Letters to the Editor

Spreading to the ends of the earth
I appreciated Glenn Triezenberg’s article in the Spark (summer 2009). His thoughts on Michigan’s economy made me think of the early Christians who wanted to stay in Jerusalem. It wasn’t until persecution made staying virtually impossible that they spread to the ends of the earth. Could it be that Michigan’s economy is God’s way of getting more and more well-educated Reformed Christian young people into the rest of America?

Marilou Richardson
Merritt Island, Fla.

Deeper appreciation for Reformed heritage
In response to the letter “Less Calvin needed” (fall 2009): Fellowship in the wider Body of Christ has deepened our appreciation for our Reformed heritage. After graduating from Calvin, my wife Martha Westervelt and I found ourselves outside of the Christian Reformed community. Here we learned to appreciate Christians across the denominational spectra from Four Square Gospel to Ukrainian Orthodox for over 13 years in the Chicago area. While there, we both served in a variety of capacities in a Reformed Church of America (RCA) where we were members. Later, in the Kansas City area, we continued to be members of an RCA church until it closed in 2001. Since then we have served Christ in a nondenominational charismatic church in this area.

Our Calvin experience taught us to value the “Universal Christian Church” we speak of in the Apostles’ Creed. We are tremendously enriched by our fellowship in the wideness of the Body of Christ and at the same time deeply rooted by the creedal heritage we have in Calvinism and Reformed theology.

Bill Faber ’74
Blue Springs, Mo.

Spark kudos
Every editor and staff of school papers work very hard in the production of their publications; most of the time the result is good. However, I was especially impressed by your last issue (fall 2009). I was reminded that the campus and buildings are definitely nothing like they all were when I attended. But a school is not grounds and buildings, it is professors and students. I read all of the issues, but this one hit home. Thank you for the work all of you put into this issue and all editions.

Raymond Wolfe ex’47
Akron, Ohio

Calvin education vs. large debt
I’m not a graduate of Calvin College but my daughter will be next May. My husband and I have been extremely impressed with everything about Calvin. Consequently, as a director of a nonprofit organization that provides educational opportunities for homeschool students in the Detroit metropolitan area (probably the country’s hardest-hit area economically), I have highly recommended Calvin to our families. Many of them have attended a “Fridays” and have absolutely fallen in love with Calvin and place it at the top of their list only to be hit with “sticker shock.”

We have been so appreciative of the scholarship money my daughter has received, and we have been truly blessed to be able to get through this last year of her schooling even though my husband lost his job two years ago. However, for a single-income family (as most homeschooling families are), a $3,000 or $4,000 scholarship just doesn’t go very far toward a tuition bill that exceeds $30,000. Families are prudently questioning the wisdom of encouraging their children to graduate from college thousands of dollars in debt. Yes, there is tremendous value in a Calvin education but a young person should weigh that against the impact a lifetime of debt incurred by age 22 will have on his future. Added to that is the fact that many other Christian colleges like Spring Arbor, Albion and the University of Detroit-Mercy are offering far better scholarship/grant financial packages. Homeschoolers are a great addition to the diversity of any campus and it saddens me to see them so disappointed. My guess is that as tuition rates continue to creep up, “yield” rates will continue to go down.

Mary Ellen Walterich
Brownstown, Mich.

Thank you for your acknowledgment of the positive, life-shaping impact that Calvin has on the lives of young people and for recommending that prospective students consider Calvin. Homeschool students are notable for their impact, contributions and college readiness, and we appreciate your efforts to tell Calvin’s story in your community. It is our hope that all members of the extended Calvin family—parents, students, alumni and staff—will join you in representing Calvin’s academically excellent, Christ-centered education to those they encounter day-to-day.

We also recognize that in the current economic environment, it is more important than ever for us to provide a strong financial aid program. As you experienced, our financial aid team works closely with each family to find the best mix of scholarships, need-based grants, loans and work-study solutions that we can. We are committed to careful stewardship to ensure that Calvin continues to be recognized as a tremendous value.
Russ Bloem, vice president of enrollment services

Friendlier acronym, please!
I read with interest the article about the new Hoogenboom Center (fall 2009). Congratulations to Calvin on this final piece of the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex—a facility truly second to none among small (and larger) colleges.

Reference is made in the article to “HPERDS” (the health, physical education, recreation, dance and sport department). Let us charitably assume that the acronym HPERDS is the product of an unchecked naming committee. Yet, no mere human can casually pronounce HPERDS, not even one accustomed to reading Dutch, hyphenated last names of alumnae. Granted, there are those who choose to face proper pronunciation head on. You know the type—they work through names like Kyrgyzstan and Li’l Abner’s Joe Blfstk. Or, one may choose to mangle the name without shame, as everybody does to Brett Favre. (Does anyone remember the equally mangled spokesman for the Iranian revolution, Mr. Gotbzdeh?) Most of us need a friendlier acronym!

What can be done? I would suggest fine-tuning by changing the acronym to “SHEPRD.” OK, the “EP” part is a little backward, but I think overall the greater good is achieved. SHEPRD can actually be pronounced, sounds nicely biblical and fits today’s txt-msgng.

Edward R. Bolt ex’67
Grand Rapids, Mich.

Envisioning a closer walk
In response to the letter “Second Place?” (summer 2009): Surely it was God who made it possible for me to attend Calvin College from 1954 to 1956. My education degree opened many doors for me to teach in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Lynden, Wash.; Ontario, Calif.; Taipei, Taiwan; and Edmonton, Alta., Christian schools. How thankful I am to have been able to direct pupils into a closer walk with God as they studied.

Nevertheless, it still makes me sad that at Calvin I did not feel the deep spiritual atmosphere  that I had expected. To me, English professor Dr. Zylstra was an exception.

I do appreciate the education degree I received from Calvin College but wish to envision a deeper personal spiritual walk with God for all concerned.

Margaret Bouwman Younghans ’56
Edmonton, Alta.

FAC cabinets endure
I read with interest the restructuring of the Fine Arts Center (FAC) (fall 2009). At the tender age of 30, my family and I arrived in Grand Rapids from New Jersey in the fall of 1966 for me to begin as a freshman at Calvin. In addition to a dream of a college degree, I also had a passion to play in the college band. Early on I met with Dr. Harold Geerdes, the director. It became immediately apparent that that passion was out of the question time-wise. In the conversation he found out I was a carpenter and cabinetmaker by trade and also had a family to feed. Right then the Lord opened a “window” when the band “door” closed. He told me the new FAC had no cabinetwork installed because of limited funds. He wanted to know, since the FAC was under his supervision, if I would be interested in working there. Consequently, I built cabinets throughout the FAC over the next many months—some built in and some portable constructed at home. This income was instrumental in feeding my family for quite some time. Being a veteran, the cost was a real benefit to Calvin as well.

Two years ago I was in the area and walked through the FAC. It was satisfying to note that after 40 years most of my cabinetwork was still operative and in use.

Robert S. Hough ’70
Beaver Falls, Pa.

John Calvin prank recalled
Thank you for the informed response on John Calvin and Servetus (fall 2009). The remarks call to mind a prank carried out by Calvin students in the 1960s: Sweatshirts were made with a picture of Servetus and the caption, “Warmed by the Calvin Spark.” A photo of students wearing these shirts (with superimposed heads of Fidel Castro, John Calvin and others) and a student wearing a suit examining one at the Campus Store (with the superimposed head of President Spoelhof) appeared in the Chimes. [You can see that photo in the News & Stories article, "Calvin celebrates Refor-ween."] The Associated Press picked up the photo and story, and newspapers around the country ran them.

Greg Mellema ’70
Kentwood, Mich.

Corrected geography
The caption with the photo on p. 50 (fall 2009) leaves the impression that it was taken in Esslingen, Germany. I am fairly sure, however, that it was taken on the bridge over the Neckar in Tuebingen. The building with the scaffolding in the background is the “alte Aula,” the oldest surviving university building in this beautiful city, where I had my office in 1972–76.

Fred Wisse ’62
Vernon, B.C.

Correction: The title of Ronald A. Wells’ lecture series was incorrect in the last Spark. The correct title is “History, Memory and Hope.”

Submit a letter to Spark.