My wholehearted thanks for “Hospitality from the Heart” (November 2007). I’ve been a member of a Christian Reformed church for the past 10 years. During that time church members have given me wonderful wedding and baby showers, as well as many meals during a stressful time in my life. And they’ve shown me great friendliness in the fellowship hall. However, I’ve been invited to only two people’s homes for a meal. I was away from church for many years and had non-Christian friends with whom I shared my life. They welcomed me into their homes frequently, which I miss. If I may be so bold as to offer a few tips for easier ways to offer hospitality: (1) Invite people to your home for pizza. Don’t let a lack of cooking skills or time deter you. (2) Close all the doors to bedrooms and spare rooms. Don’t let a messy house keep you from extending hospitality. (3) Invite someone from church to join your weekly gathering with family instead of excusing yourself with, “I always have Sunday dinner with my parents.”
—Sarah Boonstra-BoerGrand Rapids, Mich.
I can clearly see the loving intention of “Diversifying Our Humor” (IMHO, November). To avoid building the walls of exclusion the author addresses, we must be careful to fight against the root causes of the walls. Yet to hope for a Christian Reformed Church in which “the Dutch and those who have been raised in the CRC [are] outnumbered” is to build a wall, albeit unintentionally. Striving, even subconsciously, to shape the ethnic, racial, or cultural profile of the CRC is to assign value to inherent and unchangeable attributes, which is the very heart of discrimination.
—Christy J. OlsenColorado Springs, Colo.
We do not ask that people joining the CRC forsake their ethnic and regional traditions. It would be wrong to believe that they want or expect the denomination’s Dutch to abandon theirs.
—Robert E.A.P. RitholzHighland Park, Ill.
Ontario Education Justice
Regarding your World News item about the funding of private religious schools in Ontario (November), Ontario isn’t the only province in Canada that doesn’t extend public funds to private schools. What makes Ontario different is far worse. We are the only jurisdiction in all of North America that publicly funds one type of religious school (Catholic) and no others.
During our most recent election campaign, Progressive Conservative leader John Tory proposed expanding Ontario’s definition of public education to include all faith-based schools. In my opinion the heated debate that ensued was less about the merits of an education platform in an election than it was about some ugly, latent religious prejudice.
—Barbara A. BiermanSpokesperson—Parents forEducational Choice(www.parentseduchoice.org)Cambridge, Ontario
I was surprised and disappointed to find a joke on the “Punch Lines” page that was based on potty humor (October 2007). This is the kind of humor we teach our children not to use!
—Alan MeijerPantego, N.C.
How can this type of so-called humor be allowed in a Christian magazine? Where is your sense of refinement and discretion? It spoiled my Sunday reading.
—Helen TangelderLondon, Onario
Baptized in a Violent World
I thought David Kromminga’s article “Being Baptized in a Violent World” (October) was one of the best things I have ever read on living out our baptism. The language of peace is woven throughout the New Testament, yet we often ignore it altogether. Choosing peacemaking over violence is at the heart of the gospel, and I was excited to see an extremely well-written piece making this very important point.
I read this article with interest, having long wondered how the horribly evil crime of murder turned into entertainment in North America. However, I take exception to Kromminga’s statement concerning God’s asking us to give up playing with guns. We need to get to the deep-seated roots of the problem, instead of blaming an object. I use guns to participate in sports such as target shooting, trap shooting, and steel-plate competitions. And it’s only since becoming involved in these sports that I now walk away with disgust when I see someone murdering another human being on TV or in video games. Maybe if we teach today’s youths the healthy, positive use of guns, they too will react the same way.
—Gordon VanderMeulenAlsip, Ill.
Being a law-enforcement officer in the fifth-largest city in the United States allows me a perspective on violence most people don’t have. Statistics on violence can be easily manipulated. The number of young people in a community is the largest determining factor for violent crime—more young people, more crime. Most violent criminals I come across are from broken homes with no discipline, no responsibility, and above all, no fathers or weak fathers. Violent criminals are often repeat offenders, and small numbers commit the majority of violent crimes. Violence more often than not needs to be handled by “good guys” with guns ready to be violent to take the “bad guys” down.
If the CRC wants to do something that will truly affect violence, we need to promote discipline, family, prayer, and responsibility, as well as push for harsher sentences for violent criminals.
—Phil SteenstraPhoenix, Ariz., P.D.
“Embracing AIDS” (November 2007) incorrectly identified Ludfine Anyango Okeyo, the HIV/AIDS coordinator for ActionAid International, as a man. She is not.
Regarding “CRWRC: $4 Million in Katrina Relief and Still Going” (October), the 5,000 volunteers mentioned include but are not limited to members of the CRC. Many belong to the Reformed Church in America and other churches.
Clarification: While Rev. Victor Atallah agreed to grace the September Banner cover in conjunction with the article “Understanding Islam,” he himself is not a convert from Islam.
The Banner apologizes for the errors.