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Debra Rienstra

Professor / Writer


The art of being human in a God-beloved world.

Like a lot of us, I’m trying to stay faithful and sane as the world continues to change all around us. As a writer and college professor, I combine perspectives from the past—especially the literary tradition—with reflection on contemporary thought. Most of all, I draw on the rich resources of a generous, intelligent, ecumenical, genuine Christianity to explore all aspects of culture.

If you like to learn new things while celebrating the beautiful, lamenting the tragic, and having fun wherever possible—then we’re on the same journey. With the help of good books and good people who are doing hopeful work, we can seek how best to offer our small lives for the greater blessing of the world God loves.

My latest book, on faith and climate change, is called Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth (Fortress 2022). Much of my writing lately focuses on taking the climate crisis seriously and responding with the resources of faith, mercy, and justice.

I post a new essay to this website about every two weeks. These essays almost always appear first on The Reformed Journal blog. I also write a fortnightly newsletter on climate change with a faith angle. Sign up for the Refugia Newsletter at You can also follow me on Facebook @debrakrienstra.


Debra Rienstra is professor of English at Calvin University, where she has taught since 1996, specializing in early British literature and creative writing. She is the author of four books—on motherhood, spirituality, worship, and ecotheology/climate change—as well as numerous essays, poems, and academic scholarship. Her literary essays have appeared in Rock & Sling, The Examined Life Journal, and Aethlon, among other places. She writes bi-weekly for The Reformed Journal blog, writing about spirituality, climate change, pop culture, the church, the arts, higher ed, and more.

Rienstra was raised in Michigan and holds a BA from the University of Michigan and a PhD from Rutgers University. She and her husband, Rev. Dr. Ron Rienstra, have three grown children.

Curriculum Vitae


Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

Ph.D in Literatures in English, May 1995
M.A. in English Literature, October 1991

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

B.A. in English Literature, 1985-1987

Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI


Teaching Experience


Calvin University (formerly Calvin College), 1996-present


Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts, 2005-2006