When I was a kid, we weren’t allowed to use cuss-words. At all. Now I’m pretty much mostly growed-up, or as good as I’m gonna get, and I can use cuss-words if I want to. If I want to say “excrement from a bull,” I don’t have to abbreviate it “BS” and I don’t have to use the word “excrement.” I’m not really much of a cuss-er though, just on special occasions. I’ve mostly come to view exessive expletive employment as a sign of a poor vocabulary and an unexercised mind. After all, would Rex Murphy resort to insertion of the “F-word” two or three times per sentence? I think not.
On the other hand, there are a series of words I wasn’t allowed to say before that don’t bother me quite so much these days… and one such word was “geez.” I’m now an official subscriber to a magazine whose title I wasn’t allowed to say as a kid.
Yesterday evening I attended the launch party for Geez Magazine at the invitation of editor Will Braun. Well, Will sent out the email last week to me and a couple hundred other fine folks who jammed into a room at Augustine United Church for the event. Enjoyable tunes from The WhizBang Shufflers. I remarked to my friend Ken that one song they were playing was on the soundrack to the movie Chocolat, which impressed him that I’d pulled such an obscure musical reference until I confessed to owning the soundrack (which is quite good). And apparently I’m not the first person to make the connection. A table of food and a free selection of beverages from Fort Garry Brewing also help set the stage. Oh, and some great clips from Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping.
The speeches and such were brief, and good. Most events like this have boring speeches and too much of them, but these ones, I wish I had transcripts. Seriously… except maybe the part where Aidan Enns is showing off his new black denim jeans that he obtained from a dumpster (not kidding; and apparently dumpster-diving is not that irregular). So it was me, Jamie Arpin-Ricci, a couple of friends, and a random sampling of normal people, and a room more than half full of yummies who didn’t seem to have any issue with the beer. They did seem to have an issue with things like poverty, war, starvation, access to clean water, and stuff like that. Good.
I first heard about Geez from my online friends in the emerging church conversation… one of them emailed me saying basically, “These guys seem to be in Winnipeg, do you know them?” I didn’t, so I emailed them to find out the poop. We never managed to connect until I bumped into Will Braun at St. Ben’s last Sunday evening, but by then, prerelease copies of issue #1 were floating around, and I was getting a look at one at the time. If this issue is any indication of what’s to come — and they’re just getting started — then I’m already looking forward to #2. Fringe christianity needs this publication. Actually, mainstream christianity needs this publication, but they’re a lot less likely to read it.
Now, how would I describe it? Not really easily, but…
- One part Faith Today
- One part nameless independent newletter photocopied and distributed by hand
- One part Wittenburg Door
- Three parts Adbusters
- Three parts Sojourners
- Three parts whipped concoction of MCC meets The Sierra Club meets Reverend Billy
As near as I can tell, this may be the recipe to Geez Magazine… but naturally there’s probably a secret ingredient in there somewhere that I’m missing, that strange nebulous item that somehow keeps it all in balance and on the rails. Mostly.
Congratulations Aidan, Will, and crew…. an excellent first issue, I look forward to many more. For the curious, you can go straight to the subscriptions page and tell ’em Brother Maynard sent you.