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Edited by Aiden Enns
(Geez Press Inc.) $10
There are publications to cater to many different corners of Canada’s religious landscape, but it’s safe to say that before Geez magazine came along, no one had thought of writing specifically for “the over-churched, out-churched, un-churched and maybe even the un-churchable.”
Born in Winnipeg five years ago, Geez uses progressive Christianity as a starting point for cultural critique. Occasionally, the cumbersome language of a sociology essay slips into the copy, with phrases like “systematic ideologies of capitalist-consumerist disposable behaviour.” But for the most part, it speaks with a half-angry, half-joyful voice that condemns the impact of the oil industry on watersheds in one breath and celebrates the fun of racing a bike downhill in the next.
Each quarterly issue is organized around a theme. For instance, a recent issue explored the concept of body. One article, called “Jesus loves your penis, son,” was written by a father who is anxious that his young son should not one day feel guilty about having healthy sexual desires. Another article advocated for fat acceptance while a third contemplated the spirituality of manual labour.
This unique cocktail of content attracts a unique audience. Geez’s letters to the editor reveal that its readership ranges from group-home residents to Aboriginal educators, from curious agnostics to retired ministers.
Geez explores some serious topics, but it has its tongue in cheek from cover to cover. Its sections include “Sinner’s Corner,” where the so-called confessions editor lightheartedly prescribes penance for all kinds of guilty pleasures, such as reading celebrity gossip websites or sleeping through volunteer shifts at the homeless shelter.
Another regular section is “Experiments,” which describes projects that readers have undertaken in the name of discovering alternative ways to live. It’s compelling to read about the man who survived for a year without money or the Manitoban who invented a “Prairie schooner,” a new mode of transportation that uses a sail to travel down windy roads.
Despite its irreverent approach to spirituality — or more likely because of it — Geez won an Utne Independent Press award for being “as playful as it was profound.” It may not suit all tastes, but Geez is very good at opening minds to creative ways of seeing the world and pursuing social justice.
This is exactly the kind of “holy mischief” it set out to do.
Samantha Rideout is a freelance writer in Montreal.