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Policy: Letters regarding the contents of the magazine will be considered for publication in Spark unless specifically marked "not for publication." Correspondence may be shortened to meet editorial requirements. We will not publish anonymous letters; however, we may withhold names upon request.

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Crisis in the Mississippi Delta
Paul Zwier II responds to Dr. Kurt Kooyer's article, "A New Crisis in the Mississippi Delta" and other readers offer their opinions.

No zoo in Kalamazoo
In the article “Alum tracks exotic species,” (Fall 2003), we in Kalamazoo should appreciate your locating a unique zoo such as Binder Park Zoo in our city. But to be honest, the only zoo in Kalamazoo is in its name (except for the “Air Zoo,” a museum of vintage aircraft). Binder Park Zoo is actually located in our neighboring city of Battle Creek. We have visited many zoos in our country over the years, and find Binder Park Zoo to be one of the more interesting and attractive ones, where the animals live in natural surroundings.

Ed Joling ’48
Kalamazoo, Mich.

Stunning cover
The cover photo on the Fall 2003 Spark is absolutely stunning. Congrats to the photographer for capturing this remote scene. I will definitely add this location to my list of places to see some day, but since I am quite sure I will never actually get there, I thank the photographer for the brief moment I could live vicariously through his lens. The accompanying article, “Picturing the World,” is equally moving and serves as a vivid reminder to reflect seriously on our privileged and affluent ways.

Brian W. Tilton ’82
Warrington, Pa.

29 percent misleading?
I read with interest your article entitled “29 Percent” (Fall 2003). The percentage of alumni giving is indeed low — if your figures are correct. However, there may be more to it than meets the eye. We are assisting two grandchildren at Calvin now (three, last year). One would not be there without our help.

In a recent e-mail my grandson wrote, “Thank you so much for your yearly financial assistance. The only way that I could ever repay you is to strive for the best grades, and I hope that my performance so far has been pleasing to you. I have been learning how to become a disciple maker for Jesus. Many times, people learn a lot about Jesus and do not share it with others.”

We are so thankful that we are able to help them financially. They are not only preparing for a career, but also growing spiritually while at Calvin. God bless Calvin College!

Marge Van Heest Ballast ’48
Midland, Mich.

No percent to Calvin
Michael Van Denend is dismayed why only 29 percent of the alumni give to Calvin College (Fall 2003), much lower than Dordt’s 49 percent. Let me explain why I do not give to Calvin College.

The major reason is that Calvin College no longer vigorously defends the Reformed faith in all areas. Let me give two high profile examples which show how Calvin is caving into the world and not standing firm on the Bible as expressed in the Reformed creeds.

On the Calvin website you casually mentioned that Mars was closer to Earth than it has been in the last 60,000 years. If the world existed 60,000 years ago, it existed long before Adam and Eve. That means that there was death before sin, and that is contrary to the clear teachings of the Old and the New Testaments. Instead of providing a uniquely Christian view, Calvin College takes the Darwinist party line.

Another example is the infamous visits by a lesbian band, the Indigo Girls. According to Lesbian News, “Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are two names that represent a cornerstone in lesbian culture and history. They’ve permanently carved out a place for themselves in the queer community… .” And Ray has stated that she is not a Christian, yet Calvin College willingly invites this band who believes the exact opposite of what God has said to play at Calvin.

Thus, not only do I not give to Calvin College, but neither do my children go to Calvin College. I pray that Calvin College will return to the Reformed faith so that one of my children will be able to attend.

Glenn Palmer ’76
Norfolk, Va.

Calculating correctly?
I read with interest “29 Percent” (Fall 2003), but I question your calculation. Shouldn’t you count all of us who, as members of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC), support Calvin through our ministry shares? I have no way to accurately tally the number of CRC grads — in my family it’s 66 2/3 percent; with my kids it’s 50 percent. If you count all the grads who are still CRC plus the contributors who aren’t CRC, I bet you’d come up with an impressive total.

By the way, I’ve not been a very active contributor, though I have Calvin in my will, because of Calvin’s profligate spending on promotions. Do you really need to make the Spark a 56-page glossy magazine, with four-color pictures on every page? I’d be happy with an occasional two-color, newsprint newsletter.

Nolan Vander Ark ’66
Denver, Colo.

‘Scholar Follies’ a waste
In the Fall 2003 Spark, the article “Storyteller finds intrigue in ordinary lives” on alumnus Adam Mellema notes that he got his start with the Scholar Follies TV show at Calvin. Scholar Follies, however, was not a success. In my four years at Calvin (including serving on Student Senate during the Scholar Follies year and voting against funding it), I never encountered such a waste of college funds. Many promises were made in exchange for Student Senate money; however, these promises did not pan out. Attendance to the show’s live tapings plummeted, hardly any students watched the show and the show’s producers stopped promoting it.

Christian S. H. Bell ’03
Grand Rapids, Mich.

Balance on war issue applauded
I have great respect for Calvin and the Christian Reformed community in almost all areas of life and academics. However, based on my own experiences, especially as a Calvin graduate student in the 1980s, I have had no respect for these communities when it came to questions of war and peace. After reading “A Campus View of Baghdad” (Summer 2003), I now have some.

During the Reagan Era, there were two major war controversies that I was publicly involved in — the Nuclear Freeze and the Nicaraguan Civil War. Most Calvin students and faculty didn’t seem to care enough to speak out on these issues at all. Those who did ranged from moderate to shrill opponents of Reagan’s policies.

In 1982, a Nuclear Freeze Resolution was put before Michigan voters. A Chimes editor called me and said that he could get any number of professors to write pro-Freeze articles, but no one to oppose it. Twenty-one years later, my article stands as the one that made the most sense and was vindicated by events.

In 1985, I wrote a pro-Contra Chimes article in response to an article that attacked Reagan’s support for Contras seeking to overthrow the pro-soviet Sandinistas in Nicaragua and later debated an anti-Contra Calvin professor.

Now to the War on Iraq. I read in a newspaper about two January Series speakers whose treatment by the Calvin community confirmed my skepticism about Calvin’s ability to understand war. Hecklers harassed the pro-regime change speaker by saying, “Oil.” Another speaker, Stanley Hauerwas, though he called the U.S. a “slave nation” and opposed regime change, was not challenged.

Then Student Senate passed an anti-war resolution and, miraculously from my perspective, students started a petition to overturn the resolution! I was thrilled to read that at a debate on the war, Professor Adel Abadeer and Andrew Storteboom, a student, actually had the sense to point out that doing nothing might be worse than going to war.

Calvin still has a long way to go. A professor prayed that students “will never go to war and that you’ll be peacemakers.” I pray that they will always be peacemakers, even if it means going to war.

Raymond Paul Opeka ’88
Grand Rapids, Mich.