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Giving Tuesday

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by Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell

It is Giving Tuesday, the day you are asked to be generous, to support your favorite charities. And of course, we are asking you to include The Twelve/Perspectives Journal on your list. Please.

For Reformed folk, however, generosity, charity, and giving aren’t supposed to be a once-a-year deal. Why we might even be a bit uneasy “practicing random acts of kindness.” We’re more inclined toward considered, studied, premeditated, dependable acts of kindness.

By that logic, you should enroll to make recurring gifts to Perspectives Journal/The Twelve! But we are also realistic. You have many, many worthy causes to support. So for most of you, a gift today, once-a-year, is all we ask. Expert fundraisers tell us we should never say this, that we should ask you for thousands, tens-of-thousands. But in reality, your modest gift is very good. Small gifts are not small to us. Thank you!

Who Are We?

Asking you for financial support always sends us to re-visiting who we are, what we are trying to do, and why you should support us.

Once while skimming through a Tim Keller book, I believe it was Center Church, I read something like this, “Perspectives is a journal of politically progressive Calvinists…” At first I wanted to protest, “That’s not fair…We’re so much more than that.” But if that’s how a pretty dispassionate observer sees us, maybe I should listen.

I resist Keller’s description because we want to be more than “political,” and wider than “progressive.” We don’t write on “politics” all that often, but sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. Keller may be accurate, that we lean “progressive,” but we don’t want to push away those who do not share those politics. We want readers to engage, respond, debate, not write us off.

Three Terms

We are institutionalists. We are people who have been shaped by, value, and participate in pretty traditional institutions. We’re pastors of congregations and professors at small colleges. We live within those confines, those responsibilities, those relationships. We don’t want to be hand-grenade-tossers or trolls. We don’t aspire to shock or annoy. We prefer the role of the loyal-opposition; not seeking conflict but rather to strengthen and invigorate the institutions we love. Still, in our fractious society, some will only hear the opposition and overlook the loyalty.

We are middle brow. Neither highbrow nor low. We strive to be accessible, relevant, real-world, but not simplistic, sloganistic, or maudlin. We want to be incisive, curious, and honest, not stuffy, convoluted, or pretentious. It can be a difficult mark to hit.

We are tribal—a term that is often accused of implying balkanized, provincial, and pedantic. For me, it conveys a confident identity, roots, a perspective. Are we too white, too Dutchy, too USA-centric? Of course. But realizing we are a tribe and that our tribe, like all tribes, has blessings and blind spots, fortes and foibles, might cover a few of our flaws.

We want to be part of your lives. We want to build community and enrich the conversation. We value you as readers and partners. We want your likes, your shares, your comments, your subscriptions.

But today especially, we ask for your financial gift. Thank you.

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Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell

Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell and his wife, Sophie, are the pastors at the Second Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa. Steve has served on numerous Reformed Church commissions and task forces, and also edited the Reformed Journal's previous iteration, Perspectives for many years. Before coming to Iowa, he lived and served as a pastor in upstate New York. He holds a Ph.D. from Boston College in theological ethics.

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