Et Cetera Jason Segel and Me In Praise of Interdisciplinary Studies

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January 22, Winter Issue 2
In Praise of
Interdisciplinary Studies
-Barnabas Aspray
Jason Segel and Me
-Ryan Kelley
I began this term in low spirits,
and it is probably safe to say to that my
One of the hardest things about
malaise was not without warrant. With
the Regent experience is all the missed
my time at Regent swiftly coming to
opportunities – all the courses you can’t
an end, my life was singularly without
take because you’re taking other courses,
direction or even a potential way
all the social events you can’t go to because
forward: I did not have a job; my course
you’re studying, all the study you fail to do
because you are at social events. There are so load was uncharacteristically light, and
my soul was not particularly piqued
many fascinating-sounding courses on the
timetable, and as if that in itself were not bad to do anything of great worth after I
enough, everybody has a pet course that they cross that stage in early May with a
tell you “you MUST take” or a professor “you peculiarly expensive piece of paper. So,
I took to doing what any normal, white,
MUST study with” before you leave Regent.
middle-class North-American does
Your experience isn’t complete without it!
in such a predicament—I performed
I’m going to offer one small bit
repeated acts of self-flagellation by
of advice which isn’t focused on how to
complete your “Regent Experience” but about way of applying as many words of
how to be fruitful in using your education for disapprobation as I possibly could to
the rest of your life. This applies especially to my less than exemplary condition. I
was: listless, inert, torpid, slothful,
academically-minded people, but I think in
indolent, lazy, sluggish, lethargic, and
some degree to everyone.
idle. Why was I doing nothing in this
Be interdisciplinary! If not in your
world? Truthfully, the most appropriate
programme concentration, then “in
explanation would have been that I was
instinct” (as Iain Provan once said to
too busy playing a magnificently prolix
me). One of Regent’s great strengths is its
game of self-pity.
multidisciplinary approach, with a wide
Anyways, when the pleasure of
base of core courses in many subject areas.
the
lexical
mopery finally subsided, I
Not every institutional institution offers this
advantage. It’s worth taking full advantage of decided to make use of the remaining
days of my free one-month trial of
while we’re here.
Netflix by watching the last two films
Why is being interdisciplinary an
of Jason Segel’s oeuvre that I had yet
advantage? Because, as my Dad once told
to see: The Five-Year Engagement
me, the most valuable insights usually
and Jeff, Who Lives At Home. As I
come at the intersection of different areas
saw it, there were two salient reasons
of expertise. It is the collision of otherwise
for choosing this course rather than
separate worlds that enriches each world in
another (if it weren’t so, I could have
a fresh and unique way. The totality of truth
is not found in any one subject: no, not even
concentration. While everyone else uses
philosophy / theology / history / biblical
studies (gasp!). Each of them falls eventually the normal tools of the trade to answer
into error without the stabilizing force of the the normal questions, you’ll have a
unique angle. It will make you stand
others.
out. There are many examples of this.
Also, don’t compartmentalize. Don’t
In the 1980s Robert Alter said, “what
keep your knowledge of history in one part
of your head and your theological knowledge would happen if we read the Bible as
literature?” and changed the face of
in another. See how one applies to the
biblical scholarship. In the same way,
other, how it changes the angle from which
let’s ask creative questions, like “what
you understand it. Imagine how the latest
would we learn if we investigated the
economic / sociological / psychological /
sociology of the early church?” (Rodney
neuro-arachnoneurological research could
Stark) or “what would it be like to think
apply to soteriology or Mariology.
hermeneutically about the history of
Don’t fight disciplinary wars. Don’t
doctrine?” (Anthony Thiselton) or “how
entrench yourself in one side of the debate
did the economics of Old Testament law
between theology and biblical studies, or
between analytic and continental philosophy. really work?” (Paul Williams).
The world God created is big and
It is unlikely that one side has got it entirely
complex
and multi-faceted. Everything
wrong and just never noticed.
flows in and out of everything else, and
You may find, if you apply one
discipline to another, that you become one of there are endless angles on the smallest
subject. God gave us not one eye but
the more interesting people in your chosen
two, so all our vision can have the three-
just as easily decided to delve into
Gilbert Godfrey’s back-catalogue).
The first was obviously Mr. Segel’s
ineluctable charm. Secondly, this
particular man’s brand of humor
was constructive, not destructive.
Jason Segel never takes the piss
out of someone for a burst of facile
giggles. Rather, he brings both smiles
and laughter through his undaunted
expression of hope, love, and
forgiveness in a world that has precious
little time for such humane virtues.
(The warp and woof of his comedic
approach, by way of digression, was
woven early via his childhood exposure
to The Muppets. He lucidly explores
their influence upon his career in the
commentary track on The Muppets
[2012] DVD.)
The first film, The Five-Year
Engagement, was a bad choice. It
follows the story of Tom (Segel) and
Violet (Emily Blunt) as they attempt to
solidify their love in the form of holy
matrimony. Yet, the exigencies of life
intrude resulting in Tom surrendering
his dreams to accommodate those of
his fiancée. The result is that most
of the 124 minute movie depicts the
slow, painful declension of Tom into
purposelessness and outré facial hair
cultivation. No bueno.
Disheartened, but spurred on by
my unflagging desire for completion, I
buffered the second of the two films as I
steeped my fifth cup of Tension Tamer
tea. (Continued on pg. 3)
dimensional depth of two combined
points of view. God gave us not one ear
but two so that we may, as a confluence
of traditions, bring a unique perspective
to the world.
Et Cetera welcomes your input. Article
submission guidlines can be found on p. 4
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January 22, Winter Issue 2
Regent Recycling
Rant
-Alec Arnold
I have absolutely had it up to here with
Rick Smith and the Regent Facilities crew! I
mean, sure, they’re witty (and attractive),
but what the heck are those guys doing about
ecological responsibility? Even kindergarten
classes are able to implement recycling
programs, but Regent seems a bit slow on the
uptake, don’t you think?
Oh oh oh wait a minute. I forgot.
I forgot about those stainless steel
monstrosities, standing like monoliths of…
what exactly? Rick calls them “Recycling
Centres.” More like “Ridiculous Centres!” In
fact, I honestly don’t know of a Regent student
who can make heads or tails of them. Can
you?
First off, there’s four spots I have to
deal with. FOUR! I’m standing there, holding
the “leftovers” of my caramel macchiato,
dumbfounded with what to do with my cup...
because what’s staring back at me? Four
different bins that I now have to decode. Why
not make it a million?! How am I supposed
to choose which one my cup goes in, Rick?
Answer me that.
Now, I admit. There’s clearly some
kind of “sign” on or above each of those
little compartments, but they’re entirely
incomprehensible. The font is so big—it
offends my aesthetic vision. One of them says:
“Clean Paper.” What does that mean? I did
an etymological study last term on Hebraic
usage of the word ‘clean’ but that doesn’t really
do much good for me and my coffee cup. So
I figure: Well, my cup’s made of paper. It’s
half full of coffee, but I didn’t spit in it…so…
clean enough! Toss ‘er in. Another one of
those bins says something like: “Plastic.” Does
that include my granola bar wrappers or not?
Banana peel?
Hands down, it’s the “Compost” bin
that’s most bamboozling… I mean yeah, I
know they posted a list describing in detail
what goes in this bin, but come on guys, how
long do you expect me to stand there reading
all these words?! Maybe I should sign up for
hermeneutics! Which reminds me, doesn’t
Facilities know I’m already late for class as it
is? Do they seriously expect me to spend .56
seconds reading all these textual mysteries?
I’ve got bigger fish to fry, Rick Smith! Besides
class, I’ve got a paper on creation care due
this afternoon. Oh forget it, I’ll just throw
everything into the “Garbage” bin. That’ll
learn ‘em.
After all, if I’m the one that has to do all
this work sorting my own waste in these bins,
why not just hire me as a janitor too? Next
thing you know they’ll expect me to wash my
own dishes in the kitchen! If Regent really
wanted to protect the planet they should
simplify all this “Recycling Centre” cryptology.
Why make it so hard on us? This is Regent
College, not some smarty pants think-tank.
I hereby make a motion that Rick and the
Facilities crew dumb it down for us because
nobody can seem to learn this system without
a PhD…evidently.
Twelve Days of
Christmas
-Thomas Bergen
“Why does Regent start so late in January?” I heard no end to such envious complaints from my undergraduate friends from
UBC (not least my fiancé!) who went back to
school on January 2nd. I retorted, “Why did
your school start so early?”, but after being
told that it was due to UBC students’ superior
studiousness and Regent College students’
laziness—and having no witty come-back
ready—I knew I had to come up with something better. I had to come up with something
with the clear ring of a Regent rational; something more theological.
I discovered my answer in the notion
of liturgical time. Apparently the 12 days
of Christmas are more than the name of a
Christmas carol. When the workaday world
went back to business after New Years Day,
how appropriate that Regent College students
were still celebrating the 12 days of Christmas
which lasted from the Feast of the Nativity
(December 25) to the Feast of the Epiphany
(January 6).
During the Middle Ages, the 12 days
of Christmas were a merrymaking marathon which climaxed on the Twelfth Night.
(And yes, you are right to catch the William
Shakespeare reference.) I bet that most of
the Christians who sniff a cultural conspiracy
to eradicate Christmas in every “happy holidays” and “season’s greetings” card are not
even aware that 10 of the 12 days of Christmas
have already been effectively wiped from our
memories.
While we all lament the commercialization of Christmas, we strengthen the association between celebrating Christmas and
opening gifts by restricting the celebration of
Christmas to December 24 and 25. Unwrapping gifts equals wrapping-up Christmas.
Have you ever noticed how the push to cleanup Christmas begins almost immediately after
the 25th? People who leave their Christmas
trees and lights up into January gain the same
disapproval as people who listen to Christmas
carols in November. (Incidentally, most of the
choirs I’ve been a part of start rehearsing for
Christmas concerts in September.)
I think that New Years Eve is the biggest
culprit that truncates the Christmas season.
Smack in the middle of Christmastide (the
12 days of Christmas) is this other “holiday”
which is in fact not a “holy day” at all. The
other contender is of course boxing day which
whiplashes us back into a shopping frenzy
after the silent and holy night of Christmas.
What we have with New Years and Boxing Day in the midst of Christmastide is the
clashing of times, with liturgical time being
trumped by secular time.
So here’s what I told my envious enquiring UBC student friends: Regent is simply
conforming its course calendar to the liturgical calendar. Here at Regent College we know
which calendar is the most important – and
it just so happens to give us more time off!
Admittedly we started classes well after the
Feast of Epiphany on January 6... so I guess
we had a bit of a liturgical holiday hang-over.
More seriously though, I think that our lives
are governed too much by the clocks of the
world - the punch clock, the due date clock,
the appointment book, the federal “holidays.”
The great thing about the liturgical calendar
is that it orients us to a different standard of
time. Our attitude towards Christmas and
other holidays should go beyond the excitement of having time “off”. Liturgical time is
more than just the lag time between work
days. Christian holidays create a “sanctuary in
time”, to use Abraham Heschel’s expression
about the Jewish observance of the Sabbath.
That might be something to remember when
we celebrate Easter during finals!
I still haven’t found a satisfactory justification for our 2 week-long reading breaks
vs. UBC’s one-day reading break day in the
fall semester. Let me know if you have any
ideas.
‘So Poetry’
-Steve Davis
So poetry will be my joy then, poetry,
and the God of it, to hear Him
sing, sing through its lines, and
through the sense of it, the sense and the sound of it,
and sing through the world of it, and to sing through me.
Then will I hear, see, take what I find there
and bring, sing it swift, straight
into the space where action blooms,
the space where love blooms, blossoms
to the works of it, the works and labours of it,
love. Loved for the sake of it, for He sings through all.
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January 22, Winter Issue 2
(Segel cont.) Now, knowing the
premise of Jeff, Who Lives at Home
beforehand, I had braced. myself
for another round of gut-kicking
melancholia. The story revolves around
two brothers, one a ne’er-do-well
stoner, Jeff (Segel), and the other a
hapless businessman Pat (Ed Helms).
For Jeff, the world is just a skosh too
hectic for him, so he resigns himself
to smoking pot and watching Signs.
Yet, his timorous stance vis-à-vis the
world does not deter him from seeking
meaning. You see, just as that 2002
M. Night Shyamalan movie ultimately
brought together the seemingly
desultory events of life into a coherent
(divinely orchestrated?) plan for good,
so does Jeff believe fate will direct
him towards his purpose in the real
world. This species of hope brings Jeff
into direct conflict with the sundry
characters that he meets (e.g., drugdealers, his mother, his brother, his
sister-in-law, and several taxi drivers),
but in the end, his quixotic faith in the
purposeful trajectory of things pays
huge dividends.
By the rolling of the credits, I
was nigh on the point of tears. Here,
in Jeff, was I (by analogy, of course).
In his habitual drug use and media
consumption were the tedium of
my theological studies and media
consumption. Neither of us was
meaningfully engaging with the world,
but instead we were hiding from it. The
crucial difference was that Jeff retains
throughout the entire course of the film
an implicit belief in fate, or in more
Christian parlance Providence. Leave
it to Jason Segel to out theologize the
theology student. In all my dyspepsia I
had forgotten the core Christian belief
in the ordering of historical events
according to the beneficent designs
of the Divine. While I was too busy
beating myself up over want of purpose,
Jeff was calmly sitting on the toilet
rehashing the plot of Signs, reminding
himself of his own place in the world.
I believe, with the Quakers, that truth
should be accepted wherever it is
found, and in this light, it is appropriate
to see Jeff as a proper theologian and to
view his exegesis of Mel Gibson’s alien
film as a veritable logos spermatikos.
“Ye shall know them by their fruits,”
and this little bit of nontraditional
theology truly did help me to be more
comfortable with my current situation
as it reminded me of the providence of
God.
Perhaps this intimates a possible
expansion of Wesley’s tetragon to a
more robust pentagon, adding a side
for the altogether salutary thinking
of one Jason Segel. I’m considering
putting it on the docket for the 2016
United Methodist General Conference
in Portland, OR.
Mr. Segel will return next week in
“Higher Learning: Anagogical Readings
of Freaks and Geeks.”
Last Week’s
Soup
2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
(optional garnish)
-Sarah To
Southern Ham, black eyed peas and
corn soup
For 8 hearty portions
4 tbsp olive oil
2 cups/ 4 stalks chopped celery
2 cups/ 2 large onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups/ 2 medium sized green bell
peppers, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb cooked ham, cubed
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lb dry black eyed peas, soaked
overnight, cooked in water for 20-30
mins
3 cups frozen corn
2 cans (398ml each) of diced tomatoes,
undrained
3 3/4 cups Chicken broth (or ham
broth*)
2 tbsp cooking molasses
Heat olive oil over medium heat and stir
in the celery, onion, green bell peppers
and garlic, cook for 5 mins.
Add in the cubed ham, all the dried
herbs and ground spices. Cook and stir
for 5 mins.
Stir in the broth, tomatoes and
molasses. Bring to a boil, reduce heat
and simmer uncovered for 30 mins.
Add in the cooked black eyed peas and
frozen corn, bring to a gentle boil to
heat through then serve.
* We make our own stock at Regent but
you can use ready-made chicken broth
at home. To make a ham broth, simmer
for 2 hours, a pot of cold water with a
whole ham, onion, celery, carrots and
garlic. Throw away the vegetables, cube
the ham and strain the stock.
LOCK AROUND THE
CLOCK TONIGHT
-Rick Smith
Facilities does their best to keep
an eye on all areas and we care about you
and your stuff.
We are a very public building. Unfortunately we are not able to be responsible for anything that gets stolen. You can
help by:
1.Keeping an eye out for anyone suspicious, report them to Facilities
(on a Saturday tell the Library and they
can page the person on duty)
2. Don’t leave anything you don’t
want to part company with in your locker.
3. If you do notice a locker that you
think was broken into report it right away.
4. Don’t leave laptops,Ipads.or any
electronic devices unguarded anywhere in
the school for even the shortest periods.
I am going to also suggest that you
invest in a heavier duty lock for lockers.
They usually go under the name of tempered steel. Canadian Tire “Mastercraft”
series are usually good. They are likely
2- 3 times more expensive but if you get a
couple of cheap locks cut off…..
Tell the place where you buy the
lock that you want it bolt cutter resistant.
This means that it can ‘t be cut by the
average bolt cutters, only heavy duty ones,
Generally thieves don’t carry these.(Now
I know most of you have already bought
locks and if they are cheap ones it is especially important to not leave real valuables
in the locker)
Remember Don’t leave anything
unattended anywhere at anytime, as I
mentioned the very public nature of our
building makes many areas easy targets.
Bikes are a popular to go target.
The best way is to watch out for others and
use ULOCKS rather than cables. Remove
your seats (if they are valuable) and you
will need additional locks for high end
bike wheels/tires(if not they could leave
your frame and take the rest) Sometimes
you can even lock your bike with a friends
and use a couple of locks.
Remember it will take a “combination” or our efforts to stop this problem.
We do not want any thief “bolt cutting “
out of Regent with anything valuable!!
Any questions ? Please feel free to
contact me. (My office is by R231 or email
[email protected] )
Rick Smith
Facilities Manager
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January 22, Winter Issue 2
REVELATION IN SICKNESS
-Caroline Crawford
A recent episode of
the NPR program Radiolab
chronicled the story of
a woman named Anne
Adams and the rare disease
from which she suffered,
frontotemporal dementia, as
well as the strange trajectory
of the condition and its
implications for the nature of
creativity. Before the onset
of her illness, Adams worked
as a talented and highly
accomplished researcher
in the field of cell biology.
Her husband described her
as “highly articulate” and
“extremely capable with
language,” particularly when
it came to describing her
scientific endeavors. During
her 40s, however, Adams
abruptly lost interest in
science and quit her research
position to become an artist.
Her husband thought this
odd, since she had shown no
particular interest in painting
since she was in high school.
Before long, though, she was
painting all day, everyday,
and began to sell her work
and headline her own
exhibitions. As she continued
her artistic pursuits, the
paintings became increasingly
abstract, perhaps even
psychedelic, as she painted
enormous solar systems of
brightly colored strawberries
and larger than life, vivid
depictions of the cells she
used to study. While her
paintings showed a growing
awareness of the sensory and
an acute fascination with the
visual world, other parts of
Anne’s life began to decline.
She began to forget words.
Her memory and ability to
articulate complex ideas
diminished. It was then that
she was diagnosed with the
aggressive brain disease,
frontotemporal dementia.
In this condition,
the frontal cortex, the area
of the brain responsible
for language and memory,
begins to disintegrate,
leaving the patient with
serious deficiencies in their
ability to verbalize the world
around them. The disease is
not unique so much for the
shortcomings it causes, but
for the other capabilities it
seems to unleash. According
to the scientists they
interviewed on the show,
“when a dominant circuit
like language turns on, it’s
basically wired to turn a
bunch of other circuits off.”
In other words, the verbal
part of the brain acts as a
kind of floodgate, monitoring
and keeping in check the rest
of the brain. When this area
is compromised, however,
“other parts, like, say, the
visual parts, can just rush
forward, and suddenly the
mind is flooded with images.”
Anne’s doctors surmise that
the earliest effects of the
disease were taking hold
even as Anne showed the
first signs of renewed interest
in painting, long before the
damage to the frontal cortex
became evident. As Anne’s
frontal cortex was beginning
to deteriorate, the artistically
creative areas of her brain
were given free reign.
Anne’s was not the
first instance of this disease.
Researchers interviewed
in the program had seen
dozens of cases of the bizarre
illness, and the hallmark of
its identifiable symptoms
is “this insatiable need to
create.” When the sensory
areas of the brain are allowed
to run rampant, patients
are overcome by “intense,
rich sensations,” which they
cannot help but express. This
longing to create, unleashed
by the disease, appeared
across all vocations and
lifestyles.
Anne’s case, and the
development of the disease
itself, is not interesting
merely as a medical anomaly,
but also for its implications
for the creative process. The
nature of the disease seems
to indicate that perhaps
the respective visual and
verbal areas of our brain,
often thought to work
in conjunction with one
another, may actually be
somewhat mutually exclusive.
Language, instead of acting
as a helpful counterpart to
our visual brain, allowing us
to articulate and name what
we see, may in fact be limiting
our experience of intense
visual and artistic sensation.
As someone interested
primarily in verbal creativity,
I found the case of Anne
Adams, and the disease itself,
disturbing on a number
of levels. First of all, as a
writer, my goal is to be as
verbally creative as possible,
and so seeing language as a
hindrance to creativity is hard
to reconcile with my beliefs
about the medium. Annie
Dillard writes extensively
about the relationship
between writing and sensory
experience, and her work
on the subject speaks to the
troubled relationship between
the two. In her book The
Writing Life she describes
the difficulty of any sensory
distraction when she is
attempting to write. In the
book, Dillard has already
chosen a small cabin away
from her normal house in
order to focus her creative
energies and shut out the
outside world. However, even
the view from her window,
while quite mundane, proves
to be a trial. She eventually
finds the view too provocative,
and decides to draw a
representation of the world
outside her window to look at
instead, shutting her blinds
and posting the rendering on
top of the closed window. “If
I wanted a sense of the world,
I could look at the stylized
outline drawing,” she says,
disciplining herself to avoid
all contact with the visual
stimulation while she writes.
Later, in a moment where
she questions the vocation
of the writer, she states, “it
should surprise no one that
the life of the writer—such
as it is—is colorless to the
point of sensory deprivation.”
For Dillard, this deprivation
is a necessary condition for
creating good literature.
While the case of
Anne Adams ended sadly,
with the atrophy of her
frontal cortex debilitating
and eventually killing her,
the other implications of
her illness offer hope. For
though hers is a story of
loss—the loss of words and
of memory—it is also a story
that reveals. It reveals both
the wonder and complexity
with which the human mind
was created, but also how the
subtle, often suppressed, but
powerful instinct to create
lies at the very root of our
humanity. The fact that the
disease unleashed something
so deeply human in all those
afflicted—an intensely piqued
awareness of the beauty and
grandeur of the world around
them, and an unquenchable
longing to express this new
vision through the act of
creation—speaks to untapped,
God-given potential for
artistry and creativity in the
average man. Near the end of
Adams’ life, after the disease
had physically paralyzed most
of her body, her creative urge
never faltered. Her husband
recalls finding her alone in
her painting studio, sitting
in front of a white canvas
and staring. Though she
could no longer hold a pen
or a paintbrush, the desire
to make something endured,
revealing this urge as one
of the deepest, most primal
impulses of our humanity,
and of the God who Himself
desired to create.