Fall Issue 10
Beware: Deconstruction Zone
By Ian Gilbert
Recently I have been thinking about the term deconstruction, that seems to float around Regent from time to time.
My first experience of deconstruction was a trend seen in coffee shops across the more enlightened (i.e. hipster) suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney. The sale of “deconstructed lattes” essentially meant the espresso, milk and water served in three separate glasses, presented on some wildly inappropriate object ironically symbolizing a plate. Thankfully I have not seen this trend spread to Vancouver.
My time at Regent has been a time of deconstructing my faith in many ways. For example, the process of how the Old Testament was written. Did you know it was edited, changed, manipulated and inspired by texts around it?
Given this is the nature any book goes through in its creation, it seems pretty obvious but this was not always the case. As a new Christian I spent considerable time wrestling with the argument, “You can't trust the Bible; it's been changed, edited.” My Christian resources assured me the Bible has never changed, is entirely written by God and every story is factually exact and this can be proven (if you just stretch your imagination a little).
The authentic and honest approach to these questions at Regent has lifted a burden I did not know I had and has shown me a God who works with people in their own world and language.
However, like deconstructed lattes, faith must ultimately be reconstructed.
I recently listened to a podcast recapping the Evangelical Philosophical Society’s Apologetics Conference, held this month in Denver, Colorado. The podcaster discussed Dr. Paul Copan’s presentation, “De-Conversion: Why people leave the Christian faith and return to it” and the issue of Christians attending Bible colleges and leaving the faith shortly after. Dr. Copan senses students find it overwhelming at times learning competing theories by academics as to who wrote what, where and why. Their faith is deconstructed but never reconstructed, and they leave with a sense of, “Well, who do I trust?”
A particular quote struck me when the podcaster discussed his own experience at Bible college: “It seemed more virtuous to question the Bible, be sceptical about it because then you have this sense of intellectual superiority that you are actually thinking more critically than taking it blindly.” This approach is itself a blind faith; it's a never ending questioning, because by believing in anything you are at risk of “blinding believing” something.
I am not suggesting that apologetics is a magic bullet to doubt, but I am certainly guilty of the thought since arriving at Regent, “There seems to be so many people, people much smarter than myself, who don’t agree on this, so what chance do I have?”
And so, as I spend reading week in the company of textbooks and church fathers, I am careful to guard my heart from focusing too much on the deconstruction of my faith. On becoming tangled up in questions of early verse late dating of the Exodus or can VeggieTales adequately depict the Trinitarian nature of Jesus as a cucumber, because ultimately I don’t want to leave Regent with these these questions being the loudest in my mind.
I want to leave with a faith that allows both academics and the man on the street to celebrate that the Bible, like our God, is trustworthy and reliable. I have seen this at Regent in the small yet loving interactions between the faculty on differing opinions. I see it weekly in Tuesday chapel with a coming together of opinion and traditions to proclaim Jesus as Lord, so I am grateful to to be here. Sipping on my regular latte.
On Being Shy at Regent
By Alice Hodgkins
Regent is proud to have a building that’s consciously designed so that we keep running into one another all day long, so that proximity becomes conversation which becomes community. It’s one of our favorite bragging points.
But here’s something you should know: sometimes I go out one end of the building, put my head down to walk through the rain and the UBC undergrads, and then come in at the other end just so I don’t have to go through the atrium. So that’s why you haven’t met me yet. In a school where everyone is immediately supposed to know everyone, where sharing the intimacy of soup with hundreds of others is a stated part of our theology, I’m shy. Very often, I shrink back.
And I know I’m not alone. Over the years, I’ve learned that we never really are. So that’s why I’m writing this, for any anxiety-ridden kindred spirits out there. I haven’t been in this place for very long, but I’m a pretty quick learner, and I’m here to share my best advice so far for coping:
1. When moving around the building walk with purpose and an unapproachable grimace on your face like you’re in a really big hurry to get to a very important board meeting, even if that board meeting only includes you and takes place in the second stall of the washroom and you don’t have any real business to conduct but just needed a break from being in a room full of people.
2. Find corners and sit in them. Sure, nobody puts Baby in a corner, but who says Baby can’t put herself there if she wants to sometimes?
3. When push really comes to shove, run away to UBC. Many of the libraries are great for hiding, especially the small ones like Xwi7xwa, which is literally underground, but probably even better are the halls full of departmental offices where students rarely come to office hours and tenured academics avoid eye contact like their reputations depend on it.
4. While hiding out make good use of your time. Read for class or not for class. Write a poem, or an essay, or a love letter, or a prayer, or something that might-maybe be all four at once.
5. When you do march yourself back to Regent and re-enter the perils of the atrium, begin by going upstairs and looking down. Everyone will seem small and unfrightening from up above, like Polly Pocket toys, and you can scope out the situation.
6. Settle in and listen. Listen to everything and everyone around you. (This is my favorite.)
7. And sometimes, break all these rules. Clothe yourself in that bravery that’s invisible to the naked eye and come straight in. Sit down. Maybe someone will talk to you or maybe no one will. (Which is worse? I never can decide.) Make eye contact and smile at people you haven’t met until they get a little uncomfortable with your friendliness. Be patient. You do have something to say. Today, you could be the one to speak first.
From the Archives:
Soup Recipe #14
By Joel Strecker
1 white onion, chopped
1T dry oregano
1t fennel seed
2L chicken stock
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 small turnip, diced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1lb shredded chicken meat
1 28oz can crushed tomato
1 large bunch kale/swiss chard, shredded
4 cloves garlic, minced
In a large pot, saute onion in olive oil with oregano and 1/2t fennel seed. Deglaze with chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Add celery, carrot, turnip, potato; simmer for 45 min. Add chicken and crushed tomato; simmer for 15 min. Stir in kale, fresh garlic, and remaining 1/2t of fennel. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, while the kale still has texture.
The Sound of Trees
By Robert Frost
I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.
Financial Aid Announcement
At Regent College, we are working to improve the way we do Financial Aid. The application will be simpler and, for most people, the awards will be larger and will cover the duration of your program. The criteria will still be the same: You'll need to be in full-time studies and not on probation. The application process, however, will be a bit different: instead of having a deadline of March 1 to apply by, applications will be assessed on a first come, first served basis. The online application will open early in January. An announcement will be made when it is available. We advise you to apply early.
Solution to Last Week’s Crossword
Crossword by Embolus
1. Mess half pickle up with discrimination? (7)
5. & 25. What Daniels offered 24-16? (1,6,5)
10. First word from many a minor actor’s debuts? (4)
11.Trousers he pulls off for people who share his computer (5,5)
12. See 22.
13. & 17. Kremlin’s arch-manipulator possibly put dim rival in Oval Office? (8,5)
14. Permitting pain? (9)
16. See 24.
17. See 13.
19. It’s not fair! Worst mark for job well done. (5,4)
23. Capitalist introvert imprisons professor. (8)
24. & 16. Distil rum? Odd plant for such high office? (6,5)
26. All things being equal, this is all it takes in a democracy. (6,4)
27. Small irritant in impregnated host (4)
28. It is rare to get the United Nations, America and the Union of the Arabs all lined up. (7)
29. Difficulty getting started, at worst uttering inclusive nonsense (7)
2. On the level? On the up and up? This is as far as it gets. (7)
3. Torture after first century schism (5)
4. Unwanted revelation by power in corrupting setting (7)
6. Munch's masterpiece starts after frightful scare (6)
7. Down and out initially. Kids worn away (2, 4, 3)
8. Apparently there is over concern about grades in revolutionary philosophy. (7)
9. In facing up to this, men lose perspective and gain proportion. (7,6)
15. Substantial breakfast cooked in great fridges (5,4)
18. Gold pinto beans are ideal (7)
20. Trade with me over butcher’s produce. (3,4)
21. Permission to rent out again
22. & 12. Kale mangler with eastern dish in Germany? (6,6)
25. See 5.