Winter Issue 5
Learning to Risk
By Aubrianna Pennington
Connally Gilliam bookended her Living Well Forum lecture last Monday with two passages of Scripture. Reading from John 17, in which Jesus prays for unity among his followers that parallels their unity with him and illuminates the Son’s unity with the Father, Connally talked a little bit about intimacy in society. In communities that are increasingly able to connect technologically, there is a trend of isolation emerging among people of all ages and socioeconomic situations. In light of Christ’s prayer for unity, it is tempting to ask, “How do we fix this?” while ultimately feeling a sense of defeat. Connally sidestepped the idea of a human solution to this epidemic, making the point that our purpose in pursuing community is not in fixing the world’s problems. Instead, Christ-followers live in obedience to God’s design for the world because He has already overcome the sin of the world. It is in the doing that we individually and communally experience shalom. So, what do we do?
Connally ended by pointing to 1 Peter 4: 7-10, which urges the audience to pray attentively and love deeply as a means of demonstrating God’s grace in this life, to discuss practical ways to build community and intimacy in daily life and in church life. Vital to a life with Christ is prayer. In prayer we are vulnerable, we ask for help, and from Christ’s strength we are able to offer strength to others. “Loving deeply” is not a simple command, so Connally asked, “What works?” when it comes to building community. Three main strategies emerged: ask for help, examine assumptions, and practice. When facing loneliness, it’s difficult to ask for help, yet the humbling act of talking to a counsellor, friend, or community member is already the beginning of connection. Friend groups are also not always what they seem. An audience member pointed out that we often decide that the people around us don’t have room for us without really pursuing relationship first. Connally mentioned operating from our internal teenage self who might be insecure, defensive, and timid—how can we learn to risk trusting that established community also has room to be hospitable? How can we be hospitable to others who might feel this way? Forming community can be enabled by skills such as ease in communication or emotional awareness. These are skills that we all must practice if we are to learn. Practice leads to progress.
It occurred to me during this practical discussion that one of the most necessary skills for fostering intimacy and building the habits of community is willingness to take a risk. Community requires risk. Many in the Regent community have already risked a lot to be here: leaving careers, leaving their country, leaving friends and family, learning new languages, and studying theology in that new language (terrifying!). It was a hopeful and inspirational thought: we are already good at risk! We are enabled to take these risks to pursue community by a God who was present before we came along. We are compelled to take these risks by living differently from a broken society. There is no foolishness in doing what has been asked of you by a good and gracious God, for the Christian community this may very well look like acting risky, taking risks that are considered foolish by the world’s standard.
Last Monday evening a group of women gathered together to talk further with Connally Gilliam and Carolyn Hindmarsh. Each who attended was a great example of choosing vulnerability in order to form connection by sharing common hurts on how society elevates romantic intimacy and can bar individuals from intimacy in friendship and in community. I think it’s hard to accept problems that don’t seem to have an answer, especially when we each feel it deeply and then look around and want to offer compassion to others going through the same thing. But by taking small risks for the hope of connection with one another, the Lord is at work; and we can continue to fight together for hope in the face of issues such as isolation.
God Meets Me in My Kitchen
By Allysen Mahaffey
I love cooking and eating food, talking about food, thinking about food, watching tv shows about food, and sharing a meal with friends. In all honesty, the video “A Theology of Soup” featuring Loren and Mary Ruth Wilkinson talking about their idea for soup groups was one of the reasons I came here. I was on board knowing that people like them and ideas like theirs are part of what makes Regent. Soup is inherently communal —everyone eats from the same pot. I also love Biblical stories and miracles surrounding food. They remind me that Jesus not only gives us the bread of life but also cares deeply about and provides for our physical needs. God has given sustenance from the beginning. He gave Adam and Eve fruit trees. He provided manna to the Israelites in the wilderness. Jesus met the physical need of thousands when He fed them bread and fish. He broke bread and drank wine with His disciples before His death, and for over 2,000 years Christians have gathered around the Lord’s table to share in this sacrament together. Jesus met His disciples on the beach after His resurrection and helped them catch fish and ate breakfast with them.
I recently read Theology of the Ordinary by Julie Canlis. She writes that we are tempted to think that God only is present and active in extraordinary ways, and that often means we are not attentive to the ways that the Spirit works within our ordinary lives. Sometimes ordinary tasks, such as cooking, can seem burdensome and time-consuming. We often want to get on with it to attend to more important things. Perhaps we are missing an opportunity to be attentive to God in these daily rhythms. Canlis quotes Romans 12:1 from The Message: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” Perhaps God is meeting me in my kitchen while doing the ordinary thing of cooking, and in return I can offer these tasks to God.
Cooking helps me be mindful and present. In this busy season of life, I am learning to slow down and be patient via cooking. Picking out recipes, shopping for ingredients, meal planning, chopping vegetables, cooking over a hot stove, paying attention to time, and making precise measurements all demand my attention and care. I also get to be creative. I take ingredients and help them along to create a tasty, colorful and textured meal. Particularly in the past few months, I have found cooking to be even more enjoyable and restorative, especially on Sabbath.
This deeper appreciation of cooking may have to do with my cute kitchen with its succulents, gifted fern, the glass jars we store dry goods in, and bright window overlooking a shared yard. Or maybe it is because my roommate and I share all of our food, which makes navigating our fridge super easy and delightful. More importantly, I am reminded that God is Creator. Creator of my hands, my mouth, my stomach, the vegetables, the fruit, the herbs. He created the farmers, grocers, and everyone else who made it possible for me to have food. He created the animals that give me meat, eggs, cheese and milk. I am also reminded that God is our ultimate Sustainer, Provider, and Caretaker.
Regent talks a lot about embodiment and incarnation. Our humanness and our fleshly bodies are affirmed because God not only made us in His image but also became a physical human with a body. The Word became flesh. Christ ate! He drank! Reflecting on this, I am slowly understanding how to take care of and appreciate the body God has given me. My head, my brain, my mind which has been so active at Regent, also has a body. Weird, I know! It is okay, even good, to take time to nurture this body of mine. Through the simple, slow, creative, ordinary and tasty act of cooking, God provides for me—all of me.
Through the act of cooking, I also get to provide for and love others. I wish I could have all of you over for a meal. I so appreciate the times several of you have cooked for me, and am grateful for everyone who helps out with soup every week and any of the other meals we enjoy at Regent. I cannot physically or financially cook for everyone, but I can share recipes. I also pray that God meets you in ordinary ways like He has met me in my kitchen.
Best Lentil Soup
Source: Cookie and Kate (https://cookieandkate.com/2019/best-lentil-soup-recipe/)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, lightly drained
1 cup brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup chopped fresh collard greens or kale, tough ribs removed
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice (1/2 to 1 medium lemon), to taste
1. Warm the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. One-fourth cup olive oil may seem like a lot, but it adds a lovely richness and heartiness to this nutritious soup.
2. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chopped onion and carrot and cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the garlic, cumin, curry powder and thyme. Cook until fragrant while stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Pour in the drained diced tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes, stirring often, in order to enhance their flavor.
4. Pour in the lentils, broth and the water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper. Raise heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape.
5. Transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender. Securely fasten the lid, protect your hand from steam with a tea towel placed over the lid, and purée the soup until smooth. Pour the puréed soup back into the pot. (Or, use an immersion blender to blend a portion of the soup.)
6. Add the chopped greens and cook for 5 more minutes, or until the greens have softened to your liking. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Taste and season with more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice until the flavors really sing. For spicier soup, add another pinch or two of red pepper flakes.
7. Serve while hot. Leftovers will keep well for about 4 days in the refrigerator, or can be frozen for several months (just defrost before serving).
A Love Letter to Regent
By Alice Hodgkins
Welcome to February, friends, everyone’s favorite time of year for cynicism (or maybe just mine).
It’s medium-low winter outside and has been for years now, there’s rarely a seat on the bus, and we all have so much reading to do. And those are just the surface bits—there are deeper things in many of us; half-formed, jagged-toothed criticisms that we unleash upon one another when we’re tired, as we often are.
But this cynicism is easy. Too easy, in fact. It’s an elementary practice for the young, for those who have not yet learned that they are wasting time when they spend it on anything other than love. And since I am learning to love Regent, I want to take this grey time of year to tell it so, and to tell it why.
Perhaps it’s because I came here direct from teaching privileged, sharp-tongued teenagers with anxiety in their eyes, which means I lived in a merrily bubbling pot of cynicism all day long, but this place seems to me to be full of people who have given themselves over to acts of love.
People who listen,
People who show up,
People who pray,
People who sweep up what’s been broken,
People who wash dishes till their fingers wrinkle,
People who lay out books for us to run our fingers over,
People who answer emails and answer emails and answer emails,
People who say the hard things, then say them again till those around them listen,
People who trust, though trust is dangerous,
People who sing,
People who die daily,
People who turn on the lights.
Regent, know that I love you, in all your dying and rebirth. Sure, this place isn’t perfect, and it won’t be: I’m here and you’re here, how could it? But the Lord is here too, overturning stony hearts and watering the mossy life that grows beneath, as he always does.
So put away childish things, and take up love. Take up love and bear it on your shoulders all the way through February to Golgotha and beyond, toward the Sun that rises.
Getting to Know . . .
Jenny-Lyn de Klerk
We thought it'd be fun to throw random questions at various members of the Regent community. Here are Jenny-Lyn's answers to our ecclectic questions:
What are you thinking about?
The new antiquarian copy of Owen’s Pneumatologia that I just pulled out of my mailbox!
What has inspired you recently?
All of the tweets from WeRateDogs.
If you could invite anyone, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would it be?
In the past, my answer to this question was J. I. Packer, but now I’ve met him! So the dead person I’d choose is Lucy Hutchinson, but the living person is Kelly Kapic. We had a great talk at ETS last year about things I’ve been working on but it was in a busy setting, so I’d like to have more time to see how he’d answer some questions I’m thinking about right now.
Assuming you could breathe normally, would you rather live underwater or on the moon?
Underwater; there are lots of cute creatures in the ocean, and anything to do with space travel gives me the creeps.
Can you share a quote from a book or article (or person) that has struck you recently?
All of the quotes I’m gathering for my dissertation right now are really beautiful; I wish I could share them all! Here is my favorite, from Owen’s Evangelical Love, Church Peace, and Unity:
A Valentine to the Font Figure
(in the Allison Library sculpture)
By Jolene Nolte
Come off world’s edge with me now—
or, at least, scoot over.
There is room for me to help you shoulder
twin weights of body and spirit, possibility and necessity.
Balance is precarious, I know. I too exist.
Yet the sphere of human being admits some company,
some comfort in solidarity. Let me share your point of view.
We may slip, topple over, but then we’d discover together
water we can wade in, follow to a new shore
whose Saturn-like meniscus ends
where a world of inquiry begins.
What if you joined me in reality’s rush—
breath and bread, flesh and blood?
Or what if you stayed, alone, perfectly poised in oxidized obsidian?
Solution for Last Issue's Crossword
Crossword by Embolus
3. Something to take home after tear shed in cabaret (3)
8. Beautiful tradition includes exceptional opening (5)
9. Predictors of the future use star sign after pretend turn (9)
12. Circuit record involves two circuits (4)
13. Hoodlum and a ring-leader take civil servant hostage (8)
14. Less complicated after I erase miss-spelling (6)
15. Remove heart of Woman in White? (3)
17. Further evidence of increasing obesity (5,6)
20. Control fancy dress by ploughing profits back into the company (13)
21. It is exaggerating to say, “Finish drug! End drug!”
23. Also, Mandy lost my brackets. (3)
25. Fashion designer’s marina? (6)
26. Intermittently down? Also took heart as spectator (8)
28. Unsupported mortgage by the sound of it (4)
30. Backwards or upside down? About turn, about! (2,7)
31. Observed audition of disgraceful event in the theatre (5)
32. Tomorrow is another start during another year. (3)
1. Fair weather calculator? (6)
2. She started in good health, but became intoxicated (6)
3. American adamant about guest from near neighbour (6)
4. Rumba line-dancing in resort? (4)
5. Domestic goddess revealed now as pure male fantasy (5-5)
6. Having future knowledge starts to create interest in current situation (9)
7. Picking her nose led fancy-pants to appear! (10)
10. Ongoing discussion covers nations in conflict (13)
11. In the direction of travel one commences (2)
16. Lacking respect in horseplay, revert rein (10)
18. Peace-lover followed careful union (10)
19. Real pride over quiet communicator (9)
22. Superficially attractive but heartless guy takes fall in profits. (6)
23. Snake left party joints (6)
24. Ranked poorly and become sad and gloomy (6)
27. Must Eden be corrupted? (4)
29. Alternative to French gold? (2)