Wish You Were Here
Received the June Banner this afternoon and wanted to contact editor Bob De Moor as his time in this job is short (“Wish You Were Here”). I enjoyed your writings and can say the “newbie” editor will have big shoes—wooden or otherwise—to fill. Here’s wishing you the best in your future, and may God continue to bless your efforts.
I spent the first 50 years of my life happily singing psalms and hymns from the red and then blue Psalter Hymnal. Now I am living in a care facility with seniors. I relate to Didy Prinzen’s article “Psalms in the Night.”
Weekly I enlarge the print of a psalm for a Bible study at the facility: appreciative residents read, study, and sing it. Though sung without accompaniment and out of tune, we make a joyful noise. At our weekly worship services, pastors are often surprised by the enthusiastic singing. I treat occasional insomnia by singing to myself spiritual songs I learned years ago, one for each letter of the alphabet. They are precious memories.
—Eunice (Post) Hop
Grand Rapids Dreaming
One thing Clayton Libolt’s article (“Grand Rapids Dreaming”) neglected to mention is the proverbial elephant in the room: our binational nature. It’s just not working. Many binational Christian organizations have gone their own way to more effective ministry. How many Canadian Ministry Directors must we go through before our American cousins take us seriously?
Don’t get me wrong. I love my American neighbors. I don’t want to split our church. But our worldview and politics could not be more different. Let’s admit that and do something about it.
At the very least, let’s start with having our own synod north of the 49th parallel.
The CRC in its present form has already hit the iceberg, in Libolt’s words. Will it continue to float in its present form? I think not.
As an outgoing board member of two small organizations—our boards consist of about 10 members each—the prospect of having the denomination led by a board of 60 people makes me dizzy (“Grand Rapids Dreaming”). Mr. Libolt’s point about board members rubber-stamping decisions already made by committee members or staff seems all too likely. Please let this dream sit for one year and give the decision-makers time to think this through. If it’s good, it will survive the waiting, and if not, the denomination will have averted a disaster.
Kudos to Clayton Libolt for his perceptive article on the matter of restructuring the CRCNA (“Grand Rapids Dreaming”). The impulse toward centralization in the pursuit of efficiency has also been seen in government and education in the past few decades. Now we have bloated government and a top-heavy education system, together with the substantial improvement of neither the welfare of our citizens nor the education of our children. Nor have many of our churches escaped increasing bureaucracy. Church staffs keep growing, resulting too often in the disengagement of congregational members. Our denomination’s structure is somewhat messy, but a little messiness in our churches and denomination is better than an overly-centralized and efficient organization that moves people ever farther from a sense of personal identification and investment in our mutual service to the Lord.
Byron Center, Mich.
Just wanted to respond with a helpful resource for the individual whose question about the friends whose question was posted in the FAQ “Outreach” (May 2015). I have been confronted with friends who question the exclusive claims of Christianity myself on more than one occasion. The answer given by Victor Ko was spot on, exactly what the individual needed to hear. I simply wanted to add a suggestion that he read Timothy Keller’s book The Reason for God. It was extremely helpful in clarifying this question posed by the skeptical friend. Well worth the read for any Christian.
Growing in Unity
Is it helpful to proclaim that the “lack of unity” is everywhere we look, and then list examples of it in the church (“Growing in Unity”)? Earlier pages of The Banner described unity in youth conventions, special Olympics, denominational agencies, community gardens, CRC and RCA classes, and in many other church activities. Let’s deal with disunity when it exists, but also emphasize and appreciate demonstrations of church unity when they do occur and praise God for them.
I read with interest the news article “Boko Haram Haunts Children.” The story of the devastating Islamic attacks on Christian communities needs to be reported. The CRCNA has a sister denomination in Nigeria. There are also other CRC-related organizations involved in providing support to widows and orphans. It seems strange that The Banner would reprint an article from USA Today that does not mention the word “Christian.” An article directly from the CRC in Nigeria and our direct involvement in supporting our fellow Christians is overdue.
—Bruce T. Muller
Grand Rapids, Mich.
As a father and a psychologist who has had the privilege of working with a number of families with similar issues, I think Ms. Cook’s response misses several key points (FAQ, “Relationships”). If the young woman is presenting an accurate picture, and we have no reason to believe she is not, what she reports is an emotionally abusive and overly controlling father who is not listening to either his wife or daughter. In the face of such a father, it is quite possible that if the daughter attempts a measured discussion with her father, it will yield further abuse and pain for her. I suggest the young woman enlist someone outside the family, perhaps a trusted teacher or adult in her church, to help her address her father's actions. This young woman deserves support and cannot find it at home.
South Bend, Ind.
I would like to add a few words to the advice given in response to the question about whether we need to forgive a person who has hurt us (FAQ, “Ethics”). Forgiveness enters the picture much after the original hurt. To try to forgive while we still feel raw inside from the pain most often leads to further inner conflict.
It is best to focus on our own healing and growing after the event, however long that takes.
Only later, when we can let go of our pain and feel the inner strength and courage to move on, we may be ready to forgive. And we can do it in our hearts. By then it may not even be difficult because we have discovered that we are able to overcome. Hopefully we can admit that we are all imperfect human beings with potential to hurt someone even though we would never choose to do so.
—Vicky Van Andel