Links to Paul Vander Klay’s Work

Justin Brierley might have sent you here. This blog is my online filing cabinet. I use this to dump links, articles, whatever it is I might want to quickly find later. You will find bits of writing going back a few years. Lots of things. I’ll create some links below to some of my more organized work.

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HWFO on Gun Laws and Death

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Canada SALT Articles

I’m a US citizen, serving in Canada for 17.5 years.  I am not a Canadian citizen yet – though I may chose that soon.  I have not experienced Canadians as whiny.  I have experienced complaints and concerns about the binationality situation in our CRCNA.  And I have experienced those complaints and concerns as often articulate and pointed….AND very open to conversation.  Canadians (I think rightly) feel dismissed when talked about as whining adolescents.  The concerns are not taken seriously and discussed. 

So…let me share some of what I would consider fair articulation of questions, concerns and background that was provided to all in preparation for the meeting.  In my opinion, this is not whining.  It is articulate.  That doesn’t mean it is all correct or accurate.  But correction and discernment does not come without an articulate conversation partner with whom to talk about these hard things.

While I have not had time to read through this whole strand, let me respond to a few things I have noticed:

  1. Website – – I’m assuming this was intentionally chosen BECAUSE we are one denomination and did not want Canada to created a separate website.  At times, there has been MUCH more content – including videos, powerpoint presentations, and more from the Canadian Ministries Director which are all currently removed for probably obvious reasons.
  2. Bridge App – Whether US folks are aware or not, every classis but one in Canada has signed on to using the Bridge App.  This app allows for lots of information to be shared, money to be donated, prayer to be directed, and much more (as I understand it; our classis is the one that did not sign on) –
  3. The supposed “FLIP-FLOP” of Canada Corporation Members – John Tamming is not articulating this at all close to how I understand it.  Here’s how I understand it, as summarized in the timeline and referred to in the meeting:
    1. May 2020 and Oct 2020 – COD was clearly going in the direction of Dual Executive Directors and an Ecclesial Officer – a balanced national structure; SALT team was created.
    2. April 19 2021 – COD for the first time sees anything in written form from the SALT team.  SALT had given an oral update in Feb 2020 – but it is hard to know how much of the difference between the Dual-ED’s and Office of Gen Sec was clear in an oral update. 
    3. April 19-April 30 2021 – Canada Corporation tried to wrap their heads around the SALT report.  They wanted to listen to their staff, but there was a strong sense that the SALT report should not be shared with stakeholders. 
    4. May 1 2021 – Canada Corporation met in order to discern what they thought of the SALT report.  There were DEEP CONCERNS named
    5. May 4 2021 – Canada Corporation wrote a ‘communique’.  It seems that the ‘comminique’ was NOT allowed on the formal agenda for the May 5-7 COD meeting, and Canada Corporation was not allowed to make the motion to put a Pause on SALT  (instead, they had to do this in the midst of discussing SALT’s first recommendation – which means it’s a weird conversation).
    6. May 5-7 2021 – COD met.  Canada Corporation had to read their communique during the discussion. Instead of being able to make a motion BEFORE the SALT report was on the table itself, they had to make a motion DURING the first recommendation itself, likely making the conversation convoluted (are we talking about this recommendation or about the whole thing?).  The vote to table this recommendation was not passed, 28-18.  As a note, there are 15 delegates from Canada.  I do not know the national split on the vote, but I think it is fair to strongly presume that if this was a vote ONLY of Canadian delegates, this motion would have OVERWHELMINGLY passed.
    7. SoCOD passed the SALT on May 5-7 2021, Canada Corps did not register negative votes; Darren Roorda is fired.  Canadian Corporation did the opposite of whine.  They got on board, and tried to make the most of it.  They communicated to Canadians, “Hey, we will work to make this work, and we think it could work well for us.”  But notably, they are NOT EVEN ALLOWED to speak against SALT, unless they registered their negative vote.  NOTE ALSO – Darren Roerda got soon after the may meeting.  That may make it harder for other staff to express their concerns if the perception is that Darren didn’t get on board and carry the ‘We will make this work’ message.
    8. SUMMARY – With all that as background, when a Canada Corporation member publicly distances themselves from the SALT plan, I think it’s ok to assume:

                                                    i.     They are NOT talking about the JMAs of 4 days earlier.  In fact, I asked at the meeting about the JMAs, and it was clear that Canada Corp is happy with them, AND that those JMAs would likely function if we shifted back to Dual ED’s or if we shifted to Two denominations.  The JMAs were not the concern.

                                                   ii.     They ARE talking about the SALT Structure.  They are talking about a structure that they asked for more time to discern.  That the US (presumably) voted in BECAUSE of the US majority on COD.  They are talking about a structure that they had 10 days to consider before meeting as a Canada Corporation.  They are distancing themselves from a SALT structure that they spoke directly against in a Communique.

I hope that helps us have a better conversation about the real concerns I have heard expressed.


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Ben Opting In the world Today

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Estuary Introductions

Estuary is a physical, in-person, space where we welcome everyone’s myopic mental meanderings, but where, over time, as friendships develop, and mutual trust grows, we may come to see in each other’s reflections more nuanced insights, which sometimes, as by some higher power, give way to truth, sometimes even actionable truth… John Van Donk

An estuary is a transitional zone where the fresh water of a river flows into the salt water of the sea. It’s a place of interchange where a wide variety of creatures come together. Unique, highly specialized species live there that can only survive in its brackish water. For the waterfowl that land there, estuaries are important breeding grounds and resting places. For marine fish species, they are nurseries. Migratory fish pass through estuaries on their journeys. Estuaries are among the most diverse, productive, and interesting biotopes and are very important for biodiversity. And as with anywhere else in the natural world, life in the estuary is dangerous. For there, in the untamed riverbed, with no protective levees or floodwalls, we find ourselves in the midst of the chaos of life-giving water that holds unimagined depths.

Estuary is a physical, in-person, space where we welcome everyone’s myopic mental meanderings, but where, over time, as friendships develop, and mutual trust grows, we may come to see in each other’s reflections more nuanced insights, which we would hope will inevitably lead to better action in our lives and communities regardless of political or religious beliefs or affiliations.

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Overtures for “Unity” What do you mean by “unity”?

Nothing Synod can reasonably do will likely satisfy many conservatives. EVEN if Synod passes the HSR complete with the “It’s always been confessional” statement there will not be a progressive which hunt through clergy and laity to exile anyone with affirming tendencies. It won’t happen. It’s not in the CRC way. Anything short of that I fear will not satisfy some conservatives and I suspect that for some they can’t even articulate a demand that could be reasonably met by the denomination in terms of where it’s at.

I expect Synod to pass the HSR as such and try to do some nuancing on “confessional” and/or “heresy”. It will hold to our basic position since 1973.

So, to those who lean progressive, how much REALLY do you want Synod to pursue “unity”? Do we do so by counting? Do we count noses and decide which “unity” we desire? My guess is that there are MORE conservatives in danger of being lost than progressives so such “Unity” would mean a hard turn to the right. That turn I don’t think the USS CRCNA can in any reasonable degree make.

Synod will ALSO try to do SOMETHING with GRE and Neland. It will be too little too late for the conservatives. EVEN if Synod issued an ultimatum to GRE to cease and desist it would be BY next year meaning that some conservatives won’t want to wait. See First Ripon CA.

What I hear is that any action taking against the progressives somehow violates “unity” and that the choice of “unity” is “the local option”. It’s a stretch to imagine a very libertarian political move to be “unity” when what you’re really asking for is “diversity” of vision and application in the hopes of NOT losing what is actually a smaller loss than a larger one.

Remember the PVK rule of church “unity”. Churches split right and leak left.

So, what “unity” are we talking about? Unity of perspective? We’re not close to that.

The only way to pursue that is to segregate ON perspective. That’s a VERY big split and realistically a dissolution.

If “unity” means “keeping the family together” that isn’t going to happen. People are going to “leave”. More will leave to the right than the left and they will leave AS churches. GRE and Neland won’t leave voluntarily.

What really are progressives asking for when they say “unity”? I’m not sure. It sounds like “keep participating in this institution, keep reading our books, keep ministry shares going, keep reading our stories about gay suffering at the hands of the tyrannical traditionalism until you are united with us in our evolved and evolving position.”

Conservatives has no such agenda for progressives. They’ve given up trying to change minds and heart and are looking to stop the “contamination” and have a more “pure” grouping of like-minded people so they can continue to teach their children and churches their position. They are looking to be united in their position. No evolved and evolving. Why? Look up “conservative” in the dictionary.

Conservatives are basically saying “we’re no longer going to be subject to your attempts to change our mind on the matter and we’re certainly NOT going to pay for your institutions that are facilitating the mind-changing”.

So whoever wants to promote “unity” is really going to have to tell us what they are talking about. pvk

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Ideals before Prohibitions

This was similar to a “compromise” that I suggested at the start. It’s in practice exactly what the status quo in the CRCNA is now. There are now likely, quietly, people who are members and even office bearers in the CRCNA who have closeted relationships and even marriages. I’m sure there are local churches that are quietly accommodating, adapting, looking the other way, keeping things quiet, etc.

While I’m sure there are conservatives that don’t like this it is likely something they can tolerate. Don’t ask, don’t tell.

I go back to my 3+ hour argument about ideals and lived reality. The ideal is M/W4Life. That’s what the church celebrates, elevates, promotes, pursues. Ideals are exactly that. They are also nested. Ideally there are children, fidelity, happiness, joy, sanctification, etc. Every marriage, even the M/W4L ones fall short of the ideal, but the church celebrates the ideal. Lots of other ideals in language, diet, ethics, etc. Ideals are vital for a community to agree upon and to strive towards. It’s part of the point of God’s Son. He’s the standard. He’s the judge.

M/F4L is the marriage ideal. We’re still in the grips of whether or not marriage is the ideal over singleness. There according to Paul it gets contextual. I’ll let that debate go for now.

Most of what we do in the church is to try to help people, as best they can, with the circumstances they find themselves in take steps towards ideals. This world is not ideal and none of us achieve ideals. We seek grace and betterment.

In ever pastoral situation we negotiate with less-than-ideals. We have lots of variables. Sometimes I give addicts a little bit of money. It’s less than ideal but I judge, rightly or wrongly in the moment whether or not it’s better than alternatives. My sermons are less than ideal. Lots of what I do are less than ideal, pretty much everything, but the maintenance and quest to know and attain the ideal is crucial for the shape of the community.

The LGBTQ liberation movement has become about destroying the ideal of M/F4L. It’s just that simple. And it’s evolving fast. Those who are seen as “out in front” of this movement can’t say what the ideal is. Increasingly “marriage” is not a part of the ideal because it is unattainable for many. We have forgotten what an ideal is, what it is for, and how it shapes life and even blesses those who can’t attain it. We see ideals as unjust because they judge those who fall short and there is no room for such judgment in the new world order.

Increasingly gender liberationists can’t even give a definition of “what is a woman” because again having such a definition is said to be “unjust” to people who claim to feel like a woman but have a penis. I agree that churches should have space for people who “feel like a woman but have a penis” but that is different from giving up on the ideal of what a woman is.

Nate was right when he said that the moment the CRC passes a local option the “cause for justice” will be to do what we all know will be done because we’re watching it in the public/political/corporate world. Monogamy itself will be seen as unjust because some people can attain it while others fail. Note this piece. Most Cis People Are Unwilling to Date Trans People According to This New Study | them.

It’s absolutely predictable. As if all of us don’t have friends and family who NEVER get a chance to date because for one reason or another they are unappealing on the dating market. Somehow the cause of justice must step in and denounce the bigotry of your own decision to NOT service the needs of others desires. Marriage vows usually include “forsaking all others”…

The “social constructionist” argument is that “representation matters”, and now the conservatives agree. The LGBTsQewing of America – The American Conservative

We are tremendously malleable in terms of sexual and romantic taste and desires. Ideals count a lot.

So Len, in many ways you’re advocating for what we’ve had BEFORE the progressives kept demanding Synodical report after report hoping that if we put enough nickels in this slot machine at some point we’ll inch our way into a more progressive position. The 2016 decision to “rig” the Synodical report slot machine should have signaled that the herd was getting nervous and that perhaps if progressives wanted to maintain the sublte “don’t ask don’t tell” status quo they should leave well enough alone, but the cry for “justice” must never be denied so push push push…

That might be overstating it a bit. “What do we do with the lesbian couple who comes into the church” is a fair question and it is CRC tradition to “seek advice from Synod”. But is that really how churches make up their minds these days? Underneath this process a certain corruption has also developed. Synodical reports also have the outcome of “moving the ball forward” or “binding the hands of our neighboring churches”.

Another example? How about the “elder marriage in the church but not the state because of retirement money” issue. I’m sure there has been plenty of “local optioning” on that score. Conservatives like the “Synodical report” game too. If we get our way we like it, and we do need order.

I do think shifting the focus from “that which is permissible” to “that which is ideal” helps on the pastoral front, but it’s clear that many people formed by the culture that see this as a “justice” issue (in the way that term has shifted) will NOT find compromise acceptable unless it is done so in the spirit of gradually “moving the ball forward” to a line they cannot nor will not be able to agree upon with those in their coalition. pvk

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CIS people don’t want to date trans…

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Jordan Peterson and the dilemma of the non-expert

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Normalizing the “Emergency Powers”

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David French on Civility

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