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.

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