I chose not to disguise the identity of my college in my memoir, so I was curious as to how the Calvin College community would react.
In 1983 I intentionally stepped out of the (Dutch) Christian Reformed world and entered a different one. My new tent was Presbyterian, and it was bigger. I got used to feeling anonymous, and a bit like an outsider. This was strangely comforting. Now that the memoir is out, I’ve shed my anonymity! As more than one person has told me: “I know a lot more about you than you know about me!” It’s quite an adjustment.
As I launch the book, I’ve been re-engaging my old world. I sense that some things have changed in the past 30+ years. For instance, I’ve heard people voice words like “rape” and acknowledge that sexual violence does happen. And there’s been some movement regarding the role of women in church leadership. On the other hand, that movement is certainly not shared across the denomination. Some aspects of church life seem rather stuck and fearful. The word “feminism,” for instance, seems to easily open a can of worms, a debate, an argument.
Maybe you’re thinking that the “women’s issue” (i.e. the church leadership debate) is entirely different from how a church responds to violence against women. But I believe there are connecting ligaments. Both issues are deeply concerned with the role and worth of females, and what it means to live in a woman’s body.
It’s been good for me to reclaim my heritage. I still live in the same skin I was born in. And I like to think that I have something to offer the community that formed me.
I look forward to speaking at the “Safe Church Ministry” Conference on November 4, an arm of the church that has been wide open and generous to me and my story. Check the sidebar for more info if you’re in the Grand Rapids area — I would love to connect with you there! The event is free and open to the public.
I was also pleased to be interviewed by Lynn Rosendale for an article in the September issue of Spark, the magazine for Calvin alums. There’s an accompanying article with input from Jane Hendriksma, who coordinates “Safer Spaces” on campus and Rev. Mary Hulst, the Chaplain.
Do you know what it’s like to be born into one world, and choose to live in another?