Saturday, December 25, 2010

Last night was our annual Christmas Eve family time down-town Grand Rapids in the Campau Towers where we have a condo (now rented out) and thus have free access to the Campau Room, a big wonderful living-room space with kitchen.  Besides our kids, John's mother and siblings and extended family joins us, coming and going as they take in the church services close by.  As we talked and remembered, John's late colleague at Calvin College (and brother Jim's teacher) arose in the conversation.  Stanley Wiersma was in some ways the Christian Reformed Garrison Kiellor--always poking fun of his heritage.  It's my favorite kind of humor; if I can't laugh at my religious heritage (and John's), what good is it?  One of my favorite Wiersma (aka Sietze Buning) poems, especially when John reads it aloud, is  "Calvinist Sunday Dinner":

Wasn't that a good sermon, Gertrude?
Orthodox.  Such a rich Jesus
and such a poor sinner.
And what poor sinners
we all are . . .

These potatoes are a little hard,
Gertrude, too hard for the side of my fork.
Hard to chew too.  You say some rump-roast gravy's
coming. . . .

Yes, what poor sinners we all are.
And how Dominie mashed up those Catholics.
Deprived of grace. . . .

Pass the rolls
and butter
this way,

--but they won't admit they're depraved. . . .

Great rump roast, Gertrude.
The knife slides
through it.

Yes, and when he got
to the cheap grace
of the Baptists. . . .

Only one-eighty per pound for choice
rump roast, Gertrude?  I can't believe it. . . .

I need some more green beans, Gertrude. . . .
It's all that cheap grace . . . . they'll agree that they're desperately wicked. . . .
And then comes the backsliding. . . .
Pass the meat and potatoes again, Gertrude. . . .

What about a little of that a la mode on the pie, Gertrude. . . .

Of course, Catholics and Baptist are duck soup
compared to the liberals. Liberals think
they don't need grace at all.

My, what good pie,
Gertrude. . . .

Dominie knows how
to preach, doesn't he?

[Sietze Buning, Purpalaenie and Other Permutations, p. 66.]