relating art and theology! If you find yourself constantly enjoying, discussing, thinking about, or recommending a T.V. show, movie, musician, play, novel, poet, culinary creation, or anything else artistic, please share. Bonus points for delivering culinary art to the RCSA office.
One passion subject of mine is the relationship of politics and faith, in light of how each deeply (and sometimes covertly) informs the other. I’ll be honest with you: I enjoy it when people admit that they disagree; I enjoy it even more when they try to charitably and rigorously converse about those disagreements. Given potential misunderstandings and offense when discussing political (or other controversial) subjects, above all let’s remember to be humble, informed by Christ-like love that counts others as better than ourselves and is as eager to listen as speak, ever ready to remove logs from our eyes before we assist others in speck-removal.
Finally, short and sweet articles are welcomed, as well as the longer ones. Have you noticed something beautiful recently, or been brought to a belly laugh? Share those stories and observations! Believe me, it’s greatly appreciated in the midst of the heaviness that can set in, in so many ways.
Thanks for reading, and for helping the Etc. continue being a vital part of our lives here. Please don’t hesitate to join the discussion, in print or in person, as we learn and grow together in love of God, each other, and all creation!
Hey y’all. Please allow me to introduce myself: My name is Matthew Nelson, and I am the new editor of the Etc. You may have noticed that my name is not Derek Witten. Yes, what you’ve heard is true—the power struggle is over, and I have prevailed! Ended now is the tyranny of my predecessor’s thoughtful, faithful, discerning, Bunyannically humorous, upbuilding leadership. No more! Now is the time for narcissism, trolling, self-righteous opining, pseudo-knowledge broadcasting, and all-around inanity. All the world’s a Twittering stage and—
Ok well…that’s not quite true. I will in fact be following closely in Derek’s style of Etc. leadership as he focuses on his thesis. On that note, I’m grateful to play a part in the Etc.’s mission to generate ideas, foster dialogue, and renew community, and would like to take a moment to share a few thoughts on what that might mean this semester.
First, nothing happens unless you gifted folks share your gifts with us. So I want to encourage you to submit articles or ideas to me—especially those of you who feel that their thoughts are not good enough for publication. Embrace the imperfection! It's a risk to put your words in print—but what's worth doing that's not a risk? Come on, I know for a fact that tons of brilliance is hiding in our midst here. Shine that light! Email me your light at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What kind of articles are we looking for, you ask? Here are a few ideas:
I invite reflections in which you relate something in the news to the good news, connecting contemporary local and global happenings to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Wisdom, insight, and prophetic discernment are welcomed. Let’s help each other think through current events and movements in relation to the movement of our God, historically and today. Maybe you have perspective on those isms or hashtags floating around? Anything that needs playful and/or constructively critical poking? Bubbles that could be beneficially burst? Let’s help each other ask the right questions, piercing through the noise of trivial, superficial, impulsive, or falsely divisive (or even uniting) commentary that saturates our media worlds. I’m looking at you, Facebookers!
In terms of local culture, maybe you have thoughts about how we can be interacting with and loving our neighbors at UBC? Or on the buses, coffee shops, and wolfish (or houndy) Irish pubs you frequent?
A DEVOTION BEFORE THEOLOGY:
You Asked For It
by Andrew Headley
sentence out. That we will see the glory of the Lord because we are so noble and worthy, that we are so shining and penitent, there at the side of our beds on our knees.
"Please God, I need so much more than I have been getting."
I made the mistake, as I said, of asking for the double blessing. I even mentioned Elisha. I thought, while I am down here, I might as well ask for more. Would it be enough to see miracles wherever we go, and even bring them? But take note: God's spirit is a lot like manna. I ask for more gifts without understanding the gifts don't get stored up at night, in a vault. There is no burying the spirit in the ground, as much as I would like to sometimes. Because then of course, I would have some spirit left over, if I ever needed it. If you ask for a double portion of patience, or peace and kindness, and definitely self control, then get ready for a day that needs a double portion to get through it.Ask anyway.
Ask for a double portion. Ask that you would spend all your days in the house of the Lord, gazing upon the beauty of the Lord, and seeking him in his temple.
I asked to walk in the way of humility and my car broke down on the way to church, and my family walked the rest of the way in the rain. I am not noticed the way I think I should be. I am passed over.
Make your knees your stronghold. Keep your eyes peeled for miracles.
You prompted me to ask, didn't you? I know that you did, somehow. And today I am asking again, foolishly perhaps. I ask to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. That it would all come down on my head. I am asking that I would watch your lightning pass through my fingers. Miracles, Lord God. Send miracles. I expect to have nothing left. Use it all, or I know, it turns to maggots and dust. I expect to sleep tonight like someone who worked the fields, from sunup tosundown, with worship always tickling the tip ofmy tongue.
Your boy, Andrew
As it is written, "Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack." (2 Corinthians 8:15 ESV)
This doesn't feel inspired. Me, not the bible. The day, not the word. Rain comes down into the streets and I can hear the cars threshing past my window. The clouds are low and blue and grey and the brown trees are almost empty of leaves. We are told to give beyond our means. Not com-manded, but encouraged. In this state of extreme affliction, we are told to give more, not less. It doesn't seem to make any sense. Life always requires more of us.
My spiritual bank account dwindles toward zero. It is at zero; and I'm not sure about the overdraft. Each car that drives by my house is another charity, another orphan, another widow, that I wonder if I should invite inside. How do I put myself in a place to live out this gospel? I don't know. Is my door locked to the needy that pass by? Am I learning how to love all of this life out? Love it through my pores. All the life that I have been given.
Yesterday I accidentally prayed for a double portion of God's spirit. Use caution if you try that one. I had been told by a wise man not too long ago, to pray on my knees every morning. If only for a few minutes. So I give it a try, and continue to, just as an experiment. I wake up, and drag myself to the edge of my bed, and fumble my way into the position my heart so desperately needs. I fold my body and wait for my heart. I ask Jesus to come, and I notice the day, both of us trying to feel the thanks that we need for another chance. I think of Scrooge running out into the street after the Ghost of Christmas Future has visited him, wailing into the sky "Is it too late?" I don't want to wake up at the end of my life, realizing most of me has long since been buried. I ask for thanksgiving to pour into my heart as I give it back. And I finish these very short minutes by asking the holy spirit to come and dwell inside me. I ask for the presence.
I remember from some long lost Sunday School lesson the Israelites collecting manna and quail in the desert, as they wandered. God sent the quail by twilight, and there, masked in the morning frost, he sent the bread of heaven. God said, in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Most of me wants to leave the second half of the
DO YOU EVER YEARN?
by Jubiracy Filho
house, it was like I was on vacation. Better food… better view… better TV. Cleaner –oh, much cleaner.”
Much cleaner indeed; I am no filthy tenant, but that cleanliness was not my life. In that episode, Kramer and George were talking, when Kramer sits right in front of George, just one foot away, to ask him, after some silence:
“Do you ever yearn?”
George replies: “Do I yearn?” He finds it a strange question. “Is that what you’re asking? If I yearn?”
“Yes!” – Kramer shakes, insisting: “do you ever yearn?”
“I crave,” George looks down, “I crave all the time, it’s constant craving. But I haven’t yearned.”
“I yearn,” Kramer says. “Sometimes I sit... and yearn.”
I’m with George on this. Last year, for many times, I sat and craved. Sometimes I craved for the very things that only a vacation could offer: better everything at hand while having absolutely nothing to do. Sometimes I craved for some other things too – who’s talking about sex? Am I talking about sex, did I mention sex at anytime here? Frankly, you can’t be a brother who is single that people already –well, I craved for some things that could have made 2016 a happier year, perhaps.
This is why I am not wishing us all a Happy New Year. For it could sound like I am wishing for all of our cravings to be satisfied in 2017 and we know better.
It is Winter. Classes are starting. We will work and read and write an awful lot. When the cravings start, I wish we point the finger at them to say, “Stop it! Stop everything!” In times of such weaknesses, I wish we would join Kramer: “I yearn!”
Actually, we know even better than him. Regardless of life stage or the different seasons we live, don’t we find ourselves frequently craving for different things because we are actually, fundamentally, yearning for only one?
May 2017 be a year of yearning– a year of yearning for God. May we forget ourselves! May we seek and find comfort, joy and satisfaction in Him. This is real life! After all, don’t we ever yearn?
I’m about to be cruel and I simply don’t care.
Firstly, I am not wishing you a Happy New Year. Secondly, I am resolved to share what it was like for me during the holiday season in the hot, sunny, breezy Brazilian Summer and you might not enjoy reading it.
I was at the beach and I saw palm trees waving with the wind. Then I heard waves – sounds of waves breaking at the seashore, caressing my ears. I sat on my beach chair and I slowly rubbed another coat of sunblock on my arms and legs – gasoline and sunblock, I just love the smell. I was rubbing sunblock on.
I felt the sand under the soles of my feet, so I squeezed portions of it between my toes. I had coconut water served –in the actual coconut–right there at the beach, while I was lying down to bathe in the heat of the sun. I felt the warmth comforting my body, when I heard the breeze suggest that I take a nap, right there. The breeze was my friend, I trusted it. Now I have to parade this fantastic (yet fleeting) tan. I hope you get to see it before it’s gone.
There is more. I stayed in my parents’ house. I ate their food and I sank on their extremely comfortable couch – it’s like sitting on a memory foam L-shaped mattress right in the middle of the living room, facing their big screen TV. I watched complete seasons of Seinfeld there. I read only labels of shampoos, while taking a shower. I wrote only cell phone texts –only to people I wanted to see! Yes, that was my life.
But something put me off. Despite this comfortable happiness–"living the life"–something was missing, something was wrong. My dirty clothes –they were already washed and folded back into my wardrobe! My plates and the cutlery I have just used –they were also already washed and put away! The entire floor of that house was completely spotless! Where was the dust and the random bundles of hair twirling back and forth? When I had coffee served right after a meal – worse, when I had actual dessert being offered to me while I still sat at the table, I cried: “Stop it, stop everything!” They were all looking at me, astonished. “This isn’t real!” I used my arms to point at my luxurious surroundings. “This isn’t my life!”
Then I related to Kramer, from Seinfeld. He was talking with George about having the keys to Jerry’s apartment: “Having the keys to Jerry’s apartment,” he confessed, “kept me in a fantasy world. Every time I went over to his
WHAT I LEARNT FROM BREAD MAKING:
Swiss Bread or the Extraordinary
Breaking into the Ordinary
by Antje Carrel
great expectation for Sunday breakfast. The culinary liturgical week was thus rhythmed by the ordinary, the ferial eating, and then fasting, which built up towards the extraordinary, the festal eating of Swiss bread.
Just as people remembered Good Friday by fasting or eating “lean” on Friday, Sunday bread, the king of all breads with its noble ingredients such as eggs, butter and milk, was a symbol of a God who breaks into the routine of our daily life with extraordinary means. Sunday was no ordinary day for my grandparents. It was the day people remembered that their Saviour, by becoming flesh, the assumption of all flesh, is saving all that he assumes. On Sunday, they remember that God incorporated them into the humanity Christ assumed, and they took time to celebrate such extraordinary news. To them, making fresh Swiss bread to share around the breakfast table as a family before going to church was and still is a way to intentionally celebrate the extraordinary breaking of God into their lives.
As I reflect on my generation, and the industrialised Swiss bread that one can find in any supermarket any time of the week, I am torn between the desire to commemorate the Lord’s day with all the celebratory means that one ought to have and (in my case) eating Swiss bread on Sunday morning, and the desire to eat Swiss bread every day and any day, as I remember and celebrate our extraordinary God breaking into the ordinary of our lives. However, daily consumption of a special bread, even when its buttery taste gives a glimpse of heaven to our taste buds, makes it not so special anymore. It might be where my analogy fails me, for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ does not lose of its flavour when one is being fed by it daily, on the contrary.
The smell of fresh bread, warm and appetizing, embalms the room and invites people to sit down around the kitchen table. Without any hesitation, they make a start on the loaf of bread. Slices are passed around the familial wooden table. Butter, homemade jams and honey are spread enthusiastically on this brioche-like bread. Observing the facial expressions around me, I see people biting into their slice of bread with pure delight. Looking at them and staring at the bread almost all eaten up already, I realise that it is no ordinary day. Indeed, it is Sunday morning.
Sunday after Sunday, right before church, the extraordinary breaks into the ordinary of Swiss households in the form of fresh plaited bread called Zopf in the German speaking part of Switzerland and Tresse in the French speaking part. This Swiss bread has been the unifying breakfast of Swiss church-goers for generations. In some countries church clothes is a thing; in Switzerland, we call it Swiss bread.
As I sit down at another kitchen table marked by the years – the protecting varnish fading away, the water stains and hollowed areas marked by heavy use reveal countless hours spent around this piece of walnut wood – my grandmother, born and raised in the reformed protestant church, unravels the tradition of this peculiar Swiss bread, while my grandfather, born and raised in the Catholic church, nods his head in oecumenical approval. As they share about the eating patterns of their youth, it all rings like a liturgy to my ears. From Monday to Thursday, one would eat the blessed steamed potatoes and fish or meat if there were any, as well as vegetables from the garden. Friday was a fasting day. Brown bread with vegetables would be on the menu for younger ones. On Saturday, the leftover cheese made for a hearty quiche, while children were waiting in
POEM OF THE WEEK:
Lady Fury's Ring
by Josh Lock
That belligerent wind with abrading sting,
and foul-faced buffet and eye-needling,
and the jilted lover’s fetching reach,
through this pilgrim’s fretted hair,
with ravishing rage, his Tempest sings!
Lady Fury flings her squall—
a gentling whisper, tempest-dressed.
She lifts his face with invisible hand,
a face near chinned to its own wane chest.
Leaded tight in the gem-cutter’s tool,
held up against a polishing wheel,
a fifty-eight faced, bruted gem
is weeping off his cloying skin,
in clouds of tiny tear-shard gems—
dust for prince and gift for king.
Now, in hilltop dusk he sings,
his fifty-eight faces glistening,
this buffeted man with two good wings,
this gem in Lady Fury’s ring.
A man scales a salty bluff
toward a white stone obelisk.
He’s chesting back belligerent winds,
heaving his flesh up gravity’s tide.
He sees them high on lusty heights,
his honey loves, his parasites,
whose promises die on this hillside.
Furrows test for silver-spoon feet
to woo them down familial lanes,
and chromosome tracks,
and hoi polloi dreams.
His jittering wings and skittish mind,
his pocketed beeps and myopic eyes
cry Hark! at the merest peripheral mite.
Techno-wonders drown his sky.
His progress wanes on a prickly path.
Each arm by its neighbouring fingers grasped,
he drops his eyes on fretful feet.
How long? he cries, with heaving weep.
& & &
I intended this as an allegory for the human pilgrimage we call life, replete with its distractions and tests. I’m toying with the prickly notion that growth rarely comes to us in the hands of comfort. The furies of life may not be what they seem at the time. Readers of Lewis may discern here echoes of the shedding of Eustace’s skins in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.