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Got Religion?

It’s articles such as “Got Religion?” (January 2010) that ease my own discomfort with no longer being part of a church community. Fortunately, I know a lot of people inside the CRC who would be appalled by what this person wrote. But I think the defensive nature of this article is actually embraced by a lot of church folks.

People who are not actively involved in the church are just like the people inside. They don’t think their ideas are better or more respectable. Nor do they doubt God because he has not been revealed by the Hubble telescope. Mostly, they simply don’t think that one group of people has any better idea than another about what’s really going on in this chaotic universe. . . .

I know I was looking for a community that was more inclusive—especially inclusive of people who have come to know a God through their own experiences in the world. The CRC has definitely become more diverse. But what about diversity of thought? If that isn’t recognized, the church is really going to have a hard time surviving.

—Martha SorensonGallup, N.M.


I’d like to see “Reading the Bible Well” framed! I’d settle for a poster. Many thanks to Aminah Al-Attas Bradford and Mary Hulst.

—Randy Vander WeitHickory, N.C.

I’d like to thank Matt Beimers for his article “Let the Little Children Come . . .”

(December 2010). It’s good for us to be reminded of the wisdom of children as they see us live our lives. We think we have things figured out until children show us their childlike faith. My wife and I found ourselves with some of that same dust in the eye that Matt experienced that evening. Now there’s some holiday “magic.”

—Ed StarkenburgOrange City, Iowa

Ethics of Incarceration

It seems that not a Banner goes by without a story or advertisement featuring a prison ministry (“Bible Lessons for Prisoners’ Children,” January 2010).

Though that is commendable, we should not forget to ask those deeper and disturbing questions about the ethics and morality about locking up so many people in Canada and the United States—so many young and vulnerable people of marginal background.

The U.S. is a world leader in putting people in prison, and Canada seems to want to move in that direction as well. Yet evidence has shown consistently that incarceration does not deter crime. Yes, some individuals dangerous to themselves and others need a non-punitive environment for purposes of rehabilitation, education, and healing. But we must ask serious ethical questions about spending billions of dollars on a largely symbolic activity.

I would urge churches to look seriously at alternatives to the industry of pain application and incarceration, creative alternatives inspired by Restorative Justice.

—Henry SmidstraSurrey, British Columbia

Transcendental Literature

Writers, particularly Christian writers, must beware of “our capacity to deceive ourselves, and language’s role in that deception” (“The Truth About Fiction,” December 2010).

But I would like to argue that memoir, as a genre of literature, does not lend itself to relativism or exploitive details in order to hook a reader. The memoirist, like the fiction writer, must work with the tools of the writing craft in just as serious a way, and with just as serious a commitment to the stories that we have experienced, in order to transcend the realm of “shock” and turn them into art. I’d like to point to the work of Richard Rodriguez, Leslie Leyland Fields, Robert Clark, and many others who hold themselves to this standard. Memoir, when done right, cannot be ignored as an essential and important genre in the world of literature.

—Allison BackousGrand Rapids, Mich.

War Crimes

Regarding “Aceh’s Redemption” (December 2010), Gen. J.B. van Heutsz’s “military genius” and Capt. H. Colijn’s eradication of the independence of Aceh’s population would nowadays be called genocide, and these leaders would have been tried for war crimes.

—Hans RoelofsCedar City, Utah

Empty Nest Relief

For those who don’t know what to do with themselves once the kids are gone (“The Empty Nest,” January 2010), become a foster parent. Thousands of children in Canada and the U.S. need homes, both long-term and short-term. If all the empty nesters in North America would take one child, not a child would have to live in a group home, hotel, or 24-hour daycare—all places that really are no different than an orphanage. Open your home to a child, and that empty-nest feeling will be replaced with a purpose.

—Anita BooyRegina, Saskatchewan

Indecent Language

I was impressed by some of the good thoughts in “The Nightmare of Christmas” by James C. Schaap in the December Banner. But I was upset by the indecent language on p. 21: “You’re so full of b.s., Dad.”

To find that in a Christian publication and written by a college professor is unreal. What kind of proofreaders do you hire?

Like many others, I know there are lots of other phrases that could be used.

—LaVerne VriezeBaldwin, Wis.


Regarding “The House that Love Built” (February 2010), Pat Lavallee and her husband lost their house to a fire before her husband’s death. The error was made in editing.

In the same issue, “CRWRC Lays Off Staff” should have read that, overseas, “two-and-a-half positions in Asia and three positions in Africa have been eliminated, and other positions that were recently vacated will not be filled.”

The Banner apologizes for the errors.

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