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  Ask Anonymous
By Anonymous Bosch

Dear Readers,

I’ve been fielding quite a few questions about the developments on the east side of the East Beltline since the last column I wrote. I’m glad to answer those questions, of course; I’ve selected a handful of them to take care of the curiosity of Spark readers once and for all—it’s great to celebrate the East Campus, but it wouldn’t be a good idea to write about it all of the time. So—herewith my attempt to satisfy some of those inquiring minds on the subject of schlepping eastward.

Q. Where did you come up with a name like “Calvin’s Crossing” for the new bridge?

A. It’s not my name. Some wags have suggested that it’s a scarcely hidden homage to a shopping mall west of Grand Rapids, but it doesn’t seem likely to me, especially since there’s no plausible connection between the East Campus—or the bridge—and those acre-eating temples of sprawl and this year’s fashion.

John Calvin and the three presidents
"...a senior administrator had something like a vision late one cold spring night..."

The more likely explanation—and also the current story on campus—is that a senior administrator inspecting the bridge construction had something like a vision late one cold spring night—a vision of a stern and slightly frightening figure wearing robes and an odd, flat hat who walked up the western stairway, past the barriers that kept out the curious. The ghostly form seemed to be leading the way, pointing a finger upward and walking out onto the unfinished bridge. Shaken, she hurried from the scene and walked into the Fine Arts Center to warm up and gather her wits about her. Turning to lean on a wall in the southern lobby, she was startled to see the same minatory figure, with the same upraised finger, staring past her from a portrait on the wall. Naturally, she told friends of her vision—of John Calvin crossing the bridge. According to this story, that is the source of the name.

Q. What’s the grammar of the name “Calvin’s Crossing”? Is it a complete independent clause, a simple sentence, with a subject and a verb in the present progressive tense? Or is it a gerund (active voice, present tense), preceded by a possessive form of the proper noun? Is it a statement, or is it a gerund phrase, used as a noun? Or is it something else?

A. Forget about the possessive explanation, and forget about the progressive interpretation, too—where do people come up with such crazy ideas?

Q. What with the Ecosystem Preserve, the Gainey Athletic Fields, and the two new buildings, is the eastern part of the Calvin campus now completely developed? What’s next, and where?

A. This question comes in many forms, but the full answer doesn’t get talked about very much. Here’s the official answer: There is one more large building in the plan, linking the DeVos and the Prince buildings to create one unified complex for teaching, research, lodging, conferences, racquetball, an annual football game, and performances.

But there’s more. Older readers of this column will remember that I publicized the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve Long-Range Plan Interim Update Report ten years ago on these pages. One proposed land use being discussed in 1992 was the creation of the World’s First Metaphorical Playground and Cliché Preserve. I mentioned then the intention—to create a safe environment for endangered metaphors and clichés; I also mentioned the plans for Phase One—the installation of a mood swing, a career ladder, a moral decline, a doctrinal see-saw, a hermeneutical circle, an emotional roller coaster, a secretarial pool, and a political merry-go-round. It is probably the best-kept secret on campus that these features of the Preserve have already been installed and are fully functional. Frank Gorman, our campus architect, is perhaps as proud of these art works as he is of anything else he’s achieved on campus. According to him, “These are the adornments that make Calvin unique. Everyone has building programs, but we alone have a Metaphorical Playground and Cliché Preserve. Of course, the uniqueness of this collection also makes it vulnerable—people would vandalize or steal these displays if they were out in the open. That’s why they are so well hidden all around this side of the campus.”

Phase Two calls for installations that are even more complex and ambitious. On what looked to me like a top administrator’s list, I saw references to a short attention span bridging the gender gap, or the generation gap, if the former proposal cannot gain sufficient funding; a level playing field for playing telephone tag; intellectual gymnastics; chapel checkers and nuclear chess for board game enthusiasts; a slippery slope leading to the already-installed moral decline; a vicious cycle spinning around inside of a wheel of fortune; and timelines, deadlines, and dire straits. It will be playful Calvinism on display, and it will put us on the map. I’m still proposing that, when the entire project is finished, it be named Moot Point. Only dirty pool and a bureaucratic maze will keep that great suggestion down.

Funding, as you might imagine, requires just the right fit between project and donor. If one of these installations seems exactly right for you, or for someone else you know, please let Frank Gorman and Robert Berkhof know. They’re waiting to hear from you.

Any more questions?

Sincerely yours,
Anonymous Bosch

East Campus
Photos from groundbreaking through dedication

Gainey Athletic Facility
A partnership with Grand Rapids Christian Schools

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