Monday, October 27, 2008

Reviewing the Pacific Union Recorder

November 2008
Vol. 6, Issue 6

This issue is one of the best of the year. The articles are well written and, for the most part, informative and interesting. I have some Bouquets to hand out, and a few comments, but no Black Eyes. One illustrative photograph, however, deserved separate attention. (See my October 24 post, They say a picture is worth 1000 words.)

Youth Make Over Vet’s Home During Camp Meeting Week reported by Phil Draper
Penn Valley church Member Launches Adult Care Program reported by Chuck Starnes.
Marriage Amendments Spark Online Debate reported by Gerry Chudleigh.

Ricardo, I wish you would, at least occasionally, inform readers about the challenges the Pacific Union faces in terms of administrative achievements, policy and financial decisions, bureaucratic snafus, and the day-to-day challenges that you face an administrator. You are charged with leading half of the ethnically and socially diverse Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America. Members need to see you as an administrative leader not a pastor.

By the way, your homily on The Unparalleled Power of Prayer is cliché riddled, and confusing, particularly when you discuss the power of prayer. It is my prayer that in the future, you will write as our CEO.

As an emeritus professor of education and past Adventist School Board Member and acting principal, I noted the Northern California Conference’s Action Plans for Education spelled out in the article reported by Julie Lorenz.

This “new” action plan isn’t new. It’s been proposed many times before, and it has not produced much in the way of positive change at the school level. My suggestion would be for the NCC along with every church in the conference to guarantee the tuition of all Adventist students who wish to attend Adventist schools. We used to call it the Temple Plan. Our principals and teachers don’t need a new plan. They need the unconditional moral and financial support of every church member in the Conference.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Tar Pit Revelation

I visited the La Brea Tar Pits when I was about seven, and after that I became skeptical of anything about science that l was told by SDA preachers. The one who lived behind my house tried to convince me that there were no such things as dinosaurs. He said certain scientists, under the influence of the devil, were just gluing all different kinds of animal bones together (elephant, giraffe, cow, chicken, etc.) in an attempt to discredit the Bible.

Comic from Rubes, by Leigh Rubin.
(click for enlarged image)

Seven Days in the Western Caribbean

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Mathew 25:34-36

The Official Adventist Blame Game

Modified from the comic Dilbert, by Scott Adams
(click to enlarge)

They say a picture is worth 1000 words.

Pacific Union Recorder
November 2008, page 8

Cordwood: Poems from the Forgotten War, Final Chapter

Ralph Jacobs, the author of CORDWOOD, A COLLECTION OF KOREAN WAR POEMS, is a treasured friend and a Harvard educated medical doctor. He served in Dog Medical Company, First Marine Division, in the Korean War.

I served in the Marines from July 1950, through June 1951. . . I hope the poems will offer a personal lens for you to see and feel my experiences in Korea. Many of the events, situations, and dilemmas in these poems mirror what others have seen and felt in other wars."
Ralph Jacobs, from his Introduction
April, 2004

poems from Ralph’s fourth and last “chapter”

(Chinese Spring Offensive)

Shimmering dawn on our
Marine test hospital
Earlier we slept soothed by the
tympani of an all night deluge.
Pine dripping, water droplets on sword ferns,
scallions fused with the pungency
of dung-fertilized soil.
Jumping frogs in erotic frenzy
swarmed in viridescent mounds.

Private McCabe grabbed a Chinese
before he could stab Dr. Ed Raney.
McCabe and Corporal Hansen grappled
six more assassins
in the doctors’ tent that night.

Morning: the big guns and rifles resounding.
I foresaw gaping wounds
exuding virulent mud.
First I contemplated
the throbbing and croaking
green mounds.

A through-and-through wound
of the small intestine.
Two surgeons curse, as they flip
a steady stream of six-inch white
roundworms onto the planked floor,
then stomp on each one.
A visiting surgeon stares and laughs.

Breathe the air when the roads are muddy
Don’t breathe when the roads are dusty

Lower right-sided stomach pain—
No, it’s not appendicitis—its worms,
the admission tend doc’s adage.
Roundworms, whipworms, hookworms
Schistosomes—or a combination.
The diagnosis—microscopic—
eggs in the stool.
One large dose of hexylresourcinol
Send that marine back to duty.

Breathe the air when the roads are muddy
Don’t breathe when the roads are dusty

My lab tech Gerry frowns—
I’ve found the eggs of Schistosoma haematobium—
not the S. japonicum found here.
The marine tells me—We were in Egypt.
We shipped across the Indian Ocean
to join you here. Gerry smiles.

Breathe the air when the roads are muddy
Don’t breathe when the roads are dusty

Most of our field hospital staff—parasite infestation.
How can we avoid these worms?
I advise—

Breathe the air when the roads are muddy
Don’t breathe when the roads are dusty

Our admission tent is full of stretchers—
men needing belly surgery, shrapnel wound
debridement, casts.

Eight to ten Chinese bayonet-slash and tramp
Through the side of that tent, bayonet
a corpsman, two patients lying on the ground.

“Get those goddamn gooks out of here”,
I order, kneeling by the stretcher
of my mangled blood-soaked marine—
“Everything’s under control. You’ll be OK.” I lie.

Mechanics, ambulance drivers, corpsmen
grab pistols, carbines, bayonets—
kill or capture.

“Chief Rice, fix the fucking side of the tent.”
I turn and start a transfusion.

Three of us operated on a thirteen-year-old
Last night. I seemed an eternity.
Beauty radiated from her broad checked face.
Rain tattooed, then crescendoed on our surgical tent.

We debrieded her left forearm.
We casted her right forearm
for compound fractures of her radius and ulna.
We wrested deep shrapnel from her left thigh.
We purged her right groin of muck, pus, necrosis—
exposing the fascia and femoral artery.

The early sun gleams.
Rain shimmers, drips from rhododendron leaves.
She died at dawn.

My jaw tightens.
I stand in our chow line.
A marine plays ball with an eight-year-old boy
outside our surgical tent.

Five Chinese soldiers slash and stamp
through a battalion aid station tent,
shoot a corpsman at blank range
in his chest land belly as he starts plasma IV.
Bayonet a medic syretting morphine,
slicing his arms and shoulders.
Slaughter the doctor—a burp-gun slammed to his head—
as he listens to a rattling lung.
Stumble over wounded on litters as they charge on.

A successful counterattack reclaims this scrap
Of forest—its yellow forsythia—
its jumble of men and equipment.

From the bloody muck marines gently retrieve
the wounded, ambulance them over rocks,
mud and ruts to our hospital.

As a civilian, I doctor each individual,
as a marine, I doctor men—
to keep a maximum bearing arms.

Must I send a man to death?
Our medical company—trucks, jeeps, ambulances
Advance in single file down the virgin road—just bulldozed
from the steep side of a mountain by army engineers.
A smoking Chinese rocket lands in our ammo trailer.
Appalled, I foresee our company blown up.
our army’s only road blown up.
Must I send a man to death?
My choice is clear—“Buzz,
run that trailer over the cliff.”

Our army lays mines
to kill enemy soldiers,
but they maim kids, mamasans, old men.
Our air force napalms a village
to kill enemy soldiers,
but it kills kids, mamasans, old men.
Our artillery barrages a city
to kill enemy soldiers,
but it kills, maims kids, mamasans, old men.

Corporal Polanski pleads to return to his unit,
To his BAR,* to protect his buddies.
His thigh wound is healing,
But emotional quirks may plunge him into psychosis.
I must have the courage to evacuate him.

*Browning Automatic Rifle

Poems from Jacobs’ chapters of poems: Trip to Korea, Inchon and Seoul Campaigns, and the Chosin Reservoir Campaign can be read on this blog. In addition, Spectrum Blog has previously posted a piece I submitted in which Jacobs’ poem, Cordwood, is featured.)

“Cordwood” can be purchased from Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Bl., Corte Madera (415-927-9016) or Ralph Jacobs, 55 La Costa Ct, Novato, CA 94947 (415-898-6064).

Ralph W. Jacobs, born in New Jersey in 1925, attended Duke University for his undergraduate studies and received his MD from Harvard Medical School. In World War II he served as a Navy corpsman. In the Korean War he served three years as a physician in the Navy Medical Corps. He practiced medicine in San Rafael, California, for forty years.

Since retirement he has been writing poetry and chairing a philosophy discussion group. He and his wife have four children and enjoy playing with their eight grandchildren.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Reviewing the Adventist Review

October 9, 2008
Vol.185, No. 28

Drumroll, Please. This is the first issue of the “new” Review, and it substantially meets Bill Knott’s pledge of expanded news of the global Adventist church, fresh unambiguous explorations of key Bible teachings, a special focus on young adults as well as those new in the faith, a new emphasis on wellness and preventive medicine, thought-provoking opinion and incisive commentary, heartwarming stories of grace and witness, and an abiding focus on the certainty of Jesus’ second coming. Impressive! A MUST READ.

The editors and technical staff of the Adventist Review
It’s All About Me, Isn’t it by Tompaul Wheeler
The World’s third-Largest Illegal Trade by Diana Scimone

I have very few nits to pick in this issue, but that’s my job, right?

Page 7, Where is the Mission? Adventist to Population Ratio
The North American and world graphic should also include, Christian to Population Ratio. The charge has been made that Adventists are primarily focused on “converting” other Christians rather than nonbelievers.

Headlines like Rolling Markets Won’t Change Investment Strategy are not specific enough to be informative. Comments like “We feel the portfolios of the church’s investments are prudently invested” are not reassuring. In these troubled financial times, investors (us) would appreciate easily accessible, complete information regarding our investments.

In the Zone, Roger Gotch makes a dubious claim that a tennis victory was due to divine intervention. “True, I had practiced a great deal, but was my expertise that day really due to my own power? I think not. Looking back, I think God was with me that day. The power, the deft touch, the feel for my game came from Him. I realize that now that I’ve had the opportunity to know the Lord and His ways.”

“When we accept His Son’s sacrifice and claim Christ as our Savior and Lord, God blots out the sins we have committed from our records and doesn’t remember them anymore.” Chongo Mundende makes this assertion in Busted! What I Learned About Grace from a State Trouper. Question: Is this statement hyperbole or can you and I give God amnesia? Can created beings do something that God can’t, i.e. remember sins? Isn’t forgiveness the issue here?

In Clifford Goldstein’s essay, The Evanescence of Us, he speaks directly to me, a recent retiree. Allow me to insert my name and institution:

“After 36 years of working in the Education Department of California State University, Chico, I’ve seen many people come and go. And what boggles my mind is that some of them, while here, were significant and influential figures. Then they moved on, and before long it’s as if they had never been here at all. Their presence, their influence, even the memory of their presence and influence, start to evaporate the day they leave. Time, and not much of it either, ravenously devours it all.”

Cliff, it’s not important that one is remembered by the institution one serves; it matters only that that service is remembered by those served, for good or ill. (I’m inclined to believe that those who strive to be remembered will be forgotten rather quickly.)

And by the way, sight is far more than “nothing but light waves bouncing off objects and then reaching our eyes.”

Friday, October 17, 2008

Reviewing the Pacific Union Recorder

Special Issue: Adventist Health
October 2008

This edition of the Recorder features the Adventist Health System. It is an impressive organization to say the least! A MUST READ. The rest of the issue is also informative and worth reading.

Conference Team Builds First of 25 Churches reported by Julie Lorenz. Student’ Donations Help Feed South African Children reported by Joeclyn Fay. Pathfinder Pioneer Henry Bergh Honored reported by Caron Oswald. And ASI Convention Inspires Lay People, Raises Record Offering reported by Steve Hamstra.

It seems that our Religious Liberty Department advocates for the separation of church and state only when the Adventist ox is in danger of being gored. Without the consent of church members, church officials have informed the press that Adventists are in favor of amendments to the constitutions of the states of California and Arizona “to restrict marriage to a man and woman”. Who gave our leaders that right?

According to Alan J. Reinach, Esq, our Union Religious Liberty guy, “The broad implication of this [State Supreme Court ruling which California’s Proposition 8 seeks to overturn] is that businesses and professionals cannot allow their religious conscience to govern their choice of clients and services.”

Couldn’t it be argued that the court ruling is a good thing? I was taught in church school and in church that in the “end times”, Catholics were going to do their best to deny Adventists the right to buy food and worship on the Sabbath, and we were going to have to flee to the hills! Couldn’t it be argued that a vote to amend these state constitutions is an attempt to deny the fundamental rights of any minority group, SDA’s for instance, that offends the “religious consciences” of the majority? Couldn’t it be argued that a vote to amend these state constitutions is an attempt to crack the wall separating church and state?

Reviewing Adventist Review

September 25, 2008
Vol. 185, No. 7

This is a special issue of the Review comprised of a Signs of Hope introduction from Jan Paulsen and eight devotional messages beginning on Saturday and ending on Saturday for both adults and children. The central theme of these messages is Signs of the Second Coming.

There is no one who desires Christ’s return more than I. However, the “Loud Cry” has lost its ability to increase the membership roles of the Adventist Church in North America or motivate young people to remain active in the Church. The countdown to Christ’s return has become an almost endless repetition of “1’s” and has been since the turn of the twentieth century when my five-year-old mother hid under her bed after hearing about end-time events.

The Gospel message is put on the backburner when our Church emphasizes the Second Coming. Members become more concerned with being in “the remnant” and guarding the edges of the Sabbath than being neighborly. Not a single writer in this issue mentions ADRA or local efforts to make their communities better, kinder, safer places to live. It’s unfortunate that these week-of-prayer devotionals are so narrowly “advent oriented”. In Mathew 25:34-36, Christ described those who will inherit His kingdom upon His return, and he didn’t mention those who correctly interpreted “the signs”.

“Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

October 2008
Vol. 4, No. 10

This is a solid issue. It informs and educates, and sometimes inspires. Even Faith that Works by Angel Manuel Redriguez is lucid and thoughtful! While I have a follow-up question for Reinder Bruinsma, only Mark Findley’s Last-Day Deceptions Bible Study fails to measure up.)

No Fault of Their Own: Helping the Families of Prostitutes in Kolkata’s Red-light Districts by Loren Seibold and Going Boldly for God by Jim Pederson: Building One-Day churches in Mozambique are MUST READS.

[Paul’s] letter to the church in Rome, a church worshipping at that time in the homes of members, turned out to be his most prominent letter, spelling out in more detail than in any of his other letters his theology of redemption in Christ.
(from Greetings from Paul by Reinder Bruinsma)

My Follow-up Question: How should Romans 14:5 influence SDA theology?
“In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable.”

Adventist Church statistics estimate that the 16 million-strong worldwide membership is approximately 70 percent women. (from Western Australia: men’s Ministry Stirs Support Online)

It’s a misconception that the Adventist church is doing well everywhere around the world. . .The 10/40 window [the region stretching from northern Africa to the east coast of Asia], is less than 1 percent Christian, let alone Adventist. (from Why Adventist Mission Tales Are Still Needed by Dan Weber)

The young mind can be very legalistic” in the sense that it sees the world in sharp, distinct lines. It seeks safety in clearly defined borders. Some young people want precise formulas, and they can be very persistent. They are sometimes not comforted with principles; they want specific answers. They are driven by a need to define themselves, to define the boundaries that surround them, to discover “Where do I fit into this? Do I like what contains me? Do I even understand the boundaries and why they are there? How does a life of obedience to God express itself?

Young people are also frustrated by the sheer numbers of their peers who are leaving the church. . . We are losing too many of our young people—too many people under the age of 25. Exact figures are difficult to find, but it would not surprise me if half of those who grow up in this family lose their way for one reason or another (from Looking Back at Let’s Talk by Jan Paulsen)

We need more cross-cultural missionaries from all regions of the world church teaching in Adventist schools in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, the South Pacific. We need pastors and administrators. We need to be a church that goes from everywhere to everywhere. . . Today, more Adventists speak Spanish than English. (from The Last Missionary by Homer Trecartin)

Exercise can be damaging to osteoarthritic joints, but aquatic exercise that is, swimming—has been shown to be very helpful and is the exercise of choice. It also helps to lose weight, especially if the joints involved are knee or hip joints. Dietary changes are not particularly useful in helping osteoarthritis, though a reduced acid load may help rheumatoid arthritis, hence the benefit of a vegetarian diet in that condition.

Some have touted the use of chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, but a large controlled study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health found them not superior to placebo* (from Osteoarthritis by Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Painful Choices

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Breaking Financial News

Budget Adjusts for Tough Financial Times
General Conference eyes hiring freeze, pledges prudence

by Mark A. Kellner, News Editor, Adventist Review, with reporting by Ansel Oliver, Adventist News Network, writing from Manila, Philippines

“The financial situation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is under pressure from the turbulence rocking world financial markets, General Conference financial officials report, but world church leaders are taking what they call prudent steps to manage during the crisis.

“On Oct. 13, the Annual Council of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, voted to accept a 2009 budget based on 2007’s income levels, along with a resolution allowing the GC Administrative Committee, or ADCOM, to make interim adjustments to the budget between the Manila session and the Spring 2009 business meeting.

“In commenting on the financial situation and the need to have the ability to adjust the church’s budget as conditions shift, General Conference Treasurer Robert E. Lemon said the General Conference operates in a way that’s different from some other organizations.

"’Our budgets are not built on the dollars we have,’ Lemon noted, "but on the blessings we anticipate." This means, he said, "We don't know what effect the markets will have" on future income.

“In light of this, church leaders are already making moves to economize, Lemon said. "We will be holding off as long as we can" on filling vacancies at the world headquarters, he noted, though the hold is "not a total freeze" on filling vacancies, that might occur. Similarly, the voted approval of a 3-percent increase in appropriations included in the 2009 budget might have to be delayed – or even eliminated – depending on economic realities.

“A major portion of the Oct. 13 Annual Council discussion surrounded the General Conference’s operational funds equity investments. Some of these have taken a 30- to 40-percent “hit” in recent days, but they represent a very small portion of overall operating funds for the world church. Associate Treasurer Roy Ryan said the purpose of most equity investments is to generate sufficient returns to compensate for inflation and to preserve purchasing power. Ryan said it is not prudent to attempt to “time the market.”

“In other financial news, church leaders said the “extraordinary tithe” reported earlier as the proceeds from a family’s sale of a private business has reached just under U.S. $102 million, to which another U.S. $2.8 million in interest has been added. Of the U.S. $104 million available for allocation some U.S. $75.7 million has been allocated to world divisions, as well as GC institutions and programs aimed at world evangelism. Another U.S. $15.7 million is reserved for future allocation, leaders said.”

Check out “” for
Kellner’s complete financial report.

EDITORS COMMENT: This current financial report answers some critical questions as to the present financial position of the Adventist Church. It also finally reveals the amount of the “special tithe” the GC received “from a family’s sale of a private business”.

What is lacking is an accounting of the specific equity investments that took a “hit” in the GC stock portfolio and what “a very small portion of overall operating funds for the world church” means in dollars and percentage of. How much money is required to provide “sufficient returns to compensate for inflation and to preserve purchasing power”? A definition of “purchasing power” would also be helpful.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reviewing Adventist Today

September / October 2008

I was a bit confused by Andy Nash’s editorial, enjoyed the letters, appreciated the information regarding what appears to be our next GC president, disappointed by the cover story, unconvinced that bad news can be good news or that there are dream churches, appalled that AT would spend six pages on something as silly as the notion that statistics can determine supernatural influences, enjoyed Hyvath Williams interview, and had mixed feelings about the responses of Adventist Man.

Andy, I was with you, head nodding approvingly until I hit the following paragraph.

“It used to be that when church members sinned, we at least felt bad about it—or if we didn’t feel bad, we left the faith community. Now, some of us are doing neither. We’re sticking around, even leading out, with an arrogance matched only by those who think we can earn our way to eternal life.”

Who is “sticking around, even leading out” with arrogance? Are all legalists arrogant? Something is missing. I suspect something was overlooked or lost in the editorial process.

The conversation on race-based conferences reflects differing points of view, but it’s not particularly helpful in terms of decision-making. Where is the input from members of these conferences?

David Newman and John Thomas McLarty do an excellent job of introducing the three leading General Conference candidates for the top job in 2010.

This scattershot sampling of salaries does little to explain salary disparities within the denomination. Stating “the Adventist Church struggles to preserve a uniform pay scale” is not informative. For instance, I was hoping that Edwin A. and Edwin D. Schwisow would have noted the pay and benefits disparity between teachers and ministers.

Teachers loose out twice. Less pay now means a differential of thousands of dollars in teachers’ retirement benefits. The ministerial “association” is a de facto union that controls church finances at every administrative level of the Adventist hierarchy. Adventist teachers have no “association” and no effective representation. The notion that ministers will “lookout” for their teacher colleagues has not proved to be true. Teachers, unite.

The accepted idea that Adventist Health administrators are entitled to be paid ten times the salary of the President of the General Conference because “health care salaries are market driven” is absurd.

Alden Thompson, this is a nonsensical question. Bad news is simply bad news. It can never be “good”. It speaks to the resiliency and courage of human beings that we can pick ourselves up and soldier on in the face of catastrophe. That is encouraging news, not “good news”.

The philosophical twaddle, bad news can be good news, underlies the notion that God hurts people to make them better.

There is no such thing. My dream and yours are different dreams. I’ll settle for a working church, a thoughtful church, a tolerant church, a caring church. Church communities that struggle to create a “dream church” inevitably feud when members’ idyllic dreams come into conflict.

Unfortunately, AT used six precious pages to critique and defend goofiness. “The Prophet and Her Critics” and “Acquired or Inspired” promote the idea that the existence of God can be proved statistically by comparing the health principles advocated by Ellen White and the views of her contemporaries. Leonard Brand and Donald McMahon would undoubtedly argue that Henry Ford was divinely inspired, as was Albert Einstein and millions of others who come up with sound, original ideas.

Joe Willey deserves only mild approbation for his humane dismissal of this idea: “From a scientific point of view, both the approach that [Brand and McMahon] employed and their conclusions are decidedly questionable.” The readers of Adventist Today deserve better.

Marcel Schwantes asks the right questions. Ms Williams is quite a lady!

“Is rock and roll music sinful?” A Man’s answer to the question is very cool. His answers to the other two questions, “We hear often that we are in ‘the last days’, but does anyone actually know when Jesus will return?” and “What’s worse—legalism or apathy?” are just short sermons. Come on, A Man. Don’t get serious.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Reviewing the Adventist Review

September 18, 2008
Vol. 185, No. 26

This issue is pretty standard SDA fare. I do, however, have two Bouquets to award and two comments.

$8 Million Raised for Missions at ASI Convention, reported by Steve Hamstra, is a tribute to Adventist laymen and women who live and breath Christ’s admonition to feed the hungry, provide clean water for thirsty, build shelters for the homeless, and preach the gospel message of love.

James Standish, a Seventh-day Adventist is now the Executive Director of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent, bipartisan federal agency. The Commission monitors violations of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Flies in Your Head by Ginger Ketting-Weller
The cover story and Kids View graphically describe maggots and festering sores. I find the subject distasteful, particularly the pictures of flies that festoon the Kids View. The title is also misleading. The “flies” referred to are maggots that inhabit the scalp of a man whose “hygiene is terrible”. For the “evil thoughts” metaphor to work, the “flies” should be located inside the skull not on it!

Quotations from the Old Testament should be used with care. Ketting-Weller cites David’s advise in 1 Chronicles 29:9 as an example of “keys to thought hygiene”. “In his charge to Solomon before he died, David advised his son to ‘acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts’. Solomon’s life might have been very different had he followed his father’s advice. The keys to thought hygiene were there. Solomon simply didn’t use them.”

It should be noted that David gave Solomon some additional deathbed advice. Perhaps it was using this “nonhygienic” advice that got Solomon in trouble.

“You know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me when he murdered my two army commanders, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He pretended that it was an act of war, but it was done in a time of peace, staining his belt and sandals with innocent blood. Do with him what you think best, but don’t let him grow old and go to his grave in peace.”

“And remember Shimei son of Gera, the man from Bahurim in Benjamin. He cursed me with a terrible curse as I was fleeing to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan River, I swore by the Lord that I would not kill him. But that oath does not make him innocent. You are a wise man, and you will know how to arrange a bloody death for him.” 1 Kings 2.

Ketting-Weller provides eight Practical Strategies “to tend to our spiritual hygiene”. The first is “Repent. Give yourselves completely to God.” No instructions for accomplishing this are supplied.

I don’t know about Goldstein. Cliff seems to oscillate between writing as a smug supercilious know-it-all and a tormented food-for-worms golem. In Delmore Schwartz’s Statues, it’s wormsville.

“This story (“The Statues”) is a metaphor for the human desire and need for transcendence, for purpose, for hope beyond ourselves. After all, what are we but small packets 
of flesh carrying around within us our own fecal matter and (not far away) our own minds. And what are our minds but a couple of pounds of carbon-based organic material closer in composition to a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken than to a hard drive. What can such a small, self-contained packet of meat mean in contrast to the infinity that surrounds it?”

Come on Cliff, we were created in the image of God. Take a day off, dude.