The donut man // heroic faith in china // IS Evangelism dead? // Learning to live intentionally
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Give them a summer that lasts
hen I was a child I remember tuning in to the local radio station every night at 7pm for the Adventures in Odyssey radio program. I got caught up in the stories of Dylan, Connie, and Eugene and would wince when they got into trouble that I knew could be avoided. But even when that happened I knew Mr. Whittaker would come to the rescue. His sure, calm voice was reassuring. It was nice to know that no unfortunate situation was irreparable. Being a Christian seemed so easy then. There was a set of things you couldn’t do — things that would make God unhappy, and a set of things you could do to make Him happy (read your Bible, listen to your parents, go to church, tell your friends about God). Now that I’m older things are a little greyer. There have often been questions in life I have no clear answer to and situations that I find myself in that cannot be tidied up with a simple “W.W.J.D.“ What does it mean to be a Christian today? We may have the answer to this question in theory, but what does faith in practice look like in this day and age? In the '80s big name evangelists like Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker emphasized evangelism above all else. They drew millions of supporters and with that, millions of dollars until their names became more associated with the bad press they were getting than the good news they were preaching. Now old school evangelism seems to have taken a back seat to a more laid back Christianity — one that puts the emphasis on a personal relationship with God rather than making disciples
of all nations. When we do evangelize, it’s usually in a low pressure way — never sharing beliefs in too harsh a manner, carefully selecting the most inoffensive of teachings, making sure to take the other person’s beliefs into account. I don’t know which way is more correct or how to strike a happy balance. How do we share our faith in a sincere way, to a culture that craves authenticity? In some ways we've lost our courage to proclaim the Gospel, unabashedly. But maybe a flashy message is no longer effective. Maybe we need to truly be authentic in our attempts to share our faith. This would mean not being afraid to show weakness, doubt, and struggle. This issue is kind of an embodiment of that idea: showing our weaknesses, our struggles, our doubts to the world instead of trying to sound like we've got it all figured out. In that process, we may find that trying to be authentic starts with admitting that we're all human. Is this a better path to sharing, and living, our faith? You be the judge.
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J o h n 4 :2 0 “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
uman curiosity will never be contained. Especially in our society, we crave knowledge. When we make plans, we need to have the what, where, and how figured out in advance. But as we walk in step with God, taking up our cross and submitting to His plan for our lives, we may find our questions often go unanswered. It seems like sometimes God forgets to fill us in on specifics like places, times, or strategies. The challenge is to remain open to the uniqueness of each movement and the singularity of each moment. The challenge is to trust that God never abandons. He knows the specifics, attentive to the finest detail. However, many of life’s “whats” are constants. They should be lifestyle, regardless of place or time. Love your neighbour — and your enemy. Honour all people. Don’t make idols. There are cases where “how” and “where” are not provided
by God, and people make them up. Jews and Samaritans contended over the “how” and “where” of proper worship, as the woman identified. The legalism forced their communities apart. This lesson is relevant today. But Jesus replied that true worshippers worship in spirit and in truth. The mountain was only a memorial: a symbol of a prior event. Immortalized through tradition, the original spirit of the worship encounter had been reduced to mere residue, not unlike Christmas or Thanksgiving nowadays. Worship petrified by nostalgia isn't godly; Jesus insists He is the God of the living, not the dead. While God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He is anything but passé. The legalistic mindset minimizes God by allocating His presence and His activity to specific realms and locations. The church holds a double standard whenever she assigns God to a building or particular day, then wonders why He doesn’t do more.
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Do You KNow
THE DONUT MAN? Rob Evans on why his music is still the best By Shara Lee
ids who grew up in the church during the '90s had lots of Christianthemed entertainment options. Some preferred Adventures in Odyssey, while others loved McGee and Me. My favourite was the Donut Man. His voice sounds gruffer than I remember hearing it as a child. “Hang on, I’m picking up my lunch — stand by,” Rob Evans, the man behind the persona, says to me on the phone. He’s talking to me on his lunch break. As I wait, nerves build. I never thought I would get the chance to interview my childhood hero. Evans is running a remodeling crew in, “a rather questionable part of town.” I try to hide my shock at the fact that the Donut Man has a regular day job. My mom bought his cassettes when I was very young and his songs have stuck with me till today. Sometimes I even find myself singing his songs in the shower: “When I take a bath, I think about the Lord and how He washed away my sins . . .” And when I’m walking solo on lonely streets late at night, I’m comforted by singing softly, “Great and mighty is He . . .” There was something about the Donut Man that I always loved as a child: the trustworthiness of his voice, his sincere interest in instruction, his ability to explain complex concepts to kids without dumbing them down, not to mention all the catchy songs. I set up the interview with Evans hoping to get to know the man behind the Donut Man. I was curious about his personal story. “I grew up in Philadelphia in a Presbyterian home and my parents divorced when I was
six so we stopped going to church and I didn’t come back to church until I was 18. I got into the drugs and rock and roll scene of the '60s and '70s,” he tells me. “My mother was coming towards the end of her third marriage and it was a disaster, just a disastrous home life. There was violence and unhappiness and so my mom started to go to church with a friend. She introduced me to the pastor and the pastor introduced me to Christ. That was 1972, when I was 19.” It was at that church that he met his wife Shelley. Evans married by age 20 and by 28 had five kids. “I think that the Lord allowed me to suffer as I did as a child to make me permanently sensitive to the feelings of children. So don’t curse the darkness, light a candle. And for me, don’t curse the darkness, write a song.” Evans had always liked music. He tells me that he was into the Beatles and Cat Stevens, but he didn’t pursue music professionally. Instead, his backgrocund was in general contracting and plumbing. This might partially explain his blue-collar costume choice of overalls and a newsboy cap — although he later tells me that Mr. Green Jeans of Captain Kangaroo inspired his look. The philosophy of the Donut Man is that, “life without Jesus is like a donut, cause there’s a hole in the middle of your heart.” The Donut Man is on a mission to repair those holes by introducing children to God’s love. I ask Evans why he decided to get into children’s music in the first place. convergemagazine.com
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“Tucking my kids in with Bible stories, I just grew to love the likes of Barbara Streisand, Stevie Wonder, and Madonna, Scripture and story. I started singing songs based on para- among others. The producer for the Donut Man’s records was Mark Gasbarro, who later went on to produce music for the bles,” he tells me. Many people I talk to haven’t heard of the Donut Man, hav- Academy Award winning score to Pixar’s Up and the latest ing grown up with Psalty videos instead. I was never a fan of Star Trek feature film. Chester Thompson, the drummer for Psalty, his blue book/man outfit freaked me out, and I’m sure Phil Collins, also drummed for the Donut Man. “It was just the way things happened. I didn’t go looking for I had nightmares about him as a child. However, the Donut Man, was for me, almost a Christ-like figure. He was humble, these things rather one door opened, and then the next door opened.” compassionate, and wise. I read somewhere that Evans converted to Catholicism. I “What’s the most important thing that you can think of asked if this changes the way he evangelizes. “I don’t when you think of your relationship with God?” use the word convert, because the word convert is a Evans asks me rhetorically. “God is close to you, very broad term which means in some places that I as close to the breath you breathe and the words have denied and rejected my Protestantism which of your mouth. I tried to take as much Scripture is not true,” says Evans. “I am a Christian who does as I could and put it in a first person framework. not view baptism symbolically. I do not view comSo that when you were very young, I didn’t exploit munion, that is the breaking of the bread and the but rather I acknowledged your fertile imagination pouring out of the wine, symbolically.” that you so loved to wield.” Evans says that there are certain things about Maybe the reason I connected to Evans and his the Catholic Church that aren’t intrinsically Cathosongs was that he made Jesus real to me, describlic but rather cultural. For example, he says many ing him in certain songs as a little boy who would Scan and Catholics do not read Scripture. “To the degree that fall and scrape his knee and in other songs as a king the Catholic Church is Christian, yes I’m Catholic. worthy of praise. As a child this would have been a Sing-a-Long To the degree that the Catholic Church does not hard concept to grapple with, but somehow Evans Join the Donut read Scripture, and is not focused on worshipexplained it with ease. It seems fitting that the taMan Repair ping the person of Jesus Christ, that’s not Catholic, gline for his albums was, “Songs that teach, songs Club's visit to that’s not Christian. To the degree that the Catholic that praise.” Uncle Jim's Church is idolatrous, it’s not Christian so it’s really “That whole storytelling approach is very perfarm! not Catholic.” sonal. It could be applied with Scripture and with I tell Evans that he still sounds like an evangeliGod. So that was my mindset all along,” he says. cal to me. “I’m an evangelical Catholic,” he retorts. Twenty years later, his music still resonates with “I love Jesus with all my heart and I love Scripme. Although his target audience is kids, he makes ture.” sure that his music is also inoffensive to adults. Evans says that he’s still making music to this “How can I possibly do any better than the Bible? day. “I’m constantly giving concerts, I give about I can’t. So I just tried to deliver the goods as best What's your 80 to 100 concerts a year,” he says. Not bad for a as I understood them to an audience that was six favourite song? man nearing 60. years old and their parents,” says Evans. I ask what he thinks about some of the newer “We designed the music to be palatable to the children’s Bible programs like Veggie Tales. “I adults.” See what's new (and haven’t listened to it. I’m a bit of a prima donna — I Evans had moved to Los Angeles in 1982 to atold) with the Donut just think my music is the best. I listen to the mutend Bible school and be near to the man who led Man at donutman.com sic in my head, I’m always writing new songs and him to Christ in 1972. There he and his family bewhen people ask me what’s my favourite song, I say gan attending Jack Hayford’s church in Van Nuys, the one I’m working on right now.” California where he says he met some of the best I might be biased, but I agree. musicians in the world. While writing this article, I had “I taught in Sunday school. the Donut Man’s music blaring Children in Sunday school liked in the background and couldn’t my songs and their dads were the I think that the Lord allowed me to suffer help but feeling that it was some best musicians in the world. For as I did as a child to make me permanently of the most honest worship music example, Abe Laboriel played bass I’d heard in a while. It’s music on my album. Abe Jr. mowed my sensitive to the feelings of children. So that I won’t mind playing for my lawn, and he is now the drummer don’t curse the darkness, light a candle. own children some day. I just for Paul McCartney.” hope they don’t mind when I start Abe Senior’s credentials aren’t singing along. bad either. He’s played bass for
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The View from the Pew
realityla.com 9AM, 12PM, 5PM Helen Bernstein High School 1309 N Wilton Pl Hollywood, CA
This series is a subjective impression of a brief encounter with a local body of believers. If I knew I was staying in these communities, I probably wouldn't write a word about them until I'd attended for at least a year. But since I'm only there to visit once, I can give a hint of what a first-time visitor feels. First-time visitors are hardly objective in their decisions to revisit or never come back; that's my excuse for just calling it like I see it, even if I'm seeing it wrong. The idea is more to give an impression of cultural and regional differences in churches around the continent. And if these churches see the review, maybe they'll have some ideas on whether they're achieving their goals. Or maybe they'll just write me off. That's always allowed. Churches, I love you all. (So far.) I'm glad you are where I happened to be, so I could worship with you. You gave me lots to think about. God used you in my life. Thank you.
the scene Central urban location, just off the Hollywood Freeway; large congregation; two Sunday services, one morning and one evening. Los Angeles always puts me in a mood of existential despair; I blame it on the atmosphere of eternal, glowing youth. Something about the overabundance of sunlight makes you feel invisible unless you're upbeat, open-minded and athletic. And I humbly confess a persistent teen-
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age stubbornness against feeling the way I'm expected to. So as I walked up from the parking garage beneath L.A.'s Helen Bernstein High School, I settled my mind that, despite whatever over-processed music and spiritual buzzwords I was likely to encounter, I would enjoy the opportunity to worship freely, and accord these appearance-driven Angelenos their right to do the same. I arrived late; out of the corner of my eye, I saw a truly exemplary coffee stand set up on card tables at the north end of the courtyard. The glass canisters of raw sugar led me to wonder dizzily if this might be coffee roasted by Intelligentsia, the local nonpareil. But I didn't have time
to find out â€” the sermon was reverberating already from the outdoor speakers. (It turned out I wasn't so late as I thought â€” my friend who regularly attends there told me that they always lead off with the sermon, and end with worship. What's more, this is So-Cal; everything starts 15 minutes later than it's scheduled to.) The high school theater in which the church meets looks like the one on Inside the Actor's Studio. And that's not only from an architectural standpoint; everyone in the congregation looks like a 3rd or 4th year art school student. Scarves, skinny jeans, buns and boosie-fades abound. I take a seat toward the middle of the room and shrink down into my hoodie. The pastor looks like he stepped out of a 1950s toothpaste commercial: clean-
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local church reviews, one region at a time
shaven, slick blond hair, with a freshout-of-the-shower sheen about him that makes his eyes shine as brightly as his teeth. He's wearing the plaid shirt requisite to any church that makes claim to cultural relevance, but it's an eye-catching black and white check pattern. Tres LA.
Sermon Preaching on the subject of anger, he led off with an example highly relevant to his crowd: traffic. It was greeted by knowing laughter, which only escalated as he regaled the crowd with parenting tales, and an imitation of Gollum (from LOTR), all in illustration of various situations where we find anger excusable. At a certain point, I realized that there had been nonstop laughter of varying intensity for 10 minutes. Despite how it may sound, I really didn't hold the sermon in ill regard. Maybe this is what Los Angeles needs — a place that takes itself so seriously might find spiritual enlightenment in an environment warmed by honest humor. Certainly, the pastor didn't come off like he was working primarily for the laughs. His preaching was insightful, and I appreciated that he held the Scripture in higher esteem than many well-read preachers are wont to do — he quoted as much from the Bible as he did from John Stott, C.S. Lewis and other theological heavyweights. I also thought it was clever how he reversed the usual sermon progression of “text, gospel, application." Instead, he brought the application first — love instead of anger. Then, in a subtle but effective surprise thrust, reminded listeners of the despair that they are likely to feel as they pursue this application throughout the week. "Love," he said, "is cultivated in a climate of humility." And humility, he continued, is brought on by recognizing that God paid a debt that you can never repay. The kind of love God is after is, and is enabled by, the kind of love God gives.
Worship At this point, the pastor closed out the message and began to pray, which gave me time to visit the bathroom. When I came back, the lights were down, only the white backdrop of the stage was lit, and the musicians were assembled in darkness, with blue specials highlighting their hair, jawbones, and elbows. The girl who began singing had the kind of voice you just assume has been heavily filtered through ProTools. I thought to myself, "Okay, this is where
we all stand mutely appreciating the 'excellence' of the band . . ." But then (not knowing the words to the first song) I looked around and saw that many of the scarves and buns were on their feet, with their heads tilted back and their arms lifted. While I know this is a posture easily faked . . . well, what can I say? How do you explain the conviction that the Holy Spirit has showed up in the room? I saw people kneeling — I saw one guy crying — and none of it was dramatic or overemotional. It simply was. And it was powerful. I realized afterward how guilty I'd been of reverse snobbery, thinking that the Holy Spirit could only make a convincing impression in live music when it's played by well-meaning amateurs.
Afterward I spoke to the pastor, and told him how Spirit-filled I found his church to be. He smiled broadly but shyly; looking down at his feet for a minute, he answered, "He is great in our weakness."
Friendliness: 8 I visited with a friend, who introduced me to a few of his friends, and subsequently met a few more people for the first time while I was there. Maybe I was just on a spiritual high, but everyone seemed genuinely open to eye-contact and conversation.
Amenities: 8 Appearance alone earns this coffee table a high rating. They also had a wellstocked rack of books in the courtyard welcome booth, along a couple of iPads available to learn more about the church and sign up for emails.
Music: 9 Not my most-favourite variety (see last issue's View from the Pew), but the undeniable infusion of the Holy Spirit says a lot about the sincerity of the musicians.
Sermon: 8.5 The personality and sincerity of the pastor warmed me to a sermon that, in another person's hands, might have come across trite and ingratiating.
Vibe: 7.5 (It is, after all, Los Angeles.)
Would I go back? Yes. convergemagazine.com
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CALL OF DUTY Do Catholics and Protestants view evangelism differently? We posed this question to one Protestant and one Catholic, asking them to discuss over email. Here’s their exchange:
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The Evangelical Church has been in a bit of a state of flux for the last 10 years in a lot of ways. We aren’t quite as counter-cultural as we were in the '80s and '90s, and we aren’t waiting with baited breath for “the end days” anymore either. Another thing that is changing is how we evangelize. I remember being encouraged to save as many souls as I could when I While there was in middle school. So I’d try to get people to say the sinner’s prayer so they’d go to heaven and talk about are certainly how bad hell was going to be if they didn’t, in order to convince them. A lot of Christians don’t believe this is dynamic the way to go anymore. They believe that we should Catholic talk more about the good news than scare people with threats of hell. But we’ve also started to take evangepreachers, lism less seriously than we used to. In trying to figure theologians, out what evangelism should look like for my generation of "evangelicals," and how much we should emphasize and apologists, it, I wonder if you have any wisdom to share?
Clay (the Catholic): Catholics use the term “evangelization” as opposed to “evangelism” though they both have the same meaning: sharing the Good News and going out to make disciples. While there are certainly dynamic Catholic preachers, theologians, and apologists, the Catholic approach has traditionally been more humble and less “public” than that of our Protestant brothers and sis-
the Catholic approach has traditionally been more humble and less “public.”
I admit that sometimes I let my Canadian-ness get the best of me, and err on the side of complacency, calling it “tolerance” or “humility.” ters. In 1975, Pope Paul VI issued an apostolic exhortation affirming the role of every Christian in spreading the Gospel. Since then the Catholic Church has made evangelization a priority. Many dioceses have forms of an “Office of Evangelization” to help parishes and individuals with their responsibility in sharing the Gospel. Another example is the current “Catholics Come Home” campaign for the Archdiocese of Vancouver. The message to fallen-away Catholics is simple: “Welcome home.” We believe that one of the primary roles of the baptized is to evangelize — it’s a task of all Christians.
It seems we both believe that evangelism is a Christian duty, but what does that look like on a day-to-day basis towards the non-Christian? Handouts, bullhorns, or acts of service pinned with a smile and a “Jesus loves you”? You say that the Catholic Church has made it a priority. What sort of coaching or resources do they offer? I find that, other than the occasional prodding from my pastor, I don’t have anyone keeping me accountable or coaching me through the process of evangelism. So I often leave it to the people who seem naturally good at it. I’m sure there are some good books, but they don’t quite offer enough motivation to really get out there and do it. Also, I admit that sometimes I let my Canadian-ness get the best of me, and err on the side of complacency, calling it “tolerance” or “humility.” Do Catholics struggle with this? How can we encourage each other to rethink evangelism, and do a better job of it?
Clay: I love what you said about your “Canadian-ness” as we are generally thought of as polite and humble people — almost too nice to want to ruffle any feathers. Some would look at Catholics in a similar light especially with respect to evangelization. Thus, I would say that Catholics have struggled with the proper method to evangelize for decades. More recently, Catholics have started speaking of “New Evangelization.” One of its tenants is to reach out to “fallen away” Catholics as opposed to those who don’t know Jesus at all.
While the latter is obviously extremely important, the former was the focus of the recent “Catholics Come Home” campaign. Extending this thought to all Christians: do you think that Christians should focus more on those who have left the church or those who have never been to church?
Sam: I do like that perspective, and find myself much more willing to engage post-Christians than non-Christians, because we can speak a shared language. I think we should evangelize within our sphere of influence first and foremost. We’ve moved from the salespitch, Bible-thumping method to a more authentic story-telling method of evangelism. Have Catholics made that switch as well? Part of this is choosing to engage those people who you are in community with, because your character and service can act as a witness to your message, giving it an authority that a guy on the street will never have. So perhaps we should focus on the kind that is closest to us, whether it’s non-religious, post-religious, or a different kind of religious. Each type requires a different strategy to engage, and it’s better to try to gain confidence in one area than try to be good at everything and end up being mediocre. I think that’s something we can learn from the Catholic approach: focus on one area first. I also think that being a good evangelist starts with being a good conversationalist, because a good conversation can naturally lead to talk about God, injustice, good, and so on. So maybe we should all commit to trying to have more important conversations, and that will lead to more natural evangelism.
Clay: I think what Catholics can learn from our Protestant brothers and sisters is to be more bold and to not be afraid. After all, fear is not of the Lord. And if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Catholics never even got to the sales-pitch Biblethumping method of evangelization. I completely agree with evangelizing within our spheres of inf luence and community. I often say it’s less about what we say and do, rather about who we are. After all, we’re called human beings and not humandoings. Clay Imoo serves as the Director of Youth and Young adult ministry for the Archdioces of Vancouver. Sam McLoughlin obtained a Masters in Christian Studies at Regent College.
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THE STORY BEHIND AIKMAN NOT Your TYPICAL WRITING CONTEST
narrative. The article should focus on a remarkable true story atrick Henry College, Guildford Media Ltd., and reporter of God’s grace and intervention in the life of an individual / writer David Aikman announced this week the launch and/or their community. of The Aikman Opportunity Award for Young Christian WritA carefully selected panel of judges will short-list the apers. The goal of the award, say the organizers, is to identify, plicants and create a list of finalists. Upon notification, the fiencourage, and support a new generation of Christian nonficnalists will then be required to prepare a 2,000 - 4,000 word tion testimony writers. Such writers can inspire both Chrisproposal outlining their vision and offering verification of the tians and general readers with true stories of how God has authenticity of their story. worked transformatively in the lives of individuals and comDr. Aikman talks about the importance of why these books munities. need to be written Most writing contests award prizes for already completed “I was already a Christian by conviction, having been conmanuscripts. The Aikman Opportunity Award is different. It verted in my early twenties. But all of these experiences conpromises a top prize to the writer who can compose the most firmed for me the advantage and the wisdom of looking at the compelling and best-reported book proposal of the testimony world through Christian eyes. I have heard several Christian story he or she wants to write. The prize, of course, will protestimonies during my career — stories that were beautifully vide a solid financial base for the writer as the manuscript is crafted about people experiencing the faithfulness of God in a being assembled. great variety of circumstances. In the 1970s and 1980s, there • Grand prize: $20,000 plus potential for publication were many books of these testimonies being published. In • First runner-up award: $1,500 plus potential for recent years, though, the wellspring of good testimony writpublication ing has become drier. Yet, today it’s more impor• Second runner-up award: $1,500 plus tant than ever to tell people what God is doing in potential for publication the world. At the end of the day writing, especially • Third runner-up award: $1,500 plus potential FOR MORE Christian writing, is a God-given calling. In this for publication INFORMATION: writers’ contest I want to provide a spark of inspiTo qualify, contestants must reside in Canada, the ration and a real practical incentive for Christian USA, the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland writers to be started telling the most wonderful and be between the ages of 18 and 35 years of age. story we will ever hear: what God is doing in the All contestants must submit a 1,000 - 1,500 word lives of ordinary people.” article that leaves the reader yearning for a longer
16 | CONVERGE. march - april
Flickr photo by Ethan R.
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FIELD NOTES VOL. 5
the heat of the moment A complicated mire of hormones connects the head and the heart By Chelsea Batten
was scared, my first time. Conventional wisdom says that’s common, but romantic movies constantly change their tune, characterizing ingénues from one year to the next as fearful and trembling, blissfully surprised, or preternaturally aware. I was scared, and I was impatient. When it finally happened, I closed my eyes and tried to memorize everything about it — the wind and the stars and the voiceless whispers. It’s hard to keep the head and the heart and the body all integrated. That's why I was wishing that we would get married. So then I wouldn't have to be thinking so hard about what was permissible, and what I was supposed to do next, and what any of it meant. I once read a magazine piece written by a sex worker who said that she loved her job because it gave her mind a break, and let her body do all the work. I’ve often resented the ease with which sex workers can get writing gigs. (Seriously, it’s a thing.) But now I wonder if, in fact, it works the other way round. Maybe the writerly nature — overanalytical, hypersensitive, roiling with emotional conflict — is drawn to the opportunity to express itself, for once, without words. The second time was just a great, big relief. It had been two years since my first time, and the indignity of self-propelled heartbreak that followed upon it. I was a cosmetic and emotional mess, and I was just so grateful that all the parts still worked, to say nothing of the guy who was setting them in motion . . . easily the best-looking guy who's ever stepped to the plate.
Follow Chelsea Batten on her quest to find "the one." She'll take you through the irks and quirks of the journey getting there.
My sisters both waited until they got married. I don't know what it was like for them; we don't talk about things like that. That's not fair — they might talk about it, at this stage. But I don't think they'd listen to me, because they don't like stories with sad endings. The third time . . . well, it's hard for me to say much. Partly because there are so many questions unresolved: about the guy, about what happened, about love and destiny, about all those body parts that come attached to a complicated mire of hormones and secretory functions and areas of the brain . . . it's like a tube amplifier, down in there.
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When it finally happened, I closed my eyes and tried to memorize everything about it — the wind and the stars and the voiceless whispers. I can tell you, though, that it was a moment of gorgeous freedom, turned up to 11, because I believed that this was it. That God had done more than provide for me — He'd hooked me up. Consequently, there was no mental or emotional reservation holding back the keen sensation that bellowed through my bloodstream, making my skin as thin as tissue paper, strengthening my bones as if I could break through walls. It was maybe the only fearless moment I've ever experienced; certainly, it was the most prolonged. These three times are my best reason for remaining a virgin. Because if kissing can do this to me, I suspect sex would make me into one of those women written about by Victorian men, wandering the cobble-stone streets with hair half-tumbled, face stained forever by the ruinous look of regret.
International Opportunities Abound
Global Awareness & Action.
Prairie has a history of preparing graduates for cross-cultural service and this emphasis remains core to our purpose.Through our 1-year Discover Certificate, 4-year Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Studies, GlobeTREK Internship or International Practicum Placements and missions trips, our students are being equipped to meet the greatest needs of the world.
Bible College - Applied Arts and Technology - Mission Aviation Box 4000, Three Hills, AB, T0M 2N0
The imagination of
This music mixer says tunes aren’t everything By Shara Lee
n Daniel Kim’s YouTube channel, "Kimagination," you'll find K-pop covers, dubstep remixes, and top 40 mashups, showing off Kim's ability to entertain through singing, dancing, and especially remixing: his "Pop Danthology 2012" video, a powermix of the previous year’s top hits, went viral, recently eclipsing Daniel Kim explores 20 million views. psychology and life Not bad for a self taught Vancouver boy. You wouldn’t know it as a gifted person: from the upbeat tone to his music, but just a few years ago Kim giftofocpd.com suffered from severe depression. His only relief came from pursuing what he calls his “addictions.” Keeping busy was one of them. After graduating from business school with a major in marketing, he worked at CHUM radio in Vancouver, then f lew POPDANTHOLOGY off to Korea to jump into the entertainment scene. There he 2012 worked in marketing and also did some on-camera work. He LISTEN ONLINE: even made time to audition for a singing competition, not unlike American Idol. “The Asian mindset is that if you don't have pain you’re not working hard enough. That’s what Korean parents are like. So since I was young, I was told that kind of stuff, I just thought okay, I need to work harder,” he tells me.
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Traveling, Kim says, was another of his addictions. Although only 28, Kim has traveled to 34 countries and lived in four of them. “I was trying to distract myself from my biggest pain, which was loneliness. I could never fill that void. It was all about being busy. But the pain of loneliness never disappeared, and then whenever these things didn’t work out, that pain would surface.” Kim had his breaking point in Korea. “It got a bit too difficult when I was in Korea. I just had to leave and come back here. Go through healing, therapy, rehab, all that kind of stuff.” He says he has now filled the void he once had with the understanding that God really understands him even if the rest of the world might not. “He loves me, he cares about me. He cares about the deepest desires of my heart.” As for future plans, he’s not so sure he wants to pursue music. Kim says the success of Pop Danthology came as a huge surprise. "A lot of people are recognizing me for my music and they’re wanting more, but I don’t know . . . I’m so passionate about psychology right now. I’m writing a blog about psychology, self help, overcoming anxiety, giftedness. That’s doing quite well right now.” Kim says that the blog is less stressful and allows him to really express himself. Ever the perfectionist, Kim doesn’t want to pursue anything seriously that he can’t be the very best at. “The standard of excellence for blogging is this high,” he says placing a hand parallel to the table at chest level. “The standard for excellence in music, I mean I’m competing against professional millionaires, it’s so high and so hard to mimick that kind of quality, whereas writing is just so easy. It takes me one week to put out a post, for anything in music it takes me months.” But fans of Kim’s shouldn’t be too worried. He says he’ll still continue to make music, even if it’s not full time. “Rather than try to market myself I’ll just wait for the inspiration to hit me,” he says.
Photo by Norman Tam, courtesty of AX3 Multimedia Inc.
EVERYTHING I’VE LEARNED about
the creative process from my time on staff at
Northpoint, Catalyst Conference Creative Team And Elevation where I lead worship once a month.”
carlos whittaker CREATIVE COACH & WORSHIP LEADER
JUNE 3-5 ST. CATHARINES, ON CREATE CONFERENCE 2013
PLUS: jared hogan [elevation church video director] dan stevers [motion graphics artist] tim peters [communications strategist christopher bassete [motion picture writer/director] gordie cochran [producer and creative director] and more
Learning to live intentionally By Paul Sohn Success: noun 1. The attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like. (Dictionary.com) I used to be a prisoner of success. Growing up in Korea, I saw only two types of people: the top five per cent who got straight A’s, and the remaining 95. Life was defined by a letter grade. Every student competed in the same desperate game to reach the top of the ladder of success. As a slow learner, I grappled with my unforgiving grades every day as I was reduced to nothing but the number assigned to me. At age 14, I saw no hope, no passion, and no purpose in life. I decided to leave Korea for a chance to redeem myself. During the next 10 years, I made Vancouver, Canada my home. It took a
RESTORING THE CENTRE: THE PLACE OF THE TABLE IN THE CHURCH MAY 7–10, 2013
rgnt.net/pastors2013 22 | CONVERGE.
long time to restore my confidence, learn English, and acclimatize to the Canadian culture. Every day I was driven by the fear of failure. When I hit university, I knew it would be the last chance to prove myself. My first two years were a struggle, but my last two years of university were the most successful of my entire life. I co-founded a student organization, which has become the largest ethnic business club in western Canada. I became a subject matter expert in Human Resources by serving as a consultant to student executives in my student society, and interned at two admired Fortune 500 companies. I clearly remember one day, six months prior to my graduation, sipping hot chocolate at a café thinking, “I have finally made it!” It was a temporary victory. Though I had been able to eradicate the painful memories, and had achieved so much, I soon felt empty. Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias words perfectly described my state: “The loneliest moment in life is when you just experienced that which you thought would deliver the ultimate, and it has let you down.” Fast forward a few years. I had met a mentor with whom I had developed a trusting relationship. On one occasion he asked me: “Paul, why are you trying so hard to become successful?” For some reason, I felt as if God were asking me this question. After several forlorn attempts of defense,
Top Recommended Books: I yielded to the Holy Spirit and acknowledged that I was driven to succeed because I had to prove I was not a failure. An enormous burden lifted as I felt the outpouring of God’s love — a love that was not based on performance, nor on good works, but was simply unconditional. The On-Purpose One Big Cure for the The Principle PurposeMy mentor offered a paradigm-jarPerson Thing Common Life of the Path Driven Life ring Christian definition of success. Kevin McCarthy Phil Cooke Max Lucado Andy Stanley Rick Warren He said, “Life is to be lived intentionally. Every one of us is to live each moment with godly intentionality guided Unfortunately, many people die without knowing it. Ephesians by discernment and wisdom. This will help you live in your 2:10 says, “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ sweet spot.” Living intentionally is a lot like using a GPS sysJesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us tem. When you put in the right starting point and destination, to do.” If you have started discovering it calculates the best route for you to follow. My mentor asked answers to the two preceding questions, three fundamental and interrelated questions that have helped the answer to this question becomes me plan my journey towards an intentional life. easier. Bill Hybels asks, “What is the Whose Am I? As a Christian, I understand that I am created one aspect of this broken world that, for a purpose. This question has helped me understand that when you see it, touch it, get near it, God is the primary authority and audience for my life. In other you just can’t stand?” For Moses, it words, is He the one I seek to please? This question helped me was the misery of God’s people. For discover my overarching calling. The Bible defines this for me: me, it is equipping the next generation Paul Sohn is an to glorify God in all I do and enjoy Him forever. A daily com- Christians to become influential organizational mitment to meditating upon Scripture has become the corner- leaders in their area of calling to effect chiropractor, stone for living intentionally. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a societal transformation in the world. intentional leader, Not something that happens overnight. a lamp to my feet, a light for my path.” and ChristPrayerfully approach this and reflect centered mind Who Am I? Each one of us is created by God in His unique over your life to see hints of God’s grand molder and works image. There are no two people in this world that are the same. design in your life. for The Boeing The Psalmist says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” At the end of the day, that tantalizing Company in Lean (Psalm 139:14). Only by discovering my God-given gifts and image of success as defined by the world management. He passion will I honour God. There are many tools available that fails to satisfy our unquenchable thirst writes about his have helped me to better understand myself. I asked for feedfor meaning in life. But, when we place perspectives on back from family, friends and co-workers through three simple our faith exclusively in Christ Jesus, He growth & change, questions: “What should I stop doing?,” “What should I continsupplies us with love that offers meaning leadership, and ue doing?,” and “What should I start doing?” Some tools to help and significance. When we seek to know the Christian life discover gifts: Strengths Finder 2.0, DISC assessment, Myersour creator, examine our identity, and at www.paulsohn. Briggs Test Indicator, and StandOut assessment. Remember discover what we are born to do, we have org. You can Oscar Wilde’s words: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already achieved the ultimate success. That is, also find him on taken.” to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Facebook. Why Am I Here? All of us are born with a divine purpose.
WHY BIBLE SCHOOL?
Photos by Alex Haid, Mark Leshures, Alayna Biersdorff, and Jonathan Patterson
Education special ~"([\l\u\)[:punct:]])
Whether you’re fresh out of high school or have spent the last few years in college or the work force, there’s a lot to be gained from taking a year off to go to Bible school. At Capernwray, students eat, sleep, and learn in community. With campuses all over the world, it’s a chance for young people to not only travel, but also learn more about the Gospel while doing so. We asked a few Capernwray students to tell us what Bible school abroad is really like.
Jayda Hoote Home: Alberta Campus: Costa Rica
On choosing Costa Rica:
Home: Washington, USA Campus: Thetis Island
On leaving home for the first time: “Missing my family? Not as much as I had thought. I’ve actually been more of an encouragement to my family being here. Yesterday I had a conversation with my parents, something about honouring your father and mother brings respect. I know that eventually I’ll have to do a ministry and eventually I’ll have to leave the house anyway.”
24 | CONVERGE. march - april
“I’ve known that I wanted to go to Bible school for a while and I didn’t really want to stay at home. I chose Costa Rica because I really love the language and the people there. I just love their culture cause they’re so hospitable and very focused on community and family. Looking around North America I didn’t see that as much, and honestly, I was just sick of our culture, that ‘mefirst, step on anybody to get to the top’ mentality. I wanted to get away from all that.”
Josh Timms Home: Alberta Campus: Bodeseehof, Germany
On choosing Germany: “I am German, I have a German heritage so I wanted to go back to somewhere where my relatives were from. I love adventure and I love to step out and do something big. So for me, going to a Bible school close to home wasn’t really an option. I just wanted to go and go far. I went to Germany thinking I’d be the only Canadian and on the first night I show up and . . . there’s 110 students and 56 Canadians. So it was really cool.”
Joel Thudian Home: India Campus: Thetis Island
On learning to trust God: “I always wanted to make a lot of money, be an accountant . . . But I applied to twelve universities and didn’t get admission anywhere. People who scored less than me got their admissions easily. My parents came up with the idea of going to Bible school. I said, ‘there’s no way I can afford Bible school.’ That’s when one of my parent’s friends asked me, ‘Hey what are you gonna do now?’ I explained that I didn’t get into university and Bible school was too expensive. He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got your flight ticket covered’. I feel like God closed all the doors for me and opened just one. If you ask me why I’m here, I don’t know, I’m just following him right now.”
Ashley Bogla Home: S. Australia Campus: Thetis Island
On discovering wholeness through God: “I’ve always been pretty independent, but the first week I didn’t have any contact with my family or my best friends, and I remember walking into the lodge the first day and thinking, 'I’m never gonna call this home.' I just missed home so much. But I think the first week what we were learning in class, what I was learning through my devotions, I realized all I have is God, and I need to learn to be complete in Him no matter where I go in the world.”
Josh Thomas Home: NW England Campus: Thetis Island
On evangelizing outside the Christian bubble: “I’m part of an outreach where we go to a street church. On Saturday evenings they have a meal that they serve to homeless people. Before we went I thought 'I don’t know how I’m gonna talk to them . . .' I prayed, 'God, I can’t do this so just work through me and give me the words to say.' And I’ve had so many great conversations with the people there and that would not have been possible if I tried to do it on my own.”
DORM ROOM DIY
By Tasshia Pamintuan If you are constantly in search of a pen, pencil, or any of those easy-to-misplace school supplies, here's a quick DIY project that's perfect for any student. You can enjoy some homemade hummus or a chick pea salad then easily repurpose that can of aforementioned peas into a desk organizer.
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26 | CONVERGE. march - april
There are so many great ways to easily personalize and re-use tin cans. Here's what you need:
white paint pen
STEP ONE: Wash tin can and dry with a cloth (be careful not to cut yourself on the rim). Peel label off. (Boys can stop here.)
STEP TWO: Trace the label onto kraft paper. Start drawing any patterns you'd like! Have fun with it. Imperfections are okay, it adds character!
Step three: Tape down one end of the paper, then wrap the new label around. Finish it off by taping on top. I used a black and white washi tape, and actually had it exposed from top to bottom of the can. You always have the option of using double sided tape for a seamless look.
Step Four: Place your pencils in the cans and voilà! Now you can replenish your energy with some homemade hummus at your next study break.
Emmanuel bible college
alberta bible college
Langley, B.C. • Seminary • Student Body: N/A Tuition: Up to $495 / credit hour • Financial aid: Yes acts.twu.ca
Calgary, Alta. • College • Student Body: <50 Tuition: $195 / credit hour • Financial aid: No abccampus.ca
ROOM & BOARD: Yes (through TWU) STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 14:1 HOT HANGOUT: The Collegium THE PITCH: ACTS is a unique partnership
ROOM & BOARD: N/A STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 7:1 HOT HANGOUT: Student Centre THE PITCH: Come to Alberta Bible College
of five seminaries developing Christian leaders for both vocational and lay ministry. We create a dynamic, integrated learning environment where students can learn, grow, and explore theological traditions and spiritual experiences.
and be engaged in supervised and mentored hands-on ministry experience that applies what is presented in the classroom.
SCHOOL MOTTO: Essential Training for Christian Service
SCHOOL MOTTO: Equipping people for effective service and witness for Christ.
Picking your school can be both an exciting and difficult process. We've compiled some basic information from various Christian post secondary institutions to help aid your decision making process.
28 | CONVERGE.
briercrest college & seminary
Canada Insitute of Linguistics (at TWU)
Caronport, Sask. • College & Seminary • Student Body: 635 Tuition: $277 / credit • Financial aid: Yes briercrest.ca
Langley, B.C. • University • Student Body: 120 Tuition: Various • Financial aid: Yes canil.ca
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 22:1 HOT HANGOUT: Clippers games, The Point THE PITCH: Expanding degree options
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: up to 30:1 HOT HANGOUT: CanIL Common Room THE PITCH: CanIL offers high quality applied
and a supportive Christian community that prepares you to do amazing Kingdom work, no matter what vocation you choose.
linguistic training for cross-cultural service opportunities around the world in Bible translation, literacy and language development.
SCHOOL MOTTO: Outstanding Christian Education
SCHOOL MOTTO: Training for translators, literacy workers, linguistics and trainers
Belfast Ascend Adventure Bible School Bible College
Nordegg, Alta. • Discipleship School • Student Body: 10 Tuition: $3,450 (3 month program incl R&B) • Financial aid: Yes frontierlodge.ca/ascend
Belfast, Northern Ireland • University & Seminary Student Body: 217 • Tuition: Various • Financial aid: No belfastbiblecollege.com
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 5:1 HOT HANGOUT: Under the stars THE PITCH: ASCEND is . . . Discipleship.
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 27:1 HOT HANGOUT: Student Rec Room THE PITCH: Belfast Bible College, situated
Growth. Nature. Leadership Training. Small Groups. Community. Stewardship. Outdoor Skills. Mentorship. Fun. Learning. Solitude. Outreach. Faith. Self-Discovery. Friendships. Team Building. Prayer. Adventure . . .
in Northern Ireland is a vibrant, international learning community committed to academic, spiritual, and practical learning at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
Faith in Action
SCHOOL MOTTO: Resourcing the Church for the Mission of God through Theological Education
Hepburn, Sask. • College • Student Body: 140 Tuition: $195 / credit hour • Financial aid: Yes bethany.sk.ca
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 10:1 HOT HANGOUT: The Cafe THE PITCH: •Discipleship — Individual mentorship of all students by faculty and staff. •Community — Live in dorm, study God’s word & learn in community. •Transformation — Through experience and service learning. SCHOOL MOTTO: Nurturing Disciples and Training Leaders to Serve
capernwray harbour bible centre
capernwray quebec bible centre
Thetis Island, B.C. • Ministry School • Student Body: ~120 Tuition: $10,900 (1 year program incl R&B) • Financial aid: N/A capernwray.ca
Chertsey, Que. • Bible School • Student Body: 25-35 Tuition: $10,500 (1 year program incl R&B) • Financial aid: N/A cqbc.ca
Surrey, B.C. • College • Student Body: <100 Tuition: $145 / credit • Financial aid: Yes christcollege.ca
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 3:1 HOT HANGOUT: The Pump House THE PITCH: Capernwray Harbour is a one
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 3:1 HOT HANGOUT: Student Lounge THE PITCH: CQBC offers an intensive
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 8:1 HOT HANGOUT: Student Lounge THE PITCH: Christ College is an
year, in-depth, practical Bible School programme; training in the Christian life. Discover and know Jesus Christ as Life. Community and stunning island living.
discipleship opportunity and a unique Quebec cultural experience as you deepen your relationship with Christ through classes, serving and living together.
international and inter-denominational school that offers programs with high academic standards and practical experience to equip students for life and ministry.
Proclaiming Jesus Christ as Life!
SCHOOL MOTTO: Declaring Christ as Life!
SCHOOL MOTTO: Ancient Faith – Modern Ministry
columbia bible college
concordia lutheran seminary
Abbotsford, B.C. • College • Student Body: 450 Tuition: $309 / credit hour • Financial aid: Yes columbiabc.edu
Edmonton, Alta. • Seminary • Student Body: 24 Tuition: $260 / credit hour • Financial aid: Yes learngrowserve.ca
Sioux Center, Iowa • College • Student Body: 1,400 Tuition: US$1,050 / credit • Financial aid: Yes dordt.edu
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 20:1 HOT HANGOUT: Holy Grounds Coffee Shop THE PITCH: Quality education and diverse
ROOM & BOARD: N/A STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 5:1 HOT HANGOUT: The Foosball Room THE PITCH: CLS is a small confessional
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 15:1 HOT HANGOUT: 55th Avenue, Rec Center THE PITCH: Dordt College provides a
learning opportunities prepare students at Columbia to join in the mission of God and make a difference in the world.
Lutheran community that forms servants for Jesus' sake.
welcoming, dynamic, collaborative Christian education that challenges, engages, and encourages students who seek Christ-centered renewal in all areas of life.
SCHOOL MOTTO: Servants for Jesus' Sake
Prepare to Make a Difference
SCHOOL MOTTO: Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone be the Glory)
eston bible college
heritage college & seminary
Hillsong INT'L Leadership College
Eston, Sask. • College • Student Body: 50-70 Tuition: $189 / credit • Financial aid: Yes estoncollege.ca
Cambridge, Ont. • College & Seminary • Student Body: 250 Tuition: $295 / credit • Financial aid: Yes discoverheritage.ca
Sydney, Australia • College • Student Body: 1,100 Tuition: From A$4900/year • Financial aid: No hillsongcollege.com
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 8:1 HOT HANGOUT: Student Lounge THE PITCH: Come be discipled in the Word
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 11:1 HOT HANGOUT: Student Lounge THE PITCH: Heritage is committed to
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 25:1 HOT HANGOUT: Anywhere! THE PITCH: Over 70 countries and 20
of God and empowered by His Spirit! We are passionate about prophecy, social justice, healing, missions, and Christ’s kingdom.
equipping men and women for effective leadership and empowered lives that impact the world for Christ. We offer biblically based education through accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees.
languages represented, join our College community, be trained for your God designed future and make friends for a lifetime of ministry!
SCHOOL MOTTO: To Know the Scriptures and the Power of God
30 | CONVERGE.
SCHOOL MOTTO: Equipping men and women for life and ministry
SCHOOL MOTTO: Training the Leaders of the Future Church
emmanuel bible college Kitchener, Ont. • College • Student Body: 170 Tuition: $306 / credit hour • Financial aid: Yes emmanuelbiblecollege.ca
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 9:1 HOT HANGOUT:
Sherk Lounge & Campus Centre THE PITCH: With smaller classes, a close-
knit community, and approachable faculty, Emmanuel brings together Bible/Theology, general studies, and professional courses with hands-on experience and practical application. SCHOOL MOTTO: Think, Live, Serve, Lead
S U R RE Y ( VAN C O UV E R ) | B RI TI S H C O LUM B I A | C AN ADA
the king's university college Edmonton, Alta. • University College • Student Body: 670 Tuition: $340 / credit • Financial aid: Yes kingsu.ca
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 10:1 HOT HANGOUT: The Student Activity Centre THE PITCH: A King’s university education
means you’ll graduate with a nationally recognized degree from an institution known for excellent professors, personalized instruction and an amazing community. SCHOOL MOTTO: The Little University with Big Degrees
www.pacificlife.edu Training Leaders To Make A World of Difference. convergemagazine.com
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Cross-country race mountain biking, rock climbing, white water canoeing, backpacking, hiking, caving, rappelling, snowshoeing, snowboarding, ice climbing, broomball. Sometimes being on campus isn't enough. Sometimes you just have to go into the outdoors to find adventure. The following are schools that offer outdoor programs:
∙ Capernwray Quebec Bible Centre ∙ Rocky Mountain College (EDGE) ∙ Ascend Adventure Bible School (pictured)
REDEEMER UNIVERSITY COLLEGE ROYALS
Alberta Bible College
Intramurals These school offer various intramural sports:
Belfast Bible College Bethany College Briercrest College and Seminary Canada Institute of Linguistics
∙ Capernwray Harbour Bible Centre ∙ Christ College ∙ Emmanuel Bible College
Columbia Bible College Dordt College
∙ Living Faith Bicle College
∙ McMaster Divinity College
Heritage College & Seminary
∙ Pacific Life Bible College ∙ Summit Pacific College
The King's University College McMaster Divinity College Peace River Bible Institute Prairie Bible Institute Providence University College Redeemer University College Trinity Western University Vanguard College Wycliffe College
Softball Track And F ield Volleyball
Cross Countr y Flag Football Floor Hockey
Sports can be a good relief from the heavy demands of school. Keep active while you learn with athletics programs from these schools. Studies have shown that students who engage regularly in vigorous exercise get better grades.
Living Faith Bible College
Master's College & Seminary
mcmaster divinity college
Caroline, Alta. • College • Student Body: 43 Tuition: $150 / credit • Financial aid: Yes lfbc.net
Peterborough & Toronto, Ont. • College & Seminary Student Body: 235 • Tuition: up to $391 / credit Financial aid: Yes • mcs.edu & mpseminary.com
Hamilton, Ont. • Seminary • Student Body: 250 Tuition: $194.69 / credit • Financial aid: Yes mcmasterdivinity.ca
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 6:1 HOT HANGOUT: Trails & campfire shelters THE PITCH: Get grounded in God's Word,
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 14:1 HOT HANGOUT: Whistle Stop Café THE PITCH: Master's provides a diverse, encounter God through His creation, solid accessible and engaging environment with academics, close family-like community, a focus on training leaders for church and hands-on ministry experience, relational missional ministry. We emphasize hard-core mentoring, intercultural student body. academics, hands-on experience, and hearttransforming personal development. Our SCHOOL MOTTO: College is located on a beautiful campus in the Equipping for Life and Ministry around the heart of Peterborough and our Seminary is World based out of Agincourt Pentecostal Church & Tyndale University in Toronto.
ROOM & BOARD: N/A STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 13:1 HOT HANGOUT: The Phoenix THE PITCH: MDC is an evangelical
seminary on a major university campus developing men and women for effective Christian leadership in the Church, academy, and society. SCHOOL MOTTO: Knowing . . . Being . . . Doing . . .
SCHOOL MOTTO: We Picture Change
pacific life bible college Surrey, B.C. • College • Student Body: 170 Tuition: $145 / credit hour • Financial aid: Yes • pacificlife.edu
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 5:1 HOT HANGOUT: Clements Coffee Bar THE PITCH: • Instructors who are practitioners and
mentors in ministry. • Hands-on training emphasizing character formation. • Subsidized tuition rates helping students graduate debt-free and ministry ready. SCHOOL MOTTO: Training Leaders To Make A World of Difference
peace river bible institute
prairie bible institute
Sexsmith, Alta. • College • Student Body: 110 Tuition: $3,050 / semester • Financial aid: Yes prbi.edu
Three Hills, Alta. • College • Student Body: 300 Tuition: $280 / credit • Financial aid: Yes prairie.edu
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 15:1 HOT HANGOUT: Student Lounge THE PITCH: Learn to become a disciple
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 18:1 HOT HANGOUT: Student Loft THE PITCH: Prairie equips students to
maker who impacts your world for Jesus Christ!
meet the world's greatest needs. We offer certificate, diploma, and degree programs in ministry, health care, digital media, aviation and more.
SCHOOL MOTTO: A College for Life
SCHOOL MOTTO: To Know Christ & Make Him Known
Our BA program o f f e r s o v e r
of m a j o r s a n d c o n c e n t r a t i o n s
my This is m !
providence university college
redeemer university college
Otterburne, Man. • University-College • Student Body: 300 Tuition: $230 / credit • Financial aid: Yes providenceuc.ca
Hamilton, Ont. • University • Student Body: 959 Tuition: $7,145 / semester • Financial aid: Yes redeemer.ca
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 14:1 HOT HANGOUT:
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 15:1 HOT HANGOUT: reFresh THE PITCH: Redeemer is a dynamic
Reimer Student Life Centre THE PITCH:
• Christ-Centred University Education • Earn your Bachelor of Arts Degree • Academic Entrance Scholarships (up to $2,000) • Opportunities in Varsity Sports and Performing Arts Bachelor of Ar ts in Christian Studies Church Leadership & Restorative Justice
by Helen Edmundson
March 1-23 Give your child the best life possible, or give a starving child life?
604.731.5518 | www.paciictheatre.org 34 | CONVERGE. march - april 2013
Christian academic community that supports and encourages the integration of your faith into every aspect of your university life — and beyond. SCHOOL MOTTO: Discover All Things in Him
SCHOOL MOTTO: Christ-Centred University Education
Summit Pacific College
trinity western university
Abbotsford, B.C. • College • Student Body: 210 Tuition: $190 / credit • Financial aid: Yes summitpacific.ca
Langley, B.C. • University • Student Body: 4,398 Tuition: $742 / credit • Financial aid: Yes twu.ca/undergraduate
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 17:1 HOT HANGOUT: Bookstore or Bistro THE PITCH: Summit Pacific College
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 16:1 HOT HANGOUT: Lower Caf THE PITCH: A TWU education makes an
offers solid academic programs with a variety of majors, practical ministry and mentorship, and dynamic warm hearted Pentecostal spirituality.
impact. Learn from world class faculty, deepen your understanding of God, and be equipped for life.
Summit Pacific College exists to educate, equip and enrich Christians for Spiritempowered ministry in the church and in the world.
SCHOOL MOTTO: Education. Transformation. Impact.
rocky mountain college
rosebud school of the arts
Calgary, Alta. • College • Student Body: 110 Tuition: $310 / credit • Financial aid: Yes rockymountaincollege.ca
Rosebud, Alta. • College • Student Body: 28 Tuition: $230 / credit • Financial aid: Yes rosebudschoolofthearts.com
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 15:1 HOT HANGOUT: The Pygmy Giraffe Cafe THE PITCH: Rocky Mountain College
ROOM & BOARD: N/A STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 2:1 HOT HANGOUT: Thorny Rose Café THE PITCH: Breathe the theatre in
exists to develop students who will be effective agents of spiritual, moral, and social transformation everywhere for the glory of God.
Rosebud’s arts village where rigorous training and practical application prepares you for a career in the arts.
SCHOOL MOTTO: Celebrating the Creative Spirit
Edmonton, Alta. • College • Student Body: 210 Tuition: $199 / credit • Financial aid: Yes vanguardcollege.com
Toronto, Ont. • Seminary • Student Body: 270 Tuition: $567/course • Financial aid: Yes wycliffecollege.ca
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 11:1 HOT HANGOUT: Lan's Asian Grill THE PITCH: Practical: Biblical foundation
ROOM & BOARD: Yes STUDENT-FACULTY RATIO: 10:1 HOT HANGOUT: Soward Reading Room THE PITCH: Wycliffe, at the University
with ministry specific experience. Spiritual: Vibrant worship, dynamic teaching, loving community. Academic: Certificates/Degrees in five programs designed for discipleship and growth.
of Toronto, is an evangelical Anglican college, training students of diverse denominational backgrounds for leadership in Christian ministries, ordained and lay.
SCHOOL MOTTO: Developing Innovative Spirit-Filled Leaders
SCHOOL MOTTO: Verbum Domini Manet
Why I am a Christian in the secular university and not a culture warrior
By Justin Tse
Emily Carr Kwantlen Langara College
Simon Fraser University of British Columbia UBC(Okanagan) University of the Fraser Valley University of Northern British Columbia
University of Victoria Vancouver Island University Grande Prairie Regional College Mount Royal University University of Alberta
For more info:
University of Calgary University of Lethbridge University of Regina University of Saskatchewan Brandon University
Intervarsity Christian Fellowship
University of Manitoba University of Winnnipeg Champlain Regional College Concordia University Dawson College
Navigators of Canada
John Abbott College McGill University Universite de Sherbrooke
Flickr photo by D.H. Parks
36 | CONVERGE. march - april
BC Institue of Technology
North Island College
any well-meaning evangelical leaders tell me that as a graduate student, my mission field is the secular academy. It seems so perfect. After all, it fits so well with the Lord Jesus’ Great Commission to his disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). It sounds so glorious, to have the chance to make disciples of students in my classes. I suppose I could subliminally insert Christian values into my lesson plans, fulfilling what Jesus commands in terms of teaching them to obey everything he has commanded. I would, of course, fly under the radar, translating a biblical worldview into secular language. Ultimately, my efforts would result in retaking the secular university for Christ. As evangelical leaders from the 1970s like Bill Bright, Loren Cunningham, and Francis Schaeffer would have called it, education is one of the “seven mountains” of cultural influence, including also family, church, media, entertainment, the economy, and the government. In the 1990s, sociologist James Davison Hunter called these efforts “the culture wars,” ideological battles to control public
Power to Change
If you need to connect with other Christians at your university, check out these clubs.
Subverting the culture war
Christian clubs on campus
University Christian Ministries
HAVE FAITH IN YOUR DEGREE By choosing Kingâ€™s, you can look forward to excellent professors, personalized instruction and a nationally recognized degree. Enjoy learning in an authentic, Christian community that will challenge your perceptions of the world, and your place in it.
. BACHELOR OF EDUCATION . BACHELOR OF ARTS . BACHELOR OF SCIENCE . BACHELOR OF MUSIC . BACHELOR OF COMMERCE THE LITTLE UNIVERSITY WITH BIG DEGREES
discourse over how everyday lives should be ordered. More reAlgonquin College cently, newer strategies have emerged where young Christians Brock University are encouraged to influence those in positions of power in cities, universities, and the media, so as to ease the Gospel back Carleton University into public discourse. Yet in each of these versions, the idea is George Brown College similar: to plant a Christian flag in a place like academia might help re-chart the course of our young people to advance the Humber College kingdom of God against the secular enemies of Christianity. Lakehead University I propose that this view misses the point of the Great Commission. Worse than being simply naïve about the power of Laurentian University of Sudbury young academics in their institutions, the idea of "taking back McMaster University the academy for God" is a theological distortion. Most expositions of the Great Commission obsess over the Mohawk College part about making disciples of all nations. Aligning with the rhetoric of the culture wars, we have often gone quickly to Nipissing University strategy, organization, and cross-cultural sensitivity. But this OCAD Univeristy obsession doesn’t do justice to what disciple-making is about, because Jesus also links discipleship, whether being one or Queen’s University making one, with disciples being taught to obey everything Ryerson University He has commanded. The question is: what constitutes everything? Sault College To be sure, I’m no Bible scholar. However, if the Great ComSeneca College mission is found at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, it probably makes sense to read it in the context of the rest of Matthew’s Sheridan College text. Like much of the New Testament, University of Guelph Matthew focuses on Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus tells us to University of Ottawa begin by repenting. Let's take a closer look at what repenUniversity of Toronto tance actually means. Gathering His disUniversity of Waterloo ciples around Him on a mountain, Jesus explains the practices that will mark them University of Western Ontario as salt and light: poverty of spirit, mournUniversity of Windsor ing, meekness, hungering and thirsting for justice, purity of heart, peacemaking, Western University being persecuted for His sake as they live Wifred Laurier University Power to Change out this prophetic lifestyle. He also says (formerly Campus that if His disciples don’t obey the will York University Crusades) of his Father, nothing powerful they do Acadia University in His name will mean anything; they will instead be like a house built on sand Dalhousie University that falls in a storm with a crash. Jesus is Mount Allison University therein explaining His experience in the desert where, He was tempted by Satan Mount Stain Vincent University to wield His divine power to take back the University world He created. Jesus refused. Saint Mary’s University Christian The everything to which Jesus comMinistries St. Francis Xavier University mands our obedience subverts our ideas of power. The missionary plan is fairly St. Thomas University organic: go into towns, find someone to University of New Brunswick-Fredericton be your host, and shake off the dust from your feet if you’re not well-received. If they drag you before the magistrates, don’t prepare what to say because the Holy Spirit will speak through you. After all, this is how the kingdom of heaven works: to the culture wars. If there’s anything that lamation of a kingdom of heaven marked it’s seed that falls on all kinds of ground Jesus commands us to do in preparing for by poverty of spirit and purity of heart. from a farmer who sows at random; it’s the coming of the kingdom of heaven, it’s What this means is that the language of an unsystematic growth of wheat and to use our talents to feed the hungry and taking back the world for Christ’s kingweeds together; it’s a mustard seed that thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and dom is untenable as a Christian theology. balloons into a tree, a merchant who sells imprisoned, and welcome the stranger; In fact, it sounds oddly secular. To say this might seem strange, because all he has for one pearl, a fishing net that for as much as we have served the least of the language of the culture wars has often catches fish of all kinds. There’s no evan- these, we have served Jesus. When Jesus says in the Great Commis- been that places like the university are gelistic strategy here, no plot to take back sion that all authority has been given to secular because Christianity has been, in the world. In fact, let me suggest that obedient Him, it’s in the context of the resurrection, Charles Taylor’s words, “subtracted.” But discipleship of this sort isn’t very helpful the vindication of the Father for His proc- this is not what secularities really are.
38 | CONVERGE. march - april
After all, the word secular means “thisworldly,” as in, an interest in establishing power in this world’s space. As glorious as taking the university back for Christ may sound, the premise of this statement is to engage the world on the world’s terms by establishing Christian power in a secular space. I once wrote for a secular publication that if I had to have an ulterior motive for being a Chinese Christian who studies Chinese Christians, it would be to promote what my faith says about loving one’s enemies in a divisive, polarized world. Allow me to clarify. To have an ulterior motive to take back the secular university for Christ ironically requires one to think in the secular terms of asserting power and control over a space. Yet the obedience to which the Lord Jesus calls is a discipleship that repents of such ambitions and practices a poverty of spirit and a purity of heart that rejects such ulterior motives. There is a better way to practice the Great Commission. The last chapter of Charles Taylor’s book on secularization, A Secular Age, is titled “Conversions.” There, Taylor demonstrates that those who found their way out of secularity became immersed in a totally different mode of existence, one that found the presence of God throughout His cre-
ation. Jesus talks about this in the Great Commission when He calls for a baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Academic work that is performed by those baptized into the kingdom wrestles daily with what it means to live out this new existence. After all, to be marked by humility and charity to the point of loving our enemies instead of fighting them for control over public discourse requires a level of reconciling forgiveness and sensitivity that only immersion into the life of God can produce. When one practices such charity in the mundane work of writing, teaching, studying, and conversing with colleagues with whom we may vehemently disagree, we may show this world another way of thinking and being, one based around His ways, rather than ours. Justin Tse is a PhD Candidate in Geography at the University of British Columbia at Vancouver. His thesis focuses on Chinese Christian engagements in the public sphere. He enjoys coffee, pho, and spending time with his wife. He also finds that articles like the one above can only be written by putting a theology of communion into practice with saints like Sam, Aaron, Anna, Diana, and Karl.
Is your journey taking you where you need to go? Why wait?
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Motherhood unveiled By Miriam Miller Photos by Lizzette Miller
here I was at the local playgroup, talking to the mother of a bouncing baby. We were having a typical ho-hum conversation until she blurted out, “My son came from a sperm donor.” I tried to hide my shock as I had never actually met someone who had done this. I have known many women who wanted to be moms more than anything else they could desire in life, and made great sacrifices to achieve this, but this method felt extreme to me. I wonder what her experience has been, compared to what she imagined when she was a child or even a young woman. It got me thinking about the divide in motherhood between what is perceived, and what actually is. So I started asking around — friends with twins, friends with lots of kids, friends with kids with special needs — and processing my own experience, to articulate one of the most dramatic life changes one could ever desire.
In the room down the hall, my sweet baby is crying. I go pat her on the back in an attempt to settle her back to sleep. I hope that she doesn't end up wanting more than that, since I have tried for three days to write this article, and I am finally getting an undistracted window of time to do it. I didn’t pay any money to become a mom. I did it the old-fashioned way: got married, went on a honeymoon to Italy, and one year later, got lazy with contraception and came home with a “guest” clinging to my uterus. I discovered this one week before my husband said to me, “You should go back to school while we don’t have kids.” I was a little indifferent about being a mother. It seemed like the natural next step, not something that ached inside of me. My first steps into motherhood were very different from my friend Michaela, who always wanted to be a mother. After getting married, she wanted a baby right away. Michaela had caught slippery brown babies in India while away on missions, and had worked as a doula here in Canada. She was a baby/birth junkie, waiting for her number to be called. Both of us had a rough time with pregnancy, complete with excessive nausea, terrible joint and back pain, and the general feeling like everything was the polar opposite of a "glow." Nevertheless, I still consider pregnancy the honeymoon. You hear about a woman getting pregnant with her first baby, and it's all giddiness and dreams. And then the baby arrives — what a shock to every sense! It’s all extremes: exciting, then boring; filled with surprises, and then monotonous. You have feelings of intense love and devotion, but at times, anger and frustration. I have found it very complex, even if my experience so far with two children has been pretty normal. Adelle starts crying again. This time I put her at my breast to soothe her. While she is eating, I am initially irritated, but then I take the moment as a chance to pause and reflect on my writing.
40 | CONVERGE.
Michaela was married for four years to the man of her dreams, and her longings for motherhood were fulfilled one painful, beautiful night: "Florence Marigold was born in the water after a completely complication-free labour and birth. It was blissful. She was chunky and beautiful and the little girl I always wanted," says Michaela. But then, the unexpected crash of her entire world happened four months later as, broken and tearful, she and her husband faced a reality that they did not expect. Florence was diagnosed with type one Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a rare genetic neuromuscular condition. Some children with this condition die young, because their weak muscles affect their defence against viruses and bacteria in the lungs. Michaela chronicles her sometimes heart-wrenching journey on a well-read blog. “I am a mother in the thick of a battle,” she writes, “trudging through the trenches each day. I don’t fight for faith, I fight against fear. I don’t merely hope for miraculous outcomes, I believe in them. I can’t quite identify with mothers going through the normal stages of infant development, and I can’t identify with parents in the same boat as us (in fact I avoid them, right now). I am in exile . . . " Adelle’s crying again, but this time I let her “work it out”. This unfortunately wakes my older daughter. She stumbles out of her room wearing fuzzy striped pajamas, her golden curls frizzy from sleep. She shields her eyes from the light. I sigh as I notice her toddler-ness melting into childhood — these moments pass so quickly. She settles again after some water, and I go back to the baby.
Motherhood: the Seduction
ove the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" — Luke 10:27 "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." — 1 John 4:8 God designed us to be in relationship with Him and others. Our very nature propels us toward bonding in families and friendships. God inspired it, and we seek it. In society, this desire fuels novels, songs, movies and even video games assuring us that the quest for true love is the “happily ever after” our hearts are longing for. But those of us that are married know that although marriage is incredibly special, it is disappointing in its ability to fill the deepest part of us (no matter how many couple shots you post on Facebook). In fact, it can even create convergemagazine.com
more longings than it fulfills. The romance bubble quickly bursts as we wrestle through issues like selfishness, lust, anger, and control. So the quest for deeply satisfying love continues, and it most naturally leads us into parenthood. This is where life gets tricky. It is so satisfying how much these precious little people need us and want us that for some parents, the love longings are temporarily fulfilled. When I facilitated parenting programs for the Boys & Girls Club, we had totally normal, well-meaning parents come in scratching their heads in confusion. The glass house they built from the unconditional love and acceptance they were receiving from their child was crashing around them in adolescence, and they were starting to get really hurt. For some parents, it isn’t until their children leave the house that they realize they built their whole lives around being parents, and they start hurting. In either case, the hurt was reminding them of a longing from times past that has never been truly satisfied. Anything that we look to fulfill that emptiness inside us that isn’t Jesus is an idol, and idols have a nasty way of looking like “the real thing” for a time, only to leave us bleeding, without any idea of what happened to us. There is satisfaction and surprise in motherhood that reveal to us the joy that can be found in God. But with the same level of intensity, motherhood also has emptiness and struggles that offer a strong reminder of our desperate need for God.
The house is quiet again as I begin to write, but an old enemy is starting to sneak its way into my mind: guilt. Guilt doesn't have much room when it comes in, because anxiety has been lurking there for most of the day. They play well together, guilt and anxiety; they question all the decisions I make, and they undermine my contentment.
Motherhood: the Projection
have a friend who, as a new mom, has really wrestled with her new life with a baby. She recently went to a workshop on the phases of motherhood; she said that she walked away thinking, "I'm not depressed, I am not a bad mommy, I am normal — hooray!" This might seem like no big deal, but to a mom, that is a really big deal. It was a similar feeling that moms around the world felt when they read an article in the
motherho od al so ha s emptiness a n d s t r u g g l e s t h at o f f e r a strong reminder of our d e s p e r at e n e e d f o r
Huffington Post called "Why You're Never Failing as a Mother" by Amy Morrison. Expletives aside, she offers a huge internal sigh of relief for those that "feel overwhelmed by motherhood. Not in a dangerous way, just in a, 'I totally suck and I don't know how I'm supposed to manage all this' kind of way." The nutshell is that we have so many more demands on us parenting in this age than in ages past. If we let ourselves recognize it, we will see that we are really doing much better than we think. "Feeling like you also need to keep on top of scrapbooking, weight loss, upcycled onesies, handprints, crock pot meals, car seat recalls, sleeping patterns, poo consistency, pro-biotic supplements, swimming lessons, electromagnetic fields in your home and television exposure is like trying to knit on a rollercoaster — it's hard," wrote Morrison. It's a scary place, the culture of motherhood that we live in. It’s full of mixed messages of what successful mothering means. It looks so easy to do it “all”. People post a small sliver of their life, and it looks like everyone is doing "it" better than you. Take, for instance, my friend Natasha.
42 | CONVERGE. march - april
God to show me how to find joy in my experience, instead of what I battled daily: fear, anxiety, stress, fatigue, insecurity, etc. God responded with some very clear points I needed to address. First of all, His holiness was demanding my repentance for placing my children, my comfort and my sleep before Him. My days are so busy and tiring, I have to bring Him into it or I am helpless. He showed me this in love and asked me to look at all the things that were working, not all the things that weren’t. I started to meditate on all that I was grateful for, that God was already doing: singing and dancing with my kids to praise songs, praying before bed, talking about God to friends, feeling His pleasure and delight as I cuddled and loved my kids. I started asking for support to get time with God instead of sleep — and sometimes I didn’t have the mental energy to read the Word, so I would just listen to a sermon. At night, I started singing my children to sleep with songs that spoke of His love and goodness, and teaching my daughter (and myself) memory verses. The next point He brought up to me was to honour the Sabbath. What an amazing experience that has been! I start 5 p.m. Saturday unMotherhood: the Reconciliation til 5 p.m. Sunday. Not only does this work for our schedule, the rules are also simple — focus on anything that is family and devotional. I ineing a mother is the desire of most stantly saw the blessing in it. I didn’t feel driven little girls because it is a very imporMichaela chronicles the by an endless task list, and I didn’t resent my tant role. "The hand that rocks the joys, the wrestling, and the husband for relaxing while I was run off my cradle, rules the world" is a powerful quote heart-wrenching aspects of feet. I had so much quality time with my kids, illustrating the significance of motherhood. motherhood at: and I felt at peace while doing it. At the end of Great leaders do not find their inspirational michaelaevanow.com the Sabbath, my house was pretty trashed, but beginnings in a college or career. Whether I felt God’s blessing as I got things together . . . positive or negative, their childhood is the and it happened quickly! I have learned a cousingle most influential stage of life. God's call Natasha Drisdelle motivates ple of lessons of what not to do — like running on a woman to be a mother is not only a great health, thriftiness, and all little errands because I had the time, or getting responsibility, but a great privilege. around diva-ness at: on the computer — all these things distracted "Children are a heritage from the Lord, offfabulouslydomestic.com from the goals of the Sabbath. God established a spring a reward from him." — Psalm 127:3 day of rest during the creation of the world, and "A woman giving birth to a child has pain beI felt strongly that in honouring it, I was particicause her time has come; but when her baby is Dot Falconberg inspires pating in a divine, restorative blessing. born she forgets the anguish because of her joy productivity, creativity, and Reconciling the reality of motherhood with that a child is born into the world." — John 16:21 all around wackiness at: any pre-conceived, idyllic notions of motherAs I learned from my friend Natasha, pasbustedbutton.com hood is essential to being able to freely appresion in priorities before prioritizing passions ciate the blessings interwoven with challenges. helped her discover the glory of God in mothHowever motherhood came upon you: adoperhood. My friend Dot has a son with severe tion, frozen specimen, fertility treatments, by autism, three other children, and baby number five due in a few weeks. She found her momentum during accident, planned; happy or sad, it will absolutely change your her third pregnancy when she began being creative and produc- life. The decision we all make is whether or not we will allow tive. Her first few years of motherhood were quite different; she God to use it to continue His work in us to be dependent on felt depressed, lazy, and dissatisfied. Now she feels God's bless- Him, and to know Him more intimately. Adelle has awoken a third time. My tiredness feels heavy ing on her to be productive in her home, and she is not only blessed by her creative outlets (that she does together with her on me as I drag my body to the room to try to settle her again. children), but she feels that creativity is key to survival. She also Patting doesn't work, so I put her to my breast once again, but preaches against the dangers of comparison. She and her hus- she is not interested — she just wants to be held. I allow that band are finding their own unique way through parenthood (in- to fill my heart with love and satisfaction. She is cozied into cluding giving their children legendary names: Asher Thrasher, my arms when I start to ref lect on my writing, and then beMercie Danger, Captain Friday, Link Nighthawk, and the soon yond that to my old life. Before children, I was independent, to appear Flora Nightingale), not looking to the right or the left, generally well-rested, and consistently comfortable. I long for those things quite desperately at times. But in order to have but up to the Father to lead them. Michaela is finding reconciliation with the challenges of that all back again, the way it was, it means losing the most motherhood by learning to let go. “I have to be more than a precious gift God has ever given me to learn about life and mother.” She writes, “My identity, my purpose, my hope, my joy, love: my children. all these things must be found in Christ, not my daughter. I have Miriam Miller is a passionate follower of Jesus, recovering to nourish my marriage, take care of my thought life and I must spend time in the presence of the Lord. If I don't, I won't have control freak, mother of two kids, wife to one husband and owner the strength to continue. That's the reality and I'm thankful of no pets. She works full-time and over-time as a stay-at-home for it. Without it, I could coast through motherhood, and easily mom, writer, workshop facilitator and inspirational speaker. Visplace it on a pedestal above myself, my marriage, and my God.” it goldenthought.blogspot.com or facebook.com/MinuteDevoMy personal journey led me to my knees in prayer, begging tionalsForMoms for more on Miriam. She is in really good physical shape, blogs as a profession, has a successful Etsy business, and homeschools her twin boys. Natasha assures me that where she is now did not come without struggle, and even failure. She was a very successful career woman when her marriage almost failed, and other circumstances in life became rocky and unbalanced. She reflects that, "the worst part was realizing that the happiness I thought I had while climbing the corporate ladder was just a cheap interpretation of the real happiness that comes from adopting God's priorities as your own." After making a huge shift in her priorities, she still had to work hard at all aspects of life. She blogged for years with very few rewards, and nearly quit more than once. Natasha’s finally got her priorities of God, family, and passions in order. She has found a good rhythm for life, but it has humility as an essential foundation. Although she has it together, she sometimes second guesses her decisions. "I still battle to be back in the power suit, or to pursue my passions over God’s call to build my home life."
Why read? In an age of Facebook, viral videos and top 10 lists, are books still necessary? by sam mcloughlin | illustration by michael lee
here they are. All lined up on my shelf, huddled like a clique in the cafeteria. The rest lay in a pile on the floor, like someone yelled “dog-pile!” and then unloaded on them with an Uzi. They’re my books. At least a hundred and fifty, scavenged from Powell’s in Portland, student bookstores, and Amazon. Books of all kinds: philosophy, memoir, biography, self-help. Some of them get read occasionally, but very few are ever finished. Why? Some would blame YouTube or cell phones, busyness or Facebook.
44 | CONVERGE. march - april
I blame the Greeks. I blame them because they remind me of a time when our civilization got along perfectly well without books. If you were to trace the roots of Western civilization down to a single book, it wouldn’t be the Bible (although that would come a close second). It would be a book called The Republic, featuring a Greek named Socrates. The strange thing is that Socrates didn’t write it. Plato did. Socrates was the greatest mind of his time, and he didn’t write anything. Neither, for that matter, did Jesus. Yet these two men shaped our
civilization more than any others. How did they do it? In this day and age, the best way to change the world is, apparently, through viral videos (see Kony 2012). Back in Socrates' day, the best way was through viral ideas. You’re probably educated on the ideas of Jesus that went “viral,” so to speak. But what about Socrates? His "viral" idea was that truth was more important than anything else, and that the best way to find truth was through conversation. Instead of giving long-winded speeches like other Greeks, Socrates became very good at asking
questions. “What are the natures of wisdom, justice, and love?” These are the sorts of issues he discussed. Plato, a student of Socrates, decided these discussions were worth writing down. Hence, the most important book in our civilization’s history (according to most professors) is a book about the things that are most worth talking about, and how to talk about them. This, I believe, is the reason why we don’t read as much, or as well, as we should. We have lost the art of what’s behind the books. The art of conversation.
But how can you have a conversation with a book? When I sit down with a book, I often feel oppressed by the fact that it feels like a one-way street. I don’t get to push back, ask questions, or demand clarification. I just sit there as the author tells me how it is. If I don’t like it, I smugly put him back on the shelf. I don’t usually read my books in the context of a greater conversation. I do, however enjoy reading articles recommended on Facebook or Reddit. There, I can have an immediate conversation: I can get a sense of what other people think before I read the article, then I can read comments from friends and strangers underneath. Occasionally I can even dialogue with the author. The Internet has led me to expect easy, quick access to relevant information. I expect the author to get to the point: to share his best ideas in as few words as possible, preferably in bulleted points or a top 10 list to keep my rapt attention. That, or a link to his TED talk video. I expect to engage with his thoughts, and others reading the same article, right
I expect to engage with (an author's) thoughts, and others reading the same article, right then and there. I’ve become used to reading in a (virtual) community. then and there. I’ve become used to reading in a (virtual) community. In my weaker moments, I convince myself that this process is more worthwhile than reading, because it allows me access to the latest information, and to gauge the importance of new information by its popularity. These days, information flows so rapidly, it’s hard to know what information is useful and what isn’t. It’s like trying to drink from a fire hydrant. I end up soaked, but still thirsty. The problem with this new method of deciphering information is that it doesn’t use rationality or wisdom to filter the good from the bad, but mere popularity, which can be manipulated depending on how many kittens/explosions/babies are involved. Greece had a central square in Athens where the men (and perhaps a few women dressed like men a la Life of Brian) would gather. Different respected men would get on a platform one at a time and deliver speeches on how society should be run in glossy
rhetoric. I wonder if they made top 10 lists, like, I don’t know, “Top ten reasons we should get an aqueduct.” “One, It brings us water! Two, they look cool! Three, it doubles as a waterslide!” Then other men would reply with clever retorts, “You can’t use a wooden aqueduct as a waterslide! What about splinters?” The job of each speechgiver was to win over the support of the group, as a group. He didn’t meet with each Sam’s top 10 MUST READS person individually. He didn’t take (Besides the Bible) - a liberal arts his time winding his argument this education in 10 books (that I have way and that, asking for hours upon hours of attention. He had to make actually read somewhere along his time count, and win the hearts the way). and minds of the group, who would gauge the reactions of others when Illiad by Homer making up their minds. The difference between my FaThe Republic by Plato cebook conversations, and those of the Greeks, is the end goal. The Nichomachean Ethics Greeks were concerned about how by Aristotle to run Greece. They took this reConfessions by St. Augustine sponsibility seriously. They talked about it, a lot. The number of times The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli I’ve talked about “how we should run society” on Facebook? I could Thus Spake Zarathustra count them on my third hand. by Friedrich Nietzsche By the time books became more commonplace, their role was unCritique of Pure Reason derstood as a supplement to a great by Immanuel Kant conversation that was already Democracy in America ongoing in society. It was a conversation that began with how to by Alexis de Toqueville best operate things. This naturally Structure of Scientific drifted into more philosophical and Revolutions religious discussions about the nature of reality, humanity, God and by Thomas Kuhn so on. This conversation continued The Abolition of Man for generations in social squares, by C.S. Lewis but also through text. The voices of figures like Socrates and Jesus were recorded so that future generations Top 10 Christian READS might benefit from their wisdom. City of God by St. Augustine So why did people read? Not only because it was interesting to Summa Theologica expose yourself to the thoughts of by St. Thomas Aquinas the wisest in our tradition, but also because it was your responsibility Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri as a citizen. You needed to be aware of what was being said in this great Paradise Lost by John Milton conversation so you could wield Imitation of Christ this wisdom in your own decisions by Thomas A. Kempis and conversations, to educate your children, and to keep your governPensÉes by Blake Pascal ment accountable. These books were treasures, to be protected and Pilgrim's Progress valued at all costs. by John Bunyan Over the years, other books surfaced which contributed to this Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton conversation, to this treasure trove (Sam’s favorite) of wisdom on how society should be Mere Christianity run, and how humans ought to live. Certain books have been accepted by C.S. Lewis as contributing to this conversaThe Cost of Discipleship tion, but most have been exposed by Dietrich Bonhoeffer as clutter. convergemagazine.com
Wisdom comes from having conversations with those that are older and wiser, and more often the oldest, wisest voices are found on a shelf rather than a screen. I have to admit, with my constant exposure to my screens, my brain feels as cluttered as my book shelf. After a while, I feel oppressed by it all, by what Neil Postman termed “information glut.” T.S. Eliot once asked, "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" It is a good question. What use is all this information without wisdom? Does it really help me live a better life? How do I determine what is useful to me, and what isn’t? Proverbs 4:7 reminds us, “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Wisdom helps you process information. It helps you make decisions. It helps you deal with life’s biggest puzzles that can’t be solved with Top 10 lists and How-to guides. What happens if wisdom is lost? I like what University of Chicago professor Richard Hutchins has to say, in an essay called The Great Conversation, which helped inform my argument: “The reiteration of slogans, the distortion of the news, the great storm of propaganda that beats upon the citizen twenty-four hours a day all his life long means either that democracy must fall a prey to the loudest and most persistent propagandists or that the people must save themselves by strengthening their minds . . . Great books alone will not do the trick; for the people must have the information on which to base a judgment as well as the ability to make one.”
Think about that for a second. To save democracy, we must strengthen our minds. Sure, we need information, but we also need the ability to make decisions and for that we need wisdom. Though our addiction to staying informed may seem like a quicker route to wisdom, it actually hinders our ability to find it. Wisdom does not come quickly.
Time Magazine's top 10 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain Hamlet by William Shakespeare The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
Middlemarch by George Eliot
It comes slowly, through experience, but also through training your brain to look for it: to follow complex arguments that may unfold over hundreds of pages. It comes from having conversations with those that are older and wiser, and more often the oldest, wisest voices are found on a shelf rather than a screen. There are a few books on my shelf that feel like friends. They function in a similar manner. What does it matter to have a hundred friends on Facebook if none are around to help you in real life? Isn’t it better to have deep relationships with 10 friends than superficial Internet friendships with a thousand? Books, like friends, shape us. They support us through hardship by offering sympathy and different perspectives. They remind us what it means to be human, and how to grow in spite of that fact. I challenge you not simply to read more, but to read better. To read books that have stood the test of time because they offer insight into the mysteries of life, and through exposure to their voices, train us to become better citizens, who do not merely shout (or post) along with the masses, but think for themselves. To read books that are a part of that great conversation that has been ongoing in our civilization since the time of Socrates. To read books that whet our appetite for wisdom . . . and finally, I challenge you to return more often to the one book — and person — that truly offers to give wisdom to those who seek. Sam McLoughlin is a freelance writer and author of The Default Life. For our review of his book, which is aimed at sparking conversations amongst 20 somethings, check out page 58. Visit Sam's personal site, sammcloughlin.com for more of his writing.
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48 | CONVERGE.
The fight in us
We may have ice in our blood but
should we have blood on our ice? By Pa u l A r n o l d a n d S a m M c L o u gh l i n Ph o t os by Geo f f H e i t h
this last fall was a pretty miserable one for hockey fans
as clouds invaded our sunny skies
another storm took shape on the horizon the nhl lockout
A laborious five months later, hockey is finally back in full swing, but not without losing “US$328.2 million in brand value,” according to TSN. Many disenfranchised fans have cancelled season tickets and stopped buying merchandise to show their frustration. One fan even packed up all his Edmonton Oilers gear and sold it for charity in protest. Collectively, fans are upset, and willing to take drastic action to make their voices heard.
but shouldn’t we have done this last year
the summer of , the hockey world lost one former and two current enforcers to apparent suicides. In 2012, the NFL lost former linebacker Junior Seua to suicide as well. Post-mortem studies of the brains of two other former NHL fighters, Bob Probert and Reggie Fleming, showed brain damage. Studies surfaced which drew links between concussions and mental health issues such as depression and increased risk of dementia, sparking a stern discussion about the safety of players in high-contact, violent sports like hockey and football. The commissioners of the NFL and NHL, in light of these studies, pledged to make changes to their sports, to enforce stiffer penalties to curb headshots, and to introduce new procedures to protect players suffering from concussions. Yet the concussions continue: in hockey, headshots, especially those dolled out from bare knuckles, are as prevalent as ever.
The question needs to be raised: As Christians, should we continue to watch and support sports that seem to have inherent life-threatening risks? We are called to, “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Colossians 1:10). Yet too often we are indistinguishable from most fans, blindly supporting our home teams without much thought paid to the cost of health and life. In light of the recent suicides and studies on the long-term health effects, is it time to start thinking differently about the sports we support, and how we support them? We can’t discount the value of sport. Sport is a part of life, of culture. Figures
should we continue to
watch and support sports that seem to have inherent life-threatening risks
often we are indistinguishable
from most fans
blindly supporting our
home teams without much thought paid to the cost of health and life
50 | CONVERGE.
like Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong (wait . . . scratch that) and Rocky (does Rocky count?) can serve as role models, inspirational figures to kids and adults alike. Remember what Rocky said? “You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.” Sports can teach us lessons about fortitude and perseverance. The challenges in sport make for meaningful metaphors and learning opportunities for the challenges of life. But should we still play a sport when it compromises our long-term health? And should we ask that of others? This is the mentality in pro sports: that you should go through a wall for your team if you are worth your salt (not to mention your hefty paycheck). But now that we are becoming more educated on the cause and effects of concussions, shouldn’t our expectations change? The central concern of concussions is the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is the result of repeated hits to the head over a long period of time: the type of hits that you get when you’re playing contact sports like football or hockey. Clinically, CTE is often indistinguishable from Alzheimer’s, and like Alzheimer’s, it can only be confirmed post-mortem. Individuals suffering from CTE can experience memory loss, headaches, mood disorders, dementia, and depression. However, unlike Alzheimer’s,
NHL CONCUSSIONS THAT SHOOK 2010 INJURY
Marc Savard concussed Mar 7
NHL outlaws blindside head hits Mar 25
THE HOCKEY WORLD
BOB PROBERT July 5
Perron hit by Thornton Nov 4
Crosby hit in Winter Classic Jan 1
Savard concussed again, out indefinitely Jan 22
DEREK BOOGAARD May 13
NHL creates Department of Player Safety Jun 1
Rome knocks Horton out of 2011 Stanley Cup Final Jun 6
RICK RYPIEN August 15
WADE BELAK August 31
Crosby sidelined, again Dec 5
Colby Armstrong hides concussion Dec 19
Horton suffers concussion, again Jan 24 INJURY
Hossa hit, Torres suspended Apr 17
Violence in spotlight during playoffs Apr 15
NHL locks out players Sept 16
CTE develops at a very early age if individuals are continuously exposed to knocks on the head. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly two million brain injuries are suffered by teenage players every year, and several more studies suggest that up to 15 per cent of football players suffer a brain injury at some point during the season. The individuals that do struggle with brain injuries are then much more likely to suffer from concussion-related symptoms. One study suggested that football players with multiple concussions were nearly eight times more likely to experience significant increases in memory loss, while another suggested that players who suffered three or more concussions were almost 10 times more likely to display abnormal responses well after an injury. And perhaps most tellingly, a recent NFL study found that former players suffered from memory-related diseases at about 19 times the rate of the general population. Many NFL players have said they won’t let their own kids play football. For example, Terry Bradshaw, NFL Hall-ofFamer and analyst, told Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, "If I had a son today, and I would say this to all our audience and our viewers out there, I would not let him play football." Kurt Warner, two-time NFL MVP and outspoken evangelical Christian, had this to say: "It's definitely a concern of mine, and with the way things are going right now and the way guys are getting bigger and stronger and faster, I would encourage my kids to probably stay away from it if I could." Understandably, many parents would rather have their kids play sports where serious injuries like concussions are incidental rather than inherent to the sport, meaning that they’re a much smaller risk. It’s like with snowboarding: a concussion is possible. But when it happens, it’s accidental. Yet with hockey and football, experiencing a concussion in your career seems almost inevitable. The risk, at least, is exponentially higher. The question leads to another: if you wouldn’t let your own kids play hockey, why are you supporting other people’s kids playing hockey? If your neighbour’s kid became a star for your favourite team, but ran the risk of having mental health issues for the rest of his life, would you support him taking that risk? About a year ago, Sidney Crosby came back from a yearlong hiatus because of concussions. Doctors cautioned him that one more head-shot could be a career ender, and result in devastating future health problems. Yet his employer, the Pittsburgh Penguins, flashed a new 120 million contract in front of him to convince Crosby to keep playing. That money came not just from the Pittsburgh fans’ pockets, but from all NHL fans, even you and me. By supporting the NHL, spending our money on their products and watching their advertisements, we are part of a system that is essentially bribing Sidney Crosby to put his future health at risk for the sake of our entertainment. There’s something wrong here. Now that we know the long-term effects of concussions, are we not at least a little bit complicit in the suffering of these players, whose salaries are paid from our pockets? It is easy in our culture to shift the blame to someone else, but as Christians, we must always be wary when we are complicit with an activity that may lead to the degradation of another human’s health, or life. Sure, convergemagazine.com
there’s nothing wrong with playing sports, or being a sports fan. However, when our support seems to conflict with our mission as advocates for life, maybe we need to start rethinking things. Of course, it’s not realistic to think we can w h e n o u r s u p p o r t s e e m s t o c o n f l i c t w i boycott the NHL and NFL altogether just because we may be somewhat complicit in play- o u r m i s s i o n a s a d v o c a t e s f o r l i f e may ers’ injuries. You may counter, “Should we stop buying things from China because they may come from a sweatshop? Should we stop w e n e e d t o s t a r t r e t h i n k i n g t h i n g s giving money to homeless people because they may use it to buy drugs?” It’s certainly not a black and white issue when it comes to the sports themselves: but perhaps it is when it comes to the most obvious example of headshots for entertainment, namely, fighting in hockey. Perhaps this is a practical step we can take: to say enough is enough when it comes to fighting in hockey. We’ve seen the consequences. We are more informed than we were 10 years ago, and we need to make a decision. As we’ve all seen in the Olympics and World Juniors, not to mention the NHL playoffs where fights are rare, fighting is not inherent to the sport itself. If we are to be true to our calling as advocates of health and non-violence, maybe we should spark this discussion again and lead the charge against fighting in hockey. You can just imagine what Don Cherry, a staunch traditionalist and advocate for fighting would say if Christians demanded fighting be removed from hockey. But with the recent suicides of NHL enforcers, men who dealt with serious mental health issues due in part to their job of literally getting punched in the head for a living, a living that we hockey fans helped to provide, can we still support this? If we don’t, are we really much different from the Romans, who cheered for blood and even death to fuel their need for entertainment? Given the history of Christians in the original Colosseum, maybe we should be the first to stop cheering and start asking questions in our own colosseums. Even some fighters don’t want to fight. They do it because they have to. “I fought because it was my job," said former Habs enforcer Georges Laraque. "I was a fighter, but I didn't like that. I knew it was wrong. I didn't like the fact that I was promoting violence,” Another former Hab, goalie Ken Dryden, is leading the charge to change how we as fans support these sports. The fans are complicit in a similar way to the commissioners, as we pay their paychecks. “As a hockey or football commissioner today,” Dryden says, “you can't not know that many of your players this year, next year, and every year will suffer head injuries. Some will have their careers ended; some, like Paul Kariya and Eric Lindros, before age gets them will begin their downward slide from superstar to journeyman; and some retired players will die ful: a protest for something rather than against something. Perlong before their time, their final years for themselves and their haps we must demand in solidarity the game get more “head families in the living death of dementia. This isn't being alarm- smart,” to use Dryden’s phrase. (His article on Grantland.com ist. This is alarming.” should be required reading for all hockey fans.) After all, we can But how can we make changes? All businesses must operate no longer plead ignorance: even Rocky got brain damage, and according to certain rules, the most basic of which is that the he isn’t even real! (See Rocky 5.) customer rules. If a business is losing customers, it must change Sports are a part of our lives, but head-shots and their conits practice to bring back those customers, or attract new ones. sequences shouldn’t be. The first step is already accomplished: The NHL and NFL are businesses, first and foremost. The only being conscious of the effects of concussions. The second is on way they will truly change their product is if the customer de- its way: the NFL has made good progression towards protecting mands it. Hence, the customer, a.k.a. the fan, is partly respon- the safety of its players suffering from concussions, and many sible for changing the sport. If he demands it, and threatens to initiatives in the NHL such as MindCheck.ca and Project 11 take his business elsewhere, then the businesses must change. have sparked the discussion about mental health and head shots Already, the NHL is feeling the pinch of the lockout. They amongst players and fans. What’s next? That’s up to us: the fans. are listening to fans’ complaints, and taking seriously the fans’ Speaking up, withholding funds, acts of protest, or a full boyability to withdraw support. Many have made some drastic sac- cott are options, but the real question is, will you do what is rifices to enact vengeance upon the NHL for taking them for necessary to stop another suicide? It’s a question every hockey granted. The momentum is here: it’s palpable. Perhaps now is and football fan should ask himself. Especially those of us who the time to channel those sentiments into something more use- profess to have a more eternal perspective.
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The modern market value of sexual purity By Chelsea Batten
their virginity. Musician Rebecca St. James is better known now for the many books she has published on the strength of hers, while Tim Tebow’s raised him from noteworthy athlete with a spiritual streak to a figurehead of virtue. While these luminaries proved uddenly, we’re farther than I’ve ever gone before. Beyond the mind-altering that not every virgin is necessarily a sensations that follow one upon the other like stock cars on their final lap, mouth-breathing sexual paranoiac, my ears are ringing with the impact of having met this unlikeliest of all it’s doubtful whether their publicity people, to whom there’s no need to explain jokes or literary references or will bring chastity into vogue, any certain secret hopes, whose nearness sets my ears ringing with an inertial mantra: more than Heather Whitestone made “This is it. This is it. This is it . . .” deafness an enviable trait after her Suddenly, I'm angry. I’m angry because I'm not sure that he’s as sure as I am. win at the 1995 Miss America pagSuddenly, with sex closer than it’s ever been, sex is beside the point. I don't care that eant. After all, it’s likely that when if it's not his first time, but I want it to be his first time feeling toward someone the way Tim Tebow wanted to, he’d have less I feel toward him. To act as though sex with him is just . . . whatever . . . would be a lie trouble than the average guy finding — a lie about the oldest, truest part of me. And it would be equally a lie to proceed as a nice girl to deflower him. From a though it isn't important to me that sex with me be important to him. cultural standpoint, the value of virSo I say, “Wait.” ginity has always consisted entirely I've wondered ever since what my life would be like now if I hadn't said that then. in the opportunities it represents. In ancient times, marrying a woman who wasn't a virgin admitted the possibility of disease, political disturbance, and the possible Don't make me wait, honey / Don't make me say it out late appearance of bastard children. Even as recently as the loud / Don't hesitate now, honey / Or it will all fall down. '50s, a person’s own character was partly assessed by the virtue of their spouse, which could lead to restriction from so(Chris Kalgren) cial groups, clubs, and jobs even as lofty as the US presidency. Men might love their mistresses, but they didn’t marry them. Those virgins who remain, floating on the periphery of This made for a high value on virginity; it did not always modern culture like a raft full of castaways in sight of an Ibiza make for good relationships. That became evident during beach, may find themselves looking at each other and wonderthe '70s, when the divorce rate doubled in just 10 years, and ing, “How did we get here?” They used to be the normal ones; brings us up to date, in an age where people long for the relahell, they used to be in the social ascendancy, commanding tional privileges of mistresses. large numbers of cattle and linen garments as bride-prices. After watching our parents survive loveless marriages for There are way too many factors for this article's word our sakes, or get divorced as soon as they felt we were old count to explain how virginity went from being normative enough to deal with it, we are terrified of marriage. It doesn’t to archaic. Most of it seems directly linked to changes in make us want it any less — come what cultural ebbs and flows popular psychology: “letting our identity be formed by our there may, humans persist in wanting to get married — but it sexuality, rather than letting our identity form our sexuality,” makes us much shyer about approaching it. is the apt phrase of Kirsten Rumary, part of the national We’ve also grown up with a century’s worth of mixed messtaff of Living Waters Canada, a ministry that deals with sages. In one ear, the church and the conservative mainstream relational and sexual issues. Her track record, which began beg us to suppress sexual feelings until we can fully indulge with promiscuity and has since included 17 years of celibacy, them, while in the other ear, psychology says that our very gives her a position of trust that is both lofty and isolated: “I identity hinges on our freedom of sexual expression (with the feel like the orthodox trophy [that] they wheel out, when they resounding agreement of our hormones). The only thing they want that perspective.” agree on is characterizing sexuality as both an ultimate good In this cultural climate, being possessed of your virginity and an unstable compound, against which human beings is like owning a savings bond — worth keeping only until you are practically powerless. (Nor, as Freud argued and Kinsey understand its conceptual value. After that, it's best cashed in echoed, should they be.) before the exchange rate dips any lower; the harder you hold In light of all this, unmarried virgins are treated even by onto it, the harder it is to get rid of. Recently, a string of enthe church as accidents waiting to happen. This attitude gives trepreneurial virgins appeared, selling their virtue at auction us a weird culture of child-brides and fail-safe courtship on and raising questions about the monetary worth of modern one end of the spectrum, and sexual permissiveness of extraday maidenhood. Catarina Migliorini, a 20-year-old Brazilbiblical proportions, on the other end. The watchword of both ian woman whose beauty required several medical tests to camps is “love” — both claim to be the most humanly do-able prove the integrity of her offer, made nearly $800,000 off her ways of showing love to someone that you’re really commitfirst time (proceeds to benefit charity). ted to. Between the two extremes, there falls a broad soft middle, And true love waits / In haunted attics. the growing majority of culturally relevant churches who stay Radiohead on message, but avert their eyes discreetly from couples who “mess up,” “make mistakes,” and “struggle physically.” As long as mistakes are acknowledged and the couple ends up marOf course, any liability can be turned into an asset. There ried, sexual purity is regarded as something to aim for, but are many examples of people who, having gone as far as not to be graded on. they could through looks and talent, leveled up by means of
Night is young, so are we. / Let's get to know each other better, slow and easily. Jermaine Stewart "I think we sometimes conflate institutional systems and structures, and covenant with God, to the point that we believe that signing a marriage license is God’s intention.” This from Christian Piatt, an author and blogger with Patheos and The Good Man Project. “You can be married and use someone,” he points out. “You can devalue and denigrate someone without ever touching them. You can abuse someone sexually without ever having sex with them.” He reviles the setting of arbitrary sexual boundaries as a means of emotional and spiritual protection in sexual relationships. “Hand jobs okay, intercourse not” is, he says, a Pharisaical reduction of the law to its letter. It preserves personal gratification, rather than reverence for the other person and their body, as the goal of a sexual relationship. Marriage, says Mr. Piatt, is no magic pill for a righteous sexual relationship. The end of the matter, he says, is being able to say to your partner “‘I’m doing this out of love and respect and reverence for you.’” It’s possible for a person’s virginity to impair their ability to say that to someone. One woman I interview, who requests anonymity, was engaged to a virgin whose sexual appetite took them much farther than she was comfortable going, even though she was not a virgin herself. “He was so attracted to me, that it was like he was aroused all the time,” she says, while for her part, “my heart was bonded to him in a way that was too soon.” Even though she was more experienced than he, even though they didn’t have intercourse, the memory of it still makes her feel dirty. “You’d think it would be different,” she says, “because we were in love.”
because you aren’t sure yet whether you want to spend the rest of your life with that person.” I ask him whether it wouldn’t be more loving, respectful, and reverential of that person to wait until you are sure. “I don't have a perfect answer to your question,” he says. "In a perfect world, I would love to see that happen, I guess.”
I don't know about you but I swear on my name they could smell it on me. / I've never been too good with secrets. Ben Gibbard It’s not as easy as you might think to lose your virginity. If you want an actual human encounter, with corresponding feelings of attraction, you have to get through the strange moral barrier most people have against casual sex with a virgin. This often narrows down a first-timer’s options to an escort service or someone who really cares about them. Because of this, some manage to slip through the cracks and remain possessed of their virtue well past drinking age. They’re commonly assumed to wear thick glasses and tightly-buttoned sweaters, and to get excited at a close brush with someone on a crowded sidewalk. In fact, there is a whole cadre of virgins with ingenious strategic savvy who can play abstinence like a yoyo, giving out just enough and then snapping back, to mesmeric effect. It’s a marvel of technique. There are also the “nice guys” and “great girls” about whom people wonder “How is he/she not married yet?” The question is answered when you see one of them get dumped. These are the virgins whose consciences chafe against a sense of entitlement that God (or the world, or one person in particular) should have long since rewarded their fortitude. You'll notice that these types are all united by a fixation on sex. Fearing it, defining it, courting it, avoiding it. It's a lot of thought and energy spent on something that you're committed to not having.
"You can be married and use someone. You can devalue and denigrate someone without ever touching them. You can abuse someone sexually without ever having sex with them."
The world that I see inside you / Waiting to come to life / Waking me up to dreaming / Reality in your eyes Jason Wade On these grounds, Mr. Piatt doubts that sex is meant to be a permanent consummation of a loving relationship. That idea, he says, “does presuppose that there is one man made to be with one woman, to be together for all time. I’m not sure that sharing a sexual experience with someone that you care about, or even love, devalues that experience or any future experiences simply
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I am the son / And the heir / Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar. (Johnny Marr) The most common (and perhaps most successful) objection to virginity goes along the lines of “What's the big deal? It’s just sex.” But the objection itself reveals an implicit understanding that sex is not just sex, at all. If it’s simply a rite of physical
pleasure, there’s no real need of another person’s involvement. (Indeed, if spokespeople like Louis C.K. can be believed, the DIY version can be better.) What sex is really about was succinctly posited by God, right before He created the necessary condition for sex to occur: “It is not good for man to be alone.”
I can't do it anymore / And I'm not satisfied. (Elvis Costello) I didn’t want to write this article. Once I say what I think the Bible says about sex, then I’ll have to live with it. I can no longer leave myself open to being persuaded otherwise.
I felt a rush like a rolling ball of thunder / Spinning my head around and taking my body under. (Bob Gaudio)
aren’t. It’s lying to both yourself and the other person about God, that He didn’t mean what He said through the Scripture about sex, or that He doesn’t know what you really need right now.
Now if that's your secret, you can keep it to yourself / 'Cause if you tell me, I might tell somebody else. (Big Joe Turner) When I admit to others that I’m saving my first time for marriage (as of this printing), I can see the distance widen between us. From that moment forward, they’re either looking down on me as a pitiful case of sexual repression, or looking up to me like Dante’s Beatrice. I’m not interested in either position; both make me feel helplessly alone. This is why I find virginity auctioneers to be only as culpable as the well-meaning church folks who hustle horny teenagers toward the altar. Virgins are not martyrs; they’re just another group of people who, by choice, aren’t having sex right now. They deserve less pity than people whose spouses are chronically ill, or deployed overseas, or exhausted from working two jobs in order to provide for their families. If it’s true that God’s goodness includes giving us good things at the right time, then there must be a way that virginity right now is not just a holding cell, but a form of active blessing on my life. I’m talking about finding a better reason for my virginity than the promise of better sex within marriage. I’m talking about a better reason for getting married than relief for my sex drive. Like so many virgins, I’m tired of waiting for my life to finally begin. My need for intimacy exceeds my patience for a boyfriend to come along and love me, or the church to properly support me. The only recourse is this thing I’ve hardly asked God for — intimacy with Him. . . . And I confess to being uneasy with that. I can’t imagine what that feels like.
"I’m talking about finding a better reason for my virginity than the promise of better sex within marriage. I’m talking about a better reason for getting married than relief for my sex drive. Like so many virgins, I’m tired of waiting for my life to finally begin. "
According to the Bible, sex is a physical way of binding yourself to someone. I don’t just mean the release of oxytocin, either. Sex is the integrated human being — mind, body, spirit, emotions —communicating to another integrated human being, “You are not alone. From now on, you have me.” To be clear, this isn’t me getting poetic; I’m getting this from 1 Corinthians 6:12 through chapter 7. These verses indicate what sex is, and that it’s meant only for people who are married to each other. There, I said it. Accordingly, sex is largely a matter of truth between two people, and truth in sex is largely a matter of timing. Here’s what I mean: Commitment is a strange word, a reflexive verb, where the subject makes itself the object. You commit yourself, and then you are committed. By saying you are committed to someone, you indicate that you have done something to yourself. In sexual relationships, the Bible indicates that what you must do to yourself is make another person your owner. (That’s 1 Corinthians 7:4.) If you’re putting off marriage until you finish your school, or get your finances in order, or decide whether you’re really compatible, then you’re more obligated to those things than you are to the person you love. There’s no shame in that. But under these circumstances, having sex with someone is a lie. It’s lying to the other person about himself (or herself), telling them they have you fully, when actually they don’t. It’s lying to yourself, that you’re committed to them, when actually you
. . . Our meeting will mean something only when you wish it. So, I’ll wait. (Letter from Simone Beauvoir to Nelson Algren, 1950)
“I’M A CHRISTIAN, SO HOW COME I FEEL SO LOST?” YOU CAN PROVIDE ANSWERS THAT MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE Train online to lead others through The Truth Project – a DVD-based study for small groups
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HAVE YOU READ?
IMAGE FROM THE DEFAULT LIFE SERIES
The default life An outside the box book about life as a 20 something, by a 20 something Review by Ashley Chapman
“We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us seeing it.” – Blaise Pascal As a philosophy student at the University of Western Ontario, Sam McLoughlin quickly learned that his attempt to maintain a sincere belief in God was lame, while his friends’ nihilism and existential crises were cool. That didn’t stop his initial foray into apologetics, a term he defines as “the art of apologizing for being a Christian.” When relativism was discussed among friends, he turned to every youth-group-educated undergrad’s favourite absolute truth defence: “So you say all truth is relative — including that statement?” but had unfavourable results. “Turns out that wielding these maxims in the presence of even a C-average philosophy student is as useful as firing an arrow at a tank,” he writes. The Default Life is a survey of the big topics that shape us: from religion to technology to dreams. It’s an amalgamation of thoughts from cultural critics, philosophers, and academics; basically, it’s a pop-culture-infused liberal arts degree in 215 pages. McLoughlin adds much of his own insight and humour, constructing a case to prove his thesis: that modern society produces citizens who live in default mode, seeking money or popularity (or antique furniture or cardigans) instead of facing the meaning — or meaninglessness — of life. (Fun fact: this book was actually McLoughlin’s master’s thesis at Regent College.) As a self-published book, The Default Life lacks professional proofreading, perfect formatting, and that elusive pay ad-
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vance that allows an author to eat during the months or years of writing. But these are tradeoffs McLoughlin accepted to take full control of crafting a truly unique reading experience — complete with QR code-enabled “recommended listening” suggestions for each chapter (“It’s a tragedy that movies can have soundtracks, but books can’t,” he explains). The choice also allowed him to become one of the youngest book authors you’ll have read. You don’t often hear first person reflec-
THe Default life: A manifesto for a disaffected generation Sam McLoughlin Self-published, 2012 available on Amazon
Watch the latest The Default Life Episode "What are our screens doing to us?"
tions of being a kid in the '90s in print — print! But don’t confuse youth with inability; McLoughlin’s style and depth of thought fully merit the permanence of binding and ink, and the presence of margins (and his published Twitter handle) for interacting with the text. McLoughlin chronicles his own initiation into the culture he both appreciates and critiques. He remembers at age nine how his ultimate hero shifted from Batman (who tries to save the world) to Zach Morris (who tries to be cool). He recalls learning the marks of mature adulthood by spending that golden after-school hour before his parents got home from work watching Oprah. “As a twelve-year-old,” he writes, “I learned to empathize with rape victims, sex addicts, and poor families who’d just been evicted . . . After watching a few episodes of Oprah, I felt that doing anything else, like playing hockey, was childish. Going outside was beneath me. I had a duty to listen to those rape victims, nod, and offer my condolences. And I wasn’t going to let them down.” As the book’s subtitle (“A manifesto for a disaffected generation”) suggests, McLoughlin explores the factors that leave Millennials longing for “a sunset over Maui without the hassles of flying coach.” In his two final chapters, McLoughlin travels to Disneyland, but instead of being haunted by the “It’s a Small World After All” theme song, the voice of Fight Club’s Tyler Durden plays on repeat in his head. Between High School Musical 3 parades and flirting with the princesses, he can’t shake Durden’s epigrams: “We are all part of the same compost heap;” “If you died
learn grow serve
right now, how would you feel about your life?” By the end, he finds a surprising way to tie our malaise to “companies like Disney that bring us the best life has to offer before you hit age seven.” Needless to say, it’s a trip within a trip that any culturally-initiated 20 something will enjoy. As with the work of most first-time authors, the book has some faults. The front and back cover never mention Christianity, so an unsuspecting buyer may be unpleasantly surprised by its theistic worldview and reference to “heathens.” Some of the best illustrations and ideas from the book, such as ref lections on The Sims and Saved by the Bell, are borrowed (with citations) from the work of others, most notably Chuck Klosterman. Remembering, however, that The Default Life is actually the world’s most readable master’s thesis, this is easily forgivable. But then there’s that chapter on music, which at least offers some interesting analysis of the rising individuation of music in the midst of an obnoxious explanation on why guys should only date girls who listen to Radiohead. (Angry tweets can be directed to @VancvrSam.) Overall, McLoughlin’s book is full of humourous and incisive thoughts on faith, culture, and human nature. The references are tailored to readers in their 20s, though the concepts covered will have a wider appeal and application. The Default Life is no longer just a book, as McLoughlin has launched a video series of the same name and similar content, reminiscent of Rob Bell’s NOOMA videos. The series, and audio versions of several chapters are available online (youtube. com/ideaCulture) as well as a free 'wired' ebook edition on TheDefaultLife.com. Like Bell, this is not the last we’ll hear from McLoughlin, who is busy producing videos and planning a second book. Of course, as a self-published author, this in itself is an act of faith. In the words of McLoughlin on the final page: “If you enjoyed this book and would prefer I write more books rather than serve you coffee, please tell a friend. Or ten.”
Distance Courses Open Studies Master of Divinity www.concordiasem.ab.ca
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HAVE YOU READ?
God is Red How a "foreign" faith suffered and served its way into the heart of Communist China By Flyn Ritchie
Liao was intrigued; he had earlier come to know a few Christians and admired their courage, even though he didn't — and still doesn't — share their faith. When Liao asked if he could interview Sun, he said he'd lived an ordinary life and suggested Liao Yiwu wrote his epic poem “Massacre” in the wake of instead that he accompany him to the mountains to hear some China's bloody crackdown on student protests in Tiananmen "extraordinary stories in the villages there." A year later Liao went on a month-long journey with Dr. Sun. Square in 1989. He spent the following four years in prison for his literary boldness. Since then Liao has begun to enjoy He was reminded of the old Chinese saying: “Heaven is high a near celebrity status around the world, and is a friend of the above and the emperor is far away," and wondered "how it was renowned human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded possible for Christianity, a foreign faith, to find its way and grow in such isolated locations." the Nobel Peace Prize while in jail in 2010. Local people told him that the China Inland Mission had Sometimes likened to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who so eloquently made the world aware of the Soviet prison camp system sent missionaries to Shanghai 150 years ago, and that they had in The Gulag Archipelago, Liao's status will likely be cemented quickly travelled to the furthest corners of China. "These forwith the long-awaited publication of his account of life in a Chi- eigners, 'with blond hair and big noses,' [arrived] . . . just in time to save the people from a bubonic epinese jail. demic." Liao, who had grown up in an era For a Song and a Hundred Songs: A Poet's when missionaries were portrayed as 'evil Journey Through a Chinese Prison won't be agents of the imperialists,' was surprised available in English until later this year, but by such stories. in the meantime, we can appreciate God is "Three or four generations later," Liao Red (HarperOne, 2011). This collection of 18 said, "Christianity was part of the heritage loosely linked interviews and essays explores of each individual family and an integral the ways in which spirituality, and especially part of local history . . . in the Yi and Miao Christianity, is thriving in post-Mao China villages, Christianity is now as indigenous in the face of widespread corruption and the as qiaoba, a special Yi buckwheat cake." loss of faith in Communism. The book exemHowever, it came at a great price. "The plifies his concern for those on the margins circuitous mountain path in Yunnan of society. Liao Yiwu at an event in the province is red because over many God is Red is based on Liao's experiencLiteraturhaus, Cologne. years it has been soaked in blood." His es in Yunnan, a province in the far southappreciation of the missionaries shines west of China. Liao had jumped from his through his interviews with old pastors, second floor apartment to escape public security agents who had come to interrogate him. "I fled to the nuns and lay people, in which their long-suffering hope for the sun-drenched city of Dali . . . Broke and depressed in a new city. future becomes apparent. "I was struck by the dedication of the missionaries," Liao . . I roamed the streets, hanging out with beggars, street vendors, musicians and prostitutes, listening to their life stories. says. Jessie McDonald from Canada arrived in China in 1913, and worked at a hospital in Kaifeng. When the Japanese took In the evenings, I doused my loneliness with liquor . . ." It was in this frame of mind that Liao met Dr. Sun in 2004. over that city, she moved the hospital to Dali, in Yunnan. She Sun had quit his position as dean of a large medical school near carried on until Communist officials seized the hospital and Shanghai to heal the sick and spread the gospel in Yunnan. forced her out of China in 1951.
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Photo © Elke Wetzig/CC-BY-SA
"Every inch of soil beneath my feet was red, shining under the frail winter sun, as if it had been soaked in blood." (Liao Yiwu, reflecting on trekking a narrow mountain path in Yunnan.)
Liao bears witness to McDonald's life of sacrifice, and that would be reason enough to justify reading God is Red. But the width of his vision and his eye for telling detail set this book apart. During his reflections on McDonald, for example, he quotes aptly from the French poet Paul Valery. McDonald is said to have been the last missionary to leave China. "On her last day," Liao writes, "she ignored the threats of soldiers and went to pray at what is now the Old City Protestant Church built by missionaries in 1905. She was alone in the church surrounded by empty pews . . . McDonald made for the bell and struck it for the last time. The sound rippled through the city. Three old men drinking tea in the old city remember it. 'The chiming came in waves, resounding waves, one after another; people in Xiaguan could feel the vibration,' said one." One of Liao's interviews was with Wang Zisheng, the son of Wang Zhiming, who was arrested in 1969 and executed in 1973 after serving the Miao
Further reading: China's Book of Martyrs Paul Hattaway, Piquant, 2007 The author of The Heavenly Man offers a loving and extensive (656 pages) account of Chinese and missionary martyrs. It is estimated that since the Nestorians first introduced the Gospel to China in the 7th century, some 250,000 Christians have died for their faith, and since 1900, more than in all other countries combined.
A Heart for Freedom Chai Ling: Tyndale, 2011 This is the unique and inspiring story of a woman who led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989 while a student at the elite Peking University (founded by a missionary in 1898). After the tanks rolled in and the movement was crushed, she escaped to the United States, where she earned degrees from Princeton and Harvard before starting her own company. She became a Christian in 2009 and has begun All Girls Allowed, a ministry that opposes China's One-Child Policy and the 'gendercide' of unborn females.
people for many years. His martyrdom was commemorated in 1998 by a statue, one of 10 that recognize martyrs from around the world, above the Great West Door to Westminster Abbey in London. There are many stories of persecution in this book; Wang Zhiming is unique only in having been chosen for notice by the outside world. Liao is helping to redress this imbalance. Ironically, Wang Zisheng only learned about the honour paid to his father after the fact, and first saw pictures of the statue in 2002. "We all cried when we saw them," he said. "My father had fought against devils in those dark days and had triumphed." Did he feel bitter about the past? "No, I don't feel bitter. As Christians, we forgive the sinner and move on to the future. We are grateful for what we have today." Among the things they have today is a dramatically larger church, grown from less than 3,000 when his father was preaching to some 30,000 now. (The church in China numbers between 50 and 100 million now, up from well under 5 million when the Communists took over.) Following a return trip to Yunnan in 2009, Liao commented, "These trips have exhilarated me, lifting me out of my drunken depression. The stories of heroic Christians . . . inspired me, prompting me to write a book [about] a new Christian identity that is distinctively Chinese." Historian Philip Jenkins says, "It is very difficult to read Liao Yiwu's work without being constantly reminded of Christian struggles in the ancient Roman Empire, where a harassed minority was struggling to exist . . . Who can tell how the story will play out this time round?" The situation may be improving. Open Doors, an organization serving persecuted Christians, ranks nations according to how much persecution Christians suffer. This year China came 37th (moderate), down from 21st (severe) in 2012. Not committing itself too far, Open Doors makes this succinct comment: "Four issues get the church into trouble: when they are perceived as too powerful, too political, too foreign or a cult. For the foreseeable future, the new government is likely to use religion rather than exterminate it." God is Red and For a Song and a Hundred Songs make it clear that Liao, for his part, believes that the Christian community is not foreign, but rather a good influence â€” and that he will remain committed to providing a voice for the voiceless.
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HAVE YOU HEARD? By Craig Ketchum
Will Reagan & United Pursuit Band Endless Years
Will Reagan takes his songwriting in a different direction on this album. While previous listeners may need some time to adjust to the new sound, this album is both lovable and lyrically powerful –— another staple for a music library. Reagan continues to show his talent for writing beautiful, simple lines couched in impressive harmonies. Endless Years provides proof that The United Pursuit Band belongs on the frontline of modern worship arts music.
Sea Oleena Sleeplessness Like her previous eponymous album, Charlotte Oleena’s Sleeplessness reverberates and builds, swirling through to your eardrums until you are almost dizzy with exhilaration. It begins with the beautiful, flowing stream-of-consciousness “Southbound”, which makes use of brilliant panning that can only be enjoyed properly with headphones. Shakers, glass bottles, water, breath, and drums provide unique percussion throughout the record. Blend that with fingerpicked guitar and baselines, and Sleeplessness concocts an ambience that seems to surround you.
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What we're listening to: truth Alexander Retrograde James Blake
The Mother we Share CHVRCHES Nick Wisdom Big Shiny House EP Mosh Monarchy Synchronizing man and machine, this exceptionally gritty electronic album borrows thematically from the genre’s greats — Justice, Daft Punk, and the like — and darkly channels other styles, from deep hip-hop rhythms to razor-sharp hooks. Monarchy significantly raises the profile of Edmonton-raised Mosh (Adam Bignell), propelling him from the underground into greater realms of influence.
This third solo project of Vancouver producer Nick Wisdom carries a mark of quality and boasts a grandly enjoyable repertoire of loops and samples.
Jamaica Van She McQueen Mosh Gold Sir Sly Old Dreams Hayden Friend You Say Party What Have I Done Portage and Main
Stay Son Lux Before The Brave Great Spirit EP Before the Brave deserves a nod for their recent debut EP, an indie-folk offering permeated with strong Christian themes and even stronger melodies. For fans of Mumford, The Civil Wars and The Arcade Fire.
Handholding is Encouraged Before the Brave
l ast word
recently heard Regent College Professor Ross Hastings say the same thing, except with bigger words: “Ethical failures seem most often rooted in a losing of heart, in despair. There is a link between the emotive and ethical; there is a link between losing heart and deception.” How true it is that the places where we struggle to live a life of love are the exact places where our hearts are broken! In general, the failures in our lives are not random. Think of a bouncy ball. The kind you’d throw against the floor or the wall as hard as you could just to see what crazy direction it would bounce. Just as the direction and speed of a bouncy ball depend on the nature of the surface off of which it bounces, many of us fly through life reacting to the grounds with which we’ve come in contact. Have you connected the places where you struggle to love with the particular brokenness of your heart? There is good news, my friends. You may not see this cross-stitched and framed in a country kitchen, but it’s true all the same: God is the Perfect Surface to Fly Your Bouncy Ball. God has not left us to live our lives in reaction to the surfaces we’ve hit in the past or that we hit every day. The foundation of Jesus is solid, never damaging, and propels us in the perfect direction and at the perfect speed into a righteous and whole life. We don’t have to run away from or bully our way throughout current circumstances when we constantly return to the basic foundation of God’s love for us. As we return to God again and again, our bouncy ball is healed by the truth and mercy that characterize God’s foundation. In our repentance, God sets straight the trajectories that our bouncy ball normally takes due to the damage, holes,
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air leaks, and dirt it has accumulated. God’s truth and mercy are the only things capable of patching, cleaning and filling our broken places, and the more we return to him, the more whole we become. Perhaps there is some damage, a leak, or dried dirt in your life that sends you habitually flying off in a way you wish you wouldn’t. Join the club! But join the club that doesn’t facilitate ball games that lie to you, saying that these habitual trajectories are good, or just the way it is. Join the club that calls on the rehabilitative services of God so that what is hurting can be acknowledged and then be restored. Psalm 23:6 tells us that whatever club you join, God’s ever-present truth and mercy will chase your bouncy ball as far as it will go to bring you back to His solid ground. Maybe tonight is a night to journal, or call a friend, a counsellor, or a pastor who can help you discover if the surface from which you are flying is one that is making you whole or one that is sending you off to make choices hurtful to yourself or others. One way of answering this is by asking yourself, “Am I returning to God to inform my mind and bring life and love to my heart?” You can heal, your life can change, you can be set free, your heart can be made whole again! Like Jesus asked the man in John 5, “Do you want to be healed?” Friends, let us passionately desire God’s healing, stubbornly seek it, be ruthlessly honest. Then He will “make level paths for [our] feet so that the lame may not be put out of joint, but rather healed” (Hebrews 12:13). Praise God for the good news of His firm foundation!
- Michelle Sudduth
Flickr photo by MIgraciònTOtal (away...)
A friend on Facebook recently posted on his wall a quote from his young child, who perceptively remarked, “Bad guys have broken hearts.”
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This 11th issue we explore the ethics of hockey culture, and whether loyal hockey fans are mad at the NHL for the right reasons. We talk vir...
Published on Mar 1, 2013
This 11th issue we explore the ethics of hockey culture, and whether loyal hockey fans are mad at the NHL for the right reasons. We talk vir...