CC’s long obedience in the same direction

“You know that moment?” he asked the crowd, “when you step outside and check your phone? Newsflash: terrorist attack far away. You feel sick but you’re also frozen. What can you do from here? So you go back inside. And you dance. 

“That’s what this next song is about.”

It was two days before Christmas and the Danforth Music Hall was packed for this Vancouver band, the Zolas. We cheered, danced and sang along, close enough to touch the lead singer when he hopped off stage and climbed the audience barricade for his final song.

The Strumbellas were up next – a small-town band whose hit song “Spirits” brought them international recognition. The chorus is a universal plea.  

Allan Bick (R) with Strumbella's Dave Ritter (piano and vocals)

And I don’t want a never-ending life. 
I just want to be alive while I’m here. 

I heard two themes that night in December, both relevant to my work as Editor of Christian Courier. We were there for fun, not professional development, but it was hard to ignore the cultural significance in the lyrics, in the stage patter between songs and in the sea of people clutching plastic cups of beer in one hand and a cell phone in the other.

First: that terrible things are happening everywhere. We are utterly, painfully, helpless. Might as well dance.

Second: those things “in my head that won’t go” (from the same chorus). We’re distracted and restless. How can I be alive while I’m here?

Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff coined the term “present shock” to describe some of this. He believes that our emphasis on living in the “now” is hard on us – a stress akin to culture shock.  

“Everything is live, real-time and always-on,” yet we have no greater awareness or understanding. Instead, our never-ending digital selves overwhelm our “analog” (non-digital) bodies, throwing us into the anxiety of present shock. Statecraft becomes crisis management, and our worldview is increasingly characterized by a sense of panic (Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, 47-48). What’s the best way to describe North American life in 2017? We face endless streams of information without time to process anything. Our online selves multiply from platform to platform. Where does this leave our physical bodies? Worn out, and worried that we’re missing out.

Nearly the whole room was seeing double, that night at the Danforth. 

We were there and not there.

Ten feet from the real thing, we held up our digital devices to record a copy of the show. A thousand Zolas sang on a thousand screens. We wanted to capture the moment for later. We wanted to store those songs forever. 

Every screen version was so much smaller.  

Common ground
I went to that concert with my enemy. 

Okay, I’m kidding. I went with my husband Allan. I joke that we’re enemies because themes of cultural significance play out in our family too.

Allan is currently in a two-year program in Electronics Engineering Technology. He studies circuits and wires. Microchips and transistors. Digital stuff. I lost track of his explanations sometime in November. After all, I work for a newspaper – which sounds so old-fashioned that someone recently teased, “and it’s delivered by dog-sled, right?” I study margins and sidebars. Sentences and semi-colons. CC is online, but it is still – definitely, defiantly – in print. On paper. Analog. We used to work in similar fields, but now it seems I’m married to the enemy.

But the truth is, in today’s world, you need both technological and hands-on knowledge. The goal is not to go pre-digital. The goal is to find a healthy balance between digital and analog – a happy marriage of the two. Like the common ground between a newspaper editor and an Electronics Engineering Technician. 

Nevertheless, our family is familiar with a sense of imperilment. Why? Because the danger is real. Terrorist attacks happen. Lives are distracted, wasted. All because sin is real.

Thankfully there’s more to the story! At Easter we remember that Christ sacrificed himself for all our sins, that we might live. God became flesh to rescue us! And not just us but all of creation – a task we’re called to join. 

That’s the over-arching narrative that the instant newsflash misses. 

That’s the balm for our panic and helplessness. 

We are not alone. 

We were created for a purpose to do good works (cf Eph. 2:10). 

That’s how to “be alive while we’re here.”

 Katie Hoogendam, Jim Dekker, Nandy Heule, Angela Reitsma Bick, Brian Bork and Adam Petty.


Rooted and growing
You’ve heard of “slow food,” a movement that started in France in the 80s to counter the fast food takeover of McDonalds. The concept challenges the assumption that faster is always better, and it inspired experiments with slow parenting, entire slow cities and more recently the idea of slow church.

Last week I came across the phrase “slow journalism.” It was like a bell rang deep inside. 

“That’s what CC does!” I thought. Writers in CC give context and analysis rather than breaking news; they place current events and daily life firmly in the beautiful, ongoing story of Scripture: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Christian Courier is both rooted and growing. We have a long history and interested new readers. Articles in CC rightly expand our desperate attempts to capture “now” by looking at God’s word and at history to understand today. Many of our writers are professors and pastors, experts in their field. Equally important, many are “everyday Christians,” as former CC columnist Cathy Smith described it, breaking down the spiritual/secular divide. We cover so much more than each new “terrible thing.” Technology, science, education, mission work, film, pop culture, agriculture, art, politics, parenting – it’s all sacred work, at the hands of ordinary people. 

Writer or reader: you carry forward, to paraphrase Eugene Peterson, Christian Courier’s long obedience in the same direction. 

  • Angela became Editor of CC in 2009, having learned English grammar in Moscow, research skills in grad school and everything else on the fly. Her vision is for CC to give body to a Reformed perspective by exploring what it means to follow Jesus today. She hopes that the shared stories of God at work in the world inspire each reader to participate in the ongoing task of renewing his creation. Angela lives in Newcastle, Ontario with her husband, Allan, and three children.

You just read something for free.

But it didn’t appear out of thin air. Writers, editors and designers at Christian Courier worked behind the scenes to bring hope-filled, faith-based journalism to you.

As an independent publication, we simply cannot produce award-winning, Christ-centred material without support from readers like you. And we are truly grateful for any amount you can give!

CC is a registered charity, which is good news for you! Every contribution ($10+) is tax-deductible.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *