Converge http://convergemagazine.com Mon, 22 Sep 2014 11:00:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 27, unmarried, and childlesshttp://convergemagazine.com/27-unmarried-childless-14488/ http://convergemagazine.com/27-unmarried-childless-14488/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 11:00:51 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14488 27, unmarried, and childless by Amanda Bast

One year later, learning the same lessons Nothing has changed in a year. I am nearly 27, I am unmarried,...

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27, unmarried, and childless by Amanda Bast

One year later, learning the same lessons

Nothing has changed in a year.

I am nearly 27, I am unmarried, I am childless (see what I just did there?) and I’m waiting for something big to happen. Again.

I worked at a great place the whole school year. I had the opportunity to get another job at the same place this coming year, but at the last minute, dates changed. I already had flights booked to go on a mission trip, which meant I missed out on interview windows entirely. No, they didn’t do Skype or phone interviews. No, I didn’t consider staying home from my trip. No, I didn’t know if I would have a job when I got back. Yes, I was concerned about how I would pay the bills.

I could have written those same words last summer. (Oh wait! I did!) Nothing changed. All in one swoop, I fell back to exactly where I was at this time last year. I’m learning the same lessons. I’m going through the same trials. I’m asking all the same questions. I’m experiencing the same disappointment, worry, and frustration. It all feels the same.

I’m experiencing the same disappointment, worry, and frustration. It all feels the same.

Or so it would seem.

This year has been one for the books (or the blog posts, in this case). In the midst of my doubt and frustration, God came through in ways I could never have dreamed up on my own. I can look back and see how every disappointment, failure, and wrong turn was woven together and perfectly orchestrated to put me in exactly the right place I needed to be. I just had no idea I needed to be there.

I was placed in a school and a Kindergarten class with high needs. I was placed in the lives of many people who were grieving deeply. I was placed in a job situation that was exceptionally unpredictable. I kept things moving. I was flexible. I was calm. I was a good listener. I offered lots of hugs. I did all of the things I’m good at doing.

I can look back and see all the things I experienced and learned this year. None of it was my doing; I know that for sure. Yet, I’m in the midst of a season filled with frustration. I have already learned these lessons, God! Can we move forward, here? Do we really have to do this all over again?

Well, yes. We do.

God doesn’t teach you a lesson and then move on when you learn it. He keeps teaching you. He keeps refining you. He is never finished with you.

God doesn’t teach you a lesson and then move on when you learn it.

When I was younger I’d think, “So when I’m through this rough patch, THIS is when it’ll start fitting together. It’ll get easier.” I thought something was wrong with me because this whole “following Jesus” thing didn’t magically fall into place.

Then I learned that no one ever said it was going to be easy. And I’m still learning that, over and over. I’m a little stubborn, apparently.

God knows me deeply. He knows what makes me stumble. He knows the areas in which I need to grow. He’s not going to abandon me in the midst of a tough situation. He’s going to lead me through — however difficult it might feel — and carry on working and healing and refining my heart.

He’s going to break my stubbornness, even if it hurts (it will). That’s a promise He has made. He’s going to make all things work together for my good. If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that I have no idea what my “good” looks like.

Outwardly it looks like I haven’t made much progress. But my heart is a little more whole than it was last September. I’m a little more refined. I’m a little less stubborn. I’m a teeny bit more like Jesus.

I’m still frustrated. I can almost guarantee that I’ll slip into pity party mode at times, but I can deal with it knowing that it will fit together in ways that are too complex for me to see right now. I can rest easy knowing that God is waiting to turn this mess into another really fantastic story. I can learn the same lessons knowing it will yield different results. I can surrender my frustrations because I know there is someone who knows what my “good” looks like better than I do.

Photo (Flickr CC) by Alejandro Giacometti.

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Moving: 5 Dos and Don’tshttp://convergemagazine.com/moving-5-dos-donts-14501/ http://convergemagazine.com/moving-5-dos-donts-14501/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:00:47 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14501 Moving: 5 Dos and Don’ts by Justin Karl

When you’re in your 20s and 30s, moving away from your hometown seems inevitable. Whether you’ve decided to relocate because...

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Moving: 5 Dos and Don’ts by Justin Karl

When you’re in your 20s and 30s, moving away from your hometown seems inevitable. Whether you’ve decided to relocate because of a job, a relationship, a new opportunity, or just purely for the adventure of it all, any move can be a monumental adjustment.

So here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind as you embark on doing life in a new place.


The DOs

 

1. Be sure it’s the right decision.

Being hesitant about moving can be a major red flag. If you aren’t sure about moving, or don’t have to just yet, keep praying, keep asking advice from friends and mentors, and wait for clarity. If you aren’t confident it’s the right decision, when you do move, you will most likely evacuate or demonize your new city when times get tough.

2. When choosing a neighbourhood, do some research.

There are three things to keep in mind before picking a neighbourhood, particularly in an urban setting with lots of options.

  • Make a list of why you’re moving to this place. Work? Spouse? Dating relationship? Family? Adventure? List them in order of importance, and then try to live close to the items on the top of the list. If you move for a job but live on the other side of town, there’s a good chance you will end up being frustrated most days by your lengthy commute.
  • The neighbourhood may be trendy, but is it safe? You must be aware of your living situation before trying a daring neighbourhood. Do you know the neighbourhood well enough to truly evaluate acceptable level of risk for you? Look up some crime stats, and ask around. Then evaluate whether you’re up for the challenge.
  • Are you likely to make friends here? I once moved into a community where I was about 30 years younger than all my neighbours. They were lovely people and we made acquaintances, but deep friendship was tough.

3. Know your timeline.

How permanent is this move? Is it for school? Will your job likely re-locate you soon? Or are you moving because you want to settle down long term? These questions will help you to decide whether you should buy or rent, and whether you should invest deeply in your community, or prioritize work relationships over community involvement.

4. Move with a church or two in mind.

Before you move, do your homework and ask for references about local churches. Think about what theological beliefs are important to you, then look for a church you could see yourself attending that is in line with what you believe. Then, dive in. We are not meant to follow Christ on our own. We need people. We need a church to challenge us, equip us, and encourage us every week. Ask your current local pastor to assist you; he or she might have a few suggestions.

5. Be easy to get to know.

Think about your so-where-are-you-from-and-why-did-you-move-here answer. Be disciplined: think about a response that’s easy for people you just met to understand. This will make you more approachable and keep yourself from rambling. Because when you ramble, you can unintentionally come off as self-absorbed, confusing, or inaccessible.


The DON’Ts

 

1. Go back and visit.

If you visit the place where you moved from every second week, you might as well head back. Spend your first six months being present where you are. Let them be hard months, and force yourself to love your new place even when it’s difficult, and don’t fold. You can go back and visit eventually, but be warned: it won’t be the same. Things change, and everyone will move on and keep living. (To think it would be the same is narcissism! Resist!) This can be really challenging, but see it as an invitation to embrace your new life, and to not live in the past.

2. Talk about where you’re from all the time.

Your story matters, but mostly to you. Other people aren’t being selfish when they don’t care as much as we think they should about our former lives, careers, or cities; they’re just being honest. Instead, engage your new friends with conversations about your new city. If they have been there a while, they could be the ones that help you fall in love with it.

3. Throw yourself into doing a 100 things in the first three months.

It’s important to pace yourself. Be outgoing and selective, and do new things systematically on a big list of fun new experiences in the city. But focus on why you moved here before you join a dozen teams, clubs, or organizations. Making rash commitments will either burn you out, or as you de-commit from things, make you look flaky and unreliable to your new friends.

4. Live for what you moved for.

Friends, fitness, work, relationships, church, travel, and family are all good things, but living for just one of these things makes you weird. Eventually, we crush our idols (people) or they crush us (vocations). These aspects of life are important, but ultimately they will never satisfy us completely. Life must be multi-dimensional, with God at the centre of it.

5. Sideline your relationship with God.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose focus on your relationship with God when you’re in an uncomfortable situation. You’re especially vulnerable to unhealthy patterns and new temptations when you’re de-attached from the familiar. Being in a new place, uprooted from your old community, means having to intentionally set new rhythms. So use this time as an opportunity to exercise your faith. Listen to God, talk with Him, and proceed into the unknown with Him. You won’t regret it.

Photo (Flickr CC) by nikki.

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You can’t be friends foreverhttp://convergemagazine.com/cant-friends-forever-14490/ http://convergemagazine.com/cant-friends-forever-14490/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 11:00:35 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14490 You can’t be friends forever by Jessica Jordan

Before I left university, one of my leaders at school asked me an excruciating question. What friendships would I continue...

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You can’t be friends forever by Jessica Jordan

Before I left university, one of my leaders at school asked me an excruciating question.

What friendships would I continue once I left town?

Naively, I replied, “All of them of course!” I wanted to continue to invest in every friend I had made in the past few years. How could I not?

In our discussion, she said something that struck me hard. She said, “Sometimes, friendship is not always meant to be forever. And that’s OK.”

Let me take you back in time to my high school graduation for a moment. I had four best friends, and we made promise upon promise to one another about keeping in contact. We pledged we would send each other care packages and visit each other at college. And we would make sure to all come home at least once a month and try to coordinate our visits with one another. We swore to each other we would Skype every week and text every day.

Though I’m still friends with one of these girls, I have barely spoken to or seen the others since graduation. I realize now that if we had kept all of our promises, I wouldn’t have had any room in my life for anyone new.

I used to think that if I wasn’t friends with someone forever he or she would think I was an awful, rude person who didn’t want him or her in my life anymore. But how impractical is it to think that you can properly invest into every friend you’ve ever had? Trying to manage too many friendships means you are only going to be able to give your full attention and time to some. Everyone else will simply get pieces of you. And who wants a friendship that consists of leftovers?

Sometimes, it’s OK — even necessary — to walk away from some friendships in order to make room for others in your life. Ask yourself which friends encourage you, which friends teach you, which friends pray for you. If you have a friendship that isn’t constructive, then perhaps it’s time to move on.

Now there is a flip side to this. I’m not advocating for you to become the what’s-in-it-for-me type of friend. If someone in your life doesn’t seem to bring much to the table, you should ask yourself: what are you are bringing to the table? Because really, at the heart of friendship is self-sacrifice.

Not only must you ask what both of you may be procuring from the friendship, you must draw the line between being an ally and an enabler. Because there is a difference.

An ally is someone whose purpose is to uplift and to encourage and to challenge; an enabler is one who allows a friend to stay comfortable, backing away from any kind of confrontation. In an age where complacency is the new normal, we have a profound tendency to settle for mediocre friendships.

There isn’t a manual on how to step away from a friendship, or on how step into a new one, but I think one of the first steps is deciding what you really expect and desire from a friend.

Are you simply hanging out with someone to relive the glory days? Does this friend use you? Does she challenge you? Do you motivate her to be better? Is there anything valuable happening as a result of your friendship?

There’s incredible beauty in all friendships: from BFFs-4-Ever to those specific to a time and place. Cherish the people in your life. Love the friends you have. But sometimes, recognize that it’s alright to let them go. It may be what’s best for everyone.

 Photo (Flickr CC) by Wendy Verwey Bekker.

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Prostitution: beyond the labelhttp://convergemagazine.com/beyond-label-prostitute-14492/ http://convergemagazine.com/beyond-label-prostitute-14492/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:00:17 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14492 Prostitution: beyond the label by Kate McGaughey

A toddler’s excited squeal greets me as I step through the front door. Her deep brown eyes dance as she...

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Prostitution: beyond the label by Kate McGaughey

A toddler’s excited squeal greets me as I step through the front door. Her deep brown eyes dance as she looks up at me from the living room floor, her attention momentarily taken away from the small plastic kitchen set in her chubby little hands.

Walking back to the kitchen area, someone’s singing slightly off-key to a song playing from an old black boom box stationed on the countertop.

“Hey, girl!” A number of women making handmade paper greet me as I enter the room. The toddler’s mother smiles as she uses a large yellow sponge to pat dry some of the paper pulp.


It has been a year now since I started working as a marketing manager at a small non-profit in Atlanta. The organization seeks to support women who are exiting the commercial sex industry — mostly street prostitution — through providing safe housing and employment opportunities, such as working in the organization’s paper making social enterprise.  

When I got my degree in community development, I knew I wanted to work for an organization whose mission was to help people. But I never really expected that it would lead to getting to know ex-prostitutes as friends. 

It’s not that I held anything against them. But I never imagined that I would have anything in common with someone who worked the street corners at night. I assumed my role in the organization would be to serve and give from a distance, theirs would be to gratefully receive. And that’s where our connection would end.

That is, until I started my job.

The stereotypes about prostitutes are pervasive. Many people think women who are sex workers want to be there; either they love to have sex or they’re just greedy for money. 

But according to the U.S. Department of Justice, the average age of entry into the sex industry is between 12 and 14. The majority of sex workers have been raped more times than they can count. Most women are driven into sex work because they truly believe there is no other option. 

Poverty is a leading factor; many women have young children to care for. Drugs and alcohol can become a coping mechanism to help deal with the trauma. As addiction develops, dependence on the sex trade deepens. And so the cycle continues.

Any kind of self-worth is shattered.

I now know several women who could quote these facts as their own life story. And though my role affords me distinct opportunities to support them, I’m overwhelmed when I realize that the supporting goes both ways. It’s not just about me helping them heal. They redeem my perspective on “the disadvantaged,” those who are seen as “less than” by society, and help me remember that at the core, they are just like me.

They genuinely ask me how I am and offer me their encouragement. They share their humour and invite me into their lives as a real friend — a joy I never imagined I would experience. 


Light floods into the kitchen where the paper making station finds its temporary home. 

I study the women’s faces as they joke together while they work. They have dreams just like I do. I know one woman wants to open her own restaurant, and another wants to have a food truck in the city. They struggle harder and face more obstacles than I probably ever will. 

The reality is this: we are all broken. None of us can do it on our own. So let’s shatter our stereotypes and see the humanity behind the labels. 

Photo (Flickr CC) by bron.

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Saying no to busyhttp://convergemagazine.com/saying-no-busy-14097/ http://convergemagazine.com/saying-no-busy-14097/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 11:00:46 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14097 Saying no to busy by Lauren Bentley

I took a summer vacation in Alaska. Geographically, Alaska is basically my home province of British Columbia, but emphatically less crowded....

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Saying no to busy by Lauren Bentley

I took a summer vacation in Alaska.

Geographically, Alaska is basically my home province of British Columbia, but emphatically less crowded. (My cubicle is more crowded than Alaska.) It was a glorious feeling to be in a tourist hub on a peak summer weekend and still feel the unmistakable sensation of space around me. This is a physical impossibility in Vancouver.

Another thing that was notable in Alaska: nobody once answered, to the how-are-you question, “I’m just so busy right now.”

This phrase is something I hear all the time in my metropolitan life, from my own mouth as well as from others. The truth is, I am busy, and so are my friends. There are a lot of people to know and things to do.

My husband and I were in Alaska for vacation, but also to see some family who live in a fishing village on Kodiak Island, accessible only by boat or air. I got the impression no one had to schedule coffee three weeks out to see their supposedly closest friends.

My family and their friends in Kodiak are busy: they work full time. They volunteer. They have families and sports and tight-knit churches. They go on trips. But I could feel the lack of constant pressure to always be doing something. And the lightness felt good.

Tim Krieder famously decried “The ‘Busy’ Trap” in his widely-shared 2012 opinion piece in the New York Times. He argues that “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness.” Basically, he says, we are busy (or claim to be) to assure ourselves of our own significance, that our existence is necessary.

But this pressure, almost always self-imposed and, I would speculate, more common in cities and suburbs, is rarely positive. It often prevents us from investing in important relationships. It can fill up all the empty space that allows for creativity and critical reflection. It reinforces my selfish ambitions to be somebody by doing lots of stuff. And, though it’s hard to admit, my busyness can create anxiety when I have to “drop something” to help someone in need, instead of graciously making someone else the priority.

One of the highlights of visiting Alaska was seeing the closeness of these small communities, where being busy means something so different than where I live. When an emergency happens (which is often, it turns out, in the unregulated wildness of Alaska), busyness doesn’t get in the way of community.

I think it’s time to step back from the busyness, to evaluate what I do. Because like Franny Glass in J.D. Salinger’s classic, “I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.

Photo (Flickr CC) by Mark Steven.

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Urban Outfitters sweatshirt reaches new lowhttp://convergemagazine.com/urban-outfitters-14480/ http://convergemagazine.com/urban-outfitters-14480/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 18:13:33 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14480 Urban Outfitters sweatshirt reaches new low by Converge Admin

Company pleads ignorance to any connection to 1970 Kent State shootings While not the bastion for sketchy manufacturing like Walmart and Nike,...

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Urban Outfitters sweatshirt reaches new low by Converge Admin

Company pleads ignorance to any connection to 1970 Kent State shootings

While not the bastion for sketchy manufacturing like Walmart and Nike, Urban Outfitters has found a new way to offend.

For just $129, you could buy the “Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt” in light pink, with splattering of red over the university logo. Many are enraged by the product for its brazen connection to the shooting at Kent State University in 1970, when the Ohio National Guard fired on unarmed students at a rally, killing four. The splattering of red on the sweater becomes immediately understood as blood.

The sweatshirt sold out quickly, and almost immediately was put on eBay. Urban Outfitters has responded to the controversy with a quick apology, pleading ignorance to the link their vintage sweater may have had with the Kent State shootings all those years ago.

The sweater’s bidding war continues on eBay — currently sitting at around $2,500 — with half the amount to be given to Southern Poverty Law Center, “who protect those who cannot protect themselves, often those who are victims of police brutality.”

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Real love vs. Insta lovehttp://convergemagazine.com/real-love-versus-instagram-14473/ http://convergemagazine.com/real-love-versus-instagram-14473/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 11:00:34 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14473 Real love vs. Insta love by Julia Feeser

If there’s one thing I have learned about love from Instagram, it’s that love is easy. We’ve all seen the...

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Real love vs. Insta love by Julia Feeser

If there’s one thing I have learned about love from Instagram, it’s that love is easy.

We’ve all seen the photos. The ones where it seems like some professional iPhone photographer has followed a couple around, documenting that time they both looked awesome at a friend’s wedding or had the perfect quiet evening together or gave each other happy piggybacks in a summer field. 

It seems as though their whole relationship is one perfect VSCOcam moment after another.

Love is always smiling.

Love is always in a good mood.

Love is full of romantic dates and adventures and delicious food you ate together.

Love is flawless.

Love is constant.

Love is always affirming, always well-dressed, always selfless, always the perfect mixture of silly and hopelessly serious.

In my experience, this is maybe half of what love is.

The other part of love, the one you won’t find on Instagram, consists of frustrations, insecurities, disagreements, awkward moments, exasperation, fatigue, and hard conversations. Among other things.

Yes, love is blissful. But love is also made up of the things two imperfect people face in order to have a healthy and genuine relationship. And let me tell you, they are not what you want to show the world.

This is why it’s so dangerous to judge the quality of our relationships based on an edited version of what others choose to present to us.

Though the pictures we see on Instagram of happy couples may be portraying real love and truth, I think we’re missing the full story.

This other part of love, the part we don’t hashtag, filter, or edit, is a part we should not be afraid to show other people.

In fact, I think being honest about the not-so-pretty moments of our relationships helps others gain a better understanding of what it means to love someone well, despite not having it all together all the time. It also keeps us honest and humble about our own struggles.  

I’m not saying we should start posting images of these types of moments — and I don’t even know how one would go about doing that. But when we realize that love, even healthy and good love, has its challenges, we can release the idea that our relationships have to be picture-perfect in order to be good. 

We can stop feeling less adequate than those laughing couples on our screens because we know they aren’t immune to conflict. We can cut ourselves some slack in our own relationships and stop freaking out when not every moment would earn 103 likes. 

We can let go of the expectation that love is supposed to be idyllic all the time.

Because even though it’s not, this doesn’t make it any less the real thing.

Photo (Flickr CC) by Ryan Pole.

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‘Jesus Made Me Funny’ shows comedic side of God’s willhttp://convergemagazine.com/jesus-made-me-funny-14462/ http://convergemagazine.com/jesus-made-me-funny-14462/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 11:00:54 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14462 ‘Jesus Made Me Funny’ shows comedic side of God’s will by Converge Admin

Craig Erickson’s one-man comedy gives Christians something to think about “I want to be Your vessel. I want to hear Your...

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‘Jesus Made Me Funny’ shows comedic side of God’s will by Converge Admin

Craig Erickson’s one-man comedy gives Christians something to think about

“I want to be Your vessel. I want to hear Your voice.”

It’s the sincere prayer of many a modern Christian, including Calvin, the protagonist of Craig Erickson’s play Jesus Made Me Funny. In a one-man show at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, Erickson portrays multiple characters as they seek to discern and live out God’s will.

While satirizing evangelical Christian culture, the play questions our fixation on “discovering God’s will.” Though he stretches boundaries, his performance is not only refreshingly sincere, it’s downright funny.

Whether or not you’ve seen Jesus Made Me Funny, the play chronicles a few lessons Christians need to be reminded of.

1. Don’t allow “success” to be your goal.

Throughout his performance Erickson plays two characters that are torn between pursuing a comedic career and maintaining a job. The two men covet the shiny accomplishments of other comedians, and while pursuing “success,” both characters end up neglecting the positions they are already in. The characters ignore the opportunities in their lives — their families and their jobs — because they don’t see these things as being worthwhile.

 2. Distinguish between your passions and what God is calling you to do.

At one point in his performance Erickson portrays a couple in the midst of an argument. Sarah has just found out that her husband, Calvin, has lost his job and has decided to make a reality television show instead of finding a new job. She furiously yells at Calvin to grow up and accept responsibility. He retorts, “From my gut to God’s will!” The scene highlights the difference between loving something and being good at something. And the difference between “God’s will” and our own desires.

3. Figuring out God’s will for our lives can be messy.

God will reveal Himself to us in whatever way He chooses, but we can’t sit around waiting for the shrub in the yard to catch fire. Discovering our place in God’s Kingdom is a lot like writing new jokes; sometimes, testing the waters is the best way to know if it works. In the play, Calvin runs with the idea of creating a reality show about the life of an aspiring comedian, only to find that things don’t pan out the way he imagined.

4. Wait and pray.

Sometimes, we are so focused on what we think God wants that we forget to stop and listen. We run around doing, desperate to please, and don’t make time to be in His presence. As Calvin transitions from his insurance sales job to a career in stand-up, he seeks godly counsel and gets involved in a community of Christian comedians — both legitimate ways to grow in wisdom and discernment — but spends little time actually praying to God or reading his Bible.

If you’re in Vancouver, you can catch Jesus Made Me Funny at Toast Collective on Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday 1:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Photo (Flickr CC) by Mika Hiltunen.

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Reject hatred: learning from Uganda’s anti-gay billhttp://convergemagazine.com/reject-hatred-learning-ugandas-anti-homosexuality-bill-14456/ http://convergemagazine.com/reject-hatred-learning-ugandas-anti-homosexuality-bill-14456/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 18:49:27 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14456 Reject hatred: learning from Uganda’s anti-gay bill by Samantha Boesch

An anti-homosexuality bill was signed into law in February by Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, but has since been invalidated by...

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Reject hatred: learning from Uganda’s anti-gay bill by Samantha Boesch

An anti-homosexuality bill was signed into law in February by Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, but has since been invalidated by a Ugandan court because the bill was signed during a parliamentary session that lacked a quorum. The controversial bill, first introduced in 2009, includes punishing first-time offenders with 14 years in prison, and authorizes life imprisonment for acts of “aggravated homosexuality.”

Back in February, while the western world watched as the bill became law, President Museveni, who is a devout evangelical Christian, defended his decisions to an international audience.

In an interview with CNN around the time the bill was passed, he was asked if he personally disliked homosexuals. Without any hesitation, he answered, “Of course, they are disgusting…. What sort of people are they? I never know what they are doing.”

As the interviews continued, so did his defence; Museveni showed nothing but hatred towards the LGBTQ community. His reasoning? Because he doesn’t understand them. And he doesn’t agree with them.

As Christians, we can’t tolerate contempt like this. Hatred towards any group of people, no matter how different their beliefs or values, is never justified. Love is simply bigger than our agreements and disagreements. In his comments against homosexuals, Museveni displays what it can look like if we choose to base our acceptance of a person on our own personal opinions.

Jesus wasn’t exclusive with his love. We have no right to be either.

As we continue to watch this battle unfold overseas, it becomes easy to believe that there is simply nothing we can do but sit in our comfortable communities with our good friends and talk about how we need to love each other.

But we can learn from Yoweri Museveni. We must.

We must refuse to tolerate hatred. In our communities, in our neighbourhoods, there are people whose values might clash with our own. But we must refuse to reject people for their differences; instead, let’s seek to know them, to understand who they are.

So let’s vehemently refuse what Museveni is preaching. Let’s love people the way Jesus first loved us.

Photo (Flickr CC) by Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

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Why racism is always on my mindhttp://convergemagazine.com/racism-always-on-mind-14432/ http://convergemagazine.com/racism-always-on-mind-14432/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 11:00:21 +0000 http://convergemagazine.com/?p=14432 Why racism is always on my mind by Nathan Henderson

Last month, while I was enjoying an afternoon nap, I awoke to the sound of a man talking to my...

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Why racism is always on my mind by Nathan Henderson

Last month, while I was enjoying an afternoon nap, I awoke to the sound of a man talking to my mother. I was still bleary-eyed when the white, bearded police officer opened my door.

Apparently there had been a break-in upstairs (we live in a basement apartment) and he had just come to ask us if we had heard anything. I told him I hadn’t. And if I had, I said I assumed it was our landlords upstairs.

Then he asked me, “Did you do it?”

I can just imagine how confused I looked.

“Because that would be a real asshole move,” he continued.

In the moment, I didn’t fully grasp how rude he was being. I gestured to the stuff in our apartment, hoping it would communicate that I had no need to steal anything.

Though his tactics were disrespectful — and outright offensive — I do understand what he was doing at the time. I’ve watched enough Law and Order to get that I fit the demographic of a potential breaker-and-enterer. If I had actually done it, perhaps he could have shocked me into telling the truth.

But while I could logically justify it, I was stunned. How could he just ask me that? Was it because I wasn’t white like him?

As he was leaving, he asked for my mother’s name. When my mom said our Caucasian-sounding last name, he responded with surprise. My mom saw his expression and said, “Yeah, I don’t look like a Henderson do I?” Then she gave her first name, Sita. His response? “Ah! Now that fits the bill.” Maybe he was making a joke, maybe he wasn’t. Either way, it wasn’t a good one.

Sometimes people ask me why I always bring up the fact that I’m brown. You want to know why? Because I always have to think about it. White people, in the North American context, never have to think about whether or not they’re being treated differently because of their skin colour. It doesn’t even cross their minds.

I grew up going to predominately Dutch-Canadian schools. Now I live with a bunch of Mennonites. So I’m used to being a minority.

I constantly question: am I being treated differently because of my skin colour? Am I being given certain opportunities because I fit the “diversity” quota? And am I denied certain opportunities because I’m brown?

Whether or not the answer to any of these questions is yes, I still have to ask them. And I do constantly, because of police officers like the one I met a month ago. Maybe he wouldn’t have interrogated me had I been white.

It’s this possibility that reminds me that racism is still very real. Though it’s an undercurrent, a subliminal reality that many people don’t recognize, it’s still there.

And I always have to think about it.

Photo (CC) by Namphuong Van.

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