Winter Issue 2
Not a Prayer “High,” but a Dose of Reality
By Tim Kuhn
It is easy to fall into a kind of prayer life that resembles a supermarket list: “God, thank you for that;” “Help me with this;” “Deliver me from that other thing.” Fortunately, our forefathers developed various manners of prayer, and we should not limit ourselves to list-type prayers—especially if it feels particularly burdensome. In other words, when it comes to prayer, the possibilities are way beyond one-size-fits-all. What is it that gives you spiritual comfort, that fuels your desire to follow Jesus, no matter what the cost? Sometimes, this kind of question is a good guide to particular remedies that we need at a specific point in our journey (not necessarily for all our lives).
You may have heard of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. He was a Spanish mystic and one of the founders of the Jesuit order. What is less known about him are the characteristics of his prayer. One of the most interesting aspects was the importance given to the imagination. Ignatius allowed himself to take the scenes of the Bible and dive into them, exploring all sensory aspects of the reality depicted. For instance, regarding the Nativity setting, Ignatius instructs: “...enter into the deep-down stillness of this night, to be able to see this very human baby with all the wonder which comes from eyes of faith, to watch how Mary and Joseph handle themselves, their own response to God at this time—these are various aspects or focuses of the mystery to which I may find myself drawn.”
We are heirs of millennia of spiritual tradition. Do not limit yourself to what is popular these days, but explore your inheritance, know more about what God has been preparing for you. If your curiosity has been awakened, there is an upcoming opportunity to go further: on January 30, Professor Bruce Hindmarsh will be leading us in an Ignatian prayerful exercise. The event will be one hour of spiritual exploration, where we will immerse ourselves in the episode of Mary and Martha. I cannot promise that you will get a prayer “high,” because usually this means escaping from reality. However, Kevin Burke and Eileen Burke-Sullivan write, “...[i]magination is not primarily geared to help us escape from reality. On the contrary, it orients us to reality.” Come and, in Walter Burghart’s words, take “a long, loving look at the real.”
When? Wednesday, January 30, 6:30-7:30pm
Where? Regent College, room 10 (downstairs)
By Jenn Richards
Originally a story told at Audible in November 2018.
Courage. I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately. Is courage a feeling or an action? Does courage mean the absence of fear? What part of being courageous is simply diving in and hoping the feeling is just running a little behind and will join in when it can. I’m learning that courage is a muscle. The more I work it, the stronger it becomes. And slowly I’m realizing that real acts of courage are found in the muddy, everyday, very non-sexy moments of life. The movies don’t show this part. That uncertainty, awkwardness, and confusion regularly hang out with courage. And that is where my story begins…
There are two types of classes at Regent: classes you write reflection papers for and classes you don’t. Soul of Ministry is the mother of all reflection paper classes. The final reflective paper is 4,000 words on “your own personal, theological and emotional journey on the topic of self-identity and sense of call.” There may as well be big flashing lights that say, “Please bare your soul here.” I must say, I love a good reflection paper, so when it came time last Spring to write said mother of all papers, I figured, “Why not, I’ll bare my soul—what do I have to lose?”
As I sit at my desk putting the finishing touches on my paper, a sense of pride washes over me. I have put it all out there. I have fulfilled the task laid before me. And then a courage opportunity exposes its ugly little head. It comes in the form of a crazy idea: “What if more than just Ross Hastings read this? What if I asked a few people over for dinner one night and we shared our papers?” At the moment, seemingly impossible tasks like climbing Mount Everest or getting a seat on the 99 bus at 9 am on a Wednesday morning seemed much more realistic than this new idea. For, you see, in the paper, it is laid out in no uncertain terms that I do not have it all together, that I have never had it all together, and that there is a really good chance I will never have it all together. At Regent, we’re really good at pretending we have it all together. At Regent, I am really good at giving myself the impression that I am giving the impression to others that I have it all together. Ignorance is bliss, and I have no desire to mess with the bliss.
But I can’t get the idea out of my head. I keep thinking, “This is a chance to practice being brave, even when you don’t feel brave.” So I send a quick email to the three women I am thinking of, having full confidence that they will give a polite decline and I can pat myself on the back for being totally brave. They all email back within the hour that they are fully in and love the idea. Shoot. We all hand in our papers, the semester ends, we get our papers back with lovely and encouraging comments, and then it sits on my desk and stares at me. Daring me to turn a proposed idea into a plan. I send out an email with a couple date options and, of course, we easily find one that works for everyone. Shoot.
The night arrives and people knock on the door one by one. After some small talk, the four of us gather in the living room, and someone pulls out a bottle of wine from her bag. God bless her and keep her and make his face shine upon her. We draw names for who will go first, second and so on because no one wants to seem too eager nor not eager enough. One by one, we each have our turn. We read our whole paper out loud. I think it will be too long and too boring, but nothing is farther from the truth. Sometimes courage needs a script. In all of the papers we learn things that we never knew. No one’s paper ends in a tidy bow. After each one we ask questions. Questions that show we care, we’re listening. Questions that dig deeper. We practice holding presence with others. And even harder, we practice presence being held for us. And then after reading and questions, we pray for the person we just had the privilege of hearing from. Heartfelt prayers full of beauty, pain, and hope.
I can’t fully explain it, but living room couches turned into holy ground that night. I walk away from the experience feeling the lies that courage is only big acts, that I need to feel courageous before I act courageously, slowly start to burn away. And in its place? To my surprise, I find a courage muscle that is just a little bit stronger.
Review: Ensemble Theatre Company’s production of A Prayer for Owen Meany at Pacific Theatre
By Jolene Nolte
Adapted from John Irving’s novel, the play works within several challenges. How do you portray a novel that moves fluidly between past and present with a major character whose distinctive physical characteristics are diminutive stature and a shrill voice? Then, how do you bring the richness of the novel’s themes to the confines of a small stage and limited timeframe?
Well, with a script by Simon Bent and direction from Ian Farthing, the production deftly navigates the chronology. I must confess I have not read the novel, but I did not find myself confused about the interweaving of past and present. There is something about seeing this portrayed with John Wheelwright and Owen Meany, the two central characters, both played by adults even in scenes set in their childhood. This highlights the psychological truth that the act of remembering is not just of some static past but is also an event in the present. With visual aids like an oversized chair for Owen Meany to appear smaller, there is an air of playfulness, particularly in the first act, like the reverse of children pretending to be grown ups.
As to Owen Meany’s voice, actor Chris Lam performs the character well so that his voice is in fact shrill and annoying but bearably so. Even with the fluid chronology, there was a discernible, palpable forward motion to the plot and a deepening gravitas as the play unfolds.
As to the richness of the themes, I cannot compare it to the novel directly, but I can attest that I left with my head swimming with questions about the nature of faith and its relationship to doubt and epistemology, about providence versus fate, about American politics in the 60s, 80s and now, the value of an individual life, the complexity of experience, and the goodness of friendship. The intimacy of Pacific Theatre and the immersive nature of live theatre meant I also left feeling like I’d been on an emotional journey. I laughed, I squirmed, I felt events at a gut level. So if you’re in for a ride that will plunge you into an outrageous, thought-provoking experience, visit pacifictheatre.org for showtimes and tickets. The production opened on Friday January 18 and runs until February 9.
Chris Lam plays Owen Meany. Photo by Emily Cooper.
Poem: Dearest Claire
By Amos Bohoussou
Thy honesty is like a remedy
A remedy that brings joy within me.
Such a joy springs forth a great amity.
Amity with no spot of animosity.
I am glad to know that not all is lost.
For God hast given me a gift of great cost.
This gift is far greater than thine behaviour.
And for it I praise our risen Saviour.
The gift of love from Heaven portrayed,
Through that cross that He was upon laid.
Good night futile sentiment! Good day merriment.
Claire thou hast obeyed God's commandment.
His commandment to love and thou has done that through friendship.
And within such a friendship God will attain our worship.
Your wish is to be my friend.
Solution to Last Issue’s Crossword
Crossword by Embolus
3. Saintly girl playing hide and seek in German nunnery (3)
8. Capital drawings enclosed secrets involving German nunnery (6)
9. In the end the occasion was backed by the University of Alabama (8)
10. Soft, black digit (5)
11. Be too inquisitive about her pie baked, but not in the centre (9)
13. Attraction of anarchic rule (4)
14. Reassure us? Left mess for cleaning up. (6)
15. Locked up in jail, litigant was unwell (3)
17. First lady caught by left-wingers, angry in good place where the tracks traverse the road (5-8)
20. Elect to hold power from the right? (3)
22. Each male child is an individual (6)
24. Drunk in Madeira, questioning leads to altered state (4)
26. Where all the king’s horses were kept by regal literary genius allegedly (5,4)
27. Defrock troublesome priest who lost innocence finally (5)
29. In this opera, toreador features as barber or surgeon? (8)
30. Talk nonsense about Royal branch (6)
31. Female deer or elk scalps (3)
1. Angry liar sued for what remained (8)
2. Twisted permission to bake evil cakes (4-5)
3. Annoy odd ones or all? (3)
4. Illicit raves scared, so right now there is denial about anger (5,1,5,4)
5. Death adapts real emotions like essential feelings in seconds (6)
6. Unladylike? Firstborn left sensing irritation (5)
7. Cask in Dunbar reliquary? (6)
12. Tame a lion eating food (4)
16. Perfect capture in one vignette (9)
18. It is found before paper, people, piper, pit and puppy (4)
19. Debts follow endless prayer to become generous and kind (8)
21. Timely nudge (6)
23. I and my ten crazy adversaries display this (6)
25. Artificial intelligence in alcohol-free zone provides soft drinks (5)
28. Manipulate court action? (3)
January 24, 7pm, Regent Chapel
Mikal. - A short film screening
Regent College chapel
Thursday, the 24th at 7pm
A young painter grows increasingly obsessed with his own artwork over/against the person that he is painting. It's a story about grief, objectification, loss, and memory.
Written and Directed by Erik Michael deLange