1 Christianity & the Arts Regent & the Global Community Ratio et Fides Christianity & the Marketplace Church Leadership Living out Justice Community Life Knowing God Et Cetera generating ideas . fostering dialogue . renewing community January 29, Winter Issue 3 Steven Seagal and Me -Alexander Grudem I grew up watching action movies of all kinds. On the weekends my friends and I would ride our bikes to the Libertyville Video. There we would spend our hardearned lawn mowing/shoveling walks cash renting one Nintendo game (usually sports related) and one action movie. For some reason the people at the rental store didn’t have a problem renting R rated movies to a bunch of 12 year old boys. Because of this I got to see pretty much every action movie that came out before 1994. I have a working knowledge of pre-Erasure Arnold Schwarzenegger’s oeuvre that would shock most cine-files. I have seen 17 Jean-Claude Van Damme films (it really does not get better, or more mullet-tastic, than Hard Target). I had, at one moment in my life, committed most of Rocky III to memory. Lone Wolf McQuade is, in my opinion, the best Chuck Norris film. Dolph Lundgren is still my favorite Fulbright Scholarship winner/MIT dropout/action film star with a supposed 160 IQ/universal soldier. My love of action movies changed forever in 1992. It was then I had my first Steven Seagal experience. In Under Siege a non-über-muscled action hero saves the day using aikido. I knew I had found a new hero. Anyone who could singlehandedly take on a boatload, literally, of former CIA agents now turned terrorists, who had taken over the decommissioned USS Missouri intent on selling off its nuclear warheads was a man to be idolized. That and he had a cool ponytail. I started studying aikido and taekwondo; I knew that I would be just like Steven Seagal when I grew up. I would have the ponytail, and the dry wit to go with it, to make me sufficiently badass. I have yet to grow the ponytail, and I gave up marital arts years ago, but I still love action movies, especially bad action movies; it doesn’t get much than a tub full of popcorn and explosions lighting up the screen. What draws me most to bad action movies, other than exploding cars, is the lack of ambiguity. I know who the hero is, and I know who the villain is—I don’t have to make moral choices because everything is laid out for me: cocaine dealers, kidnappers, and rogue CIA agents are bad. Army commandos, police officers with martial arts training, and hardworking FBI agents are good. The violence that ensues is a byproduct of a society gone to waste because of the dastardly evildoers. These malevolent miscreants must be stopped, and it is up to one man (usually), and his comedic partner, to stop these malfeasant ruffians. Graceland: A Pilgrimage to See the King -Paul McClure upon his gravestone, a trip to Graceland is for many an act of worship. The devotion paid to him today, now 35 years later, proves that his charisma left an indelible stamp on history. During my visit, I met a nice elderly couple who had driven down from Alberta, Canada. Tellingly, this was their second trip to Graceland, and when I told them this happened to be my first and that I was a native Memphian, they gasped in sheer disbelief. “What!? What took you so long?” they wondered. All this, I think, raises some fun questions: What does Graceland tell us about our propensity to worship? What is the value of a pilgrimage in the modern world? And what is the purpose of paying homage to a deceased person, especially an entertainer like Elvis? First, seeing Graceland not simply as a tourist attraction but as a place of worship forces us to realize that most (maybe all?) humans desire to worship someone or something. To be sure, it’s possible for many to go about life in the 21st century without asking those pressing, existential questions: Is there a God? Why am I here? What happens when I die? The distractions and entertainments of our culture discourage deep philosophical and theological thinking. Nevertheless, I find the arguments related to the human instinct to worship compelling. St. Paul takes this approach in his visit to Athens: “Men of Athens, I see that in every way you are very religious….”1 (Cont. pg 3) In recent years Steven Seagal has not so much burnt out as faded away. He became a U.S. boarder patrol agent in 2011, and moved to the reality TV/bit part circuit. His show Steven Seagal: Lawman is an interesting portrait of a man who reached his peak twenty years ago and has since started the slow decline into obscurity. Seagal is still clinging to the idea that in the real world violence is still the ultimate solution to the violence of others. In his show, this real life violence is glorified and often times comedic in the worst sense of the word. Though he still possesses his dry wit, and still maintains his swagger (accompanied by a strange accent that only a person born in Michigan would think was southern)— Mr. Seagal has lost his edge. What made him so admirable to youthful me, his cocksureness and ability to beat up riff-raff, now makes him a caricature of the bygone era of certainty. Mr. Seagal takes himself too seriously, and in that solemnity violent reaction becomes the norm. In this he reveals what is so disturbing about violent backlash: the need to be morally right. Seagal, the moral judge, needs to impose his righteous vision of the world on anyone who stands in his way, by whatever means necessary. This certainly makes morality less ambiguous. It allows the viewer to escape into the warm bath of moral certitude. Why else do we love celebrities and polititians, other than the fact that they make our moral decisions easier for us, all the while entertaining us along the way? Over the holidays I made a pilgrimage to see the King. My pilgrimage, I must confess, was not the most exacting of journeys. I traveled a mere 5 miles by car to see the home of a man whose impact on the world has been one of the greatest in history. I’m talking about Elvis Presley, of course, the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll. His mansion, known by countless fans as Graceland, is the holy site visited annually by more than 600,000 pilgrims. For some, visiting Graceland amounts to nothing more than a fun cultural experience. The glitz and glamour of Graceland are unparalleled by 1950s standards. The “Jungle Room,” for example, boasts an indoor waterfall, dark green shag carpeting, and totemic wooden furniture. Though born in an austere shotgun home in Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis climbed to stardom in his early 20s. His financial success aided a lavish lifestyle at Graceland, which included a $200,000 racquetball court, a meditation garden, and a TV room where the King would watch up to three TVs at once. Attractions aside, Elvis continues to capture the hearts and souls of his fans. With over 1 billion records sold, the King shares the pedestal with only The Beatles as the most revered musician in history. Perhaps this helps explain why, for others, visiting Graceland is a religious experience. Whether it’s the overflowing crowds at the annual Elvis Vigil or the daily flower offerings laid 2 January 29, Winter Issue 3 Silver Lining Playbook -Duncan Ris The Academy Award nominated feelgood romantic comedy has gotten some extremely high praise and a significant amount of buzz. Starring Jennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games) and Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) it has been nominated for a total of 8 Oscars. But is it worthy? The film opens with Pat (Cooper) getting picked up by his mother from a court ordered 8 month stay in a mental institute. This opening sequence and the first half of the film are by far the strongest parts of the film, with Cooper in a state of spectacular dysfunction and near incomprehensibility on numerous occasions. Determined to win back his unfaithful wife, Pat begins a disciplined regimen of reading American classics and running. An unexpected dinner invite sits Pat next to Tiffany (Lawrence), an equally dysfunctional, mentally unstable individual, whose husband has recently died. Sparks fly as they emote their simultaneous physical attraction, and intellectual disdain for each other, arguing about who is more mentally ill. It is this love/hate dynamic, which provides the most interesting tension in the film, with Cooper and Lawrence delivering undeniable on screen chemistry. However, the movie falls apart as it moves away from complex character study of individuals with mental illness and develops an unlikely and clichéd plot about a wager on a football game, made by Pat’s OCD father (Robert De Niro), and a dance competition Pat and Tiffany have entered. What is more disturbing is that Cooper’s performance suggests such a radical transformation, under the guidance of some equally suspect therapy, as to imply that “love” cures mental illness. What is love? A question to big to be discussed here, however, Silver Linings Playbook is an impassioned plea by Hollywood to return to the faith of the romantic comedy, the happy ending and the cult of a relationship that is the answer to everything… Silver Linings Playbook denies love rooted in commitment or honesty and continues the celebration of love bound up in passion and chemistry. While the actors deliver up some big performances, in my opinion it was Robert De Niro who stands out. De Niro’s performance demonstrates a consistency and subtlety lacking in both Lawerence and Cooper’s. The two leads, though especially Cooper, present big performances of a subject unfamiliar and often scary for many of us. Without expertise, it can be difficult to determine the authenticity of these performances. However, it is my suggestion that the ability to play “big, loud and crazy” in such away as impresses lots of people is not necessarily the best test of acting ability, but rather great acting is in the subtlety of performance, something that the film lacks generally but is particularly deficient in Coopers role. Overall, the film is fun and feel-good-starting out quite strongly but gets bogged down in clichéd plot devices. With strong but overrated performances, interesting and clever cinematography, ultimately it is the story, which over reaches itself, and fails to deliver a truly earned and satisfying journey. If it wins Best Picture the Academy should be ashamed. THE MI’s ATTEMPT TO PROVIDE CHRISTIANS WITH A NEW VISION FOR CREATION - Steve Shaw (ed. Kathy Kwon) In recent years, Christian practice has received some justified condemnation for either publicly opposing policies and movements that acknowledge and address the significant negative human impact on the environment, or privately ignoring this impact. We at Regent recognize that over the course of Christian history, caring for our planet and our creaturely neighbours has been an important lived theology of the church. This can, at times, be a difficult reality to communicate to those unaware of this new vision for creation. Here is our approach. Why Christians Should Care for the Environment The word “environmentalist” has strong associations for many of us. For some, it might signify those who care about what is happening to the earth, while for others it might signify radical ideologies that prioritize wildlife over people—foliage over children. Recognizing, however, that our planet is not a replaceable commodity, and that the future of humanity on earth is inseparable from that of the rest of creation can help us reorient our understanding of the environment. In order for creation to thrive, humanity must properly fulfill its role to care for it. Likewise, humanity thrives when its environment thrives. Insofar as an environmentalist is understood as one concerned for the environment, as an advocate, and as a caretaker, such concern is part of our very purpose as humans. Creation Care as a Response to God’s Call to Humankind People were uniquely called by God to act as regents within the world on his behalf (Gen 1:28). We have been equipped to fulfill this call through our capacity to dramatically transform the world, and through our conscious ability to act with care for creation. We therefore have a remarkable responsibility to benevolently govern the world as God’s ap- pointed regents. The Difference Between Dominion Over and Destruction of Creation Our livelihood and that of creation are intimately intertwined, so to care for ourselves is to care for creation. Scripture does, however, acknowledge that humankind has “dominion…over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen 1:26-30). What does this mean? There are ways creation can be drawn upon in a sustainable manner of which the Bible provides examples (Lev 25:1-7). If we consider the world as an unlimited fountain of resources that merely exists for the sake of our own consumption, the world will not be able to sustain our insatiable desires. What we need instead is an alternative approach to our role here on earth that carefully considers how our actions serve the rest of creation as those endowed with the responsibility to have dominion over it. In this way, our dominion is bounded by this purposeful responsibility. Why the Future of the Earth Matters Our physical world is not just an interim placeholder in God’s plan for the human race—a stopping point on the journey to heaven. Instead, the biblical story starts and concludes here in creation; this is—and always will be—our home. Of course, the story the Bible tells is not about a static world, but one that is growing and changing from the garden found in Eden, to a garden city in which heaven has come down to earth. Between these two bookends, there are signs of how deeply creation has fallen out of relationship with God, such as hatred, sickness, death, and pain. As the regents of creation, we need to care not just for ourselves but also for the world as a whole, and work towards its health and wellbeing (Rom 8:18-25). This column is brought to you by the Marketplace Institute: The Marketplace Institute (MI) is a theological research and design institute that runs out of Regent College. Find out more on our website at marketplace.regent-college.edu. Broken Beauty -Genevieve Sechter Jesus whispered to me like a sweet dove cooing in the wind He carved delicate secrets into my heart about the mysteries of His Love He said in tender words, beloved beauty, be bold For the times are shifting like kaleidoscopes of faith filled puzzles dispersed He held my soul in His hand and said, I made this So be the creature that you are, for you are mine I wept sacred tears for my soul remembered the moment that I left Him And came as a crying babe into this world And yet, as I have come to know, He never left me His voice is in the rain falling on the landscape His tears are the force that helps us grow Our tears are the gift that lets Him know 3 January 29, Winter Issue 3 (Graceland Cont. from pg 1) John Calvin, too, speaks of our propensity to worship in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. For Calvin, all humans have a sensus divinitatus, or an “awareness of divinity,”2 but struggle to worship God properly because our hearts are idol factories. In more recent times, the sociologist Peter Berger echoes these thoughts: “Men are congenitally compelled to impose a meaningful order upon reality.”3 The religious act of a pilgrimage, I think, serves precisely this function. While pilgrimages might seem like an antiquated practice in our globalized world, the very fact that droves of devotees pay homage to Elvis each year suggests that pilgrimages are not dead. We should not write off Elvis fans as if they were simply an eccentric, one-ofa-kind bunch. From India to Indiana, people are constantly paying homage to their lords and heroes, whether it’s Lord Vishnu or the Notre Dame football team. Pilgrimages not only educate people about the uniqueness of a particular place, but they generate shared experiences and promote a sense of community, both of which are desirable in modern cultures which foster loneliness and isolation. Finally, besides the benefits mentioned above, pilgrimages are alive and well today because people find meaning in paying homage to the deceased. Fans flock to Graceland because they emulate a man whose music and charm transcended the ordinariness Enough -Jake Tucker Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” Gen. 33: 8-9 of daily life and became a formative part of their own upbringing. Reminding us of our own mortality, visiting a gravestone can evoke powerful emotions and memories that tell us something more about who we are and who we hope to be. To close, I would contend that any discussion of pilgrimages and their value in the modern world should be reframed to reflect our innate proclivity to worship. The question, therefore, is not, “Will I go on a pilgrimage in 2013?” Nope, the better question is this: “What kind of pilgrimage will I go on this year?” In other words: Where will you direct your religious devotion? What holy sites will you visit, and what community will shape you the most? As another famed musician, Bob Dylan, once wrote, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody.” So who’s it gonna be? Who will be your King? 1. Acts 17:22-33 2. John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill. Trans. by Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1977), 43. 3. Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion (New York: Anchor, 1969), 26. This was published earlier on Wonderingfair.com 6 January 2013 I threw up my hands: enough is enough. I learned to let go, that is my blessing. Now, I make my own lentil stew. I eat it every day. I was born with five tiny bruises on my heel. That little shit was good at grasping. I still walk with a limp. -Sarah To Minnesota Wild Rice Chicken Soup for 8 For the chicken stock: 1.5 lbs chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on* 1 carrot, halved 4 celery stalks, halved 1 large onion, halved, skin on 1 garlic bulb, ends removed salt and peppercorns Fill a pot with cold water and add all the chicken and vegetables. Bring to a boil then turn down heat to medium and simmer for 2 hours. Remove the chicken and discard all the vegetables For the soup: 2 tbsp butter 2 carrots, chopped 2 onions, chopped 3 celery stalks, chopped 8 cups home made chicken broth 1 1/2 cups uncooked wild rice, rinsed and drained chicken thighs, bones removed, shredded 4 tbsp flour 4 tbsp butter 4 cups half & half cream salt pepper Heat the 2 tbsp of butter in a large pot, add the carrots, onions and celery, cook for 6 minutes on medium heat. Add the wild rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 30 mins Add the shredded chicken and simmer covered for 20 mins or until the rice is tender I grew up, my brother stole my inheritance. I would’ve killed him then, but my mother warned him. He slunk away. Out of reach, not out of mind. In a small bowl, combine the flour with the 4 tbsp of butter until it forms a smooth paste. Add 1 cup of your soup broth to the paste and whisk well. Pour it back into your soup pot and stir until well mixed. I was left to look after my lost inheritance, with a father who gave it away, and a mother who nagged me about how Jacob would have done things: it’s better to work smart than hard. I wrestled with visions of my brother wearing his hand-me-down blessing in a land of milk and honey, spent my time revising: if only I had packed a lunch. I put my muscle against these thoughts, and won only exhaustion. Last Week’s Soup Add the half & half cream and stir well on medium heat until heated through. Season well with salt and pepper before serving. Et Cetera welcomes your input. Article submission guidlines can be found on p. 4 *Optional: Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and lay flat on a baking tray. Season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 20-25 mins at 400F or until crispy. Remove, break into pieces and sprinkle it over the soup as a topping 4 About Et Cetera SUBMISSION GUIDELINES Who Can Submit: Current students, faculty, staff and spouses are preferred (though exceptions can be made). Articles: Maximum Length for all unsolicited articles is 800 words, though shorter articles are welcomed. • Book, movie, and CD reviews should be no longer than 500 words. • Letters to the Editor should not exceed 200 words. • All submissions are subject to editing for both clarity and length. Visual Art: Works submitted in digital format are preferred. No promises can be made about the quality of the printing, however: black and white photographs and line art will reproduce best. Fiction and Poetry: Et Cetera welcomes submissions of fiction and poetry. The word limit for such submissions is 800 words. However, because editorial revision is more difficult with these submissions, longer poems and stories may not be printed the same week they are received. Anonymous Articles: Approval of anonymous publication will be granted on a case-by-case basis. How to Submit: For the Et Cetera: [email protected] The Green Sheet: [email protected] Submissions in Word format are preferred; RTF works as well. No guarantees are made that a submission will be printed. Deadline for submissions is 12:30pm Monday of each week. Et Cetera is published twenty-four times a year by the Regent College Student Association. Editor: Alexander Grudem Asst. Editor: Tim Fraser Printers: Copiesmart #103 5728 University Blvd Views expressed in the Et Cetera do not necessarily represent the views of Regent College, the Regent College Student Association, or the Et Cetera staff. The Et Cetera can be viewed on-line at: www2.regent-college.edu/etcetera January 29, Winter Issue 3 On Women and Writing: Celebrating Pride and Prejudice’s Birthday -Monica Westerholm Pride and Prejudice was first published on January 28, 1813. For two hundred years now, Mr. Darcy has found pleasure in “a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman,” Miss Bingley has taken “a turn about the room,” Mr. Collins has jumbled the order of his “reasons for marrying,” and Elizabeth has accompanied Lady Catherine on one of the most intense strolls of all time through “a prettyish kind of little wilderness.” I first read Pride and Prejudice when I was ten and I have continued reading it over and over since then. It still makes me laugh out loud every time. I love Jane Austen’s irony, her ear for dialogue, her creation of characters almost too ridiculous to believe (were it not for the fact that I keep meeting people who remind me of them). I have appreciated Pride and Prejudice as a modest work, dealing only with such subjects as a woman of Jane Austen’s time could be expected to encounter. It is not an epic. It has no grandiose heroes. It is simply a highly entertaining piece of fiction. Having read it as such, I wasn’t exactly prepared for the view of Jane Austen that I found in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. A Room of One’s Own is a short piece on women and fiction and when I first read it, I had never thought about women and fiction, beyond knowing that I was a woman who enjoyed fiction. Woolf’s title refers to her conviction that in order to write, one must have a room of one’s own in which to write and enough money to support oneself in taking the time to write. She marvels that Austen did without these. She wrote at a desk in a common room, shoving slips of paper aside as people passed through her creative space, careful that none but her family should know her occupation. Woolf looks over her copy of Pride and Prejudice and recognizes it as a good book, one which no one should be the least ashamed of writing. She wonders to herself if Pride and Prejudice might have been better had Austen’s circumstances allowed her writing more freedom, but concludes that its most remarkable feature is the lack of any sign that this would be the case: “Here was a woman about the year 1800 writing without hate, without bitterness, without fear, without protest, without preaching.” This is all the more wonderful to Woolf because most of what she reads in her study of women and fiction, whether written by men or by women, seems to have been written by someone who is angry. She comments that Charlotte Brontë may have possessed more natural genius than Jane Austen did, but Brontë’s writing is “deformed and twisted” because she remains intensely aware of limitations imposed upon her and writes “in a rage where she should write calmly.” Austen appears to have simply turned a deaf ear to the “now grumbling, now patronizing, now domineering, now grieved, now shocked, now angry . . . voice which cannot let women alone.” Woolf writes that Austen was thus uniquely able to write as a woman and not as a man. Woolf notes the importance of Austen’s choice to write novels instead of epics, taking a rather new genre instead of one deeply rooted in a tradition of masculine writing. She describes Austen’s refusal to write with “a man’s sentence,” (which is “swift but not slovenly, expressive but not precious”), a tool that she believes caused authors like George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) to stumble. Austen, instead, “looked at [the man’s sentence] and laughed at it and devised a perfectly natural, shapely sentence proper for her own use and never departed from it.” And so, “with less genius for writing than Charlotte Brontë, she got infinitely more said.” I remember feeling perplexed when I first read A Room of One’s Own. I had never thought about writing as a woman and I was pretty sure my sentences lacked the shapeliness of Austen’s. Was I attempting to write with a tool devised by men for men? Was I stumbling over it? Did I have some sort of duty to my sex to discover what a truly feminine sentence looks like and to promote it? This is, I think, the feeling most women have in first encountering feminist criticism in hermeneutics class (a lecture that actually begins with Jane Austen) and having to consider that they may be women trained to read as men who should actually start reading as women. Let me here confess that I haven’t gotten much further in my thinking on the matter in the six years since I first encountered Woolf’s argument. Nonetheless, six years later, writing on Pride and Prejudice’s two hundredth birthday, it is Virginia Woolf and Austen’s feminine sentence that comes to mind. So where do we go from here? I’m afraid the best advice I can think to give is to make a cup of tea and sit down with a copy of Pride and Prejudice, enjoy Austen’s humour and the fact that she as a woman wrote what was in her mind. And let us pray that God, who made us in his image, male and female, would teach us what it means to live and to create as the people he designed us to be.
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