Letters to the Editor

Grateful for Knollcrest
Thank you so much for sending me the magnificent 50th anniversary issue of Calvin's campus (Fall 2006). How thankful we should be to the Lord and Mr. Miller to receive the high privilege and responsibility of receiving the Knollcrest campus and of taking care of it for God's glory and honor.

How amazing has been the physical development of the Knollcrest campus! I hope and pray that the students, faculty and constituency will grow in connection with the motto "Minds in the Making."

Sidney Slagter '53
Palos Heights, Ill.

Knollcrest campus impresses
Spark is to be commended for the thoroughly researched and well-written article "50 Candles for Knollcrest" (Fall 2006). Having attended Calvin during the Franklin Street era, I am repeatedly impressed with all aspects of the Knollcrest campus-the architecture, the facilities and the entire scenario. I continue to be amazed at the faith and determination of those who facilitated the transition.

I would like to echo President Byker's statement, "I think it's providential they started when they did." Certainly a sovereign God was blessing Calvin in the past and will continue to bless Calvin in the future.

Dick L. Van Eldik '48
Atlantis, Fla.

Teaching award deserved
While cleaning my basement awhile back, I discovered an unlabeled audiocassette. On a whim I gave it a listen before I discarded it. The tape contained a poorly recorded "mystery lecture" on classical mythology. I was immediately drawn in with fascination and sat through the whole thing and was hungry for more. I finally realized that this tape was a recording of one of Ken Bratt's classics lectures from my undergrad days at Calvin in 1985. Ken's skill in teaching, grasp of his subject and passion for its relevancy were immediately obvious, even on this dusty, old cassette. Memories of my days at Calvin and my decision to major in philosophy came flooding back, and I realize now how much of a lasting influence Ken's teaching has had in my life.

Lately my teenage daughter has taken up reading some of the texts I retained from his classes. The President's Award is richly deserved (Summer 2006). Glad to hear Ken is still influencing another generation of students.

Kevin Hekman '87
Lake in the Hills, Ill.

Characterizing van Gogh
In response to Rick Beerhorst's caricature of Vincent van Gogh as "flaky, grandiose, egocentric and sexually promiscuous" (Spring 2006), a quotation from one of van Gogh's letters to his young artist friend Emile Bernard: "Only Christ-among all the philosophers, magicians, etc.-has affirmed with certainty the life eternal, the infinity of time, the nothingness of death, the necessity and the purpose of serenity and self-sacrifice. He lived serenely, as an artist greater than all artists, disdaining marble and clay and paint, working in living flesh ... he made no statues, no pictures, no books . he made living, immortal human beings." Grandiose and egocentric? Was Beerhorst perhaps referring to Vincent's tendency to give away all his paltry possessions while working among the poor? Flaky? Surely he does not mean the poor man's psychoses? Fortunately there were a few people close to van Gogh who understood the agony of his illness and the meaning of compassion.

Myra Heerspink Scholz '67
Amstelveen, the Netherlands

Response: It seems to me that just about everything in van Gogh's life was pretty messed up except for his painting. Yes, he could wax poetic with some "God words" in a letter to a friend, but faith doesn't reflect strongly in the rest of his life and work.

Rick Beerhorst '85

Following the mission?
Many letters have been fired off on each side of the homosexuality debate, and I hold no illusion that my letter will have any influence on Spark readers. However, after reviewing Spark 's mission statement, I feel compelled to state my solidarity with gay and lesbian alumni.

After leaving the sometimes repressive environs of Knollcrest, I have had many occasions to work alongside, become friends with and respect gay and lesbian folks. Let's not fool ourselves, it's not that there weren't any gay folk at Calvin in my day, I just never met any with the audacity to be open about it.

It is a strange mixture of anger, sadness and sheer hilarity that simmers when I read past letters to the Spark on this subject. The hand-wringing, duplicitous use of scripture passages to demonize homosexuality, memories of psychology lectures where professors spoke of homosexuality as a "sin suffered, rather than committed," all shame me and continue to be a source of embarrassment and pain.

Gay Christians could no doubt rattle off scripture passages labeling divorced people who remarry as adulterers (Matt. 5:31-33), passages demeaning women's value as humans (1 Cor.14:34) or even passages detailing how to properly sell your daughter as a sex slave (Ex. 21:7-11 NLT). Why are the passages in the Bible denouncing homosexuality weightier than Matthew's stance on remarrying? Or the advice given in Ephesians regarding the proper way to punish your slaves? Maybe "general revelation" falls a little short here. How about the "special revelation" that can only come from actually getting to know a homosexual person. Experience their story. Their pain. Their "choice."

It seems to me that society has found a way to begin moving past sexism, racism, taboos against remarrying, slavery and more. If part of Spark's mission statement is to "draw an increasingly wider national audience to Calvin as a center of Christian thought," it seems we better get to thinking a little harder. Frankly, it's downright shameful that Calvin-the place where I supposedly learned how to be a compassionate, informed child of God-uses mental and theological gymnastics to prop up some outmoded and obscure Bible passages to make second-class citizens of fellow Christians.

Christopher Bruinooge '94
Stillwater, Minn.

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