Here at The Banner we love to receive letters to the editor. Whether the letter is sharing positive or negative feedback, we appreciate that our readers engage with us by responding to what they’ve read in this magazine.
And it’s important to us to share worthy letters with our readership, which we do in the Reply All section in print and online each month. (The only time we don’t publish letters is in the July/August edition because we need the extra space to report on synod.) Part of the duties placed on The Banner by synod (the general assembly and governmental body of the Christian Reformed Church) is to “Provide a vehicle through which church members can express their views and opinions on pertinent issues.” The Reply All page is just one more way we provide a forum for conversation within the CRCNA.
Editor-in-chief Shiao Chong and I each read all letters sent to us, but not all letters make it onto the printed page. That’s partly because of the volume of letters we sometimes receive, but more often it’s because of the way the letter was written. So if you are interested in participating in our forum by having a letter to the editor published, here are a few tips to make it happen:
1. Follow the rules.
Our Letters to the Editor policy is outlined here. All letters must include your name and postal address. And letters should be brief—preferably 100 words or fewer. The longer it is, the less likely we will be willing or able to make space for it. We do not print letters responding to previously published letters, and in fact, we only print letters that are responding to an article in The Banner, not to anything that happened outside of our publication. It’s helpful, therefore, to include which article you are responding to when sending your letter.
2. Speak the truth in love.
We are a Christian community, and we expect our magazine to reflect that reality, even the letters page. Therefore, we don’t publish angry, untempered rants. And we don’t publish letters that are perpetuating an untruth or diminishing a complicated issue down to a black-and-white dichotomy. Letters must be honest and, if not kind, at least not offensive. We don’t expect all letters to express agreement, but we do expect a tone that is civil and respectful. We are all ambassadors for Jesus, after all, and he did say, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
3. Write well.
A good rule of thumb would be to follow the online commenting guidelines. Those include the above two suggestions, plus a few others: stay on-topic, be concise and easy to follow, and contribute something new and positive to the discussion. To contribute to the discussion, you must write in a way that others can understand. And because of constraints of space and our readers’ time, it must be quick and to the point. I recommend choosing only one topic to write on or one point to make. This will help you stay focused and brief.
Keep in mind that if you do send a letter we want to publish, we still reserve the right to edit for clarity, style, or space considerations.
It’s a challenge, to be sure, to write in such few words a nuanced, thoughtful perspective that will add to the public forum of ideas we are trying to foster. But it’s not impossible. Many of you have already written us letters that have brought important perspectives to the forefront. Here are a few examples of excellent letters emailed to us, as we received them:
Professor Wagenman (March (2020), "Cross (Examination)") says sinful human beings wrote God's word and reflected the violent human mindset that the gods approved of wanton human slaughter. It would have been very helpful if Prof. Wagenman had clarified what he meant --- either that God's Old Testament judgments (such as the Flood & the Passover, etc.) were good and righteous (in contrast to many other wanton slaughtering ancient near east gods) OR that God's judgments themselves were not righteous, but rather wanton (cruel and unprovoked), i.e., the Bible is dead wrong in its teaching they are good and true and righteous altogether.
Letter to the Editor - Vantage Point - The Trauma of Bullying - April 2021
I applaud Andrea Meszaros for her honest portrayal of the devastation school-based bullying causes. I’ve heard far too many of these traumatic stories over the years. Why didn’t a caring adult step in to help her years ago? As a Christian mental health professional who recognizes the integration of one’s mind, body and spirit, I value each account and yet am intensely angered by them.
I am very thankful you remained in The Vine, saw your pastor as trustworthy and secure, and chose to share your pain with him. But also, that he had the insight and skills needed to help comfort and address your long-standing sorrow, distress and brokenness. Continue with God’s perspective for Andrea: “You are loved; you are safe; you are accepted.”
You are also bearing fruit by sharing your story of hope.
Paulene Kamps (PhD) is a multidisciplinary trained registered psychologist in Alberta and a member of Riverpark Christian Reformed Church in Calgary, Alberta
Letter to the Editor Re: Intellectual Pride
The point made in the editorial column titled Intellectual Pride is well taken and important for the CRC to not get caught up in. However, I feel we are losing our intellectual robustness as I seldom see confessions and catechism taught or recited within our services anymore. These are great faith building resources that I hope we can utilize more and find the right balance of a humble, yet intellectual church.