Fall Issue 4
An Ode to Text Criticism
By Alice Hodgkins
Perhaps unlike most of you, I arrived at Regent with no strong sense of connection to the Bible. I believed it. I was certain it was God’s word. And I made myself read it (sometimes). That was all fine. But I didn’t love it. And I didn’t know how.
I was ashamed of this. I loved the written word in every other place I encountered it: I loved it in books and in birthday cards and on chapel maps and on post-it notes and in my own dog-eared journal. I consumed it and produced it and rolled around in it like a pig in mud. But, most days, I had no more feelings towards Scripture than I did towards my laundry hamper. It seemed to me to be exactly what it claimed it wasn’t: inanimate and a little bit...finite. It sat still and sedate on thin pages, like the child who is unwilling to play, who refuses to go barefoot for fear of getting dirty.
And then there came text criticism, the unlikeliest hero you ever did see. The idea that, like every other text I have ever loved, the word of God too can be dismantled down to its wonderful, solid bones and then built back up again by a million different hands has stunned me. I think about the process of words all the time—how they make their way from inky squiggles and funny squeaks in the back of our throats to their final glorified form as comprehensible truth—I think about it even when I ought to be listening in Exegesis class. Imagine my delight when I wrested my attention back to the lecture at hand and realized we were talking about my favorite subject. We were talking about how words become meaning.
We listed the dozens of possible kinds of fumblings and stumblings that there were (and still are) to find the right word, and I thought that though sometimes scholars (and therefore the rest of us) can’t find the answer to the variant at all, and have to put a big verbal shrug in their footnotes, this does not mean that the truth of what those words were meant to be does not exist somewhere. Truth is truth is truth and always will be. It does, however, mean that we all get to stand together on the precipice of divine mystery, like travellers at the Grand Canyon, awed at all that this might mean, awed that we serve a God who knows.
And even more marvelous than this, God could have given us his word so many ways—dropped it all down in tablets from heaven, implanted it like a microchip in our brains—but instead he used the messy, fallible process of humans writing with tired, cramped hands, in ink that would fade on paper that would burn. He chose this. And that’s worth paying attention to, close attention, intimate attention, like the kind he gives to us.
I make no promises to our hardworking TAs about the quality of the assignment I’m about to turn in. I don’t plan to become a text critic—I’m sticking to poetry. This is merely my personal yawp of profound gratitude for a bunch of headache-inducing apparatus. Perhaps it could be yours too.
Where I come from, people often pray before a meal, “Thank God for this food and the hands that prepared it.” Well, thank God for his word and the hands that prepared it. Eat and be filled!
A Real Hoot
By Chris Agnew
Running along West 16th Avenue by the forest I was all of a sudden aware of something clattering into the back of my head. Stunned and shocked, I dropped to my knees, flailing my arms wildly. I hadn't heard a thing. "Oh yeah, I had a podcast on." This gave way to a second question, "Where has the podcast gone?" This made me realise my headphones were no longer on me and as I scanned the terrain I spied a barn owl sitting smugly in the tree ahead of me, tantalisingly clutching my headphones in his talons. Attempts to startle it failed miserably (including turning the volume all the way up, throwing a stick its way and shouting Irish colloquialisms for such a bird), and it flew off, with its precious cargo in tow. I hope he enjoyed the podcast.
Anyone got any headphones going?
Four Haiku Reflections
By Edmund Evanson
Had to turn his back
So we can press on, faithful –
Martin Luther, monk.
Edgar Allan Poe,
And just as meticulous –
He’s Stanley Kubrick.
The Poet Who Ventured Where None Dared To Go
Descended to hell,
So all may fear and repent –
The poet Dante.
Ingenious and bold and odd –
By David Raimundo
In the beginning there was time.
In the evening one man would joyfully contemplate the dying breeze and another would inattentively listen to the gently vast silence. One woman would calmly wait at her front porch, but, if someone asked her, she wouldn’t be able to tell what she was waiting for. The Eternal had offered time to these people. Time had become their property, their asset, the essence of their community.
Men, women and children would come along to the plaza each day after supper. Stories would be told, songs would be sung, babies would be lullabyed and common bonds of affection were strengthened little by little. In those daily precious moments, the Eternal would come over to observe what men and women had done with the gift of time. Pleased with how the people used time, the Eternal would silence the tickles that every human being keeps in his chest so that the richness of those moments could be perpetuated in each soul.
This is a tale from the beginning, as has been told by the most ancient among the elders. This happened when the high voltage cables had not yet made their way to each remote village and to each quiet plaza of the inner country. The light that people had at night was the light of time itself. Stars, moon and other celestial objects that our modern nights can’t discern anymore. There was also the light emanated by the very people. People whose souls were full of gold memories that would shine brighter as time passed.
But then there came a day in which they surrendered time. A foreign merchant came from faraway lands to entice them: he realized how valuable time was and he was willing to pay for it any amount set by the elders.
The merchant’s proposal was opposed at first: time was not for sale, the elders cried outraged. How could they set a price for a gift that had been graciously offered by the Eternal? Inconceivable!
But the merchant was persistent and deceitful: “Consider the plans that you would be able to design and the works that you would be able to undertake… If you accept my proposal nothing will be impossible for you!”
Eventually, the merchant’s persistence paid off. An assembly of the whole community was convened to discuss the terms of this proposal. Step by step, the seductiveness of that proposal — nothing will be impossible for you! — overcame all objections.
Under such illusion and ambition, time was sold to that merchant for an amount that seemed priceless and irrecusable. The merchant then took time to other lands and to other peoples.
As for those men and women who abdicated from time, they quickly found themselves in the midst of a priority task that gradually depleted their seemingly endless resources: to manufacture watches, clocks and alarms. They needed to make the perfect clock since time had became so scarce and rare.
I arrived long after the beginning. I did not live in the age in which there was time. But I have reasons to believe that the most ancient among the elders know exactly what they are talking about when they tell and retell this tale. I have reasons to believe that this is not just a legendary tale for I feel in my bones that time has been stolen from me. I testify that my heart languishes as it yearns for the arrival of the Eternal who alone can silence these inner tickles, this all-pervading anxiety.
Today there is no time. There is only this haunting voice that tells me: don’t contemplate a single thing, don’t stand waiting at the front porch, much less if you don’t know what you are waiting for. Produce. Produce something. Don’t stop producing for you don’t know how much time you have left. Do something concrete - don’t waste a second. To still this haunting voice, I pick up a pen to write a story.
Get to Know Your RCSA
An Interview with Amos
Amos Bohoussou is the Arts Member at Large on the Regent Student Council. He kindly agreed to be interviewed for the Et Cetera as part of an ongoing series profiling the RCSA members and what they do for our student community. He started at Regent in the Winter term of 2019.
What’s your job on the RCSA Council?
I am the Arts Member at Large. I am here to serve the Regent student body in hosting artistic activities or events such as a monthly lunchtime concert within the Atrium. I have people down to teach some social dancing next semester. Salsa, Carolina Shag, some Ballroom dancing… Students are welcome to send me an email with their ideas or artistic gifts that they would like to share with us at [email protected]
What were you doing before coming to Regent?
A variety of things…I was thinking about coming to Regent or not. I applied, got accepted by God’s grace, worked during the summer of 2018 as an ESL teacher to Mexican and Chinese children, then God provided the opportunity to work as an interim pastor in Lennoxville, Quebec from October-December 2018. I tangibly experienced the words of Christ when He said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt 11:29-30 NIV)
Would you rather not be able to laugh or not be able to make others laugh?
Hmmm…this is a hard question for me because I like both! But I know there are plenty of people that can make me laugh and that are funnier than me. With that said, I would choose not being able to make others laugh.
Who’s your favourite artist, in any medium?
Though there are many artists especially musicians and singers that I enjoy listening to, I would say that one of my favourite instrumental songs is “Summer (Presto)” by Antonio Vivaldi. Eight years ago I remember seeing and hearing two cellists in the Lionel-Groulx station (Montreal, QC) playing this song while there were passing metros on their right and left. I saw it as beauty amidst the chaos.
What is one of your most embarrassing moments?
When at the Hillsong United Concert this year I asked a question of a woman from church sitting two rows in front of me. She didn’t answer my question so I approached her, took a second look at her and realized she was not the woman from my church! I should wear my glasses more often!
Here’s a challenge for you. Write a story, as complete as you can make it, in just two sentences. Make sure it has character, something like a plot, and a title. Send it in the same place you would any other submission: [email protected] We’d love to make this a regular feature of the Et Cetera!
The Catch by Jesse Perl
The fatigued old fisherman methodically rowed his small vessel to dock after a bleak day of little luck. His only compensation, outpacing the oncoming tempest, providing hope of a better catch tomorrow.