A Recipe for Revolution

Jeffrey Metcalfe

“This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

–Luke 2:34-35

This afternoon, I came to the conclusion that I needed to overthrow the state, and so I baked a loaf of bread. It seems like an odd response doesn’t it? What does yeast rising have to do with revolution, and perhaps more to the point: why would I need to overthrow the state in the first place? The simple answer is that I’ve come to realize how deeply my imagination as a Christian has been held captive by the state. Continue reading

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Girls Fall Down: An Online Symposium

The Soul and the City

by Andre Forget

One of the most remarkable features of Girls Fall Down is the way in which Maggie Helwig has managed to write the city of Toronto into existence. The well-documented Canadian obsession with place is in full bloom in this novel, but the Toronto Helwig creates is not Michael Ondaatje’s Toronto (which is fundamentally a place of rebirth), nor is it Robertson Davies’ Toronto in The Cunning Man, which is thoroughly colonial. Helwig’s Toronto is a place haunted at once by profound loneliness and an almost terrifying sense of connection. Much of the novel’s beauty is derived from how totally the author embraces this paradox; its genius, however, lies in the unflinching way in which Helwig uses the city to investigate the individual and the individual to interrogate the city. Continue reading

Interrupting the Spirituality of Empire

 Jeffrey Metcalfe

When people become more concerned with the gratification of their own appetites than with their responsibilities to society, the days of that civilization are numbered.[1]

– Le Déclin de lEmpire Américain, Denys Arcand (1986)

In 2011, one only needs to listen to the headlines – be they international, national, provincial, or municipal – to hear the signs of imperial decay, as the signifiers that once held their identity in the polis, such as citizen, have come to be usurped by the ubiquitous taxpayer.[2] The difference between the two is striking. Whereas the signifier citizen contains within it an understanding of the responsibilities that one’s belonging to a polis entails, a taxpayer assumes no such responsibility. A taxpayer is a consumer, one who pays a fee and expects a service in return. Or, perhaps as Arcand realized several decades earlier, a taxpayer is more consumed with her own appetites, a citizen with her obligations to others. Continue reading