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One of the nice things about having young adult children home for Thanksgiving is that they can fill you in on crucial cultural developments such as the latest memes. For instance, my daughter just explained to me the “Spiderman pointing” meme. In this meme, you’ve got two Spiderman figures pointing at each other, and the fun is to add your own caption. But to work as a joke, the caption has to be a variation on what this meme has already come to signify. I know: very subtle semiotics here.

This particular meme is used to offer a sheepish admission that something you were eager to blame on others is actually—oops—your own fault. My daughter, who is a medical resident, gave the example of scanning a patient’s chart and wondering in annoyance who wrote these lousy notes from the patient’s last visit, only to realize—“oh, that was me.”

While taking responsibility for our own mess-ups and foibles is certainly a healthy practice — and sadly much neglected — we could also put a positive spin on healthy finger-pointing. We could ask, “Who is responsible for doing good work in the world, the kind of work we wish for more of?” And the answer would still be: “That’s on me!” “I am!” “You are!” “We all are!”

That’s why I am so grateful for The Reformed Journal and for The Twelve blog. We all — editors and writers and readers — have built this online space over ten years. Here, we practice a shared, Reformed project: engaging in thoughtful reflection, offering incisive cultural commentary, asking big questions, sharing griefs, and having some fun — all in a communal effort to live faithfully in this difficult and beloved world. We draw from a long and rich heritage, but if we want that heritage carried forward and continually renewed, well, we have to do it.

I’m especially proud this year of how much our little space has accomplished. The RJ is flourishing, publishing important essays and beautiful poems and pertinent book reviews and more. We’re expanding into podcasting and a newsletter. Meanwhile, the Twelve blog marked our ten-year anniversary, having published a fresh essay every single day since November of 2011. Much to celebrate!

So I’m pointing a grateful finger at everyone involved. Thank you to our readers for making this space vibrant and meaningful. Thanks to all the writers and editors and tech people and board members, all of whom volunteer their time and talent because they believe the work is important.

Keeping this space up and running, however, does cost money. Would you be willing to include us in your Giving Tuesday plans? We especially encourage monthly giving if you are able. In whatever way you support us, with money or readership or social media sharing or all that and more, you are doing good work in the world. Thank you.

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Debra Rienstra

I am a writer and literature professor, teaching literature and creative writing at Calvin University, where I have been on the faculty since 1996. Born and bred in the Reformed tradition, I’ve been unable to resist writing four books about theological topics: beware the writer doing theology without a license. My most recent book is Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth (Fortress, 2022). Besides the books, I’ve written well over two hundred essays for the RJ blog as well as numerous articles, poems, and reviews in popular and scholarly contexts. I have a B.A. from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Rutgers. I am married to Rev. Dr. Ron Rienstra, and together we have three grown children. Besides reading and writing, I love classical music, science fiction, fussing in the yard, hiking, and teaching myself useful skills like plant identification and—maybe someday—drywall repair.

One Comment

  • Fred Mueller says:

    Back in the day (about 1975) a great folder on stewardship was published.

    It was folded and the outside read, “How to Raise Money for the Church”. You opened the folder and inside were the words, “Ask for It”.

    Every single effort to raise money for a good cause boils down to that – asking for it.

    The truth is, if you don’t ask for it, you won’t receive it. We should never be shy asking for financial support for what we believe in.

    One of our gurus in the RCA back then (Roland or Frank?) Ackerman might be the one credited for this. I am sure he introduced me to it.

    When he left us to work for the Friends Service Committee, the RCA was tangled up in a disagreement about whether or not to provide the RCA with our church members’ addresses so the denomination could ask for mission support. Remember the “Data Base” conflict? To those opposed to giving the names Mr. Ackerman (an elder!) wrote, “Good. Don’t give the names. They will hear from me and will give to the Quakers instead.” I learned all I ever needed to know about giving from that man.

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