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Thank You

Just finished the September Banner, and it was one of the best ever. I loved “Songs in the Night, Songs in the Day.” I am 82 and often wake with a song on my mind. The one I repeat most often throughout the day is the chorus “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Almost every article in this issue touched in some way on reaching out and things like tolerance and intolerance (for example, “Oil, Planks, Tax Collectors, and Tolerance”). When we reach out, we will of necessity encounter differences. Differences are a basis for conflict. It is a problem to me to have many promote reconciliation as the road to travel. I feel quite strongly that there is one call to reconciliation, and after that we should “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto us.” I don’t pretend this is easy, and this issue states very well the obvious in many of its articles. Thank you for so much thought-provoking material.

—Roland KampsGallup, N.M.

I was pleased to see coverage of the ongoing needs in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans (“Katrina Relief Groups Say Work Is Half-Finished,” September 2009). The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee has been responding on behalf of the Christian Reformed Church to the needs of Hurricane Katrina survivors since the storm struck. To date, we’ve spent more than $5.4 million and sent 1,750 volunteers and 300 church and school groups to the affected area to repair and rebuild homes. While this has resulted in more than 1,100 rebuilt homes, the needs continue to be great. Thousands of families are still living in “temporary” homes, waiting for assistance. Thank you for reminding people of the continuing need.

—Bill AdamsCRWRC Disaster Response Services Director

Thank you for publishing “31 Ways to Pray for Your Children” (August 2009). As a family with young children, we often find it hard to find time to read The Banner, but this article stuck out to us, and I’m so glad we read it. My husband and I have found it so practical for teaching our kids about many virtues we are called to have as Christians, then praying about them together. What a wonderful way to think about a small area in our lives each day. Our children’s prayers have also become more deep and meaningful since we’ve started using these suggestions. I will be leading a parenting class next month at our church, and I plan to share this fantastic article. Thanks again.

—Michelle VanderHeideCaledonia, Mich.

Thank you so much for “Mother’s Day in a Three-Way Mirror” (May 2009). Advocacy of motherhood is too often lacking in our culture. Praising all “mothers who make the tough decision to carry children they won’t raise and mothers who make the tough decision to raise children they didn’t carry,” should be a priority for us as Christians.

—Matt and Jen VielEdgerton, Minn.

Oil Sands

The news article about the KAIROS delegation visiting the oil sands of Alberta caught my eye (August 2009, p. 12). As a Calvin College biology graduate and current graduate student in ecology, I believe that extraction of oil from the Alberta oil sands is the most inefficient and environmentally damaging method used today.

While I am pleased that local churches are taking an interest in the issue, I was concerned by the comments made by Rev. Van Sloten and Dennis Vroom. Our world does belong to God and we are called to be stewards of his creation, which is exactly why we should be concerned about such reckless exploitation.

(See the March 2009 issue of National Geographic for a more in-depth look at the Alberta oil sands.)

—Steve RoelsLawrence, Kan.

New Calvinism

In the Time magazine article Rev. Al Hoksbergen references in “The New Calvinism” (August 2009), David Van Biema provides clear insight as to how Calvinism is attracting new followers. He quotes Albert Mohler, “The moment someone begins to define God’s being or actions biblically, that person is drawn to conclusions that are traditionally defined as Calvinist.” God’s sovereignty and the concept of predestination are key components of this movement.

Calvin defined the priorities of the Christian life, preaching and biblical studies, to be the knowledge we gain of God and ourselves. Early Calvinist denominations and the broader evangelical community sacrificed these commitments for other emphases and a “friendly, fuzzy Jesus.”

We as a denomination stand at a crossroads. Our choice is the other emphases or remaining committed to biblical standards that recognize that it is not about us but about God. Our problem with election hinges on this point.

—Jack KremersWinfield, Ill.

Maybe the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America were not included in the Time article because, to our shame, we are not part of the “New Calvinism”—or really all that Calvinistic anymore.

—Jo SchoutenBurnaby, British Columbia

Tea Party Redux

We would like to commend Pastor Tyler Wagenmaker for his actions regarding taxation (“Pastor Coordinates Tax Tea Party,” August 2009). The government, in the current trend of increasing taxes, is usurping the church’s vital responsibility of caring for the poor. The church can most effectively distribute true physical and spiritual help, and Christians need to stop relying on the government to do the dirty work. Let’s see some self-sacrifice on the part of Christians today in our budgets and in our schedules.

—Clarissa BonnemaAlicia SluisSouth Holland, Ill.

I am honored to call “brother” one who challenges the immorality and injustice of mortgaging our great-grandchildren’s future, and who challenges the idolatry of trusting in government rather than in God. Thank you, Brother Wagenmaker, for your courage in using your office as citizen to speak truth to power!

—Rev. Les KuiperOostburg, Wis.

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