Fall Issue 3
On Autumn, Beets, and Guides for the Journey
By Naomi Pattison-Williams
Last night we had dinner with some friends. These friends are a stage ahead of us in life and their delightful response to our ‘Tell us what we can bring’ was ‘Have the night off!’, making us feel cared for before we had even arrived. It was a damp, foggy evening that had a distinctly autumnal feel to it—the kind that makes me pine a little for the crisp autumn days of my native England, days in which we kick through piles of leaves through the golden hour, the smell of bonfire smoke lingering in the air. Days when we pull our scarves tighter as the evenings draw in, giving us an excuse to curl up with steaming mugs of tea and thick buttered toast. And so it was a particular joy to see a pumpkin nestled among the summer plants on the stoop of our friends’ home—a nod to the coming of Autumn in all her transient, russet-tinged beauty.
The evening passed in a predictably lovely way, as we meandered from kitchen island to long wooden table and back again, conversation weaving between hunting stories and childhood memories and the joys of The Great British Bake Off. Everyone pretended not to notice as I spilled beets all over my pale shirt and left a huge pink stain, as I apparently haven’t yet gotten the hang of this whole eating -over-a-distended-pregnant-belly thing. But more than anything, somewhere between the harvest chicken—nestled amongst earthy vegetables and roasted grapes, and the pecan pie—sweet, sticky and perfectly nutty, I became aware that we were being nourished by far more than the food we were eating.
The longer we sat around the table, the more I felt that I was remembering something deeply important, something that mattered and that was true. It was as if these friends, as they enfolded us into their lives, stories and memories, were offering us a glimpse of what it is that we hope to embody and to build with our own lives, a reminder of where it is that we long to be headed. Just by being themselves, they offered us a glimpse of what it looks like to build a home centred around an open table filled with food grown and prepared with care, to live a life characterised by faithfulness, and to create a space which has the distinct fragrance of love. These are things we know we want to embody and nurture in our own home, but somehow in the mundane realities of our days which quickly fill up with to-do lists and petty annoyances and looming assignments and forgotten umbrellas it can be easy to forget.
And so it was a gift to be with people a little way ahead of us on the journey who serve as guides and models, who we can keep stuck on our cerebral fridge door as we try to keep in view the long game even in the midst of the million things occupying our minds in the present. I’m amazed by how easy it is to forget that there is no ‘one day’ when we will finally get to work on the kind of people we want to be, or to build the lives we hope to live. No ‘later’ when we get to decide what the fragrance of our lives will be. As Annie Dillard says, ‘how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives’ and it was good to be reminded that the choices we make today matter—even, or perhaps especially, the tiniest most hidden ones—as they form the tapestry of our lives.
There are many other people in my life who serve as models and guides of course, and last night was a good reminder to keep my eyes and ears open—open to being reminded by each of them of where I long to be headed and nudged by them to stay the course, spilled beets and all.
The Writing Doctors Are In
Why the Writing Centre is Good News
By Jolene Nolte
Good news: Regent has a Writing Centre! As graduate students in theology, it should come as no surprise that good news often requires some context—and sometimes implicit bad news. Let’s get the bad news over with: Writing is hard, and the Writing Centre cannot magically change that. So what’s the good news; what can the Writing Centre do?
I’ve been thinking about the Writing Centre as a sort of doctor’s office for writers. Sometimes you go to the doctor simply to check on progress, sometimes you go with pressing symptoms. At the doctor’s office, you have half-hour appointments, and while the goal is health, often what happens is working towards a diagnosis. You might leave with new tasks: get a prescription filled, make another appointment, try these stretches, eat more spinach. Similarly, at the Writing Centre, appointments are half an hour, and we’ll look for overriding concerns and perhaps make some diagnoses: lack of transitions, a vague thesis, a gap in your argument. You will leave the appointment with some work to do. While it may not sound like it, this is good. The idea is that the work will be more efficacious than if you were spinning your wheels on your own. The Writing Centre is in the business of helping writers (that’s you) become better writers. Like most worthwhile processes, this takes time and effort, but is ultimately rewarding.
Part of what makes the writing process hard is that it involves many stages—it includes more than just the act of typing your paper. The Writing Centre is here to support you at any stage: maybe you’re struggling to narrow your topic, maybe chaos swirls in your mind and you don’t know how to corral it all into order, maybe you’re feeling hopelessly stuck, or maybe you have no idea if what you’ve written is comprehensible. Come see us; we’re here to help you. You don’t have to wait until you have a complete draft, though of course you are welcome to come with one if you do.
Writing Centres are inheritors of the Socratic tradition, and by that I mean the goal is to help you by asking questions, clarifying what you think and helping you to better articulate it. Of course, there are principles of grammar, composition and formatting we may need to clarify, but we’re not a proofreading service. Don’t think of us as paper polishers so much as paper midwives. (That, too, is a Socratic metaphor.) Your paper is yours, and we’re here to support you in your labours to bring it into fruition.
When booking an appointment, do yourself a favour and give yourself some time. You can best receive our help as help rather than further frustration when you leave time for yourself to do the follow-up work.
I’ve given you my metaphorical, idealistic overview, but here are some concrete details.
Who is the Writing Centre for? Any current Regent student working on Regent coursework.
What does an appointment look like? Appointments are half an hour. Bring the assignment instructions so we understand the parameters of your assignment. Bring paper or a laptop if you want help brainstorming. In that case, we’d spend the session thinking of different ways to approach your topic. If you have a draft, bring either a digital (not on your phone, please) or hardcopy of it. In that case, we’d read through your paper one paragraph at a time and dialogue about it, focusing mainly on higher order concerns (argument, structure, the content of your paper) or repeated lower order concerns (grammar, word choice) that inhibit the meaning.
When can I book an appointment? Our hours are posted on the library website. Schedule an appointment through the site and allow 24 hours for us to confirm your appointment. I have hours Monday through Thursday. For ESL students, we have ESL-specific hours with Sherah on Friday.
Where is the Writing Centre? In the library, we are in Study Room 3 (behind the Rare Books Reading room) during our allotted hours, behind the Rare Books Reading room. As you enter the library, take a right, then another right once you reach the cutout across from the New Book Display.
Why come to the Writing Centre? To become, bit by bit, a better writer—and, yes, more immediately, to help you do better on your assignment. Also, it’s a free service for you, dear Regent student. Why wouldn’t you come to the Writing Centre?
I hope to see you at the Writing Centre this fall.
A Soundtrack to My Life
By Alex Strohschein
In grade 12, my English teacher made each student bring in a song that we thought was poetic. At the time I was obsessed with Kevin Max from DC Talk (as I’m sure all high schoolers were) and I selected one of his songs. About that same time I listened to a song about Vincent van Gogh called “Skin” by a band I’d just discovered called the Vigilantes of Love; to this day I STILL regret not choosing that song instead.
If I am a Christian hipster at all, it is because of Bill Mallonee, the singer-songwriter for the Vigilantes of Love (really, he WAS the band as other musicians shuffled in and out of the group). Mallonee is not famous, but like Bob Dylan and Bruce Cockburn he is a prolific songwriter, deftly weaving his faith into his music, coming in at #65 on Paste Magazine’s “100 Greatest Living Songwriters” in 2006. He is justly admired by the coterie of thoughtful Christians who read ‘Image’ Journal and who appreciate other faithful artists who have existed outside the borders of mainstream contemporary Christian music – artists like Martyn Joseph and Over the Rhine. By Mallonee’s count, since 1990 he has released over fifty albums. This output is even more astonishing when you discover that he first learned how to play guitar at 31 (there is hope for me!).
It was Mallonee’s music which first made me appreciate lyrics. Every day, inevitably, a few Mallonee lines roll through my mind. “We all need new beginnings / First steps make you better / Maybe you’re just a prayer away / From getting your shit together.” I share Mallonee’s theological dysphoria when he sings “God’s love shines through a prism / I’m so confused by Calvinism.” Another favourite - “Salome, she’s undressed to the nines / And although a few pounds fatter / She’s got Pavlov’s bells on her ankles and wrists / She’s coming at you with a platter.”
Mallonee’s music has evolved over time. The Vigilantes of Love’s first three albums are marked with a frenetic backwoods energy that disappears with subsequent, more polished albums. Mallonee’s lyrics are edgier, darker. Of especial note is 1992’s ‘Killing Floor,’ co-produced by Peter Buck of R.E.M. and another songwriting genius, Mark Heard. I find this album pairs well with a Flannery O’Connor story and whiskey. Mallonee’s music eventually dipped into jangly rock on later releases such as “Locket Full of Moonlight”, while over the past decade it has morphed into warm, warbling, Americana rock.
Most fans consider ‘Audible Sigh’ to be Mallonee’s masterpiece. Mike Cosper tweeted that “Bill Mallonee’s Audible Sigh is truly one of the great Americana records of all time” which prompted an “Amen” from James K.A. Smith. If you were to start anywhere with Mallonee’s music, I’d direct you to that album.
I wish Mallonee was more well-known. I wish he was as big as Dylan or Cockburn. But perhaps it’s his seeming lack of (at least popular) success that endears me to him. We sometimes do the best that we can only to be met with futility. But is the dedicated minister of a small congregation less a success than a megachurch pastor? Sometimes we shrewdly make plans for own lives only to discover that “Life hasn’t fallen out just quite in those neat suburban boxes.” Of his own commercial success, Mallonee shrugs, “The record business is nothing to regret / Only sales projections and figures not met.”
Once a tireless touring artist (including a show at Regent College in the early 1990s), live shows have dried up for Mallonee for most of this decade and he has been forced to sell instruments and equipment to make ends meet. Mallonee’s weary ruggedness clashes with the culture of narcissism that pervades much of pop music; while many pop stars boast about their fame or fortune, Mallonee earnestly pleads “Lord, gather me unto Thyself when my wayward heart grows still / I just wanna see over that last hill.” Just the spartan necessities as we pass through life “checking out of this cheap motel” because “God shows His face farther up the road.” Yet Mallonee is hopeful, declaring “I hear one day / You will level the cynics’ rage / And every prayer that’s ever been prayed / Will surely not be turned away.”
Adulthood is often marked by transitions, by fleeting fashions and ephemeral friendships. It can be comforting to reach out and grasp something that gives us roots, that’s familiar. I have listened to Mallonee’s music nearly every day since grade 12 – not much else has lasted me that long. Bill Mallonee has been a soundtrack to my life and I am an evangelist for his music.
Four Haiku Reflections
By Edmund Evanson
Silly and simple,
Yet so unwittingly wise,
Sharing of friendship,
Quests of redemptive kindness –
My Little Pony.
Betrayed by rash ignorance:
The Jedi, they are.
Virus of good health,
Turns naught to mindless zombies:
By Aubrianna Pennington
In five-minute car rides,
In offhand comments,
You revealed your pride.
Adamant about the fact you were an open book
Sure maybe, but you’re afraid to look
At the warm ink symbols that have been written for you
At the reactions of the people who came before you
At the sticky, dense mass you hold in your hands
That you said you had done away with
But you can’t
You can’t let it be seen
You can’t stand it in the light
You can’t shut it up
You can’t give in to darkness
But it all comes down to you-
So what choice will it be?
You can’t be open and closed,
Mysterious and known,
Right but not alone.
1. Blame Eric’s dog as dogged doggerel (3,5,7)
8. In the refrigerator Chardonnay grew fruity (7)
10. See 9D
11. Gordon was a bright spark (5)
12. Talking shop for inebriated English AA groups (9)
13. Eastern Shaman’s battling Eastern tribe (8)
15. Unite after luge crash (4)
17. Intimate guest of San Francisco Symphonia (4)
19. Conjugating niphal at Hebrew proper noun (8)
22. Joseph’s home is in fear I’m at head-quarters. (9)
24. Hearings after inquiries took initiatives to state. (5)
25. Accord Obama included in Spain (7)
26. Short skirt involves design spirit (7)
27. Standard wine, wine with cheese (3,5,3,4)
1. Carry huge coffee percolated by recorder of Pilgrim’s Progress? (8,7)
2. Deny implacable dead malice. (7)
3. Look after an item with hatred (8)
4. Passage is in beer (5)
5. Voyeur operates incontinent (6)
6. Fifty-fifty in that is delay up and impermissible (7)
7. Dies as suit decides for self-destruction with some help (8,7)
9&10A Departed waters about limo corroborated evidence (4,3,7)
14. I hamper organising unit of state (7)
16. Concluded the bloody consequence of general anaesthetic (8)
18. Provoked revolutionary after riot (7)
20. I am for instigation (7)
21. Sultana bothered about vineyard owner (6)
23. Earth-shattering pump (5)
1. Presidential benediction (3,5,7)
8. Fruit grove (7)
10. Ancient texts (7)
11. Bright spark (5)
12. Paul’s preaching place in Athens (9)
13. Son of Joseph (8)
15. Stick (4)
17. Comfortable (4)
19. Northern tribe of Israel (8)
22. Joseph’s home. (9)
24. Caribbean state. (5)
25. Iberian city (7)
26. Vermouth (7)
27. Colours of many a flag (3,5,3,4)
1. Author of Canterbury Tales? (8,7)
2. Refuse responsibility. (7)
3. Extreme distaste (8)
4. Corridor in church (5)
5. Continent (6)
6. Against the law (7)
7. Euthanasia (8,7)
9. Israel’s salt lake (4,3)
14. Son of Joseph (7)
16. Brought to one place (8)
18. Agitated (7)
20. First letter (7)
21. Ahab’s unfortunate neighbour (6)
23. Blood pump (5)Last Week’s Answers