Friday, December 12, 2008

Reviewing the Adventist Review

November 27, 2008
Vol. 185, No. 33

This Review, with one exception, rates high marks for its feature articles, letters, world news and perspectives, Kid’s View magazine insert, and editorial comments. Three Bouquets have been awarded along with five Honorable Mentions. (If you decide to share this issue with a possible new subscriber, tear out page 17. Next, write in “God for All Seasons by Gerald F. Colvin” on page 19 and all will be well.)

SAFE WATER, COIURTESY OF ADVENTIST VOLUNTEERS: MOZAMBICANS BENEFIT FROM CHRISTIAN AID reported by Wendi Rogers, Maranatha Volunteers International. Maranatha volunteers “provide [clean well] water in every location where we build a church or school. . .Church buildings are also being used for literacy education classes, which are held in partnership with the government of Mozambique”.

ADVENTIST LEADERS IN SOUTHERN AFTICA TESTED FOR HIV/AIDS reported by Rajmund Dabrowski. For too long the Adventist Church in sub-Saharan Africa, an area of 23 countries and 20,000 Adventist congregations has not provided needed leadership in Africa’s HIV/AIDS pandemic. This is an impressive first step!

A TREE GROWS IN AUSTRALIA by Cyril R. Were is a fascinating historical account of the beginnings of the Adventist Church in Australia.

The following quote from reader Richard Wright highlighted INBOX’s important contribution. “I believe that the primary goal of students at our colleges and universities should be to bring about spiritual liberty.”


KID’S VIEW, Managing Editor Wilona Karimabadi, Content Editors, Kimberly Luste Maran and Gina Wahlen. I have only one suggestion for the editors. If you had used a Scrabble first letter in the framed words accompanying each child’s comment, it would have graphically tied pages 1 & 3 to the Scrabble letters used for the title.

Gerald F. Colvin’s GOD FOR ALL SEASONS contributed the following story. "Philanthropist Robert Owen, a Welsh manufacturer, once interviewed a 12-year-old breaker boy, black from head to toe with coal dust, and weary from unbroken hours spent chipping shale from broken coal. 'Do you know God?' Owen asked. After pondering a moment the lad replied, “No, sir. He must work in some other mine.”

WHAT ABOUT SPLENDA by Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless
“Rats fed sugar substitutes ate more food and gained more weight than rats fed sugar-sweetened food. Studies show that, while both are sweet on the tongue, they affect the brain differently. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), tests demonstrated that sugar engages the parts of the brain that respond to food rewards and then switch off the craving for more; whereas the artificial sweeteners do not. It is likely that people using artificial sweeteners who tend to be overweight gain this extra weight at least partly because they are not satisfied with the food they eat.”

Cliff Goldstein’s THE CIRCLE, on page 17, is analogous to reading a medieval Catholic Church critique of Galileo when it was assumed that scientific knowledge was the result of speculation and traditional authority rather than experimentation and the scientific method. Consider the following quotes from the essay:

“Knowledge comes with a kind of circularity, doesn’t it? As more books are written, the circle gets wider, but it still goes round and round.

“Suppose, though, all those books were science books. We’re not talking, then, about feminist critiques of Rainer W. Fassbinder filmography; we’re talking, instead, of quarks, chemicals, and continental shelves—reality as we meet it, and not as filmmakers or playwrights create it. Doesn’t that break us out of the circle?

“Not really. Science is, inevitably and necessarily, a human endeavor—shackled, weighed down, and distorted by the shackles, weights, and distortions that qualify knowledge. The myth persists that science stands at some Archimedean point, “a view from nowhere,” and thus delivers an objective reflection of what’s really real.”

In Goldstein’s next to last paragraph he offers this criticism of science in general. “Scientific realities of even a generation or two ago aren’t the same as today. No doubt, too, if time should last, some present ex cathedra scientific certainties will be mocked as myth.” Who is it that Cliff believes will be responsible for these scientific breakthroughs? Theologians?

Finally, Goldstein concludes his essay using impressive-sounding, undefined philosophical generalities along with a comment about the “circularity” of knowledge that I have attempted to contextualize using his own words.

“There’s a real world out there, one that we meet as opposed to create, and science is a particularly fruitful way of encountering, experiencing, and interpreting that world. But what science reveals remains uncertain, contingent, and particular, as opposed to necessary, universal, and certain, because human knowledge remains that way. No matter how large the library, how many impressive volumes. . .

(‘—deep tomes filled with page after page of references. (Wow, references!) References to what, though, other than other humans, whose writings reference other humans, whose writings reference humans . . . and on and on. Knowledge comes with a kind of circularity, doesn’t it? As more books are written, the circle gets wider, but it still goes round and round.’)

. . .fill the shelves, or how large the circle gets, it still of necessity goes round and round.”

If, after reading this essay, you are left with your brain spinning “round and round” and questioning your ability to make sense of what you have read, you are not alone.

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