Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin professor to be featured in Dutch documentary

Photo by Chloe Selles

On Monday, a documentary crew from the Netherlands was on Calvin’s campus to film for their new documentary, “The Iron Age” (“De IJzeren Eeuw” in Dutch), which focuses on individuals in 19th century Dutch history.

For their episode focusing on Abraham Kuyper, the influential Dutch politician and theologian, they came all the way to Grand Rapids to interview professor James Bratt on his recent biography of Kuyper, Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat.

Why is an American interested in Kuyper, they wanted to know, and what has  Kuyper’s influence been on the United States?

Bratt’s interest in Kuyper stems from his ability to speak to both religion and politics, orthodox Christianity and culture. Bratt thinks Kuyper’s primary influence on America was his impact on Reformed thought in communities like that of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC).

As the official CRC website says, Kuyper’s new vision, brought to the CRC in America through Dutch immigrants, caused “the infant CRC to peer over the walls of its cradle to begin to engage a wider world.”

The documentary crew required Bratt to be interviewed for most of two days, although the total footage only added up to about 15 minutes.

“I was really interested in seeing what made the documentary sausage,” Bratt said. “Mainly it was a lot of standing around and then suddenly having to focus and be concise.”

The first day of filming took place around Calvin’s campus in various locations including the library and the bookstore, and the second day took place at various sights around Holland, Mich.

In Holland, the crew went to what Bratt described as “Dutchy atmospherics,” namely the popular tourist attraction, Dutch Village, a windmill and a house built by Dutch immigrants.

The Dutch filming crew was taken aback by “the pastiche of half-baked Dutch architecture in a jumble” in Dutch Village, Bratt noted.

The windmill, however, was authentic, and the house, actually built by Bratt’s grandfather, is simply built, showing the values of the original working-class Dutch immigrants that settled western Michigan.

Starting Friday, April 3, the series will air on Dutch public television. The Kuyper episode, episode 11 in the series, called “Abraham the Great” or “Abraham the Geweldige,” will be aired June 12. An earlier series about the 17th century “Golden Age” of the Netherlands is also available online.

More to Discover