Et Cetera is Regent College’s weekly paper of miscellany, featuring opinion, news, poetry, fiction and more. It is published weekly by the Regent College Student Association.

Editor | Jolene Nolte
Copy Editor | Angelos Kyriakides

Winter Issue 11

Winter Issue 11

Faith and Fiction

By Rachel Hart

“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth”—Albert Camus 

What’s your favourite story? Does it involve superheroes? Maybe it’s fantasy? Or sci-fi? Or a period piece (or a zombie period piece)? Of course, we all here at Regent are studying a very large story, a story of which we are a part. It involves knowing God and how he has revealed himself, what he has done in the world, what he is currently doing, what he will do, and how we know and love him and others in the process.

Which is why it’s surprising to me that we don’t read more novels here. When was the last time you read a novel or fiction for fun? Now, I know at this point in the term that sounds crazy. Reading is not being done for fun, it is being done for school. But we miss out on a significant part of our formation in our lack of fiction reading.  

In an article entitled “Pastors and Novels,” Eugene Peterson wrote, “Every time someone tells a story and tells it well and truly, the gospel is served. Out of the chaos of incident and accident, story-making words bring light, coherence and connection, meaning and value. If there is a story, then maybe, just maybe there is (must be!) a Story teller.” Everyone loves a good story.

These stories in books are more valuable than just “entertainment.” Fiction provides instruction and insight into the lives of others and society as a whole. Through fiction, authors are able to describe whole other worlds, allowing readers to journey into a different reality, a different viewpoint. We can travel to other places around the world or to places that don’t “literally” exist, but are just as real as the planet we live on. 

Reading is active and brings us into the world of the story. It helps to foster empathy within us, as we resonate and connect with characters that are not like us. Fiction, as an extended metaphor, reveals truth about who we are, how we live, the good and bad that exists in us. Paul Ford, in his article “Putting Away the Fear of Uselessness,” wrote, “A story invites us to have, through the appeal to our imaginations, a concrete experience of truths … angels may experience truth directly, but human beings need their truths incarnated in stories which appeal to their imaginations.” 

Unlike television or film, which are more passive than active in their storytelling, reading novels forces us to be more present with ourselves and with the characters we are reading about. I’m currently reading Jane Eyre (and I’m only half way through it—no spoilers!). After the more difficult beginning, I have found myself deeply relating to Jane in how she rationalizes and reasons, or the standards she sets for herself. Jane has become a friend, while at the same time holding up a mirror to myself, forcing me to examine my current state. 

As a student in theology (or biblical studies, or whatever you find yourself doing), what you read shapes who you are. This is why many of us came to study. But most of us aren’t leaving Regent to a world of academics. We need novels to help us explain the truths we have been learning, both for ourselves and for others we will encounter out from under the green roof. 

In his article “What Does Literature Have to Do With Ministry?” Donald McCullough rightly states, “People aren’t interested in a doctrine of justification; they want to know how a jackass can get prayers higher than the ceiling … fiction helps incarnate our theology in the stuff of humanity, enables us to experience a worldly perspective. By reading fiction, then, we are simultaneously led into the heavenly and the worldly.” Novels create a thin space, helping tie the deeper truths we have come to know with the very realness of this world. 

Now, I understand that we are all tired students and most of us already have less time than we need, so the thought of adding on an additional ‘work’ of reading seems impossible (and aren’t we saved by grace anyways?). I’m right there with you. But, we are coming upon spring and summer—the school year is almost over. May I encourage you to find one book to read? I had a professor in undergrad tell me once, “Some books are meant to be read in a weekend. Others, in several years.” So even if you don’t finish the book by the time you wanted to, know grace abounds (trust me, I’ve tried reading The Brothers Karamazov probably 20 times. It will take sheer willpower and lots of time until I get there.) 

But still read. Read children’s literature. Read fantasy. Read something that might not be classified as “Christian” but is still quality. If you are looking for something more light to begin with, I highly recommend the Harry Potter series or The Chronicles of Narnia. Other favourites of mine include Silence by Shusaku Endo and Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is short, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a bit longer. (And if none of those sound good, let me know! I’ve got a list I’m happy to share with you.) 

“If, as we are so prone to argue, our creativity is part of the Imago Dei in our lives, then maybe novels and stories: indeed, all of literature, is the bank wherein lies deposited much of the wealth we may use to enrich the entire church; it is the light that comes to illumine those souls in our care through the window of our own well-read lives,” (Calvin Miller, “Sermons That Are Now? What a Novel Idea!”). 

As you study, read fiction alongside your non-fiction. Read for joy and for love. I pray that in the process you will discover yourself a more loving person because of it. 


The Tearing

By Neil Rogers

Jacob shuddered when he saw

The spangled robe was drenched with gore

What creature tore my precious child?

Oh, Joseph, have you been defiled?

And in lament, the father rent

His raiment as a sacrament

Behold, such torment

Ripped his garment

Aching parent, deathly silent ...

David’s sons are murdered!  All?

Only Amnon, he did fall

And Absalom?  He has not died,

He fled, his vengeance satisfied.

And in lament, the father rent

His raiment as a sacrament

Behold, such torment

Ripped his garment

Aching parent, deathly silent ...

Job’s children gathered in one place

Their foe had plotted their disgrace

The wind made moan, the house did quake

Came death, and groaning in its wake

And in lament, the father rent

His raiment as a sacrament

Behold, such torment

Ripped his garment

Aching parent, deathly silent ...

They did not tear His seamless dress

But gambled during His distress

The darkened sky, the lonesome cry

My God, my God, Oh why, Oh why?

And in lament, the Father rent

The curtain as a sacrament

Behold, such torment

Ripped his garment

Aching parent, deathly silent ...

Then Heaven’s Darling tore through hell

And rent its gates.  Oh, who can tell?

The Son in glory flashed his sword 

The saving Lamb, now Lion roared

And for his praise, the Father raised

The Son who won

His battle done

And heaven’s gates flung open wide

To welcome home the Crucified


If Blood Could Scream

By Aubrey Pennington


Solid as a wall, intervene, intervene

They don’t know what they do 

They don’t know what they mean


Riot in the streets, riot in your veins

You are only this moment

You have no other plans


The movement becomes you, it fits like a glove

They might say it consumes you, that it’s all that you love.


But as the heat drips down your skin,

All that’s on your mind is the depth and breadth and weight of your kin

The ones you were born with,

The ones that you chose,

The ones you despise,

And the ones that you’ll lose


Regardless of your desires, your fears

I am with you until I’m not

At the end of your years.


Four Haiku Reflections

By Edmund Evanson

The Cat

The cat walks alone

Through a lonely lane at dusk –

What independence!


The Kittens

Fuzzy cotton balls

Hiding small, mischievous thorns:

Cute, naughty kittens.


The Rabbit

Rabbit’s head caved in

With blunt and bloodied baton –

Why such cruel pleasure?


The Assassin

Fierce assassin swoops

And swiftly slays the target;

The hawk has hunted.


The Toad

Illustration and poem by Sandi Smoker

Toad in Ink1.jpg

Grief is a toad.

Subterranean—knowing little of propriety,

of manners or sense.

Of dignity? Irreverent.

Reckless in genteel company.

Belching at parties. Unapologetic.

Echoing deep digestive places

where affairs of tenderness ruminate.

An amphibian indigenous to backwater stagnate

and ruination.

Eyes avoid it,

ears heed not.

The heart and head explain away its tendencies,

attributing its slime and stickiness

to the nature of the thing.

Yet, it insists on inhabiting our days –

swamping us in self-pity –

redolent, snapping up flies with

a tongue of repugnant skill.

But,

there are those

who suspect enchantment.

Expectant, they linger

Attentive, they remain

Patient, they tarry,

Kissing the mystery, then—

ah, the Prince.


Hearts Over the Eyes

By Steven Gomez

When passing love notes in class,

It’s important to put the hearts over the eyes.

The eyes alone are incomplete

Without putting the hearts above them.

When spelling ‘infatuation’—

Put the hearts over the eyes;

When spelling ‘fixation’—

Put the hearts over the eyes;

When spelling ‘addiction’—

Put the hearts over the eyes;

The hearts are what matter.

The hearts make it a love note.

You can’t spell ‘love’

With just an I.


Solution to Last Issue’s Codeword

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Codeword by Embolus

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Every number corresponds to a letter.

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Winter Issue 12

Winter Issue 12

Winter Issue 10

Winter Issue 10