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Noteworthy notes
I have received Spark for as many years as I’ve been an alumna. The articles are wonderful. You keep us all in touch with many aspects of the life of the college. Having had a son and now a daughter graduate from Calvin in the last three years has also keep me current. The spring issue of Spark was exceptional. The article on Coop was luminous! In addition, we should all frame the “Seven Mixed Messages of Calvin College.” Then I reach the “Class Notes.” Although always interesting, they sometimes leave me with a sense of longing. Longing to have my name behind a notable accomplishment, a newsworthy event. My employers will probably never send in my accomplishments and it’s my fault that I don’t think them “noteworthy” enough to be printed for my classmates to exclaim at. That being said, may I make the following observations about my life since Calvin. It applies not only to me, but many of my friends as well.

When I went to Calvin in the late ‘60s, I was an unformed entity. The maxim “education is wasted on the young,” was an apt description of my group. We were at Calvin because it was the place our parents expected us to go and were willing to pay for. We sat through classes taught by men with names like Runner and Spykman. In many case totally clueless as to the scholarship and knowledge of these men. But what they taught us lodged itself and became part of who and what we have become!

Like so many Calvin alumni, we have grown into parents, sons, daughters, friends, co-workers, all with a Reformed world and life view shaped by those years at Calvin College. We have raised our children, we have volunteered in the community, we have sat on church committees, we have cared for our parents, we have supported our friends, we have worked daily in the Kingdom where our gifts fit. And above all else, we have loved the Lord! Our lives have probably been quite ordinary, as I would suspect the majority of our classmates have also been. Yet, these “quite ordinary lives” are where the Lord has led us and Calvin prepared us for. “My heart I offer to you, Lord, promptly and sincerely.” Are our lives noteworthy in any grand sense? Probably not. But are they noteworthy in the greater scheme of the Kingdom of God? Absolutely!

So, thank you for working so hard at keeping us in touch. Always remember the great number of us who love and support Calvin College who will probably never send you any earth-shattering information to pass on to our classmates. But we are busy, working out our very satisfying lives of duty, love and service in the Kingdom of God.

Janice Bos Zuidema ‘71
Spring Lake, Mich.

Prayers for Calvin
Thank you so much for sending me Spark. I pray that the Calvin spark may be fanned and ignited into a flame throughout the world. I also pray that the phenomenal physical growth from the Franklin Street campus, of which I was a part, to the present Knollcrest location may be matched by the mental and spiritual dimension as well.

The marketing theme “Minds in the Making” seems to indicate that we realize we have not yet attained, but we are pressing forward to the prize of “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” as Paul stated in one of his letters to the church.

The Spark has refreshed and brought me up to date with what has been going on with students and faculty activities on campus and in the listing of positions held by alumni in society, church and business in various locations.

The demise of one of Calvin’s students, Michael VanderWal, was shocking and a reminder of the seriousness and brevity of our earthly life and the giving of comfort as exemplified in the life of Chaplain Cooper to whom the Spring Spark was dedicated.

I pray and trust the Lord will continue to bless, comfort and sustain the students, faculty and alumni of Calvin College.

Sidney Slagter ‘53
Palos Heights, Ill.

Resignation response
The article regarding my resignation from Calvin (Spring 2002) was biased and slanted when it did not need to be so. While there are several examples of this bias, only one troubles me enough to respond, partly because it is a spin we haven’t heard before, and partly because it concerns Renita (not “Renata”) and me as parents. The Spark article stated, “The Reed request [for an exception to the Christian school requirement] was unusual in that it was not for the needs of the Reed children, but rather more broadly for the ministry intent of the parents.” This assertion is not only false; it is misleading. If the unnamed author had read the only authoritative document on the subject—our original request—he/she would have seen that our request for an exception had everything to do with the needs of our children. In our request, we stated as one of our rationale that:

As members of this neighborhood, we believe we can best model Christ to our children by more fully committing ourselves to the children and parents around us. In part this means becoming more fully committed to the education the children of the neighborhood receive, and becoming more fully committed to the parents of those children. We tell Hannah and Noah that God especially desires His people to pay sacrificial attention to the poor, the orphans and the oppressed. Sending them to school with the poor, the orphans and the oppressed lends integrity to our words, especially if they see us at the school regularly.

Renita and I believed then, as we believe now, that the most powerful Christian education is delivered by parents themselves. Renita and I are the primary Christian educators of our children. Our lives hopefully provide a lesson of sacrificial dedication to the Reformed cause of reclaiming all of our world for Christ. Our children join us in a deep commitment to our neighborhood, and to the children of our neighborhood. We model investment in our neighborhood school—a school we walk to with our children and their schoolmates, a school at which Renita volunteers many hours a week. We teach our kids by example how to bring faith in Christ to bear in the lives of the children, staff, and parents of Jefferson Public.

Ironically, that level of Reformed commitment was why we were asked to leave Calvin. In the end, it mattered not that we believed our lives and teaching would provide our children with a better Christian education than what they had enjoyed previously. It mattered not that ours were Holy Spirit guided convictions rooted squarely in Reformed principles and true to the purpose of the Calvin policy. It only mattered whether our children would continue to be enrolled in a Christian school. Our children were not enrolled, and in the end it cost me my job.

After I lost my appeal, I immediately agreed to leave a 16-year job at Calvin without protest or bitterness. The college had the right to ask me to leave. And since then, our family has been trying to fashion a new life, here, in our neighborhood. Our kids just finished a wonderful, God-glorifying year at Jefferson public. We are trying to put the sad part of the Calvin College chapter behind us. That is not so easy to do when an official Calvin publication states that our decision to send our children to a certain school was “not for the needs of our children.” It was precisely for the needs of our children, just as it was all about following Christ deeper into this community. If you must tell our story, please do your homework, get it right and be fair. The kids are watching.

Bob Reed
Renita Reed ’90
Grand Rapids, Mich.

Include Catholics with Christians
Mary Jane Pories' reflection on her life (Spark Summer) is an interesting reflection on a religious pilgrimage that could, in some ways, have only happened in America. Her story's lack of theological content (though it is loosely implied) highlights the fact that for most people the manner in which faith is handed is incarnational: the meals shared and the enfolding
love of a devout family are the very visceral way in which the theological truth of Christ's redemption travels from intellectual idea to concrete reality.

I do have one caveat, however. In outlining her family's current state, Pories tells us: "Today, my father sees himself as a Catholic, my mother is leaning more towards Judaism, my older sister practices Judaism, my nephew has his Bar Mitzvah in May 2003, I am a Christian, the sister after me is a Christian, my fourth sister is an agnostic and the fifth sister is a Catholic and my brother has a Buddhist leaning." This list seems to identify Catholics and Christians as people of two different religions.

Whether this was Pories' intention I do not know, but it reminds me of certain rather rabid evangelicals I knew at Calvin who classified people as "Christian" or "Christian Reformed." Both are false dichotomies. I objected to such characterizations when I was Christian Reformed and I do so now as a Catholic. If Pories wants to judge the state of her father and her sister's souls, she is welcome to, though St. Paul advised against such moves, noting that he couldn't even judge himself. If she wishes to argue or assert that Catholicism has some theological or institutional corruptions, that is her prerogative. But if she wishes to catalog the Christians in her family, she should count us Catholics. If she wants some authority for this practice I can point her to an author we read occasionally at our alma mater. His name was John Calvin.

David Deavel '96
St. Paul, Minn.

Editor’s note:
The text of Mary Jane’s chapel talk was adapted from a tape-recording of her remarks. Because she’s so used to being “on stage,” Mary Jane had only an outline and her wonderful address to Calvin students was largely delivered without notes.

Thus, our “reprinting” of her address took a more informal cast than if it had been a written-out paper or lecture; once one translates a speech into the written word, some of the meaning as heard by the recipients is lost or altered.

We at Spark are sorry for not catching that “Catholic/Christian” distinction in the transcribing of the tape. Mary Jane told us, “To assume that I am judging my family, those I love the most, couldn’t be further from my own reality. I provided the list of religions, faiths, denominations, or whatever term is appropriate to demonstrate that God’s work in my family is much greater than I can imagine. I can only cope with the notion of eternity and heaven if I rest in the fact that God loves them more than I ever could.

“I have never doubted my Catholic family members’ faith in Jesus Christ or their salvation. The language, I agree, is misleading at best and inaccurate at worst but never for a moment have I assumed that they were mutually exclusive. So, forgive me for being careless in my language or for any inappropriate assumptions this might have caused. Of course, I believe Catholics are Christians—but as David so aptly stated, since it is not for me to judge I will continue to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Do women really rule?
I was both amused and annoyed by the title and content of this article. Any female graduate of Calvin College and Seminary knows that the concept of women ruling at Calvin is utterly ridiculous. Calvin was a male dominated organization since its beginning and remained so when I attended the school. To use the title "Women Rule!" for an article describing the roles of women at Calvin in the era that Calvin was most blind to the abilities of its female students is bizarre. I rather doubt that it could even be an appropriate title now. The article also ended in the 1920s. Was this report of 100 years of women at Calvin just the first chapter?

I suggest that an appropriate subject for study would be the evolution of women's roles at Calvin through the years as a useful reminder of the prejudices of the past and to assess the prospects for improvement in the future. I would be particularly interested in the career counseling of young women. Has it changed much since the day I was told that I should not pursue a career in medicine if I intended to marry? advice that certainly was NOT given to my male colleagues!

Esther Hoogland Rehmus, M.D. ‘77
Peninsula, Ohio

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