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Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell

Essay

Could I Be, Should I Be, a Catholic?

The Papal Conclave is here. With no presidential horserace to handicap, the media has turned its attention to Rome. People who don’t seem to have a religious bone in their body pronounce they find this all “fascinating”—similar to the way…
Second Reformed Church, Pella, IA
Essay

Jim Brownson’s New Book

The little pond I swim in, the Reformed Church in America, has not, in my memory, anticipated a book as much as Jim Brownson’s recently released Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships. Lauded, dreaded, and vilified…
Second Reformed Church, Pella, IA
Essay

Scripture and Moral Discernment

“It all comes down to hermeneutics!” It was a seminary prof, many years ago, who uttered those words. I had probably heard the word “hermeneutics” for the very first time only a month or so earlier, so it seemed like…
Second Reformed Church, Pella, IA
Essay

Not Miserable at Les Mis

I went somewhat under duress, trying to be a good husband. One daughter wondered how dad “deigned” to go. The other told us she “fell off the couch” when she heard that Sophie and I went to see Les Miserables…
Second Reformed Church, Pella, IA
Essay

Should Congregations Tithe?

“I chose to come to this church because it was known to give fifty percent to missions.”  The speaker was an elderly man in my congregation, now gone to glory for many years already. I really didn’t know what to…
Second Reformed Church, Pella, IA
Essay

Resolutions

Happy new year! I suppose that makes it a bit late for resolutions. I’ve never been a big fan of them anyway—dubious as I am of self-improvement and willpower. The whole idea of new year’s resolutions and their worth is…
Second Reformed Church, Pella, IA
Essay

Innkeepers and Light Sleepers

“Theologians are poets who cannot write poetry.” I believe it was Stanley Hauerwas I once heard say this. It feeds my deep insecurities. I certainly know I can’t write poetry. Does that qualify me to theologize? I don’t think I…
Second Reformed Church, Pella, IA
Essay

The NAR and the RCA

Writing for The Twelve and Perspectives is often a bit like dropping a pebble down a well. You stand there, waiting, waiting, listening, and hoping to hear some little thud, a faint splash, to know your writing was received. Then…
Second Reformed Church, Pella, IA
Essay

Crosses and Monuments

I spent much of my sabbatical in France. Before you imagine me quaffing champagne along the Champs Elysees, I should you tell that the places I frequent in France are rather more equivalent to Alton, Byron Center or Herkimer. As…
Second Reformed Church, Pella, IA
Essay

Pharaohs & Slaves

It was Election Day, 1996. My father started his day over a cup of coffee with a group of retired men from his church—white, middle class, over-educated, emotionally rather repressed, good-hearted, responsible guys. If you want a better understanding of…
Second Reformed Church, Pella, IA