Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Reviewing the Pacific Union Recorder

May, 2008

On April 22, 2008, readers of the Spectrum blog were informed that the Southern California Conference had made a decision to spend $1,000,000 to Televangelize Los Angeles.

According to Sung H. Oh, Southern California Conference Treasurer:
“To aid in the financial support of the It Is Written evangelistic campaign, the Southern California Conference has set aside $1,000,000 for expenses such as renting auditoriums, hiring Bible workers, organizing evangelistic teams among our churches, academies and colleges, and providing promotional materials to our churches and communities. It is with this It Is Written campaign in 2009 and 2010, headed by Shawn Boonstra, that we hope to claim the entire city of Los Angeles.”

After hearing this news, I expected to read about this evangelistic campaign in this edition of the Recorder. To my dismay the LA crusade was not mentioned.

In my review of the January 17, 2008 Adventist Review, I made the following suggestions regarding the Portland, Oregon, all-out media blitz which preceded that city wide evangelistic campaign.

"The effectiveness of this all-out media blitz should be evaluated by non-Adventist, media consultants. Research findings should include the ethnicity and socioeconomic status of newly evangelized members, and provide a detailed accounting of how much money was spent and for what. This study should also include a five-year follow-up survey of those baptized. The data obtained would assist the Church in evaluating the effectiveness of this type of evangelism. At present this information is virtually nonexistent."

To my knowledge, none of this information has been forthcoming. I¹m not in favor of this kind of evangelistic effort, but the LA blitz should at least be postponed until information regarding the Portland crusade can be analyzed.

In addition, I am saddened to learn that the decision to commit funds to this campaign was made without first consulting and then receiving approval from the membership. The following questions need to be answered. “Who authorized this campaign?" "Where is the money coming from?" "What evidence suggests that such a campaign is the wise use of monies entrusted to the Conference, Union, and General Conference?" "Is tithe money being used?" "If so, how?" I look forward to receiving the answers to these questions in the next Pacific Union Recorder.

I keep hoping that Ricardo Graham and Jim Pedersen will say something substantive. So far their editorials only admonish their readers to be better church members. Their language is riddled with clichés and padded with meaningless verbiage. Men, don't be afraid to talk to ordinary church members about the issues of the day. Our responses may very well delight, encourage, and inform you.

I continue to be amazed at the variety of outreach programs sponsored by the Union’s Local Conferences. I’ll mention a few that seem to me to be original and creative.

In Southeastern California, La Sierra Academy is sending over 9000 packets of seeds to children in Zimbabwe.

In Northern California, Adventist students attending Tokay High School have created “an atmosphere where kids could meet other Christians on campus and develop positive friendships". Their efforts are aided by monthly "pizza and prayer in evangelism".

The Berkeley Church’s Valentine Social raised money for wells in Mozambique.

In Hawaii, Health Works Under the Banyan sponsors workshops in “sea energy agriculture, large-scale earthworm farming, and intensive commercial raised-bed agriculture". A future focus will be a Plant-based Culinary Institute for Youth at Risk.

Randall Wisbey was inaugurated as La Sierra University President.

Richard Hart is now the President of Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center.

The Fifth International Vegetarian Congress met in Loma Linda.

Pacific Union College now has two successful church services: the "Majestic" for members who like a traditional service, and the "Gathering" geared for college students and young adults.

Adventist health continues to provide wellness and prevention programs across the Union.

Doctors Dynnette and Kenneth Hart remind us that sleep works the brain in astonishing and healthful ways.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The General Conference Has A $100,000,000 Problem

As I note in my last review of the Pacific Union Recorder, there are 14 media channels carrying the Adventist message in this Union alone. Hundreds of evangelistic campaigns are sponsored, millions of dollars are invested in Adventist educational institutions, and we are struggling to stay even in terms of membership. What remains healthy is the bureaucracy. Rather than critiquing ineffectual proselytizing methods or the sectarian beliefs required for membership, Adventist bureaucrats consistently blame members for their failure to “let their lights shine”. Hence, the proliferation of “discipleship programs” and missionary handouts describing evangelistic techniques required to reach the “unchurched” and/or the “postmoderns” or “genXers”, etc. The good thing about this unbelievable waste of money is that eventually the “well” will run dry, and it will become bureaucratic reform or die.

However, it is important to remember Wes’ comments about change. He posits and I agree with him that only when the money begins to dry up will the administrative leadership of our church seriously consider organizational and doctrinal reform. Today, “loyal church members” are dying off and leaving lots of money to the organization. Currently the Adventist Church is awash in cash, and meaningful, intelligently considered reforms are decades away, given current political and social conditions.


Wish I could take you on for the reply you made to Bill and your evaluation of the status of the SDA church—but cannot since I agree with what you have said. A few years ago I had hoped that the money, i.e., tithe, would dry up. There were indications that led to this possibility. That did not happen, and you have identified one of the factors: matured trusts.

There is the interesting situation of the $100,000,000+ that the guy who owned the chain of retirement centers donated to the General Conference last year when he sold his properties. Payment direct to the GC created a bit of a flap when the local conferences discovered that they had been missed. Hasn't the GC said people should pay tithe to the "storehouse", the "storehouse" being the local conference? Then why a sudden change that would allow this hunk of cash to by-pass the "storehouse"?

The final distribution of these funds is still up for grabs. Local conferences in the Western US where the guy lived are negotiating how to divvy up the portion that the GC has agreed to pass down. Perhaps you read the Adventist Review when reference was made to "extraordinary tithe" or "out of budget tithe”. (This reference is to the $100,000,000+ gift without saying it.)

So where does all this leave us? Where the money ought to be left: with the local congregations. This is where the action must be if there is any future for the Adventist church. The church’s administrative levels will continue to soak up resources with negligible return and continue to promote a product that even they know are ineffective--such as mass and net evangelism. I've had people in the highest levels of the GC agree with these conclusions. They have told me they can do nothing. The decisions are made by people like Finley and others who are into the public evangelism model. And so the wheels continue to grind.


Reviewing the Adventist Review

April 17, 2008
Vol. 185, No. 11

I awarded the previous issue a "10" for overall excellence. This issue rates a slightly above average "7". The topics chosen were not the problem; it was the writing. With the exception of Why I Don’t “Abstain”, articles and essays lacked clarity and crispness of expression, an original point of view, and economy of style. And some of the letters got "under my skin".

Is Church Discipline Still Needed?
The short answer is, “Yes”, according to Dan Serns. Only the local church can "discipline" church members. Discipline can range in severity from a mild reprimand from the church board to expulsion. This article cautions against "harsh discipline" if only a reprimand is required, but discipline "is absolutely essential [according to Dan Serns] if we are to be faithful to our calling and help the church be faithful to hers".

While this article did not reference the Church Manual’s reasons for disciplinary action, I have included them without comment.

Chapter 14 of the Church Manual, pages 184 and 185, lists the sins for which members shall be subject to church discipline.

1. Denial of faith in the fundamentals of the gospel and in the cardinal doctrines of the church or teaching doctrines contrary to the same.

2. Violation of the law of God, such as worship of idols, murder, stealing, profanity, gambling, Sabbathbreaking, and willful and habitual falsehood.

3. Violation of the seventh commandment of the law of God as it relates to the marriage institution, the Christian home, and biblical standards of moral conduct.

4. Such violations as fornication, promiscuity, incest, homosexual practice, sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults, and other sexual perversions, and the remarriage of a divorced person, except of the spouse who has remained faithful to the marriage vow in a divorce for adultery or for sexual perversions.

5. Physical violence, including violence within the family.

6. Fraud or willful misrepresentation in business.

7. Disorderly conduct which brings reproach upon the church.

8. Adhering to or taking part in a divisive or disloyal movement or organization.

9. Persistent refusal to recognize properly constituted church authority or to submit to the order and discipline of the church.

10.The use, manufacture, or sale of alcoholic beverages.

11.The use, manufacture, or sale of tobacco in any of its forms for human consumption.

12.The misuse of, or trafficking in, narcotics or other drugs.

“The church cannot afford to deal lightly with such sins or permit personal considerations to affect its actions. It must register its decisive and an emphatic disapproval of the sins of fornication, adultery, all acts of moral indiscretion, and other grievous sins.”

Spiritual Emergencies
This essay by Robert L. Ramsay provides "a spiritual survival kit, and the essential components are similar to those we need for a practical emergency".

Why I Don’t “Abstain”
Editors, this would have been my cover story. In this beautifully crafted, positive, and thoughtful essay, Chris Blake proclaims himself to be "pro-life, pro-health, pro-peace, and pro-planet". He doesn't abstain from drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, or eating meat. He boycotts those practices. "Whenever we can be known for what we do in a life enhancing way instead of what we don't do, it seems to me that yields a better introduction and the best conclusion."

When We Prayed for a Drummer
As far as I know, the illustration for this story is the first Review article in which a light-skinned subject has extensive body tattooing. Tony Yang makes the point that discipleship is all about service and character. It has very little to do with outward appearance.

A number of letters in this edition of the Review bothered me both emotionally and intellectually. I feel badly that at once again people of my generation are moaning about the sins of Adventist young people. It's the sins of our generation that we conveniently forget: bigotry, segregation, religious arrogance, political corruption, and social irresponsibility. From what I've seen, this generation of young people is to be commended for their brave attempts to remind us that Adventists are Christians first, and that the Gospel message is inclusive, peaceful, and loving.

The 30-Day Diabetes Miracle by Drs. Seale and Newman "is chock full of practical information, myth busters, statistics, to-do lists, and Adventist health principles", according to an unnamed reviewer.

Kingdom Business
Stand Up Now is Frederick A. Russell’s appeal "for leaders who not only know the times, but also know what to do, and act with courage and conviction to do it". It sounds to me like he has some specific issues in mind. I look forward to his next editorial.

World News & Perspectives
The Adventist Study Centers program is designed to build understanding and fuel research that targets postmoderns and unreached groups. Five study center directors "met for a semi-annual discussion in March at the world church headquarters. . .The church has started 48 centers to minister to postmoderns in Europe, North America, and elsewhere". Other study centers focus on Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. No study center director pictured was female.

Joel Mosher drowned while participating in a mission project in the Philippines. He was the head deacon at Rest Haven Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sydney, British Columbia.

"The Quiet Hour, a pioneering Adventist radio ministry now focused on television and overseas evangelistic campaigns, received a Milestone Award at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention [in Nashville, Tennessee] for 70 years of gospel ministry." The Loma Linda Broadcasting Network has recently launched a streaming Internet Arabic channel it hopes to expand to direct satellite transmission to the Middle East. “A lot of attendees inquired about the Arabic channel [and we] picked up 10 different partners", according to Mark Kellner. As a result of the contacts made at the convention, Adventist program selection and lineup will greatly expand in the next six months.

"Adventist businessman and pastor Claude Richli hopes his Global Tithe Index Report will provide church treasurers and stewardship leaders with a tool to measure levels of giving among countries. [While no figures were included] this report indicates some previously dependent regions of the church are now achieving financial self-sufficiency."

Tools of the Trade
Monte Sahlin reviews four Resources to “Tool” Us for Ministry. Seven Weeks to a Generous Life (General Conference Stewardship Department), Christianity and Islam (a new video resource produced by T. N. Mohan), We Believe (Pacific Press), and Unchristian by David Kinnaman are all Sahlin recommendations.

Kimberly Luste Maran in her essay, Zeal for Real, defines Christian zeal as “honestly, truly serving the Lord with . . . heart and mind. It might not be the roaring fire of some. It may be more of a quiet storm, a gentle flicker".

An Impenetrable Mystery
Roy Adams is not successful in his attempt to shed light on an “impenetrable mystery". When one assumes that God knows the beginning and the end of all things, how is this assumption compatible with Ellen White’s statement that “God permitted Jesus to come to earth ‘at the risk of failure and eternal loss’”? Was Ellen White an Arian--the belief that Jesus was not God? And if Jesus was God--the Trinitarian position of the Adventist Church—how could He run "the risk of failure and eternal loss"?

Stop Human Trafficking, Now!
Mark A. Kellner suggests that we support ADRA, Not For Sale, and The Salvation Army in their attempts to end the sale and subsequent slavery of 800,000 women and children each year. In addition, "we Adventists can also ask our elected representatives to intervene and act. We can educate others in our churches and our communities. We must pray, without ceasing. This scourge must end; to allow it to continue his inexcusable". Amen!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Reviewing the Adventist Review

April 10, 2008
Vol. 185, No. 10

This is an outstanding issue! Share this one with your friends who are nonsubscribers, and recommend it to church members to receive the Review that don't read it.

An Empty Glass Made Full
Wilona Karimabadi does an excellent job of answering questions regarding infertility. In vitro fertilization is discussed specifically. Infertility terms and information resources are provided.

From Mourning to Morning
Ginny Allen has done far more for readers than provide eleven ways to help those who are grieving. She has shared the great grief of her life in this essay, and in so doing has provided all of us who grieve a compassionate, brave, generous, and a very human companion.

The Gentle Art of Civility
Brian D. Jones shares my belief in civil discourse. He and I both believe that “without resorting to acrimony or insult truth can outface error".

How I Came to Like God
Jeanina Bartling reminds us that common misconceptions about God can make it impossible for us to like, much less love Him.

I continue the impressed by the thoughtful comments of Review subscribers. The deaths of two of these thoughtful contributors are noted. The words of Ruth Van Zant and Miriam Wood, wife of Kenneth H. Wood, will no longer grace the pages of this magazine.

In her thoughtful, beautifully crafted, and generous essay, I Believe in Eating My Vegetables, Sari Fordham argues for "an honest examination of life, faith, and spirituality". She also advises all of us who use the written word to explain, criticize, praise, and persuade to "write bravely. . . and to think beyond the clichés of ideas”.

World News & Perspective
Atlantic and Columbia Union Colleges, two schools facing serious economic and academic challenges, are "retooling" their curriculums in an attempt to "put away, once and for all, the idea of moving or closing".

In Florida, Jeffrey Cobb, an ex-drug dealer and felon, is "the guy who convinced a bunch of former felons to trade their guns for weed whackers". Shelter in the Storm is their home; Cobb's Eden Garden Lawn Service is their employer.

Adventists are "making a positive impact in communities around Washington and the Northwest” according to Washington State Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen.

Everyday Faith
The only thing that Seth Pierce and I are likely to disagree on is his trademark logo. The big hands holding the open Bible connected somehow to a small, dark, odd shaped, two-dimensional body are somehow disturbing. That said, he and I are both made uneasy by the practice of having Bibles autographed by important people. "Celebrity culture" is not celebrated in the Bible.

If Stephen Chavez recommends a book, I automatically add it to my reading list. Conversations With My Church by James Coffin is such a book. (Signs Publishing Co., 2007)

Lourdes Morales-Gudmundsson plays profound word music in her essay, Flats, Sharps, and Other Inconveniences. "Seen metaphorically, the flats and sharps that Providence writes into the composition of our lives may make us uncomfortable, even desperate with grief, but we can be certain that in the end, the music we make will be healing, inspiring, and awesome!"

Those Conspiracy Theories
Bill Knott squashes the rumor "that a gathering of powerful Protestant and Catholic leaders propelled the US House to secretly enact a national Sunday law".

A Wake-up Call
Sandra Blackmer reminds those of us who eat an occasional hamburger to "be careful shoppers and check foods for the 'Certified Humane Raised & Handled' label” when we buy meat.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Reviewing Adventist World: NAD Edition

April 2008

This issue contains an exposition of the ninth of the twenty-eight fundamental doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This is a belief that we share with most evangelical Christians. Unfortunately, this doctrine is pernicious, not supported by Jesus’ own testimony, and presumes the worst kind of pagan deity. More about this later.

Fulfilling a Mother’s Dream
Samuel Neves tells the story of a “miracle” child named Samuel who was born in Brazil, met his future wife in Stanborough School, returned to Brazil, returned to England, attended Newbold College, and married his “dream lady”. He is currently a youth pastor at the Holloway Adventist Church in North London.

My Jordan Stones
Stephen Dunbar reflects on the Jordan River “stones my church has left me. Our legacy of healthful living, our hospitals, our schools, and agencies that care for people in need. . .They all remind me of the dreams and experiences others have had, not simply in growing a denomination, but in sharing a unique message of hope and freedom”.

Spirited Faith in Tsunami Country
Caroline V. Katemba Tobing reports that while Adventist believers in Pangandaran, Indonesia, “do not yet have a church in which to meet on Sabbaths . . . their inadequate facilities don't dim the flame of their faith and their zeal to tell others about the Jesus they love and serve”.

In Step for Life
Don Hall, Dr.P.H. makes a convincing argument that good health pays big dividends. He also mentioned some good news for smokers. “Smokers who can't stop smoking can still cut their risk of dying in half by becoming physically active.”

Arthur W. Spalding, the much admired Adventist educator, author, and editor (1877-1953) tells a story from a life of Joseph Bates, the oldest of the three founders of the Adventist Church in which faith was rewarded. As a result, “the message of the Sabbath went over the land”.

The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ
Elias Brasil de Souza describes a God who required “substitutionary atonement and reconciliation with God on our behalf”. Furthermore, Christ’s death on the cross “was a public expression of His [God’s] entire satisfaction in the atoning work. He accepted the sacrifice that Jesus had made on our behalf. It was everything that God required, perfect and complete”.

This interpretation of Scripture demeans the life and teaching of Christ and pictures a pagan god who can only be appeased by the torture and death of his own son. We humans crucified Jesus. God had nothing to do with it.

We need only remember that Adventists are Trinitarians to realize how silly and irrational this “satisfaction theory” is. We also have the words of Jesus in John 16: 25-27. “The hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in veiled language but tell you about the Father in plain words. When that day comes you will ask in my name; and I do NOT say that I shall pray to the Father for you, because the Father himself loves you for loving me and believing that I came from God.”

Regarding Fundamental Belief # 9, nothing in Christian theology trumps the words of Christ. Ellen White reminds us of that fact. “Christ declared, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’. His followers must be as near like Him as possible. . .We are to erect no false lights, present no heresies for truth. We must know that every position we take can be sustained by the Word of God.”

Editor’s Pen
Bill Knott strikes a reassuring and refreshing note with these words: “So if you worship with only a few—as millions of Adventists around the world do—take heart—and stop apologizing. You already have all the audience you need.”

World Report
Church auditors meet for in-service training and “spiritual nourishment” in Thailand. Jan Paulsen urges young adult involvement in local churches in the first “Let’s Talk” broadcasts in Asia. 600,000 Kenyan Adventists are playing an important role in bringing peace.

In 1994 11,000 Adventists lived in Cuba. Six years later church membership more than doubled, and today many congregations have outgrown their facilities.

World Vista
William G. Johnsson reports that Christian leaders from more than 70 nations came together in Limura, Kenya. The evangelical movement has become a global force, and growing even more rapidly are the Pentecostal churches. There are now 100 million Christians that belong to African Instituted Churches.

Wherever possible, Adventists make common cause in ecumenical endeavors, reports Johnsson. However “for us, a sense of divinely ordained mission to the entire world cannot be weakened or compromised. . .Further, our understanding of history and prophecy makes us wary of Christian coalitions”.

Allen R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless discuss the risk of heart attack and the treatment of fibroids with their usual medical insight and practical advice.

Fighting Violence, by Angel Manuel Rodriguez, is an excellent Biblically based response to the question, “How should a follower of Christ behave in a violent world. His answer: Christ's followers “should avoid becoming the object of violence by acting nonviolently. We should do all we can to give to the needy and to the one who may not be able to repay. These are some of the ways violence is overcome in society and in our lives. This is the way of love. . .The cycle of violence can be broken by not retaliating, by serving others, and by fleeing from a violent environment”.

Mark A. Finley’s Bible study discusses Jesus’ admonitions regarding Sabbath keeping. We learn that it is a time to be merciful and to do good. (It should be noted that Jesus did not legalistically define the word “good”. I have always wondered why our Church has found that necessary.) It is also a day to praise, worship, and fellowship.

Letters, The Place of Prayer, Exchange of Ideas, and NAD Letters are reminders that all of us are members of a world church. Our stories, ideas, hopes, comments, questions, and dreams are evidence of our shared humanity and our united determination to remain faithful members of Christ's Kingdom.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good As New

A review of GOOD AS NEW: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures, John Henson from the ONE Community for Christian Exploration, O Books, New York, USA, Alresford, UK, 2004.

by Lawrence G. Downing

When Vern Carner recommends a book, those who know him pay attention. Therefore, when he told me to order Good As New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures, I did. Now that I have read the book I can appreciate the blurbs on the front and back covers:

"A presentation of extraordinary power." Rowan Williams Archbishop of Canterbury.

"I found this a literally shocking read. It made me think, it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me angry, and it made me joyful. It made me feel like an early Christian hearing these texts for the first time. John Henson and the ONE community have made the Bible accessible and alive so that a new generation my hear the news and experience it as good." Elizabeth Stuart Professor of Christian Theology, King Alfred's College, Winchester and Bishop of the Open Episcopal Church.

"It spoke to me with a powerful relevancy that challenged me to re-think all the things that I have been taught." Tony Compolo Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Eastern University.

Good As New (GAN) lists the name John Henson on the title page. It is he who over a twelve year time period served as the translation coordinator on behalf of ONE for Christian Exploration. ONE is described as "…a network of radical Christians and over twenty organizations in the UK, working to renew the Church from within. Contributions have come from all across the spectrum, from fundamentalists to liberals, and from all denominations." (Wonder if there were any Adventists?). John Henson himself is a retired Baptist minister.

We learn from the Forward, written by Archbishop Rowan Williams, that Rev. Henson wrestled with the challenge of screening out stale, technical, unconsciously exclusive words and policies.

Items to that may be helpful to know about GAN:

GAN is not a "complete" Bible, but it does include one book that many do not know: the Gospel of Thomas. GAN begins with the Gospel of Mark followed by The Gospel of Thomas, Matthew, John, Luke-Acts, and Romans. Paul's letters to Corinth are divided to make three. The letters from Paul's team: I & II Thessalonians are followed by Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, James, I Peter, I John, and Hebrews. Letters not included are I & II Timothy, II Peter, II & III John, Titus, Jude, and The Apocalypse of John.

Brief articles by Henson, “Firing The Canon” and “Order of Books” along with the “Introduction to the Gospels” by Reg Bridle, an Anglican priest, provide helpful information for the reader who questions the selection of translated books and other matters that arise as one reads the documents themselves. For example, Why change the names of traditional places and personal names? Where is Tessatown or Grapetown or Fishtown? Who are Gus, Kurt, Barbara and Stan? Why is it that angels are now God's agents, messengers, and companions? Who are the Strict Ones? Why is the Holy Spirit always referred to as "She"? Why is demon possession called mental illness? The answers to these and other questions are provided in the articles.

I found GAN to live up to its hype. The language is British, and therefore some of the terms are not natural to our ears. But this is not a serious drawback. Of more interest are the unique reads the translators have given to what for many may have become hackneyed verses. The explicit language of the following verses grabs the reader’s attention.

I Corinthians 7: "Some of you think the best way to cope with sex is for men and women to keep right away from one another. I think that is more likely to lead to sexual offenses. My advice is for everyone to have a regular partner. Husbands and wives should strive to meet each other's sexual needs. They should submit to one another for that purpose. It's not good to refuse a partner, though it's fine if partners agree in a friendly spirit not to have sex for a while."

Hebrews 13: "Keep on loving one another….You must all respect a committed relationship. Partners must be loyal to one another. When they're making love they should be gentle."

Bible docs might have been more popular if passages like these were discussed.

GAN is not a study Bible. That is not its purpose. Rather it is an interesting read that attempts to bring the Bible writers into the 21st Century. I would be interested to have a person who has little knowledge of the Bible read this translation and then listen to their response. This person would be the best judge of whether the authors succeed in the goal they set for themselves: produce a Bible that speaks to modern people.

As one who grew up with the traditional readings and names, it would have been helpful if the Glossary had put the new names in alphabetical order rather than alphabetizing the traditional names. This would have saved me time and lessoned my frustration as I searched for the new name of a familiar person or place.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Last Honest Answer on Record

(click image to enlarge)
Comic from Rubes, by Leigh Rubin

A Political Environment is a Most Hostile Place

The following words are from an essay by Jan Paulsen in the November 9, 1996, Adventist Review.

“Openness means to be transparently genuine. You are clear in what you say, and where you stand is understood. In contrast to political posturing . . . openness does not operate with a range of private agendas that must somehow be accommodated. . .But a political environment is a most hostile place in which to spend your days, for in that environment all those around you are strangers. You may well know their names, you may well listen to their speeches, you may even sit next to them, yet you will all be strangers, each not really knowing the other person. Openness, by definition, is transparent, genuine, nonthreatening.”

(click image to enlarge)
Comic from Rubes, by Leigh Rubin

Reviewing the Pacific Union Recorder

April, 2008

Our church leadership needs to do some serious thinking about why, given all our educational, evangelistic and outreach activities, church membership in the Union isn't growing by leaps and bounds. Church members are doing their part.

If you aren't one of the 75,000 subscribers to this magazine, check it out online at www.pacificunionrecorder.com. Churches in the Pacific Union, and that includes Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah are involved in an amazing number of evangelistic and community outreach programs. While I'm not going to review them all, they are all activities that we can take pride in as an Adventist church family.

Adventist broadcasting is alive and well in the Pacific Union. We can tune in to: 3ABN, ACN, Amazing Facts, Between the Lines, Breath of Life, Faith for Today, Freedom's Ring, Hope Channel, It Is Written, La Voz de la Esperanza, Lifetalk Radio, Loma Linda Broadcasting Network, The Quiet Hour, and Voice of Prophecy.

Ricardo Graham reminds us all that though "we may not be able to heal the sick as Jesus did, we can teach people principles of healthy living. Our cupboards may not feed at 5000, but we have enough to share Sabbath dinner with church visitors or donate a bag of groceries to a food drive".

Their completed solar array covers 2.2 acres, and the projected first year’s savings is $10,000!

Altadena church member Dave Roberts inspired more than 100 community members, high school students, and city volunteers to clean up the streets around the local high school. In addition, community health services were provided by the Glendale Adventist Medical Center. The City Council was impressed and promised continued support for the program.

The Lady Cardinals, a perennial basketball championship team from Mesa Grande Academy, sponsored "an afternoon of fun, camaraderie and training in basketball fundamentals" for special-needs kids in their community.

An evangelistic team from the Southeastern California Conference making its fourth trip to India not only conducted meetings that resulted in 710 baptisms, but gave out 1000 Bibles and 700 pairs of glasses.

La Sierra University has again been recognized for the amazing contributions LSU students have made locally and internationally. In 2006-07 students performed 44,478 hours of service work. 790 students participated in service learning courses, and 156 others performed additional outreach work.

Walnuts are an unbelievably healthy food. In addition to cleaning up cholesterol buildup in arteries, "adding walnuts to a fatty meal seems to help reduce the post-meal damage to blood vessel walls".

Alan J. Reinach, Esq. reminds us that a number of Supreme Court Justices will leave the Court in the next few years, and "however you cast your vote this fall, know that one of the important implications of your choice will be the future of American freedoms—especially religious freedom".

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Reviewing the Adventist Review Special Issue

The Beatitudes Project 2
March 2008

This is the second "Beatitudes Project, Special Issue”, published by the Adventist Review. The first appeared in 2003 and was the product of "young adults, restless and seeking. . . .[that shared] the possibilities of living in the Beatitudes now, despite the 'costs'." Five years later Kimberly Luste Maran has given twenty young writers the opportunity to share what the Sermon on the Mount means to them. They share " in a variety of ways—theological examination, practical application, personal experience, humor, poetry—all revolutionary thoughts on a still-relevant gospel".

Critiquing these authors’ words would be almost sacrilegious. And besides, old guys like me need to spend more time listening than talking. So I've decided to share a few of the quotes that startled me into a new appreciation of their talents and their ability to make Jesus' words contemporary. However, I do have one suggestion for readers. Before you begin reading this Special Edition, read "The Adventist Community as the Light of the World: Claiming the Whole of Mathew's Vision", Ernest Bursey's brilliant essay in the Winter, 2008 edition of Spectrum. It will provide an illuminating, contemporary, and scholarly framework for what you're about to read in this very “Special Edition”.

Nathan Brown: "Humility is seeking to serve and save others, at a cost to ourselves and perhaps even before ourselves. We risk ourselves based on the little we know of the greatness and graciousness—the humility-of God"

Kimberly Luste Maran "Helping others is a tricky business. Jesus keeps reminding us of this. It's when we think we're 'being of use' that were often acting in arrogant and self-righteous ways."

Becky Dewey: "A relationship with God begins with raw honesty. . . I’ve felt the closest God when I've been most honest with Him: opening my closet of infinite questions, pulling the bandages back to reveal my latest wounds, or crying angrily at God as He holds me.”

Ryan Bell : "Peacemaking—announcing and enacting peace in our world—is evangelism. . .Taking our cues from Jesus' example, we cannot proclaim peace violently. We cannot ensnare people into freedom. We cannot deceive people into the truth. . .The language of peacemaking is more helpful than pacifism, which implies passivity. There is nothing passive about the peacemaking Jesus calls us to in the Gospel. . .In short, being peacemakers in God's kingdom means being radically committed to overcoming evil with good."

Stephanie Johnson: "Peace does not descend magically upon passive observers. It is not a happy result of patient expectation. It is brought about by people called 'peacemakers'. . .Peace is achieved by breaking down barriers. Peacemaking is not the absence of war; it can be violent, messy, active, and loud. Christ said, 'I did not come to bring peace, but a sword' (Matt. 10:34). Peace must be made—carved out by attacking those things that separate. . .Have we Seventh-day Adventists, as individual believers, bloodied our hands tearing at the stones that divide society? Have we led the charge to tear down the walls and shake the earth? Or have we mistaken silence and passivity for peacemaking?. . .We should be the foremost makers of peace in the world—so adamant about it, so dedicated to it, so active, effective, and aggressive in the face of inequality and injustice, that as the veils part and the rocks split, those who watch will be compelled to say, 'Surly, these are the children of God'."

Tompaul Wheeler: "Maybe if we dedicated ourselves to solidarity with the truly persecuted around the world, we'd be a little less petty here at home. . . When people spend their time kvetching about how they get no respect, for some reason it doesn't tend to inspire more respect. When people live like they know something worth dying for, selflessly pouring themselves out for others 'like a drink offering' (Phil. 2:17), as Paul wrote from a dungeon, the world takes notice."

Falvo Fowler: "We read the blessing on the persecuted as applying chiefly to ourselves—as Christians—but the blessing Jesus spoke extends as far as the compassion of God extends. When we are not the ones being persecuted, it is our mission has His followers to support—to stand up and shine for—those who are being victimized."

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Reviewing Spectrum

Winter, 2008
Volume 36, Issue 1

This issue reminded me of my trip with Dante in his Devine Comedy. I have placed the following offerings under his titles, beginning with the lowest level of Purgatory. Because there were moments of lucidity in every literary offering, no one in this issue was awarded a place in Hell. (Jones and Cafferky are close enough to smell the brimstone, however.) Purgatory is a mountain, a place of struggle and hope.

“Examining the Biblical Texts About Homosexuality: Toward the Unity of the Body of Christ” by John R. Jones
“Change in the Adventist Church: Analyzing the Latest Actions of the General Conference” by Michael E. Cafferky
“Ordinary and Dangerous: Sex in the Christian Community” by Loren Seibold
“Jesus Loves Me This I Know” by Dana Schuster (a pseudonym)

“Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament” reviewed by James D. Lorenz
“Critiquing the Movie Critics” by R. Munsey
“The Language of Morality” (Comments published in the Spectrum Blog)
“A Dream Of” a poem by Andrew Cockerham

“Reading the Bible Together” by Bonnie Dwyer
“Let’s Eliminate Hyperorthodoxy” by Charles Scriven
“Call to Community: A Liturgy Celebrating God’s Call to Experience Authentic Community” by Charles Teel, Jr.
“Public Policy Issues Involving Homosexuality: An Adventist Response” by Mitchell A. Tyner

“The Beloved Community: A Radical Reformation Conception of the Church” by Charles Scriven
“Adventists Through Academic Eyes: An Interview with Eva Keller” by Alita Byrd
“The Road to Clarity: Seventh-day Adventism in Madagascar” reviewed by Rich Hannon
“Blest Be the Tie That Binds” by Juli Milleir
“The Adventist Community as the Light of the World: Claiming the Whole of Mathew’s Vision” by Ernest J. Bursey

“Examining the Biblical Texts About Homosexuality: Toward the Unity of the Body of Christ” by John. R. Jones is eighteen pages, including notes, of torturous quibbling, hairsplitting, and intellectual blather that, in the end, leaves the reader guessing about what it all means. The following is a quote from Jones’ conclusion.

“There is no question that the Spirit’s onward call, from comfortable stasis to destabilizing rethinking in line with Christ's rule, will continue to affront many. And I realize how readily the perspective represented in this article can be cheapened with a dismissive label of ‘situational ethics’.”

”Change in the Adventist Church: Analyzing the Latest Actions of the General Conference” by Michael E. Cafferky is positive proof that the administrative structure of the Adventist Church is self perpetuating. The writing is administrative gobbledygook of the first order. Unfortunately, the writing reflects the inability of General Conference delegates to do the necessary work of the Church. Here's part of a typical committee report.

“As a church, we must become mature enough to embrace continued discussions about vertical power and authority as we move on to include other discussions about the horizontal connections that are needed. Without horizontal integration efforts, we will make slow progress toward improved flexibility. The net result will be only marginal progress toward mission accomplishment.” The concluding paragraph is a doozy!

“We need the commission or another group to study ways to improve horizontal integration across functions, departments, support services, specialized ministries, and organizations that share common goals. Discussions like this offer the potential for helping us learn how different perspectives can be unified, and how we can come to agreement on our priorities.”

“Ordinary and Dangerous: Sex in the Christian Community” by Loren Seibold is a painfully inept attempt to talk about sex outside of marriage. The pictures of Marilyn Monroe are gratuitous and give the article a sleazy look. And the writing reveals a disturbing moral ambiguity. The following quotations are troubling.

“She” is a friend of the author who was repeatedly raped by her church school teacher when she was thirteen. When questioned by the church pastor and elders, “she read the future in their faces: they were disposed to disbelieve her, or at least hoped they could find some way not to deal with it. So not to prolong the agony, she (showing the most sense of them all) denied anything had happened, and it was dropped. He moved on to another church school, she to a period of depression and promiscuity”.

“Many (even Christian) young people believe that sex with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even with several dozen necessarily destroy your life. The virginity myth that was widely accepted (if carelessly practiced) for thousands of years has lost adherents. I do not ask young unmarried couples attending church if they are sleeping together; whether or not, my goal is to get them married, not embarrass them and make them unwelcome. From a traditional point of view this may be regrettable, but it is also realistic.”

“Jesus Loves Me This I Know” by Dana Schuster (a pseudonym) belongs in the lowest level of Purgatory for what it reveals about the writer and the religious institution (presumably the Adventist Church) he/she works for. It is a profound tragedy that a person who “can accept the scientific data and also affirm a traditional view of the Fall ” risks censure or criticism if his/her identity is known. The writer concludes this “heretical” letter as follows:

“First, I think it is important to be honest with data. Second, I think it is important to affirm the loving kindness of God. Third, I think it is important to cultivate humility and to allow the love of Jesus to release us from fear of the unknown. If I may paraphrase Romans 8:38-39, I am persuaded that neither ice cores, nor pseudogenes, nor weird fossils, nor inconceivable distances, nor on imaginable long time spans, nor any other thing in creation can separate us from the love of Christ.”

“Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament” reviewed by James D. Lorenz is a “deep and comprehensive discussion on so many aspects of Old Testament sensuality (it is generous footnotes in almost 200 pages of documentation in the back), no doubt the community will be forced to reference this work for years to come”. Unsurprisingly, “Davidson targets three audiences: the Evangelical, Adventist, and academic communities.” Teenagers may also find it interesting.

“Critiquing the Movie Critics” by R. Munsey reaches the following conclusion, “It was wrong in the past to forbid all movie watching. It is just as wrong today to deny the need to be very cautious about watching them.”

“The Language of Morality” (Comments published in the Spectrum Blog) is reassuring for an old guy like me. The kids are talking about the right stuff: morality, evangelism, science, and the Bible.

“A Dream Of”, a poem by Andrew Cockerham, came close to being heavenly, but the last stanza contains a wish that arrives without reference or explanation in the context of the poem.

“Reading the Bible Together” by Bonnie Dwyer is a beautifully written introductory essay. The theme of community is heavenly, but too much of the magazine’s content is a disappointment.

“Let’s Eliminate Hyperorthodoxy” by Charles Scriven. ‘Nuf said.

“Call to Community: A Liturgy Celebrating God’s Call to Experience Authentic Community” by Charles Teel, Jr. contains some of my favorite biblical texts, quotations, and hymns. I'm not sure what an “authentic community” is, but if Charlie is a member, I want to be part of it.

“Public Policy Issues Involving Homosexuality: An Adventist Response” by Mitchell A. Tyner is refreshingly straightforward. “Today, much of the resentment of homosexual claims for equal rights at bottom is resentment of a claim of a equality.” Tyner argues that failure to advocate “on behalf of equality rights for homosexuals [will] negate the ability of the church to witness to society.”

He continues, “More fundamentally, how can it ever be in the Church's interest to act other than in accordance with scriptural council and instruction? The Bible clearly tells us that God puts a tremendous value on human freedom. . . Our own history shows the dangers that follow the legislation and imposition of religious beliefs and religiously based moral convictions on those who do not share them.”

“The Beloved Community: A Radical Reformation Conception of the Church” by Charles Scriven is a message of hope and encouragement for those of us who are committed to making the Adventist Church, a beloved community of Christian believers, a place that “can provide enough support, enough patience, and enough hope to nourish and sustain [ADRA, our children and grandchildren], a Fabiola, a Martin Luther King, and a band of health researchers at Loma Linda University”.

“Adventists Through Academic Eyes” by Eva Keller is an interview edited by Alita Byrd. “The Road to Clarity: Seventh-day Adventism in Madagascar” by Eva Keller is reviewed by Rich Hannon. He highlights this quotation from the book.

“The central question this book addresses concerns the nature of the attraction of Seventh-day Adventism for church members in Maroantsetra and Sabameloka. The answer to this question, in a nutshell, is that it is the intellectual excitement linked to the process of studying the Bible that is the key to local people’s commitment to the Adventist church. . . Bible study is received by the local Adventists to be the road to clarity.”

While Adventist members in Madagascar are less sophisticated than members of Juli Milleir’s Wood River Church in Sun Valley, Idaho, “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” is a description of another beloved community that shares “the intellectual excitement linked to the process of studying the Bible”. For both, the Gospel is “the road to clarity”.

The “road to clarity” leads to a panoramic view of Heavenly terrain. “The Adventist Community as the Light of the World: Claiming the Whole of Mathew’s Vision” by Ernest J. Bursey is a masterful interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount in terms of an early and lasting Christian theology that “was intended in its entirety as a manual for missionaries (Matthew 28: 18 – 20). Its construction spoke to the skill of a Master Teacher being well-served by a master writer-teacher who edited Mark's story to allow room for several lectures constructed out of the available sayings."

In conclusion, Bursey suggests that a “comprehensive vision of a community of Jesus’ apprentices would suggest that the Church’s “attention would be directed to the weightier matters of the law like justice, mercy, and faithfulness (23:23). Local congregations would provide honest mutual support in the journey to maturity (18:1-32). The church would be a safe place to grow. And a renewed appreciation might arise for the mature moral vision of Ellen White (or if you prefer, the moral vision of the mature Ellen White).

“This would be a church with a balanced and realistic view of the normal spiritual life with the assurance of a present salvation for the repentant. It would be a church with humility in place of religious arrogance; a church with a sense of identity and mission beyond pointing out who and what is dangerous out there; and a church with members who are actively and creatively loving their evil world instead of isolating themselves from it.”

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Reviewing the Adventist Review

March 20, 2008
Vol. 185, No. 8

This is the edition of the Review to give to someone who wants to know about the historical beginnings of Adventism and our beliefs regarding the great controversy between good and evil.

James R. Nix, Director of the White Estate, does an excellent job of “Telling the Story” of Ellen White's “Monumental Vision” of the great controversy between God and Satan. Included are the personal accounts of Ellen White, Uriah Smith, and J. N. Loughborough. Ellen's description of that vision on May 23, 1858, is the foundation of the doctrinal canon of the Adventist Church. "Starting at 8:00 on Sunday morning—for what must have seemed like a very short four hours—Ellen White graphically related to the attentive audience the most significant vision God ever gave her during her 70 years of ministry as his messenger."

"Soon afterward the editor of the Advent review and Sabbath Herald (today known as the Adventist Review) vividly described the amazing reactions of those present that day: 'during the forenoon, sister White related a portion of the views she has had concerning the fall of Satan, the plan of salvation, and the great controversy between Christ and his angels and Satan and his. It abounded in startling facts and vivid descriptions. . .The course of the narration brought us down to the days of the first advent, the humiliation, the suffering, and finally the crucifixion of the Savior' . . .This was the first-- and apparently the longest-- public oral recitation of what today we call the great controversy vision."

“From Boys to Men” is the story of how Viya, the expert carpenter, and inexperienced teenagers built a coffin in one day for Youa’s mother. Jack McNeilus wrote this story while working at the Tokmok Training School in Kyrgyzstan.

“Learning to Let Go” by Connie W. Nowlan is the story of how a young girl learns to become a trapeze “flyer”. It's also a parable about trusting God and learning to “fly” free from fear.

Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones that come to life is the basis of Edwin Cook’s biblical study, “Dry Bones and Living Souls”. This ancient vision “provides hope for our disinterested friends and relatives”.

Dixil L Rodriguez survived a serious car accident with the help of a man who left a mysterious calling card. If the words “Puppy”, “We Care for People” and the Internet address “www.caring.ushv” mean anything to you, let Dixil know. She wants to say thank you. She made a rather extensive Internet search, as did I, and both of us “came up empty”.

“Letters” was a delightful and informative read.

Like mind met like mind, and the result is an outstanding essay. Clifford Goldstein’s “Flew’s Flight” is a well-written, thoughtful, even respectful piece about the intellectual journey of a man who used to be known as “the world’s most notorious atheist”. Anthony Flew has written that his “’discovery of the Devine has been a pilgrimage of reason and not faith’. Two things in particular helped him reason his way from atheism to theism: the teleological argument (the argument from design) and the cosmological one (the argument from first causes)”.

Flew has also written, “As I have said more than once, no other religion enjoys anything like the combination of a charismatic figure like Jesus and a first-class intellectual like St. Paul. If you're wanting omnipotence to set up a religion, it seems to me that this is the one to beat!”

Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center has a new CEO. As of February 25, Richard Hart is the boss.

“Kids View” signed in American Sign Language, should have preceded the Deaf History Month calendar and information about Helen Keller. Otherwise the pictures and format were creative and interesting.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has reported that “roughly 60% of Americans reared in what is defined as the “Adventist family” of churches, a grouping of Protestants dominated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, remain in that family as adults. . .However the bad news is “evidence of a dropout problem. The 2001 ARIS study found that 73 percent of those reared in the Adventist Church stayed in, and that has dropped to 60 percent. The tendency of new generations of Adventists not to bond with our denomination is accelerating”, according to Monte Sahlin.

There is a new academic building on the campus of Adventist-owned Valley View University in the West African country of Ghana. Columbia Union Hall was dedicated on February 18, thanks to the financial support of the Columbia Union Conference, Kettering Medical Center, and the Allegheny East Conference.

“The Wonder of Jesus”, a book by Roy Adams, (Review and Herald Publishing Association, Hagerstown, Md., 2007) is reviewed by Roy Gane. “This is a beautiful book. . .Adams cuts through clichés accumulated throughout the centuries to present an honest twenty-first century encounter with the Jesus of the New Testament.”

“Marry or Martha? by Wilona Karimabadi is a contemplative reflection on the personalities of Mary and Martha and “their examples as approaches to discipleship”.

“An Afternoon in Congress” is far more than a report of what happened on an afternoon spent in legislation hearings in Ontario, Canada. It is a brilliant essay that requires the reader to consider again what it means to be a Christian in a chaotic and terrifying world where our obsession with the ludicrous and trivial is the anesthetic of choice.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Where All the Flowers Have Gone

This is the Bone Yard Near Davis Monthan Air Force Base In Tucson, Arizona. Unbelievably, this picture shows only one part of the "Yard".

A Morning at the Rwandan Genocide Museum

On 3/30/08 6:05 AM, "christianevans@att.net" wrote:

Hi Andy,

I am in the airport on Sunday afternoon waiting to come home. I spent this morning at the Rwandan Genocide Museum. This museum tells the history of Rwanda and the colonial government actions that cause class distinctions that became the causes of class warfare and final the hell of the genocide. It also shows other genocides and the hell that other marginalized people have gone through. The site also serves as a cemetery by consecration of a number of the mass graves in the area.

ADRA and the American Red Cross had positive write-ups in the narrative as these were the only NGO's that stayed and tried to help. Some of the services these two organizations performed were truely heroic.

However, on the whole, the Christian Churches (particularly Catholic and Adventist) through their ministers performed some of the worst atrocities that occured. These ministers led the killing of congregents who sought sanctuary in the church. Tens of thousands were killed in places that should have been shelters. Much of this was recounted in Spectrum 25 vol. 4 (June 1996) in an article by Alita Byrd entitled Rwanda Slaughter.

Some of the ministers did receive judicial punishment after peace was restored but they may face a worse punishment in the judgement day (without their seeking the forgiveness of God). I know that not all ministers are enpowered by the Holy Spirit, but this museum shows that unless the Spirit is in control, we can all be devils.

The thing is that I am a believer in the veracity of the end time events that EGW writes about in Great Controversy and now see that these events can happen anywhere in the world where Satan is in control. How they will come to the US, I cannot anticipate (or when) but I am sure they will happen an certainly there is an atomosphere that some could interpret as it could happen soon. When it does, I now see that it will be a hell on earth and only God's protection will save us. I hope this increases my prayer life, my seeking Him an! d final ly helps my work with ADRA to try to help delay the winds of strife.

Chris Evans is an accountant who works for ADRA.

Reviewing the Adventist Review

March 13, 2008
Vol. 185, No. 7

This edition is informative—the cover story unintentionally so—and the rest of the magazine is well edited and occasionally inspirational.

“Adventist Education Refocuses on Mission”
There is a lot of hand wringing going on in the Adventist educational establishment. Larry Blackmier does his best to explain why so many Adventist young people in North America leave the Church in spite of 863 elementary schools, 116 secondary schools, and 15 colleges and universities. 3379 teachers are employed at the elementary level, 1611 in secondary schools, and 4087 in colleges and universities. These educational establishments serve 42,136 elementary students, 16,649 students at the secondary level, and 24,109 college and university students. In spite of these heroic efforts, not to mention hundreds of traditional evangelistic campaigns and extensive media programming, membership growth in the North American Division is less than 2%.

Blackmier suggests the following educational remedies:

"Formal Adventist education is serving fewer than 40% of the children in our churches. . . It's obvious that we must find ways both to make Adventist education affordable and to provide Adventist educational services to those who can't or choose not to utilize the formal Adventist school system."

George Barna contends, Christians need to do a better job of evangelizing children. "If people do not embrace Jesus as their savior before they reach their teenage years, the chances of them doing so at all are slim.”

According to Floyd Greenleaf, "The identity of Adventist education derives from its purposes. Maintaining the identity requires a constant and prayerful review of the purposes and principles of Adventist education, combined with a commonsense approach to change.”

Some pastors are less concerned with educational evangelism and “more concerned about the percentage of the church budget that supports the school”.

Blackmier believes that textbooks need revision. “We [Adventist educators] are currently in the process of developing a faith-based language arts program . . . Although we are stepping out financially, we are committed to developing a similar faith-based science series, eventually even including a faith-based social science series.”

Once again educators who make their living as Adventist administrators blame parents, teachers, pastors, and curriculum for the Church’s failure to create lifelong Adventist believers. The Adventist creed is not criticized or discussed, the hypocrisy inevitably present in Adventist schools where legalism is officially encouraged is not considered, the anti-scientific pronouncements of church pastors and theologians are not mentioned, nor is the misogynistic orientation of influential church members. It may well be that education of any kind beyond elementary school, religious or secular, is counterproductive in terms of church growth, in that critical thinking is fundamental to further education.

“Leaky Roofs and Loyal Volunteers” is an inspirational testimony to what can be accomplished when Academy alumni decide that their almamater needs a facelift. $150,000, along with donated materials and labor, has made Campion Academy like new, according to Dick Stenbakken..

“His Tomb is Empty” by Rex D. Edwards is a reminder that, “Without the Resurrection the cross seemed to be simply the work of cruel men; with the Resurrection it became gloriously evident that it was the supreme work of God to redeem the world from sin.”

“A Second Chance at Life” by Lillian R. Guild is a tribute to prayers of faith, a burn doctor, a mother who used her hands to put out the flames that engulfed her daughter, Deaconess Hospital in Spokane, Washington, and the bravery of a five-year-old girl.

“Letters” is always an interesting read. In this issue I was particularly impressed by Caroline Parsons’ response to Roy Adams editorial, “Critics are Watching” in the January 17, 2008 Review. Kudos to the editors for printing a letter that tells it like it is.

“Give and Take” is not a page I usually review, but the following quote “Age does not make error truth” inspired an Amen.

World News and Perspectives
A federal government House Panel heard Adventists and others on Sabbath protection. The Workplace Religious Freedom Act may become law, according to Mark Kellner.

Massey, Ogilvie, Davidson, and Turner are featured speakers in the Global PREACH seminar on April 22. This is a satellite event originating at Walla Walla College.

Michael Lee-Chin, a Jamaican businessman, made a $1.5 million gift, honoring his mother, to the SDA owned and operated Northern Caribbean University. It will be used to fund its nursing program.

Sari Fordham’s “Journeys” essay, Visiting My Grandmother, is a gentle, loving tribute to her grandmother who is suffering from a form of dementia.

Jimmy Phillips “Introducing the Why” essay, The Best Spiritual Times, is a reminder that it's vital to “enjoy seven-day relationships, not seventh-day relationships”.

The “Reflections” essay by Lyris Bacchus, Facing Your Giant, makes some very practical suggestions about what to do “when we feel like we can't go on, like we don't want to wake up to face the next day”.

‘Where Have all the Shepherds Gone?’ is Bill Knot at his best. In his editorial he challenges pastors to do more than just visit “those brave enough to visit in an office or so physically ill they must be hospitalized”.

“Language Lessons” by Claude Richli compares learning a new language to the rules of effective Christian communication: be patient, be humble, be prepared to have your mind and heart readjusted, and be prepared to exercise and experience grace.