When we as an editing team first discussed our sense of a timely and meaningful theme for the January edition of the Kerux, diversity was a topic we kept returning to. We had some initial misgivings about the theme because of the ambiguous and misleading way in which the word is often used. The concept of diversity is a hot topic in the church; it is how churches like to describe themselves. As “proof” of diversity, churches and schools offer stats about the range of countries of origin and ethnicities and religious backgrounds represented. In itself this trend is a good thing: for much of its history, the church has reinforced class distinction and separation. We now want to do better. Yet often it doesn’t take long to scratch below the surface of that claim of diversity and notice how little people of different backgrounds and convictions are truly sharing life together. The phenomenon of lives lived apart, grouped in cliques of commonality which rigidly reject and attack difference – even in supposedly “diverse” communities, is something our previous book of the semester, Some of My Best Friends Are Black, tried to explore, specifically in relation to the deep and painful race divisions in our country.
As an editing team, we have concluded these questions are too important to avoid. The tragedies of recent events, and the diametrically opposing reactions to them in our country, have made very clear the degree of nation-wide division and misunderstanding of others’ experiences and the need to address in concrete ways the gap between the ideal of “diversity” and the realities most of us have seen and experienced. We wanted to talk less about the reality of ethnic and religious diversity at CTS, and more about the how of further uniting in Christian community. In this edition of the Kerux there is a variety of perspectives that both highlight the reality of both diversity and unity in our community, and ideas about how we can do better. In the following pages, you will find Kyle Kooyer’s reflection on the recent March in Solidarity facilitated by Madison Square Church, in which a variety of churches and Christian communities, including many students from Calvin Seminary, marched to express their solidarity with those suffering from racial injustice in this country. A beautiful reflection by Prof. Gibson offers “intentional multiplicity” as the vision of Pentecost and an alternative to the easily misunderstood word diversity (which often presupposes a ‘norm’ that is then ‘diversified’ by other cultures). In “Shootings, Silence, and Self-Examination” Grant Hofman offers a pointed reflection on the relative silence at CTS to the tragedies of recent events in conversation with Martin Luther King, Jr’s challenge to “moderate whites.” In “A Call for Hospitality,” Robert Van Zanen offers thoughts on how Calvin Seminary’s experience could be enriched if we were more intentional about sharing life with international students. Myungji Yang, the president of the Korean Student Association, shares with us the goals and purpose of the KSA, an organization at the seminary that may not be widely known, but is very important to our Korean population. Robin Rhodes, a previous editor of the Kerux, offers her thoughts about how the Kerux has served to highlight diversity and the voices of all students at the seminary in the past. You can also read some reflections by Pastor Dave Beelen from Madison Square Church and an editorial by Editor Ronald Hunsucker.
We hope you are both blessed and challenged by the thoughts offered here, and that they inspire further thoughts, conversation, and actions around these important issues. Many of those we have talked to have shared what a blessing the reality of diversity and unity at the Calvin Seminary already is. Let’s continue to be grateful for what we have, while we work towards further unity and growth in Christ.
By the Kerux Staff