Letters to the Editor

Bill Spoelhof = Calvin
The recent issue of the Spark was a terrific homage to Dr. Bill Spoelhof. Tony Diekema called him a giant. He truly was. He is Calvin College to me. During the ’60s when I was a self-esteem-deprived freshman, a mediocre student and a less-than-mediocre hoopster for the 20-0 team, President Spoelhof noticed even me. He remembered my name down through the years well into his retirement. He actually listened to my answer to a question he asked me—something 93 percent of the population fails to do—instead of regaling me with a parallel story of his own. This always impressed me: He took me—even me—seriously. A rare gem to know a giant who stooped to learn from a lowly freshman. His validation of me then has sustained me down through the years. How like Jesus this giant was.
Bill Lenters ’63
Rockford, Ill.

See more about Dr. Spoelhof on his memorial page.

Take action against slavery
Thank you for exposing modern-day slavery in the article about Adel Abadeer’s book (spring 2009). Call it slavery, bonded labor or involuntary labor, this type of immorality is practiced worldwide. The article mentions institutional ways to take action, but there are personal ways to take action, also.

The likes of Wal-mart have raised “cheap” to a virtue. We, the buying force, are demanding lower prices. The result is lower-quality goods on the shelves as well as slavery in the production force. If, however, we were to demand only quality products, that is what would be on the shelves. If we were to demand only products produced by people earning a fair wage, that is what would be on the shelves. We can help the plight of the people mentioned in The Entrapment of the Poor into Involuntary Labor by our shopping practices.

We don’t need to wait for legislation, prosecution, education, the United Nations or CRWRC. We can shop morally, but it will cost more money. Why pay more? It enables people to engage in honest labor. It enables people to be paid a decent wage for their labor. It enables people to work under safe conditions.

Ken Kutzleb
East Jordan, Mich.

Mosher will be missed
Calvin’s audiovisual staff helped me out many times over the years, as I supplemented lectures with various aids. Projectors, cameras and the like were frequently in play. Often I would greet Ricky Mosher in the hallway as he waited to enter and set up equipment in my classroom. I always thanked him. He always replied in a pleasant, self-effacing way, with that marvelous half-shy smile of his. I don’t recall ever seeing Ricky upset.

I was saddened to read in the spring Spark of Ricky’s passing, at the young age of 53. He was a gifted technician who skillfully supported classroom activities at Calvin. He will be missed! Such workers are all too rare.

Tom Ozinga ’59
Communication arts and sciences professor emeritus
Grandville, Mich.

More cooking hints
It is with great interest that I read the recently published article in Spark (spring 2009): “Where kohlrabi meets creation.” Yes, it is very important not to forget our grandmothers’ recipes! It is a very good idea to teach this discipline (cooking and philosophy) during interim.

In this perspective I would like you to recommend a nice and useful pocket book: French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano. The author (French-American) tells us the secrets of the Mediterranean approach of meals and food, and it’s fun to read.

Marjan de Ruiter-Schrikkema ’82
The Netherlands

Doc DeVries appreciated
I read with interest the tribute to Robert and Marjorie Boot (spring 2009). In particular, I resonated with the comment “Doc De Vries kept me out of med school because I took his organic chemistry course.” How true for many of us who had this wonderful teacher. Just being in his classes pointed us in the right way—whichever was for us. Actually, I did end up in a med school for a time—not as a student, but as a laboratory instructor in bacteriology.

Colleen Bourne Pettis ex’43
Staunton, Va.

Alums not nursing grads
I was puzzled by what you reported in your article about the three Calvin grads who were nurses and lived in Alaska for the past 50 years (fall 2008). You wrote, “The trio had recently graduated from the nursing program at Calvin, and the women were looking for jobs.”

The reason I was puzzled was the fact that one could not graduate from a nursing program at Calvin until 1984. The students who were enrolled in the Diploma programs at Butterworth and Blodgett could take their first year of academic classes at Calvin, and then they went to the hospitals for the rest of their classes and clinical experience.

I enjoyed the article very much, but please be accurate. These women may have graduated from Calvin in 1959, but they did not graduate from the nursing program at Calvin.

Laura Schuring ’62
Grand Rapids, Mich.

Support Stewardship
Kudos to the Calvin community for working on the “Greening of the Campus.” The efforts which are currently taking place in the many schools towards that end are long overdue. We must lament the violation of the environment, which has continued to degrade the world in which we live. Calvin must be commended for these first steps it has made and which hopefully will develop into far larger strides in the coming years. It may be my lack of information, but I do not recall that any real effort was made to “green” the new buildings that have been completed. If we are really serious about the “greening of the campus,” how about incorporating solar heating, wind generators, etc., as an integral part of any further development? This might also include a worm farm for the recycling of garbage, such as the one found on the campus of Southern Illinois University. I suggest that many of the Calvin’s students would be more than willing to suggest new and innovative ways to promote these efforts and participate in them. There is no better way to ensure a greener future than to involve these young people.

As indicated by the letters in the most recent Spark (spring 2009), the debate about global warming continues. Only time will tell if global warming is taking place, but we must not let this debate distract us from the far more important fact that God has placed us on earth to care for His world. Any and all efforts by both Christian and non-Christians at reducing pollution, enhancing the environment, and making this earth more like the place that God has intended it to be should be encouraged and supported. There are many organizations such as the Nature Conservancy (my personal favorite) which should also be supported so that stewardship of the environment can continue on both a local and global scale.

Ted DeJong ’52
Winfield, Ill.

Incorporate efforts campus wide
Thank you so much for dedicating an issue of Spark to the sustainability efforts at Calvin. It is wonderful to read about all the grassroots efforts that are dedicated to educating students about the importance of sustainability and to maintaining the campus with an eye toward the triple bottom line. Unfortunately, the Christian community has been conspicuously absent from this dialogue for too long. I also noticed that the top administration was conspicuously absent from your stories. I pray that they see the importance of incorporating the values of sustainability and support of these efforts in their strategic planning and fund raising.

Ronda Lubberts ’91
Grand Rapids, Mich.

More green, please
We are writing in response to the “Greening of the Campus” (winter 2008). We took part in the grassroots efforts which, according to the article, are taking hold on Calvin’s campus. We are proud to have graduated from a Christian institution that emphasizes creation care, and we are encouraged by the efforts Calvin is taking to lessen its impact on the environment. Recycled “green books,” biodegradable cutlery and scaling up the campus recycling program are all important parts of this calling. We applaud these efforts, but we believe the picture of Calvin painted by the article is inaccurate and self-congratulatory.

For example, the article touts the Bunker Interpretive Center as a showpiece of Calvin’s green construction, but so far it has mostly demonstrated the sustainable building features that can’t be found on the rest of campus. The building projects Calvin has undertaken since then have been much larger and will have more significant impacts on the environment, but with their construction Calvin has chosen not to fulfill the sustainable goal the Bunker Center symbolizes. The same issue of Spark also includes an article featuring plans for the new Campus Commons, which will serve as a center of activity for members of the Calvin community. Sadly, the article fails to mention any plans to make the building environmentally sustainable. If Calvin College is serious about sustainability, the new Commons building will demonstrate its commitment. As alumni we would like to help encourage the college’s pursuit of environmentally sound practice in all aspects of its operations. We sincerely hope that Calvin will move beyond token efforts to be “green” and will strive in earnest to attain the level of creation care suggested by the article.

Daniel Miller ’07, Seattle, Wash.; Nathan Haan ’07, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Nicholas Thompson ’07, Boulder, Colo.; Neal Kruis ’07, Boulder, Colo.; Colin McWhertor ’08, Grand Rapids, Mich.

New Mexico not foreign
While perusing Spark (spring 2009), the article on off-campus study (p. 12) drew my interest primarily due to the picture utilized in support of same. The article touted Calvin’s first-place ranking for the total number of students who study abroad and detailed all of the foreign countries that Calvin currently hosts programs in. I read the article with interest, yet the picture looked very familiar. I grew up in Rehoboth N.M.; my parents still live there so I called my dad and asked him to look at the picture to confirm if my feelings were correct. He replied, “Hi, just received the spring Spark with Spoelhof’s picture on the front. The picture on page 12 of some Dutchman’s feet is taken on the top of the red rocks directly north of the El Paso natural gas cracking plant.” He went on to describe the familiar spot in great detail.

While growing up on Rehoboth Mission, we always found it curious that our activities and support were all under the auspices of the Foreign Missions Board of the Christian Reformed Church. A wise person once said, “History doesn’t repeat itself … but human behavior does.” Apparently after all these years, you folks in the motherland still haven’t changed your perception that New Mexico is a foreign land. That being said, I confess that visiting New Mexico will provide Calvin students with a “cross-cultural experience” and thus highly encourage them to avail themselves of that opportunity. I guarantee they will find the place and the people enchanting.

Randall A. Kamps ’77
Traverse City, Mich.

No five-game streak
In your winter edition of the Spark, you noted in your article on the Calvin-Hope satellite game parties that prior to this season Hope had won the previous five “national” games. That simply is not true. In 2005, although the Saturday “national” game was postponed due to a winter storm, it was later made up that following Monday in which Calvin was victorious over Hope, 66-54.
Aaron Draayer ’10
Grand Rapids, Mich.

Aaron’s right! Thanks for correcting us. Editor

Second place?
The recent controversy over Dr. Isom is another indicator that Calvin has Christ firmly in second place. Calvin is a private religious school that delivers an excellent education. Because it resides in a democratic political system, it is free to allow its own traditional set of rules and religious practices. However, to identify Calvin as more Christian than Christian Reformed is deceptive. Calvin’s Christianity is a Christian Reformed lukewarm faith that values Protestant Dutch ethnicity and religious traditions, Bible study with prayer, worship practices, a cafeteria Christian belief system and Reformed theology. Calvin’s good works/religious practices/Christian worldview “Christianity” is as dead as Orthodox Judaism or Catholicism. Calvin is part of the larger American Protestant dead denominations trend with church schools regressing into Harvard-style value systems based on knowledge, good works and human goodness without God.

Nan Van Andel ex’73
Ada, Mich.

Editor’s note: If anyone would like to see what place Christ has at Calvin, contact us at alumni@calvin.edu and we’ll arrange a campus visit for you.

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