16 artists share their secrets // right brain revolution // Culture shapers // Fall higher-ed Guide
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Issue 14 // September - October 2013 Contents Reflections
Beauty & Caved in Hearts Life
Creatively Unemployed How to Make a living Doing what you love
8 Whatâ€™s inside The creative issue
The art Of love
What is it like to be in a relationship with a rockstar, writer, filmmaker, or cartoonist?
Higher education Feature
Sharing their hard learned lessons and experience in the creative field:
Compiling basic information (tuition, clubs, athletics, student services) from various Christian post-secondary institutions, we give prospective students a guide to aid with their quest to find their ideal schools. School directory Athletic charts Student support Financial numbers
Confronting the challenges faced in the creative life
Extracurriculars ...and more
Brett McCracken Jeff Goins David Vandas Sandra McCracken Derek Webb
Zach Laliberte A.J. Michalka Mutemath Salomon Ligthelm ... and more
12 Dear culture shapers
Books about C.S. Lewis Last Word:
Owning your creativity
Here are your options. Surrounded by culture, do you consume it? Critique it? Copy it? Or knit-bomb it?
A chat with Vancouver band We Are The City about living in creative community.
52 8 Good reasons to give up on your Dreams #6: You're not willing to just about kill yourself working.
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Portrait Of the artist “I desire to press in my arms the loveliness which has not yet come into the world.” — James Joyce
hen we started planning this issue two months ago, we did it with the intention of presenting it as a guide for creatives. Our objective was to showcase people who are making a living as artists and, in the process, learn how they achieved their success. Did they need day jobs to fund their passion? What skills were necessary to make it in the world of freelance? There’s enough in the news about the arts being in decline; we wanted to show that art is thriving. Maybe it’s thriving on a smaller scale, but people are actually supporting their families through their creative talents. We were also interested in how the spiritual infuses an artist’s work. Did they experience pressure to appease the believers in their audience? Was inspiration something God given? One thing we quickly discovered, in asking these questions: many Christian artists despise the term “Christian artist”. Gone are the days when Christians exist solely in their comfortable spheres of safe art. Artists who are believers want to reach an audience beyond the walls of the church. That's a good thing, right?
Flickr photo (cc) by Michael Kalus
GOSPEL-CENTRED EDUCATION IN THE HEART OF A GREAT UNIVERSITY
Master of Divinity Master of Divinity for Pioneer Ministries Master of Theological Studies in Urban & International Development Doctoral Programs Bursary Support On-line Learning
They are responding to the call of the Lord to, “preach the Gospel to every creature,” but not in the way you would expect. Those believers who create are cutting through the “Christianese” so that God’s universal word can be understood. The creative realm is being redeemed by artists whose music, art, film, and writing reflect not their agendas, but their hearts. Another thing we discovered in speaking with these creatives was that they are collectively one of the hardest working groups out there. It’s easy to write artists off as lazy, and tell them that they need to get “real” jobs (whatever that means). But the reality is, many of these people not only have jobs, but businesses where they have to do every job by themselves. I wish I could give you a formula for what makes good art, or at least art that brings a decent income. But creativity is mysterious — it cannot be dissected. One thing I do know is that creativity does not come solely from talent. It is cultivated by hard work, and a willingness to not only fail, but fail miserably. Impatience, anxiety, and frustration often show up before the great breakthroughs. But if you learn to use the discomfort of these feelings to your advantage, there’s a good chance you’ll make it as a creative. — Shara Lee, Editor
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Creativity and Caved-in Hearts By Brett McCracken
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
I Image courtesy of SHAREHEADS.COM
felt this verse in my gut before I ever heard it. Far back into my childhood, I remember this distinct feeling of awe and gladness intermingled with pangs of longing. I felt it on camping trips, looking up at mountains that seemed strangely temporal. Or at summer camp, sitting around bonfires and observing the stars infinitely larger and older than I. Sometimes I felt it when reading adventure books with my dad, or listening to the classical orchestras in which my violinist mother played. Or, perhaps most frequently, I felt it while I watched movies. In fact it was during a movie when this odd yet familiar cocktail of emotion was first expressed in a way that made sense to me. When I heard it — as a junior in highschool — I was brought to tears. The movie: American Beauty. It was something Wes Bentley’s character said after describing his peculiar fascination with the beauty of a plastic trash bag: “Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.”
Brett McCracken is a Los Angeles-based journalist and author of the recently released Gray Matters: Navigating the Space Between Legalism & Liberty, as well as Hipster Christianity. Follow him on Twitter @brettmccracken or at his blog, stillsearching. wordpress.com
At that moment, it clicked. Beauty and sadness are intimately linked; beauty, while being an immeasurable gift, is a constant reminder of an ever-present lack. We are most aware of eternity when we taste, see, hear, touch, and try to understand the vastness of beauty all around us. It’s why we feel like our hearts might just cave in: because we sense we were made for something bigger than we can now take. The tension within Ecclesiastes 3:11 is fuel for many of us artists or creatives. It’s the tension between the realities asserted in the verse’s three clauses: 1) God made everything in this life beautiful. Everything. 2) God set eternity in our hearts, making them “restless until they rest in Thee,” as Augustine famously said. 3) There are mysteries and realities about this universe we will never grasp in this life. It’s this tension between revealed and concealed, known and unknown, this-worldly (the glimpses of beauty we see all around us) and other-worldly (the eternity set in our hearts) that makes us creative beings. If all were revealed and known, we would have no need to be creative; if all were concealed and unknown, we wouldn’t know where to start. But because God has put us in a world where beauty infuses everything, alongside mystery, fallenness and temporality, we cannot help but search. We cannot help but create. Ingrained within us is a desire to take the raw materials of God’s gracious gifts — colours, textures, language, emotions, to name a few — and try to make something that speaks truth, brings healing or facilitates worship. Creativity is the heart, filled with eternity, finding ways to express itself within a world where we see dimly and know only in part. It’s the aching, striving, and longing for the time when we will know fully and see the Source of beauty face-to-face. convergemagazine.com
After you’re up, leave your house. It’s especially important for you to get out and experience the world. Take walks. Talk to strangers. Out there is where inspiration happens, stories are gathered, and life is lived. If you have the time, explore everything. Take on odd jobs or join a temp agency. Work on all the creative side projects you daydreamed you would do if you only had the time. Invest in free or low-cost hobbies that stimulate your creativity but don’t necessarily bring in income: book reading, going to galleries, quiet retreats. Also go on hikes, learn to cook, or have coffee with a friend on their lunch break. “Do all the fun things that don’t even seem purposeful, useful, or educational,” says Crozier.
Unemployed By Lauren Bentley
arly this year, Maclean’s magazine released its timely, relatable, and very discouraging summary of “the new underclass.” Basically, that’s all of us who graduated in the last five years or so. We’re overeducated and underemployed. “It turns out that most young people are working,” the article says, “typically in jobs well below their levels of qualification, and often outside their fields. Those lucky enough to get a toehold in their chosen professions have a hard time getting enough hours or pay to support themselves, statistics show.” Underemployment, along with its nefarious cousin unemployment, often comes laced with self-doubt, anxiety, and fear. And of the underemployed, many of us are creatives: writers, painters, designers, singers, etc. But creatives, take heart: there are ways to optimize this disconcerting time.
Get up, get out Natasha Crozier is a professional blogger covering work and calling at mycallingiq.com. She is also a creative who has gone through her own periods of under/unemployment. She gave me this advice early on in my year of irregular work: “Set an alarm, get dressed and ready for the day — every day.” Just this small step gave me a much stronger sense of purpose for my day.
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Lauren Bentley is a professional writer and editor currently working in higher education and a recent transplant to Vancouver, B.C. You can learn more about her at laurenmbentley. wordpress.com.
Just do it — with help Think of ways to do the creative work you love on a daily basis, which will not only sharpen your skills but help them to grow. Make a daily plan for a few things you want to accomplish. If you’re working on a big project, break it into small parts and give yourself deadlines: Turn, “I want to write a book,” into, “I want to write 500 great words by Friday.” Start a project that has deadlines associated with it. For instance, if you’re a photographer, start a blog where you promise to post two times a week. (Bonus: this doubles as a constantly updated portfolio to share with potential employers). When I was underemployed, I relied on writing contests to motivate me — those deadlines motivated me write two personally important pieces that could easily still be floating around in my brain without them. Give away your creative skills to friends and family as a gift. Say yes to any volunteer opportunity where you could bring your creative skills, even if it doesn’t strictly fit your creative identity. Accountability within a community is also essential. Crozier suggests “hiring a manager” — a (free) friend who will check in on you and encourage you in your work.
Illustrations by Jonathan Fajardo for Converge magazine
How to keep your skills sharp while on the job hunt
Courtesy of Natasha Crozier
On creative success: The War of Art Steven Pressfield On selfemployment: Making a Living without a Job Barbara Winter
Do something you like so you can do what you love When Kimberely Dawn fell in love with theatre, it meant also realizing the steady career path she’d chosen as a teacher wasn’t right for her. Unfortunately, even after classes and an apprenticeship at a theatre company, one doesn’t just get hired for her dream job of director. So after years of unfulfilling restaurant work, she decided to go back to school for massage therapy: a job she knew she would enjoy, and knew would leave her enough time and energy to invest in her own personal creative projects after work. The lesson? Do something you like, however practical, that can support you and support your desire to be creative. When Kimberley graduates from esthetics school, she hopes to build on her extensive volunteer and side job experience in the theatre and other creative industries. “I’ll make my own shows happen,” she says, with the practical support of doing a job she enjoys.
Change how you see yourself and your work
On motivation: Drive Daniel Pink
On building better habits: The Power of Full Engagement Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz On finding your true self: The Power of Uniqueness Arthur Miller
On being an artist: The Artist's Way Julia Cameron On finding God’s Call: The Call Os Guiness For reflection: Walking on Water Madeleine L’Engle
ED C H OU fo U th r th C R TS em e A T I S A ar chu TI N ke rc O T tp h a N I A DI lac nd e N NG
Reading material for the underemployed
“Don’t wait for permission from someone to decide you are an artist,” Crozier says. “You don’t need to wait for label validation from other people.” This can admittedly be a scary step. Calling myself a writer when I was working part-time from home as an executive assistant felt something like lying when I first tried it out. But in truth, I was a writer: I’m trained to write, and I write regularly. It’s a
freeing realization. “It’s that choice,” Crozier continues, “to embrace your calling as more than a hobby,” even if it doesn’t fit your traditional definition of “work.”
Enjoy it There are many barriers to fully enjoying underemployment — finances, being unable to move out of your parents’ house, or the more existential “lack of purpose.” But making a point to appreciate the small graces that come with underemployment can make all the difference. Start broadening your definition of a paid creative job. I thought if I wanted to be a writer, I needed a job at a magazine or newspaper. When I finally found steady work as a writer, it was in fundraising — a field I didn’t quite know existed. And my art major husband? He works at a software company doing communications, where his creative side is nurtured in unexpected ways. Go on informational interviews with anyone whose job interests you, even if it isn’t in your field, to learn about a broad range of work options. Now is the time in your life to invest time in life-giving, non-money-making side projects. When I was unemployed, I worked some fantastic odd jobs and learned things about myself I wouldn’t have at the ol’ nine-to-five. It was sometimes sad, and sometimes I was anxious, but mostly, it was a time to live the stories that will one day make me a better writer.
Nineteen undergraduate degrees to choose from including psychology, business administration, music, youth ministry, humanities and biblical studies. Eleven graduate degrees including counselling, theology, and leadership.
How to make it
doing what you love Steps to move you from starvation to success By Jason Vance
1. Shift your mindset
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2. Don’t give it away for free That’s the biggest mistake I made. I gave too much away, especially to friends and family. Stop doing that right now. The problem with offering free or cheap work is it actually prevents you from doing the thing you most want to be doing. Which is being creative.
Flickr photo (cc) by Sarah Parrot
Jason lives in Kelowna with his pregnant wife and four kids. He spends most of his days dreaming and working on creative side projects. He can also be found doing design and website work as the owner of Red Mill Creative Inc.
So you want to make it as a creative. There’s a reason why they call us “starving artists.” You might not make enough money doing art or being creative. Almost everyone I know is trying to make it as an artist, so you should really just quit now. Go and work for the man. Give up. Because if you don't you'll probably hate everyone and live in a bus by the river. If you’re still reading, you’re probably serious about this. Yes, being a creative can be filled with long hours, late nights, and a lot of hair pulling. But it can also be a fun, rewarding, and flexible career path. Here is some advice I wish I had early on when I started out.
An artist is someone who creates something from nothing. That’s not so different from what an entrepreneur does. If you are going be successful, you need to think of yourself as an entrepreneur as well as an artist. Most artists exchange emotions, sometimes without payment. So take the emotion you are trying to create and give it a price.
Don’t be afraid to ask for more than you think your work is worth. Sure, you might lose the odd client, but if you double your rates and lose half your clients, you’re still making the same amount of money. And you’re working half the amount of time.
3. Resell your stuff over and over When you design a logo that gets rejected (which is likely the best one you did anyways) resell it on Envato or Creative Market. All those photos you take are also worth something to someone. Sell them on iStockphoto or create your own site to sell them.
5. Prove your art has value I believe everything we create should bring value to people. The art hanging on my wall has value. The song I listen to has value. The software I use has value. The keyboard I’m typing on has value. And they were all created for a purpose. The more value you give people, the more you will make. If people don’t find worth in what you do, change what you do. Keep records of what works and doesn’t work. Clients need to know that what they are investing in will bring value — whether it’s a painting on the wall or website they need to make money from. Make sure you have data, testimonies and case studies to show that your ideas work.
Art isn’t art if no one likes it. If you take offense to the rejection, you will never improve. The website you've just created can be changed slightly, made into a template and sold on themeforest.net or the song you didn’t include in your album can be used in an indie film or in a commercial. My friend who was a set designer for commercials told me of how his director would often use left over film to shoot stock footage. Which they later resold. In their book Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson talk about reselling your stuff two or three times over in different formats. Turn your best blog posts into a paid training series or a book.
4. Rejection and failure are part of the process Almost every artist I know could be described as sensitive and emotional. This makes great art, but it doesn’t exactly help when you’re trying to make a living. Or when everything fails and your ideas are rejected. You can’t take things personally. Earnest Hemmingway said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” If your idea is rejected, make it better. Ask why they didn’t like it. Art isn’t art if no one likes it. If you take offense to the rejection, you will never improve. Instead, try to apply the advice and think objectively about the criticism they give you.
6. Focus on what’s important You’re never going to make it if you’re not serious about what you do. It’s hard to be focused, stay on task, and get to the important things. But you have to do the important work first. Don’t check emails. Don’t constantly post on Facebook, check your Twitter or look at the latest Instagram. Seth Godin says you always need to be creating and doing the work that is making you money. Otherwise it’s just a hobby. And you should go work for someone else.
7. Just do it The reality is you can make it as a creative person. So stop playing and do the work. My own story has been more about failure than success, about good ideas that should have worked, but didn’t. I’ve had more accidental successes than strategic ones. The only difference between me and those who haven’t been as successful as me? I haven’t given up. I’ve done the work and I’ve gotten better. I’ve made so many mistakes it’s laughable. But I’m still here. Still creating. Still providing for my wife and soon to be five kids. And still doing what I love.
Is your journey taking you where you need to go? Why wait?
Rocky Mountain College Calgary, Alberta • 1.877.YOUnRMC www.rockymountaincollege.ca convergemagazine.com | 9
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The art of love Artists dish about their relationships By Chelsea Batten
Derek Webb (singer/songwriter): Guys have
always written songs about girls since the dawn of time. There was a song that I wrote about a girl I was dating, who I thought I was going to marry, that I didn’t marry. People still request it — a song I wrote for somebody I thought was somebody else. If you’re doing your job well, in all likelihood, you’re going to document relational things that are going to change or resolve in unexpected ways. And that’s happened, Lord knows, a handful of times to me.
Alex van Nieuwkuyk (filmmaker): Like many people in many different
kinds of work people tend to meet their significant others at work. For my girlfriend and I, we met in film school. We both love film and want to work in the industry for the rest of our careers. I think we both know this line of work comes with long hours, not a lot of free time and sometimes travel for extended periods of time. The fact that we both knew and expected that going into it has made it much easier on us both.
Wes Molebash (cartoonist): At the time of our
engagement, I was working on an idea for a graphic novel. I had drawn several pages, and decided to bring the stack of pages over to Kari’s house for her to review. Somewhere in the stack, I inserted a drawing of myself holding the engagement ring and asking her to marry me. When she flipped to that “page”, it took her a moment to realize what was happening, but it worked!
Sandra McCracken (singer/songwriter):
Illustrations by Carmen Bright
ou know how it goes. You’re at a show, the footlights throw the dark bodies into silhouetted relief, people start to cheer, the lights come up, and there he is. Squinting into the spotlight, like a gunfighter staring down his opponent. He slings his axe across his chest, his forearm ripples as he throws down the first power chord, and your only wish is that you could be standing in the spot currently occupied by his microphone. Or maybe that’s just me. But you know what I mean. Creative talent is legendary for getting otherwise unattractive people some serious play. How else do you explain, for instance, Mick Jagger? I know what it’s like to be on the adoring fan end; I was curious to know how it feels to be the one adored, and to know (or at least wonder if ) it’s just because of your talent. You find out some funny things this way: that musician Derek Webb digs Taylor Swift’s kiss-and-tell lyrics, or that poet Timothy Willard wooed his wife with a discussion of original sin. But for most of these people, creative talent was just what got them lucky enough to meet the person they ended up spending their life with ... though it wasn’t always the person they thought it was going to be.
The different ways our brains are wired — as a creative, or very mathematical — those aren’t the things that bind us in a deep, core way. I think that’s something else that’s not easily described. I think the biggest thing is if you have a unique sense of vision for that person, that to me feels like a good indicator that you could spend your life together. I think it’s remarkable what human beings can do for each other — if you can look at somebody and say “I’m going to look for the good in you until we become what we naturally can be together.”
Brett McCracken (writer): Sometimes I’ll be writing at a coffee shop and get a call from my wife to rush home due to some sort of household bug infestation (this happened recently), but overall, marriage is a huge help and support to my creative life. Jenna Shirley (musician’s wife):
Amazing guitar player, on stage, touring in a rock band! I saw in him all the things I wasn’t, and were precious and original to me. He knew who he was, had a focus and a mission in his life, and didn’t have to wear a T-shirt about it, but lived it.
David Vandas (filmmaker): My ex-girlfriend thought I was weird. Both my wife and I are creative in different disciplines (that complement). We create with different motives and discipline, and so that can sometimes be tough — I’m like a bulldog with creativity and she just lets it flow. But we are each other’s biggest fans. Plus, you get to creatively make new human beings together, so that’s nice. convergemagazine.com
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collective wisdom Artists
merican novelist Cormac McCarthy once said, â€œCreative work is often driven by pain. It may be that if you don't have something in the back of your head driving you nuts, you may not do anything.â€? This could not be more true for the artists we spoke to who told us that the creative process was not at all pleasant, but in fact filled with much toiling, defeat, and uncertainty. What we found that elevated these artists among their peers, however, was a willingness to work through these feelings and press on until breakthroughs were made. The following are profiles of 16 creatives who have shown excellence in their respective industries. These are writers, illustrators, dancers, and musicians who pursue their craft with courage in order to deliver extraordinary art.
Holly Albao ballerina
Brett McCracken Writer
Zach Laliberte Musician of La Liberte
Jeff Goins writer
Aj Michalka Actress & Singer
Mutemath Alt Rock Band
Wes Molebash Cartoonist
David Vandas Filmmaker
Timothy Willard Poet
Sandra McCracken Musician
Derek Webb Musician
Ben Everett Husband of Musician
Zerbin Indie Band
Jenna Shirley Wife of Musician
Salomon Ligthelm Filmmaker
“My conversion went along with ballet. I gave my life to God, and I started dancing a week later. That makes it even more of a spiritual thing. God was like, ‘Here you go.’ I didn’t even know I was looking for it.” 14 | CONVERGE. sep - oct
Photos by Chelsea Batten; previous page art and photo by Chris Wright
“I don’t like to dance by myself. I know a lot of people love the solo; I actually don’t like that. I love to look at people’s eyes and faces, be in this world with them.”
“I love to dance with Heather. She's my sister and she loves dance. When we dance together, I feel like I'm dancing for her too.”
“I love the energy of an audience. Energy sounds new-agey or something, but I really think it’s a spiritual thing, to connect with people in that way.” convergemagazine.com
Dear Brett McCracken, You suck. Well, actually, no ... you don’t. At all. The fact that part, which is getting it out there in the world. To see your words you don’t suck is exactly what prompted me to say you did. You and ideas penetrating into people’s lives and consciousness.” know how spitefully envious writers can be. See, the thing is, Brett McCracken, most of us Or maybe you don’t. aren’t willing to work or wait for the exciting part. Like you, I wrote stories as a kid. Like you, I wrote We need that constant drip of ego-stroking affirmafor my college newspaper. Like you, I started a blog tion to get us to work. And even if we have it ... via just to flex my creative muscles, to see who responded Facebook likes and whatever else ... we’re usually to the different kinds of flares I sent up. And like you, more likely to lie back like opium addicts and just let I’ve done a lot of writing for free. it feel good, rather than use it as fuel to keep workUnlike you, I never got tapped to write for major ing. print and online periodicals while still in school. Unlike That’s why most of us don’t use our day job the way you, my blog hasn’t exploded into multi-national you use yours — to expand your repertoire of what you Brett McCracken's popularity and gained an authoritative voice among my can write about effectively. We use it as a scapegoat latest book, demographic. Unlike you, I haven’t published upwards for not producing the kind of creative output that you Gray Matters: of 50 articles and reviews in the last five years. do. Which reminds me of something else you said: Navigating the What gives, Brett McCracken? What’s the difference “If all you’re ever doing is writing about your Space Between between you and me? And please don’t just say, “I have particular interests, you’re never going to grow. You Legalism THIS MANY followers on my blog,” because that’s in grow as a writer when you’re forced to write a 20and Liberty, poor taste and is moreover unhelpful. You can say, “It’s page article about some engineering thing. I think is now available on because I’m a better writer,” if you want to ... but I know it’s good for writers to have that kind of ‘challenge Amazon: you won’t, because besides being a kickass writer, you’re yourself’ mentality.” also a very nice person. (Seriously man, give a competiThat’s why most of us don’t use our Saturday morntor something to hate.) ings at Starbucks to buckle down and get stuff done. I’m going to have to chalk it up to what you said Instead, we sit down and wonder if people are looking about procrastination — or lack thereof — and your at us and noticing what important, thoughtful writers unfettered appreciation for the craft of writing. You we are. We are more concerned with the social colFind his blog here: even said, and I quote: lateral of our work, than of the work itself. Which, “The challenge of turning lemons into lemonade is finally, makes me think of another thing you said: something that I enjoy. When I sit down to write, even “While writing is kind of an isolating activity in the the mechanics of writing — stringing words together, moment, when you’re actually creating it, it becomes fashioning sentences, adding things, subtracting, a very communal thing once you’ve published it.” shaving extraneous words off, molding a paragraph of a It’s hard to push through that isolation. The fact stillsearching. sentence — that’s an amazing experience, almost like that you can shows that you don’t suck at all. wordpress.com a potter with clay. But then comes the really exciting —Chelsea Batten
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Photo by Preston Richardson
Writer | A fan letter to the author of Hipster Christianity and Gray Matters
La Liberte Zach Laliberte Musician | Making music himself
When Zach Laliberte was seven, he Tapping into the creative flow is no received his first guitar. It was at that problem for Laliberte. He still has a moment he realized he wanted to do hard time stopping work long enough more than just play music: He wanted to to do things like answer emails or, you make it himself. Nonetheless, Laliberte know, eat. The hardest part, he says, is didn't consider making a turning it off. career out of his passion. “Sometimes music will still be “From what I heard, music playing in the back of my head, Listen: wasn’t a stable thing. Everybody when I’m trying to spend time Get your free had a story of somebody they with my wife or friends. It’s a download and knew who totally flunked. But I constant struggle.” start listening to always dreamed.” Ever y day, he says, he But in 2008, a filmmaker La Liberte today: becomes more aware of how the friend tapped him for his first spiritual and the creative parts composing gig. Two and a half of himself are intertwined. years later, word of mouth had “My work shows me when brought him so much work he I’m weak, and when I’m not had to quit his day job. trusting in God, because I’m Today, Laliberte composes more concerned with what I can Zach can be instrumental tracks, songs, and get out of music, where music is found at soundtracks for artistic and taking me, what it can give me. commercial films. His music Thankfully, God has given us an lalibertemusic.com can be found everywhere from escape from that.” NoiseTrade to Nike.com. The escape, he says, is “The business side I’m getting used to. following God’s example of freely That’s always harder than making the music. giving his love to us. For Laliberte, But definitely necessary, because that’s what a professional musician, that means keeps everything glued together. And also spending H is t alent on t h i ngs makes it easier to progress, because once you’re t hat aren’t always ver y i nspir i ng. working with people, you have a workflow to It’s hard, he says, but it’s freeing. fall back on.” — Chelsea Batten
Photo by Bree Laliberte
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On how the Jeff Goins brand began “I really loved my job. I had to have a difficult conversation with my boss in January, where I said, ‘All this stuff has happened much more quickly than I thought it would. Now I’ve got these three priorities all in tension. Something has to give. It’s not going to be my family. And I’d really like it not to be my passion.’ I knew I needed to build some personal brand, but I also just wanted to write. I wanted to feel like I was having a cumulative conversation — something I wrote two years ago I was building on today. As a writer, you can’t say everything you want to say all at once. This is why we write books. For about six years, every time I had an idea, I started a new blog for it. Like ‘Hey, we just got a dog, and it’s not as great as I thought it would be — I should write a blog about dogs!’ I remember having breakfast with Jon Acuff as his blog was starting to take off. His story was: ‘The second week of the blog, I got 6,000 readers in one day.’ The truth is, he spent a lot of time practicing, hustling. He tried a bunch of things that failed that nobody noticed, before he found the thing that worked. But I was like, ‘Jon has a gimmick. I need a gimmick.’ I never found a good gimmick. I was always distracted, always trying new things, but never sticking with anything long enough to see it succeed. The other thing I did was write articles for publications, online and offline. The problem was, every time I approached one of these publications, I had to reintroduce myself, because I didn’t have a platform. People didn’t know me. Most readers don’t pay attention to bylines as much as we the writers want them to. I was chasing trends. I wasn’t communicating any consistent message. And I wasn’t writing from a place of passion and purpose. I was chasing what I thought people wanted to hear, and that always leaves you empty.”
On creative identity
Jeff goins Writer | Beyond the blog
Photo by Ashley Goins
ould it surprise you to learn that Jeff Goins — author, speaker, and operator of one of the Internet’s fastest-growing blogs — only quit his day job last January? That his blog, the unexceptionally named but wildly popular GoinsWriter.com, was launched just three years ago? Like many successful creatives, Goin’s success took him by surprise. He says he had trouble finding his voice and had difficulty staying committed to it. He talks of how he doubted his own legitimacy, how he suffered from writer’s envy. On its first day, GoinsWriter.com had 600 visitors. Within eight months, that number grew to 50,000 per month, along with 10,000 email subscribers and — oh, yes — a book contract. In 2011, Goins wrote 400 blog posts. That means more than one a day. These days, he might let a day or two pass between posts, but he still writes like the house is on fire, with frequent appearances in Relevant Magazine, the Huffington Post, Copyblogger, and Lifehack. Our interview was a rare, ineffable mix between friendly conversation and aphoristic instruction, all drawn from wells of personal reflection. I got the idea he’s spent a lot of time mulling on the ways he’s been blessed, mining his own experience for more ways he can learn from it. That’s why, in delivering his perspective on the creative life, I’m going to render it in his own words.
“I was writing my whole life. But I never called myself a writer. To me, there was a certain level of legitimacy associated with that moniker. I thought of folks who had published books. Legitimate authors and speakers. I thought of Donald Miller, or Seth Godin. I thought, ‘I’m not like that. If that’s what a writer is, I’m not a writer.’ I had a conversation with a friend and he said ‘What’s your dream?’ I was sick of hearing 20-somethings talk about their dreams, and then six months later getting distracted by a new shiny object. I wanted to build something meaningful. Did my grandparents chase their dreams? No — they just went to work. I’m not anti-dream. I’m anti-slacking.”
On work ethic
READ: Goin’s latest book, The In Between, was just released on August 1. Look him up at goinswriter.com
“[My friend] said, ‘You are a writer. You just need to write.’ Those words shook me. That phrase really wrecked my self-perception. I felt sort of guilty — wasn’t it enough to work with a ministry? The honest truth was, not really. It wasn’t everything that I was made to do. Even before I started my blog, months later, I started calling myself a writer. So I had to start writing. It was the 11th blog I’d started in seven years. But I decided, “I’m going to spend a lot of time working on this before I call this a failure.” I’d never done that. I started telling that story at speaking events, challenging people: ‘if you want to be a writer, a designer, an architect, whatever ... what if you made a decision today to start calling yourself that thing, in faith?’ convergemagazine.com
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‘This is in you already, and it just needs to grow. You have to acknowledge it.’ Once you start calling yourself something, you’re putting yourself out on the line.”
On being productive “How do I get work done? I do it when I have to. That’s the only reason most people do anything meaningful. So create a context in which something is required of you. Do something that creates some public expectation, that forces you to practice in front of other people. The only way we get good is when other people are watching. Here’s what I know: the best thing you can do, starting out, is create a lot of work that other people see. Because it’s hard, and it’s scary. And those are the feelings that make you take this seriously to get really good. I live in this artistic self-scrutiny. This creative tension of ‘Do I make this better, or do I share it now?’ I don’t know that the tension goes away. Leonardo da Vinci said, ‘Art is never finished, only abandoned.’ It could always be a little bit better. I really believe you have to love the work. I don’t love having prayed, or having gone to church, or having gone on a date with my wife. I think what people mean is, ‘I don’t like getting started doing something I’m afraid to do.’ We need to be present to the work we’re called to do, so we can really enjoy it. You know what I don’t love doing? I don’t love working out. I stink at it. You know what I’m getting better at? Writing. Because I love doing it.”
On Christianity and creativity “I live in a town where people have made art and spirituality into a commodity, particularly in the music scene. There’s a lot of disillusionment about it. I just read this book Walking on Water; [by Madeline L’Engle] it’s a must-read for any Christian in the arts. It’s not the product, but the process that is spiritual. Art isn’t about what you have created. It’s about creating. The best definition for God, that he gives himself, is “I am that I am.” That thing that is. Aquinas breaks it down mathematically — God is the thing that sustains all things. He never stops being. I think it’s interesting that the Spirit that holds all things together is this thing that just is, never stops being. So why is it that in art, in religion, in our life’s work, we keep trying to be done? Instead of embodying this creative spirit that just does? It’s not so much about completion, as activity.”
On creativity As your calling “Immature people confuse comfort with calling. Anything anybody was ever called to in the Bible involved suffering. Most of the people in Scripture who were called to something said, ‘Hell, no.’ You’re going to die before you reach the promise land. People are going to hate you. But you still need to do it. That’s the essence of calling. I have to do what is mine to do. I might not succeed. When you step into that obedience, there’s incredible joy, tremendous freedom. Most people don’t experience that — they live in fear of what might or might not be. They live these safe, secure lives, but they never have that sense of fulfillment that only comes with the risk of doing something uncomfortable, where something is required of you that forces you to grow and ultimately makes people’s lives and the world better. Vocation sneaks up on you. It’s like the girl next door who takes off her glasses.” — Chelsea Batten
A.J. Michalka Actress & singer | Balancing both a Christian and secular portfolio
Why did you star in the faith-based film Grace Unplugged after featuring in Hollywood hits like Super 8 and Secretariat?
Just a personal conviction. I’ve worked with really great people and done films that I’m really proud of, but I’ve never been able to do something that serves the Lord. I mean, I hope that I’m always serving the Lord just in every day life. But this movie finally serves him in a louder way. I love that I can talk about my love for the Lord, my conviction, and just my thoughts on Christianity. The songs you have with your sister in 78violet are so different from those you sing in Grace Unplugged.
In a way they’re not that different. Because my sister and I, even though we’re not necessarily writing Christian music, the undertone is Christian. A lot of our messages, and just the passion that comes behind the song writing is all really driven because of the Lord. In a way we almost could be making a Christian record, it’s just all served to the masses of people who aren’t saved. Tell us about your childhood.
My sister and I were able to grow up in the church. It was such a beautiful time of growing and learning music, performing at church doing duets together. I’ll never forget those moments. It really bonded us as a family and bonded us to the Lord. Now that we’re older, I feel like we’re able to do that on a bigger scale. I’m really grateful for what Aly and I have learned, and what we’ve been able to take to a bigger audience. What is your role as a young actress and as a young Christian?
A lot of people who are in this business really don’t think they need to be role models. But I really do think we do. I’ve always loved witnessing to younger kids or peers my age. And hopefully that’s what I’m doing now, just on a little bit bigger platform. This life is lived so short. I feel like if you don’t have a lot of time, it needs to mean something. — Shara Lee
A.J. Michalka plays the title role in Grace Unplugged which will be released in October 2013 by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions. convergemagazine.com | 21
Warmland Films Filmmakers | A collection of thoughts from the guys who made Conversations With My Two-Year-Old
I think when you really embrace everybodyâ€™s creativity, it makes a more passionate project. When we started this company fresh out of film school, a lot of people were like, "You're crazy, you don't have experience, how are you going to compete with people who have budgets and 30 years of experience?" You just have to believe in what you're doing. There were points where we were paying ourselves $10 for a week's worth of work, but we just kept going because we believed in what we were doing.
I plan on
Failing Again today.
Typically in film it's kind of a very strict hierarchy, where the people at the top have their ideas and it trickles down. Almost militaristic, in a way. We started Warmland to branch out from that.
Someone [may] give you an idea that strays from what you were thinking. Oftentimes it doesn't work, but it's fun to see what comes out of that.
One of the good things about not having enough time: you don't have time to be stressed out. Conversations with my two-Year-old
understanding of them. But our audience does. Ultimately, I think you're responsible to your audience. You have to change your priorities for your audience, pay attention to feedback, and try to involve them, in a way, to create something they enjoy.
It was totally out of left field for us. We were really excited to get over a thousand hits on YouTube. That was our goal â€” surpassing our family and Facebook friends.
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It's humbling, in a very interesting, cool way. To see a lot of people responding to something that you put a lot of hours into makes it all feel worth it.
Watch! What's funnier than a grown man in a red onesie reenacting a conversation with a two-year old? Episode five "Playtime."
Photos courtesy of Warmland Films
None of us raises kids; we don't have an
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The alt rock band on Christian art, handling criticism, and achieving success
Photo by Colin Gray
discovered Mutemath at Creation Fest in 2005. They’ve been one of my favourite bands ever since. I’ve followed their progression closely since they started out on a Christian label playing youth conferences. They've now jumped ship from the church scene and are forging their own path through heavy touring, developing an original style in their music, videos, and energetic live shows. They’re one of those bands who break down walls between secular and contemporary Christian music. Artists who practice faith while still marketing to non-believers. I caught up with them at the Keloha Music and Arts Festival in July. I was curious about the challenges they’ve faced, and what advice they have for creatives like me who struggle to find their place between the Christian and the secular.
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Is the term “Christian artist,” a relevant term anymore?
Meaney: It’s always unexpected. You’re always trying to create something that moves you … and not projecting on what you
Darren King (drummer): Well, it’s an unnecessary descrip- think people may like. It’s lightning in a bottle if it happens tor. If you look through the years, you’ve got times when the Sistine Chapel and Sam Cooke came out of church environments. And then you’ve got the book burnings and horrible ways that art has been stunted by religion. It’s too complicated to boil it down to a two-word descriptor. When I think of a Christian band at least from a few years ago, I think of a band like POD who goes into a secular environment to evangelize and play songs about God.
…. The most practical advice I can give is to make yourself deadlines. Have deadlines, run out of time, money, or whatever, but at least you finish something.
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Roy Mitchell-Cardenas (bassist):
I think you’re assuming that [about them]. I think they were getting into a secular market to make money, and to expose their music, and to play to a bigger audience. I don’t think they really cared. They are pretty authentic as people, that’s who they were and what they believed. I don’t know if they had an evangelistic agenda.
King: There’s this great YouTube video
of Dick Clarke interviewing Sam Cooke, and one of the first questions Clarke asks is, “Why did you leave Gospel music for this?” And [Cooke] replied, “Well, if I’m honest, I needed to put food on my plate. It didn’t pay the bills.” I appreciated the candor of that. When you limit your audience to only the people who agree with you about your religion, that’s a whole lot of people you ostracize unnecessarily. And then there’s so much that you can’t say that you might want to. It’s silly.
Paul Meaney (lead singer and keyboard player): I think every artist, ev-
How do you deal with criticism?
Meaney: There’s always criticism, no matter
what you do, and no matter how great it’s perceived. There’s always someone who doesn’t like it. And that was a great lesson even with our first record. The realization that, “Wow, we suck, to a lot of people. Some people really think we suck.” And for the first time, having to deal with that. My favourite review on our first record was, “The lead singer poses the question in the first song: ‘Can he break the spell of the Typical.’ And then he goes on to sing 10 more songs to prove that he cannot.” I thought that was pretty clever. Would you encourage people to become musicians, or tell them to do something else?
Armistice Live, 2010
King: Well I always liked that Carl Sagan
quote, “I was always going to be either a writer or a bum.” I do believe it’s that no-net approach. I mean, how many bands do you think there are? That means there are that many people wanting to do what you want to do. So it’s going to be tougher, you’re going to have to make sacrifices. But yeah, I like the idea that, at a certain age, if you’re young and don’t have a wife and kids, then think, “I’ll either do this or be a bum.”
Meaney: I remember at six years old I took
drum lessons, and the instructor was like, “What beat do you want to play?” And I eryone struggles with, “Where do I fit in? didn’t know any, and he asked, “What bands Odd Soul, 2011 What is coming out of me genuinely, where do you like?” But I didn’t know any bands. does it go?” And I think there are a lot of There was a poster in his room of The Police, LISTEN ONLINE: people who grew up in church circles just and I liked the poster. And for whatever like myself, who came to the realization reason that poster stayed in my mind years that within that world, once you start operlater, and I found out what they actually ating and expressing yourself, it isn’t a fit. sounded like. And then I saw U2 on a Time For us it became apparent when we started magazine cover, and decided that’s what I Mutemath that things worked better when wanted to do. I chased my dreams recklessly. we took it out of the bumper guards of the I played everywhere and anywhere I could. I church scene, which I grew up in. remember I got my first record deal with my first band (Earthsuit) because the Artists and Is it possible to be successful Repitoire guy who saw us didn’t quite like us, so I begged him. I told him I’d come to artistically and financially? Nashville, asked to play in his garage. So we drove to Nashville, King: We don’t know yet. We’re staying afloat. I recommend he came and saw us in a garage, and he liked it. He set up another Questlove’s new book. He’s very open and honest about his own show for the label. I was determined because ever since I could band’s struggle to find success, and the frustrations they had with remember I wanted to be in a band. artists they were helping, passing them. A lot of it in the music industry is chance, risks, timing. You feel like you’re in the ocean, — Sam McLoughlin and at the mercy of many circumstances beyond your control.
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Three questions for cartoonist
Wes Molebash What is working for you? I don’t mean like “Three steps to achieving your dreams.” Good, because I can’t give you that. I still have a day job, but I’m making more money as a cartoonist than I’ve ever made. The thing you’re most passionate about might be what gets people’s attention. But the thing you’re going to make money for might be something different. I had to learn that afterwards. People kept asking me to draw stuff for them. Finally — it took a while — I realized, “That’s what’s making money. I have to figure out how to exploit that.”
Does your creative process ever feel like worship? I love the process ... I don’t know that I’ve ever viewed it as an act of worship, though. When I think of worship, I think of when I’m at church, the band is going, and I’m feeling that. But I guess that connection with God also happens when I’m drawing. I think about him; sometimes I pray. That’s a fun time. I guess if you wanted to be technical, I guess that’s kind of worship.
Photo by Cassidy Dawn Photography
How do you know when it would it be better to keep your creativity a hobby or a side project, rather than to try to make a living with it? Sometimes I wonder that. If the reason that my cartoons have never taken off in such a way that I’d be able to make a living at it, is because God knows I’d lose all interest in it. Let’s say Insert IMG takes off ... now there’s people with money invested. They’re going to want to have some say in how the cartoon looks. I wonder if there’s this aspect of “mo’ money, mo’ problems.” I think if you’re having more fun with it, that’s going to benefit whatever you’re doing. People will tell when you lose interest. — Chelsea Batten convergemagazine.com
Until he started looking for them. That was the beginning of We Make Stuff — a hybrid yearbook/directory/historical archive of what’s happening locally and regionally among creatives within the faith community. We ended up talking for almost two hours, and I wish I could tell you everything he said. For now, I’ll pass along his top three tips for creative flourishing, which you can use whether you have a thriving community or find yourself in isolation.
On Cultivating inspiration
“If I was to throw out one key word, it’s self-discipline. You don’t wait for creativity. You don’t wait for inspiration. You have to physically and mentally schedule in the hours, and hit that wall until you break through. It’s agonizing, it’s painful, to break creative ground in your own personal life. I get creative breakthroughs often, because I push every day. It’s what I do 10 hours a day. It’s just a great release. Sometimes I’ll go for a walk to just relish that feeling, let it sit for a moment.”
On Fighting distraction
“Procrastination is a big issue for a lot of people. But I think what’s even worse than procrastination is distraction. I think that’s one of the biggest evils of someone [who] wants to pursue excellence in their creative craft. That’s one of the things selfdiscipline fights against. Even a project that you feel like, “Oh, that would be fun to do” — these projects that don’t really satisfy, but they satisfy your short-term wants. There can be these overarching things we’re made to do individually, that get sacrificed if we’re [working on] short-term projects.”
Filmmaker / Collective organizer wrong.
Or if David is just a quiet guy. Or if he’s just not interested in talking with me. Finally, he sighs. “I have a mouthful to say on this subject.” He pauses again. “This is a Christian magazine, right?” He’s not asking out of caution. His experience of the creative life, both in his independent work as a filmmaker and in his role as organizer of Vancouver’s artist collective We Make Stuff, is inextricably linked to the work of the Holy Spirit. And to try to communicate this can be exhausting. It’s often easier just not to talk about it. That was David’s experience for a good while in his church environment. Many Christ-centred people he knew didn’t grasp how a creative vocation could mix with following Christ. There was no one in his faith community with whom he could dialogue about his experience as a Christian creative professional.
WE MAKE STUFF is now branching out from Vancouver across Canada. Send in your submissions here :
Find hope. Live life. livingwaterscanada.org
28 | CONVERGE.
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“Most artists and creatives [who] have anything significant to say usually come out of an intense season in their lives — an injustice, or something they’ve had to fight through. When you’re in a pit, and it’s horrid, and you’re questioning your path in life, your parents are questioning your path, and there’s financial fallout, it’ll affect your family. It becomes a real wrestle. You need wisdom. It’s a very painful journey. The thing is, if you can make your way through that pain, while loving yourself and loving others and God, coming out the other end will define your voice as an artist. If we’re feeling pain, it’s good. Embrace it; don’t run from it. If you’re having issues with someone, just talk. If you’re being pushed, push back. Follow through on what it is you need to do. It will hurt; there’s no denying that. But for some reason, it’s how I see stuff get produced.” — Chelsea Batten
Photo by Dave Delnea
ON Embracing pain
at first, i’m wondering if i’ ve gotten the day
Photo by Sam Interrante
Timothy Willard Poet and writer
s a student, Tim was told he’d never the lines of St. Augustine and Ian Downs. amount to anything. During one of Working on these things is where he his first writing gigs, an editor balled most keenly senses the Holy Spirit at work up his manuscript and bounced it off his inside him. face. “A lot of times, we look at God instead of “People think it’s romantic, but it is hard living in Him. Lewis talks about looking at the work. Everyone thinks, ‘You’re a writer, you sit being, and living in the being. There’s a glory in down and smoke a pipe.’ It’s so not that ... a sense that I have to pursue true. I have to get up on time in the and never let go of. I get so excited morning. I have to be disciplined. I that I want to tell somebody. I really Free e-book have to plan it out.” get caught up in it.” Visit After seven years on the road “I’m writing so I can afford a timothywillard.com as a musician, Tim moved to mortgage and bring up three little to read more and a basement in Atlanta, Georgirls. I’m always waiting for the to download his gia and began writing for next job. I rely on phone calls and free e-book free. Over time, he developed emails. It’s super hard to get motiSound of Silence enough traction to get work as vated to do a proposal. That is not a ghostwriter; he also got hired my idea.” to help write proposals for othThis is the work most editors er authors’ book deals. call intriguing, but unmarket“I’ve really learned, especially able. in the last two years, to live in a When he needs inspiration, constant state of thankfulness and Tim gets on his bike and rides contentment. The impetus for what I’m doing into the woods, or renews a conversation should be always worship — even the rigour of with a favourite book — he recommends the mundane.” On Writing Well, by William Zinser. “Get These days, Tim edits the curriculum it today,” he advises me. published by leadership conferences Cata“I think tension and life — they help you lyst and Q Ideas. He still assists well-known produce. There’s also a point where you just sit authors in writing their books, though he down and do the work. Writing poetry is fun, gets cover credit these days. He also writes but it’s hard work. poetry, fiction, and devotional essays along — Chelsea Batten
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PREPARE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Sandra McCracken + DEREK WEBB Married (to each other) Musicians Webb: We vehemently did not want to be a husband-wife duo in a band together. We actually, pre-marriage even, discussed very specifically that we wanted to keep our careers separate. McCracken: We both end up pouring into each other’s work so much. It doesn’t make sense for us to be doing that on separate things at the same time.
Making work and life harmonize Webb: I think it’s helpful for both parties, both the travelling musician and the spouse, to understand this job as seasonal. What’s interesting is, if I quantify my time, I’m definitely home with my family more than any of my friends who work the straight job in town. McCracken: Having a thriving family life can feel like a limitation to the creative work. In the moment, you feel like, “I don’t have time to carve out, to work on this music.” But at the same time, living a full life is what helps the rest of it to thrive. Photo (Webb) courtesy of Be Music & Entertainment; Photo (McCracken) by Jeremy Cowart
the family business Webb: We just kind of figured out what is it we need to maintain a pretty consistent, blue collar living. Being a professional artist, you’re running a small business; you need to budget it out. To keep the lights on and the kids fed, it only took X amount of shows per month. That’s what we aim for, and we wouldn’t do any more than that. If an amazing opportunity came up, we’d talk about it. McCracken: We have put some rules in place. We always try to stagger [projects], so we’re not making albums at the same time, because it takes so much space in your brain, all your emotions, all your resources are pointed toward that.
She’s known for soulful covers of classic hymns. His electronic beats and agit-prop lyrics garner love and loathing in equal measure. She cultivates personable, one-on-one conversations with fans. He gives props and picks fights via Twitter. She fuels inspiration with the ritual of proper English tea. He drains the entire head of a Honey Bear before a show. It seems like there should be a sitcom based on these two polar opposites. They attracted each other in a Nashville coffee shop one fateful day, and have since established successful, homegrown solo careers, as well as a lovely nuclear family. Together, they paint a holistic picture of how two creatives in the same game can do life and work together. Without actually working together.
Creating your niche McCracken: As something emerges as a vocation, some of it is just practice, digging into the craft of what you’re doing, not looking around so much, but just focusing in on your own voice, your own style, trying to figure out what that is, what’s special or unique about you. Webb: I feel like there are a few rules. Number one is be awesome ... and you can’t break rule number one.
Being successful McCracken: When it comes down to it, to get a safe paycheque job is going to be really appealing for most of us. It is scary when you’re living from hand to mouth, wanting to take that leap into a vocation that is unconventional. But just know that it’s okay to not have a safe, steady paycheque. Be willing to take those risks. Webb: If your ego can bear never being a household name, and never making an amount of money that will put you in a position of not having to work again ... if your ego can bear that, then there’s a career for you in music. I’m 20 years in, and most people don’t know who I am. I have to work really hard, year after year, to pay my bills. And yet I hope to do it for 20 more. It’s a completely sustainable blue-collar job.
How to thrive McCracken: I’ve heard Tim Keller talk about what it is to find your calling — these three spheres. One of them is something you really enjoy doing. The second is actually having some affirmation — people saying, “Hey you’re really good at that.” And the third is having opportunity to do that thing. In the middle, where those things meet, that’s the place where you can really thrive. Webb: You have to be making something that’s great. If you’re not — I hate to say it — nobody owes you a career. Especially in music, but generally in the arts.
Collective wisdom Mutual admiration McCracken: I know he respects me as a writer. I’ve always felt that way. So I don’t feel like I have to compete, or prove myself. I feel like I produce more ideas because he makes me feel like that’s true.
Ben Everett On being married to musician Katie Becker Everett
Webb: I love the new record, Desire Like Dynamite. I think it’s just masterful, an unbelievable piece of work. “Hourglass,” off that record, is on par with some of the best songs I’ve ever heard by anybody.
Creative growth McCracken: I really like the trilogy of songs he’s got, over the years. He has one called “Lover,” on his second record, he has a song called “Lover Part 2,” and on his new record (coming out in September) there’s “Lover Part 3.” They’re all songs that remind me of [Bob] Dylan’s writing, in a way — very image-based. New things will surprise me about those songs, even after hearing them so many times. Webb: She’s just starting to hit her stride as an artist, and really find her voice. Don’t be discouraged if you’re in your 30s, 40s, just getting started. All those people who tell you, “You’ve got to hit this before you’re 21, or you’re too old for the market.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. Artists in most professions don’t begin to hit their stride till they’re in their 40s, 50s, 60s.
Being your own person McCracken: I feel like I was in neutral space, trying to avoid operating too close within Christian music circles. I thought that would be a door closer. But in the last five years or so, my love for old hymns, and my love for writing ... a lot of it was shaped by the recent hymn movement. It feels like a thing that I was deeply made for. Webb: I want artists in a position to take those kinds of risks, to be in charge of their own careers. Achtung Baby would never have been funded on Kickstarter — their fans wanted another Joshua Tree. Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot would never have been funded on Kickstarter. OK Computer, Kid A . . . their fans hated those records at first.
Practical advice McCracken: One of the things that was helpful for me, early on, was I set up a separate bank account. I graduated college, I had my first album, I was nannying part time and playing music on the weekends as much as I could. The separate account had the money I made from music, so I could see it grow, and see if it was sustainable. I’m not a real savvy business person, but I know when I’m either in the red or in the black. Webb: If suddenly Kickstarter goes the way of Myspace, if crowdfunding is suddenly not in vogue anymore, I don’t want artists out of a job. The overriding principle is I want artists to be in charge of their own careers. — Chelsea Batten Sandra McCracken’s latest album, Desire Like Dynamite, is available here: SandraMccracken.com Derek Webb’s new record I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry & I Love You will be available September 3rd.
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At first, I thought my role was just to encourage her to pick up the guitar. Then I realized that I had to create the space and the time for her to do that. together, all is right i sleep and wake with you Katie is intensely focused on what is right in front of her. She exists in the moment very very well. for years our minds weren’t made but i never let you go i want to be with you On the contrary, I exist primarily out of the future, or in the past. So Katie and I complement each other very well. I had to help her set out a plan and goals, and do visionary stuff on her behalf. And Katie holds us to the task. words with tangible form work to keep us from harm When Katie’s working on a project, it means I take over the cooking, and the cleaning, and the organizing, and all the daily ins and outs of life. sometimes i don’t know how we got here sometimes i need a signal flare It seems like people just care about getting things done. And getting things done is a skill, and a gift, and it is to be praised. And equally important, is making things beautiful. Creating a sense of peace through order, and through beauty. it could have gone any other way after all it was hard like running a race underwater To not create space for artists is extremely shortsighted. It’s a broken world, and music speaks to something else. I think it communicates to our health, our friends, our community. sometimes all i need is to kiss you sometimes i just don’t know how we’re here There’s a lot of things I would not be without Katie, [and] she wouldn’t be creating in the way that she’s creating without me. And that’s extremely meaningful to me. It makes me feel that I’m of some worth to the process. I want to be with you I want to be with you I want to be with you oh- oh-oh The song lyrics here are from Katie's song "Our Wedding/Your Birthday," which will be released with her EP in late September. Find her at KatieBeckerMusic.com
Life as a musician | Q&A with lead singer Jason Zerbin Why did you decide to make this your profession?
I knew that it was the thing I wanted most. It’s such a cheat at life to get to turn what you love into something that supports you financially, and I knew I had to at minimum try it out. I remember listening to an artist I liked, and the thought occurred to me: if he could do it, I could. The rest from there is history (and a ton of frustrating days and hard work). Do you have a side job to pay the bills?
I’m a little bit of an ADD person by nature. We’ve been so privileged to come to a place more recently where the music alone could probably support us. I’ve got a number of things on the go that provide income streams as well as different outlets of creativity and value. When you're working on something creative, when do you feel God's Pleasure?
Probably the highest points would be in songwriting. It’s in those moments when something comes into existence that just a couple minutes before was a thought or an inkling. The ability to step back and look at something of beauty and value that you had a hand in creating is a euphoric experience. Especially if it's a song that hits me deep in the heart. It’s in these moments that the whole of my person feels alive. Some of the most profound moments of worship I’ve experienced have been in these times. What do you do when you need inspiration? Photo courtesy of Zerbin
A year ago I moved from Alberta to Vancouver Island, so having this gorgeous landscape at my doorstep helps. The whole journey of creative business can be a very difficult road, and for me it’s usually the moments where I get away by myself and am still that I find renewal. I also find that a huge help is exercising. It helps get the stress out of your system, and puts your head in a way better place.
Do you have any practical advice for other artists?
First and foremost, love what you create. In the Genesis narrative you see God taking a moment after every time he created to bask in the goodness of what he made. Comparison is the biggest killer of creativity. Many profound ideas are aborted before they ever are given a fighting chance. It’s a tragedy, really. When you take the time to value what you create and celebrate it, I think you give other people the permission to do the same. I’d also say treat your work with high value from the beginning, and look for ways to monetize it. Don’t under value what you’re worth, but be confident and it will work out well. What do you think “Christian artist” means, and are you one?
The label of a “Christian artist” is something that I have had to make a conscious effort to disassociate from. It’s a label that was created by an industry to put people into boxes of action and definition. If someone creates art for the context of corporate worship it may be OK to allow that label. However, we are first and foremost human beings who are made in the image of God. Intrinsically within that is found the necessity to create. That’s part of having God’s image. I would say art is a human thing, not a Christian thing. It’s the responsibility of followers of Jesus to create art that is honouring to God and engaging to people. How does your artistic community help or hurt you?
This journey can be super lonely if you let it. I think musicians perhaps lean towards self imposed martyrdom, believing the world is against them. I used to wish that I had friends in the industry. People [who] were famous or had great connections. But I quickly got over that, and realized that this journey has to be walked with a hard head, soft heart, and open hands. Embracing others who are on a similar road as you is imperative. It can be easy for us to get jealous of the success of others, but I’ve learnt to celebrate when things go right for people. Instead of resentment I try to celebrate and learn. And trust that my journey is unique. There are tons of bitter people in the industry. It’s best to just “keep your head up, keep your heart strong,” and keep rolling. — Sam McLoughlin convergemagazine.com
creativity box is shut. He needs to go away and be completely absorbed in the process to really create something inspiring. Jenna is a great handler of chaos. She can throw together a gorgeous dinner (complete with flower arrangements) in a few minutes. She’s also able to dive into the deep end of the conversational pool almost immediately, even while playing ringmaster to her four kids. At times, she’s seen how her capabilities can backfire on her, just like creativity can if it has no limits. She has found herself trying to protect Drew from his role as a husband and father — partly to allow him to flourish creatively, but also so that the household would run just the way she wants. I’ve come to realize that creativity isn’t something you do, but it’s about who you are. Because we don’t think the same way, that can create strife and frustration between us, if we are not being careful. For Jenna, what she has learned throughout her marriage is something many couples spend years in therapy trying to figure out. The most helpful thing God has taught me is to honour the gift in him. To go to the place of marveling at God and his creation in someone else, and appreciating that, rather than let it be all about my end game. To let what he has be humbling because I don’t have it, not protecting ego by saying my way is right or better.
Jenna also says Drew has been recently trying to add another component to the balance between professional life and family life, something she’s encouraging him with.
t took me several months before I dared talk to Jenna, and it’s not because her husband is the lead guitarist for Switchfoot. She’s so capable of being her own person, and is not at all obscured by her spouse’s shadow. I assumed someone as cool, level-headed, and together as she is wouldn’t have time for my insecurities. But it turns out what makes her a great musician’s wife is also what makes her a great friend. She tells me insecurity is a natural part of the creative personality. Even her Grammy award-winning husband struggles with this at times. He’s definitely struggled with taking the time to explore musical ideas. It costs something — in pay or time or attention — away from family. He’s gone this whole week, recording and producing. That was a tough conversation for him to broach with me, because he felt bad taking the time away. He is such an in-the-moment guy. If he’s in the family moment, the
my This is a m !
There’s still the J-O-B element of being in a rock band. He’s got way more in him than is often required. I’ve been led to help him wrestle with questions like, “Are you giving all of what you've been made to contribute, without apologies? What makes you feel like you're living on purpose and without fear?” Then she says something that gives me chills. It’s something even those who are married to non-artistic types could take note of. Heck, it’s something I wish the whole world would learn to do for each other. Honouring the deposit God’s made in somebody for a different kind of expression — I think it’s elusive. It’s something that could just get overlooked, if people around don’t watch for it. — Chelsea Batten
Photo by Yuri You
Musician Drew Shirley's wife
Drew is currently producing records for a number of bands, and is launching a signature line of amplifiers. His band, Switchfoot, releases its first documentary, Fading West, this fall. Follow him on Twitter: @thedrewcast
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
Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies, Restorative Justice, Youth Ministry & Theatre Arts
34 | CONVERGE. sep - oct
Where do you go when you’re frustrated and need to be re-inspired?
I’ll often go to Spotify to listen to some music and just zone out. Or I check out blogs like designspiration.net, convoy.tumblr.com, fubiz.net, or 500photographers.com. I think the best way though is to remove yourself from everything else that is vying for your attention. It might sound like I’m contradicting what I mentioned before, but actually I think this is such a crucial part of the creative process. I’ll usually be inspired by an idea from a blog or something I see online, but then I need to flesh it out and give it some sort of creative structure. This is usually done in solitude and away from the noise of the Internet. Are you encouraged by the artistic community around you?
Filmmaker & creative director at Hillsong Church How did you know Making your creative passion your profession was the right thing to do?
Photo courtesy of Salomon Ligthelm
I just went for it. I had parents who were extremely open with us kids. They wanted us to do the things we really felt like we wanted to do. For me that was audio engineering — which they paid my tuition fees for. Eventually audio engineering turned into filmmaking and now I am making pictures move for a living. I’m a full-time creative director/editor at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia. We get to work on some amazing projects, with some of the most amazing people. My side jobs hardly ever pay bills. The best side jobs usually have no budget, and those are usually the ones I would say yes to. There’s often an inverse relationship between budget and creative concept when it comes to art. I’d much rather say yes to great concepts that pay little or nothing than getting paid a lot of cash for a weak idea or a very restrictive client.
People are generally very supportive of what I do. The online creative community, especially when it comes to filmmaking and music, are very encouraging and hungry for content to share and be inspired by. I’ve never actually felt harmed in any way by the creative community around me. There will always be haters, but at some point you just realize that it will always be the case and then you just have to not be fazed by it. It’s not really an issue — and it comes back to doing what you love. If you can keep doing that then all the other voices [of discouragement] will grow silent. What is some practical advice you have for people thinking about becoming professional artists?
I think artists, including myself, need to learn how to do honest work. Do work that you love. Work that you are inspired to create. Learn to play. I actually don’t feel like I can call myself a professional, because the stuff I really love doing I hardly ever get paid for, and it’s done in such an amateur way. I usually find that when sets and crews get too big that my whole creative process gets thrown out of its flow. So I tend to opt for quick-moving, small crew setups where I can keep being spontaneous, keep playing. As soon as art turns into work, it’s not fun anymore. What do you think “Christian artist” means? And are you one?
Probably like many others, I really dislike that term. I am an artist and I am a Christian. But as soon as you marry the two it conjures up a whole array of notions that are actually very unhelpful in allowing your work to make a mark on this world. You don’t get “Christian doctors” or “Christian architects,” etc. Rather you get a doctor or an architect who loves Jesus. In the same way, I’d much rather just be an artist who loves Jesus than a “Christian artist.” — Sam McLoughlin
Artist. Christian. Yes, you can be both. rockymountaincollege.ca firstname.lastname@example.org convergemagazine.com
“TWU has helped me become a critical thinker within life and my passion, theatre. Thanks to the strong community and talented professors here, I’ve discovered a new purpose for my life.” −−Charlotte−Elgersma 2nd-year−theatre−major
EXPECT MORE. A top-quality education in a dynamic Christian environment
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ACTS Seminaries Langley, B.C. • Seminary
Ascend ADVENTURE BIBLE SCHOOL Nordegg, Alta. • Discipleship school
Making a Post Secondary decision can be both exciting and difficult. We have compiled some basic information, and some fun extras from various Christian education institutions to help aid your decision making.
TUITION: Up to $495 per credit hour Entry requirements: Bachelor’s Degree. Extracurricular: N/A Missions Opportunities: Some program internships involve overseas experience. SCHOOL MOTTO: Essential Training for Christian Service
TUITION: $3450 (3 month program incl. R&B) Entry requirements: Seeking God. Extracurricular: Exploring the Rockies. Missions Opportunities: Service projects, inner-city mission trips, camp work, opportunity to stay on as camp staff. SCHOOL MOTTO: Faith in action
Getting started: Schools are listed in alphabetical order. Tuition and entry requirements vary in process from school to school. If interested, don’t hesitate to check out the details on their respective websites. Use our colour guide to quickly locate the type of school you are interested in. College
Tip: Use Your Smartphone to scan The QR CODES
BELFAST Bible college Belfast, N. Ireland • University & Seminary
BETHANY College Hepburn, Sask. • College
TUITION: Please inquire
TUITION: $205 per credit
Entry requirements: General requirements set by university. Details online.
Entry requirements: Grade 12
Extracurricular: Choir, praise & worship band, prayer triplets, drama team, interactive weekly global focus sessions, student led events on campus. Missions Opportunities: Yes, through courses. SCHOOL MOTTO: Resourcing the Church for the Mission of God through Theological Education
Extracurricular: The Cafe, crokinole and table tennis tournaments, talent and movie nights, yearbook committee, Bethany Players drama team. Missions Opportunities: Through our Service Learning Practicum, Service Learning Modules (intense experience in poverty, homelessness, or refugee/immigrant centres) and summer opportunities for an international module with partner organizations. SCHOOL MOTTO: Nurturing Disciples and Training Leaders to Serve
Pink outlines six creative skills as key to being a successful creative in the new economy:
The Six senses
1. DESIGN In the old economy, a product’s use was determined by its function. Today, design counts just as much. As companies like Apple have shown, design can be the only thing that separates you from the sea of competition. 2. STORY Pink says: “When our lives are brimming with information and data, it’s not enough to marshal an effective argument. Someone somewhere will inevitably track down a counterpoint to rebut your point. The essence of persuasion, communication, and self-understanding has become the ability also to fashion a compelling narrative.” Does that mean writers haven’t become completely obsolete? I hope so. 3. SYMPHONY We’ve been living in an age of specialization, but computers have become better than humans at this task. Putting the pieces together into a coherent whole, or seeing the big picture, is a little harder for them. 4. EMPATHY
Creative jobs might be the way of the future according to author Daniel Pink By Sam McLoughlin
henever I visit my grandparents, they say, “It’s never too late for law school!” I constantly need to remind them I’m much happier as a broke writer/filmmaker than I ever would be as a rich lawyer. But after reading Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future, I have a much better comeback. According to Pink, many left-brain (that is analytical or repetitive) style jobs are being replaced by either computer software programs or they’re being outsourced to cheaper labour in India or China. Many of the more mundane jobs that lawyers, for instance, once made their living by, are now being accomplished by software, Googled self-help guides, online “experts” or even cheap lawyers-for-hire in other parts of the world. And if you’re a software engineer expecting to get paid more than the sea of competent programmers in India, well, I feel sorry for you. Pink goes on to say right-brain (that is creative or artistic) style jobs are coming into huge demand. There is a desperate need for innovation in our once left-brain driven economy. Hence, people like me, who can think big picture and can come up with original ideas, will have more opportunities.
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While logic has reigned supreme in our economy, the need for emotional intelligence is becoming more pronounced as companies seek to connect on an emotional level with their customers and their employees. The capacity for logical thought is one of the things that makes us human. Cultivating relationships and understanding your fellow human beings is becoming an important skill to have. 5. PLAY There is time for work, but studies have shown that work that integrates play or is seen as fun, gets a lot more productivity out of employees. 6. MEANING Life is not about accumulation: most people are looking for significance over and above stuff. Understanding the human drive for meaning and catering to it, will be important in the new economy. As Pink concludes, “The wealth of nations and the well-being of individuals now depend on having artists in the room. In a world enriched by abundance but disrupted by the automation and outsourcing of white-collar work, everyone, regardless of profession, must cultivate an artistic sensibility. We may not all be Dali or Degas. But today we must all be designers.” Or, at least, creatives.
Briercrest College and Seminary Caronport, Sask. • College & SEMINARY
Calvin COLLEGE Grand Rapids, Mi. USA • University
Canadian Mennonite university Winnipeg, Man. • University
TUITION: $291 per credit
TUITION: $28,025 / year - detailed info online
TUITION: $233 per credit
Entry requirements: High school diploma with a min. average of 60% in four academic grade 12 courses, including at least one academic English course.
Entry requirements: Min. requirement for Canadian students is 65-73% in a Canadian grading system or higher in college preparatory courses; ACT exam scores not required if your cumulative marks average is above 75%. Three years of university prep math. High school diploma or equivalent degree (GED).
Entry requirements: Same academic requirements as those at provincial-level public universities.
Extracurricular: Choir, chapel teams, dorm activities, jam sessions, youth groups, mentorship programs, Briercrest Olympics, student banquets, Brierstock music festival, yearbook, youth quake and camp days. Missions Opportunities: With local Christian organizations & global opportunities through student initiative, Compassion Canada, and various school programs. SCHOOL MOTTO: Nurturing Disciples and Training Leaders to Serve briercrest.ca
CHRIST COLLEGE Surrey, B.C. • College
Extracurricular: Dance Guild, Bible studies, Chimes student newspaper, Environmental Stewardship Coalition, Student Senate, Global Business Brigades. Missions Opportunities: 10+ spring break trips each year. SCHOOL MOTTO: My heart I offer to you, Lord, promptly and sincerely calvin.edu
Columbia Bible College Abbotsford, B.C. • College
Extracurricular: Student Council (arts & entertainment, yearbook, and the Doxa student magazine), faith and life fellowship groups, the Business Club, Psychology and English Student Associations, CMU Community Farm, MPK Folk Festival, Soul in Paraphrase (compilation of student’s poetry and creative writing). Missions Opportunities: Practicum placements, Mennonite Disaster Service trip every reading week. SCHOOL MOTTO: Learn to See Differently cmu.ca
Concordia Lutheran Seminary Edmonton, Alta. • Seminary
TUITION: $145 per credit
TUITION: $315 per credit
TUITION: $260 per credit
Entry requirements: High School Diploma or equivalent.
Entry requirements: 60% Grade 12 average, with 65% in English 12 (or provincial equivalent).
Entry requirements: Bachelor’s Degree.
Extracurricular: Hiking, international dinner, worship nights, movie nights. Missions Opportunities: Prison ministry, inner-city ministry, summer camp ministry, community ministry, and overseas missions.
Extracurricular: Travelling ministry teams. Missions Opportunities: Yes — annually.
SCHOOL MOTTO: Equipping Christ Centred Servant Leaders
SCHOOL MOTTO: Prepare to Make a Difference
Extracurricular: N/A Missions Opportunities: Short term missions & local service opportunities. SCHOOL MOTTO: Servants for Jesus’ Sake
Heritage COLLEGE & Seminary HILLSONG Int’L Leadership COLLEGE The King’s University College LIVING FAITH BIBLE COLLEGE Luther College McMaster Divinity college PACIFIC LIFE BIBLE COLLEGE Providence UNIVERSITY COLLEGE REDEEMER UNIVERSITY COLLEGE Rocky Mountain college Rosebud school of the Arts Taylor College & Seminary TRINITY WESTERN University Vanguard college Wycliffe college
Eston bible college
EMMANUEL BIBLE COLLEGE
Track and field
Concordia Lutheran Seminary
14:1 3:1 27:1 12:1 22:1 12:1 18:1 8:1 20:1 4:1 15:1 15:1 8:1 11:1 25:1 10:1 8:1 35:1 18:1 5:1 14:1 16.3:1 12:1 2:1 10:1 16:1 11:1 10:1
COLUMBIA BIBLE COLLEGE
Canadian Mennonite university
138 N/A 150 10 203 216 180 20 125 12 56 31 12 130 2,000+ 36 10+ N/A 103 N/A 50 84 25 0 72 N/A 70 154
Briercrest College & Seminary
Part-time Student-Faculty Students Ratio
120 10 221 125 476 4,008 475 50 325 12 1,344 104 55 150 1,200+ 627 43 500 152 200+ 300 865 115 30 23 2,198 200 139
1985 2009 1943 1927 1935 1876 2000 1988 1936 1984 1955 1940 1944 1949 1986 1979 1971 1971 1957 1928 1925 1982 1982 1988 1940 1957 1946 1877
BELFAST BIBLE COLLEGE
Ascend adventure bible school
ACTS SEMINARY Ascend adventure bible school
P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P
BELFAST BIBLE COLLEGE
P P P P
BETHANY COLLEGE Briercrest College & Seminary Calvin College Canadian Mennonite university
COLUMBIA BIBLE COLLEGE
Concordia Lutheran Seminary Dordt College
P P P P P P P
EMMANUEL BIBLE COLLEGE
Eston bible college
Heritage COLLEGE & Seminary HILLSONG Int’L Leadership COLLEGE The King’s University College
LIVING FAITH BIBLE COLLEGE Luther College McMaster Divinity college
P P P P P P
PACIFIC LIFE BIBLE COLLEGE Providence UNIVERSITY COLLEGE REDEEMER UNIVERSITY COLLEGE
P P P
P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P
Rocky Mountain college Rosebud school of the Arts Taylor College & Seminary TRINITY WESTERN University Vanguard College
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Dordt College Sioux Center, IA. USA • College
Emmanuel Bible College Kitchener, ONT. • College
Eston Bible College Eston, Sask. • College
TUITION: $1,050 USD per credit
TUITION: $314/credit hour or $943 /course
TUITION: $189 per credit
Entry requirements: Min. high school GPA of 2.25 and a min. ACT cumulative score of 19 or SAT of 1330 for regular admission status.
Entry requirements: High school graduation diploma (OSSD in Ontario, or its equivalent from another province or country) with a min. average of 60%. Details for program entry online.
Entry requirements: Grade 12 diploma, GED, proof of home education, or academic portfolio; agree with our Statement of Faith.
Extracurricular: Comedy league, Future Active Christian Teachers, Future Physicians Club, justice matters, non-partisan politics, nursing club, Sioux Falls prison ministry, swing dance, Theology Club.
Extracurricular: Student leadership opportunities, ministry teams, chapel worship team, Working in the WildCat Cafe.
Missions Opportunities: Overseas mission during winter break, US service project & community outreach.
Missions Opportunities: Expedition program, reading week missions trip, inner city service opportunities.
SCHOOL MOTTO: Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone be the Glory)
SCHOOL MOTTO: Think, Live, Serve, Lead
Extracurricular: Games, photography, cooking, movies, and more. Missions Opportunities: National missions trips offered throughout the school year and international missions trips offered at the end of the school year. SCHOOL MOTTO: To Know the Scriptures and the Power of God
Heritage College and seminary Cambridge, ont. • College & Seminary
learn grow serve
TUITION: $295 per credit Entry requirements: Detailed information about entrance requirements to degree programs is outlined in the Requirements for Admission section of the College Catalogue. Extracurricular: Where are the Men, women’s fellowship nights, choir, travel teams, student council, yearbook, activities committee, arts committee, newspaper committee, local outreach committee, missions committee, resident assistant team, and more. Missions Opportunities: Annually, and through Global Adventure Certificate Program.
Distance Courses Open Studies
SCHOOL MOTTO: Equipping men and women for life and ministry
Master of Divinity
HILLSONG Int’l Leadership College Sydney, Australia • College
The King’s University College Edmonton, Alta. • University College
Living Faith Bible College Caroline, Alta. • College
TUITION: From A$4900/year
TUITION: $333 per credit
TUITION: $150 per credit
Entry requirements: Detailed information about entrance requirements online.
Entry requirements: Detailed information about entrance requirements are online.
Entry requirements: High School Diploma or equivalent.
Extracurricular: Honduras Water Project, Student Ambassador Program, Commuter Program, Battle of the Bands, and many more.
Extracurricular: Campus walks, wilderness hikes, wall climbing, archery, games room, recreational and social activities planned by the Student Council.
Missions Opportunities: New opportunities every year. SCHOOL MOTTO: Training the Leaders of the Future Church
Missions Opportunities: N/A SCHOOL MOTTO: Same Degree, Better Education!
Missions Opportunities: 12 week Ugandan experience program & optional 3-week mission trip every even year in May. SCHOOL MOTTO: Equipping for Life and Ministry
PACIFIC LIFE Bible College
McMaster Divinity College Hamilton, ONT. • Seminary
Surrey, B.C. • College
Providence University College Otterburne, Man. • University
Tuition: $200 per unit
Tuition: $145 per credit
Tuition: $232 per credit
Entry requirements: Undergraduate Degree.
Entry requirements: Grade 12 or equivalent.
Extracurricular: Divinity Student Association.
Extracurricular: Student worship, student leadership runs all student life events.
Missions Opportunities: Partnerships with local churches, missions, and parachurch organizations.
Missions Opportunities: Annual short term missions, global missions for a full month.
Entry requirements: High school diploma. Included should be a minimum of five credits at the grade 12 level, with a minimum of three credits in university preparatory courses, including at least one English. Details for program entry online.
SCHOOL MOTTO: Knowing…Being…Doing…
SCHOOL MOTTO: Training Leaders To Make A World of Difference
Extracurricular: Student council committees, intramurals, performing arts, campus community events. Missions Opportunities: Missions Conference on Campus, annual mission trip, local outreach, practicum opportunities. SCHOOL MOTTO: Christ-Centred University Education
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at the University of Regina Regina, Sask. â€˘ University
TUITION: $5984-$6926 per year Entry requirements: Vary depending on program. Detailed information about entrance requirements are online. Extracurricular: Luther University Student Association, Peer Chaplaincy program, Luther Leaders. Missions Opportunities: Yes! SCHOOL MOTTO: Think deeply. Act passionately. Live faithfully.
Redeemer University College Hamilton, ONT. â€˘ University
TUITION: $7,145 / semester Entry requirements: Students enrolling immediately after high school must meet the standards for university admission from their home province. Detailed info on website. Extracurricular: Many clubs for varying interests like arts & culture, social justice, student government, and worship. Clubs can include: choir, orchestra, political engagement, small groups, mission projects etc. Missions Opportunities: Hamilton community engagement through programs like DEEDZ, H20 (Help to Others), CrossCulture. SCHOOL MOTTO: Discover All Things in Him redeemer.ca/apply convergemagazine.com
The Freshman Five: Knowing
Study habits to help shape your grades for the better
M.T.S. M.Div. M.A. Ph.D. Graduate Diploma in Ministry Graduate Certiﬁcate Programs
uccessful students know it takes more than brains and perfect attendance to get a good grade. You have to commit to studying the material. (Hint: sitting with your text book open while you chat with your best friend in the library does not count as studying.) Here are some study tips to help keep your grades in tip-top shape. You may have gotten away without cracking open any spines in high school, but don’t expect it to work the same in your post-secondary years.
1. Write it down
2. Study a bit every week Set aside time each week to go over material from each of your classes. This will also give you time to ask classmates or professors to go over any questions you may have. Going over the material every week is your surest defense against procrastination and exam cramming.
3. Take frequent breaks
mcmasterdivinity.ca 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1 44 | CONVERGE. sep - oct
Don’t study for long periods at a time. If you must study for an extended period of time, be sure to take breaks at least every hour. Your brain needs time to process each bit of information and can actually perform better if given a
bit of time to rest. It doesn’t have to be a long break. Even stopping for a few minutes to brew a cup of tea or making a 10 minute phone call to mom can help boost productivity.
4. Reward yourself Make studying fun by setting some goals. For example, you could tell yourself if you study Economics 101 for an hour and finish next week’s assignment tonight, you can treat yourself to a latte in the morning. Giving yourself little rewards will exercise your self-discipline.
5. Find your study spot Some people can study in coffee shops while others need the peace and quiet of their dorm room or the library. Figure out early in the semester what works for you. Are you the kind of person who gets easily distracted? Then don’t set up your study station in the middle of the cafeteria. Do you need a healthy dose of inspiration to get your work done? Then perhaps an outdoor area with a bit of ambient noise will be a good study spot for you. — Shara Lee
Flickr photo (cc) by JuditK
Take notes during lectures. Don’t think you can absorb everything the first time you hear it. Often professors will give hints for upcoming exams within their lectures. Laptops can be distracting because there is such a great temptation to surf the web during class. So use the old pen and paper instead. They’re still the best tools for this process.
Rocky mountain College Calgary, Alta. • College
Rosebud School of the Arts Rosebud, Alta. • College
Taylor College and Seminary Edmonton, Alta. • Seminary
TUITION: $325 per credit
TUITION: $230 per credit
Tuition: $295 per credit
Entry requirements: High school diploma or equivalent.
Entry requirements: High school diploma, Scout Week, interview, talent assessment.
Entry requirements: Undergraduate degree (unless applying to be accepted as a mature student).
Extracurricular: Student Union. Missions Opportunities: Some of our programs (WHIP, EDGE, Global Studies, Intercultural Studies, Global Leadership) have this built in. SCHOOL MOTTO: Be change
Extracurricular: Improv, jam nights, late night music lounge, xtreme workout. TRIP Opportunities: Theatre trips to the West Coast; London, England; and New York City. SCHOOL MOTTO: Live the Theatre!
Extracurricular: Banquets, canoe trips, chapel services, film events and other fun, educational and/or relationship-building events. Missions Opportunities: Taylor offers one of its missions courses as a Global Study Mission Tour. Our students have spent time in Africa, Palestine or other locations over the years, exploring diverse expressions of Christian faith in other contexts. SCHOOL MOTTO: Developing Christ-minded leaders who make a difference in the world
TRINITY Western University Langley, B.C. • University
Vanguard College Edmonton, Alta • College
Wycliffe College Toronto, Ont. • Seminary
Tuition: $742 per credit
Tuition: $199 per credit
Tuition: $580 / course
Entry requirements: 67% avg in Grade 12 subjects (must incl. English) in B.C. and 65% in all other provinces. US & International and other details listed online.
Entry requirements: High school diploma. Pastor’s reference is given strong consideration. Mature students may be considered without GED on a probationary, case by case basis.
Entry requirements: Undergrad degree from an accredited university, or from a TST approved Bible College with a min. average of 70%. Detailed info online.
Extracurricular: Mars’ Hill student newspaper, Student Life leadership positions, International Social Justice Club, Independent Musicians Initiative, Student Business Association, TWU Outdoor Club, and more!
Extracurricular: Student Council, SisterhoodYEG, guys night, choir, Council of Student Ambassadors, department retreats & events all year, Vanguard on ice, Community Discipleship seminars.
Extracurricular: Student Council organized social events, and access to the many U of T campus groups.
Missions Opportunities: Local outreach & fall/spring global projects.
Missions Opportunities: Southeast Asia, New York city, Northwest Territories, Vancouver, and throughout Alberta. Global leadership opportunities in summer with Awaken Missions.
Missions Opportunities: Annual long weekend visit to a parish to offer programs of teaching and outreach. Opportunities for International Missions last summer included one of our M.Div. students in Thailand.
SCHOOL MOTTO: Developing Innovative Spirit-filled Leaders
SCHOOL MOTTO: Verbum Domini Manet
SCHOOL MOTTO: Education. Transformation. Impact.
E D M O N T O N, A L B E R TA
take the next step..
STUDENT SERVICES School ACTS Seminaries Ascend adventure bible school BELFAST BIBLE COLLEGE BETHANY COLLEGE Briercrest College & Seminary Calvin College Canadian Mennonite university Christ College COLUMBIA BIBLE COLLEGE Concordia Lutheran Seminary Dordt College EMMANUEL BIBLE COLLEGE
OFFERING GRADUATE LEVEL CERTIFICATES IN: Social Justice and Community Development Youth and Young Adults Ministry Church Planting
Eston bible college Heritage COLLEGE & Seminary HILLSONG Int’L Leadership COLLEGE The King’s University College LIVING FAITH BIBLE COLLEGE Luther College McMaster Divinity college PACIFIC LIFE BIBLE COLLEGE Providence UNIVERSITY COLLEGE REDEEMER UNIVERSITY COLLEGE Rocky Mountain college Rosebud school of the Arts Taylor College & Seminary TRINITY WESTERN University
Vanguard College Wycliffe college
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Three Months of: TRAINING LEADERS TO MAKE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE.
46 | CONVERGE. sep - oct
Outdoor Adventures Bible Teaching Community Living and so much more!
Room & Board Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N/A Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N/A Y Y Y Y N/A Y Y Y Y
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Other Student Services Writing centre, term paper tutorials, access to TWU career centre, counselling and medical services, online ministry job posting board to launch Sep. 1st N/A Personal development, pastoral care, weekly corporate worship and prayer times Personal mentoring and discernment process Writing centre, academic advising & coaching, assistance for students with disabilities, experiential learning Writing skills, tutoring, disability services, career services, counseling services, mentoring Academic advising, disability services, counselling, student employment centre, Redekop School of Business Co-op program, spiritual direction One to one tutoring for English language and writing skills Academic support services, on-campus counselling, faculty mentoring N/A Personal tutoring, study skills assistance, career counseling, and personal counseling Counselling, field education & co-op placements, career advice, peer editing Academic advising, academic development, career opportunities, counselling and inner healing, resident advisors, resident directors General & academic achievement counselling services; placements and internship programs; faculty advisors; various seminars Visa assistance, photography, writing skills, song writing, public speaking skills, assistance finding paid work whilst studying, career advice and counselling On campus counsellor, on campus minister, and student employment opportunities as well as job fairs and internships Mentoring, counselling, internship & ministry placement, ministry outings Career centre, work experience or co-op for every program, counselling and support from our chaplain, scholarships and bursaries Student services provided through McMaster University Counselling, small groups, peer mentoring, learning assistance Counselling, tutoring, career guidance, writing skills, residence life support Co-ops, internships, tutoring, seminars, learning strategies, disability services, pastoral & personal counselling, career support , international student support Career advice, internships, counselling, career workshops Word & story writing workshops, personal advisor, counselling program, working backstage and on-stage with Rosebud Theatre Spiritual Formation (discipleship) and Field Education (internship), Research and Writing Seminar offered each year Writing skills, health & wellness, career development, recreation, Laurentian Leadership Centre, International Student Programs, internships, co-op College prep seminar, vocal and piano lessons, academic success centre, ministry posting board, field education advisor, ministry fair, graduate fair, counselling An Academic Advisor is assigned. Access to the U of T Career Centre
We enthusiastically support the KalĂŠo â€œprogram! Our daughter developed confidence, leadership skills and a love for the Word while participating in out-trips, community life and ministry opportunities. We don't know anywhere else where she could have matured in such su a profound way. -Gord and Cathy Balch
Eight Good Reasons to give up on your dreams By Chelsea Batten | Illustrations by Jacob Kownacki
48 | CONVERGE.
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“ Did my grandparents Chase their dreams?
No, they just went to work.” — Jeff Goins
veryone has a dream. That’s what Billy Joel says anyway, and he’s been around for a while Some of us scribble it down on bar napkins in fits of inspiration. Some of us stew over it when our workplace gets overwhelmingly petty. And some of us are lucky enough to live it.
Lately, I’ve had a lot of personal and professional conversations with people who make a living off their dream. Most of them weren’t expecting the opportunity, and weren’t even quite sure how it came their way. But when it did, they clung to it with all their might, and fought against gravity to achieve a certain amount of equilibrium in their professional lives. Stories like these have made me seriously consider whether I should continue chasing my dream. The work involved takes most of the dreaminess right out of it. And you know what? I’ve come to the conclusion there’s nothing wrong with letting your dream stay exactly where it started. In your head. Here are some reasons why it might be a bad idea to pursue your dream. convergemagazine.com
1. You only like being the best at things Following your dreams brings you into company and competition with other talented visionaries. Most of you are not going to make the final cut. And even if you do, there will always be someone who will be more clever, or graceful, or smart, or solvent, or — that meritocratic qualifier that stings the most because it means the least — more experienced than you. If being runner-up takes the pleasure out of doing something you love, you’re better off doing it alone. That way, no one else can judge.
2. You need reassurance I’m not talking about relying on people who love you and want you to be happy and successful, like when everything is falling apart, but the kind of person you rely on is someone who is as upset as you are, and is ready to stick her neck out alongside yours to get this project underway. And guess what? That person will not always be there. If you need constant affirmation your dream is worthwhile, you’re better off working for someone else. A regular paycheque is very reassuring.
3. You like the destination more than the journey. If your dream is to be done with something, figure out what it is and take the quickest route there. If your dream is to write a novel, take a class. If your dream is to make money ... well, don’t be a writer. Following dreams is about perpetual motion. If what you love is achieving the goal, there are a lot of successful formulas for that. Don’t waste your energy on doing if it’s not what you really love.
4. You don’t like following rules. even your own Dreams are bound by rules, whether the gatekeepers realize it or not. This is what they mean by paying your dues. It sucks, I know.
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if the only time you think about your dream is
When you’re Frustrated,
Feeling under-valued While putting in long hours,
It’s probably Better off staying In your head. Sometimes the rules aren’t even unreasonable, like exchanging a certain amount of work per week for a certain amount of money. But no matter how fair, there will be times you and your dream won’t want to cooperate with those rules. A metaphor involving a wild stallion would probably fit well here. Creativity, initiative and originality distinguish dreams from mere ideas. They also help us see rules as things to be broken. The nice thing is you only have to follow the rules of a place where you want to belong. The bummer is following any rules at all takes not only work, but humility. If what you really like is freedom, don’t submit your dream to the scrutiny of those who could help advance it. They will have parameters for you or your dream to follow.
5. You like TV, food, new clothes, alcohol, or large social groups That all requires money, and in order to make money, you have to put the time in somewhere. Even for people whose dream it is to get rich have to devote a long time to collecting money before they can spend it. If you value immediate sensory pleasure over long-term investment, then you’re in luck. That’s your real dream, and you can indulge in it every weekend. Keep that secondary dream as an identifier — refer to yourself as an artist, an entrepreneur, or what you will — if it helps you score. What’s in a name, after all?
6. You’re not willing to just about kill yourself working I’ve got a number of friends who sleep, like, four hours a night. And not because anybody’s making them stay up. They work a regular eight hours like the rest of us, then they go out with friends. Then they get home, and the next thing you know, it’s 3 a.m. and they’re still up working. Or playing. Producing. Living the dream. Working their tails off. When you think about that, do you get excited? Or would you rather get a good night’s sleep and, you know, keep dreaming?
7. It’s not worth failing at It’s easier for most dreamers to contemplate glorious, bloody defeat than a slow evaporation into obscurity. What if, instead of going down in a blaze of glory, your dream just fizzles, with an embarrassing noise, while others look away?
8. You like being spiritually and emotionally comfortable David Vandas, a Vancouver-based filmmaker, recently spoke with me about what he has learned leading artists in the collective We Make Stuff. He kept mentioning the concept of “pain points” — the things that touch off deep hurts and fears, what we all instinctively try to protect. Those, he told me, are the places where real breakthroughs happen. But only if you lay them open. I’ll just quote him, because he said it way, way better: “You’ve got to be careful with comfort, which kind of opposes hunger. Hunger is one of the most important things as a creative. If you’re a praying person, ask for God to keep you hungry. It’ll hurt; it’s painful, being hungry. It’s the removing of the false. You don’t wait for creativity; you don’t wait for inspiration. You have to physically and mentally schedule in the hours, and hit that wall until you break through. It’s agonizing, it’s painful, to break creative ground in your own personal life. There’s so much doubt, there’s so much insecurity.”
Equipping people to be pillars of His Church. You’ve heard God’s calling; now make Heritage College & Seminary part of your response. Heritage offers diverse options to serve students’ spiritual, leadership and educational needs, including undergraduate diplomas, degrees, certificates and seminary graduate programs. Our lively campus community is conveniently located in Southern Ontario. Book your campus tour today. Join us as we equip people to be pillars of His Church.
If we’re not all cut out to follow our dreams, what are dreams for? Why do we have them? One reason, at least, is our dreams tell us the truth about ourselves. My dreams are very different from Kanye West’s or Leon Kass’s. The mere possession of a specific dream offers an identity, which can (and should) be enjoyed and explored. But if the only time you think about your dream is when you’re frustrated, feeling under-valued, while putting in long hours, it’s probably better off staying in your head.
Chelsea Batten is an itinerant journalist currently making camp in southern California. She loves old cars and John Steinbeck, and can’t fall asleep without the This American Life podcast. Follow @thechelseagrin on Twitter or drop her a line at chelseabatten.com
Phone: 519-651-2869 Toll Free: 1-800-465-1961 DiscoverHeritage.ca Pursuing God with Passion & Excellence convergemagazine.com
WE ARE THE CITY Living in creative community
52 | CONVERGE. sep - oct
Words & photos by Sam McLoughlin
Just off Commercial Drive in Vancouver lies, the “Magic House”, dilapidated and marked for demolition. If you’re one of many established musicians living in the area of East Van, you’ve probably been inside. Therein live the family and friends who make up We Are The City, a popular Vancouver indie-rock band and winners of the first Peak Performance Project, a yearly radio contest for indie bands with a $100,000 prize. In the attic of the house you’ll find Amazing Factory, the filmmaking duo who are perhaps some of the best music video producers in town. If you’re a Vancouver musician, you’ve probably toured or worked with one, if not both of them. And if there’s one thing these guys have figured out, it’s this: if you’re going to live the life of a starving artist, it’s better to live it with friends. We Are The City is comprised of singer-keyboardist Cayne McKenzie, drummer Andy Huculiak, and guitarist David Menzel. Their sound according to Exclaim!, a Canadian music magazine is, “chime-y, piano-driven, anthemic rock, not unlike Coldplay’s early records.” Upon meeting them, I was reminded of the Inklings: the famed creative community who met to challenge and inspire each other, a group that included J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and George Macdonald. Those writers challenged each other to artistic greatness. Tolkien even admitted he wouldn’t have finished Lord of the Rings without them. I found a similar vibe in this house: people challenging each other to dream big and dig deep to break boundaries — people who didn’t want to settle for the comfortable or the financially viable. convergemagazine.com
This was obvious upon my first listen of We Are The City’s recent third studio release, Violent. I asked them about it while seated at a café patio just before their tour stop in Kelowna. Violent is a far cry from their first release: a little bit eerie, very emotional, and incredibly ambitious. But it doesn’t really sound like an album made for commercial success. “Like, where’s the single?” I asked jokingly. Andy, the boyishly handsome drummer for the band, explained, “Well, I think about all the artists in Vancouver that are investing everything into writing a pop song, there’s hundreds — Thousands!” Dave Menzel, guitarist for the band, interjected. “Yeah,” Andy continued, “and they hire the best producers, the best writers, they make a song and spend so much money on it, and then nothing happens. And I have no interest in that. I’d much rather be with these guys and make music that I enjoy, and it might be a harder road, but I can’t see us sitting down and saying, ‘OK let’s write a single now.’”
The community of East Van
ven after winning The Peak prize, which offers an enviable stamp of credibility, these guys seemed unconcerned with financial success. Instead, they held themselves to a different standard: what will impress their friends? “When we say we don’t write music for radio,” Andy explained, “I would say we write music for those people. We think, ‘What would Tyler Bancroft (from Said the Whale) think of this part?’ That encouragement to be pushed by our community to do more, be weirder.” “And when we were writing our stuff for Violent we
Mom and Dad.’ Maybe it’s because we feel welcome, we feel comfortable enough to go to those places. We’re not trying to prove ourselves, we’re just trying to express ourselves.” We chatted some more about the band’s rise to (relative) fame, and leaving behind the church music scene with its handsome payouts for the more risky world of being “true to your art.” When I asked them about what it means to be successful, Andy answered, “I don’t have the answer on how to be a successful artist. The only thing I would recommend that has worked so far, maybe not financially, is writing something that you genuinely enjoy, without worrying about the success of it. If you enjoy writing singles for radio, do it. But do what you want, and do it bravely. At least one person will think, ‘This is awesome.’”
The community of family
week or so passed before Andy and I met up again. This time it was on their East Van patio, joined by Andy’s brother Josh Huculiak and his cousin Joe Schweers, the two directors of Amazing Factory. Last year, they, along with Andy and Cayne (the lead singer of We Are The City who wasn’t able to make the interview), flew to Norway to make a feature length film as a companion to the band’s new record. The four of them had written a script, birthed from a series of strange circumstances and “cool” ideas. “We just thought, what’s the weirdest thing we can think of,” Josh explained. They ended up in Norway with just a month to find actors, sets, locations, and make a film. They had a secret showing of an early edit in a garage for a few friends in their community, includ-
We’re not trying to
Prove ourselves, We’re just trying to Express ourselves. were like ‘Ooh, (hip-hop artist) Shad wasn’t grooving his head at that part, it must suck I guess,’” Dave added with a laugh. “We didn’t show it to labels. We would have Zach Gray from The Zolas come over, and he’d tell us, ‘That’s really cool, that’s total crap.’” As for Shad and Bancroft, Dave explained, “That was a hefty part of the writing, getting a vibe from everybody else.” I often wonder about the vibe between these Vancouver artists, who make up an ongoing indie-renaissance that is starting to rival the success of the atmosphere in Toronto and Montreal. Andy tells me about how friendly and welcoming many of these more established musicians have been to them: “We feel like family with the Vancouver music scene, so there’s not an image that we need to keep up. That’s the case with a lot of these artists. It’s like, ‘You’re home — talk to
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ing myself. I was blown away. The film, which shares its name with the band’s album Violent, is a step far above what you’d expect from a bunch of near-broke, early 20-somethings. It is a film that deserves to be at Sundance, I told them. I personally felt inspired by what they showed to be possible in this day and age for people willing to take a chance on each other and push the boundaries creatively. A few years ago, it would have taken a film studio and millions of dollars to produce something like this. But now, when cameras are cheap and all that is needed is a community of writers, directors, and actors committed to the goal of good art, anything is possible. Walking through their East Van house, one must take care not to trip over the plethora of cords, cameras, instruments, and recording equipment. We made it to the patio, where I mused about their creative
community and how envious I was of it. I found this place fascinating. So many creative-types living under one roof, collaborating on some incredible projects, pushing each other and finding a level of success that is the envy of so many other directors and musicians. “How did this situation come about?” I asked. Josh, half of the directing team at Amazing Factory and graduate of Vancouver Film School, explained he is Andy and Joe’s cousin. He and Joe discussed how their first film projects were music videos for the band, and how important collaboration was for artistic growth. For instance, when the band’s second record High School was released, they decided to make a short film to correspond with each song. Those films led to lots of exposure through social media channels, including making their way onto my own Facebook home page more than once. I wasn’t sure they appreciated what they had — this delicate balance between family, creative, and professional relationships. I asked them about the benefits of living in a house of creatives. “When I went to film school,” Josh explained, “they told us to go and find a good team. Every second I was thinking, ‘I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to go home and make a movie with Joe and Andrew.’ I knew I already had the best team to work with. It wasn’t that they knew the most, were the most technically proficient, but we just had that thing.” Josh says the team has really helped them to flourish creatively. “You get to that place where you’re working so well together, and you can take way bigger chances,” he said. “Like making a feature length film in Norway just for the fun of it?” I ask. “Yeah,” laughed Josh, “If I was with any other team, or by myself, I wouldn’t have even dreamed about doing a movie in another language. It wouldn’t even have come up in our minds. But this came up in our minds because everything else we’ve done, has been a small step towards this. And if it works, it’s because we’ve got three people, not a singular vision, and you get into this groove where you can make good stuff because everyone’s going to call each other out.” In good community, you don’t have to worry about stepping on others’ feelings if you cultivate a deep level of respect, trust, and love. They seemed to be united by a vision of making great art. Art that challenges and speaks to people rather than capitalizing on the latest fad. Building towards that vision requires you to put petty differences away and work towards the greater good. “One thing that was so cool to me,” Joe explained, “was having this working relationship. There are times when I’ve seen the whole team grow and do something so surprising. Like, ‘He came up with that. Wow.’ The community that’s been built gives us the space to do that. There’s no fear. It’s like, I’m going to try something and I know these guys will have my back. You’re completely free at that point.”
The band in Norway prepping and filming for Violent
felt our conversation was getting to the heart of what is possible as an artist when you have great community, namely that you can achieve a certain freedom. When there’s no pressure to make cookie cutter art in order to make money, and no worries of rejection after artistic or financial failure, art can flourish. These aren’t only the hallmarks of good artistic community, but good community in general, of what God intended it to be. Like a family. When you feel welcomed and supported, you are free to challenge people through your art, and communicate au-
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Photos courtesy of We Are The City
The community at large
thentically with them. To make art not for money, but in an attempt to change people. “Was there something that you can’t communicate through the music that you were hoping this movie would accomplish?” I asked them. Andy was quick to reply. “I think what I was hoping the movie would do, is get one person to have the same feeling I get, not very often, when I step back and think, ‘This is crazy. One day I’m going to die ….’ The reality is that one day you alone will face death. Nobody will be beside you walking you though it.” The band, who started out with the “Christian” label, seemed to have transcended their former genre, as their newer lyrics hint towards the more existential questions and experiences of a typical 20-something. However, the film finds a way to poke at those notions of faith and questioning from a more authentic, nuanced direction. Questions of faith seemed to still be an integral part of what they were trying to communicate: we are all seeking, and we’re all on a journey, together. Both artist and audience. After discussing how difficult it is to do this with music, I asked them about an even more difficult mission: trying to communicate a spiritual message to very non-spiritual people in Norway. Andy explained, “People that are our age [in Norway], you just don’t come across anybody that’s Christian. There’s this funny story about a line in the movie that goes, ‘A spirit is in the room with you.’ And Dagny (the female lead in the film), who’s of the younger generation, said, ‘I don’t know what this is, is it like a
for me, God is with her, and then in her death, there’s silence again, and it’s God with her. That theme isn’t explicit in the film, but it’s there for me. But for me to say this is what you need to think is too much of an agenda.” It was an interesting idea, the question of whether God is always present in silence or not. And I remembered the verse, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am also.” I wondered aloud if they admitted they didn’t know where their creative ideas came from, and what exactly gave them the courage to pursue them so zealously. I pondered whether there may have been “a spirit in the room” more often than they knew. “I wonder,” Josh said later, “if you have the belief that God has plans for people, I wonder if this is one of those things like, ‘Why did we go to Norway? Why were these people in the movie? Why these themes? Why was this story told?’ Maybe someone in Norway will watch this, and maybe it will put an idea in their head that’s bigger than what we could put there, that us just telling our story will help them think something different.”
few weeks later, I was out with another musician friend who is trying to make it. He talked excitedly about competing for The Peak prize next year, and the frustrations of explaining to his parents that he wanted to be a musician. After my experiences with the creatives on Commercial, I felt like I actually had some advice to give, besides, “Don’t expect to make any money!” “Find friends to do it with, and stick with them,” I told him. Because, as C.S. Lewis noted in The Four Loves, “in a perfect friendship … each member of the circle feels, in his secret heart, humbled before all the rest … each bringing out all that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others.” If your greatest desire in the world is to make an impact, to finish something grand, to fulfill that creative drive that is overflowing from your soul, I offer the same charge: find others like you, who can become like family — who can lift you up when you’re down, keep you grounded, and spur you on to finish the race you’ve started. And if your parents or friends say it’s unrealistic, remind them about the vision that God presented us with in Scripture, of the New Jerusalem: a city, as Chesterton noted, “in which each of you can contribute exactly the right amount of your own colour.” Remember this is what we are called to build towards, to create towards. And when we do create boldly in freedom, together with each other and with the Spirit, maybe we are the city.
You get to that place where you’re
Working so well together, And you can take Way bigger chances genie?’ And we were like, ‘No, a Spirit.’ Dagny replied, ‘I have no frame of reference for this other than Aladdin.’” In our culture, where many young people are cynical towards religion, it can be tough to discuss religious topics in one’s art — though at least it’s still in people’s frame of reference. In a very secular society like Norway, it’s hard to communicate when you don’t speak the language, literally and spiritually. “When I look at the old version [of the film], I was trying to push it in the faith or religious direction,” Andy continued. “Now it’s still there, but it’s more balanced. Like, in each chapter there’s a moment of silence. The first is when she baptizes herself.” A scene where Dagny, accompanied by her younger sister, hikes to a remote lake to dunk herself in the hopes of hearing God’s voice in the experience. “Then [these moments of silence] happen again. And I think for me, it’s like, ‘Is that silence God? Or is [there] no god?’ For me that silence is God. So when it returns in the film,
Sam McLoughlin is a freelance writer and author of The Default Life. Visit Sam’s personal website, sammcloughlin.com for more of his writing.
Theatre & Faith?
Dear Culture Shapers Here Are Your Options: Mapping Out Christian Responses to Culture By Paul McClure | Illustration by Carmen Bright
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hanks to Netflix, I am a documentary addict. It all started when I watched Big River Man, a documentary about an overweight alcoholic Slovenian man who swims the Amazon. Yes, the same river with anacondas and piranhas. He swims that. A little while later I watched Exit Through the Gift Shop, which was about the notoriously secretive graffiti artist Banksy and an eccentric filmmaker-turnedartist named Mr. Brainwash. Then just the other day I watched a fascinating documentary called The Queen of Versailles, a story about an excessively rich, dysfunctional family and their quest to build the largest home in North America. (It’s about the size of a small airport, in case you were wondering.) Reflecting on my near obsession with these bizarre stories, I started to wonder: what do all these documentaries have in common? Besides showcasing oddball visionaries and their wacky antics, they all show there’s something fundamentally creative about the human species. All of us — whether we’re resilient swimmers, graffiti artists, or pageant queens — want to make something of our world. We want to shape culture. 2013
ut these documentaries raise some vexing questions about how we’re supposed to do that. Isn’t the world run by economic and political systems far too large for an ordinary guy like me to make a difference? Even if I swim the Amazon, what good will it do? As a Christian, I know I’m supposed to love God, love my neighbour, and work to bring peace to the world. But oftentimes it seems impossible to shape culture in a more Christian direction. With these questions fresh on my mind, I’ve decided to look at some of the ways people today try to direct our culture. And to see which, if any, is typical of and best for most Christians. To borrow from the categories used by author Andy Crouch in Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, have Christians mostly condemned culture, or have they copied it? Have Christians been mostly critics and social commentators, or have they consumed more of it in hopes that what they purchase will become the new norm? Perhaps we’ve created or redeemed culture too, but what has that looked like in practice? What, then, is typical and best: Should we condemn, critique, copy, consume, or create culture?
CONDEMN CULTURE Don't like it? Protest! (Or: Why don't you cry about it?)
n 2011, Time magazine selected “the Protester” as the most influential person of the year. Rather than picking a single world leader or lone pioneer, Time believed that 2011 was defined less by Bill Gates and Vladimir Putin and more by ordinary individuals who protested mass injustices. In the last couple years, the protester has spent much time raising a ruckus about all that’s bad with our world and has continually been in the spotlight for doing so. In the church and elsewhere, many make a living condemning what they hate about society. When a particular government or corporation veers out of control, those who condemn culture argue it is the right and responsibility of watchful, concerned citizens everywhere to cry out and make known which things aren’t right. Passive acceptance of the status quo is simply not an option. Despite the revolutionary impact of the protester, we’ve seen few changes occur when no new solution is offered in place of the old. Nothing affirms this process better than the current situation in Egypt, a country that underwent a drastic political revolution only to fall back into old habits. Closer to home, when Christians in North America only condemn culture and never present a healthy or attractive alternative, very little changes.
(Copy, paste, tweak, repeat)
nother approach is to copy what’s out there, making only slight modifications to the current version. Think of the music sampler Girl Talk. Taking existing songs, Girl Talk cuts, remixes, and reshapes what already exists into immensely popular dance hits. Of course, Girl Talk isn’t the first one to recognize the profitability of copying culture. But here’s the bigger question: can copying culture change it and make it better? Occasionally Christians have opted for this approach; they’ve copied what they’ve liked in the mainstream, and then fabricated a parallel, minority subculture. (Replacing anything objectionable with a sanitized Christian version.) According to this mindset, a Hollywood blockbuster with excessive violence is OK if it’s turned into a film about the end times, since that’s in the Bible. This happens in music, too. A genre may stay the same, but questionable secular lyrics can be taken out and replaced with Christian ones in order to satisfy worried parents. Despite good intentions, one problem with this approach is that an exclusively Christian subculture is a derivative of the mainstream. And it lacks originality. Uninspired art — whether it tar-
gets a mass audience like Thomas Kinkade’s paintings or sneakily injects Christian content into secular genres — never garners the critical mass needed to alter public consciousness. A green and yellow Christian T-shirt that replaces “Subway” with “HisWay” doesn’t catapult agnostics towards conversion, but it may make them hungry for a meatball sub or spiteful of parasitic Christian advertising.
CRITIQUE CULTURE (Stop, reflect, think)
y own journey has situated me squarely in the culturecritiquing camp most of my life. During my high school and undergraduate days, I read Francis Schaeffer, whose book How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture helped me formulate a Christian worldview. At the time, this book was a game changer. For one, it gave me the much-needed tools to evaluate specific forms of culture. Rather than passively accept whatever culture threw at me, I found using Schaeffer’s “worldview” approach gave me the ability to evaluate any given cultural product for its truth, goodness, and beauty. Was it OK to ignore or dislike contemporary Christian music? What should I make of all that confusing, abstract modern art? Could I appreciate the philosophical observations of someone as fiercely anti-Christian as Nietzsche and still feel comfortable in church? Before reading Schaeffer, I couldn’t even attempt to answer these questions. While I’m immensely grateful to Schaeffer and his readers who mentored me, after a while I came to see a couple weaknesses of this program. One problem with Schaeffer’s approach is when critical analysis remains purely intellectual, it fails to move culture in a Christian direction. If all I do is think and talk about the movies I see, for instance, then the run-of-the-mill movies Hollywood generates won’t change to suit my tastes. One can be a trenchant social critic and never win the hearts and minds of producers and culture makers. In short, critical analysis and critique can be immensely helpful and formative to the life of a Christian, but like condemnation, it needs to go further for it to change culture.
CONSUME CULTURE (I authorize this transaction)
he drawbacks of critique have moved some Christians into the consuming-culture camp. Here, Christians are told that what you buy really matters and, collectively, you can shape culture and markets by creating more demand. For instance, buy fair trade coffee instead of the common alternative. Or buy more local, organic, and sustainable goods. Here in Vancouver where I’ve been living during the last two years, I’m amazed that cage free eggs sometimes sell out in the grocery store before the less expensive mass-produced ones. The lesson? Companies that treat their chickens more ethically get better business. While this is clearly a good thing, the difficulty with this approach is it vastly overestimates the individual’s buying power and the control that even very large, single-minded groups can exert over culture. This doesn’t mean we should dismiss the importance of ethical consumption. But we must remember that our spending patterns won’t move mountains. Another hitch to the “consume culture” camp is it relies too heavily on money as a solution to life’s problems. In the New Testament, Jesus frequently warns against the love of money. We should be cautious of the idea of buying our way into a better culture. Remember after 9/11, when George W. Bush famously told the American people that the most important thing they could do on the eve of war was to go shopping and boost the economy? At convergemagazine.com
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that point, Christians in the States could’ve responded differently. Would a unified Christian opposition to Bush’s statement have changed anything?
CREATE CULTURE (What's your masterpiece?)
final category to consider is the possibility of creating new culture. This is essentially Crouch’s thesis and one I find to be mostly convincing. As Crouch explains, “The only way to change culture is to create more of it.” He argues other approaches fail to change the way things are because they don’t leave people with other options. Without options, Crouch explains, people will continue to live, work, and play with whatever they have at their disposal. And Christians shouldn’t expect culture to change on a small or large scale if there are no new forms of culture created. It seems that if Christians or any other group of people want to move the culture in a direction that more closely aligns with their tradition, they should get their creative juices flowing and start producing. Make music, art, films, scholarships, governments, economies, and everything else that is the stuff of culture. Of course, other factors will still be at work. While Crouch is clearly onto something, I think he could pay
Emmanuel BIBLE COLLEGE
more attention to power structures and imbalances in the formation of culture. Though I don’t exactly subscribe to idea that only elite world leaders shape culture, we should still recognize that the major culture shapers occupy positions of power and privilege in our world. Another consideration involves the way we develop practices that shape our desires. Even if there’s good culture to be enjoyed, we might pass it up because our desires and bad habits push us in a different direction. To borrow from the philosopher Jamie Smith, we might be completely convinced we should be eating and spending money ethically, but still wind up in the food court at Costco.
KNIT BOMBING AS REDEMPTIVE ART
n the end, any reflection on a Christian approach to culture must consider what Scripture says. And it says a lot. It tells us that Old Testament prophets often condemned cultures; that the Apostle Paul once copied and quoted a pagan poet; that the Israelites rightfully consumed kosher foods to distinguish themselves from their neighbours; that the preacher in Ecclesiastes pursued wisdom and critiqued rival philosophies. Scripture also tells of the Word made flesh: an act of divine creation that brings the good news from heaven to earth in Jesus, and continues the long story of redemption from Genesis onward. Indeed, the Incarnation justifies our own creative culture-making, and should instill in us a passion to shape our small or large spheres of culture in whatever ways we can. Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all biblical approach. Often the lines are blurry, and the decision of which paradigm to employ can be complicated. But this is part of the excitement and challenge of the Christian life. Down the street from where I live, a shopping center sits next to an abandoned parking lot, which is cordoned off by an ugly chain link fence. For over a year the fence’s only purpose was to prevent vandalism. It sternly declared, “private property, keep out.” But because the land in this part of Vancouver is so expensive, no one has developed it, and the lot has remained unused and lifeless. A few months ago, I noticed someone decided to knit bomb that old fence with an array of flowers. (Before this, I had never encountered the practice of knit bombing. It basically means taking a mundane piece of public property, and turning it into a work of art.) A few weeks after that, some schoolchildren started decoratively painting the concrete slab that lined one wall of the parking lot. All of a sudden, this rather drab parking lot was surrounded by knitted flowers on one side and brightly colored paintings of crabs, dogs, and fish on the other. What I like about this little art project is that it targeted a weary, run down commercial space and turned it into something bursting with life and color. By adorning unused real estate with paintings and flowers, the artists redeemed a public space and gave it new life. In a way, I think this is what God does with us. He sees us as the beautiful messes we are, and then gives us the great mission to redeem culture in whatever ways we can. This may involve any number of approaches, from condemnation to redemptive knit bombing. But by following the pattern of the Creator God and Jesus our Redeemer, we can tap into our creative God-given potential and shape the workplaces, schools, and neighbourhoods which make up our culture. Born and raised in Memphis, TN, Paul McClure will graduate from Regent College in May with an M.A. in Theological Studies. At the end of the summer, he will move to Waco, Texas to start a Ph.D. in sociology of religion at Baylor University. A fan of thrift shops and storytelling, he also blogs for Wondering Fair (wonderingfair.com). convergemagazine.com
C.S. Lewis’ “big picture” still attracts His works continue to shape culture today By Flyn Ritchie
C.S. Lewis: A Life Alister McGrath | Tyndale House, 2013 Alister McGrath has made something of a cottage industry of writing about C.S. Lewis (though one should not write him off as a one-trick pony; the Oxford professor has at least 50 books to his credit). Recently McGrath spoke at Regent College about his book, C.S. Lewis: A Life. In response to the question, “Why has Lewis remained so interesting?” he points to four themes. He quotes one of Lewis's famous sayings: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” Referring to comments by Austin Farrar, a fellow scholar and friend of Lewis at Oxford, McGrath says: “Lewis makes us think we're listening to an argument, but instead he's giving us a vision, and that carries conviction.” A key concept for Lewis was the “argument from desire,” which posits, as he says in Surprised By Joy, that, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” McGrath also refers to “The Weight of Glory,” a sermon delivered at Oxford during the Second World War. Lewis says: “These things — the beauty, the memory of our own past — are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we
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have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.“ McGrath says Lewis increasingly came to see that fantasy literature allows reason and imagination to work together, and that his Narnia series is a “retelling of the Grand Narrative“ — a fictional illustration that our own story is part of something grander. “We live in a story-shaped world,” says McGrath, pointing out one of the most important reasons Lewis has remained so successful is that “stories are more important than argument in a postmodern world.” While celebrating Lewis's continued significance in our time, McGrath also cautions that “stories are also being told against us [by the likes of Philip Pullman]. We need to put forward a counter-vision; we haven't had anyone to take Lewis's place.” McGrath devotes two chapters of A Life to the Narnia series, pointing out that Lewis creates an imaginative world, “something produced by the human mind as it tries to respond to something greater than itself” rather than an imaginary world “something that has been falsely imagined, having no counterpart in reality”. McGrath describes Lewis as a “translator of the gospel message into modern terminology.” He believes the requirement to translate complex material into simpler terms forces you to really understand your material. (See McGrath's Mere Apologetics below.)
C.S. Lewis: A Biography of Friendship Colin Duriez | Lion, 2013 Like McGrath, Colin Duriez has written extensively on Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and their shared Oxford world. Lewis had a wide circle of friends, in academia, certainly, but also from childhood, from the army, and among just plain folks. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams describes this “thoroughly researched, wide-ranging, sympathetic telling [of ] Lewis's story” as “allowing us to see him not as a solitary genius but as someone whose brilliance was always being honed and clarified in conversation and letter-writing and plain human affection.“
Map (cc) by David Bedell, 1976
hough the event of C.S. Lewis’s death might have been overshadowed by John F. Kennedy’s and Aldous Huxley’s (they all died on November 22, 1963), C.S. Lewis has not been forgotten. He retains a solid perch in the public consciousness, and for several good reasons. His Chronicles of Narnia series and theological works come to mind immediately; books about him and his legacy continue to appear at an impressive rate.
The Inklings of Oxford Harry Lee Poe | Zondervan, 2009 Subtitled “C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Their Friends,” this beautifully photographed book shows at least as much as it tells us about the Oxford milieu in which the Inklings thrived. The Inklings were an informal literary circle which included Lewis and Tolkien, with other academics and writers taking part at various times. They drank beer at the fabled Eagle and Child Pub, debated theology, literature, and Norse mythology in Lewis's rooms at Magdalen College, and strolled together along the Cherwell River. It was jolly fun, no doubt, but these meetings were also the crucible of literary works (The Lord of the Rings and Narnia to start) that still have an important place in our culture today.
On the Shoulders of Hobbits Louis Markos | Moody, 2012 Louis Markos reminds us that Lewis, like his old friend Tolkien, “sought, through critical essay and fantastic fiction alike, to restore stories to their proper place both as schools of virtue and repositories of truth.” “Like Tolkien,” Markos says, Lewis achieves his goal “by spiriting his delighted audience away to his own magical world of talking animals and living trees where the old virtues and vices and the stock responses associated with them still existed.”
The Christian World of the Hobbit Devin Brown | Abingdon, 2012 Though Devin Brown focuses on Tolkien's fantasy story, he quotes Lewis for his prescience a number of times. Reviewing The Hobbit in the October 2, 1937 issue of the Times Literary Supplement, Lewis notes that it “will be funniest to its youngest readers, and only years later, at a tenth or twentieth reading, will they begin to realize what deft scholarship and profound reflection have gone to make everything in it so ripe, so friendly, and in its own way so true.“ Brown says Lewis knew the role the “sacramental ordinary” (following G.K. Chesterton's view) had in Tolkien's moral vision and fiction. In one essay, Lewis argues, “the value of the myth is that it takes all the things we
know and restores them to the rich significance which has been hidden by the ‘veil of familiarity.’” In another, he says fairy tales “restore to [the actual world] something that has been eroded by the view, so dominant in the past century, that says it is nothing more than matter.”
The Intellectual World of C.S. Lewis Alister McGrath | Wiley-Blackwell, 2013 This is an important companion to A Life, covering many of the issues that were so central to Lewis's life, but which the narrative flow of a general biography could not accommodate. If McGrath has an overarching concern, it is to “set Lewis in the greater context of the western literary and theological tradition ... which he describes as 'the clean sea breeze of the centuries.’”
Mere Apologetics Alister McGrath | Baker, 2012 Again McGrath turns to Lewis — “perhaps the greatest Christian apologist of the 20th century” — as he encourages Christians to engage the culture around them. And again he quotes Austin Farrar on Lewis: “His real power was not proof; it was depiction. There lived in his writings a Christian universe that could be both thought and felt, in which he was at home and in which he made his reader feel at home.” Mere Apologetics goes beyond Lewis, but McGrath acknowledges his debt to the master throughout the book.
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The Weight of Glory & The Weight of Glory (hip hop remix) Heath McNease And now for something completely different. Heath McNease has put out two enjoyable CDs inspired by the work of C.S. Lewis. Both are available free (donation requested) at NoiseTrade.
CHECK IT OUT: McNease’s hip hop remix inspired by the works of C.S. Lewis:
Phone: 1.306.585.5333 Toll-free: 1.800.LUTHERU firstname.lastname@example.org www.luthercollege.edu Think deeply. Act passionately. Live faithfully. convergemagazine.com
nature, and to what each one of us brings to the world. The fact you are made in God’s creative image says many things about the artist in you, no matter what particular nook of God’s world you tend. One inherent implication is what you bring to life in the world is meant to be discipled right along with the rest of you. The more we are transformed into people who are like Jesus, the more transformed our artistries will be. Of course, I’m not saying the more Bible verses you know, the better you’ll be at watercolor painting. Certainly, every artistic endeavor requires the development of skill and the discipline of practice and perseverance. I’m also not implying you should paint Bible scenes, write Biblical themed poetry, frame Bible verses on your office wall, or place a Christian fish on your business card in order to bring God into your creative work. The more you are like Christ, the more your creative work will have the taste, feel, smell, look, and sound of God-in-the-flesh. In Mark 7, Jesus explains our external life is an expression of our internal spirit. Living by the power of the Holy Spirit will hone you and your creative work into a vessel that’s capable of embodying what is true and beautiful about God. In your work, you’ll be able to know God’s voice and be part of God’s renewal in your creative endeavours. Your simple acts will be the aroma of Christ to those around you. God has made you creative. Own it. Because He wants to communicate to and through you. If your artistic voice has been stifled, ask God to set your creativity loose to become what He intended it to be, and daily respond to His guiding and restorative voice. We can release all the skill, gifting, and work God has given us, knowing He delights in forming us into the people He has made us to be. May we heed the Spirit within, marvelling and worshipping with all of creation, as we increasingly behold the joyful, beautiful, and genius creativity of God.
By Michelle Sudduth
A Michelle is a musician, writer, and worship leader. Raised in Colorado, she spent her twenties in Nashville, and holds a Master’s degree from Regent College in Vancouver, B.C. She currently resides in Los Angeles, at a coffee shop or a piano bench.
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re you creative? Some of you will say, “Absolutely. Check out this sustainable ATV I built from raw table scraps, some dental floss, and my backyard fence!” Others will say, “Not in the least. Excuse me while I alphabetize my business card collection.” But let me stop you self-proclaimed non-creatives right there. Being a mathematician, politician, or chiropractor requires skill, natural giftedness, and inspiration to be able to design, develop, and solve problems. And all that adds up to creativity, whether you like it or not. Genesis says humans were made in God’s image to foster the flourishing of His good order. In other words, each one of us has the mark of a creative artist imbedded in our DNA. Some of you are afraid of owning your creativity and shy away from anything that labels you as such. But there’s no running from it. Creativity is central to our very sep - oct 2013
Flickr photo (cc) by Crossett Library
to think deeply to act justly to live fully
To be a Christian intellectual is to not be afraid ... is to be able to ask the hard questions— and to engage the questions and critically study things. Daniel Camacho ’13 philosophy major
You’re onto something, a new idea. For diabetes treatment, for education reform, for the way we build our cities, for ending poverty. The only way to make your idea a reality is to test it, change it, share it. It takes courage to do that, something you’ll build in every class, every late-night conversation—every moment you spend at Calvin. Explore what it means to think deeply, act justly and live fully at www.calvin.edu/go/courage.
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Published on Aug 23, 2013