Essay

God Bless the Matriarchs

When I was in elementary school, I spent one week of every summer at my Grandma Vinkenberg’s house. She would host my sister, cousin, and me when her church had their Vacation Bible School. How we loved those weeks! Now in…
Essay

A Kind Solution

Winter can feel like a mean season. Winter can feel especially mean if you are an international student from the tropics and the temperature drops to single digits. Winter can feel mean when you don’t see the ice and you…
Western Theological Seminary
Essay

On Wealth, Art, Democracy, and Religion

In one of the lesser-studied chapters of his renowned Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville reflects on the “spirit” in which democratic nations such as the United States cultivate the arts (Vol II, Part I, chapter 11). His conclusions are…
Essay

Softened

My father, the Rev. Dr. Jim Petersen, is a retired Christian Reformed Church minister who still has fire in his belly. He is a preacher and an evangelist, yes. But more importantly, he is a lover of the Word and…
Essay

Wonderful World

After a long hiatus of anything resembling Winter, here in Michigan we have been back in the deep freeze the last few days with a blanket of snow finally covering up all those leaves we never raked last Fall (and…
Calvin Theological Seminary
Essay

The Other America

To honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is fitting to read a portion of his speech, “The Other America,” presented April 14, 1967 at Stanford University: What I'm trying to get across is that our nation has constantly…
Northwestern College
Essay

Fountain of Life

When I left seminary, I made a pact with three of my classmates. Every year we will gather for retreat, reflection, and encouragement. Last May we spent three days at a Benedictine monastery in Nebraska. We prayed the hours with…
Essay

On Shaving and Shaming

Earlier this week, Gillette dropped a new advertisement called “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be.” Well, you would think they had dropped a match in a puddle of gasoline. Using all the slick production values a $17 billion corporation…
Calvin College
Essay

The Blizzard of 1888

A January thaw is what all of us look forward to out here, a breath of warmth that reopens our hope that someday soon April will return. Two cold-of-winter days, then maybe three of forty degrees. No wind. Heaven comes…