All the Calvins…

In my high school class of 60 with a 50/50 split of male/female, there were five boys named Calvin. Solid sturdy young men with their eyes focused on kingdom work and keeping the faith.

Of course, you say. You went to a private protestant denominational school. Not a Catholic school. No Calvins there. Lots of boys named Francis, Peter, and Patrick at the local Catholic school. Those boys seemed exotic to us. Funny pranksters and rebels.

I’m probably the only student who remembers this from math class. Seemed odd to me at the time…now 50 years later it is simply misguided. Just like the bogus Critical Race Theory protests now in red states.

We were all given a sheet of paper with names in alphabetical order to familiarize ourselves with the names. Gold, Green, Silverstein, etc. Lest you jump to the horror of thinking I went to a Nazi school, it was not a lesson on racial discrimination but rather an introduction to those unfortunates who needed to be converted to the true protestant faith.

Fortunately, I missed some of the forced indoctrination. My father was a great reader of classics and had me reading “secular” humanistic (gasp) literature from the age of ten. He gave me his old Max Brand books and I marveled at “Whistlin” Dan the hero who always did the right thing and got the girl. No mention of weekly catechism for that white-hatted cowboy.

A sea of good moral characters abounded in classic literature and my worldview was challenged by the time I was sixteen. But I still needed to attend 2 more years of catechism.

“God elected those whom he foresaw would believe.”

“What is wrong with that statement” shouted the pastor at catechism class?

Sounds right to me said this budding humanist. NO, NO, NO said the pastor. That is false doctrine. We don’t believe that. Why? We follow the doctrine of John Calvin. He says there is no free will.

Did he wear a white hat?

Thankful for my college professor who calmed my restless Christianity with a quote from another noted protestant reformer, Abraham Kuyper, Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1901–1905. On Christianity and Islam. “I now understood much more strongly than before embarking on my trip that an excellent way to ward off patriotic overconfidence and smugness is to occasionally transport yourself to an entirely different world.”



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Community college faculty and writer