Calvin College's dirty marketing campaign...

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Driving up to the Home Depot in Benton Harbor the other day, I passed a billboard. At 70 MPH, I had just enough time to read the come-on, take a look at the picture, and note the brand.

The come-on was "You were made to renew." The pic filling the center of the billboard was of three or four college-age men and women standing in a tight circle engaged in some sort of religious ritual. One of them was kneeling while the others peered into his devotional life sending affirming and supportive vibes cascading down upon him. The object of their devotion wasn't clear, but my quick glance left me with the impression that the man kneeling was holding dirt. I'm assuming the point of the billboard was to communicate to people driving northward on I-94 that man's chief end is to renew creation, starting with dirt.

The whole thing was an ad for Calvin College, so I'm guessing Calvin's mission statement has something in it about renewing creation. Or dirt.

If you go over to their website, you'll find this under "Calvin's Identity"...

Be an agent of renewal
Do you believe things can be better? At Calvin, we believe in Christ’s promises to make all things new.

After all, what is a vacant lot can become a community garden. What is a muddied river can become a fresh water supply.

Don't accuse my wife and me of not caring about plants and animals and soil. Anyone who knows us can attest to the gardens and fruit trees and berry patches and asparagus and shrubs and roses and perennials we love as my maternal grandparents and father and mother loved before us. But is this really the state of Christian colleges today, even Reformed Christian colleges? They spend big money on billboards beside interstates telling people that each of us has been made to renew dirt? That there's no higher calling and if you, good parent, have $150,000 to waste on so-called "Reformed Christian" profs finishing off your children's education before they begin to have children of their own, you can send those children to Calvin where they will be nurtured in a small group of good looking Dutch boys and girls who are equally as devoted to renewing dirt as they are.

Note, it's not the renewing of our minds Calvin is advertising, nor is it ruling the earth, subduing the earth, or being fruitful ourselves, multiplying and filling the earth with children. Imagine Calvin College designing a billboard with the come-on "You were created to be fruitful" superimposed on a pic of a feminine woman holding a newborn infant. She is the mother of the living who has just obeyed her creator by giving birth to a precious child. Her husband stands behind her with his hands in her long hair while their two-year old son peers down from Daddy's shoulders into the circle of love completed by grandpa and grandma. As I said, imagine it.

But no, Calvin College's marketing plan is small groups of students renewing dirt.

There is no greater waste of money than paying the price of a decent house to a Christian college in exchange for their profs teaching your children the glory of dirt and the ignominy of motherhood.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!