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Letters to the Editor – April 12

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#420: I actually like Chimes

Dear Editor,

In light of Calvin’s financial crisis, the gay marriage debate and other campus related happenings like the picnic table debacle and Calvin Crush and Calvin Confessions, I think that you have done a great job in your coverage. I thought the two contrasting Op-Eds on same-sex marriage were awesome, and I really hope to see more like that in the future! It’s an exciting time to be a student at Calvin. Keep it up!

Elise Mathews, ’16

No need for ‘Calvin Confessions’

Dear Editor,

Concerning Calvin Confessions, the idea behind it is a good idea; however, when I think of the word confession I think of repentance and forgiveness. To confess something, we must own up to the fact that we are wrong.  And from what I have seen on (and heard about) Calvin Confessions does not do that. Yes — don’t get me wrong — I think there are some post that are meant to be confessions, but it is anonymous so the person who posted can still live in sin.

As for everything else that is posted, I do not think they are confessions at all. All they are is gloating and saying, “look at what I have gotten away with while being at Calvin,” and really just taunting the college. And there is nothing whatsoever redemptive about a post that is just full of gloating.

So while this may be a step of encouragement because it is a place where we cannot be judged, I think that it points out the fact that we are far from perfect. If we were perfect, then all of these “confessions” would be confessed in the open, and somebody would own up to the fact that they got drunk every day for the one semester that they were at Calvin and we as a campus would not judge this person. If we were truly image-bearers of Christ, then we would lovingly forgive them but also try to hold this person accountable about what was going on in their life. So yes, Calvin Confessions may be this great new thing, but really we should strive as a campus to be a safe place to confess things and we must be brave enough as a campus to confess when we have messed up.

Audrey Baker, ‘15

“Discussion” rhetoric around LGBT+ issues unhelpful

Dear Editor,

I cannot force myself to face the laundry list of Bible verses and Rick Warren quotes that accompany last week’s article by Connor Sterchi. One could write several thousand responses regarding the interpretation of such verses, their current applicability to our society, and why we continue to emphasize them more than the overarching message of the Gospel.

Whether you choose to accept it or not, there exists a thriving, albeit small, underground of LGBT+ students and allies at Calvin College. These people, both closeted and out, are your friends, your suitemates, your professors, your admissions staff and even the people whose pictures are on the very pamphlets that describe this college.

What individuals like Sterchi and, for the most part, the administration of Calvin College, don’t consider is the damage that has been and continues to be done by the nauseating rhetoric used within this “discussion.” Someone’s sexual orientation is not a game to be played with. It is not a topic to be “considered” or argued over by others. It isn’t something that you can categorize neatly into a little box. This “discussion” is not a discussion at all; it represents real people who feel as though they are second-class citizens within the Calvin community. Students are paralyzed by the fact that a core aspect of who they are as individuals is being talked about, weighed upon, and discredited as though there was something they could do to change it.

Acceptance of difference is not accomplished by affirming only a portion of someone else. It comes from affirming the whole of someone else. Until the college and student body are capable of making this distinction, the Calvin community will continue to marginalize and pathologize a valuable group of individuals who are waiting for validation. In the words of my favorite fictional professor, “We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”

Ian Gackowski, ‘12

Gun control conversation needed

Dear Editor,

Twenty children and six teachers were slaughtered in the shadow of the gold star spangled blue onion dome of the crumbling Colt factory in Hartford, Connecticut. Many were slaughtered beyond recognition. Many surviving children had to pass by the disfigured bloodied bodies of their teachers and fellow students. For several days troopers and first responders had to conduct their investigation in the presence of the carnage. Many now require extended leave for therapy.

The families of the massacred children and teachers slaughtered in the Newtown Sandy Hook elementary school have garnered an extraordinary amount of courage and grace to work toward restoring civil society. They could have acquiesced. Oh, it would have been so much easier to run away, “buck up” and retire into their own grief. They didn’t. They are speaking up, poking at the conscience of society. I invite you to listen to their stories on the Newtown Action Alliance website.

In the face of the outrageous and persistent claims of the gun lobby the families are committed to preventing other families from experiencing similar tragedies. By now you have heard the arguments of the gun lobby. Perhaps the Colt factory, the place where the “gun that won the West (the Peacemaker)” was manufactured is an appropriate metaphor for their arguments. All that remains is a facade, an empty building that is only remarkable because of the stylistic domed roof. It is a business of death.

You are also probably aware of the statistics. By the time you read this letter 4,000 or more people will have been killed in gun violence since the Newtown massacre. Nearly 32,000 people are killed every year in the United States due to gun violence, as well as 148,000 children since 1968. This is the moral equivalent of sacrificing our children to Molek. Leviticus 18:21 “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.”

The Newtown tragedy has sparked moral outrage in the Connecticut community.  In addition to the private efforts of the families and grassroots organizations, the Connecticut legislature has passed bipartisan legislation to curb gun violence. In like manner, other states have also passed restrictive legislation. What is puzzling to me is that there has been very little discussion about the issues related to gun safety and the slaughter of the innocents coming out of the Calvin community or the Christian community at large. Surely, this is a matter of “restoring Eden,” and our call to redeem God’s creation?

Why is the Calvin community silent on this matter? I would hope that the college could lead with an open discussion about restoring Eden in light of this and other gun violence tragedies. Perhaps Calvin could sponsor an intelligent discussion regarding the origins and limitations of the second amendment and the nature of a civil society in the 21st century, various topics related to gun safety including gun registration, insurance, ownership restrictions, gun prohibitions and design requirements such as the use of chip technology to restrict the use of the weapons. And maybe the college could openly lead a discussion on withdrawing its investments in companies that manufacture prohibited weapons.

I am wondering if the conscience of the Calvin community has been pricked by the work of parents and others following the Newtown tragedy, but unfortunately, I am overwhelmed by the deafening silence I hear from the Knollcrest Campus. Maybe you have had some discussions, taken some action, in which case I am simply not aware of that action. If so, perhaps my critique is not warranted. I’ve been impressed with Calvin’s job preparing students to carry out Christ’s commandment to “love thy neighbor” in many areas of life, but how does Calvin address Christ’s command in the controversial epidemic of gun violence.  “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:14-18)

Lee Vander Baan, ‘68

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