Letters to the Editor

The Cuban Capitol
In the Spring 2007 edition there was a caption and description of a Havana site in "Class Notes" that was incorrectly identified. The Capitol of Cuba is not behind the Havana Christian Reformed Church. The building in the picture is the Biblioteca Nacional, or National Library. The university students use this library, which is also the home of Cuba 's Library of Science. It was designed and built in the style of the United States Capitol, but there are no government offices or meetings held here.

Furthermore, the Capitol of Cuba, or more correctly the National Assembly, is located in La Plaza del Revolución, or Revolution Plaza. It is behind the monument of Jose Marti. This is where the government offices are located and where they meet, including the offices of Fidel Castro.

Kathy DeVries '93
Crestwood, Ill.

FAC memories stirred
"A Symphony of Design" (Spring 2007) stirred up memories of my Thespian days on campus from 1965-1969. I must pinch myself that the Fine Arts Center possesses a 40-year history. For me, it seems as if it opened yesterday.

Thespians met in 1965 in a cramped space on the second floor of the former seminary building on Franklin campus. Our fall play, Cyrano de Bergerac, was presented at the historic Saint Cecilia Building in downtown Grand Rapids. This venerable house for arts and music showed its age. Even the exterior brickwork was disintegrating. Thespians, under Ervina Boevé's imaginative direction and her husband Edgar's creative set design, featured the play on a pygmy stage nowhere as long as Cyrano's nose.

Then the Fine Arts Center opened. What a gift! Klieg lights actually worked. The massive stage allowed for pageantry in plays performed. Thespians felt like heaven had come to Earth.

Even the most graceful of ladies needs an occasional fix-up. I'm encouraged how improvements will bring the Fine Arts Center to the freshly minted glory it enjoyed when it opened its doors in 1966. Thespians of all ages will be cheering as the renovations take place.

Also, what a fitting tribute to the Colorado chapter leaders (Outstanding Service Award winners). When I served on Calvin's Colorado chapter in the 1980s, we snubbed our noses at the hallowed tradition of having get-togethers in church basements. We invited Calvin devotees to a fashionable restaurant or two for our meetings. Now visionaries link these parties for cheering on Calvin to Denver's noted cultural centers. Here's wisdom in planning that appeals to more than veterans who show fierce loyalty to Calvin, no matter where we meet.

Jack Van Ens '69
Aurora, Colo.

God's providence demonstrated
It was with great interest that I saw the pictures and read the stories about the Holwerdas and the Vissers in the past issues of Spark (Fall 2006, Winter 2006). Certainly it shows the strong connection that exists between Calvin students which comes to the surface even with the absence of many years. In addition, it shows God's providential care over His people as they overcome sadness in their life and move on with great joy with a person they have known in their past.

My first wife, Judith Beth Jansma '62, passed away on Jan. 3, 2003. We had been married for 40 years. The following November, I went with my brother and sister-in-law on a cruise through the Panama Canal. On that cruise, I met Ivy Hill from Winter Park, Fla. Following two years of numerous e-mails and a few visits, we ultimately made the decision to get married.

Prior to meeting me, Ivy had only incidental knowledge of Calvin College. Her children did attend the Westminster Christian Schools in Miami, which has many Calvin graduates on the staff. I am slowly teaching her the many wonderful "nuances" of Calvin College-starting with drinking coffee out of a Calvin mug.

My story is just one more example of how God cares for His people. Calvin College certainly played a major role in my spiritual development, and I have no doubt that the events of the past four years are a living testimony of His ongoing love and care for His people.

Jim Kool '62
Winter Park, Fla.

An interesting read
The Spark is an outstanding publication. Period. I taught high school journalism for 25 years and sort of know what makes for an attractive publication. While I sometimes cringe at your emphasis in photos on the photogenic and People magazine-type images, the dense text you include and the nitty-gritty (boy, am I showing my age) coverage of alums' thoughts and events is just amazing. As one who is still bitter about the appearance of G.W. Bush at the graduation ceremonies in 2005, I must say that I see little or no evidence of a heavy hand of Calvin administration control in Spark. Of course you are a public relations vehicle, but as I read Spark, the PR tone is muted. You are always interesting reading.

Harold Bontekoe '63
Hawthorne , N.J.

Outmoded and obscure?
I am deeply troubled by the letter criticizing Calvin's stance on homosexuality (Winter 2006). It appears that the writer didn't like Calvin because of the "repressive environs of Knollcrest." He also harbors a "strange mixture of anger, sadness and sheer hilarity . over the hand-wringing, duplicitous use of scripture passages to demonize homosexuality."

He concludes that "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."

It is sad, according to previous letters to Spark, that many feel as the writer does. Others, thankfully, still hold to the Word of God, for whom these passages are not "outmoded and obscure." There is nothing obscure about the warning against homosexual behavior in I Corinthians 6: 9-11, and, I believe, that the text is not outmoded but just as relevant today as it was in Paul's day.

I am thankful that Spark prints both sides of an issue. This way there is opportunity to remind us all about what behavior displeases our God.

Joseph Van Beek '61
Tillsonburg, Ont.

A note to my students
After this, my 20th year at Calvin College, I will be leaving to pursue another work in another place. I wanted to let you know, the more than 5,000 of you who have come through my classes over those years. (I was tempted to make a joke here about loaves and fishes and "feeding the 5,000," but the blasphemy button lit up on my keyboard.)

I suppose my constant chorus in the courses I've taught since 1987 had something to do with paying attention. The least we can do, it seems to me, is try to be present in our own lives. We never know when an important voice is trying to break through the predictable routines of our days.

Trying to follow my own advice, I have accepted a call to King College on the Tennessee-Virginia border in the Appalachians. I will be directing the Buechner Institute and assisting with an extension program for students interested in a semester in the mountains. Such a move is fraught with considerable emotion, especially as I think about the many students I have known at Calvin College over the years. So I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for all the ways you have blessed me with something like joy in the classrooms, hallways, racquetball courts and the rest.

I will leave Calvin College without slamming the door behind me. Whatever frustrations and bewilderments I carry with me, I plan to deposit in a trash receptacle at a rest stop just this side of the Ohio River . (Who could work anywhere for two decades and not have some grievances?) I am glad for all I've learned in these years from students and colleagues. I have been consistently amazed at the giftedness and faith of many of my co-workers, staff, faculty and administration, who labor, without much in the way of thanks, to make this place what it is. I have been repeatedly impressed with the students who come to Calvin College with fine questions, deep faith and considerable integrity. I will remember. I will carry bits and pieces of your words, your personalities and your faith to my new posting. Faulkner has it right: "The past ain't dead; hell, it ain't even past."

I hope that you will press on toward fortissimo, the "work of the high calling" and the daily business of staying awake.

Please stay in touch with me at wdbrown@king.edu, and follow the new work on our Web site, buechnerinstitute.org.

Keep your music with you and a good book on your bedside table. That's the way to keep the monsters at bay. And remember what I told you when I smuggled Pascal into your American literature class: "Know when to doubt, when to be certain and when to submit."

Dale Brown
Professor of English
Calvin College 

Correction: Gerard Van Halsema was incorrectly identified as Gerald Van Halsema in the spring Spark , and the part he played in Arcadia was Valentine.

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