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Deeper Life Day: Wednesday, October 4, 2023


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Plenary Speaker

Josh Larsen Headshot

photo courtesy of ARIN SANG-URAI

Josh Larsen

Josh Larsen is the co-host of the radio show and podcast Filmspotting, author of Movies Are Prayers and Fear Not! A Christian Appreciation of Horror, as well as editor/producer for Think Christian, a website and podcast exploring faith and pop culture. He’s been writing and speaking about movies professionally since 1994.



What is the purpose of Deeper Life Day?

The aim of Deeper Life Day is to integrate Christian faith and learning in a way that will help our students flourish in every way. The events of this day embody our spiritual goals for all Ambrose students—formation, discernment, and transformation. We encourage faculty members to participate in DLD, incentivize students to join them on the day, and consider how the themes could be integrated into the courses they are teaching this Fall Term.


Morning Plenary: 9:30 AM 

Part 1: Christian (Pop) Cultural Engagement
For most North American Christians, engaging with popular culture is no longer an option. This is the air we breathe. How can we do so with grace, discernment, and appreciation?


Break: Coffee and Treats


Morning Plenary: 

Part 2: Movies Are Prayers
Movies can be many things: escapist experiences, historical artifacts, business ventures, and artistic expressions. Considered alongside the Christian ideas of God's sovereignty and common grace, they can also function as prayerful expressions of lament, praise, joy, confession, and more.


Lunch: Noon - 1:00 PM

There are only 100 spots for this light-hearted lunch with our speaker.  In addition to movie trivia and fun games we will be hosting a COSPLAY competition.  Come dressed as your favorite Movie, TV or gaming character. A panel of judges will determine a winner for a chance to win a Cineplex movie night for two (with popcorn and pop).  Other prizes will be available as well. 

Register for Lunch

Room: Airhart (1085)   I   Limit: 100 people 


Afternoon Breakout Sessions: 1:00 PM

Engaging the Mind of Christ (through Metallica, van Gogh, and High Mountain Hydrology)

john van slotenJohn Van Sloten
John is a Calgary-based pastor, writer, and columnist for the Calgary Herald. His books include, The Day Metallica Came to Church (2010), Every Job a Parable (2017), and God Speaks Science (2023). 

This workshop will give you theological tools to help you practice Christ’s presence everywhere. If all things were made through Jesus, then all things (to some degree) reveal his wisdom. Knowing Christ through the bible we can know Christ through creation—through physical nature, human nature, and the cultural creations of human nature.

Room: A2133   I   Register


I Think I've Seen This Film Before: The Death and Resurrection of Taylor Swift

Glendon Frankglendon frank
Glendon is a recent alumnus of Ambrose University, having graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor's degree in English Literature. Since graduation he continues to study and write about pop culture on various platforms. Endlessly fascinated by the intersection of faith and art, he is particularly drawn to films and stories that explore the complexity and nuance of the human condition.

This session is a discussion of the meteoric stardom of Taylor Swift and her career, as well as digging into the themes of love, life, and lament in her lyricism, all through the lens of asking what it means to engage with popular art while considering the Imago Dei. In an age of AI and algorithms where the ethics of art and consumption are at the forefront of our imagination, what does Taylor Swift's unique success mean and how ought we consider it?

Room: A2212   I   Register

Pressing the Right Buttons: Aligning Your Values In-Game and IRL

Alyssa Michaudalyssa michaud
Alyssa is a musicologist who works at the intersections of technology, culture, and music. Her research focuses on the dynamics between audiences and artists in today’s technologically mediated society, and she is currently at work on a SSHRC Insight Development Grant in which she is exploring fan responses to digital and holographic concerts. Outside of her work in music research, Michaud once placed third in a national Dance Dance Revolution tournament, has 100% achievements on Steam in FTL: Faster Than Light, and cleared the original Binding Coil of Bahamut before it was nerfed in Final Fantasy XIV.

In 2022, the gaming industry was estimated to be worth $170 billion in global revenues—valued higher than both the global film and music industries put together. In this interactive breakout session, we will critically examine our relationships to this powerful medium by examining the ways in which gaming can foster positive values and also assessing its pitfalls. Through discussions, activities, and lots of examples from the world of gaming, this session will equip you to make more informed decisions about your approach to video games, and unpack the ways in which our controllers can connect us to deeper insights about ourselves and the world around us.

Room: A2210   I   Register

Princess Mononoke and Peacemaking: Studio Ghibli's Prophetic Masterpiece

Julian Erbjulian erb
Julian is the Director of Community Life at Ambrose and he loves learning people’s stories. He enjoys getting out to the mountains with his family, the Beatles, and yummy food. He also serves part time at Grace Anglican.

How does an anime fantasy epic set in feudal Japan connect to our polarized context and the way of Jesus? We will look into this timeless story and seek to "see with eyes unclouded by hate" and the subversive invitation of peace making.

Room: A2131   I   Register


Afternoon Breakout Sessions: 3:00 PM

On Earth as it is in Barbieland: Gender Expression, Christianity, and Barbie

Nikayla Reizenikayla reize

A session exploring themes of gender expression in the past (tradition) and in the future (the coming Kingdom of Heaven) with the help of Greta Gerwig's Barbie. Barbie invites us to question the way things have always been done and dream about how they could be in our shared future. We will look at concepts such as patriarchy, matriarchy, and kyriarchy within Western Christianities as we discuss what it means to have the power to communicate ideas and make decisions for others versus being the product of someone else's ideas for how things should be. Barbieland is an imaginary place where young girls can pretend the world could be shaped according to their own hopes and dreams for a life that doesn't fit in a box. Is the Barbie movie envisioning a world that is anti-men or presenting a prophetic lament for a world that is anti-women? No one wants to be an accessory for the fulfillment and success of another and no one wants to be kept in a box. Body sovereignty and embodiment are deeply Christian ideas. Come prepared to discuss the Barbie movie and how the intersections of gender and power depicted there relate to our faith as Christians.

Room: A2133   I   Register

When Songs Become Friends: the music that helped us through difficulties, helped us know ourselves, and led us to solidarity and healing.

Justin Billsjustin bills
Justin Bills is a pastor, student and podcast host. Justin grew up in a missionary household in Los Angeles California. Key to surviving a lonely homeschooled upbringing was finding solidarity in music. Bands such as Pedro The Lion, Sufjan Stevens, Radiohead and Mewithoutyou became friends to help through adolescence and adulthood. Justin lives in Calgary with his wife and 3 daughters and is a Student at Ambrose.

Room: A2210   I   Register

Faith and Social Media: Navigating the Digital World with Jesus

Bryce Ashlin-Mayobryce ashlin-mayo
Bryce is the Dean of Theology at Ambrose.  When he is not working at Ambrose, you will find Bryce preaching in Churches, doing Seminars, writing books, or building retro video arcade consoles.  Bryce has written several books on social media and digital ministry including, “Age of Kings: Pursuing God’s Heart in a Social Media World.”

What does the Bible teach about navigating a digital world?  Let's explore this topic together and delve into the story of King David in the Bible. We'll discover some valuable and enduring lessons on how to live a faithful life in our modern, high-tech world.

Room: A2131   I   Register


Evening Public Lecture: 7:00 PM

In partnership with the Chair of Christian Thought

Location: Central Library

Topic: Fear Not! A Christian Appreciation of Horror Movies
Why would anyone want to watch horror movies? Why would Christians, in particular, bother with the genre? Combining critical observation and theological reflection, critic Josh Larsen makes the case that monster movies, creature features, slashers, and other fright films artfully reflect our deep worries in a way that resonates with the Christian experience.

Register for Lecture