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Spring 2015 academic guide

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Spring 2015 | Issue 21

Do What you love or Do what God loves?

It’s time to shatter the STAINED GLASS CEILING

Working in the gig economy

Women in ministry

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ARE YOU READY to meet with God in a

life-transforming fusion of learning and practice?

“THIS HAS BEEN THE MOST SHAPING AND FORMATIVE YEAR OF MY LIFE. This program is designed to help you grow at a rate I wouldn't have ever thought possible.”

– Levi, past student

KALEO.CA

A LEADERSHIP PROGRAM OF:

2 | CONVERGE. Spring 2015


table of contents

photography By Sergey Zolkin

Issue 21: Spring 2015

7

Order in Chaos

8

Emerge

14 Leave it to Beaver

Because work is more than just a

Showcasing innovative and original

These creatures are second only

necessary evil.

startups, including Sparrow Photography,

to humans in their ability to

Mr. and Mrs. Garrett Soucy, and

transform their environment.

EnduroFit.

16 Bible characters who failed at their callings

18 What kind of worker are you? Take this quiz to find out.

20 Lessons for startups A Q&A with Keith Ippel, co-founder of Spring, a company that helps

Taking “oops” to a whole new level.

startups flourish.

22 LIFE AS A FILMMAKER From negotiating with the Russian mafia to talking his way out of espionage charges, filmmaker Sam McLoughlin’s life is anything but boring.

26 WHY God’s not a Magic 8 ball

28 Bring Your Own Device: A WORKLIFE BALANCING ACT

And why we all need to stop obsessing about discovering

Is this new trend an innovative

our “calling.”

approach to the workplace, or does it destroy professional-personal boundaries?

30 Academic guide Profiles of Christian post-secondary schools to help with your education decisions.

38 Do What You Love OR DO WHAT GOD LOVES?

42 IT’S TIME TO SHATTER the stained glass ceiling

How a generation of millennials are

Why does the number of women

working and dreaming in the new

leaders in Christian organizations

gig economy.

significantly lag behind their secular counterparts?

48 Culture A review on Barbara Kingsolver’s novel Flight Behaviour, and a look at new albums from Sylvan Esso and Good for Grapes.

50 Owning the gift of life Let’s stop resigning ourselves to living a faux existence.

CONVERGEMAGAZINE.COM | 3


team

Issue 21: SPRING 2015

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Live the Theatre!

Contributing writers

Live Your Story

Brett McCracken Bret Mavrich Colleen Little Jessica Jordan Joel Bentley Kyle Stiemsma Michelle Sudduth Paula Cornell Sam McLoughlin

Contributing photographers & illustrators Andy Wang Carmen Bright Jennifer Ku

professional theatre training in Rosebud, Alberta rosebudschoolofthearts.com 1.403.677.2350

4 | CONVERGE. Spring 2015

opinions expressed in converge magazine are not necessarily those of the staff, board, and contributors of converge media inc.

Dear Readers, This is the last issue of Converge Magazine in print. Thank you to all our writers, designers, and people who have made Converge Magazine such a thrill to produce. Most of all, thank you to our loyal readers over the last 21 issues. Stay in touch and visit ConvergeMagazine.com and our Facebook page. we love you, The Converge Team


Editor’s letter

“Being able to work is an incredible privilege. To put your hands or mind to good use, to accomplish something, to know you have been faithful and have done your best: this is an incomparable high.”

Photography by Alejandro Escamilla

once worked in a factory. Well, it wasn’t technically a factory; it was a kiwi fruit pack house. But it had conveyor belts and assembly lines and the big boss watching from on high, so it came pretty close. My friend and I had recently arrived in New Zealand, and our intent was to work wherever we could in order to fund our adventures across the country. As soon as we heard there were jobs available in a pack house, we only slightly hesitated before signing up. The only problem was, our expectations of packing kiwi fruit — sitting in a circle with our coworkers, laughing, talking, occasionally examining the odd kiwi — was wildly different than reality. After we arrived at our newfound place of employment, we were both ushered to our respective conveyor belts and assigned a job: boxes. (Step one: get box. Step two: cover box with plastic liner. Step three: insert plastic tray into freshly lined box. Step four: place box on conveyer belt. Repeat. Times infinity.) It was pure agony. The numbing hum of the machines, the relentless pressure to work faster, to produce more, the hundreds of people who silently occupied the floor, doing the same task, over and over again. In those hours at the conveyor belt, I was struck by my own privilege. I felt above this job. I was too creative, too educated, too intelligent for this. But isn’t this how most people in the world make their living? How is it that I think I am somehow above it?

Work. Not only do most of us spend the majority of our waking hours doing it, we tend to be fixated on it constantly. Psychology Today says the average American will spend around 90,000 hours at work during his or her lifetime. We get discontent in our present situations, fantasize about our dream jobs, or incessantly wonder: is there something better out there? Am I following God’s will for my life? There’s a danger, as Kyle Stiemsma writes, in over-indulging this occupation preoccupation: “Constant obsession over what you should do with your life reveals a lack of trust and the presence of fear, the kind of stuff that God’s not a big fan of.” But how do we, realistically, stop this obsession? Our culture places so much weight around what we do. Work isn’t just something we happen to get paid for; it’s a lifestyle, an identity. It’s who we are.

Being able to work is an incredible privilege. To put your hands or mind to good use, to accomplish something, to know you have been faithful and have done your best: this is an incomparable high. But I wonder whether it’s time to reconsider how central work is to our identity. How we get paid is part of who we are, but it shouldn’t be the defining feature. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be known, rather than as just a doctor or teacher or editor, but as a doctor or teacher or editor who radically cares for others? Or whose very personality is defined by grace and humility? Paul writes in Philippians that we’re not to do anything out of selfishness or vanity; instead, we should value others more than ourselves. This is what we need to be working to become, whether we’re standing behind a conveyor belt or whether we’re “living the dream.” In the eyes of God, valuing others above ourselves is what truly matters.

As Bret Mavrich explores, “Do What You Love” has become the mantra of the millennial generation. Indeed, filmmaker Sam McLoughlin’s job is the stuff dreams are made of; the pieces of his work life are strung together by what seems to be one exhilarating adventure after another. There’s profound beauty in being able to do the work you love, in using your God-given gifts and abilities to contribute to this world. To make a living while enjoying your craft.

ISSUE 21

Leanne Janzen editor

However, as Paula Cornell writes, not everyone is so fortunate. When it comes to women in Christian ministry, there are still hurdles to jump and barriers to overcome.

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REFLECT

ORDER in CHAOS

God enlists humans to help counter the chaos-breeding “work” of destruction and evil with the order-instituting “work” of creation and goodness. Work is not a humdrum necessary evil. Far from it. Work is our way of labouring alongside God to create order and to bring light to an aggressively disordered and dark world. Work is a sacred calling. And not just work that is mission or ministryoriented. If we understand the God-ordained mandate of work to be essentially making the chaotic world a bit more ordered, think of all that entails.

Written By Brett McCracken

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light;’ and there was light.” Genesis 1:1-3

ork. It’s hard sometimes to see it as anything more than a necessary evil — something we must do in order to pay bills and put food on the table. Isn’t work just a burden we must carry because we live in a fallen world? Mercifully, no. Though it sometimes feels like a curse, it would be wrong to see work as a byproduct of the fall. As Tim Keller says in his book Every Good Endeavor, “The Book of Genesis leaves us with a striking truth — that work was part of Paradise.”

Doctors and nurses bring order to the chaos of broken bodies and the disorder of disease. — Architects and engineers bring order to the chaos of the forces of physics and raw building materials. — Painters bring order to the chaos of blank canvases, colours and textures. — Accountants bring order to the chaos of balance sheets and taxes. — Programmers bring order to the chaos of code and web communications. — Chefs bring order to the chaos of infinitely combinable ingredients and flavours. — Referees bring order to the chaos of a sports match that could get unruly. — Writers bring order to chaos of words, sentences, and ideas that need communicating.

In the beginning, God created. In the beginning, God worked. He brought form to formlessness and light to a dark void. He created an orderly world out of disorderly chaos. The first scene of the Bible is work, and it’s a beautiful thing. “Let there be light….” But a few scenes later, God does something crazy: He creates humans in His image and gives them the ability to create, to cultivate, to work; to join Him in bringing order out of the chaos (Genesis 1:28, 2:15). Why? Because the story God is telling, from the beginning until the end, is an epic of good overcoming evil; illuminating light overcoming formless darkness; the “order” of Eden expanding outward into the chaos, gradually making the world a more orderly and “good” place, even as Satan does everything he can to breed chaos and disorder.

I challenge you to look at your occupation, whatever it might be, through this lens. What are you bringing order to? In what way, however small it may seem, are you making this chaotic world a bit more orderly? God has given each of us, as humans created in His Creator image, the ability to create order, beauty, and goodness out of the chaos, ugliness, and evil that would otherwise prevail. It’s called working. And it’s a beautiful thing.

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emerge Showcasing the innovative and original, here are some of the startups that have recently come on the scene.

8 | CONVERGE. Spring 2015

photography By Jeff Sheldon


emerge

EnduroFit

Boundless Vancouver

Deep Life. Wide Love. For more visit: boundlessvancouver.ca

Boundless Vancouver is a church plant making disciples to share the boundless love of Jesus with Vancouver. They nurture relationships that are diverse and respectful. They love authentic community and intentional outreach. They pursue transformation that is tenacious and gracious. And they challenge the status quo and endure patiently. God’s boundless love is creating a new family to express Jesus’ extravagant love! Boundless Vancouver would love to connect with you and see your life deepen in the love of God and spread wider in loving your community.

EnduroFit is a fitness program that’s not just about fitness; it’s about the development of healthy bodies, minds, and friendships.

For more visit: endurofitcanada.com

Fitness is done best when in community, amongst friends. Anyone who participates in EnduroFit’s programs, regardless of their fitness or skill level, will be able to contribute and have a great time. EnduroFit offers a number of carefully designed programs and events, to help foster a holistic approach to fitness and health for their members, including core muscles groups, muscle endurance, cardio, flexibility, diet, and state of mind.

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EXPLORE YOUR CALLING

WHERE ARE YOU CALLED?

At Columbia Bible College, you’ll discover what God has in store for you and be equipped for life and ministry.

Explore our programs at columbiabc.edu/programs

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C A P E R N W R AY 10 | CONVERGE. Spring 2015

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emerge

All the Above Clothing

We Are Sparrow Photography

To shop or for more information visit: ata-clothing.com

At All The Above Clothing, they see the fashion world as more than a source of exciting individualism — it’s an untapped platform for giving back. Their mission is to bring current trends to their customers’ eyes while building awareness for programs and non-profits in need.

It was in a remote village in Cambodia when photographer Megan Raverty truly understood the meaning of Psalm 30:11: “You turned my wailing into dancing.” Women who had been once trafficked were now teaching traditional Khmer dances to international visitors. They had been taken out of horrible situations, brought to this village, and discovered a powerful joy in Christ. They were truly set free.

At checkout, customers are prompted to select the charity or non-profit from a diverse listing of organizations all over the world. With the purchase of any item from their Inspired line, All The Above Clothing donates 10 per cent of the proceeds to the chosen cause. For an even bigger impact, customers can shop from the Gives collection which donates 100 per cent of the proceeds to the specified charity.

When Megan returned to Canada, she felt called to do something more. So she started Sparrow Photography, and through it, is raising money for Ratanak International, a ministry that seeks to reintegrate Cambodian women back into society after being rescued from human trafficking. Not only are the photos at Sparrow Photography stunning, they are making a tremendous impact on our world.

Find out more at: wearesparrowphotography.com

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emerge

Mr. and Mrs. Garrett Soucy

Garrett Soucy is a writer, musician, and teacher. He and his wife Siiri live in Belfast, Maine with their six children, where Garrett pastors at Christ the King Church. He has been the singer/songwriter for a number of projects including Tree by Leaf and Sunlight in Architecture. He has been writing lyrics for close to 20 years, mining for God from the marrow of all that is good, true, and beautiful. The Portland Phoenix writes that he is “widely admired as one of the best songwriters Maine has ever produced.” The Procession of the Ram is his most recent release.

For more information check out mrandmrsgarrettsoucy.com

It is amazing to hear that a forward thinking and dynamic leader, scholar, professor, and theologian (Dr. John Stackhouse, Jr.) will be joining the already superb Religious Studies faculty at Crandall. It will be a privilege and blessing to learn—in every sense of the word— from a professor who is extremely gifted, and who obviously has a love for God which fuels his passion for the pursuit of learning. —Hannah Steeves ‘16 , Biblical Studies and English major

Moncton, NB • 1-888-968-6228 • admissions@crandallu.ca • @crandallu • crandallu.ca

12 | CONVERGE. Spring 2015


A Christian University in Hamilton, Ontario At Redeemer, community extends to more than friendships with students — my professors have been incredibly supportive, creating a Christian community where I’ve grown in so many ways, inside and outside the classroom. - Julie P. Social Work major, Dorchester, Ontario ReAd mORe at

MyRedeemer.ca/Julie

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Converge Media publishes honest and intelligent content: personal stories of beauty and grit and issues of cultural importance engage, challenge and reveal how Christ is present in all things.

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reveal

Leave it TO BEAVER

photography By Jasperdo, Flickr

hey’re called busy for a reason. Beavers are the only animal — besides humans — to be able to manipulate their environment to suit their needs. Whether it’s burrowing in a bank of a river or lake, or building dams to transform less satisfactory streams into comfortable ponds, their work is never-ending. Their houses, called lodges, are made out of branches and mud, and are often strategically located in the centre of ponds to protect from predators. Beavers don’t even rest in the winter; they forage in their ponds despite being under a layer of ice. By reengineering their environment, beavers also maintain habitats that are relied on by many other species, including insects and birds.

Beavers are monogamous and can live up to 24 years.

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TRACES

BIBLE CHARACTERS WHO Failed AT THEIR CALLINGS

Written By Colleen Little Illustrated By Andy Wang

he Bible is filled with stories of people who took “oops” to a whole new level. And in our own flawed humanity, we can deeply relate to their inadequacies and failures. The beauty of these ancient stories is that they give us hope: God chooses to use us, despite our failings, to be His hands and feet and shine His light in this world.

Adam and Eve

Within the first three chapters of the Bible, Adam and Eve made the biggest mistake in the history of the world: they ate the forbidden fruit — the one thing God asks them not to do. This doesn’t just make things awkward when God comes looking for them, it messes things up for all of humankind.

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16 | CONVERGE. Spring 2015

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Jonah

Jonah hated the city of Nineveh. In his mind, the people who lived there were evil, wicked, and beyond all hope. So when God asked him to go there and give the people of Nineveh a warning to repent, he was not happy about it, to say the least So instead of listening to God’s call, Jonah sailed in the opposite direction of Nineveh, which only got him room and board in a whale belly for three days and three nights. Jonah eventually goes to Nineveh, and reluctantly speaks to the people there. The story ends with Jonah pouting under a tree.

Saul

As Israel’s first king, one would assume that Saul would be able to pull himself together, especially with the prophet Samuel there to guide him step-by-step. But instead, Saul ignored divine direction over and over again, to the point where God regretted ever making him king. You can’t judge a king by his appearance.

Peter

Solomon

It’s too bad Solomon didn’t pay more attention to his father, David. Though Solomon spent a good many years ruling the nation of Israel as God required, he eventually fell prey to beauty and charm. Solomon built idols and temples for his many wives — first on God’s big top-ten “do not do” list.

Peter was one of the few who Jesus called out to follow Him as a disciple. For three years, Peter shared life with Jesus: he saw the miracles, heard the teachings, and believed Jesus when He said He was the Son of God. But when Jesus was arrested, Peter famously denied three times that he even knew Jesus. With the chance to be a man of his word and not forsake his Lord, Peter failed miserably. But God was gracious and wasn’t done with Peter. He re-ordained Peter by asking him three times, “Do you love me?” And we know the rest of the story — Peter became known as “the rock” on which the Lord chose to build His church.

CONVERGEMAGAZINE.COM | 17


TRACES

WHAT TYPE OF WORKER ARE YOU? e all have our own way of getting the job done. Some people need structure while others can’t be tied down. No way is better than the rest, and different personalities are key to making a team move forward. Knowing what kind of worker you are is a great way to understand how you can best contribute!

Written By Colleen Little

3 2

B. You buy your friends pizza and cheer them on as they do it for you. C. Instructions? Who needs them. You delve right into the task, and figure it out as you go.

Find out what kind of worker you are by circling the answer that best describes you.

1

D. You put the bookcase together with the intention of giving it a paint job later. You are working on a new project and someone informs you that you’re doing it all wrong… A. You step back and look at the big picture to reevaluate what would be best for the overall goal. B. You are grateful for the insight! You thank this informative person profusely.

E. A quiver of delight rushes through your insides. It’s like a giant puzzle needing to be put back together! F. You read the instructions and work at it until the job is done.

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C. You appreciate the input, but you think you might be on to something. You continue to go ahead with your original plan. D. You brainstorm a brand new way to work on the project.

When you get up in the morning… A. You are the first one up in the house. You like to get the coffee pot brewing and flatten out those newspaper creases. B. Whether the clouds are out or the sun is up, you are excited about the day ahead.

E. No problem! You find the best compromise to make sure everyone’s happy. F. You know that results need to happen. So rather than getting upset, you take the advice in stride. Because no matter what, the goal has to be reached.

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D. Your alarm is set on your favourite song as your crawl out from under the sheets.

F. Mornings are pretty set in stone; you have it down to the second. If anything throws off your morning routine, your whole day is ruined.

18 | CONVERGE. Spring 2015

A. By inviting some friends over to your house. There’s nothing better than sharing your time and home with others. B. You attend one of your co-worker’s sporting events, making sure you bring giant signs to pass along to the other fans. C. You are an adrenaline junky. Your weekends always need a little bit of adventure to get your blood pumping.

C. There’s just enough time to get out the door.

E. Spilled coffee, stained suit, and heavy traffic could make for a bad start to the day. But no worries, you can keep it cool. Just grab a new cup, find a different outfit, Google a different route, and you are ready to go!

How do you relax after a long week?

D. Sometimes it’s painting, sometimes it’s salsa dancing. Whatever it is, you need to express yourself!

You buy a new put-it-togetheryourself bookcase and… A. You know it has to get done, and you don’t necessarily know how to do it, so you delegate your friend to read the instructions while you examine the various pieces before you.

E. You love to keep your brain working. Your dream weekend involves reading a new book or watching a documentary. F. You relish predictability. Whether it is being outside or staying in, hanging with a lot of people or relaxing on your own — you tend to stick with what you know.


5

7

If you mostly chose C, you are:

The Risk Taker

You have to clean your house…

When your friend calls you up it’s usually because…

A. So you decide to make a chart for you and your roommates or family members to follow.

A. He wants to get people together and you’re the best at rallying the troops.

B. Though it’s not your favourite activity, it doesn’t really faze you — you can always have a good attitude about it!

B. Your friend wants to tell you about what’s happening in his life — whether it’s good or bad, you are excited to hear about what’s going on.

C. The house isn’t that dirty, is it? Cleaning only should happen when it reaches the un-livable stage.

C. He needs a companion for something a little bit wild, and he knew you were the only one who would be up for it.

D. You crank up the tunes and start dancing with your mop! Who said cleaning had to be boring?

D. You are going to be hanging out and you are usually the one who is good at coming up with something new to do!

E. Sweeping up the kitchen or wiping off the counters — it’s a nice way to feel like you’ve accomplished something! F. Every Sunday, you start from one end and go to the other.

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E. Your friend has a problem and you’re really good at listening.

If you mostly chose a, you are:

Whether it’s your idea or not, you are always willing to take the lead. You are able to see people through God’s eyes, as you recognize the distinct gifts and abilities of those around you. You know what it takes to reach the goal, and you know what it takes to move people forward. Your “go-to” app is…?

B. Twitter C. Mobile Bandit D. Instagram E. TriviaCrack F. Facebook

If you mostly chose D, you are:

The Creative You are always coming up with something new. You have the ability to see things in a different shade than everyone else, creating extraordinary results that keeps everyone on their toes. You experience God in new and creative ways. This helps motivate and inspire your work. If you mostly chose E, you are:

The Problem Solver

F. You will always say yes to plans.

The Leader

A. LinkedIn

You are the first to jump at new opportunities. You have the wisdom to know that your success is not based on your own skills, but through God. You trust that He will see things through, every time. This tenacity and excitement for something new is a driving force in your life. It’s what makes you stand above the crowd.

If you mostly chose B, you are:

The Cheerleader You are all about keeping the team moral on cloud nine, which makes you thoroughly loved and appreciated wherever you go. You have the perspective to always see the good that God is doing in people’s lives, and the way you love others is by your constant encouragement.

Complications don’t faze you. Instead, they’re what make you thrive. Your big-picture thinking gives you the ability to look at a problem and see the path to get it back on track. The key to your success is your strong trust that God always has things under control. If you mostly chose F, you are:

The Backbone You stand out as someone who can be relied on. No matter the circumstance, you work at everything with your whole heart, and your faith in God is unshakable. You’re always willing to drop what you are doing for others.

Image Source: 1) Duncan hull 2) jeff sheldon 3) Eifion 4) Matthew Clark 5) André Freitas 6) Timothy Muza 7) Ryan Fung

CONVERGEMAGAZINE.COM | 19


VIEWS

lessons for startups

Written By Colleen Little

A Q&A with Keith Ippel, Co-founder or Spring.

ust last year, Keith Ippel co-founded Spring, a company that takes ideas and turns them into reality. The company is an activator for startups, providing them with the right skills and knowledge to grow and create an impact on the world around them. Originally from Ontario, Keith now lives in Vancouver where he has been involved with managing, directing, and leading companies for more than 15 years. I got a chance to sit down and hear about how he got into this business, and what his advice is for new entrepreneurs. TO GET AN IDEA OF WHERE THIS ALL BEGAN, WHEN AND HOW DID SPRING START?

Spring actually started in January 2014, so a little bit over a year ago. The reason that we launched Spring was really because we saw opportunity in the marketplace where there is a growing trend of many people to try and be an impact with their business. Often an impactbased organization can actually maximize its impact by being for-profit. So we really saw opportunity to focus on those organizations. We thought that the best place to have impact was with early stage companies that are somewhere between the idea stage and a million dollars in revenue. The other key piece is that with a lot of the developments and innovations out there, we really saw opportunity to try and find the way to impact at the intersection between purpose-driven companies and technology companies. HAS YOUR PASSION ALWAYS BEEN TOWARDS ENCOURAGING AND HELPING OTHERS MAKE THEIR VISIONS COME TRUE?

Almost two-thirds of Canadians work more than 45 hours a week.

I would say yes. But it was really in 2009 and 2010 that I was really able to start to articulate it. I had taken a sabbatical at that time and I saw opportunity to, in the traditional sense, “give-back.” In doing that, I

On Stage This Spring at Pacific Theatre

what choices will you make once you’re free?

two choices: participate, or leave

CS Lewis faces off with Sigmund Freud

www.paciictheatre.org • 604.731.5518 • @paciictheatre

20 | CONVERGE. Spring 2015


started to work with some non-profit charities and started to realize that is really where my passion lay. There was a latent desire to help, but also an opportunity to actually articulate that in a career path and in a company. WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST HURDLE in STARTING YOUR OWN COMPANY?

I think often that biggest hurdle for starting your own company is just the belief that you can make it happen. The belief that how you are going about solving the problem in the marketplace is something that people care about, and it’s something that they will value. I think that’s often the biggest hurdle for entrepreneurs, and I think I’m no different. WHAT IS YOUR ONE PIECE OF ADVICE FOR A STARTUP COMPANY?

I think, in all my experience working with startups, I find that there are really only two main indicators of success for an entrepreneur: perseverance and hustle. You don’t need to be the smartest, and you don’t need to have the most money. The best entrepreneurs know what they believe in, know what they are passionate about. They are able to translate that into both a sense of urgency to take their passions and take their beliefs into the marketplace, and also then

have the perseverance to see it happen over time. So often it takes longer than people think. The average successful company is a seven to 12 year overnight success, and that’s where the perseverance piece comes in. If they want to be an entrepreneur, they are doing it because they want to change the world. Either in the context of they want to change their world, which could be as small as their neighbourhood or as small as their city, or they want to change the world in the global context. When you have a belief system and you have a passion to go do it, that should be your sense of urgency to go make it happen. Get out there as quickly as possible, and find out if the marketplace cares. If you solve their problems and all that lines up, then you will be successful.

“THERE ARE REALLY ONLY TWO MAIN INDICATORS OF SUCCESS FOR AN ENTREPRENEUR: PERSEVERANCE AND HUSTLE.”

CONVERGEMAGAZINE.COM | 21


VIEWS

LIFE AS A FILMMAKER

Written By SAM MCLOUGHLIN

ang out here a minute, they’ve asked me to come inside,” he said. My Australian guide opened the truck door slowly. “Um, are you sure it’s safe here? Why do they want to talk to you? Is it because of the camera?” Heart pounding, I couldn’t hold back my barrage of questions. The guide paused for a moment, then replied, “All I know is, when the Russian mafia wants to talk to you, you’d better not keep driving.” He got out and started walking across the dim parking lot. “You’ll be fine, I’ll only be 10 or 15 minutes.” The moments that followed provided time for some deep personal reflection. Why was I sitting alone in a dark, empty parking lot in the sex-trafficking capitol of the world? What had brought me here? What was I thinking, saying yes to going on a tour of, perhaps… no, definitely… the sleaziest part of the world? Why had I chosen to become a filmmaker ? — In the last year or so, I’ve travelled to Liberia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar. I’ve hid my camera on the roof during a police raid, fled a country without telling anyone I was leaving, and clung to the back of speeding motorbikes and tippy canoes with thousands of dollars of gear in my backpack. I’ve trudged through swampy and ice cold waters to get the perfect

22 | CONVERGE. Spring 2015


“MY MOMENT HAD COME: FAME, GLORY, AND A GUSHING FOREWORD BY DONALD MILLER AWAITED ME. OR SO I BELIEVED.”

angle for my shot, talked my way out of an espionage charge, almost killed a villager with my drone quad copter, and taken at least 50 flights. The truth is I love travelling the world. And I love what I do. But this isn’t the job I had always dreamed of. That’s because about five years ago, my job didn’t really exist. In 2009 I was in my second year of grad school at Regent College in Vancouver. I wanted to be a writer. I had recently finished a philosophy BA, and took the natural path of most liberal arts majors: more school. Aside from half a manuscript sitting on my hard drive, I had very few plans. A year later, fate struck. Like a door slamming right in the face. I was finishing my first book, The Default Life (once reviewed in this very magazine), and happened to get a meeting with the president of a big-time publishing company. My moment had come: fame, glory, and a gushing foreword by Donald Miller awaited me. Or so I believed. Instead, I was let in on a little secret: the Christian book industry was dying, the only people still buying books were housewives, and this company didn’t have any money to market books with ambiguous titles like mine. I should either find a way to sell my book online by “branding” myself and blogging like a maniac, or find something else to do. Three days later, the big-time publisher quit his job. After a year of earnestly plugging my book to my friends and family, I quit mine, too.

Why Luther?

You will find a welcoming community within the University of Regina where you can pursue Arts, Fine Arts, Science degrees or pre-professional studies. Luther students are U of R students, pay the same tuition and fees, and receive a U of R degree. You will benefit from Luther’s commitment to excellence in scholarship, student-centred approach to teaching, and small classes that are open to all students. You will receive one-on-one academic advising throughout your university degree. You can choose from optional groups of courses called Bundles designed to give you a successful start to University. You can apply for additional college scholarships. Luther’s unique Studentsfirst program eases your transition to university. Luther’s Residence is a cost-effective option open to all students. Luther’s optional chaplaincy program nurtures intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth for all students. For more information visit luthercollege.edu/why-luther

THINK DEEPLY. ACT PASSIONATELY. LIVE FAITHFULLY.

But this isn’t a story of quitting. It’s a story of timing. Around the same time I received a double thumbs-down, other things were happening. First, people started getting data plans on their phones. Internet speeds increased rapidly, and people started streaming video constantly at home and on their phones. Which was impossible before then because of all the buffering. (Remember buffering?) Canon cameras then introduced the 5D Mark II DSLR, which made near-cinema quality video available to almost anyone.

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VIEWS

All of a sudden, a job existed that hadn’t before: Internet filmmaker. You’re probably friends with one. Or five. Most of us didn’t go to film school. We learned by picking up a camera and shooting, watching countless tutorials, spending hours on Internet discussion boards, and learning from peers on Vimeo.com. Armed with new technologies that made “cinematic” video easier than ever to achieve, we started springing up everywhere, convincing you that you just could not get married without a “cinematic” wedding video, or could not start a business without a “cinematic” branding video. (Even though we don’t really have a clue what “cinematic” really means, and it’s impossible to be truly “cinematic” when people just watch your videos on their laptops.) I recently showed a short film called Anomaly to some friends and family. It was a Kickstarter project by some of the best up and coming filmmakers. I thought it was amazing, and très cinematic. But most of my family gave it a big, “Meh.” “It looked cool, but I didn’t really understand what was going on.” “The characters were dressed nice, but they weren’t very relatable.” “They didn’t seem to accomplish much.” I felt frustrated. This was a film that, stylistically at least, is light years ahead of me. But it failed to strike a chord with many of the nonfilmmakers around me. It confirmed a lesson I had been told a million times, but hadn’t sunk in yet: if you ain’t got a story, you ain’t got nothin’.

So how do you tell a good story? This requires a step outside the comfort zone for most filmmakers. We must talk to people — real, actual people — and listen to them. We must poke and prod them to open their hearts. We must read books: long, detailed ones. We must be willing to get immersed in the action. We must start living a better story. Ultimately, I suppose, we must become writers. It takes courage to pursue a creative endeavor like filmmaking, one that doesn’t have a guaranteed paycheque or dental benefits. And it takes more courage to believe in yourself enough to create art and put it out there for people to judge. But what takes the most courage? To try to communicate a message through your art, especially a message like the Gospel. This is the precipice on which I currently sit. And I’m not sure I’m ready to jump. I am learning that my education and my time spent jaunting around the world of filmmaking have prepared me technically and intellectually for the challenges and choices I am now faced with: the decision on where to go next. But there is one skill I feel woefully unprepared in: the skill of empathy. Yet it’s a skill that is perhaps most central to both communicating the Gospel and good cinematic filmmaking: to look inside someone else’s life, feel her pain, and then encourage her through story. Whatever work we do, whether freelance filmmaking or at a nine to five office job, we actually work best when we try to serve others. Often this means giving people the space to be able to tell their stories. — “So what did they want from you?” I asked as the Australian guide appeared 15 minutes later, just like he said he would. “They wanted to see if I would purchase five girls from them. Come, I’ll take you home now.”

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As we made our way back, my driver made a few calls to see if he could rescue these girls in perhaps the least dramatic way possible: by simply buying them. I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing more to help them, that I didn’t live here and spend my days trying to rescue women and children caught in the sex trade. But maybe that’s not my destiny. Maybe it’s to encourage, to build up, and to make known the people who do have that purpose. Or to capture the stories of those who spend their lives serving Jesus in seemingly menial, unglamorous ways.

I suppose Jesus told quite a few stories, too. That might be a good example to follow. — Sam McLoughlin is currently writing and planning his first feature film about child soldiers in the southern Philippines, to be shot later this year. Watch his videos at vimeo.com/sjfinlay or follow his adventures at sjinlay.com or on instagram @sjfinlay1.

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ANGLES

WHY GOD’s not A MAGIC 8 BALL: LEARNing ABOUT CALLING Written By Kyle Stiemsma Illustration By Carmen Bright

“I WENT TO GOD WANTING NOTHING BUT QUICK, CHEAP ANSWERS. HE WAS MY MAGIC 8 BALL WHO I KEPT SHAKING AND SHAKING WITH NO LUCK.”

’ve spent the majority of my life worrying about my calling. At a young age, I drew up a map and navigated my path with precision and accuracy. And as you’d expect from anyone following a map drawn by a four-year-old, I soon got lost and confused, angry and frustrated. Last year, I spent a weekend at a monastery as part of a class on vocation, work, and ministry. There I was, a confused and uncomfortable Protestant, standing in the back of a giant stone cathedral as a processional of blackrobed Benedictines began chanting Scripture and liturgy. My life, in that brief moment, had become a Catholic musical of strange holiness. My wife was with me, which was fortunate because I might otherwise be wearing a black robe myself right now. Though I sat through hours of lectures and presentations throughout the weekend, one of the most profound things I learned about calling was from an encounter with an old monk. He told me his position in life was to be a signpost, simply pointing the way and saying, “This way home. This way home, forever.” A lot of people confuse the words vocation and occupation, but they’re really different words. Occupation literally means the place you occupy. Most dictionaries use the words “job” and “profession” to define it. Vocation, on the other hand, shares the same Latin root as voice and vocal, literally meaning “to call.” Occupation has to do with where you’re standing. Vocation has to do with who’s talking to you. At the beginning of the class, my professor Paul Stevens pointed out

26 | CONVERGE. Spring 2015


the obvious — but completely overlooked — fact that a calling, before it does anything else, implies a caller. By the time I was old enough to hear the faint whispers of the divine Caller, a crowd of other voices had come alongside and told me what I was good at and where I needed to go. I became obsessed with the speech bubbles, and forgot to look where they were coming from. Amid all the noise, I went to God wanting nothing but quick, cheap answers: where I should go? What I should do next? He was my Magic 8 Ball who I kept shaking and shaking with no luck. Theologian Klaus Bockmuehl describes Christian calling as a wedding cake, meaning it has layers with different flavours. At the bottom is our calling to be human, to embrace the Image of God by participating in creation and relationships. The next layer is the calling to be Christian, to imitate Christ and become part of His body, the church. At the top is the personal calling, the specific voice resounding through the cosmos to your insignificant ears. In my quest to understand the distinction between “job” and “vocation,” I decided to conduct my own informal survey. I asked 10 people what their job was, and then asked them about their calling. Here’s what I found interesting: younger and single people almost always used professional words to talk about their calling, basically repeating their job description but using fancier words. The people beyond 30, especially those with kids, were more likely to describe their calling as “father” or “mother” or “spouse” before anything else. This reminded me of something Stevens writes about in The Marketplace Ministry Handbook: “A calling is to someone, not to something or somewhere.” He’s talking about being called to God, but I think he’s on to something more. Moses wasn’t called to be a leader. He was called to lead a people loved by God. Paul wasn’t called to be an apostle. He was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles. Jesus wasn’t pursuing an occupation in healing and forgiving. He was following His vocation of redeeming humankind. Here’s the thing: I don’t believe God calls people to be shepherds. I think He calls people to a flock of sheep. God doesn’t create accountants or pastors or CEOs. He creates humans, humans who have the power to create and to care, to love and to sacrifice, to listen and to follow. A calling is always to people, specific individuals who you can see and touch and converse with — not to positions of power or platforms of influence or stations of economic stability. I’ve had this epiphany — that God calls me to community rather than to a profession — about three different times in the last three years. It’s a simple thing to pick up on, but for some reason, for impatient dreamers and planners like me, it’s nearly impossible to grasp. When transition hits, when given the opportunity to worry about what’s going to happen next, the kid in me lashes out, and I start furiously shaking the Magic 8 Ball again. Constant obsession over what you should do with your life reveals a lack of trust and the presence of fear. The relentless need for guidance and reassurance is not the mark of a healthy spirituality. Scripture, says

Stevens, has little to say about guidance. Rather, it is a lot more about revealing the Guide. So what is my calling? Depending on when you ask, I might smile and tell you about my journey, or I might get choked up with grief. But I’ve come to realize it’s actually not so complicated. My calling is to be a good husband, a loving son, a reliable friend. It’s to tell the truth of God’s love through the way I relate to my community, the way I foster intimacy and encourage life, the way I use my words and spend my time. For the most part, I’ve stopped trying to construct my own identity by tossing around dry sand. Instead, these days I’m trying to listen. Not for the voice that dictates a solid five-year plan (although that’s not unwelcome), but for the Voice that simply says “You are loved. You are worth more than you know.” In a way, I think we can all learn from the old black-robed monks. Whether your paycheque comes from a church, a cranky boss, a bunch of customers, or a Fortune 500 company, we’re nothing more than a bunch of signposts. Our words and our actions, whether clocked in or clocked out, point to a Person and say, “This way home. This way home, forever.”

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ANGLES

BYOD: A WORK-LIFE BALANCING ACT Written By COLLEEN LITTLE Illustration By Carmen Bright

It’s new, it’s hip, and it’s even got its own acronym. BYOD, or “bring your own device,” is transforming the business world. With BYOD, you can combine work and home technologies: any personal smartphone, computer, or iPad, can now moonlight as a work device, allowing you to stay plugged in beyond the nine to five. It’s an easy formula. Employees are able to utilize the technology they’re most comfortable with, and companies don’t have to foot the bill. As a result, employees can be expected to be perpetually available to ever-increasing workplace demands. Tonie Chaltas, a Toronto-based chief operating officer of public relations firm Hill & Knowlton Canada, describes the BYOD movement as an anticipated necessity. Today’s world of constantly advancing technology, she says, is creating customers who expect faster results. And the BYOD phenomenon is just the key to achieve this. In a recent survey by Cisco IBSG, employees saved an average of 37 minutes per week by using their personal devices. In the countries with the highest productivity gain, BYOD resulted in employees “working more efficiently and being more available to their colleagues and managers.” But is there a problem with having your work and personal lives collide?

Up to 45 per cent of employees feel obligated to check-in during vacation or after office hours.

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“Humans were made to work. Producing, creating, building, cultivating: we are meant for these things.”

Two words: electronic leash. Workplace consultant Graham Lowe found that while this trend can create a better chance to complete work, people are more likely to generate an unhealthy attachment to their jobs. If an employee has her work phone on her at all times, she’s — at the very least psychologically — always on the clock. Work is there when you wake up, when you drive to the office, when you sit through a lunch meeting, and when you eat dinner with your family. This behaviour is no doubt consuming and exhausting. There’s nothing wrong with work; on the contrary, humans were made for it. God created Adam with the intention that he would live in the garden and care for it. Producing, creating, building, cultivating: we are meant for these things. And there is incredible value in doing something wholeheartedly. Giving 100 per cent in our work is something that pleases God. But when work starts to take over your life — your relationships, your identity, your very existence — that’s when it becomes a problem. Leviticus 23:3 says, “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.” Rest — Sabbath — reminds us of who God is, His creation, and what He has done for us. It’s a way for us to remember that God should be at the centre of our lives. And it gives us the rest and space we need from the stresses that our work lives so often bring. Understanding Sabbath, healthy work-life boundaries, and what it looks like to fully rest in God means setting limits on when and how long we use our electronics. So let’s start our own trend: DBYOD — Don’t Bring Your Own Device! Or at the very least, resist the temptation to check those work emails during dinner.

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education section

ACADEMIC guide

photography By Francisco Osorio, Flickr

Making your post-secondary decisions a little bit easier, we’ve compiled information on various Christian schools across North America.

30 | CONVERGE. Spring 2015

“APPLY YOUR HEART TO INSTRUCTION AND YOUR EARS TO WORDS OF knowledge.” Proverbs 23:12


education section

Alberta Bible College

canadian mennonite university

Capernwray HARBOUR BIBLE

Calgary, AB Canada

Winnipeg, MB Canada

Thetis Island, BC Canada

abccampus.ca

cmu.ca

Capernwray.ca

Undergraduate level degrees, diplomas, and certificates

Undergraduate and graduate level degrees

Certificates

tuition $195 per credit extracurricular Student government sponsored events,

tuition $233 per credit extracurricular Student Council, faith and life fellowship

intramural athletics, team ministry and travel, regular chapel/ worship opportunities, and events planned and shared with youth. Missions Opportunities Local church and parachurch ministry, weekend team ministry, intensive fall inter-cultural ministry experience, and intensive spring ministry experience. school motto Eis Ergon Diakonias (Unto Works of Service). founding date 1932 student faculty ratio 7:1 full-time students 55

groups, varsity athletics, Business Club, Psychology and English Student Associations, CMU Community Farm, MPK Folk Festival, Soul in Paraphrase. Missions Opportunities Practicum placements, Mennonite Disaster Service Trip every reading week. school motto Learn to see differently. founding date 2000 student faculty ratio 18:1 full-time students 481

tuition $10,900 per year extracurricular Sports, outreach, and missions. Missions Opportunities N/A school motto Proclaiming Jesus Christ as Life! founding date 1979 student faculty ratio 4:1 full-time students 90

columbia bible college

Crandall University

heritage college and seminary

Abbotsford, BC Canada

Moncton, NB Canada

Cambridge, ON Canada

columbiabc.edu

Crandallu.ca

heritagecambridge.com

Undergraduate level degrees, diplomas, and certificates

Undergraduate and graduate level degrees, and certificates

Undergraduate and graduate level degrees

tuition $321 per credit hour extracurricular Student leadership opportunities for both

tuition $765 per credit hour extracurricular Athletics, Student Association, Student

tuition $310 per credit hour extracurricular Men’s and women’s life groups, choir,

resident and commuter students. Various student council committees, as well as worship team opportunities. Missions Opportunities Some programs involve missions opportunities. school motto Explore Your Calling. founding date 1936 student faculty ratio 18:1 full-time students 322

Ambassador Program, worship team, theatre, student newspaper, ministry teams, and various academic program societies. Missions Opportunities The B.A. of Theology and CrossCultural Certificate require a mission trip overseas, local mission opportunities. school motto Cristus Praeeminens: Christ First. founding date 1949 student faculty ratio 13:1 full-time students 800

travel and resident assistant teams, student council, yearbook, activities, arts, newspaper, missions, and local outreach committees, men's hockey, co-ed volleyball, and co-ed soccer. Missions Opportunities Annually, and through “the SERVE. experience.” school motto Pursuing God with passion and excellence. founding date 1949 student faculty ratio 11:1 full-time students 150

CONVERGEMAGAZINE.COM | 31


education section

Photography by Francisco Osorio, flickr

The Facts

Business is the most common major in Canada and the U.S.

In Canada, 59 per cent of women between 25 and 34 have university degrees, compared to 41 per cent of men between 25 and 34.

Statistics Canada reports that Canadian students with a degree make on average $45,000 after two years on the job.

32 | CONVERGE. Spring 2015

A recent report by the Canadian Labour Congress shows the rate of underemployment — those who work in part-time or low income jobs unrelated to their field — is 14.2 per cent, double the unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent.

In 2011, about 64 per cent of Canadians aged 25 to 64 had post-secondary degrees.

Enrollment in graduate studies programs has increased in Canada by more than 80 per cent since 2000.

More than 40 per cent of American students who start at four-year colleges haven’t earned a degree after six years.

23 per cent of full-time American undergrads 24 or younger work 20 hours or more a week.

The average debt of Canadian post-secondary students is $27,000, according to the Canadian Federation of Students.

According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, Americans with four-year college degrees make on average 98 per cent more an hour than people without a degree.


education section

ISLAND BREEZE Manitoba (YWAM)

Laidlaw College

Steinbach, MB Canada

Auckland & Christchurch, New Zealand

Islandbreezemanitoba.com

Laidlaw.ac.nz

Certificates and transferrable credits

Undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral level degrees, diplomas, and certificates.

tuition 12 credits for lecture phase ($3500), 8 credits for outreach ($2500 and up) extracurricular Special focus on culture, includes island and First Nations cultural experiences. Missions Opportunities Outreach to First Nations communities in Canada and/or Pacific Islands. school motto Making Disciples to Make Disciples (MD2MD). founding date 2009 student faculty ratio 1:1 full-time students 6 students per 5-6 month school

tuition NZ$16, 020 for 120 credits (more info on website) extracurricular Student council, social sport, worship band, partnerships with local churches, great opportunities for travel and sightseeing. Missions Opportunities Internship opportunities with churches and mission agencies, as well as Mission Studies. school motto A world shaped by love, compelled and informed by the Gospel. founding date 1922 student faculty ratio 1:25 full-time students 500

Luther College at the University of Regina

PEACE RIVER BIBLE INSTITUTE

Regina, SK Canada

Sexsmith, AB Canada

Luthercollege.edu/university

Prbi.edu

Undergraduate level degrees, diplomas, and certificates

Undergraduate level degrees, diplomas, and certificates

tuition $662.15 to $696.65 per class extracurricular Peer Chaplaincy program, Voluntary

tuition $250 per credit hour extracurricular Care groups, choir, discipleship, fitness

Sector Studies Network (VSSN) opportunities, intramural and competitive sports teams, and more. Missions Opportunities Available (more info on website). school motto Think deeply. Act passionately. Live faithfully. founding date 1971 student faculty ratio 26:1 full-time students 400

centre, practical work experience, sports teams, student leadership, student centre, tour teams, worship teams, etc. Missions Opportunities Worldwide mission teams and internships, and various local field education opportunities. school motto Training believers to become disciple-makers who impact their world for Jesus Christ. founding date 1933 student faculty ratio 10:1 full-time students 100

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education section

Realities of a Post-Grad Life

“You’ve graduated UNIVERSITY. Now what are you going to do?” It’s a pretty daunting question. And it gets even more intimidating when you realize you don’t have an answer. In fact, you are so far from having an answer, you feel like shouting every time someone asks you about your next step. If you’re a recent college or university graduate, you are probably experiencing some mixed feelings about your accomplishment. If you’re a senior in college, here are some of the realities you will inevitably face postgraduation.

1 You will be questioned by someone every day. What’s your next step? Do you have a job? Have you considered applying at... ? The questions are plentiful and never-ending.

34 | CONVERGE. Spring 2015

Written By Jessica Jordan Photography by Francisco Osorio, FLICKR

2

5

You will feel alone.

You will cry for no reason.

It seems like your former classmates are constantly being pursued, while you’re just sitting at home silently chanting, “Please someone notice me.”

You’re officially an adult. That’s a reason to cry in and of itself.

3 You consider options that were never options before. Pre-graduation: I will never move back in with my parents. Post-graduation: So this whole rent thing won’t work with the $40 left in my bank account. Mommy?

4 You will miss UNIVERSITY more than you thought. You would honestly prefer the security of an exam over the mystery that your future has become.

6 You will feel both too young and too old. You are too young to have something to do 24/7, but too old to waste time with anything that doesn’t benefit your future. You’re not a child, but you don’t quite feel like an adult yet.

7 You question everything so much more. Gone are the simple days when you had school as a fallback. Every decision seems more serious, because it kind of is.


education section 8

13

16

Your loans start catching up WITH you.

You get more excited about the little things.

You get a little more respect.

Those carefree college years are long gone. Whether you have a job or not, it’s time to pay off that degree.

Yes! There’s ice cream in the fridge. You don’t have a job and you’re drowning in loans, but at least you have dessert.

You have a degree sitting on your desk. You put in the hard work, and you have proof of your knowledge. Other people can’t help but respect you for that accomplishment.

9

14

17

You begin to learn the difference between working to live and living to work.

You can catch up with everyone you left behind.

You won’t miss THE things you thought you would.

Realistically, you’re going to have to bide your time at some point and just do what you can, as opposed to what you want.

You’re back in town with all those high school friends you left behind for university, and you actually have time to catch up with them. Reconnecting can be great!

You think you will miss the bustle of living on campus, but the nostalgia isn’t as real as you expected.

10

15

You have a heightened awareness of the expectations on you.

You can finally prove yourself to the world.

Now that you have a big, shiny degree, people expect you to be awesome and have your life together. Yay, pressure.

18

You’ve spent the past four years being trained to do something you love. Now you can finally prove how good you are. A little nerve-racking, but completely exciting.

You’ve accomplished something great. You graduated university. You actually did it! Not everyone has had that opportunity, and you really should be thankful and proud of what you have accomplished. And besides, graduation isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning.

JOYS

11 You will really begin to see the world as your oyster. Opportunities are open left and right. It might be difficult pinpointing exactly what you want to do, but the world is at your feet.

12 You are eligible for a Master’s degree. OK, so maybe going back to school isn’t exactly what you had in mind. But two more years and you could have a Master’s degree. Only seven per cent of Canadians have a Master’s degree, and you can be a part of that.

CONVERGEMAGAZINE.COM | 35


education section

Christ Centred Education 10 College Crescent, Otterburne, MB R0A 1G0 Tel: 1.800.668.7768 | info@prov.ca

36 | CONVERGE. Spring 2015

providence university college

Redeemer University College

Otterburne, MB Canada

Ancaster, ON Canada

providenceuc.ca

Redeemer.ca

Undergraduate level degrees

Undergraduate level degrees

tuition $247 per credit extracurricular Student Council, theatre performances,

tuition $15,162 per year extracurricular Clubs and activities centred around art

music concerts, coffee houses, touring groups, pilot games, and other student events. Missions Opportunities Missions conference on campus, annual mission trip, local outreach, and practicum opportunities. school motto Christ-centred university education. founding date 1925 student faculty ratio 14:1 full-time students 300

and culture, social justice, student government, worship, and recreation. Missions Opportunities Partnerships with local community organizations. Also, each reading week students can participate in off-campus mission trips. school motto Discover all things in Him. founding date 1982 student faculty ratio 15:1 full-time students 790

rocky mountain college

rosebud school of the arts

Calgary, AB Canada

Rosebud, AB Canada

rockymountaincollege.ca

rosebudschoolofthearts.com

Undergraduate level degrees, diplomas, and certificates

Undergraduate level degrees

tuition $325 per credit extracurricular Health and wellness activities. Missions Opportunities Some programs (WHIP, FYi,

tuition $240 per credit extracurricular Improv, jam nights, late night music

Global Studies, Intercultural Studies, Global Leadership) have missions opportunities built in. school motto Be change. founding date 1982 student faculty ratio N/A full-time students N/A

Missions Opportunities [Trip opportunities] Theatre trips

lounge, xtreme workout. to the West Coast, London, England, and New York City. school motto Live the Theatre! founding date 1988 student faculty ratio 2:1 full-time students 30


education section

st. mary’s university

Taylor College and Seminary

Calgary, AB Canada

Edmonton, AB Canada

CANADIAN MENNONITE UNIVERSITY

cmu.ca

Arts • Science • Business • Music

stmu.ca

Taylor-edu.ca

Undergraduate level degrees and certificates

Graduate level degrees, diplomas, and certificates

tuition $213.50 (BA) $296 (BEd) extracurricular Varsity basketball, cross-country,

tuition $325 per credit hour extracurricular Chapel program participation, Student

recreational hockey, soccer, and other sports. Various clubs on campus. Volunteering opportunities. Missions Opportunities N/A school motto In your light we shall see the light (Psalm 36:9). founding date 1986 student faculty ratio 10:1 full-time students 638

Association activities and meals, additional training (workshops/lectures) through the E P Wahl Centre, spiritual direction through Urban Sanctuary. Missions Opportunities Included in some courses. school motto Pro Deo et Veritate (For God and Truth). founding date 1940 student faculty ratio 9:1 full-time students 46.9 FTE (Full-Time Equivalent)

vanguard college

wycliffe college

Edmonton, AB Canada

Toronto, ON Canada

vanguardcollege.com

wycliffecollege.ca

Undergraduate level degrees, diplomas, and certificates, graduate level certificates

Undergraduate level degrees, diplomas, and certificates

tuition $213 per credit hour extracurricular Student Council, Vanguard Sisterhood, choir,

tuition $597 per credit extracurricular Student Council organized social events and

Council of Student Ambassadors, department retreats and events, soccer team, discipleships, and more. Missions Opportunities Southeast Asia, NYC, Northwest Territories, Vancouver, Alberta, and global leadership opportunities. school motto Developing innovative, Spirit-filled leaders. founding date 1962 student faculty ratio 20:1 full-time students 225

sporting activities, access to the many U of T campus groups. Missions Opportunities Bi-annual trip to an African country, MTSD student internships, in the past, students have gone to various countries in Africa, Asia, and South America. school motto Verbum Domini manet (The word of the Lord endureth). founding date 1877 student faculty ratio 10:1 full-time students 150

Exemplary Academics Faith-filled Community

Discover the Alternative

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PHOTO: ALEJANDRO ESCAMILLA


Features

Do What You Love or do what god loves?

Written By Bret Mavrich Typography By Jennifer Ku

hen Britany Robison’s $1,200 a month lease on her Manhattan apartment came up for renewal, she did what her mother had hoped she wouldn’t do: she walked. Instead of renewing the lease, she struck out across the country searching for the best place to call home. And she catalogued her trip in true millennial style: with a hashtag, #RTHUSA.

DWYL has emerged as the millennial generation’s mantra. In part, that’s because creative opportunities are now widely available, thanks to innovations in technology. But this philosophy has also been adopted as a result of the distinct challenges faced by millennials. In some ways, DWYL is as good of an approach to a career as any in a sluggish economy. Because when jobs are scarce, you might as well do something you love.

That stands for “Road Trip Home USA,” and it is part of her larger social media project on her blog. Embodying some of the most essential values of her generation, Robinson wanted to travel across the United States — and get paid while doing it. It was part of her acknowledgment that life, career, and family just were not going to happen in the same way as her parents’ generation. And as a budding travel writer who had already seen a fair amount of God’s green earth (like so many of her peers), Road Trip Home USA was the perfect way to express the uncertainty, restlessness, and dreams of her generation.

Millennials grew up in an economic slump, then were hit by another one right as they walked across the graduation platform. They received more honours awards than job prospects. Now, many like Robinson are accepting this reality and jumping into what is being called “the gig economy”: where job hunters are exchanging job security for the freedom to create a patchwork resume through freelance and contract work.

She’s in Portland. For now. She says even though she has stopped travelling — life on the road burnt her out a little — she has a sense that Portland isn’t “it.” As a writer, she says she was looking for a city where the cost of living was lower than New York, but where she could pursue the work she loved. Part of Robinson’s philosophy has been DWYL (“Do What You Love”), but she’s finding out what so many others are discovering in the new freelance economy: that it’s much easier said than done.

Roxanne Stone, vice president of publishing for research mogul Barna Group, says the freedom of the new gig economy isn’t all rosy. “You could do anything, which becomes overwhelming,” she says. “And it takes a lot more personal drive [or] initiative to create that life. You have the opportunity, but it could take a lot. And there aren’t as many of those jobs that are just stable.” With lack of stability, there comes lack of funds. Robinson identifies one of the key components of DWYL culture is thrift and frugality. Millennials who are trying to make their way are willing to forego some creature comforts. “There’s a huge movement of writers and artists who are finding cheap housing and doing what you love, without going out to eat and not shopping,” she says. “The new lifestyle that we’re creating for ourselves ... values fulfillment over paycheques.” No one can deny the trends in the job market that transcend the work preferences of millennials. As early as 2012, Fortune magazine was calling our times the “Age of the Freelancer,” a nod to the increasing millions of people who work on contract, and who are making more money doing it than ever before.

Two-thirds of Canadians say they love or like their job a lot, according to a job satisfaction survey by Monster.ca.

Robinson funded her 5,000 km trip across the U.S. by freelancing. For the first six cities she visited, her first stop was always to the local tourism board to pitch travel blogging content. And largely, it worked. She stayed in hotels for free, and had her excursions around the city comped.

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Features

In January last year, a writer for Slate scoffs at the mantra, claiming it both devalued work and dehumanized labourers. Citing DWYL progenitors like Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey, the author’s main complaint is that the philosophy serves an elite class of people who could afford to come to work in jeans and Birkenstocks, while some sweatshop full of people half-a-world away slaved to buoy them up. Events like the 2011 Foxconn iPad tragedy in Beijing that claimed three lives stand in grim contrast to the DWYL possibilities afforded to tablet owners in the West. Arguments like this have made Robinson second-guess herself and her DWYL mentality, she says. Maybe she did, as the article insists, have a selfish worldview, insensitive to the hundreds of millions of people who just were not in a position to do meaningful, fulfilling work.

PHOTO: MIA DOMENICO

But she soon ran into the tension that every person working in the gig economy faces: to make it work (at least initially) a freelancer has to do a high volume of work that’s not always appealing. Robinson says, “The more I pulled in other people and was writing for them, I realized I was distanced from the work that I love.” Landing in Portland, at least for a little while, has enabled her to pivot away from blogging to doing more of the work she really wants to do. “You spend two days on a blog post and then nobody reads it because you’re not good at marketing it,” she says. “Now that I’m pitching publications that already have audiences, I’m finding much more success.” Fiverr.com is one among many burgeoning freelance hubs that is emerging on the Internet. The website’s description reads, “We currently list over 3 million Gigs (trademarked) in 120 categories across more than 192 countries. As the leader of the Gig economy, we are proving that everyone has a chance for financial independence by doing what they love.”

While it’s true that it requires a degree of privilege, comparing sweatshop workers to those who live by the DWYL mantra is a bit misleading. Bloomberg reports that five years into the economic recovery, college grads are still more likely to find jobs than those without (the unemployment rate for people with a bachelor’s degree is only a third of the rate for those with only a high school diploma). But they’re settling for jobs in a buyer’s market that are unrelated to their fields of study. As a result, DWYL can mean a meandering career path with many concessions or even dead-ends. Robinson moonlights as a bartender while she builds her writing portfolio. “There was a shame that vouching for the DWYL lifestyle was insensitive,” she says, “but I was able to overcome that [by] acknowledging that I did [work I don’t love] before, and still do. But focusing on what I love will eventually allow me to do that full time.” This focus is shaping the new dream for work among the millennial generation. Whereas working hard to earn a college degree used to be a secure path to success, it no longer is such. It’s a statistic that has become a joke, albeit a particularly unfunny one: college degrees do everything, it would seem, but help graduates get jobs. Is college a waste of time? According to the Barna Group, 47 per cent of millennials think so, and they’re adjusting accordingly. The U.S. census reports a drop in college enrolment of nearly half a million students for the second year in a row. The combined loss is greater than any other period before the recent recession. Kio Stark is a Yale graduate-school drop-out who wondered if anyone else was having success pursuing their dreams sans diploma. She launched a Kickstarter campaign and then published Don’t Go Back to School, a book exploring how people learn, as well as alternative ways to shoehorn a career into any industry. “[There’s] a common perception that if you don’t have a degree, your resume won’t make it through the slush pile. The good news is that this is starting to change,” she writes.

In Canada, the growth rate of short-term and contract jobs is twice as fast as permanent jobs.

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Stark says that while degrees are still essential for acquiring credentials in a few key fields — doctors and lawyers will still need them — the job landscape is changing almost everywhere else. But for engineers and scientists and business leaders, the rules for cobbling together a career from scratch are the same for anyone pursuing DWYL in any other profession: deliver insanely good work, germinate your dream job from humble beginnings, and leverage those connections like mad.


PHOTO: TODD QUACKENBUSH The Work God Loves

The Barna Group published a series of books last year called Barna Frames, each one covering a particular challenge facing young adults today. One entitled Multi-Careering is written by Bob Goff, a popular Christian author and conference speaker known for his refreshing approach to life and vocation.

Christian Outreach, a regional college ministry with a presence on more than 115 college and university campuses.

“The idea of doing what you love could be an idol,” says Carson. “You’re constantly chasing, you’re constantly feeling unfulfilled in what you do. It makes me nervous to say God wants us to do what you love, “Everything you love doesn’t need to be a career,” he says. “In fact, but I think that all work that you do is in service to God.” if you make a career out of some of the things you love, you won’t That last part is a refreshing antidote to the scathing criticism of love them anymore. What you can do, though, is have several careers at the same time and do lots of things.” Sage advice coming from a DWYL voiced in the Slate article. If all work is service to God — and man who has been a career lawyer, launched his own airline, and done that’s in the Bible — then it turns the mantra inside out. It becomes “Do what God Loves,” a slogan with the potential to free all of us, including everything in between. the selfie-generation, from the self-centredness that is in the headwaters “A lot of people choose their careers based on what they are able to of so many woes. do,” says Goff. “I think the better question is this: What are you made God loves work. It’s something that’s baked-in to God’s plan for to do?” humankind, and is not part of the curse that followed the disobedience According to the research conducted by the Barna Group, 72 per in the Garden. To be human is not only to be relational and rational, cent of millennials feel their career is essential to their identity. That but industrious. Any effort to flee work is counter to who we are. God’s could be both good and bad. On the one hand, it infuses work with a passion infuses all work with profound dignity and worth, even when we profound sense of drive, passion, and ownership: all qualities that have don’t feel passionate about it. taken a hit in generations past. But on the other hand, it could lead to In the DWYL approach, there is a danger that we lose sight of how a different kind of crisis: a crisis of soul. work shapes us as people. That God might have an agenda for our hearts That may be why Chris Carson can’t bring himself to say, “Do What and lives when we do work we don’t necessarily find stimulating. In the new freelance economy, millennials will have to learn when to You Love.” He’s a millennial who is the director of a conference every year in Pittsburgh that gathers more than 2,000 area college students. stay at a job that might not be fulfilling, or when to strike out across the Called Jubilee, the conference explores what it means to work from a country like Robinson into the great unknown, armed with only a dream distinctly Christian perspective. Jubiliee is hosted by the Coalition for and a blog.

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Features

IT’S TIME TO SHATTER THE STAINED GLASS CEILING

Written By Paula Cornell Illustration By Kriza Borromeo

“As much as I long to never again be asked to speak about being a woman in ministry, and as much as I want the day to come when the gender of clergy is not in any way interesting, we are not there yet.” NADIA BOLZ-WEBER

long for a time when gender inequality is no longer an issue within the Church. When leadership is granted to individuals who possess the ability to guide and mobilize people, rather than to those who possess a particular body part. And maybe we are getting closer to this reality; maybe it’s closer than we think. Shaila Visser, the National Director of Alpha Ministries Canada, is someone who embodies this new era of gender equality. In fact, she says her being a woman has been inconsequential in her vocational ministry. Visser grew up in a small town in Ontario, and attended church faithfully with her family. It wasn’t until she went to university when she found herself letting go of her childhood faith. “University life was all about getting ahead and being successful,” says Visser. “I really thought Jesus was just for older people.” It wasn’t until her last year of university when she re-examined her life and what she really believed. Through this process, Christ transformed her; she decided to follow Him, and has been following Him ever since. It was also during this year when she was elected to organize a weeklong welcome event for over 5,000 students. Visser says after successfully leading a team and co-ordinating the massive, multifaceted event, she thought, “There’s got to be more than this.” After she graduated, Visser moved to Toronto to pursue marketing. It was there she met and worked with a variety of experienced women in leadership. Many of these women were incredibly successful, talented leaders in the business community, she says. Yet, Visser recalls that there seemed to be something missing from their lives. A sense of meaning and purpose in their leadership appeared to be lacking. Over time, Visser says she began to recognize a call on her life to be a leader in ministry, and she came to the realization that the object of ministry work was not just the materially poor. “Maybe I’m called to reach people in the corporate ladder.” Eventually, Visser began using Alpha as a tool for reaching business people in downtown Vancouver. “I believe God has a call on my life to help make Jesus known. My identity in Christ has given me the confidence to step into situations out of my comfort zone,” says Visser.

For ever dollar earned by a man, a woman earns 74 cents.

She has been National Director of Alpha Canada since 2010, a job she notes is much bigger than she is used to. But with a supportive board of directors and a team of people around her, she says she has found her way.

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Features

Visser credits God for her success as a leader, as she knows He has given her the ability to be able to organize and motivate people, and to do it well. She says she was also exposed to some great leaders — both women and men — who recognized her raw talent, and invested in her leadership development from the start. By imitating Christ, these mentors empowered her to become the kind of leader who does the same. Visser’s experience is an example of what God can do when His people are supported and encouraged to live into their gifts. But her story is far from the norm. We might be getting closer to this new reality of gender equality, but the fact remains: we still haven’t arrived. In a recent study conducted by Wheaton College sociologist Amy Reynolds and Gordon College provost Janel Currey (actually, the first of its kind), they found that if you’re in a position of leadership at an American evangelical non-profit, you’re probably a man. Reynolds and Currey examined over 1,400 evangelical organizations in the United States, and discovered that women held 21 per cent of board positions, 19 per cent of top-paid leadership roles, and 16 per cent of CEO posts in 2010. By comparison, 43 per cent of non-profit boards and 40 per cent of CEOs in the general marketplace are women. Bev Carrick, Executive Director of Christian aid organization CAUSE, has been in leadership for over 30 years. She’s lived the Christian propensity for gender inequality — this “stained glass ceiling” — first hand. She describes an experience in which she left her job as a director of a large clinic in Montreal to serve as a leader with her husband in a development organization overseas. Upon her arrival, she was told that she wouldn’t receive a salary unless her husband wanted to split his. If she wanted, the organization said, she could stuff envelopes with the other women, while her husband talked strategy with the senior director. Carrick’s husband championed her value as a leader and as a person, even insisting on stuffing envelopes with her. Carrick says he refused to meet with the senior leader until she was included as an equal. “Women were given leadership in missions for years, but when they came home they could only speak about their projects,” she says. “Whereas overseas they were spearheading everything.” It’s as if women are only good enough to serve in situations when men accompany them, or with people groups men would prefer to leave to someone else, Carrick adds. Pastor Shawn Birss says this bias towards men, in his own experience, has been unintentional: “Women are equally qualified [for leadership positions], but as a male, I knew the men better in my church, so they came to mind first.” Additionally, Birss says there is a culture of “looking appropriate” in many churches and Christian workplaces. It is unacceptable for men and women to have healthy, non-sexual, collegial friendships and work relationships; having women as leaders then becomes a “threat” to the appearance of male integrity. Birss says there is a need for systemic change within the church around a narrow and damaging gender binary. We continue to tell the same limiting stories: men and women have different traits and gifts according to their sex (i.e. men are leaders and women are not).

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“We might be getting closer to THIS new reality of gender equality, but the fact remains: we still haven't arrived.”

But as theologian Jonathan Wilson says, the gifts of the spirit are not defined by sex or gender. “People often assume we have stepped aside from Scripture to allow women into leadership,” says Wilson. “But rather, we have done this on the basis of Scripture.” The Bible doesn’t have too much to say about leadership, he says. It speaks mainly of becoming wise (Proverbs 16:10-20, Deuteronomy 17:14-20). And when we’re talking about equality in Scripture, we must mention Galatians 3:28, which happens to be one of Carrick’s favourite passages: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Not to mention the fact that Jesus often championed the cause of women, the oppressed, the poor, and the weak. But somehow women have been left to champion their own cause. “I’ve so often seen women have to defend themselves,” says Birss. “I want to tell women, ‘You don’t have to defend who you are! Being a women is not something you should need to defend, you were created in the image of God, and that is enough.” Eventually, something’s got to give. At some point, women will be tired of defending themselves and their God-given abilities. “Increasing pressure of women in the second tier [leadership positions] will eventually create the upward pressure needed to crack the ceiling,” says Wilson. “And women will begin to break through.” Indeed, women are already breaking through; and leaders like Carrick and Visser are creating more opportunities for other women to break through too. Maybe the pendulum, which so often swings from one extreme to another, can find some blessed middle ground. Maybe we can come to this new reality, to an era where people, regardless of gender, can find their true identity in Christ, and live into the gifts He has given them. Maybe Visser’s story can replace the current paradigm. “I’ve felt embraced, encouraged, and accepted,” says Visser. “I’m very grateful for the women who have gone before me. And at the end of the day, I’m all about making Jesus known.” Take a good look up. There’s a sliver of a crack in the stained glass.

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Features

Here’s some advice for leaders, regardless of gender. 3 — Have a realistic view of your skills, but don’t limit yourself. You have to step outside your comfort zone to grow.

Christopher Michel

1 — Utilize others. Know who is good at what you want to be better at. Who has experiences you want to learn from?

Tim Dorr

4 — Joel Bedford

2 — Be Self-Motivated. Take responsibility to develop your own leadership.

Develop a personal board of directors. You won’t have all the answers, but do what you can do to find them out. Rally a team of people around you to help you grow. Mentorship is key. Find people who have skills and develop a relationship with them, so you can learn from them.

INVITE A GENERATION TO EXPLORE ALPHA IS FOR EVERYONE 24 million people have done Alpha in 169 countries. ALPHA’S VISION IS FOR THE LOCAL CHURCH We are passionate about resourcing churches from coast to coast, with free, easy-to-use, flexible tools.

ALPHACANADA.ORG

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7 — Women and men alike need to develop spiritual disciplines to sustain them. These can be both interior and exterior, like praying, spiritual direction, running, or art.

Joe St.Pierre

5 — If you feel called to leadership, never give up. There will always be obstacles. Don’t be easily discouraged, and humbly continue following your call.

Le deuil

8 — Nathan Congleton

Take your identity from Christ, not from your leadership position.

6 —

9 —

Be respectful and patient with people regardless of gender, and persevere in changing gender relations through dialogue. The more the better.

Cultivate supportive relationships. Find people who will create energy for you, and listen to them. Don’t listen to those who rob you of your energy.

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CONVERGEMAGAZINE.COM | 47


culture

Music musings Musings

Written By joel bentley

Sylvan Esso

Man on the Page | Good for Grapes

Sometimes the most unlikely combinations are also the most intriguing. Case in

Although Good for Grapes released their debut album Man on the Page over a year

point: Sylvan Esso’s singer Amelia Meath. Best known for her work with folk trio

ago, they’ve come to the forefront recently, thanks to winning the top prize at the

Mountain Man, she has paired with producer Nick Sanborn, known for his work

2014 Peak Performance Project in November. The B.C. battle of the bands has also

with psychedelic rock band Megafaun. The resulting songs these two create could be

given us gems like We Are The City and Dear Rouge. Good for Grapes hail from

called schoolyard electronica: they stir up a delicious concoction of honeyed melodies

Surrey, B.C., and their sound follows in the footsteps of The Head and the Heart,

and metallic pulses.

The Lumineers, and yes, even those foot-stomping English chaps called Mumford & Sons.

“Dress” skitters with hums, truncated voices, and rounded bass notes that sound like cartoon wrecking balls hitting the floor. “H.S.K.T.” has the rhythm and pulse

With intricate guitar riffs, triumphant brass, and honey-dewed harmonies, Man on

of a children’s song befitting its name (Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes) but with

the Page showcases an established sound that is rare among debut albums. They

adult dance party sophistication. There’s an attention to detail on this album that

waste no time cranking up the volume, from the bluesy drive of “London Fog”

brings simple joys: the grain on “Coffee” sounds like your speakers are tiring out;

straight into the epic “Hallelujah Ghost,” and again on the two-part “Among the

the mathematical syncopation on “Uncatena” creates a relentless yearning to Meath’s

Trees” and “A Sequel.” It’s a satisfying album that earns its climaxes.

cries of unfulfilled love. It’s headphone music for the dance floor.

Vanguard students will engage in ministry while learning throughout the year. Our urban setting provides a great variety of practical ministry opportunities to work with each student’s specific program focus. Serving in local and global ministries with guided practicums and ministry trips, our students graduate with experience, equipped to enter church, para-church or marketplace ministry.

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culture

Waiting for a Life Raft A review of Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour

Written By joel bentley

Flight Behaviour Barbara Kingsolver

p in the hills above Feathertown, Tennessee, Dellarobia Turnbow is about to turn her back on her husband and kin. Then, she witnesses an environmental phenomenon: an enormous population of monarch butterflies have settled into the hills above her small town to wait out the winter. No one quite understands why this is happening, but the butterflies act as a crucible for each character’s motives in Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour. For Dellarobia, the butterflies open a door to escape the rhythms of domesticity that have been wearing on her. Forced into a shotgun wedding after getting pregnant by her high-school boyfriend, Dellarobia has been consigned to taking care of her two young children for 10 years. She’s something of a rebel in this small town, but an impotent one; Dellarobia is content to stir the conversational pot, but isn’t doing much to change her own weary situation. So when Dr. Ovid Byron arrives to study the strange arrival of the butterflies, she quickly becomes his assistant. Whether she does this out of a need for intellectual stimuli or whether she’s acting on a budding attraction she feels toward him, she’s not quite sure. One of the great strengths of Flight Behaviour is Kingsolver’s deep compassion toward her characters, many of whom are easy to cast casual judgment upon. There’s a passive husband reluctant to stand up against his parents’ wishes, a cold and strong-willed mother-in-law, and a charismatic pastor. These are characters we’ve all seen before, but rare is the novelist who understands the

motives of each of them: what makes them weak, and why, despite those weaknesses, they’re worth rooting for. In the same vein, Kingsolver takes a hard look at the virtuous among us, casting unflattering light on the self-righteousness of environmental crusaders, while also using the novel as a warning bell about the urgency of climate change. It’s a paradox she pulls off beautifully. No one is spared in her indictments: from the media outlets who are more interested in domestic drama than a seemingly slow-moving global crisis, to the green-conscious urbanites too full of selfrighteousness to see the big picture. Though she convicts, she is able to convict with compassion.

“‘Our trust is in the Lord’ is a noble approach until it becomes an excuse to turn a blind eye to the reality of the consequences our own actions create.”

Peace River Bible Institute Training believers to become disciple-makers who impact their world for Christ. Apply today at www.prbi.edu/apply

In an interview with Stephen L. Fisher published in the Iron Mountain Review, she says, “I’m a hopeful person, although not necessarily optimistic.” If real progress is going to be made in the debate around climate change, we need voices like Kingsolver’s to be honest and convicting. At one point Dellarobia realizes, “There is no life raft; you’re just freaking swimming all the time.” Stark though it may be, this is a warning that every reader must take to heart in regards to global warming: from those of us who are tempted to brush off climate change as liberal propaganda, to those who feel recycling or buying “green” products is enough. “Our trust is in the Lord” is a noble approach until it becomes an excuse to turn a blind eye to the reality of the consequences our own actions create.

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last word

OWNING THE GIFT OF LIFE

Written By michelle sudduth Illustrated By Kriza Borromeo

“LET’S STOP RESIGNING OURSELVES TO LIVING A FAUX EXISTENCE.”

hat is your work? I’m not necessarily talking about your job, though for some I may be. For now, let’s put the question of making money aside in order to grapple with a bigger, more important question: how are you a gift to the world? Your life is, indeed, a gift. The fact that you were born means you’ve been equipped to participate in God’s story. For many of us, the richness of this idea is so overwhelmingly sweet and beyond our current grasp, that it’s difficult to accept, let alone feel. For others, the idea of having a distinct contribution to what God is doing is too intimidating to even think about. Many of us live in our heads so much that we don’t have a lot of feelings about our existence; instead, we just crank through the day detached. We feel the pressure to make life look a certain way, and in so doing, bypass a the richness of a life engaged with God. How many of us, at one time or another, have looked around and asked, “How did I get here?” It’s like we asked Siri to get us from high school to our current situation, and somewhere along the way, stopped paying attention to the road in front of us. But there’s hope. We have been given a lifelong invitation to be part of what God is doing, to join in God’s ongoing event of creation. This creation event began long before we existed, and is happening in us and around us, and will continue for eternity. For those who have felt detached from the “river of life” for years, you haven’t missed it. You’re still invited, today and tomorrow. So how do we, as Mary Oliver writes in her poem, “Wild Geese,” begin to understand our “place in the family of things”? God speaks to

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us individually, and through our ongoing, conversational prayers, we discover where and how to be in the world. We won’t be able to recognize this if we are unwilling to release our own expectations or judgments on what a legitimate life looks like. If you want to know your work in the world, your gift for the world, your purpose, you have to — as Jesus said — lose your life to find it. Losing your life isn’t a one-time deal. Instead, it’s more of a recurring opportunity to value the eternal over the present. This is as simple (and as difficult) as being convinced that your deepest self has been invited to be fully alive. It’s intentionally accepting the invitation to be part of God’s story, when autopilot is an ever-enticing way to go through life. Finding your life is also a recurring experience — one that continues to build trust by continuous revelation of the person of God. Everyone has good and not-so-good reasons for allowing or rejecting inner transformation. But grace abounds for those whose detachment from ideas, events, and patterns have led to a numb existence. Our deep work is the sacred journey towards owning and participating with God’s intent for our purpose in the world. So let’s continuously ask Jesus to save our daily lives, over and over again. Let’s stop resigning ourselves to living a faux existence. Let’s return the deadened parts of our lives back to their lying origins. Instead, may we undergo the process of transformation, and embark on the road to becoming fully alive, to knowing and feeling our purpose in the world. Let’s own the gift of life, for the sake of the world.


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Profile for Converge Media

Converge Magazine // Issue 21  

Converge Magazine // Issue 21  

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