May 13, 2006

Chimes Spoof Causes Pre-Fab Campus Stir

For anyone who is unacquainted with the customs of Calvin College, allow me to give a bit of background. Periodically (every two years or so) the on-campus student-run newspaper "Chimes" produces a spoof publication. As many Calvin students are aware, these spoofs include The Bananer (ala CRC's Banner), Calvin for Dummies, and recently Shirley Hoogstra's Living (ala Martha Stewart's magazine - Shirley Hoogstra is the dean of resident life).

For all of these publications a large portion (I believe) of their overall value or cleverness is in the way they accurately reproduce the mode of publication which they are spoofing. Calvin for Dummies was bound and looked just like the Blank for Dummies books everyone recognizes. The Martha Stewart spoof was printed on magazine-glossy, you get the picture. Content - eh, whatever. As with so many other examples, I perceived the Chimes spoof to be mostly about IMAGE over CONTENT. Another meaningless pop-artifact toilessly produced by meaningless pop-people.

This year's target was another objectified icon of CRC-ness: the TODAY devotional booklet (my family read from it every night after dinner). Yet again, the joke of parodying the visually recognizable elements was a clever/amusing success. The only problem is they pushed too hard on infusing the content with actual satire. Needless to say, this created a big stir with the higher-ups (they don'd need to be forking over cash for a bunch of snotty irreverant little Chimes weasels to publish their big prank on the traditions from which they arose). When push came to shove, Shirley Hoogstra (still reeling from the personal jab of the last Chimes spoof) and her crack-squad of Spoof Reviewers put the kibosh on the whole project.

Here's the real story, though. This "clash" of students versus administration was ripe for some sort of over heralded, loudly proclaimed, hugely advertised student uprising (read: quasi-interested grumbling). Naturally, the only on-campus student-run publication made a big stink in the past few issues (Chimes has always been notably inwardly directed in its content), and I fear that some people may mistake this episode for something containing actual substance!

IT'S ALL PART OF THE GAME. The Man cracks down and the students rise up. Blah blah blah. In my time spent at Calvin I've monitored the texture of student life and it is abundantly clear the we are a sedated, under-motivated, self-involved bunch. There is no such thing as revolution, especially one coming from the battlefield of Calvin College. The show must go on, so why kid ourselves into thinking that the role we play is anything but just that - a role in the show.

P.S. - The cover image of the CLICHE booklet is linked to its online publication at I have perused a few of the daily entries and find some of them amusing. That being said, I do recognize how offensive it can be to assault something which is adhered to religiously by large group of people (just ask fatwah survivor Salmon Rushdie). To invoke Harry Truman, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." Please don't read it if it makes you upset, it's just a thing produced by some smuglies at Calvin College. However, I think it's important to remember the words of Professor Crump, who cautions that the real threat to healthy Christian life may not be satire, but rather packaged doses of daily "Chicken Noodle Soup" which permit people to sever contact with actual study of the Scripture.


Mom said...

Thanks for the explanation. I read about it a bit in the parent news and was interested to know more about what was going on.

walawalapb said...

I think it's a little more than that Pete. Putting aside any appeal to the non-existence of truth, for me the issue with the Cliche' is more than censorship, or the man cracking down. It is the issues being satirized. Notably the trend of the CRC and it's members to endorse views, or embrace a lifestyle at odds with the teachings of Jesus. Granted past issues of the spoof have been void of menaingful content and frankly a little on the boring side. I just think this issue was a completely different animal.

Pete V said...

I can apprectiate the in-built commentary of CRC vs. Christlike lifestyles (implicit, I haven't actually read it all), but I still contend that the overall "on-campus" stir amounts to little more than manufactured debate void of actual importance beyond another college-y filler item.