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Domesticating Scripture

Spot on! Chong’s November editorial (“Signs of Domesticating Scripture,” November 2021) describes a very real danger today. I’ve seen too much of it these past pandemic months. Too many well-meaning Christians are highjacking scripture texts for their own rationale. The three indicators were very helpful, and I will be sharing these thoughts inside and outside the church. I once heard from John Piper that the sword is our one offensive weapon (Eph. 6:17), but we can’t draw that sword from someone else’s scabbard.              

Pete Byma // Grand Rapids, Mich.

Support for OSJ

How encouraging and moving to read of the support that streamed into the CRCNA’s Office of Social Justice in response to the reports of bullying and harassment the staff had experienced. It was light in what can be dark times lately, and redemptive after the sadness of learning of the former behavior, which is heartbreaking in society and heart-wrenching within the body of Christ. Thank you to all who acted, showing their loving support, and to The Banner for sharing that good news.

Beth Buteyn Van Hoever // Minneapolis, Minn.

Interfaith Dialogue

Melissa, thank you for being vulnerable (“What I Learned from Hosting Interfaith Dialogue,” November 2021)! It's a risky thing to raise the idea that maybe we don't really know what we believe, at least in 2021 language and concepts. Having a bunch of religious data and spiritual cliches in our heads is more comfortable than stretching ourselves to find the language to speak with others about the life-giving and transforming grace of Jesus that has grabbed us by the scruff of the neck. I hope and pray we as a community learn to do this better together!

Michael Wagenman // online comment

Mixed Media

I have never commented on articles I have read in The Banner, but one book review in the Mixed Media section of the November 2021 magazine left me feeling uncomfortable. In the review for Jump at the Sun, a book by Alicia D. Williams, the reviewer noted that the main character was a young Black girl. As I continued to read the review, I found nothing about the character’s experiences hinged on her skin color. I checked the other books that were reviewed, and none of them mentioned the skin color of the characters. I’m left wondering if the white skin is viewed as normative. I hope that in the future, racial differences will not be called out without a good reason, and we can just enjoy reading a book about a jubilant little girl.

Kristi Schaaf Zhou // Holland, Mich.

Prisoners’ Mental Health 

I’d like to respond to Jake Terpstra’s article, “Mistakes Can Be Corrected,” in the October 2021 issue of The Banner about the prison system. First of all, Mr. Terpstra is spot-on in his assessment of mental illness in the prison system, especially in the state of Michigan, but the article needs more context. … Deinstitutionalization was done in the early 1970s for a financial savings. It was not about the people but about the money. But it was not properly vetted as to the long-range consequences. So here we are today, and more psych beds can help to rectify or “correct the mistake.”

Carol Vandelin // Grandville, Mich.

The CRC in Canada

This is an interesting and well-done summary (“The CRC in Canada: A Field Guide,” online). I served with pleasure on the Back to God Ministries International board from 2006 to 2013. Canadians and Americans were close to equally represented. I do not remember one negative issue arising from what we were doing. I was overall board treasurer and on the Canadian board as well. The director reported to the executive director, who reported to a 10-member board of trustees. The five other major boards had the same setup, with Canadians in their ranks. (The summary makes no mention of Canadians in that context.) 

Harry Boessenkool // online comment

What an incredible waste of time, energy, and money this has been over many years. It's simply time we go it alone in Canada. Then we can make our own decisions and decide what we can or cannot participate in with our American brothers and sisters. I am not suggesting throwing the baby out with the bathwater, just deciding our own administrative direction and ministry. Many Christian charities have had to go their own way in the last number of decades. Nothing new here. Enough of the immense struggle to be heard and understood. Our binational structure does not work. That should be crystal clear to any reader by now. … Thank you, Gayla, for your work on the timeline. 

Henry Lunshof // online comment

 

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