A Response to Howard Schaap . . . And a Response to the Response

January 17, 2022
A response to Howard Schaap, by Tony Jelsma. And a response to Tony Jelsma, by Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell.

The Holy Bits

Like many pastors I spent too much of my time being a program director for children, youth, college students, singles, families, older adults, recovering divorced people, and all the other niche groups in the life of any church. That’s a fine thing to do, or it can be, but I wish I had spent less of my time being that person. I wish I had spent less of my time as a manager and a therapist and a community activist.…
January 3, 2022

The Pearl Principle

God is compassion. God is mercy. I see God, like Pearl, in a garden. With her hands, she clears away thorn and weed. She sends rain and summons life from the soil. Light warms and synthesizes unseen elements into nutrient. She offers food, and generous souls share it, because,
December 27, 2021

Reformed and Always…Deconstructing?

But in reformed worldview conversations, that adjective “reformed” means we’re committed to something more. We’re committed to complexity, committed to deconstruction, and to reforming again beyond that deconstruction, committed to listening to opposing voices to not only hear what they have to say but to take to heart their critiques, to even call them prophetic when they are. It means we can admit when we’re wrong and that we’re not even afraid of ideas that seem to challenge scripture. It…
December 20, 2021

Christmas Abroad and Being “Home” for the Holidays

We’ve stumbled through the formation of our Christmas traditions both in India and in Michigan. We’ve bumbled it in both places at different times, but we’ve also shared good traditions in both places. My son insists on burning incense when we light our Advent candles in Michigan. And one of my proudest adult moments was when JP’s grandfather asked for seconds of the Cherry Walnut Christmas Coffeecake that I painstakingly baked in India. What it all comes down to is…
December 13, 2021

I Don’t Know . . . But I Live in Hope: A Conversation with Poet, Undertaker, Essayist Thomas Lynch

I don't know if it's Mother Nature or Father God in charge. I just know it's not me. Tom is not in charge. Anytime I've tried to be in charge, I'm quickly reminded of how much I'm in error. I do believe in a power greater than myself. I don’t know if that power is the creator of the universe. I haven't a clue. But I live in hope.
December 6, 2021

Separation Anxiety: Reflecting on the 2021 RCA General Synod

More than a month has passed since General Synod. Time has allowed me to sort through my emotions and become what I believe is more objective about the RCA and its future. In a way, I wish I could have been at the point that I am now prior to General Synod. I see glimmers of hope for the RCA and I acknowledge that God is doing a new thing through the chaos in which we find ourselves. Yet I…
November 29, 2021

Breath Mark of Snow Days – The Holy Rhythm of Free Time

Snow days are like breath marks scattered throughout the otherwise hectic and frantic pace of life, letting us know it is OK (and necessary!) to breathe. In an ideal world, we would not need to fight against snow days or find a way to get our work done in the midst of them. We could receive snow days as gifts that help us reset, start anew, and clear off an evening or even a whole day to spend in ways…

Latest from the Blog

Daily blog by our regular bloggers & guest contributors.

  • The Tragedy of Macbeth: Art Without Tragedy
    I found Joel Cohen’s new film version of Macbeth ultimately disappointing. As a film, it’s a skilled, maybe even exquisite art piece. But it failed to draw me in. It struck me as an art piece about the play Macbeth more than a performance of the play. When the tragedy
    January 22, 2022 Debra Rienstra
  • “Encourage the people around you”
    There was a celebration of some sort in the gym that day. I don’t know why or what was being...
    January 21, 2022 James C. Schaap
  • Yellow
    Amanda Gorman spoke with the gravity of 300 years of dignity that refused to be diminished by pain. She not so much summoned our better angels, she commanded them.
    January 20, 2022 Tim Van Deelen
  • Notes off the fridge in my mind
    Here I am decluttering and taking stock of the mental residue from five years of college.
    January 19, 2022 Olivia Mason
  • The news and Biden at one year
    No one, including Biden himself, is suggesting he should be added to Mount Rushmore. And that’s okay. I’m content with “adequate.”
    January 18, 2022 Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell
  • Martin Luther King Jr., Compassion Fatigue, and God the Insomniac
    In telling us about his epiphany, Dr. King was offering hope for those of us who struggle for justice, peace, the integrity of creation and who are fatigued. God is an insomniac. God cannot rest until all the children of God are safe in the fold. We are not alone.
    January 17, 2022 Tom Boogaart
  • Agent of Change: Profiles of Reformed Women in Ministry
    Pastor Denise was born in Harlem, New York to an 18-year-old single mother who died of a drug overdose when Denise was just an infant.
    January 16, 2022 Dana VanderLugt
  • Climate Change, Resilience, and Battling Indifference
    Two of the best novels I read in 2021 were Bewilderment by Richard Powers and Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr.
    January 15, 2022 Allison Vander Broek


January 18, 2022


What if, when my steps darken a sanctuary to become separated from the world, a holy inferno enveloped my body ...
January 18, 2022


Sitting in his throne of stone, cut from crags atop the world’s tallest mountain, overseeing all, the king-god breathed deeply in his lungs before exhaling forth a rushing word, what appeared to mortal senses like raging winds that carried thundercracks across the waves ...
January 11, 2022

The Path of Integration

The Holy Spirit comes in while you are quiet. There is nothing voice yet many questions while our tongues are still.
January 11, 2022

Hummingbird, Redux

When I left the southern coast, I bid farewell to hummingbird, never thought I'd see a calliope, rufous, or ruby-throated again ...
January 4, 2022

On Sundays When Football Isn’t On

On Sundays when football isn't on our family naps through high noon westerns after church.
January 4, 2022

An Inmate Reads the King James Psalms: Psalm 8

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, and the hum and the buzz and the blue flicker of the fluorescent tubes that twitch and wink for decades like highway stripes ...

Latest Podcasts

December 16, 2021

Jim Schaap

In this episode, Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell chats with Jim Schaap, writer and retired Dordt University professor of English. Jim has authored novels, devotionals, and a history of the Christian Reformed Church, and continues to write for his daily blog, as well as hosts the podcast Small Wonders on NPR. In this conversation Steve and Jim discuss the roots of Jim's creative energy, his mission-oriented approach, and his fascination with the Great Plains, the Ghost Dance, and Native American rights, the subjects…
October 21, 2021

Jeff Crosby

In this episode, Jeff Munroe, editor at the Reformed Journal, talks with Jeff Crosby, President and CEO of the Evangelical Christian Publishing Association. Jeff C has been involved in the Christian publishing industry for nearly four decades, including 5 years as Publisher for InterVarsity Press (IVP). Listen to this week's conversation to hear about how Jeff C found himself in the Christian book business, Jeff's time at IVP, and the future of Christian publishing, as well as get great book…
September 23, 2021

Neal Plantinga

In this episode, Deborah Van Duinen talks with Cornelius (Neal) Plantinga, senior research fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian worship at Calvin University. Neal has written several books, including Not the Way It's Supposed to Be (Eerdmans, 1995), Christianity Today's 1996 "Book of the Year," and Engaging God's World (Eerdmans, 2002), the 2003 "Book of the Year." Deb and Neal discuss his newest book, Morning and Evening Prayers, why more Christians should use published prayers, how Reformed theology informed…
September 9, 2021

Gayle Boss

In this episode, Deborah Van Duinen, book review editor at the Reformed Journal, talks with Gayle Boss, author of All Creation Waits (2016) and Wild Hope (2020). Gayle shares the stories behind the Advent and Lent devotionals rooted in her deep love for God's creatures, as well as how we can become better caretakers of Creation. More information on Gayle's work can be found at
August 29, 2021

Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor

In this episode, Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell talks with Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor of The Leader's Journey, an organization that helps leaders and organizations grow their emotional intelligence so that they can be the healthiest, most effective versions of themselves. In this conversation, they discuss their Enneagram numbers, the evolving challenges facing the RCA and other Christian denominations in North America, and The Leader's Journey's work with pastors, congregations, and denominations.
August 26, 2021

Makoto Fujimura

In this episode, Jennifer Holberg talks with Makoto Fujimura, a leading contemporary artist whose process driven, refractive “slow art” has been described by David Brooks of New York Times as “a small rebellion against the quickening of time”. He was a Presidential Nominee to the National Council on the Arts from 2003 to 2009, and served as an international advocate for the arts, speaking with decision-makers and advising governmental policies on the arts. In this episode, they discuss Fujimura's book,…
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White Protestants aren’t losing liberty. They’re losing power.

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Uncivil Religion: an amazing examination of January 6

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Watch Night, Emancipation & New Years Eve

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Apocryphal Tales of the Magi

Matthew's account of Jesus' birth has been embroidered upon in all sorts of interesting and compelling ways.

Visions of Jesus

Robert Hudson's new book "Seeing Jesus: Visionary Encounters from the First Century to the Present" is both devotional and skeptical, says the New Yorker

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Beth Moore, now Anglican, serves communion in her new church

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It’s A Wonderful Life: is it a “Christian” movie?

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