Monday, February 16, 2009

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

February 2009
Vol. 5, No. 2

This edition of Adventist World has something for everybody, including: Five Reasons Why I Rest Well at Night, an essay by Jan Paulsen that confirms his place as one of the Adventist Church’s greatest presidents; worldwide news—some deeply disturbing—some encouraging; a piece by Handysides and Landless, Treating Macular Degeneration, that I found of particular interest since I’ve got it; the suggestion by Fred Kinsey, Speaker/Director for the Voice of Prophecy, that In a World of Chaos “we’re seeing signs that indicate the coming of Jesus is near”; and Mark Finley’s assurance that, “ One overriding principle in discerning God’s will is the willingness to do whatever it leads us to do.”

That said, I want to comment on the lead article, I Choose the Sabbath, in which a student, Daniel Lisulo, a scholarship student from Lusaka, Zambia, risked being sent home from the People’s Friendship University in Moscow by refusing to attend a Russian language class on the Sabbath.

The issue of Sabbath observance by Adventists is a complex one. If one were unacquainted with “Sabbath keeping” as practiced by Adventist Church, Andrew McChesney’s article would suggest that Adventists, worldwide, observe the Sabbath like Orthodox Jews. Actually, the only thing these two religious groups have in common is Sabbath “time”, sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Depending where Adventists live, swimming and skiing and soccer and baseball and mountain climbing and boating are perfectly permissible. If one works for or is employed by an Adventist institution, cooking, cleaning, policing, nursing, doctoring, dispensing, piloting, preaching, counseling, video taping, and teaching are all honorable Sabbath activities. Adventists attend Sabbath “school”. Adventists serve in the armed forces on Sabbath. Adventists eat food that was picked and processed on the Sabbath. Adventists employ workers when they “go out to eat” on the Sabbath, use phones on the Sabbath, gas up their cars on the Sabbath, and produce musical events and television shows on the Sabbath.

Why is it then that Adventist students are made to feel that they are in some way desecrating the Sabbath if they attend a class and take an examination? When I read about a student who has to give up a career because he or she has been taught that to take a final examination on Sabbath is an unpardonable sin, I want to scream. Our Church should formally abandon its official Sabbath keeping mantra and allow individual members to make reasonable decisions with regard to Sabbath observance. Making that change might be easier if Adventist church members, teachers, preachers, administrators, and theologians read Romans 14 once again and prayerfully considered “Sabbath keeping” in the context of Paul’s admonition.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Be My Valentine.

Comic from Mutts by Patrick McDonnell
(click to enlarge)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Reviewing Spectrum

Fall, 2008
Volume 36, Issue 4

I read this issue in two sittings, and then I found myself engrossed in other things for a week before I began writing. I then realized that my memory of what I’d read was fading fast. This necessitated a second review of each article and editorial and left me with the question, “Why was this issue so forgettable?” Two reasons. This issue breaks no new religious or theological ground. (The word boring comes to mind.) Articles continue to be too long. (Here’s a suggestion. Publish a digest in the magazine, and reference the Spectrum Blog for readers interested in the unedited version.)

I offer the following notes and excerpts in an attempt to justify my criticism.

David Larson suggests five ways for Adventist theologians to make necessary THEOLOGICAL TRANSITIONS.

THE GREAT EMERGENCE: A SEMI-MILLENNIAL RUMMAGGE SALE RIGHT ON TIME, by Brenton Reading was poorly written. In addition, there was no internal evidence that the blog responders had read Phyllis Tickle’s book.

WHO IS OUR NEIGHBOR REALLY? by Vaughn Nelson distorts any lesson to be learned by reading Obadiah. As he says: “It’s difficult to resist the temptation to manipulate and control the text. It’s hard not to do sometimes. It‘s hard and unsettling to let the text read you (me).”

CALIFORNIA’S GREAT DEBATE about Proposition 8, California’s Marriage Protection Act, appeared weeks after the vote, and, consequently, Michael D. Peabody and Nicholas P. Miller pro and con arguments had been made previously in the media.

ADVENTIST COLLEGIANS AND THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 2008 reported by Roger OL. Dudley provided 20 Tables over eleven pages to reach the following conclusions. “We have not found strong relationships between political voting and attitudes toward public issues with religious variables on many of the issues, but there were enough to draw some conclusions, even though they fall far short of completely explaining the variance. Basically, those whose religious orientation tends toward moderate/liberal tended to favor Obama, have a less literal understanding of the interpretation of Scriptures, and care more about universal health care. They also tend to be less concerned about Supreme Court appointments and prohibiting same-sex marriages, more concerned about protecting the environment, and farther along in their studies. In a word, respondents who were more moderate religiously were also more moderate politically.”

MODEREN NEUROSCIENCE AND THE NOTION OF FREEDOM by Sigvek Tonstad and PHYSICS ALL THE WAY DOWN by Daniel Giang conclude that “the only way to escape the determinism of physics appears to be. . .metaphysics”. It took them 11½ pages, and some magnetic resonance scanner pictures of the brain, Tibetan monks, turtles, and a nerve cell synapse making a connection.

JOURNEYS—SOUTH OF THE RIO GRANDE is an interview with the Chilean Artist, Francisco Badilla Briones. The Return, “a reinterpretation” of the Second Coming by Fred Collins, is partially reproduced on the cover and fully rendered as an illustration accompanying the interview. A light skinned Jesus in a white robe presides over a phalanx of light skinned angels with big wings wearing diaphanous white dresses. All humans pictured are welcoming. All but one gravestone pictured has been overturned.

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE STAHLS: THOUGHTS ON ADVENTISMS by Mike Tyler devolves from a short biography into a sociological discussion of whether or not Adventism has “made an effort to impact society, as did the Stahls? Or have we fallen in on ourselves, content to educate and indoctrinate with in the structures we have built”? Tyler finally answers the question he posed at the beginning of the article: “Why an I an Adventist?” It’s “because I have hope for the future”.

With “EVANGELISTS” AND “LIBERATIONISTS”, Charles Teel takes us on a trip through Central and South America with himself and his students. “The purpose of this essay is to report on thirty-some field course offerings that students from La Sierra University, Loma Linda University, and Andrews University—along with community members—have participated in over the past three decades as they have wrestled with contrasting ways that Christians south of the Rio Grande relate to issues of religion and societal change.” Along the way Teel discusses the evangelist and liberationist Christian philosophies that he and his tour members will encounter during the field course. (This year’s tours begin at the end of March.) E-mail:

THE END OF TIME is discussed by three authors. Rebecca Munsey writes that ADVENTIST JITTERS are unhealthy, and not recommended for the Church or individuals. PARADIGM SHIFTS IN ADVENTISM: NEEDED OR UNWANTED? by Borge Schantz is an attempt “to hold on to ‘absolutes’ in established paradigms while embracing positives in new ones. . .While seeking to maintain a balance between all elements in this comprehensive task, we must keep our special calling [the imminent Second Coming] in the forefront untouched.” Lowell C. Cooper’s JESUS, THE WORK, AND THE KINGDOM, is a reminder that “the power of the kingdom is a present reality; and that finishing the work is deeply qualitative. It consists first of all in bringing glory to God”.

Pat Cason’S poem, A UNIFIED THEORY OF MATTERAND FORCE gets a favorable review because he blesses us “off-balance characters and misfits” who remember the Dave Brubeck Quartet.

Ground-hog, get it?

From Non Sequitur, by Wiley
(click image to enlarge)

Reviewing the Adventist Review

January 22, 2009
Vol. 186, No. 3

This Adventist Review is quintessential. There are no critical letters, no daring editorials, no controversial essays, no thought provoking devotionals, no “stop-the-presses’ news, no editorial blunders, not one graphic faux pas. Consequently, while it may be entertaining to read, it warrants only a brief review.

Kid’s View is finding its feet as a magazine. Kudos to Designer, Merle Poirier. Wilona Karimabadi and Kimberly Luste Maran are proving to be an excellent editorial team. I only have one “bone to pick” with this issue. It’s two statements in the second paragraph in the cover story. “Millions of people worship Buddha and pray to a god who can’t hear them. They believe that praying to him and giving offerings of flowers, food, and money will get them a reward.” The first sentence is na├»ve and misleading. The second sentence seems similar to Christian children’s prayerful expectations.

The Complex Issue of Prostate Cancer by Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless is definitely worth a read.

Light Bearers Then and Now by Robert G. Wearner provides an up-to-date look at the boats that continue Adventist mission work on the Amazon and Rio Negro Rivers.