Letters to the Editor

Ministry share giving
When I first heard about the 29 percent issue, I wondered if there were people who felt that they did not need to give money to Calvin directly, as they were supporting it through their Christian Reformed Church (CRC) ministry share contributions (Winter 2003).

In order to ensure that I, and my fellow alumni, are making informed decisions, I thought I should take a moment to research CRC ministry shares as they apply to Calvin College.

From the 2003 Calvin President’s Report, I learned that the annual budget of Calvin is $72 million. Of that, about $2.7 million comes from CRC ministry shares. That is a large amount of money, but it is only a small percentage (about 3.75 percent) of the annual budget.

I then visited the CRC website to find out just what the ministry share was for individuals, so I would know what it means for me personally. Ministry shares are not a fixed number, but vary geographically due to other local colleges (e.g., Redeemer and Dordt). For 2003, the ministry share for Calvin ranges from a low of $4.30 per person, to a high of $57.30. I live in Ontario, Canada, where the rate is $12.30. That’s all.

Each of us is called to service in different ways. Each of us is entrusted with different resources by God, to use in his Kingdom. When it comes to charitable giving, as instructed in 2 Cor. 9:7, each of us needs to give what we have decided in our hearts to give and do so cheerfully.

Art Mulder '85
London, Ont.

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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Letters regarding the contents of the magazine will be considered for publication in Spark unless specifically marked "not for publication."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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Consider fallible interpretation
I am not certain that the letter attributed to Mr. Glenn Palmer entitled “No percent to Calvin” (Winter 2003) was not concocted as a satirical prank by a lively group of undergraduates listening too long to unsuitable music, but the air, nay the whirlwind, of certainty begs a response.

Explaining the ways of God to men is as appealing as it dangerous, for it relies on fallible human interpretation. Assuming that the forces of pride, will and custom must always carry the day is often a sad trait of religious discourse whether Calvinistic or Islamic.

Declaring that fallible human interpretation trumps the results of scientific inquiry or the freedom of college students to select some moments of popular entertainment is folly.

Folly’s march is constant, but constant also are sober reflection, humility and charity.

Bonita Ford Mac Farland '68
Ionia, Mich.

World critique unfair
Professor Quentin Schultze’s description of the World magazine article on Calvin College as “embarrassingly poor reporting” (Fall 2003) is unfair. The same goes for Calvin president Gaylen Byker’s letter on the Calvin website. Schultze and Byker say World quoted selectively from two students hand-picked to slant the story, but these two students — the editor of the Chimes and a Calvin phone-a-thon supervisor — held positions that presumably indicate an unusually high level of engagement in the life of the college and the communication of its values. More significantly, Byker and Schultze seem not to have noticed that World based its assessment not only on what students said, but to a significant degree on extensive quotes from Byker, provost Joel Carpenter, vice president for student life Shirley Hoogstra and two professors.

Schultze also chides World for drawing conclusions about Calvin from Calvin’s gender studies website. The fact that the website includes links to organizations with non-Christian agendas does not imply endorsement of those organizations, he says, and to infer as much is unfair. Well, maybe so, but the site’s mainline-Protestant-style fascination with secular academic fashion and its political and theological correctness strike me as hard to miss. Further to that website, I must admit that I have trouble understanding why a Christian college needs to have a link to QueerTheory.com.

I spent nine years at Calvin, five as a student and four as an instructor of German. I love and admire many of the people I met, studied and worked with there. Some of them were and remain models to me of Christian faithfulness. I laud the good work Calvin still does in educating young people to go out into the world and serve Christ. But I am convinced that, if Calvin is to remain an institution that serves and unites Bible-believing Christians, it will have to come to terms with the fact that the profound problems that many on the conservative side of the evangelical world have with Calvin’s drift toward theological liberalism cannot be wholly without substance. The “Reformed Church always reforming” adage, so dear to those who greet recent developments at Calvin and in the CRC, should also mean having a church-college that is capable of better critical reflection on the more liberal direction it has taken.

Todd Huizinga '80
Brussels, Belgium

More on tort law reform
Read six additional responses to Kurt Kooyer's article on tort reform.

Missing profs?
I am an avid reader of the Spark. As I did my “first run-through,” an article on Calvin’s new profs caught my eye. What a great idea for an article! I was impressed to see that 25 new members had joined the Calvin faculty this year, and eagerly started to read the bios on each prof. After reading the first six, I searched the entire magazine for the following 19. I thought that I must have overlooked the rest of the article, so I paged the entire Spark again. Much to my disappointment, you only covered six of the new staff — the others were not only not pictured, they weren’t even listed! Am I right to assume that the remaining new faculty will be introduced to alumni in a future issue this year?

I was also wondering what criteria you used to select the six you featured. It would have been nice, since this is an alumni publication, to see any Calvin alumni that have now returned to our alma mater to teach.

I must say I am extremely disappointed that the article was so incomplete. I feel that an injustice was done to the remaining 19 professors who were not introduced.

Jayne Timmer Wierenga '89
Caledonia, Mich.

Editor’s note: We, too, thought it a good idea to introduce alumni to some of the new faculty on campus. Our plans are to feature these profiles occasionally.

No anonymity
When the Spark comes, I read it with keen interest. For a college periodical, it has class. It is replete with something for everyone, as a college magazine should be. However, the anonymous question and answer (“Ask Anonymous”) in the winter issue (2003) should have been omitted.

The anonymous writer did have a legitimate concern, that is, to ask which direction the college and seminary are moving. The tone of the question asked was querulous and confrontational. It encouraged the response to be expressed in the same manner.

And that the anonymous replier did. But his response is not one a reader would expect of a cultured and educated person; it was wanting in Christian charity. Perhaps the replier should be understood and forgiven because I have learned in 80 years of living and reading, beginning with John Calvin himself, that humility is not the defining mark of Calvinists.

The anonymous writer is a coward. Who will ever know how many pastors have been wounded by the anonymous gripers? These kinds of people should not be tolerated within the fold of Christian community. And Christian publications should toss such mail into the wastebasket.

John Sietsema '49
Grand Rapids, Mich.