Fall Issue 4
The Sacramental Ontology of Mac-and-Cheese
The Kingdom, Community, and Thanksgiving
By Jake Tucker
As I write this, my Seahawks have already lost two games, the salmon have eluded my advances on multiple trips, and the leaves are changing: fall is afoot. Along with football and salmon, fall brings Thanksgiving—two of them (if you’re an American living in Canada). Thanksgiving is a time to recognize the graciousness of our Creator in the context of family and community—it’s what holidays and feasts should be.
As a Regent alum, I’d like to share with y’all an experience of feasting in community that has stirred up not only my digestive enzymes, but also my anticipation of the great big feast we’re all looking forward to—one that I hope will also include football and turkey (Lord, hear my prayer!). This is a story I first wrote for my church’s blog (Grandview Church in East Van, where there is opportunity to get involved in many lovely ministries and projects, youth ministry in particular!).
Yesterday was my turn to make dinner. I made shredded chicken, baked mac-and-cheese, and salad (actually Frances made the salad, mostly with greens from our garden). I called it “Jake’s Soul-food.” Lots of butter and cheese. Yum. We have these community dinners at our building once a week. At the dinner, folks come downstairs to the common area and eat together. It’s not a complicated system.
I live at Co:Here, which is a housing building our church (with lots of partners) built on our parking lot. We have all the community accouterments: garden, kitchen (with feasting table made from the cedar tree that use to live by our parking lot), patio, library, and lounge/big room (I can’t remember what we call it)—lots of little things that help with making a building home. Vancouver has some giant problems: isolation and lack of affordable housing are two of the most obvious. Co:Here is our little community’s way of trying to heal those big hurts.
Allow me to switch hats from resident to youth pastor while I wax theological for a brief paragraph. The Bible is full of God trying to heal the brokenness in the world. God’s main way of doing this is bringing together a people who can know and enjoy the radness of God together. Community is where and how God wants to hang out with folks and bring about abundant flourishing. When God’s special community got the boot from their home, God told them to do home in the new place they found themselves in. God told them to plant gardens, get married, have babies, and to seek the peace of that new place. God was about a community coming together to make home and bless the folks around them. In the midst of all the crazy pictures at the end of the whole story is a big wedding party. All the weird and peculiar peoples from everywhere are brought together to chow down and enjoy and worship the Lamb (which is Jesus, who is God). My conclusion from this brief analysis of the entire Bible is that God is very happy to bless people with abundant flourishing in the context of community, food, and home.
Hat switch: back to resident.
Yesterday, God was very happy. First, there was the harvesting of the garden—which set the mood. There was gonna be some God-Creation romance happening! Then there were the people in a place that was home, gathered together around a table with food. Community was bubbling up … like the absurd amount of cheese on the mac. And then Meredith of-the-third-floor showed up, raised her left hand, and everybody (who already knew) flipped out about the new bling that resided on her ring finger. When Derek, the bridegroom-and-Co:Here-resident-to-be, joined the party, the two were given hugs, flowers and two balloons that lilted behind as the elated couple enjoyed a promenade around the table.
And then Glory (also of the third floor) came down. Glory, who had just heard that Canada was cool with him calling it his home for good. Glory, who had been afraid of getting the boot from his home. Glory, who had just found out that he didn’t have to be afraid anymore. Glory, who had become more smile than man, came to the table. As the walking smile entered, the banqueters sang “O Canada”; and revelled in the line “God keep our land GLORY-ious and free.” That was a sacramental moment. That wedding supper picture at the end of the book showed up at 1723 Victoria Drive on June 6th, 2018. The not-yet became now.
In doing the simple good of trying to seek the peace of Vancouver by increasing affordable housing and lessening isolation, our little church community created a sacred space where the not-yet, that we’re all longing for, could become now—at least for a moment. It really is simple, like mac-and-cheese. The simplicity in no way takes away from the goodness. Co:Here is comfort-food goodness. A meal shared in a home by a community. That’s the recipe. Turns out it’s one of God’s favourites.
Ho Feng Shan, the Chinese Schindler (Part 2)
By Peter Cheung
Righteous Legacy is Peter’s attempt to put the story of Dr. Ho Feng Shan, a diplomat of the Republic of China, on stage. Dr. Ho issued thousands of Shanghai visas to Jews in order to help them exit Nazi-controlled Austria before the tragedy of the Holocaust. The last installment documented his move from Ankara, Turkey to Vienna.
3 | Friendship over Food
Outside the café. Right after English club.
Enter Shan with jacket, leaving the café. Then Mr. Roseuburg catches up to Shan.
ROSEUBURG: Dr. Ho!
SHAN: Oh, Mr. Roseuburg. How are you? How is work at Standard Oil?
ROSEUBURG: Well, thank you, I gave everyone half a day off today, including myself. (winks) Amazing speech today, by the way, different, but still great.
SHAN: Thank you.
ROSEUBURG: I pray that the Almightly blesses your people in your struggle, just as I pray for mine.
SHAN: (Nods) Appreciate your support. You heading home to celebrate tonight?
ROSEUBURG: Well, yes. But not for Christmas. We Jews don't celebrate Christmas.
SHAN: Oh, right, my mistake.
ROSEUBURG: Oh, not at all. We are still gonna have a good family meal tonight. It's the Sabbath. We don't cook on the Sabbath day, so we eat out.
SHAN: But most restaurants are closed...
ROSEUBURG: Right, most restaurants! Most. But the Chinese ones are still open, haha! That's where we are gonna eat.
SHAN: Oh, by any chance you are going to The Shanghai too?
ROSEUBURG: That's right! Close enough for us to walk to. You heading there too?
SHAN: Indeed. I am planning to go home first and bring my family there. Perhaps we will host you and your family there so you may experience authentic Chinese hospitality and taste the best dishes?
ROSEUBURG: Hahaha, great, but make sure you order the sweet and sour chicken!
SHAN: And no dishes that mix cheese with meat!
ROSEUBURG: Hahaha, that's right, see you later!
SHAN: See you!
Shan and Roseuburg exit.
4 | Order
Early year 1938. At the police academy.
SHAN: (narrating) Generalissimo Chiang has great respect of the West, in particular, he is a fan of the German military and the Austrian police. He sends the elites from the Wampoa military academy to Europe to study. A class of about ten high profile people came to Vienna, so the Viennese police academy arranged a special class for them.
Enter police academy headmaster (Headmaster).
HEADMASTER: Hello, Dr Ho.
SHAN: Hello, Headmaster.
HEADMASTER: Great that you could join us. How’s your son?
SHAN: He is fine, I have arranged special classes for him today.
HEADMASTER: Good Doctor, you train him tougher than we train our guys here! (laughs)
SHAN: Still, we have lots to learn from how you train them.
HEADMASTER: I am happy to have the Chinese joining us. They are good students. Our guys also benefit through learning from them! Now, to give a nice final touch to the upcoming ceremony, could you give a lecture to all my students at the police academy who will be graduating with the Chinese class tonight?
SHAN: Sure, what kind of topic do you want me to speak on?
HEADMASTER: Anything really, your sharing about the Chinese is always interesting. There's something I am curious about though, in the history of China over several thousand years, who had the greatest influence on thought and life? And what is the position of religion in China?
SHAN: Very well, my talk will answer these two questions. How about that?
HEADMASTER: Alright, I look forward to it.
Transitions. Headmaster sits.
SHAN: (speaking to the audience as if they are the police grads)
Headmaster, current officers, students, today my talk is called Confucius and Religion. Confucius talked about humanism, the relation of a human being to another human being. The Chinese treat Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism as the three great thought systems, and the first two are religions. But Confucianism is a system of education. The Chinese care a lot about education. Among the three, Confucianism has had the greatest impact on Chinese thought and life. It is concerned about life in this world, so it does not talk about life after death. Buddhism and Taoism are concerned about death and the afterlife. Westerners’ common notion that Confucianism is a religion is actually incorrect. You see, I have believed in God since I was young, and I didn’t see a problem with naming my son Monto, with “to” meaning “virtue,” the same word Confucius used. The greatness of a Chinese culture lies in how it is integrated with diverse schools of thought. As a result, China has not had religious wars, and benefited through learning from many good teachings over the centuries. And today, we celebrate the exchange of learning. Between our two republics, between Confucius and Religion, and also our police forces. Thank you.
Applause, Shan nods.
HEADMASTER: Thank you, Dr. Ho. Great speech. I have a question for you, could you give an example of (a pause, struggling to say the name) Confucius’ virtues?
SHAN: Sure. A key virtue taught by Confucius is Li, which emphasizes propriety and respect: children honoring their parents, wives respecting their husbands, officials showing loyalty in serving and obeying the government.
HEADMASTER: Well said! We policemen who follow orders can learn from Li too! Thank you, Dr. Ho. Everybody, come, and let us take a group photo.
Shan and Headmaster pose on stage, with their back facing the audience. Sound of shutter, and flash, almost like they are taking selfies. Shan then exists with Headmaster.
Food for Thought: Quotations on Gratitude
“And when everything seems to storm in upon us, when everything totters, when all depends on bending without breaking, he who from a full heart can say: All God’s gifts are good when they are received with gratitude—in this gratitude and by this gratitude he has overcome the world.”—Søren Kierkegaard
“Grace evokes gratitude like the voice an echo. Gratitude follows grace like thunder lightning. […] Its failure, ingratitude, is sin, transgression. Radically and basically all sin is simply ingratitude.”—Karl Barth
“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”—Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Love of God is pure when joy and suffering inspire an equal degree of gratitude.”—Simone Weil
All My Troubles: A Crossword by Embolus
1,27,11. Permission to travel? Take one direct diversion. (1,6,2,4)
4. Assonant with consonant (7)
9. Two hoops holy one arranged for percussionist (5,5)
11. See 1A
12. Anything in the freezer? Nothing! (4)
13. Girl left sick fellow (7)
14. Hesitation? About turn! (2)
16,17. Performing member from cast to rage (5,5)
18. Observer in mathematics, Pythagorean (3)
22. Heart attack from which he lost talent (3)
23. Abusing statistic he attempted to plagiarise (5)
24. Chuck fruit? (5)
27. See 1 Across
29. A torque-wrench set at 23° to plane of rotation (7)
30. During Honolulu cyclone she was air-lifted along with valuables (4)
31, 25. Imagine writer in washroom the French refuse to accept name (4,6)
32, 6. Soluble way to train soldier for cowardly hide-away? (1,6,3-6)
33.“President’s locker contained no new evidence” Dallas headlines inserted. (7)
34. I’m not in estimable regrouped band (7)
2. Third quarter? (9)
3. Rash, blows top and stands (6)
5. See 10 down
6. See 32 Across
7. High dudgeon? Do without encouragement. (5)
8. My nuclear pact composed yesterday (4,9)
10,5. Raging heroes or syncopated rhythm section? (6, 8)
15. Charles played by ear, not sight-reading(3)
19. Average, first class has lodge for safety device (9)
20. “Twist and Shout!” lots (8)
21. Mood enhancing like LSD or weed? First, get chilled! (6)
22. Perform legislation (3)
25. See 31 Across
26. Cooked endlessly for bars (6)
28. No place for radical (5)