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Blessedness of Mourning

The Banner’s February cover story (“Blessed Are You Who Mourn”) suggests that in saying “blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” Jesus was referring to bereavement. While the death of loved ones, failed marriages, and other such suffering may bring us to our knees in prayer, this Beatitude conveys a far greater significance than an earthly reason for mourning.

Christ’s teachings always had a spiritual, eternal purpose. “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). I mourn when I consider that it was my sin that crucified my Savior. But then I find comfort in the blessed assurance that “my sin, not in part but the whole, was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.” I was bought with a price and belong to Christ. That is the comfort that blesses my mourning.

—Joe A. SergeOshawa, Ontario

Harry Potter

The author of the Harry Potter series may be a Christian, but her books have added fuel to the fire of fascination with witchcraft and the occult among today’s youths. Interest in witchcraft among youths is much greater than interest in the Christian faith. J.K. Rowlings’s books are being heavily promoted for reading and teaching by Scholastic Books in the public school system. Guides have been written to help teachers use this material, which also provide links to websites concerning  “magic arts” and Wicca teaching. The author herself has stated that she has received many inquiries about whether the “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft” is a real place. I wonder how many children have written to ask her about Jesus and the teachings of the Bible.

—Marnie MacLeodHouston, British Columbia

I wished I had a camera on Sunday to take pictures of all the kids who were off in corners during coffee time reading The Banner! The January cover got them curious. We had a great discussion about Harry Potter in Sunday school class.  I teach the tweens and try to find something in each Banner issue that might capture their interest as a way of getting them to read it for themselves.

—Elna SiebringHalifax, Nova Scotia

Not everyone agrees with the interpretation of the Harry Potter books presented in the January Banner. An alternative position should have been printed in the same issue.

—Anne TamelingHudsonville, Mich.

I was very troubled to read this article. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God hates witchcraft (Lev. 19:26, 31; Deut. 18:10-11; Exod. 22:18, Gal. 5:20; Rev. 21:8 and 22:15). While it’s true that reading the Harry Potter books is not the same as practicing witchcraft, we are always influenced by what we put into our minds and allow ourselves to be exposed to. I believe the enemy is using the overwhelming popularity of these books to influence a generation of children in regards to how they perceive witchcraft.

We are in a real spiritual battle; let’s not even give the appearance we’re confused about whose side we’re on.

—Brenda KoningsMilwaukee, Wis.

The God Delusion

While I agree with Wayne Brouwer that Richard Dawkins has done Christianity a service by writing the book The God Delusion, I do not appreciate his comment that Dawkins himself has become the perfect example of David’s opening line in Psalm 53—a fool (“Thank God for The God Delusion,” January 2008). I would rather we pay attention to and have further dialogue about how Dawkins may have broken the back of presumptive aspects of our Christian faith and how we often claim more than our faith can really deliver, as well as about the ugliness of our own religious haughtiness.

Let’s rise to the occasion and do some navel gazing that may in the long run give more depth to our faith.

—Arlene Van HoveLangley, British Columbia


The Christian Reformed Church professes to believe in one catholic (universal) church, except, it seems, when we talk about merging with the Reformed Church in America (“Merging Back with the RCA,” January 2008).

The differences that divide us from the RCA (indeed, from almost any mainstream denomination) may be more reflections of our earthly histories and our various ethnic and cultural roots than differences of core theology. It seems to me our creeds compel us to seek unity with all other churches, rather than allow us to hang on to an ethnic and cultural heritage that separates us.

Of course there are differences of theological opinion between denominations, but we have this within our denomination (does your church have a woman as pastor?). However, if we intend to live by our creeds, we should welcome a closer ecumenical community and the breaking down of walls that have grown up around our denominations, rather than look for reasons and ways to reinforce them.

—Frank BarefieldHolland, Mich.

We’re Here!

In correction of statements made in the January 2008 issue (“Calvin Says Prof Must Choose Between School, Church”): there is a majority African American Christian Reformed congregation in Grand Rapids, Mich.—City Hope Ministries.

City Hope is a multiracial Christian Reformed church that is majority African American, headed by an African American pastor, Rev. Rik Stevenson, and his African American wife, Pastor Denise Stevenson. Every ministry is multiracial, and our first slate of elders and deacons, installed in December, is majority African American. This doesn’t automatically solve the stalemate between Calvin College and Professor Denise Isom, but we had to respond to comments by Calvin Provost Claudia Beversluis that no such church exists in the area. We do!

—Natalie HartMichael Van HoutenGrand Rapids, Mich.

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