Sunday, November 28, 2010


Recently, I've really felt the truth of the words, "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun". It's that sort of postmodern silence; the realization that everything we write is really just a parody, or at best a rearranging of what's already been said. But combined with the challenge of proclaiming to the next generation the glorious works of our God, it makes sense. The story repeats because there is really only one story, conceived with the creation of the world. Let's be storytellers, my friends.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Swingin' at the Donkey.

I recently was asked to do an interview for my university newspaper, "Balaam's Donkey", and had the privilege of getting to work with a dear friend. Here are some excerpts from the article (read: I'm too busy this month to sit down and write any more than I already have ). It was good to have to write in a more formal style than I typically do here, though a bit frustrating. I've grown accustomed to using the words I like to say what I want, and it's hard for me to hear/see my writing style come out in this piece. It seems a bit...well, dry, but not in a "dry humor" sort of way (if you're reading this, Michelle, I don't blame you for editing it. ;)  ). A penny for your thoughts; if it helps, play some classic big band in the background while you read: 

Devoted readers of this fine newspaper are no doubt already familiar with Joshua Aitkenhead, the VP of Spiritual Life for Ambrose Student Council. But in addition to his heart for the Lord and desire to see others grow in faith, Joshua also has a passion for spreading joy through swing dancing, and I had the privilege of hearing about how he hopes to share all three with the Ambrose community. But what is swing dancing?

Traditionally done in rotating pairs, swing is a social dance. Rather than being itself a type of dance, swing combines many dances from the 1920s through to the 1940s such as the Lindy hop, the Charleston, Blues, Balboa and Jazz dancing. While the dancers are required to hold hands, swing is comparably low contact, using open formation, as opposed to the closed formation of other more traditional social dances. The eclectic nature of the dance, the simple core step, and the steady backbeat of the music allow for significant freedom and creativity, as well as being forgiving to people who are still learning. After declining in popularity through the 1960s, swing, or neo-swing, made a comeback in urban centers in the late 1990s and seems to once again be here to stay. Calgary is no exception, and swing has also caught the interest of some Ambrose students, Joshua in particular.

Kelsey: “How long have you been dancing, and what made you decide to start?”
Joshua: “Well, I went to my first actual swing dance event last November and started taking lessons at the UofC in January. I've wanted to do swing dancing since my freshman year, but I never had anyone to go with; last year a good friend told me about this (Swing Dance Calgary) and invited me along, so I went.”

Kelsey: “Why swing?”
Joshua: “It just looked fun. Besides I do like to suit up and swing dance encourages that! Also a lot of other types of dances were just too intimate.”

Kelsey: “I have heard you are hoping to start up a Swing Dance club at Ambrose, what do you envision for this potential club, and why have one here?”
Joshua: “Well, first off, I want to spread the love of dance to the students of Ambrose.
Dancing is not only a great way to socialize and work out, but also a great way to have fun without spending a lot of money. Secondly, I want to have people see that dancing can be done as worship and can teach us about our relationship with God. I long for the days when God will lead me perfectly in a wonderful dance where I can show off His majesty without taking away what He has made me to be. Ask me how I feel when I dance.”

Kelsey: “Um...Joshua, how do you feel when you dance?”
Joshua: “I feel like I am living out a beautiful existence. I feel like I am doing something for the woman I am dancing with in that when I execute a move she ends up looking great and I am overwhelmed by the smile that appears on her face. Because it means that whatever is going on right now in her life, she is happy in that moment, and whatever is going on in my life, I am happy that I brought joy to someone else!”

Kelsey: “Why should students care about this group?”
Joshua: “Why? Students should care for a couple reasons: One, not all of us can sing and yet music is prevalent in our worship services. Sometimes I just dance in order to worship in a service (or at least bob up and down). Secondly, dancing is one of the things that are mentioned in the Bible as being a legit worship experience, but Christians often seem to say it’s wrong. I believe Jesus wants to redeem dancing to what it was supposed to be! And most importantly, it’s a lot of fun!”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Beauty (and Bane) of Blogging

Think about it. Before this age in history, you needed to convince someone to publish you, or have the ability to do it yourself, to spread your ideas to the world. Well, that or you stood on street corners and yelled. But those people were looked down on. Rabble-rousers. Being quiet and decent was apparently not good enough for them. Even with newspapers, your voice only carries as far as the paper can (and papers come in handy for many things. Hats, brooches, pterodactyls...). Not to mention the cost of publishing. But welcome to the 21st century, where I can see updates of my friend's newborn daughter on the other side of the world while getting live updates of weather (though really, how hard can it be to be a meteorologist in Seattle? "Well, today will be between 40 and 70 F, partly cloudy with a chance of rain"). Provided I've got internet connection, which is still free at libraries in my corner of the world, I could theoretically always be communicating with this strange new online world. And in this world, any of us with a basic computer understanding can write whatever we like and send it to the masses. Our sphere of influence has suddenly increased exponentially, as well as what can have influence over us. We have truly phenomenal access to information in this age. I can search for somewhere I've never been and see pictures of each intersection I have to cross to get there, without leaving my chair and still manage to get lost driving.

Of course, the beauty is that now there's a chance to hear the stories of people who, quite frankly, are ordinary. We get to see the plain exposed in a new light, the everyday told in an unfamiliar way. There's a glorious mess of voices out there, all clamoring for our attention. So many of us writing, some to be noticed, some to promote a cause, some to vent, some to vent about those who are venting, some to complain about people who write sentences without proper structure. As Aristotle says," Democracy arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because all men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal"; such is the view of writing. Suddenly, there is no filter on what is available, and irrelevant, irreverent writing abounds (of course, that happened long before the internet). Writing is art, and all of us who are literate, artists. Wordsmiths. Blogging just gives us another medium.

Just some thoughts. A suggestion for curing boredom: search quotes on democracy (or any subject, for that matter).