All Posts By

Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell

Essay

It’s My Feast Day. Send Presents, Please!

If I were a boy or a young man today, I would likely go by “Stephen”--like, Colbert, Curry, Hawking, and King. But growing up as I did, in the days of polyester and The Brady Bunch, I am “Steve.” It once felt so much zippier. The days after Christmas have these largely unfamiliar holidays—Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, and the Feast of…
December 26, 2017
Essay

But I Don’t Want to Be an Idol-Worshipper!

One Christmas, I was probably about ten years old, I made a last-minute switcheroo in what I wanted for Christmas. Instead of the tabletop football game that involved strategy and play calling, but was not visually interesting, I changed my mind and asked for an annoying electric game where the players vibrated and buzzed in senseless circles. Still, it did…
December 12, 2017
Essay

Giving Tuesday

by Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell It is Giving Tuesday, the day you are asked to be generous, to support your favorite charities. And of course, we are asking you to include The Twelve/Perspectives Journal on your list. Please. For Reformed folk, however, generosity, charity, and giving aren’t supposed to be a once-a-year deal. Why we might even be a bit uneasy “practicing…
November 28, 2017
Essay

The Ripples of War

Leon's military death certificate. His full name was "Eugene Leon." Leon Mathonnet died on October 2, 1914, killed in battle at Monchy-le-Preux, France. He was the great-grandfather of my wife, Sophie. One year from now we will commemorate the centennial of the armistice that ended of World War I, November 11, 1918—the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the…
November 7, 2017
Essay

(Lucky) Thirteen More Profundities

Back by popular demand! If one doesn't do it for you, maybe the next one will! 1. This is an idea I got somewhere on the internet and then adapted a bit. Take What You Need says the poster. For a few years now, we’ve had one regularly on a bulletin board in a heavily trafficked area of the church.…
October 24, 2017
Essay

What Do You Want on Your Gravestone?

LOGOS • GRAPHICS • IDENTITY • & • MEANING I’m in cemeteries frequently and I’ve noticed a trend. Headstones decorated with little emblems or graphics, things that were important to the deceased. A canoe, bowling pins, a ball of yarn and knitting needles, a tractor, the Chicago Cubs' logo, a warm pie, a man fishing. I think I understand. People want something specific to…
September 26, 2017
Essay

Worship in Tumultuous Times

It was on a Saturday, August 12. The news out of Charlottesville, Virginia went from bad to worse. From the “Unite the Right” rally itself to intimidation and mob violence, then a young woman run down and killed by a white supremacist, finally President Trump’s insipid and infamous “many sides…many sides” comment. Like you—presumably, I received most of my initial…
August 29, 2017
Essay

Stephen Colbert: Public Theologian

Probably no single person has gained more from Donald Trump’s surprising victory in last November’s election than Stephen Colbert. And unlike white supremacists, Trump resorts, North Korean despots, Vladimir Putin, and large landholders in the western United States, Colbert’s profiting from Trump’s presidency was completely unforeseeable, deliciously ironic, and wildly serendipitous. When Colbert took over CBS’s The Late Show in…
August 15, 2017