I was following your thoughtful articles in The Banner for years, and am thoroughly delighted that you became editor. Your editorials are winsome, engaging, and insightful. Keep up the good and godly work. I am in my 80s, and you embody my hope for the continued vitality of the church. May God with his gracious Spirit continue to bless and keep you, your family, and the Banner staff.
Mary E. Jellema
Thank you for the retrospective of Joanne De Jonge’s contributions over these many years (“Joanne De Jonge Retires from Writing for The Banner,” Dec. 2016). I read her columns (and many of her books) as a child and have continued to enjoy her writing as an adult. I learn something every time I read her work. And what fun it was to learn that she started her career as an orchestra teacher, my own occupation. She will be missed!
Thanks for publishing several articles on race issues in the February 2017 Banner. The content is timely. I spent time in Rehoboth in 1951 and was impressed, without thinking of the trauma the children suffered by being removed from their families. Years later, I developed a close friendship with a woman who had spent much of her childhood in the Rehoboth boarding school. When asked about it, she did not want to talk about her experience.
Only recently have we begun to face what we did to Native Americans and to African Americans. Possibly we are now mature enough to face those issues and come to grips with them. Our society and church will be better if we do.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
I have just read the article about Rehoboth (“God’s Been There Somehow,” Feb. 2017), and I would like to tell you about my experience at Rehoboth. I lived there during part of the 30s and 40s. Even after I left to go to high school, I still had ties to Rehoboth.
The writer asks "What about Rehoboth. Was it long ago a hall of horrors?" My experience has been absolutely not. I have nothing but praise for the early missionaries. They served with love in their hearts.
Long Beach, Calif.
In his inimitable way, James Schaap forces us to witness the painful moment when a Zuni child realizes the implications of CRC doctrine (“God’s Been There Somehow”). That same February issue announced the passing of Rev. Neal Punt, [who] reminded us that it is the will of the Father that everyone should be saved. Our message is one of hope and never of fear or despair. To the best of our knowledge, God loves the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.
As you show in your editorial (“Stand Together,” Feb. 2017), the evil consequences of [slavery] are still with us. My world experience of the evil of racial divisions was in the Army 40 years ago. There were constant skirmishes, even riots, between different groups.
It’s easier to find hope in a bad situation when you don’t have to be afraid that something you cannot change, like your ancestry, will hamper your efforts.
I hope that our church and society will reap the full benefits of your present position as editor of The Banner.
Raymond P. Opeka
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Thanks for your editorial on white privilege (“Stand Together”). I work with college-age students and try to help them understand what this is and how it affects them and the world. Your analogy of the car/bike issue should help as I attempt to teach this. I also appreciated the “Confronting White Privilege” (Feb. 2017) article. I will use this with my students. Because most of them are white, they struggle along with many of us to understand that this is real and does affect people. Thank you for addressing it.
Ed Starkenburg, Dordt College Education Department
Sioux Center, Iowa
As an 82-year-old still riding a Schwinn given him in New Jersey by an aunt, I loved your use of bikes and cars to explain white privilege in the editorial “Stand Together.” I am happy you can reach a more diverse audience. I thank God for my Chinese-Indonesian friends, my black fellow student in the Netherlands, and a session I had with a Muslim vacuum cleaner salesman from Pakistan. But I confess that I still have a lot to learn. God keep you as you continue to help us learn.
I want to add my voice to those who have expressed their appreciation of your editorial leadership and voice. I have been blessed by your editorials and the content of each issue. The February issue (“Stand Together”) is the most recent example of this. We as 21st-century Christians must be aware and reminded of how the gospel teaches us to live out our faith in an increasingly complex and diverse world. Our son lives in China, and I can assure you there is “yellow privilege” there.
Broad assertions about the harm done by unacknowledged “white privilege” are as racist as they claim to be anti-racist ("Confronting White Privilege," Feb. 2017). A black woman calling into a radio program said she was tired of liberal condescension from those who say that only whites can fix the problem of racism by confessing. To her that attitude was insulting and patronizing.
In the Banner article, the authors encourage godly sorrow and corporate confession, yet it is more often stories of personal confession that change the world. Heartfelt personal confession might actually cause others to do some soul-searching. But please stop making broad prejudicial generalizations about entire groups of people based on your own stereotypes and prejudice.
Susan A. Boer
A Place to Belong
Thank you to Mark and Nicole Stephenson for sharing their story (“A New Normal,” Feb. 2017). Our son, Oliver was born with spina bifida. Oliver either had to be carried or he would use his Zippie (a wheelchair he was strapped in standing up). He enjoyed negotiating through groups of people at church and flashing his smile. During one children’s sermon, our pastor spoke to the children from a wheelchair. Oliver was so excited he could not hold back: “Look, pastor’s in a Zippie too!”
Oliver died when he was 5 years old, but we are so thankful to have a church family that embraced his presence and gave him a place to belong.
Roland and Polly Lindh
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Regarding “Baptizing Babies” (Jan. 2017): Whether we are baptized as babies or adults, God has the last word: Galatians 3:7.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Fiesta, Not Siesta
I found the article “This Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” (Jan. 2017) a refreshing splash in the face to the staunch Dutch work ethtic. Felix Fernandez’s concept of fiesta and siesta are truly not in the Reformed Dutch dictionary, and he accentuates the lost point of resting and celebrating in grace.
Chuck Van Drunen
I get heartburn every time I read about human arrogance in claiming they understand the climate, environment, or the earth’s atmosphere (“Climate Witness Project Moves Focus to Congregations,” Jan. 2017). I agree wholeheartedly that we should care for God’s creation as best we know and that less consumption of nonrenewable resources will reduce respiratory disease and pollution. But can we stop an earthquake, a tsunami, a hurricane, a volcano, a tornado, a solar storm, El Nino, or La Nina? I don’t dispute that human activities on earth have left a footprint, but I don't recall that being forbidden in the creation story. Nor do I want to underestimate God’s ability to make all things new.
If I wish to participate in a pipeline protest or climate change conference, that is a personal choice, one my denomination should not be making for me.
Iron Springs, Alta.
I am deeply troubled that the leadership of our church spent $31,000 of scarce ministry shares to send four delegates to attend the Paris Summit on climate change (“Climate Witness Project Moves Focus to Congregations”). In my opinion, human-made climate change is a political issue, not a faith issue. There is a broad range of opinion within the CRC on the causes of climate change; I don’t need the leadership of my church making decisions for me on this issue.
Regarding “It’s Time to Seek Other Seas” (Dec. 2016): What God reveals about himself through valid scientific research must agree with Scripture. The Roman Catholic error was misinterpreting the Bible, which does not state that the universe revolves around the earth. Valid science has verified the water cycle mentioned in Ecclesiastes 1:7 and Isaiah 55:10. True science should not threaten the faith of believers.
Regarding “Whatever Happened to the Ten Commandments?” (Oct. 2016):The Ten Commandments have no limitations but are an overarching and constant reminder as to how we should live our daily lives to the glory of God. And that is a good thing.
It is hard to understand why we want to move so far from the foundations of our faith (“Whatever Happened to the Ten Commandments?”). Like the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed and the Heidelberg Catechism are all things in the past. The Apostles’ Creed, we don’t hear much anymore. If I don’t say it or use it, can I still profess it? The Heidelberg Catechism asks what I must know to live happily. It talks about sin, salvation, and service. I was taught that sin is disobeying God. If we eliminate the law, what am I disobeying? I know we are not under the law, but under God’s grace and love. But if I say I love you but disregard the law it might be a bit confusing.
I wonder if Revelation 22:19 has any part in the discussion. Something to think about.
West Olive, Mich.