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Jaeson Ma

The Top

talks God + hip-hop

Hipster Faith

Best Christian Mullets

Waging war against old-school evangelicalism

the religion of masculinity

exploring coffee culture

Atangard Community Project: Artists transform abandoned hotel

SPRING 2011 | Issue 1

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01 | Spring 2011 Christian Info Society

[8] editor’s letter

education special


[42] Schools in Words

[10] 14 Unique Ways to

[48] Schools in Photos

Say ‘I Love You’

[18] Age: A Relationship Dealbreaker?

[40] Education News [50] Q&A with James Houston


[11] E-reader review [12] Date bank app culture



[14] Looking at Coffee Culture

[16] The Religion of


[62] Four Energizing Afternoon Stretches

[60] Plan a Meal Plan arts



[52] In Her Closet/ In His Closet


[26] Hipster Faith [22] Atangard Community Project top ten

[54] Have You Seen?

[58] Have You Heard? [64] last word




[30] Jaeson Ma Talks God and Hip-Hop

[36] Calcutta Mercy Ministries

Editor Shara Lee Associate Editor Jim Coggins Production Designer Carmen Bright Associate Production Designer Dean Tjepkema Contributing Writers Rachel Yeo Burtt, Peter T. Chattaway, Matthew Cook, Craig Ketchum, Grace Esther Lin, Brett McCracken, Al Mills, Miriam Miller, Jeremy Postal, Bethany Roy, Robyn Roste, Michelle Sudduth Advertising Sales Jeremy Mills

[56] Have You Read?

[20] Top Ten Christian church

107 E 3rd Ave Vancouver, BC V5T 1C7 t: 1.888.899.3777

Opinions expressed in CONVERGE magazine are not necessarily those of the staff or board of Christian Info Society.


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editor’s letter


ot too long ago, while perusing the magazine section of my local bookstore, I found myself completely mesmerized by the glossy covers, the grabber hooks, and the beautiful people staring back at me. “Ryan Gosling shows you how to dress like a movie star,” read the cover of one magazine. “Natalie Portman: The good girl takes on her most provocative role yet,” read another. The covers may have caught my attention, but as I flipped through these magazines, what struck me was how ‘not for me’ most pages were. The style sections had items completely out of my price range, and the pictures of people living high society lives in New York, London, and Paris were not at all relevant to me. Although the articles were undoubtedly entertaining, and many of them well written, I felt a certain disconnect between my life and the lives of those I was reading about. While Gosling and Portman were beautiful to look at, these people had fame, money, and successes that in no way related to my life, spirituality, or relationships. Standing there in the glossy aisle sifting through pages of content that were void of deeper meaning, I found myself craving more than just celebrity promotion and superficial style advice. This is part of the reason we felt compelled to create Converge, a magazine that unapologetically explores a faith-driven lifestyle. Converge doesn’t claim to be the magazine to trump all other magazines, but




what we do hope is that the articles we choose to fill these pages will be a reflection of our lifestyle as Jesus followers. This issue is all about connecting with God and with others. Jaeson Ma tells about his journey from an empty life of gangs and crime to a life filled with meaning through God. Now his work as a pastor, hip-hop artist and mentor is inspiring young people across the globe to reconnect with their original purpose. In our education section, Jim Houston, the founding principal of Regent College (a graduate school of Christian studies in Vancouver), speaks about ‘the personal’ versus ‘the individualistic’ in this age when technology seems to only promote pseudo relationships. You can’t walk out the door today without spotting someone dressed in hipster garb. In ‘Hipster Faith,’ Brett McCracken describes how Christian hipsters are quick to disdain traditional expressions of faith and instead seem to share more with secular hipster culture than their evangelical predecessors. In our first issue, I hope you’ll find something that resonates with you. Take some time to find a comfy spot, grab a hot drink, and enjoy.


UNIQUE WAYS TO SAY “I LOVE YOU” Mail a hand made Valentine’s Day card Purchase a key chain picture frame and place a photo of the two of you inside

Start an herb garden for him.

Engrave a metal shoehorn for a Spend the day Shower with daily reminder of together without lots of hugs and Make a special your love cell phones or kisses! YouTube video computers montage for him/her Load personalPot a personHave his/her ized playlist alized bonsai car washed loaded onto his/ plant for her and detailed her ipod

Personalize his/her ring tone with your singing

Create a hand drawn Marvel style comic of how you met

Make a calendar or organizer with hand picked quotes, pictures and special days recognized. Fill a new wallet with an assortment of gift cards to his favourite coffee shop, book store and clothing outlet

1. Pack a picnic and take a hike together 2. Create a full day’s activities without the use of a car

5 romantic date ideas

3. Take a trip to the spa for a couple’s pedicure 4. With a group of friends, hold a competition to make the tackiest couple’s team shirts — then spend the night wearing those shirts at the bowling alley 5. Drop in for a public skate


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E-reader Review Book snobs have been both intrigued and disgusted by the introduction of the e-reader. While some lit lovers argue there is nothing more appealing than cracking open a fresh paperback spine or leafing through underlined dog eared pages of a well worn second hand text, nothing really compares to having a thousand book library neatly tucked away in your rucksack.

Kobo $149 The Chapters/Indigo reader has a sleek minimalist design and at 221 grams it is a very light device. I liked the grippy back casing of the Kobo which made holding the device a little more enjoyable. However, I found the e-ink to be more gray than black. The images and text appeared fuzzy compared to other e-readers I’ve tried. Another gripe about this device is that the big button at the bottom was a little difficult to navigate with and the lack of a keyboard made it hard to search for books. If you don’t compare it to some of the fancier readers, its price does it justice. Plus it comes loaded with 100 free classics.

iPad $549 and up While the iPad has an ibooks app, reading books is the last thing owners of the device may want to do. The iPad is, simply put, a large gaming device. Reading on the iPad brings about the all too familiar eye-strain of staring at a strongly backlit computer monitor for long hours. The device also weighs a staggering 1.6 pounds. Not quite enough for an effective bicep curl but definitely enough to feel the burn after a dozen chapters of Middlemarch. Kindle $139 USD + shipping fees Weighing 241 grams and equipped with e-ink that truly appears like text on paper, the Kindle is ideal for long periods of reading. Many of the classics are offered free and there is also a neat text to speech function which reads to you. Before purchasing any book, you can read reviews and summaries by other readers. The Kindle also has a browser, albeit a very slow one. While this device may have many pluses, a downside is definitely the fragile screen. I broke mine after only a week. Fortunately, Amazon replaced it for a nominal fee. — Shara Lee


reasons to consider the purchase of an E-reader:

1. Storage of thousands of books in a slim light-weight device 2. No wait for new releases to be available in store or library 3. Shop for books in bed or on the couch 4. Built in dictionary for easy cross referencing 5. No paper cuts

| 11

DATEBANK APP by Robyn Roste

If your dating creativity is drained and your budget is all dried up, there’s a G-rated app for that: DateBank. “Don’t let the question of what you are going to do with your date tonight ever stump you again,” said 23 year old co-creator Jason Ballard. “Call it all semantics – courtship, dating, whatever,” said Ballard. “DateBank takes the pressure off dating in favour of healthy, growing relationships through doing fun and creative activities.” The DateBank database provides more than 150 date ideas for the most random mood or resources. Simply choose your style, budget and timeline and receive 10 date suggestions. Many of the date ideas sprouted from a time when Ballard lived with “eight other dudes” who were searching for serious relationships. “I think I have the most creative friends in the world.” He said being able to “wow” the girls they took on dates became a bit of a competition for the household. When a date catches your eye, you’ll

notice a description, the tools required, and tips for how to really show off for your date. You’ll also notice the dates are written with the guy in mind. This was intentional. “We write to the guy because we assume every guy is a little bit hopeless,” said Ballard. “We want to see girls get treated really well.” “We want to see guys start wowing girls again,” said the other DateBank creator, Josiah Peters, 25. “I’m kind of traditional in that sense.” However, he was quick to add that the date concepts can be used as easily by girls or friends, or even groups, as they can by guys. Launched in October 2010, DateBank is a weekend job for both Ballard and Peters. During the week Ballard is the director for Campusfire, an organization, which trains, equips and supports student evangelists. Peters spends his weekdays as a designer and is building a house. Both committed Christians, Ballard said they agreed up front that their com-

pany, Bluedoor Apps, would tithe the first 10 per cent of everything it made. “Christians should take the gifts God gave us and be creative. If God gives you an idea for an app — why not do it?” Their long-term goal for the DateBank app is evidence of their faith: to engage our culture in a meaningful way. “My friends say, ‘This is actually improving our marriage,’” said Peters. Fitting in weekly dates with busy schedules can be a tiresome thing, and this is where DateBank comes in. Although both co-creators are from the Metro Vancouver area, Peters said the dates in DateBank are great in any location. “It was interesting trying to find dates that will work anywhere,” he said. “We have no shortage of ideas.” But just like any idea, the real trick to DateBank is making it your own. This free app is currently only available in the Apple App Store, but Ballard and Peters hope to release Android and Blackberry apps around Valentine’s Day.

Dating tips from DateBank Know Your Date What kind of person is she? Does she mind getting dirty, or is she a diva? These are all important factors to weigh before selecting a date.

Shut Up and Listen

Put The Phone Away

Wardrobe Info

Supersize It!

Step back and really listen to what your girl is saying. We guarantee she loves to be heard.

Turn it to silent and give her your full attention. Nothing says “schmuck” like a guy who can’t put his phone down.

Be sure to let your girl know what kind of clothing would be appropriate for your date.

Each date has an option to “really show off.” These take the original date to a whole other level.



By Rachel Yeo Burtt

Every college student has worked tres where people came together to talk, presence of others, without feeling comas a barista. At least, it seems that way. write, read, relax and be entertained. A pletely isolated or alone. What better place to work if you need caffeine and a place to study? It’s all right there. I was newly married with one more semester of grad school when I found myself joining ranks with all those caffeine-addicted students as I too applied to be a barista at a coffee shop on campus. I hoped this part-time job would help me pay for school, as well as provide some insight into my husband’s penchant for a daily cappuccino! Up to that point, I could only distinguish two types of coffee — the ones I liked (typically disguised with sugar, milk and whipped cream), and the ones that I didn’t like. This coffee shop stint was my passport to coffee education and appreciation, and where better to experience this than in the coffee capital of Canada — Vancouver — which boasts one of the highest concentrations of coffee shops of any city in the country. The demand for coffee is clearly reflected in the ubiquity of coffee bars, cafés and java shops; it seems you cannot walk more than a block along a main street without encountering a spot retailing coffee. In Canada alone, an estimated 100 million cups of coffee are consumed each day. Coffee is the second-mosttraded physical commodity after oil. The world’s thirst for coffee appears to be unquenchable. Where did we go to hang out with friends, study for finals or relax with a book before the advent of coffee shops? Throughout history, societies had public gathering places as their social hubs, from the boisterous pubs in London and the old-fashioned soda shops in America to the refined teahouses of China. Coffee house culture dates back to 16th century Turkey, and spread to Western Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. Coffee houses became artistic, intellectual and even political cen14 | CONVERGE. spring 2011

major addition to the drinking culture occurred as many turned away from alcoholic beverages in pubs and taverns, to caffeinated drinks in cafés and coffee shops. While alcohol dulls the senses, caffeinated drinks stimulate the mind. Taking it one step further, the coffee shop culture now so widely embraced has been labelled ‘the third place’ — separate from the primary spaces of home and work.

“For some, the draw of this global living room is the meaningfulness of having one’s decaf, double tall, extra hot, no foam, vanilla soy latte remembered — the feeling of being significantly known in some way.”

At the heart of coffee shop culture lies the basic need for human relationships — to be heard, to be known. If you have ever worked in a café or coffee shop, you know that if you are willing to listen, you soon become privy to people’s stories, secrets, confessions, fears and dreams. One day, a Bible story out of the Book of John, chapter 4, resonated with my own local coffee shop experience. Jesus struck up a conversation with a stranger by a water source, asking for a drink. Even though he was on a journey — en route from Judea to Samaria he made himself available to chance encounters that could be life-changing for those he met. He walked right through a habitually avoided foreign land. Ethnicity, gender or social status were not obstacles to conversation for him. There are many dynamics at play in this story, but Jesus proved himself respectful even as he pushed the envelope by exchanging words with a Samaritan lady. Soon a request for a drink developed into a serious conversation about faith and religious practices, eventually became personal as he probed about her relationships. Our coffee shop culture can be a gateway to encountering an eclectic assortment of previously unfamiliar people, and practically provides that license to explore the possibilities for meaningful conversation. Intrinsic to our human nature is the thirst for drink, but also for personal relationships. Many, if not all, desire to be connected to others and to community, waiting, perhaps, for someone to share the Living Water with whom we need not thirst again.

This intermediate place is welcoming and comforting in that it provides an escape from the pressures associated with these primary spaces, and is an impetus for feelings of social connection and safe refuge. For some, the draw of this global living room is the meaningfulness of having one’s decaf, double tall, extra hot, no foam, vanilla soy latte remembered — the feeling of being significantly known in some way. For others, it is the ability to withdraw Rachel and her husband Jason serve into the individual activity of studying, as youth and young adult pastors reading or simply daydreaming in the at West Vancouver Baptist Church.

COFFEE TRIVIA The world’s most expensive coffee is kopi luwak, $425 CDN a pound. The luwak, or palm civet, digests the coffee berry fruit but passes the beans through its digestive system, which are then harvested and processed. It is described as “chocolaty and fullbodied with a touch of gaminess.” Bach wrote a coffee cantata in 1732. Coffee is the most popular drink in the world, as more than 400 billion cups are consumed each year. Flavoured coffee beans are roasted, then partially cooled, at which point the flavour is applied, when the beans’ pores are open and therefore more receptive to flavour absorption.

TYPES OF BREWING Filter Drip: A machine heats then delivers measured water into a filter containing ground coffee. The resulting liquid drips into the carafe. Percolation: A pumping percolator uses the power of boiling water to force water up a tube then filters it down over a bed of ground coffee. Purists claim percolation takes away from the flavour. French press or plunger pot: The coffee grounds are “steeped” in hot water, like tea, then separated from the liquid by pressing them to the bottom of the brewing receptacle with a mesh plunger. Cowboy or Campfire Coffee (a.k.a. open pot brewing): Boil a pot of water, throw the grounds in then after a period of time, the grounds will sink to the bottom, and the coffee is done. Espresso: A brewing method as well as type of coffee, it forces hot water under pressure through tightly packed coffee, one or two servings at a time. The coffee itself is a darker roast and a finer grind than standard North American coffee.



braveheart. 300. gladiator. blood, guts, risk, and women — the almost perfect combination!


he only thing really missing is a good stiff drink — a shot of whiskey that tastes like you’ve just put your head in a barrel of smoke, or been in a gunfight that leaves you and everyone else bleeding-out on the sidewalk. Nothing really captures the male spirit like dying for a cause. Right? A rough, tough, kill-’em-all religion is sweeping across our nation with a vengeance, shaping the generation of young men fleeing our nice, tidy churches. The religion of masculinity is a holistic religion that requires our young men to drink copious amounts of beer, revere UFC president Dana White, conduct business at the strip-club and never stop to ask for directions. The religion of masculinity holds the month of November as sacred, making it socially acceptable to grow a repulsive moustache. While men everywhere admire the nasty-stache, it scares children and drives women away faster than your car goes from zero to 60. Men interpret this as a badge of honour as they willingly sacrifice for their religion of masculinity. Of course, not all men subscribe to this religion and others do so only because they would otherwise feel less than manly. One study done at Cornell University found that men who were insecure about their masculinity would very often respond by over-compensating in stereotypical ‘manly’ behaviour. They’d buy big trucks, start fights and were characteristically more homophobic. Aggressive, risk-taking and adventurous behaviour is actually part of a man’s make-up and wiring. Testosterone, a hormone found roughly 15 times more in men than in women, drives men to compete,

16 | CONVERGE. spring 2011

act impulsively and dominate, to boast and tell stories, and to take risks that could really, really hurt. Serotonin, on the other hand, (a hormonal equivalent to the voice of reason) is found in lower levels in men than in women. Unfortunately, in their hot pursuit of the religion of masculinity, many men have used their aggressive and forceful behaviour to abuse the people around them, be absent from their children or justify their addictions to porn, violent video games and just about anything else. These unmanly men are controlling, often destructive and incredibly selfish. For these men, masculinity is a trap, an illusion. It is no mistake, however, that God has created men the way he has. Yes, we’re often in need of some Old Spice to spruce up both our man smell and our manittude, but God must have had some good in mind when he created us with the innate desire to win, achieve, innovate, battle and conquer. Whether a man drives a big truck and can snake his own toilet or spends his days as a desk jockey and commutes listening to soft rock, God has instilled in him manliness to be used for good. Dr. Larry Crabb, in his book titled The Silence of Adam, states, “The only way to be manly is first to be godly.” It is amazing what happens when inspired and motivated men direct their manliness towards following the God-man, Jesus Christ. And though men may not be all that inspired to think of Jesus as their lover, groom or the one they’d like passionate intimacy with, they can get inspired by giving their lives to a deep and abounding cause.

If the cause is right, we’ll bleed-out on the pavement for it. Right? There are men who take their cues from Christ, who gave everything to see his purposes fulfilled. These men, instead of selfishly destroying the world around them, are compelled with the responsibility of building, cultivating, creating and fighting for something worthwhile. These men are the backbone of their families. They know how to throw a punch and what to fight for. They understand legacy and honour and risk. These men routinely lay themselves on the line for the good of their wife and family, and they are loyal brothers to the men around them. Does this mean they’re nice, huggy and polite guys? Not necessarily. But they are good guys; guys you can trust when you’re backed into a corner and need a way out. These men don’t find their manliness in the stereotypes that describe a streetbrawling, womanizing, keg-drinking, hulk of a man. No, these men find their manliness in the courage to stand up for justice, to fight for the cause of the oppressed and to create a world that offers a better way. Ultimately, these men know that to be strong and courageous they must do what a lesser man wouldn’t; trust their lives to another. And this might be the crux of it all. Trust. In order for a man, or anyone, to be able open his life, expose his fear, curse in frustration or cry in grief and heartache, an element of trust must be present. Of course, some people just curse or cry with no regard or reservation. However, for real and meaningful connections with others — connections where men are free to authentically engage — trust must be present. Given the hardened exterior many men portray, this isn’t a simple or easy process. The rugged complexity of many men often overshadows the very real soft spots, insecurities and inadequacies that plague even the best among us. Many men’s response to hurt and hope and love and every other emotion is directly related to how much they trust. To be a manly man, as Crabb stresses, a man must first be godly. This is maybe the largest issue of trust a man will ever wrestle with; being put in the place of trusting his life to another, to Jesus Christ. Here, soft spots will be prodded, insecurities challenged and inadequacies confronted in ways that will require all the manliness within, just to come out alive.

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f she’s old enough to be his mother, then the relationship is seen as distasteful. But wines get better with age; surely the same can be said of partners. While relationships involving older men and much younger women are still viewed as a little suspect, there is often a very clear bias against relationships involving older women and much younger men. In recent years, however, shows like Sex in the City, Desperate Housewives and Cougar Town have helped to advance the cause of cougars. For Hollywood actresses, dating much younger men has become a way of subtly declaring their success — no longer does a woman need to depend on a man for financial security. Dr. Robynne Healey, gender specialist and history professor at Trinity Western University, thinks cougars have chosen to resist some pretty deep-set traditions. She suggests that relationships between older women and younger men have been less socially acceptable than the opposite because of the original purpose of the family: to create and support children. A relationship with a woman who is past her reproductive age is perceived as being not for the creation of children, but for sex. Despite the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s, society still finds this kind of relationship unacceptable. But what was God’s original purpose for marriage? In Genesis 2:18 the Lord says, “It isn’t good for man to be alone,” acknowledging Adam’s emotional vulnerability if left by himself. “I will make a companion for him, a helper suited to his needs.” God then caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep, took a rib from the resting man’s body and fashioned it into a woman. Eve was created to help Adam, but more than that she was created to enter into an intimate partnership with Adam and to provide companionship. Upon awaking from his sleep Adam exclaimed, “This is it!” Perhaps it was the benchmark God set by allowing Adam to appear on this earth before Eve that has led many to believe that a man in a relationship should be older and superior.

18 | CONVERGE. spring 2011

Too large an age gap can present problems in relationships regardless of whether it is the man or the woman who is older. In ancient Athens, where it was common for 15-year-old women to marry men twice their age, wives often had 30 years to live after their husbands died. In ancient Rome, too, women married men 10 years older than themselves, often outliving them. General health is affected by age, which can alter the roles and responsibilities of spouses who are forced to find or administer special care. Another problem to consider is the fast pace of cultural change. The recent explosion of social media through Facebook and Twitter have radically changed the way some communicate. Not having shared experiences of a certain era might make it more difficult to relate to one another. Definitions of the role of a spouse also morph over time. A baby boomer may favour more of a male-dominated relationship, while someone from Generation Y may be more comfortable with an egalitarian partnership. Even with all these potential issues, Trinity Western University relational life coach and mentor Sue Rhea doesn’t condemn intergenerational couples. The problems mentioned here can also occur with more closely aged couples. In Rhea’s experience, most marriage issues are not age-related at all, but have to do rather with personality, communication or expectations. “I don’t believe that a large age gap should be a deal breaker. One should be looking at character, spiritual compatibility and intellectual compatibility. A large age gap can bring wisdom, financial security, and emotional maturity that would not otherwise be there.” Perhaps Rhea is right. After all, Adam was not aware of Eve’s age when he first laid eyes on her. He only knew that she was his perfect match. She was “it.”



Chuck Norris

INVINCIBLE MULLET Chuck Norris is one of the only guys in the world who could preach the gospel to you and then make it very applicable by Kung Fu’ing you to death. Of course, he would never do that, because he is a gentle warrior and his moves are used only for self defence — or if someone disses his mullet. Oh, and by the way, Chuck Norris kicked the world once — and it hasn’t stopped spinning.

Billy Ray Cyrus

HONKEY TONK MULLET How can you deny that this man brought the mullet to a whole new level? What looks like a seemingly normal buzz cut from the front changes with a swag of the head to the left or right. A beautiful manly mane is revealed. It all works together to form a perfect mullet melody. If you want to hear and see that melody, just YouTube Achy Breaky Heart.

Drew Shirley

STILL ROCKIN’ IT MULLET This California bad boy has been rockin’ it with Switchfoot for some time now. Okay, wait, so he’s not really a bad boy, he just sports a mean modern day mullet and handle bar chops on occasion. You’ve got to give him credit for bringing mullet-ness back to this day and age. He actually looks good, come on, you know it. We also like him cause he’s half Canadian too (he married a B.C. girl).


ONE LOVE MULLET Most probably don’t realize Bono at one time had such an outstanding mullet. It really is impressive how big his helmet was. Maybe it was for sheer protection from the Catholic vs. Protestant fighting over in Ireland — back when he and the boys were having Bible studies in between jam sessions. But seriously, respect to Bono for bringing everyone together — from Ireland to America to Africa.

20 | CONVERGE. spring 2011

Randy Johnson

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD MULLET The mangiest mullet of this informal mullet membership list, Johnson’s feathering is reminiscent of road kill, especially when it is moist with sweat. Ironically, he’s responsible for creating road kill on the baseball diamond — when he nailed a bird with a 95 MPH fastball! Just do us a favour and don’t lay your mullet to rest. Mock — yeah! Ing — yeah! Bird — yeah!

Mel Gibson

ANGER MANAGEMENT MULLET Mel, Mel, Mel, you did well with bringing the world The Passion, but somewhere along the line your own passions have gotten the better of you. If you could just go back 20 years when you had a mild-mannered-mullet (without the gun) and a happy go lucky attitude, the world would be a safer place. We still love you Mel.

Kirk Cameron

FIREPROOF MULLET This dreamy eyed ex-celeb is best known for starring in Growing Pains — that cheesy 80s/90s family program full of oohs and ahhs. His mullet was as tame as the show. Kirk recently ignited some attention with Fireproof — the highly publicized and considerably successful Christian movie about saving a marriage. Kirk, we just wished you had saved your mullet too.

Joel Osteen


Joel, do you mind if we hold the Superbowl at your church auditorium this Sunday? Wait, I guess that would conflict with morning service! Yikes, this guy has taken prosperity to a whole new level. Some hate him, many love him (they go to his church). We take a neutral stance and respect him for the fact that he has a cute mullet. Can I get a witness?

Bernard Langer

THE GENTLEMAN’S MULLET Are mullets even allowed on the golf course? Yes! This gent has been mixing it up on the greens for a long time and has earned quite a reputation as an all around good guy. He’s brought his manageable mullet to the senior tour these last few years and is doing quite well thank you very much — especially in Head-to-Head Mull-atch Play.

Sylvester Stallone

ITALIANO MULLET Sly – you inspired us with Rocky, you terrified us with Rambo, and with your crooked smile, you made us smile. Your mullet makes us happy as well. Keep it real, and please don’t make another Rocky film. If you do, we’ll have to send in Chuck Norris — a man obviously stronger than you. When Chuck does push-ups he isn’t lifting himself uwp, he’s pushing the earth down.


ATANGARD COMMUNITY PROJECT By Jeremy Postal Photos by Beth Ashton & Tessa Suderman

Since September 2009, residents have been filling the rooms and halls of the Atangard Community Project, located on the renovated top floor of Abbotsford, BC’s Fraser Valley Inn (also known as the Hotel Atangard).

I remember the first time I set foot inside the Atangard. The musty smell of old building confronted my senses as the doors swung open. Like a well-worn book, it had a strangely welcoming odour. Cluttered to the right were a handful of old bicycles, the kind I’d seen hipsters in California riding to the beach. To the left, a winding staircase circling a Bourbon-inspired street light climbed to the second level; the home of the Atangard Community Project. At the top of the stairs, an artsy looking girl, with black plastic-rimmed glasses, flashed a smile in my direction before turning back to her book. The old brick hotel has a long history at its busy downtown Abbotsford street corner, a history that dates to a time when staple accessories included fur coats, fancy hats, and cigarettes. It once included a bank and even a pharmacy. As time marched along, however, the building became a decrepit hub of social problems and the pharmaceuticals found there were no longer those of the doctor prescribed variety. Eventually the city closed its doors and the building became a haunt for the local spider and rodent population. Today the Atangard Hotel, with its 18 single and double occupancy rooms, houses nearly 30 students and young professionals, who have come together to experiment in life as an intentional and shared community. This dream, better described as a longing, was nurtured and brought to life by a small group of dedicated 20-somethings who wanted real, natural, and frequent relationships with one another.

today the atangard hotel, with its 18 single and double occupancy rooms, houses nearly 30 students and young professionals, who have come together to experiment in life as an intentional and shared community. From the first stages of dreaming and planning, right through to rezoning proposals, renovations and finishing touches, this has been a community shaped by a hunger for genuine involvement in each other’s lives. The Atangard Community Project co-founder and director, Sophia Suderman, describes the community living on the second floor of the Atangard as “a collection of individuals learning what it means to invite others into their lives.” There is something genuine and real about the lives and relationships I observed there. An open-hearted generosity extends to Atangard guests and strangers alike. While this community is not officially tied to any belief or religious system, many who live there point to Jesus and their Christian faith as a key motivator in trying to live a simpler and more relational lifestyle. Within the narrow brick hallways lined with artists’ work, the faith of these residents is being developed and challenged to grow. In many ways, the values this community is living out look very similar to those of the early church in the book of Acts. For the denizens of Atangard, community is not just a nice concept that gets talked about; it is a very normal and practical life, rightly lived. Suderman put it this way: “The Atangard Community Project is an experiment that explores living together as a means of integrating our priorities and beliefs into a way of life that works within this society. We aim to create an opportunity which facilitates our ability to love God and love our neighbours in an honest and practical manner. We have no intention or interest in an exclusive Christian living

we aim to create an opportunity which facilitates our ability to love god and love our neighbours in an honest and practical manner.

arrangement. We are building a foundation which bases our love for one another on the example of Christ, and offers acceptance to all who reside among us. People will be treated with respect and compassion, without partiality.” For the Atangard this looks like showing real care and concern for the people around them, as well as promoting eco-friendly choices like van sharing, bicycle riding, buying local produce, sharing huge house meals a few days a week, using city transit and planting a community garden. They intentionally live on fewer resources and without some modern luxuries, freeing up more time and money to spend on relationships. Of course, any time you throw a bunch of people into a shared space, conflict, tension and drama are bound to arise. While tension can divide a community, it can also allow its members to learn to love each other in a deeper, wider and more authentic way. It is a time of soul shaping, not just for the individual, but for the entire community as they learn who they are becoming and where they are going. Lisa Ottevangers, a student at the local university who also doubles as a pancake chef, rooms over the building’s downstairs bar with its bad karaoke, amateur scratch DJs and cheap watery pints. For Lisa, the nightly routine of bass lines, bad singing, and ear plugs is a reminder of the other sacrifices and struggles required to live within this kind of community. “Community is built by being vulnerable with each other. To be broken and humble before others, it reveals that we are all humans with similar struggles; able to support each other despite our differences,” she said. “Community living entails energy and time spent on others, confrontation, tears, laughter and growth.” Oddities can occur while living in a community like this. For example, last summer a hula hooping craze swept through the community like a tornado in a trailer park; the hula hoopers even have a dedicated hula-hoop storage space. Odds are the Atangard community will get weirder still. However, with this sense of fun comes a creative edge that inspires the artists of Atangard. The Atangard Community is like a bohemian sideshow of artists and musicians who’ve gathered into one place to provoke creativity in one another. Josh Hyslop, songwriter and recording artist with Claymore Records, has found that even just the space — writing alone in one of the lounges — inspires his work. Songwriters, musicians, print

24 | CONVERGE. spring 2011

and mixed media artists, winemakers, writers, photographers, producers and graphic artists have come together under one roof, each sharing their art. Their work lines the halls, they fill the lounges with interesting discussions — and an album was recorded in one of their guest rooms. In his book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggested that those

Its residents have consciously chosen the way of community which may be, subconsciously, the way of love. The community that resides inside the old brick Atangard Hotel is intentional about opening up and allowing others to inhabit their lives. “I do understand that this will be a fight. It will require a conscious effort and willingness to sacrifice

and as the foundation to many other endeavours.” Community, whether living together in an old downtown building or opening our lives to a neighbour or co-worker, is intentional, messy, and usually comes on the heels of a lot of time spent together. But despite the hard work and sacrifice it can entail, the struggle for a shared life is worth it.

we have no intention or interest in an exclusive christian living arrangement. we are building a foundation which bases our love for one another on the example of christ, and offers acceptance to all who reside among us. who love the dream of community more than community itself actually destroy what community there might be. On the f lip side, those who love people without exception unknowingly create community. The Atangard is a colourful expression of the latter.

our personal rights,” said Suderman. “Some aspects of this life may appear substandard from the outside, but I truly believe it will be worth it,” she said. “It may be that in later years we will look at this portion of our lives as a process of learning and growth,

Jeremy Postal lives a five minute bicycle ride away from the Atangard Community Project in Abbotsford, BC. Follow the Atangard story at


By Brett McCracken

Welcome to the world of hipster Christianity. It’s a world where things like the Left Behind book and film series, Jesus fish bumper stickers and door-to-door evangelism are relevant only as a source of irony or nostalgia. It’s a world where Braveheart youth pastor analogies are anathema, where everyone agrees they wish Pat Robertson “weren’t one of us” and shares a collective distaste for the art of Thomas Kinkade. The latest incarnation of a decadeslong collision of ‘cool’ and ‘Christianity,’ hipster Christianity is in large part a rebellion against the very subculture that birthed it. It’s a rebellion against old-school evangelicalism and its fuddy-duddy legalism, apathy about the arts and pitiful lack of concern for social justice. It’s also a rebellion against George W. Bush-style Christianity: American flags in churches, the Ten Commandments in courtrooms and evangelical leaders who get too involved in conservative politics, such as James Dobson and Jerry Falwell. 26 | CONVERGE. spring 2011

The new subculture of young evangelicals — I call them ‘Christian hipsters’ — grew up on Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey, f lannel graphs, vacation Bible school and hysteria about the end times. Now all of that is laughable to them, as they attempt to burn away the kitschy dross of the megachurch Christianity of their youth — with its emphasis on ‘soul-winning’ at the expense of everything else — and trade it for something with real-world gravitas. This is what hipster Christianity looks like; this is what it requires. But what does it all mean? As the latest zeitgeisty Christian subculture in a long string of zeitgeisty Christian subcultures, what does hipster Christianity offer the church? And what does it take away? Today’s Christian hipsters seek to break out of the Christian subculture. The clothes and customs they shed are nothing less than the evangelical es-

tablishment itself, formed through decades of attempts at cool Christianity. Today’s Christian hipsters retain their faith, but they want it to be compatible with, not contrary to, secular hipster counterculture. Their mission is to rebrand Christianity to be, if not completely void of its own brand altogether, at least cobranded and allied with the things that it had previously set itself in opposition to: art, academics, liberal politics, fashion and so on. As a result of its intentional melding of Christian and secular, hipster Christianity often feels a bit like a stealth operation. One cannot easily decipher the Christian elements of a Christian hipster, not because they aren’t there, but because they aren’t in the foreground as much as, say, the ‘can’t miss it’ sartorial expressions (lumberjack beards, vintage dresses, f lask as accessory) that traditionally signify hip. You’re telling me that indie folk singer is a Calvinist? Blue Like Jazz is

a book about Christianity? That guy with the Poseidon tattoo I saw at the hookah bar last night is a Presbyterian pastor? Who knew? In this confounding world of intentionally blurred distinctions and redefined categories, can we make out any clear marks of a Christian hipster? What makes a church a ‘hipster church?’ Does it have a one-word name that is either a Greek word or something evocative of creation? Does the pastor frequently use words like kingdom, authenticity and justice, and drop names like N. T. Wright in sermons? Does the church advertise a gluten-free option for communion? If the answer is yes to all of those questions, chances are that it’s a hipster church. Of course that’s simplistic. The hipster Christianity that I discovered during the research for my book — which entailed visits to hipster churches and interviews all over the country — is actually complex and diverse in its incarnations, even if it isn’t very diverse in ethnicity and socioeconomics. Hipster Christianity isn’t a monolithic subculture that can be easily categorized, but it definitely has some recognizable characteristics. One thing we can fairly say of hipster Christianity is that it frequently strives for shock value.

Hardy-esque tight T-shirt, cross necklace and faux-hawk — talked about how wives should be “visually generous” with their husbands (e.g., they should keep the lights on when undressing and during sex). I never thought I’d hear a preacher talk about these things from the pulpit. And that’s exactly the point. Hipster Christianity’s attention to shock value manifests itself in other ways. Some churches hold their services in bars and nightclubs — Mosaic in L.A. meets in the Mayan nightclub, and North Brooklyn Vineyard in New York meets at a place called the Trash Bar. Some churches, like Grace Chicago, host wine tastings or schedule outings to microbreweries. I even attended an Anglican church a few years ago that sponsored a cookout with fine wines, beer and a selection of cigars from the priest’s own humidor. Other churches focus more on the shock value of sermons, delving into touchy subjects such as homosexuality, child abuse, sex trafficking, HIV/AIDS and so on, sometimes with an f-bomb or two thrown in for good measure. Another distinguishing mark of hipster Christianity is the music in its worship services. In keeping with the overarching “avoid doing what everyone else is doing” mo-

All the worship songs were old hymns, including ‘Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise’ and ‘Fairest Lord Jesus.’ Almost everyone in the audience was under 35. Hipster Christianity also expresses itself theologically, through preaching that often emphasizes covenantal and ‘new creation’ ideas and attempts to construct a more ecclesiological or community-centric view of salvation. Things like soul-winning and going to heaven are downplayed in favour of the notion that heaven will come down to earth and renew the broken creation. Thus, the world matters. It’s not a piece of rotting kindling that we will abandon for heaven one day. It’s the site of a renewed kingdom. All of this informs hipster Christianity’s attention to things like social justice, environmentalism and the arts, because if God is building his kingdom on earth, then it all matters. Lest we overemphasize its importance in worldwide Christianity, we should remember that hipster Christianity is a rather narrow subset of the faith: mostly white evangelical, mostly economically well-off. It has little pertinence to, say, a rural Appalachian church or a monastic community in Ohio, let alone most of Christendom in the non-Western world. It also has little impact on non-white

Hipster Christianity is . . . a rebellion against old-school evangelicalism and its fuddyduddy legalism, apathy about the arts and pitiful lack of concern for social justice. Take, for example, Seattle’s Mars Hill Church — a Christian hipster Mecca pastored by Mark Driscoll, the polarizing Howard Stern of neo-Calvinist Christianity. On the Sunday I visited, Driscoll’s message was on the Dance of Mahanaim in the Song of Solomon (an “ancient striptease,” as he referred to it, and “one of the steamiest passages in the Bible”). During his sermon, Driscoll — looking like a metrosexual jock in an Ed

tif of hipsterdom at large, most of the hipster churches I visited seemed done with the U2- starry-rock style that now dominates megachurch evangelicalism. Rather than contemporary praise choruses, many of them favoured centuries-old hymns. On the Sunday I visited Resurrection Presbyterian in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (the heart of worldwide hipster culture), the music was pared down (one singer and one instrumentalist), acoustic, vintage and reverent.

communities in the U.S., a point made by Anthony Bradley — professor of theology at New York’s King’s College — in a recent blog post titled “Can hipster Christians reach non-hipster blacks and Latinos in urban areas?” Soong-Chan Rah asked a similar question in a recent Sojourners article, “Is the Emerging Church for Whites Only?” Hipster Christianity is undoubtedly a specific enterprise, which means its overall impact on global Christianity might be negligible. But it’s clearly

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ing some aspects of evangelical culture. One of hipsterdom’s positive values is its concern for justice — whether it be sweatshops or sex trafficking, water wells or finance reform. Hipsters almost always champion the cause of the underdog (immigrants, the poor, minorities) over those with power and privilege. Christians would be hard-pressed to find any Scripture passages that suggest Jesus didn’t do the same. Many Christians, sadly, have moved away from social justice and fighting for the well-being of the downtrodden, but Christian hipsters are leading the way back. Hipster Christians also have a healthy appreciation for the finer things in God’s creation. With childlike awe and wonder that betrays their otherwise cynical demeanor, hipsters glory in the little pleasures of life: riding bikes along rivers, eating homemade macaroons on a blanket in a friend’s front yard or playing Frisbee in the park. Hipsters appreciate the detail and artistry of creative, well-crafted films, music, books and woodwork. They take the arts seriously and recognize their crucial part in human flourishing. Mainstream evangelical Christianity — too long in the ghetto of subpar subculture — should take note. On the other hand, some wonder if hipster Christianity goes too far in embracing worldly things — especially when those things arguably become stumbling blocks or idols in the Christian life.

Some suspect that its rebellious embrace of formerly taboo behaviours actually might do more long-term harm than good. Hipsters reject the purpose-driven megachurch and McMansion evangelicalism, and long for a simpler, back-tobasics faith that is more about serving the poor than serving Starbucks in the church vestibule. In order to be a hipster, one must be a rebel. Despite the fact that (ironically) hipster culture usually operates within and is sustained by the very structures it opposes, hipsterdom’s raison d’être is countercultural, boundary-pushing rebellion. As such, hipster existence is frequently rife with vices. If hipsters cannot completely overthrow the structures that bind them, they can at least destabilize them by engaging in hedonistic behavior: smoking, drinking, cursing, sexual experimentation, and so on. It’s about freedom, partying, and transgression — not in the Jersey Shore, frat-party sense (unless ironically), but in the “bourbon cask ales taste good and I don’t care if I get drunk” sense. Hipsters ridicule bourgeois concerns such as ‘cigarettes cause cancer’ and ‘drinking should be done in moderation,’ opting instead to recklessly embrace such vices with ‘why not?’ abandon. If you aren’t willing to engage in at least some of this ‘subversive hedonism,’ you will have a hard time maintaining any hipster credibility. But what does this mean for Christian hipsters?

When, in the name of rebellion and ‘freedom in Christ,’ Christian hipsters begin to look and act just like their secular hipster counterparts, drinking and smoking all the same things, shouldn’t we raise a red flag? Isn’t Christianity supposed to be distinguishable and set apart from the world? Christian hipsters are rebelling against a mainstream Christianity that they see as too indistinguishable from secular mainstream culture (i.e., consumerist, numbers-driven, Fox Newswatching, immigrant-hating, SUVdriving), but their corrective may not turn out much better. Some hipster Christianity is as indistinguishable from its secular hipster counterpart as yesterday’s megachurch Christianity was indistinguishable from secular soccer-mom suburbia. The challenge for hipster Christians is to figure out what it means, in their cultural context, to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:24). We are new creations, and the old has passed away (2 Cor 5:17). How does that mesh with the Pabst-guzzling, Parliament-smoking nonchalant image that seems important to many hipsters? Another concern about hipster Christianity is its fundamentally disposable, moving-on-to-what’s-next transience. Granted, there is a tension here, because hipsters are rediscovering ancient liturgy and hymns. But one gets the impression that these are valued mostly because they are countercultural and therefore cool in their own way.

Wannabe hip churches are springing up everywhere these days, but what will it mean for the larger church? But cool is all about the ‘now.’ It relentlessly pursues the next big thing, abandoning today’s trend for tomorrow’s with mechanistic speed and efficiency (think trucker hats or messenger bags). This ‘of the moment’ trendiness is an understandably appealing quality for those seeking to advance Christianity in today’s world. How can we be taken seriously if we are perceived as behind the times or irrelevant? This is the reasoning that leads many churches to obsess about keeping their churches on pace with the latest technologies, worship music trends or theological buzzwords (missional!). But is this painstaking, resourcedraining rat race of staying ahead of the pack worth it? And what happens to Christianity when it becomes, like hipsterdom, a chameleon of f leeting fashion and transient trend? As hipster Christianity grows, the temptation for church leaders will

be to fashion themselves (and their churches) in the hipster mold. But in so doing, these churches will likely only reinforce a growing distinction between ‘authentic hipster’ and ‘wannabe hip’ churches. The former type is often simply an organic embodiment of an urban environment where hipsters live (and, thus, attend church). These churches are hip not because they self-consciously strive to be, but because they happen to exist in a hipster milieu (e.g., Resurrection Presbyterian in Brooklyn, or Grace Church in London’s Hackney neighborhood). The latter type, on the other hand, appropriates what it perceives to be the prevailing hipster sensibilities in a utilitarian, ‘staying relevant’ way. These wannabe hip churches — largely of the suburban, megachurch, and ‘contemporary evening service’ variety — dress themselves in the accoutrements of hipsterdom not because they understand or value it, but because they

are terrified of being excluded, left behind or undesirable. They are playing catch up, frantically maneuvering to be in the inner rings of culture and fashion rather than the dreaded periphery. Wannabe hip churches are springing up everywhere these days, but what will it mean for the larger church? Will this sort of Christianity bring back the youth, or will it further alienate a younger generation fed up with being a target market? Will hipster Christianity repair Christianity’s PR problem? Or will it fizzle in a faddish wisp before anyone can say lectio divina? These are open questions. In the meantime, hipster Christianity is a sometimes encouraging, sometimes maddening, always fascinating phenomenon. It defies easy yes-or-no understanding. And that’s precisely how it prefers it to be. Brett McCracken is the author of Hipster Christianity

Photos by John Park

Kanye, Jay-Z, and P. Diddy: They get all the glory. But charismatic hiphop pastor Jaeson Ma says glory is not about fame, or making yourself a name. Glory, he insists, is for God. BY SHARA LEE

“You’re certainly a hard person to get hold of,” I tell Jaeson Ma on the phone. “I’m sorry about that,” he replies with a slight chuckle. “I’ve been a little busy.” A little busy might be an understatement.

1040 I think back to the first time saw him. The 300-person capacity lecture hall was packed to the brim, with every seat taken and a cloud of body heat pumping through the room. I found a free spot on the steps and looked up to see Ma passionately preaching to the hip-hop beat of his music, with eyes closed under trendy thickframed glasses. The audience then chimed in to sing the chorus of his song ‘Love’: “I’ll put you in front of me, so everybody can see my love. This is my love. I know that I’ll be alright, as long as you are my guide.” After that, it took at least a month of calls and emails to layers of public relations representatives and executive assistants before I got the chance to speak to him. Ma was completing a tour of 30 universities across North America, speaking in packed out lecture halls 32 | CONVERGE. spring 2011

and auditoriums at Harvard University, University of Texas, University of Toronto and University of British Columbia, among others. On the phone, he tells me he saw 10,000 students commit their lives to missions. “It was more than a film tour or a music tour; it was a revival,” says Ma. “Tiring but worth it. We’re just happy we could serve God and be a tool to catalyze new student involvement and initiative.” Minutes prior to our conversation Ma had wrapped up a lunch meeting in downtown Los Angeles — no doubt making plans for future projects.

glory Ma also recently released a new concept album called Glory, which he describes as “not hip-hop.” “I wouldn’t even put it in that category,” he says. “I basically speak and preach over music so it’s kind of like spoken word but sort of more on the preaching end. It’s more than just music; it’s a message.” He hopes this album will inspire young people to live for a purpose bigger than themselves. From a young age Ma was drawn to hip-

hop culture. He tells me he started “rocking his Run DMC shirt in the fourth grade.” By junior high Ma was rapping and creating solo art pieces. He loved the “ability to express oneself creatively.” That form of revolutionary and rebellious self-expression was attractive for the young boy. “It made you want to go to the edge and try something challenging, whether that was urban art, graffiti, DJ-ing or rap,” Ma recalls. “I loved the music; really I just loved the swagger.”

beginning While hip-hop had been a constant in Ma’s life, faith wasn’t. His mother was a devout Baptist, but he himself had a tough time accepting the rules, regulations and overall rigidity he felt was present in the church. With such a creative spirit, he was afraid of being put into a box and conforming. “I kind of had this image of God being like a big boss man up there in heaven that was going to punish me every time I did something wrong,” he says. “I just had a wrong concept and view of God. I had a wrong concept and understanding of church.”

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“Religion is man trying to reach out to God, but grace is God reaching out to man. It’s not about what we can do or how good we are or how we can somehow reach a certain standard. Grace is about getting what we don’t deserve. It’s about what God has done for us.” His message resonates with me as it has with many in my generation.

future Ma’s teenage years were spent in east San Jose, California, an area heavily populated by Hispanic, Vietnamese, and Filipino immigrants. Gangs were commonplace in his neighborhood. “I would never say that I was a gangster. I would just say my friends were in gangs. I grew up around gangs,” he says. “It was a part of my culture. It was a part of my life.” Eventually the influence of his associations caught up with him. Ma was charged with grand theft and had a string of other convictions from prior misdemeanors. He came to a breaking point and finally knelt down and reached out to God. “I think I was at the point where I thought I had everything, but I recognized inside my heart that I had nothing, I was empty,” says Ma. “I really just turned to God, and I prayed.”

turning point

if I’m with a Zulu tribe in Africa or in a little town in Uzbekistan.”

backsliding At this point, I’m thinking the story is sounding a little too perfect. How does a gang affiliate turn into a charismatic hip-hop pastor seemingly overnight? I ask him if he’s ever backslid. “I think I still backslide,” he replies. “No one’s perfect. That’s why we need the cross. We’re human. I think sometimes with Christianity” — he pauses as if searching to find the right words to phrase what he’s thinking in his head — “we think that humans are supposed to be perfect, but we can’t. “It’s a daily dying to yourself. It’s a daily asking God to give you the strength. For me, it’s been a lifelong struggle. I just try my best to walk like Christ. I do fail at times, but [I know] it’s not about what I can do for God, it’s about what he’s already done for me. My response to that is just gratitude.”

For now, Ma is finished with touring. He’s taking a bit of a sabbatical from speaking engagements. Instead, he will be moving fully into artistry and film-making. A musical based on songs from his album Glory is in pre-production. “I’ll still maybe do some speaking engagements here and there, but I’m transitioning into the marketplace, media arts and entertainment,” he says. “That’s the passion inside my heart.” jesus

& hip- hop

We resume discussion of Ma’s two great loves — Jesus and hip-hop. “Before I went to church, hip-hop was my church. It was my religion. Rap is something you do; hip-hop is something you live. “Hip-hop is its own culture, just the same as goth [culture] or hipster [culture],” says Ma. “Each culture needs its own expression of Christianity, and we can’t put everyone into one model or one mold.” Perhaps it is this ability to recognize Gen Y’s need to show irreverence, to be unique and to get lost in our own non-traditional sub-cultures that explains Ma’s popularity. “That’s the beauty of Jesus — he’s incarnate. He came as God in the form of man. He came and took on our hair, our clothes, our food, and met us where we were at,” continues Ma. “At the end of the day, whether it’s hiphop or whether it’s this or that doesn’t matter. To me what matters is that people are worshipping Jesus.”

With full knowledge that he could go to jail, he turned himself in. “I just wanted to get clean and get rid of my sin,” he says. After that, he says, a miracle happened. grace “They lost my court case for six months, His advice to those who haven’t lived they ended up postponing my case three times, and on the third time they found perfect Christian lives is refreshing when me not guilty even though I pleaded juxtaposed with the preachy, fire-andbrimstone fear-mongering often heard at guilty to all [I was] charged for.” After he “got clean,” Ma discovered fundamentalist churches. “No one’s ever going to be perfect. No that he wasn’t able to bring his friends — fellow creative types and eccentrics — to one’s ever going to know enough, be church. But he also discovered he could enough, but Christ is enough, and that’s bring the church to them. He started the power of the cross,” he says. planting “organic churches.” How does this happen? “Instead of trying to bring everyone into a building to make them look like you, talk like you, act like you, sing like you, no one s ever going to know enough be enough bring the gospel to where the people are but christ is enough and that s the power of the cross and let the gospel take root in the culture and language of that people,” says Ma. religion is man trying to reach out to god “I mean I can’t get a kid from the hood to sing a Chris Tomlin song. I need to just let him find Jesus and develop his own worship songs for God. That’s the same grace is about getting what we don t deserve 34 | CONVERGE. spring 2011

no one’s ever going to be perfect. ’ , , ,



but grace is god reaching out to man...


After a screening of Jaeson Ma’s 1040: christianity in the new asia, church and campus ministry leaders spoke to grace esther lin about the impact the film had in their cities and in their lives.

“Jaeson Ma’s style of leading worship—using hip-hop to worship God—was a breakthrough for Vancouver. I personally heard from many pastors in the conservative churches that they were deeply inspired by Jaeson Ma’s words through this new kind of worship style to reach this new generation.” — Esther Leung, Vancouver prayer leadership team “The 1040 wasn’t like a onetime spark . . . It was like a quiet revolution. It’s still touching people . . . God has initiated something beyond our thoughts and imagination.” — James Joh, Korean Campus Mission, SFU (Vancouver)

“We have a mission field right here in Toronto. We have the world in Toronto; it’s so multicultural. Our heart is to start first and foremost in our own churches, our own city” — Aldous Cheng, 1040 Toronto Organizing Committee “The vision to see unity among the denominations was something God has strongly burdened in our hearts. When I saw the 1040 movie trailer, I saw this as a bridging opportunity between the charismatic and evangelical circles.” — Jimmy Yin, co-chair 1040 Toronto organizing committee “I really see God unifying the older and younger generation into one generation. Christ is coming back for the Bride . . . The weekend brought together different churches, different generations, different races, and different backgrounds as one bride of Christ and one family in Christ.” — Fiona Ng, prayer coordinator 1040 Toronto “University of Toronto (Scarborough Campus) has gathered a prayer group to pray weekly. For my own campus (Ryerson) a few people and I have started prayer walking around the campus. University of Toronto has also started prayer walking.” — David Chen, marketing leader 1040 Toronto



by Shara Lee

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT 1954 you might think about the first time the world series was broadcast in colour, or maybe you think about the marriage of Marilyn Monroe and Joe Dimaggio. It is likely, though, that 1954 came and went way before you were born. For mark and huldah buntain, a young vivacious couple in their twenties, this was the year they boarded a ship to India for what they thought would be a year-long missions trip with their young daughter Bonnie in tow. They planned to evangelize and perhaps do a bit of volunteering. However, upon arrival they saw a need so great they ended up staying for the next 50 years. Although Mark Buntain passed away in 1989, Huldah and Bonnie (and Bonnie’s husband James Long) still continue the work of Calcutta Mercy Ministries. The ministry has established more than 700 churches, several Bible colleges, a hospital, a nurses’ training centre, laundry facilities which provide income to former prostitutes, and 102 schools. Calcutta Mercy Hospital has treated 2.3 million people, of which one million have received free health care. The Buntains have also educated about 100,000 children. The nonprofit ministry employs more than 2,000 Indian nationals, and accepts more than 300 volunteers each year. According to Amitabh Singh, executive director for the ministry here in Canada, it all started one day many years ago. Mark Buntain was preaching in a church and a beggar 36 | CONVERGE.



walked in and said, “Preacher first feed our bellies before you tell us that God loves us.” He saw a need and he responded to it; Calcutta Mercy now feeds 25,000 people every day. For the majority of those fed by the ministry, this is their only meal of the day. “They don’t get any other food than the food we provide . . . We have to send $10,000 every month to support the feeding program.” The Buntains recognized they had to do more than just feed the poor. “Part of what we’re doing here is: one, providing the fish because there’s a crisis today, there’s no fish. But you also have to provide them with the fishing rod,” said Singh. “That is why they got into education. When they started feeding they knew it wasn’t going to change anything, they had to build a school.” During the 1960s the Buntains built several schools. Mark and Huldah could have stopped their ministry there, but God had other plans. One day a little girl fainted in one of

a position as CEO of Calcutta Mercy Hospital. Singh said he is not the only living testament to the effectiveness of the Buntains’ work in India. “My brother is vice president of Starbucks and he’s an ex-student of the school. You can go to Yale University and there’s a professor of marketing who is an ex-student of the school. You can go to Mattel, the Barbie Doll guys and the VP of Mattel, he’s an ex-student of

Part of what we’re doing here is: one, providing the fish because there’s a crisis today, there’s no fish. But you also have to provide them with the fishing rod. That is why [the Buntain’s] got into education. When they started feeding they knew it wasn’t going to change anything, they had to build a school.

the school,” said Singh. “It’s a pretty good school; most of our graduates are at the top of the state level.” Calcutta Mercy Ministries continues to expand in the 21st century. Technology has made it possible for children in rural areas to be taught through laptop-based education. “What we are doing is we are not building schools because it is very capital intensive,” said Singh. Instead the ministry gathers volunteers to enter villages with computers, print lesson plans and teach right there on the ground. Through the online education base they can also track who has been taught what, and what needs to be taught next time. “There are 100 million kids who don’t go to school which the classrooms. She was rushed to the hospital by Mark, who means there is no access to school,” Singh said. made a shocking discovery upon arrival. In the room where Remote learning also has other benefits. When they go the girl was admitted, there were two people on top of the bed, into villages, they also provide healthcare where there are two under the bed, and rats running all around. no hospitals or clinics. After seeing this, Mark said, “I’m not only going to feed a Even though much of Calcutta Mercy’s efforts target young child, but I’m going to educate a child, and I’m medically going children, recently they have helped sex trade workers in the to treat a child.” They soon adopted the tagline “Building a bet- red light district known as Sonagachi. It is a place of about ter India by building better boys and girls.” a mile radius which, according to Singh, provides work for Singh is a product of the ministry himself. After going 10,000 prostitutes. through the Calcutta Mercy education system he went on to In collaboration with Harvard Medical School and Massaobtain his MBA in human resource management, worked as a chusetts General Hospital, Calcutta Mercy has been providconsultant for several international companies and also held ing healthcare inside Sonagachi for the past two years.

Opposite page: Streets of Calcutta Left: Mark and Huldah Buntain Middle: First nurses at hospital with patient Right: Mark Buntain with patient.

| 37

While the estimate of HIV positive women in this district has been pegged at 9.5 percent in the best seller Half the Sky, some say the reality is closer to 20 percent. Calcutta Mercy Ministries built a laundry facility inside Sonagachi

themselves and their children. “When you go and meet them during the daytime they are respectable ladies, they think like mothers, they think of the future of their kids. If they can be . . . given an option, they will gladly take an option.”

While the estimate of HIV positive women in this district has been pegged at 9.5 percent in the best seller Half the Sky, some say the reality is closer to 20 percent. which helps women to transition out of the area. After working there for six months, they move outside Sonagachi, where another laundry facility provides services to the hospital and some hotels. Many of these women have children, making the need for help even more urgent. “When you walk into one of the rooms, I have seen one year olds chained to the leg of the bed and sleeping under the table while the mother is on top of the table earning wages,” said Singh, who added that for a lot of the women this is the only way they can provide for

Though Huldah Buntain is now well into her eighties, she does not see retirement in her future. It is her belief that you only retire when you are doing a job — and this is not a job for her, this is her life and her passion. When Mark and Huldah first set foot in India, they were only planning on staying for one year. “They had no grand plans. They were in their twenties, they had no idea what God was going to do in their life, they were going to go for one year as evangelists,” said Singh. They might not have had grand plans, but God certainly did.

Above: Huldah Buntain at blind school.

Above: Cleft lip patient before surgery Bottom Left: Cleft lip patient after surgery


good news for christian universities By Jim Coggins On many of the 25 questions covered in the Globe and Mail’s ninth annual Canadian University Report, four Christian schools were prominent among the 14 universities in the ‘very small’ (under 4,000 students) category. The King’s University College in Edmonton placed first on the crucial ‘Quality of Education’ question, with Trinity Western University in Langley, BC, a close second. In fact, the two were the only schools in any category to receive an A+ rating on the question. Concordia University College of Alberta and Redeemer University College (in Ancaster, Ontario) received an A in the category, finishing fifth and seventh, respectively, in their category. On two other key questions — ‘Student-Faculty Interaction’ and ‘Quality of Teaching’ — Concordia, Redeemer, King’s and Trinity Western finished third, fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. All four received an A+ rating on Student-Faculty Interaction, something achieved by only five other schools among the 59 surveyed. All four received an A rating on Quality of Teaching, achieved by only six others. One of the advantages of Christian universities is that they are smaller.

“With smallness, something more human happens and the rankings make that abundantly clear,” said Justin Cooper, executive director of Christian Higher Education Canada. “The professors genuinely want to teach, there’s a different teaching/research balance, and professors have more time for students outside of class.” To be fair, larger universities can offer a larger range of courses and perspectives, Cooper said, but that means “Christian campuses need to work hard not to be bubbles, to bring in people with different points of view and genuinely engage them.” Christian schools were less prominent in another major survey, Maclean’s magazine’s 20th annual University Rankings. By policy, Maclean’s does not include any Christian schools in its rankings. However, Maclean’s also reported on two independent surveys which showed quite a different picture. In the Canadian University Survey Consortium’s annual survey, the only three Christian universities among the 34 surveyed finished first, second and third on the only two questions reported by Maclean’s: “Generally, I am satisfied with the quality of teaching I have received,” and “Satisfaction with the decision to attend this university.”

Those three were King’s, Redeemer and Trinity Western. The high levels of student satisfaction of Christian universities seem to be paying off in terms of enrollment. Last fall, Tyndale experienced a remarkable 10.7 percent growth in enrollment. Similarly, Trinity Western University enrolled the largest Canadian new-student body in its history. The enrollment increases were also not surprising to Cooper. “Economic downturns are usually great times for postsecondary institutions. Students want to take time to brush up their skills to be prepared for an economic upswing.” Cooper also noted that Tyndale, Trinity Western and Redeemer have all been significantly expanding and improving their campus facilities. None of this means that Christian universities are complacent about where they are now, Trinity Western University President Jonathan Raymond noted, “We listen carefully to our students and stakeholders because of our fundamental belief in the importance of continual improvement. We’re mindful that quality education is more than a transaction. Behind the ratings is the pursuit of whole person development and transformation.”

Homeschoolers succeed in college A study released last year, entitled Exploring Academic Outcomes of Homeschooled Students, showed that homeschooled college students significantly outperformed their peers. The study covered homeschoolers from 2004–2009 at a mid–sized college in the upper midwestern U.S. Homeschooled students earned higher first year and fourth year Grade Point Averages, and had a higher graduation rate (66.7 percent) when compared to the overall student population (57.5 percent). Other research has shown that parents spend on average $500 per child, per year to homeschool. In comparison, the average public school spends over $10,000 per child, per year. 40 | CONVERGE. spring 2011

education special An unknown path stretches before you. You may have just stepped out of high school or maybe you are just on a search for more, but the question is the same: “What comes next?” Converge’s education special includes a comprehensive selection of Christian higher education schools from across Canada. God is using them to prepare students for a life of impact. * Figures presented below are approximate averages. Please contact each institution for exact information.


Alberta Bible College

Canada Institute of Linguistics

Columbia Bible College

WHERE? Calgary, AB






Each accepted student is awarded a scholarship. Practical experience and classroom study deeply integrates knowledge with action. Each year students experience a different international mission trip.

Small classes, applied hands-on training, field-experienced faculty. Cross-cultural preparation for Bible translation, literacy & linguistics. Community—We study hard and play hard together.

Curriculum brings together faith, life and work. Hands-on, experiential learning, local service practicum & internships. Intentional Christian community helping make your faith your own.

Bethany College

Christ For The Nations Bible College

Emmanuel Bible College





Discipleship—Individual mentorship of all students by faculty and staff! Grow! Live in dorm, study God’s word & learn in community! Transformation through experience and service learning! 42 | CONVERGE. spring 2011


Intimate—Small class sizes and low student-instructor ratio. Location—In Metro Vancouver near mountains, ocean & more. Price—Among the lowest tuition in Canada, every student subsidized.


Small classes, relevant and hands-on learning, approachable faculty. Close-knit environment, chapel services, residence life. Active urban environment.

For a complete list of all programs and degrees offered, please visit the options for Education Page at

Eston College

Kawartha Lakes Bible College

Pacific Life Bible College



WHERE? Surrey, BC STUDENT BODY: 160 AVG TUITION: $2,000 FINANCIAL AID: Yes BEST EATS: Clements Coffee Bar ATHLETICS: Student Body Initiated EMAIL: WEBSITE:


Discipleship in the biblical gifts of the Spirit. World-class instructors who get deeply involved in your life. Tight community with other believers in Christ.


Be ready for what’s next. Be forever changed by encountering God and His Word. Experience growth, love & laughter with other passionate Christ-followers.

Heritage College & Seminary





Breadth of biblically grounded courses and programs. Flexible educational options. We are a dynamic Christian community.

The Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology


Accelerated learning—focused curriculum taught in 11 months. 600 hours of supervised practice in professionally-equipped studios. Jobs!—Graduates have a 90% job placement within 6-12 months.


Personable faculty, all currently active in church leadership. Subsidized tuition, financially-free and ministry-ready graduates. 93% of graduates involved in church ministry.


Mentoring community driven by relationships with Christ and others. Quality biblical training to prepare you for life and ministry. A focus on service and ministry here and around the globe.

| 43


Immerse yourself in the Word. To know Christ and develop your relationship with Him. To learn to effectively minister throughout the world.

Redeemer Pacific College

Rosebud School of the Arts


WHERE? Rosebud, AB STUDENT BODY: 30 AVG TUITION: $6,720 FINANCIAL AID: Yes BEST EATS: Mercantile Restaurant ATHLETICS: Theatre related activities EM: WEBSITE:



Amazing – RPC profs have a 95% approval rating. Students love RPC’s relaxed and familiar atmosphere. RPC courses and community help you grow in your Catholic faith.

2:1 student-mentor ratio. Study trips to the West Coast, London and New York City. Breathe the theatre from morning to night.

Providence College

Rocky Mountain College

Steinbach Bible College


WHERE? Calgary, AB AVG TUITION: $1,000 FINANCIAL AID: Yes BEST EATS: Pygmy Cafe ATHLETICS: Health & Wellness Program EM: WEBSITE:



Christian University Education— offers more than just knowledge. Ph.D. faculty and scholars. Our graduates make a difference. Championship athletics, renowned theatre and performing arts.

44 | CONVERGE. spring 2011


Leadership Training—Be developed to influence your world. Spiritual Formation­—Process of God developing your character into His. Ministry—Exceptional learning exp. in and out of the classroom.


Community residence life, small groups, retreats & faculty mentoring. Training for Church Ministries — the Bible is the core of all classes. Focus on Mission — Mission Exposure, field education & internships.

Vanguard College

The King’s University College




A great education in a life-changing, vibrant spiritual atmosphere. A beautifully restored campus in the heart of a growing city. A vast spectrum of field education, ministry & internship opportunities.


Rated number one by Maclean’s for teaching & student satisfaction. Internationally recognized faculty and research. Community, worldview, research opportunities & mentorship.


Tyndale University College & Seminary WHERE? Toronto, ON STUDENT BODY: 1280 AVG TUITION: $12,960 FINANCIAL AID: Yes ATHLETICS: Intramural Sports EMAIL: WEBSITE: TOP 3 REASONS TO ATTEND:

Academics — small classes, hands-on learning and outstanding professors. Christian commuity — chapel services, missions trips, residence life. Toronto — international, exciting, safe with lots of opportunities.


Canadian Mennonite University

Redeemer University College

Acadia Divinity College





Be part of a welcoming and academically challenging community. Grow your faith through thinking and doing. Integrate a commitment to peace and justice in your studies.


Your success is our business­—We’re committed to your success. You are our priority — Receive personal attention in your studies. You belong here — Earn your degree in a caring, Christian environment.


Earn a degree from Acadia ­­— one of Canada’s top universities. Learn from renowned scholars with extensive ministry experience. Affordable tuition plus many generous bursaries and scholarships.

| 45


ACTS Seminaries

McMaster Divinity College





A vibrant seminary community that celebrates diversity. Faculty from various denominations with extensive experience. Faculty mentors and “open door” access to senior faculty researchers.


Learn in a confessional Lutheran context. Grow in your faith and sense of vocation. Serve in the church and in the world.

Small evangelical community with resources of a major university. Lowest cost evangelical accredited seminary in Canada. Outstanding faculty mentors with Ph.D.s and ministry experience.


Theological education through an inter-disciplinary approach. Diversity of our student body from various backgrounds. Located on UBC campus in Vancouver.

Calgary Life School of Ministry WHERE? Calgary, AB STUDENT BODY: Under 100 AVG TUITION: $2,500 EMAIL: WEBSITE: TOP 3 REASONS TO ATTEND: Quality Education—Dynamic teaching; caring instructors One-on-one Mentorship—Personal attention, hands-on training. Price—Only $2500/year for undergrad studies.

Capernwray Harbour Bible Centre WHERE? Thetis Island, BC STUDENT BODY: 130 AVG TUITION: $10,900 BEST EATS: Main Dining Room & Lounge ATHLETICS: Various Intramural sports EMAIL: WEBSITE: TOP 3 REASONS TO ATTEND:

Training for full time Christian service regardless of occupation. Centrality of Christ taught through Biblical study & community living. Focused study projects, unique West Coast recreation & environment.

Hillsong Int’l Leadership College

summer programs 2011



od calls us closer. To meet Him. To enjoy fellowship with Him and become what we were created for. Part of this process is intentional, worshipful learning. Come to Regent College this summer and study with men and women from around the world.


Hillsong Church - A leading contemporary Christ centered church. Hillsong College - Training the church leaders of the future. Sydney, Australia - one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

Alister McGrath on postmodern apologetics David Gill & William Edgar on jazz—a Christian take Marva Dawn on suffering Bruce Waltke on the Psalms Mark Noll and David Livingstone on Science and Christianity.


Receive spiritual tools in a dynamic, faith-filled environment. One-on-one mentoring and interaction with the pastors and staff. Hands-on, practical learning environment.


To discover what God has in store for your life. Take a set time in your life to know God deeper. To see God at work in the nations.

And that is just the beginning… there are 50 courses in all! May—July. 1.800.663.8664 Vancouver

Canada Institute of Linguistics

Columbia Bible College

Canadian Mennonite University

Bethany College

Pacific Life Bible College

Capernwray Harbour Bibl

Alberta Bible College

Vanguard College

Eston College

Rosebud School of the Arts

Hillsong Int’l Leadership

ACTS Seminaries of Trinity Western University

Peace River Bible Institute

Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Tech

King’s University College

Acadia Divinity College


Rocky Mountain College

le Center



Heritage College & Seminar

Relate Ministry College

Calgary Life School of Ministry

Steinbach Bible College

Emmanuel Bible College


Regent College

Redeemer University College Redeemer Pacific College


houston, do we have a problem? James Houston — ­­­­­­ Regent College founder, Oxford professor, and colleague of C.S. Lewis, answers questions applicable to today’s students and young adults — bringing attention and wisdom to relevant issues in this culture and time.

What are some of the hurdles young people face today that you never had? One of the things we are facing today is that young people have multiple choices, that I never had in my youth. The exacerbation of choice now makes a kind of paralysis of choice in our society because there are so many opportunities, so many directions that one can go in. How can someone deal with all these choices?

The way to overcome that is to not take choice too seriously! People today find it deadly serious to decide what career track to follow and they don’t realize that the reason the choice is so serious to them is because it seems to identify them so much with a professional identity rather than a relational one. What do you mean when you talk about a self- achieved identity? When you have an identity in what you do rather than in all the range of your relational life, you end up being a depleted self. Especially when identity is assumed to be something that is self achieved, it ends up being depleted and shallow. Whereas, if you are living with a much more robust sense of the self, that is given to you by relationships with others, then of course you have a much stronger sense of self. And in that respect, you can be therefore much more generous in your attitude towards other people. You are all around more relational.

You talk quite a bit about personhood, making a distinction between being personal and being individual. Please explain. Fundamentally God has created us to be relational beings. You could say that there’s a huge difference between being an individual and being person. The person is, in a sense, one who is living in the theological understanding of personhood. Personhood is ultimately to be relational as God is relational, whereas the individual is a self-contained and is therefore very limited in relational life. This applies to students just as well as people older in life. Clearly, if we can start earlier in life with an understanding of the personal dimension over the individualistic dimension, this will bear fruit now and later in life as well. Do we decide what to do or does God? One has to recognize that a lot of our life is much more guided by God through circumstances than through hearing some inner voice saying this is the way to go. It’s much more likely that we knock on doors and we find some doors shut and others open. That may be God using circumstances, as the sovereign of all time and circumstances. You were acquainted with C.S. Lewis while at Oxford. What was that like? When I was a young graduate and teacher at Oxford I was influenced by my encounter with C.S. Lewis. The thing that impressed me most about him was that he was as intelligent in his faith — in communicating it — as he was as a professional in literature.

Can you comment on Christians in professional circles expressing their faith, in this day and age? I’ve often felt that what makes the witness of Christians incredible is when their expression of faith is not commensurate with their professional skills. The result is that their faith is ‘kindergarten’ compared with the way they’ve graduated in other areas of their life. That’s why I’ve felt there is a tremendous need to equip Christians who are intelligent to be intelligent in their faith. In the western world, the credibility of faith is being lost simply because there is a huge disparity between their general education and their faith.

How has the current burst of technology affected our ability to be personal? The impact of technology is to give pseudo-relational impressions — that I am very friendly and very personal when I’m simply texting or joining some kind of computer club that brings us all together — like Facebook. Are you on Facebook? I’m not; I’ve deliberately refused to get involved! If I email, I write as though I’m writing a letter, to a person. How does someone deal with dark times and valleys, with struggles for purpose or direction? One thing I’ve always found helpful for when you are going through dark inner struggles that you find very threatening and challenging, is to try to identify it with the culture. If you understand some of the neurotic symptoms of the culture around you, you will understand why you are suffering the same kind of things within yourself. When you see things more broadly in a cultural way, then you can understand that you can be sympathetic, as the prophets were, to their time. What do you mean ‘as the prophets were’? Jeremiah, for instance, knows [Israel’s] in exile and he warns the people that it’s time to plant their vineyards and build their houses because they’ll be there for the long haul, as exiles. So, the very fact that you are not alone as an exile (in your struggle), but have fellow exiles as well, will give you some comfort. The problem that we tend to have is to take things so personally to ourselves that we forget we have companions in that struggle. You talk a lot about lamenting before God. Can you explain this and its purpose for this generation? Yes, I think it’s very important that today young people are able to disclose their inner doubts. A verse that will comfort them is 2 Corinthians 7:10, where Paul, to paraphrase what he’s saying, says that ‘the pain that is born of God (all the pain and the angst we have, that we can bring into the presence of God) is too significant ever to regret

going through the experience’. The rest of that verse says ‘the pain that is of man (the self-encloser of the individualistic self), brings death’. In other words, we can’t cope on our own; we need the help of God. Some of the deepest pains we suffer, when we lament before God, turn out to be some of the most creative experiences we could imagine ever going through. Can you explain the importance of Church history and how it is very much relevant for this generation of Christians? The very nature of technology means that history becomes irrelevant. New techniques mean that we are always looking forward to something better. But humans have a memory; we have a history and a heritage. It’s my passion to say that we need all 2000 years of church history as well as the 1000 years plus of the Old Testament in order to enrich us to limp along as Christians in the 21st century. How can past Christian culture help us understand today’s diverse Christian culture? As never before, Christians need the communion of saints of the past to give them diversity and enrichment and sometimes judgement upon their own culture. How can we critique our culture prophetically unless we’ve got a perspective of previous cultures? For all these reasons, we need to take the history of faith seriously, because the very nature of Christianity is that it’s a historic faith. The reality of Abraham, or the reality of David, or the reality of Jesus Christ are historical events that are life changing and have transformed all of human history. Do you have any final advice for students? We have to seek to have some balance. The advantage of being a student is that it’s a temporary position of limited time. We may make major sacrifices to concentrate and be successful in a way that is not necessarily going to be our way of life for the rest of our days. There is a difference between the pursuit of the professor and the pursuit of the student. Last advice for professors? It’s very important for us to cultivate and not neglect our family life. At the end of the day, people that can be most enriching and joyful for us are our own family. And so, the pursuit of excellence has one great casualty to it. If I’m determined to make money, or I’m determined to make my own academic reputation, or I’m determined to single out one objective, that of course narrows the field of activities that I do. The end result of that can be very impoverishing. You can talk about the ‘failure of success’. — Interview by Al Mills

Spring has come! Put aside that parka and get into something light and comfy. There’s no need to buy a whole new wardrobe for the new season, try taking a good look in your closet. Chances are there are things you haven’t worn in a long time that you can re-introduce to your weekly routine.

Don’t be afraid to mix patterns and throw in a floral scarf to brighten things up.

Study time? Feeling casual? A bright hoodie will lift any mood. Getting an animal print scarf can revamp any outfit. Try it with a black windbreaker paired with a grey t-shirt.

We’re not out of the cold snap yet. Double sided scarves offer wardrobe variety as well as warmth.

Afraid to dabble with bright-coloured plaid? Wear it under a plain sweater and have bits tucked out.

Rich colours and bright accents can take you out of that grey winter feeling.

have you seen?

by peter t. chattaway

Of Gods and Men Opens February 25 Directed by Xavier Beauvois Starring Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale & Oliver Rabourdin


f Gods and Men tells the story of several French monks who lived in Algeria and were part of the local community there until they were abducted by an Islamist militia in 1996. The monks eventually died under mysterious and controversial circumstances ­­— were they killed by their abductors, or were they killed by the army during a botched rescue attempt? — and it is not hard to imagine that most filmmakers would use this story as the premise for some sort of political thriller, full of secrets and cover-ups and a fair bit of action. But director Xavier Beauvois does not dwell on such things; indeed, he brings the movie to a close while the monks are still alive. Instead, he focuses on the monastic life itself and how it prepares these men to face their fate with grace and courage. The monks make and sell honey, and they spend time with their Muslim neighbours, tending to their sick and attending their ceremonies.




Most important of all, though, the monks pray. And pray. And pray. Again and again, the film returns to the worship services performed by the monks within their monastery, to the point where some critics have drawn comparisons between this film and Into Great Silence, a recent (and rather challenging) documentary about Catholic monks living in the French Alps. Of Gods and Men isn’t quite as austere as all that, but it certainly pays more attention to the life of prayer than most dramatic films do. And while the film is certainly a portrait of steadfast faith, it also allows for the humanity of its monastic protagonists. In particular, there are moments when Brother Christian (Lambert Wilson), the leader of the group, says or does something rather bold, and you can sense the fear percolating beneath his bravery. Beyond that, the characters are also marked by a certain humility which becomes especially apparent in the film’s final scenes. It is common, when discussing

films about martyrs, to describe such characters as “Christ-figures.” But when one of these monks anticipates his fate, he compares himself to the repentant thief who died on the cross, instead. The title, incidentally, is taken from Psalm 82 — a passage Jesus himself quotes in John 10. The Psalm, taken as a whole, is a cry for justice, a protest against the evil committed by the would-be rulers of the world — and a reminder that all of us are God’s children, yet we are also all mere mortals who will one day be judged by God. It’s a fitting basis for a film that is, on the one hand, about the common humanity that links us all, no matter what our religion — and yet, on the other hand, is also about the very specific Christian faith that enables these monks to love both God and their neighbour, even when some of those neighbours wish to do them harm.

more movies to look out for:


No Strings Attached & Friends With Benefits Opens January 21 Opens July 22 Directed by Ivan Reitman Directed by Will Gluck Starring Natalie Portman Starring Mila Kunis & Ashton Kutcher & Justin Timberlake Twenty years ago, When Harry Met Sally asked whether men and woman can be friends — and the answer was sort of yes, but also sort of no: yes, because the friendship between the title characters lasted for a couple years, but no, because eventually they had sex anyway, which meant they had to get married or cease being friends altogether. Fast forward to today. Now, films like No Strings Attached (opens January 21) and Friends with Benefits (opens July 22) take it as a given not only that men and women can be friends, but that these friends can be sexually

involved with each other, without any romantic attachments. At least, that’s the message co-stars like Ashton Kutcher seem to be sending when they say they hope films like these will be “empowering” for people. But of course, men and women aren’t made like that, and so, if the trailers are anything to go by, the protagonists will find themselves falling for each other anyway. The characters might think they are resisting the call to become one flesh as God intended, but sex is never that casual. And deep down, the people who make these films probably know that.

March 4 2011 A chameleon with an identity crisis finds himself in a downtrodden Western town plagued by bandits and is forced to play the shwashbuckling hero to save it.

I Am February 8 2011 After a life-changing accident, Tom Shadyac, director of Ace Ventura and Bruce Almighty, abandons his comedic repertoire and explores what is wrong with the world.

Pirates of the Carribean 4: On Stranger Tides

May 20 2011 Disney’s favourite pirate is back this May as Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the elusive fountain of youth. Sail these uncertain seas as he faces mermaids, zombies and the infamous pirate terror, Blackbeard.

Hanna April 8 2011 A suspense thriller about a girl raised to become the ultimate assassin by her ex-CIA father.

The Adjustment Bureau Opens March 4 Directed by George Nolfi Starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt & Terence Stamp

The mind-binding stories of sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick have made for some very interesting films (Blade Runner) and some, uh, not-so-interesting films (Paycheck). The next film to be based on one of his stories is The Adjustment Bureau (opens March 4), which stars Matt Damon as a congressman who strikes up a relationship with a ballet dancer (Emily Blunt), only to find that

some strange, shadowy men are now interfering in his life – men who claim the congressman and the ballerina never should have met. It remains to be seen just where the film will go with this premise, but if it’s like some of the better adaptations of Dick’s stories, it should provide some interesting fodder for discussions about the nature of free will and the world in which we exercise it.

Thor May 6 2011 Another installment from the Marvel Universe that tells the story of the Mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions cast him to earth.

have you read?

by matthew cook

making the old new again Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro

I am an Anglo-Catholic snob. Where I worship there are six candles on the altar, the whole Nicene Creed is recited, and liberal amounts of incense anoint the congregation. My heart grieves when I hear that the panicked clergy of our day, dismayed by dwindling numbers in the pews, begin to contemplate incorporating hiphop into their liturgy. Although I like my religion traditional and am not usually a fan of reinvented wheels, I was surprisingly excited when I heard that the coolest evangelicals in the New Monasticism movement (it’s what all the kids are talking about these days) were remaking the Book of Common Prayer. I first heard of the New Monasticism about two years ago when a friend of mine passed me a copy of Shane Claiborne’s The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. The book is his biography of faith, chronicling his time in seminary, travelling to Calcutta to work with Mother Teresa and then joining a Christian Peacemaker Team on tour in Iraq. It is a refreshing read that I would recommend to frustrated Generation X or Y Christians who are looking for models of how to be the church in these post-modern times. The latest project the New Monastics have pulled together is Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals — the end result of a collaboration by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Enuma Okoro and Shane Claiborne, plus scores of priests, nuns, pastors and other faithful. In this volume we have the pleasure of witnessing a great return to the ideals of collective worship, of what it means to practice the unity of the church. Far more than a mere devotional, the book has 365 days of prayer laid out, stringing together a combination of prayers, devotionals and hymns that span denominational lines from Serbian Orthodox to Anabaptist. Also recognizing feast and saint days, marking the anniversaries of murders committed by officers of the Salvadoran military and noting the birthday of Dorothy Day, the book connects the dots between




the many facets of the Christian tradition while being grounded in a vision of what the kingdom of God looks like, and what it doesn’t look like. To commemorate the launch of the book Claiborne and company organized 150 Common Praise Parties across North America where the book was put into practice for the first time. At the one I attended, Wilson-Hartgrove thanked us via YouTube. The video left us with the image of a baton of praise being passed on from east to west as the sun travels, so that all of time and space are covered by our prayers without cease. This is something I fear is lost on my generation of Anglicans. The ideal behind the Book of Common Prayer is that we, as a global communion, are praying the Psalms with and for each other. By the practice of the daily offices we are conquering the earthly boundaries of space and time and achieving a unity that goes beyond worldly divisions. What I love in this book is how my stereotypes of evangelicals are shattered. For a long time I have railed against the profound individualism I ascribed to the Bible-thumbing, wailing and flailing, antiliturgical know-it-alls, who seem stuck on sin rather than our deliverance from it. But I am a repenting snob, who sees in this movement a hungering to recover the idea of us: the church, the mystical body of Christ in which the individual Christian is magnified beyond the limits that our secular-consumer culture maintains. I think there is a great lesson for us High Church folk to take note of here. Proceeding into the 21st century we must return to the root of ourselves. The phrase the New Monastics use to express this returning is ‘our ancient future.’ As we hurtle into a time that is propelled by the idea of salvation by technological innovation we all must come back to the rituals that bind us to eternity — the space outside of time. It is there that we can meet one another, in prayer and unity. Visit Matthew’s blog:

have you heard?

Tenth Avenue North The Light Meets the Dark Reunion Records Styles: rock, alt-rock Many times in life, a person’s perspective is clouded by fears, selfdoubt and shame. Renewed perspective arrives when another is able to shed fresh light. Then, crippling beliefs can be dispelled with liberating truth. Tenth Avenue North grasps hold of an important and fundamental fact with this album: when light meets darkness, there is only one possibility — darkness leaves. Even a little light can displace great darkness. The Light Meets the Dark, then, is a project to use the light Tenth Avenue North has discovered in God to counter many common lies people believe about themselves. The band wields many truths they have uncovered in an effort to spread hope and cure despair. Some of these lessons include knowing our identity as beloved children of God, or opening ourselves to his healing presence (‘Healing Begins’). The album’s resolve is strong: the truth is that you are never far from God and never far from victory because of his power (‘Strong Enough to Save’). Grace is a central key to the concept of this album. In many cases, Tenth Avenue North say, “We’re fighting for what we have already received.” In other words, take hold of what Jesus has already given you; he has paid the price for you to be free! The Light Meets The Dark is an album filled with compassion. It recognizes how so many people share the same challenges as they seek understanding and acceptance from others, and Tenth Avenue North have resolved to help relieve some of the burdens.

by craig ketchum

Kye Kye Young Love Independent Styles: indie pop, electronica, indie rock Hailing from Camas, Washington, Kye Kye (formerly Paper Rings) are a group of siblings — and a fiancé. On tour with Future of Forestry, they released the preliminary copies of Young Love, produced by none other than Future of Forestry front man Eric Owyoung. Young Love is a fantastic album that reads a little like romantic poetry. Set to enchanting, flowing electro indie-pop melodies, Young Love is a collection of intimate reflections on the band’s own relationships with God. This down tempo glitch-pop album is replete with interesting loops and rhythms, and beautiful, soaring harmonies. Lead singer Olga’s voice captivates, carrying real power on this recording. The instrumentation evokes serenity and optimism, seeking elevated perspective as described in ‘Rooftops.’ In this album’s stillest moments, like the quiescent ‘Walking This,’ the sound is like an aquatic current — deceptively quiet for the power that lies beneath in the emotions and expressions of the music and lyrics. At other times, like in ‘Knowing This,’ the instrumentation manages to conjure images of a lightshow with the song’s field of energetic synths and percussion. Strict musical merits aside, Young Love is lyrically noteworthy too, due to Kye Kye’s way of drawing scripture into their lyrics with original and profound authenticity. In Christian music, there is a tendency to force spirituality and profundity, which can come off cheesy, but Young Love leaves no such impression, its music and lyrics effortlessly flowing true to form. There are reasons aplenty to give Kye Kye a try.

The Forest & The Trees The forest & The trees GRÖNSKAN Records Styles: folk, pop, alt-rock Joel and Linnea Edin, known as The Forest & The Trees, are a Swedish folk pop duo. They live married life in an apartment in Stockholm and compose lulling, full-bodied folk anthems. This life sounds pretty idyllic; indeed, this album sounds a little like something out of a dream. The eponymous 12-track album speaks about growing up, falling in love, and escaping. Opening with the rippling rhapsody ‘Mother,’ Linnea lyricizes a tale of watching her mother age, also realizing that she is herself becoming the woman whose place her mother used to occupy. For a folk-pop album, The Forest & The Trees starts with a bang. Fast-paced drumming on ‘To the Forest (I Need Some Peace)’ highlights a message of escape from hectic city life into nature’s serenity. After this, the album takes a soothing and atmospheric turn, characterized by tinkling chimes and mellifluous pump organ, banjo, guitar, percussion and bass. Most of the tracks on this album emerge like butterflies wriggling out of a still, motionless cocoon to erupt into the airwaves in a flurry of colourful activity. Final track ‘By the Trees’ begins with an ambling glockenspiel, is joined by strolling bass and strings and suddenly somersaults into a near James Bond-worthy theme. Like an all-weather tire, this is an album fit for a range of seasons and conditions. From sunny driving jams to mellower rainy day melodies, there are fixes on this album just waiting for lovers of both stripped-down and hearty, imaginative folk-pop styles.

Familia Golden Lies Buena Vista Styles: new wave, R&B, rock, alt-rock

Engineers In Praise of More Kscope Music Styles: shoegaze, space rock, alt-rock

Soulful and innovative, Familia’s debut album Golden Lies is worthy to stand among many of the excellent altrock releases of this decade. Golden Lies paces along with the urgency of Zeppelin-esque arena rock, yet manages to glide as glassily as something by My Brightest Diamond. Familia play a tight, slick groove, certainly exhibiting the closeness and chemistry of a musical family. It’s not difficult to draw comparisons to The Strokes, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metric, Kings of Leon and Interpol, but Familia are pioneers of their own style. They drop seamlessly from straight rock pulses in ‘Oh Wretched Man’ into catchy shuffles, and showcase nods to a multitude of styles throughout the album — take the jazz-infused ‘Today’ or the acoustic ode ‘Kinda Like a Mess,’ for example. Rhythm and blues run through this album’s veins, putting it in the good company of a multitude of rock greats. There are hard-rocking tracks too, like ‘Out of My Head.’ However, the best track on this album is probably ‘More,’ which brings to mind the contagious stylistics of Tegan & Sara, bolstered by some highly creative percussion and evolving instrumentation from the band. ‘Seventeen’ contains one of the most uplifting choruses you’ll ever sing along to, but it’s afterwards that you realize the power of the anthem you’ve been chanting: a captivating syncopated line goes: “Punishment brought our peace / by his wounds we are healed.” This is juxtaposed against the first telling lines: “She fell in love with a boy who was seventeen / she didn’t know what real love was / so he took her to places that she’d never been / well, he took her to places and now she has to pay.” Familia pull no punches in their fearless and incredibly solid debut.

In Praise of More is an inventive record, and, at 40 minutes in length, it is almost disappointingly short for its title! This praiseworthy third release from Engineers explores more of what they’re renowned for: the chiming, whirring space-rock backgrounds and tight harmonies, the hushed vocals set against evolving soundscapes, and the headbopping, foot-tapping pulses. As one might expect from the third record of a band having attained considerable success, the lyrics on this album are thoughtful and resolute, showing boldness to experiment with curious and imaginative phrases (“I’m sure the sun will rise by the way you raise your head”) as the band continue to build upon experience in musical navigation. The band is charting its course with a new lineup. Mark Peters, who formerly played bass, has moved to guitar, and Daniel Land picks up the bass line. Additionally, the band welcomes new drummer Matthew Linley and keyboardist Ulrich Schnauss as full-time members. With three records and innumerable live shows under their belts, Engineers show hardly a hint of presumptuousness. In fact, the band has assembled a set of songs comprised of fairly delicate conversations. Bold and yet polite, the lyrics travel paths of questions and afterthoughts, addressing topics like fear, love and capturing the present moment. Whoever is not on board is respectfully asked to stay behind (“I’ve found my own place to be / and now you stand clear away from me”). As you are transported through futuristic sonic territory soaked in reverb, In Praise of More will leave you gazing somewhere around the horizon between your shoes and the stars, lost in deep thought, right from slumbering album opener ‘What It’s Worth’ through to the hyperactive title track ‘In Praise of More.’

Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Roc-A-Fella Styles: Hip-hop Kanye West seems to invite his listeners deeper inside his own head with his every movement. Both self-confident and self-conscious, he’s showcased his own inner workings, including his spiritual deliberations with the ‘Jesus Walks’ saga (from his album The College Dropout). Now with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, he opens the door wider for us to watch him process his blunders and his victories. His wit, intellect, convictions and success have come along with some infamous actions and high profile meltdowns. Getting empathy has been a mixed bag for him, yet he remains one of the most influential figures in hip-hop. The album is huge, spanning genres to harness the power of rock, hip-hop, electronica, neoclassicism and thundering African beats. The track list is incredibly catchy, yet it is dark — making statements of resentment, frustration or dismissal. Tracks like ‘Blame Game’ cleverly use voices panning from one side to the other to simulate a frustrated internal conversation about a woman. It’s difficult not to listen with compassion as West’s aggravations drive his lyrics, darkened with obscenities, statements of resignation and even self-loathing. West masterfully plays upon our sympathies, unknowingly or knowingly dabbling in emotional manipulation. Do people want to hear singers come clean about the dark, twisted corners of their mind as they attempt to figure themselves out? Is self-centredness a new major message in art? Album sales and reviews indicate there are a lot of people interested in what this artist has to say. Though our world is dominated by people publicizing their thoughts and actions, it still seems like people’s appetites for that information cannot be satiated. West somehow keeps up intrigue, using his Twitter feed, his public antics, his razor-sharp lyrics and musical fearlessness for experimentation to keep people riding the waves he creates. * This album contains a lot of explicit content.

the plan a meal plan by miriam miller

The exclamation “I have NO idea what to cook tonight and there is no food in the fridge!” does not justify eating cereal for dinner for three months straight. When I lived with my parents, I would often look in the fridge — even if I wasn’t hungry (the ‘boredom check’) — and whine there was nothing to eat. My mom was a whiz. She would say, “There are at least three meals in there!” and prove it to me by making up one of them. Now, either I am the smartest person on the planet, who could consistently manipulate someone into making me food, or I just lacked the creativity and skill required to properly nourish myself. Well, maybe both. But I don’t live with my mom any more, so now I’m on the hook for making meals — but I was still making the same complaint. To make matters worse, I noticed I was spending hundreds of dollars each month on eating out! It took wisdom, and humility to realize my lifestyle was out of control. I needed a plan, so I got a plan. I got my eating back on budget, and made sure I was eating healthy. Meal planning & shopping I look online, in recipe books and on forums with friends to get recipes for meals that are creative, easy and tasty — or whatever I have time for. The meal plan can be for the week, or for the month. It can be for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks or just dinner. Having 10 – 20 plans in rotation for a few months helps keep a food budget predictable, makes the prep and cooking easier and requires less time to hunt down brand new recipes each week. Having a ‘wild card’ night where a new recipe is introduced, or a ‘take a break’ night where eating out is a special event, can make the plan feel fresh and sustainable. Creating a shopping list, I go

out for one big shop, or break it up over the week/month, taking into account the freshness of the ingredients. Meat, for example, can be purchased a few days in advance, but any longer and it needs to be frozen. By sticking to a plan, the fridge is not only full of food, but food that has a purpose. Two meals, one night There are two versions. The first is making two meals in one night, and either freezing the second meal, or cooking and serving it the next day. The two recipes can be totally different or can require similar ingredients for efficiency. For example, one night I made a frittata for dinner and did the prep for stuffed pasta shells at the same time (it sounds way more time-consuming than it is). By the time I had my dinner ready, I also had the stuffed shells in a pan ready to go. The next day, I simply turned the oven on and baked them fresh for dinner. The second version is saving extra ingredients in a recipe one night, and using them for the next meal (see the two recipes below). Cooking extra pasta dish ingredients can make a minestrone soup the next day in minutes. So here is a plan: a meal plan. I think that sounds better than most plans since it involves eating, and I like eating. I also like feeling healthy, so I’m less likely to default to the I-didn’t-buy-groceries-so-I-guess-I-will-eat-gummybears-and-ice-cream plan. It also has become a fun way of expressing my creativity, since I used to burn everything, including water when I cooked. Now I see a picture on a recipe page and I make a meal that looks almost, kind of, well, similar to a distant cousin of it. I challenge you to make a plan, use it and then pat yourself on the back or belly in congratulations.

Pasta with Sausage & Roasted Peppers 6 peppers (any colour but green) 1 package of Italian Sausage (turkey or pork suggested) 1 bottle or 950 ml can of plain tomato sauce 1 package of farfalle, rotini or penne pasta Seasonings: salt and pepper

Directions: Slice peppers into onion ring shape and sized pieces and bake in the oven at 350° until soft and slightly charred — about 40 minutes. Cut or rip into chunks. Squeeze sausage out of the casing into a skillet (med-hi heat) and cook through. Add tomato sauce, chunks of roasted peppers, salt and pepper. Add a bit of the sauce and fresh olive oil to cooked and strained pasta. Serve with the sauce on top of the dish. Garnish with Parmesan cheese. Extras from this meal can be used to create Something Like Minestrone Soup

Something Like Minestrone Soup Extra roasted peppers Extra cooked Italian Sausage (turkey or pork suggested) Extra tomato sauce Extra farfalle, rotini or penne pasta 1 large can of diced tomatoes 1 can or 1.5 cups of cooked kidney beans 3 cups of corn (frozen or canned) 1 onion, chopped 2 stalks of celery, chopped 2 carrots, chopped 1 tetra pak or 4 – 5 cups of chicken or vegetable stock Seasonings: 2 tablespoons of Italian spices, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder (or 2 finely chopped cloves), salt and pepper.

Directions: In a large pot, sauté onions and garlic until soft. Add celery and carrots until cooked to desired firmness. Add everything else but the pasta (add 1-2 minutes before cooking is done) and bring to a boil, then simmer until all ingredients have been heated and softened. Garnish with a sprinkle of shredded cheese, Parmesan cheese or a wallop of sour cream.

Contest: Do you have a recipe that with a little extra of certain ingredients makes another recipe? If so, send it to and you will be entered to win a draw for a $100 gift card to Safeway. Check out Miriam’s blog:


Mid Afternoon Stretches Try these to combat the afternoon crash and relieve tension in stiff muscles




10-10-10 stretch:

Stand with feet shoulder width apart, interlock fingers and reach for the ceiling with palms facing up. Hold for 30 seconds.

Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, with back straight and aligned with the heels. Turn legs out with knees over feet. Bend knees until thighs are parallel to the floor. Repeat 10 - 15 times.

Stand with feet together and hands up. Slowly bend over keeping legs straight and touch toes with fingers. Hold for 30 seconds.

Shut your eyes tightly for 10 seconds. Open your eyes and focus on a close-up object for 10 seconds. Next stretch your range of vision to a far-off object for 10 seconds. Repeat throughout the day as needed.

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last word We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. hebrews 6:19


his morning I woke up to see the sun reflecting the arch of a rainbow across my entire wall. “Hope! God is present and active today and tomorrow,” it seemed to say over me. I wondered why living with hope is a modus operandi so easily forgotten in my life. Maybe I don’t trust the word ‘hope’ because its truest meaning is often diluted into mere wishful thinking by the way we throw it around. When we use the word hope to describe less than the redemptive power of God, we invite ourselves into a ping-pong game between optimism and cynicism. But aren’t these concepts prescribed by our world in newspapers, music and films actually enemies of true hope? Neither optimism nor cynicism really grapples with the world we live in. Optimism is that hanging cherry air freshener I put in my car rear view mirror that hides the stench of my moldy Starbucks coffee cup with a stronger, artificial smell. In other words, it asks me to ignore the vile realities in and around me in order to focus my attention on an idea that may not be trustworthy. Sometimes it’s a good, spiritual idea that I am meant to adopt because it sounds like something the Bible or other Christians would say. However, optimism is suspect because it never invites me to walk into the complexities of life. Instead of acknowledgement, optimism ignores so much of my experience. Cynicism is just as unhelpful. It decides the last chapter by how the current chapter is turning out. It invites me to ignore the genuine good of life, from the thrill of a baby’s birth or meeting someone special to the most basic experiences of life, such as a hard laugh or cry, delicious wine, or the smell of the forest. When consumed by cynicism, I am numbed to the

experience of living as an embodied soul surrounded by beauty within and without. I have predicted my downfall, and that of the entire world around me. I think I know all there is to know and conclude that it’s just not worth it. To put it bluntly, cynicism makes me arrogant. So, before I got out of bed, I declared war. Optimism is out. Cynicism is out. Simply put, I need hope! Let’s get clear that to be a believer means that I walk through the world with eyes that trust that redemption has begun in and all around me and will be completed in full. And it also means that I walk with my eyes open to the world, not ignoring the depth of pain in my heart and in my neighbours. I don’t get to ignore hardship to avoid trusting God at the level my deepest pain resides. I don’t get to decide that because I can’t see a way, there isn’t one. I can’t let cynicism prove that hope is a false advertisement by killing my desire for a full life. My new way of being requires humility, courage and friends like Father Time and his wife Patience. Hope is difficult. It often feels like a burden because we have to keep choosing it, even when we don’t feel like it or when it doesn’t seem reasonable. However, hope will not let us down because hope is not a mind trick or spiritual gymnastic routine. It is our decision to trust in Christ. As Christians, we have no alternative but hope because it is the Way we have accepted. So may our modus operandi be not a flimsy optimism, nor an arrogant cynicism, but full trust and belief that we can truly put our hope in the promise that all things are being made well and will be made well.

Michelle Sudduth 64 | CONVERGE. spring 2011



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Converge magazine // 1  

The very first issue of Converge magazine, Spring 2011. Here Converge tackles relevant issues such as what it means to have hipster faith, a...