Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Reviewing Adventist Today

November-December 2008

This is an issue that is big, and I mean BIG on graphic illustrations, and advertising. We Need to Talk by Chris Blake and God Wants Israel Back, the Andy Nash Interview, were accompanied by picture spreads that covered a page and a half. (There was only space for four letters to the editor.) I would have happily donated most of the full-page picture of LA that accompanied my cLAim news update to reader feedback.

We Need to Talk by Chris Blake makes the obvious point that the SDA church in North America will “continue to lose our next generation” unless changes are made. The changes he suggests have to do with identifying and catering to the preferences of “Older Mosaics” and “Young Busters”, ages 16 to 29.

I don’t buy it. Tweaking the delivery system of the Adventist message won’t solve the problem. The problem is the message itself, the 28 Fundamental Doctrines of the Church. Children raised as Adventists who do not attend SDA schools discover early on that other Christian communities tolerate less restrictive lifestyle choices. Young people that leave the sheltered world of the Adventist educational system discover that they have left a loving, inclusive Christian environment in which SDA doctrine is virtually ignored. The nonacademic Adventist world requires all but the cynical to conform to doctrine that dictates ritualistic, traditional behavior that is Christian in name only. For both groups, Adventist dogma is an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual turnoff.

Andy Nash and family had a great time in Israel, and the pictures that accompanied his tour bus editorial are charming. Unfortunately, his interview with Richard Elofer, President of the Adventist church in Israel needs the kind of editorial scrutiny that was afforded my piece. God Wants Israel Back is an interview that is scattered and too informal. Consequently, it looses focus and the title of the interview remains an unsupported assertion.

The “special advertising section” sponsored by Alumni Awards provides four pages of information about the state of Adventist secondary education and a reward strategy designed to improve it.

A Time to Laugh features caricatures and a brief biography of famous personalities; most are Adventists. Their author is anonymous “to avoid any sort of reprisal from the saints lacking humor”. (I too have had the honor of being “caricatured”!)

The Eye Doctor by Alden Thompson makes the point that “the whole truth is presented more clearly by several than by one. He is aided in this observation by an extensive quote from Ellen White’s Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, pp. 432-433.

The Seven Questions for Mary Whipple, Olympic Gold Medalist coxswain leaves out what for me is the most interesting question for Adventist readers. “How does she navigate traditional Sabbath taboos as an international athlete?”

Adventist Man’s comedic performance is steadily improving. However, he should have ended his answer to the question, “What should we avoid doing on the Sabbath?” with the first two sentences of his answer, “Adventist Man notes that many Christians tend to require lists. Otherwise, they feel listless.” The rest of the answer is preachy.

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