Posted by Editor on 11/24/06
What Would Jesus Drive?
Courtesy John Longhurst
By Aaron Epp
WINNIPEG, Man. -- If Jesus drove a car, what kind would he drive?
For Chris Huebner, the answer is that he wouldn't drive a car at all--he'd ride a bike.
Huebner, Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), is one of the driving forces (no pun intended) behind Sanctoral Cycle, the university's new bike co-op.
"American theologian Stanley Hauerwas once said that if you teach children to play baseball early on in their lives, you'll raise good children," says Huebner. "I would say it's the same thing with riding a bike. It's more of a skill than driving is, and it's a training of the body."
The co-op takes its name from the liturgical cycle of feast days in honour of the saints. And just as feast days serve to nourish and sustain the body, enabling people to form habits that contribute to virtuous character, the co-op seeks to cultivate good habits of physical health and environmental stewardship, Huebner says.
The idea for the bike co-op originated in spring, prompting Huebner to do some research about co-ops at other universities. Other staff at CMU began to take interest in the idea, and various CMU Student Council committees, such as the Sports & Recreation Committee and Peace & Social Awareness Committee, became interested in helping the co-op get started. It officially opened in September.
Cost of joining the co-op is $10 a year for students, and $20 a year for faculty, staff and alumni. So far, over 30 memberships have been sold. Benefits include free access to tools and workspace, access to affordable shop rates, parts and accessories, and a 15 percent discount at Olympia Cycle and Ski, a local bike shop.
Lucas Redekop, a fourth year theology major from Floradale, Ont., was the first student to purchase a membership. "I support the bike as a form of transportation, and not just a leisure activity. The co-op is a great service to students who commute by bike, and hopefully it will show students who don't bike how accessible it is."
Adam Beriault, a fourth year history major from Calgary, is the co-op's resident mechanic. He agrees with Redekop, saying that the co-op is "a good place to learn how a bike works, and how to fix a bike."
But in addition to the practical benefits, the co-op exists to promote other good reasons for bike riding.
For CMU admissions counsellor Karin Kliewer, riding her bike to work is "part of a conscious slowing down of life . . . any decision to slow down can make space for reflection, which is something we often neglect."
As well, she says, the bike co-op fits in with CMU's emphasis on community and simplicity. "The co-op is a community builder. I dropped in last Wednesday and saw people I really care about working on their bikes. It was exciting to see the resource being used."
Huebner adds that bike riding is also a political act. "There's a big war happening in the Middle East right now, and it's about oil," he says, noting that while bike riding won't alter North American reliance on oil, it is a way of "doing something on a small scale that is nonetheless significant."
Ultimately, he states, the purpose of the co-op "is to promote the use of the bicycle as a form of transportation. It's a simple machine--nuts, bolts, and a little oil--and not hard to keep up."
But most importantly, he says, biking riding "is fun."
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