Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Beastly Dilemma, Continued

Cartoon modified from Prince Valiant, by Mark Schultz and Gary Gianni
(click image to enlarge)

Reviewing Spectrum

Spring, 2009
Volume 37, Issue 2

I read the entire magazine on one Sabbath afternoon. An issue that successfully competes with my naptime deserves a gold star. And since I don’t have to consult with any committee or engage in political maneuvering to make the award, consider it awarded. Bonnie and Leigh, along with your entire team, take a well-deserved bow.

The letter from Donna Haerich motivated by a churlish “noted evangelist” and the issue of male only ordination inspired me to include the Non Sequitur cartoon that follows this post. (Come on Donna, name the guy!)

It’s a shame that William S. Peterson left the Church because he believed that Adventists would never “view Ellen White as most Lutherans regarded Martin Luther—as a revered (though fallible) founder of the Church whose opinions were treated with sometimes cautious respect—rather than as a prophetess who claimed to receive messages directly from God in supernatural visions”. It’s happening, Bill. (See Ellen White’s Writings as Religious Classics by Richard Rice, this issue, p. 22)

Nancy Hoyt Lecourt’s Searching for Ellen White, an interview of her uncle, historian Frederick Hoyt, was a gas. Hoyt discovered, but was afraid to publish, an account of a vindictive teenager named Ellen White who announced that her visions indicated that those who didn’t believe what the Millerites were preaching were going to hell. “And you’re going to burn eternally. And I’m not going to have any sympathy for you. None at all. You deserve what you’ll find—the shut door.”

For anyone interested in the current administrative and financial state of Adventist higher education, this section is a MUST READ, even though the nineteen pages could easily have been condensed by a third. The long and short of it seems to be that church leaders with the authority to make the necessary changes aren’t making them because they are afraid of the wrath of their Union constituents.

That’s California’s problem, too. Legislators, who have been elected to make informed decisions regarding the welfare of the state, are afraid to act for political reasons. Consequently, vital decisions are passed on to the electorate whose votes are based on what they believe benefits them, individually. It’s no way to administer a state or Adventist higher education.

Obviously, God had to create women. It may require another act of God to ordain them!

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

Danae, the SDA Geoscience Preconceptual Research Institute wants you!

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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Beastly Dilemma, Continued

Cartoon modified from Prince Valiant, by Mark Schultz and Gary Gianni
(click image to enlarge)

An Unforgettable Mountaintop Experience!

Modified from the comic Ziggy, by Tom Wilson & Tom II
(click to enlarge)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reviewing the Adventist Review

May 28, 2009
Vol. 186, No. 15

This review is a “feel good” edition. Kids are really WHY WE CARE. Wilona Karimabadi and the KIDS VIEW gang along with Ellen White’s piece, JESUS, GENTLE SHEPHERD remind us that children are the future, and they need and expect us to help them prepare for it, in this world and the next. I asked my 8-year-old grandson about Kids View the magazine, and my report and comments will conclude this review.

Stephen Chavez’ editorial comment, DON’T PANIC, was refreshing in that it was wise rather than religious.

REVIEW REDESIGN REAPS REWARDS, RENOWN. The Adventist Review staff, editors, and Jan Paulsen won a ton of awards at the Associated Church Press Awards banquet. Congratulations to all.

Shawn Boonstra packed ‘em in at the Shrine Auditorium. The cLAim evangelistic effort is hitting its stride. (Sadly, Revelation is once again the featured topic.) There is a lot riding on this $1,000,000+ citywide evangelistic effort. A number of local pastors are on record as saying the money would be better-spent supporting programs at the local church level.

It is my hope that when the cLAim campaign ends and the baptisms are counted up, information will also be published as to its effectiveness as judged by participating pastors and church members. This report should also include a demographic profile of those baptized and those who stopped attending church during the cLAim campaign.

KLINGBEIL JOINS AS ASSOCIATE EDITOR. Gerald A. Klingbeil, former Dean of the Theological Seminary of the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies in the Philippines joins Roy Adams as an Associate Editor of the Adventist Review.

Jimmy Phillips is a new voice that believes in CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION with us old folks when it comes to making Adventism attractive to young people.

Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless let us know WHEN NORMAL IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH when it comes to vitamin B12.

KIDS VIEW is being targeted at students in the third though sixth grade. As I have opined earlier, I believe the differences in age and experience that comprise this group dooms the effort. When I visited Ukiah, CA, I had my 8-year-old grandson, a third grader, review this issue of Kids View.

Adrian’s review: THE ELEPHANT THAT CRIED and TESTIMONY IN A TRUNK (loved the stories), CALENDAR (cool), THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY (baby stuff, uninteresting topic), MOTHERS AROUND THE WORLD (blank stare), and the crossword puzzle, WHAT’S YOUR KIDS VIEW IQ? (uninterested, who remembers that stuff in the other magazines? )

It Is Safer to Meet a Bear

I offer some wisdom from Proverbs. I, all to often, am not wise and need correction. These proverbs speak directly to me. I want to be willing to be corrected, because "Anyone willing to be corrected is on the pathway to life. Anyone refusing has lost his chance." (Proverbs 10:17) The following quotes from Proverbs are taken from The Living Bible, the paraphrased self-help edition.

It is possible to give away and become richer! It is also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything. Yes, the liberal man shall be rich! By watering others, he waters himself. 11:24,25

Only a simpleton believes what he is told! A prudent man checks to see where he is going. 14:15

Reverence for God gives a man deep strength; his children have a place of refuge and security. 14:26

We can always "prove" that we are right, but is the Lord convinced? 16:2

It is safer to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool caught in his folly. 17:12

What dainty morsels rumors are. They are eaten with great relish! 18:8

What a shame--yes, how stupid!—to decide before knowing the facts! 18:13

Any story sounds true until someone tells the other side and sets the record straight. 18:17

It is harder to win back the friendship of an offended brother than to capture a fortified city. His anger shuts you out like iron bars. 18:19

A wise man restrains his anger and overlooks insults. This is to his credit. 19:11

You are a poor specimen if you can't stand the pressure of adversity. 24:10

It is an honor to receive a frank reply. 24:26

Be patient and you will finally win, for a soft tongue can break had bones. 25:15

In the mouth of a fool a proverb becomes as useless as a paralyzed leg. 26:7

Yanking a dog's ears is no more foolish than interfering in an argument that isn't any of your business. 26:17

If you shout a pleasant greeting to a friend too early in the morning, he will count it as a curse! 27:14

Mark Twain on Politics and Religion

“In the two things which are the peculiar domain of the heart, not the mind—politics and religion—[the human being] does not want to know the other side. He wants arguments and statistics for his own side, and nothing more.” Mark Twain’s Notebook, Chapter XXVII

Statement by Satan, the Devil’s Nephew:
“Oh, it’s true. I know your race. It is made up of sheep. It is governed by minorities, seldom or never by majorities. It suppresses its feelings and its beliefs land follows the handful that makes the most noise. Sometimes the noisy handful is right, sometimes wrong; but no matter, the crowd follows it. The vast majority of the race, whether savage or civilized, are secretly kind-hearted and shrink from inflicting pain; but in the presence of the aggressive and pitiless minority they don’t dare to assert themselves.
. . .you will always be and remain slaves of minorities.” The Mysterious Stranger, Chapter IX

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Beastly Dilemma, Continued

To be continued...

Cartoon modified from Prince Valiant, by Mark Schultz and Gary Gianni
(click image to enlarge)

Reviewing the Adventist Review

May 21, 2009
Vol. 186, No. 14

While I have a “bone to pick” with one of my favorite editorial writers, I’ll save it for a final comment because there is a lot to recommend in this issue. For starters, Earl Zager’s letter in INBOX raised once again the idea that some Adventist schools, as Charters, might positively influence public education policy and provide the Church with increased credibility, particularly in cities like Washington D. C. and New Orleans.

Megan Brauner writes that G. T. Ng has a message on church growth that couldn’t be more serious or important. He is an Associate Secretary of the General Conference who overseas records tracking membership growth for several world church regions. As his presentations show, loss of membership is significant. BAPTISM IS NOT THE END OF THE ROAD, according to Undersecretary of the World Church, Larry Evans. “Focusing too much on a single aspect of growth, such as increase of membership, has played a part in the loss of new members. In the current administrative model, pastors and administrators receive credit only for new members added.”

Megan Brauner also reports the Adventist Church is part of an INTERFAITH GROUP COLLABORATING EFFORST AGAINST MALARIA. That group is composed of Muslim and Christians united in the efforts of Nigerian Interfaith Action against Malaria.

INSTEP WITH THE PROGRAM by Reg Burgess and Matthew Herzel documents the progress of the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as it leads the march toward a more healthful lifestyle through the InStep for Life program. “The NAD InStep for Life program is meant to unite Seventh-day Adventists across North America and give them an achievable health goal. Participants increase the number of steps they can comfortably walk each day, until they reach 10,000 daily steps—the baseline for optimum health. By following this exercise program for a few weeks, it becomes a lifestyle that significantly improves health, fitness, and overall mental attitude.”

WHAT JESUS SAID ABOUT YOUNG ADULT MINISTRY by Gary l. Hopkins, Duane McBride, Stuart Tyner, Rene Drumm, and Wendi Kannenberg strongly supports the following conclusion: “Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 provide the best program for youth retention, and scientific research provides strong support for activities based on these words of Jesus. Youth and young adults who are engaged in service are significantly more likely to engage in positive behaviors, avoid high-risk behaviors, and develop a mature Christian faith that keeps them committed to the church.”

Karen Green councils that ANGER IS A MISUNDERSTOOD EMOTION. While anger can be a dangerous emotion, it is also important to acknowledge “we are in control and no person or situation can ‘make’ us angry”. Anger does have some positive aspects, however. “Feelings of anger can signal that there’s something troubling in a situation and that it needs to be resolved. . .Many injustices are happening in our society, and people should become angry enough to do something about them. Expressing anger can relieve strong feelings and emotions, which if kept inside could later have adverse effects.”

I wish Fredrick A. Russell were a better writer (or would avail himself of some additional editorial assistance), because he says some very important things. RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AND JEREEMIAH WRIGHT is a thoughtful defense of religious liberty.

Because I know both a juvenile and adult sex offender, I heartily support Out B. Faithful’s support of THE VICTIMS AMONG US: HOW DO WE RESPOND TO PEOPLE WITH A PAST. Thankfully, I, like her, belong to a faith fellowship “that embraces sinners rather than pushing them away”.

In BAD THINGS GETTING NORMAL, Roy Adams condemns “the increasing acceptance of the homosexual life style” along with immorality, gambling, common law shack-ups, and “the rise of verbal obscenities in public discourse”. While the life styles of some homosexuals are reprehensible, so are the life styles of many heterosexuals. This singling out and blanket condemnation of homosexual “life styles” is reprehensible and one of the “normal” things of the past that’s, thankfully, becoming a very “bad” thing today.

It’s important to find a church where you fit in.

Comic from Frank & Ernest by Thaves
(click to enlarge)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Reviewing the Adventist Review

May 14, 2009
Vol. 186, No, 13

There is much to commend in this issue. The Cover piece, INTO THE GARDEN, by Ken Flemmer, may motivate you to get out there and plant some tomatoes and zucchinis. THE FROG-CRUSHING METHOD by Jeff Scoggins is thoughtful and well written. Clifford Goldstein earns EXTERNAL PROPS from me for an excellent editorial. COOKING SOLUTIONS FOR SINGLES by Bonnie McLean is tasty. And FINDING BALANCE AGAIN by Valerie N. Phillips turns an personal crisis into a beautiful metaphor. That said, I have a bone to pick with two of my favorite writers!

In A GOOD WORD ABOUT POLITICS, an otherwise excellent reminder that Seventh-day Adventists have been involved with politics since the Civil War, and more often than not, on the righteous side of the issues, Knott seems to assert that the Adventist Church speaks with one voice on the issue of gay marriage. It doesn’t. And Bill, when you write about “the divinely ordained institutions of home and marriage”, you don’t speak for all of us, and God, at least to my knowledge has not taken sides on this issue. (I personally believe that all marriages should be civil unions.) The Old Testament contains a variety of sanctioned marriage contracts, and I can find no prohibition of gay marriage in the New Testament.

Here is the quote in context.
“In order for the church to fulfill her mission, civil liberties must be preserved; hungry souls must be fed with real bread, as well as the Bread of Life; justice must be guaranteed to those without power or influence; the divinely ordained institutions of home and marriage must be preserved.”

The illustrations that accompany Roy Adams’ “EVERY THOUGT CAPTIVE” are as weird as any the Review has published. That aside, Roy, your use of the unqualified word “liberal” in the following context is offensive. The offence is compounded when it is included in the phrase, “There’s no one so intolerant as a narrow-minded liberal professor. . .” (If the word “liberal” had instead been “conservative”, I would be equally upset. If the word “liberal” had been omitted, I would “second” your statement—I have been a Cal State University professor for thirty-six years and am well aware of the sins of my colleagues.)

When you assert that “false science” “in some cases” is taught in “our own” educational institutions, without providing reference or attribution, your words further inflame the witch-hunt mentality of some folks who see the devil under the bed when the word “evolution” is mentioned, without regard for context or argument. See Unraveling a Witch Hunt: La Sierra Under Seige.

Here is the paragraph under discussion.
“In this respect one may think of the challenge posed by false science. Every Adventist Christian who enters a science classroom in a secular educational institution today—and in some cases, even our own—faces this challenge. There’s no one so intolerant as a narrow-minded liberal professor determined to foist upon their students the philosophy of a mechanistic universe devoid of God. The Christian weapons are directed against such targets.”

David Asscherick in Action.

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

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

May 2009
Vol. 5, No. 5

Adventist World is worth reading, and it’s free to Adventists worldwide. It is also available online free of charge. For that reason I rarely quote extensively and never discuss every article, editorial, or letter. My comments reflect my interests and concerns, my reactions and my biases.

OUR COMMUNITY IN CHRIST is a thoughtful and inclusive editorial by Bill Knott. He closes his argument with a quote from Paul. “There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Col. 3:11). I believe a modern paraphrase of that passage might transform it into the provocative testimony Paul intended to communicate to us. How about this one?

“There is no Greek or Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, Scythian slave nor free,” i.e.,

There is no Seventh-day Adventist, gay or straight, evolutionist or creationist, atheist or believer, right to lifer or freedom to chooser, Ellen White advocate or Bible only believer, Trinitarian or Arian, traditional Sabbath keeper or Sabbath interpreter, decaf drinker or coffee connoisseur, teetotaler or wine drinker, meat eater or vegan, Democrat or Republican, earlobe piercer or bling purist, regular member or never attender, professor or high school dropout, “beater” driver or classic car collector, last days informer or end time skeptic, theologian or “give me that old time religion” advocate, hymn singer or praise music enthusiast, organ lover or sax fan, arm waver or quiet listener, suit and tie man or Hawaiian shirt guy, minister or member, evangelist or doubter, Bible literalist or biblical scholar, King James purist or Message advocate, seven day creationist or creation myth supporter, universal flood upholder or local flooding exponent, lake-of-fire affirmer or torture denier, Christ paid the price announcer or Christ showed the way proclaimer,

“but Christ is all and in all.”

Evangelism is a subject that is discussed repeatedly in this issue. My favorite report, and without doubt the most impressive and productive is PUERTO RICO’S SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS SKIP CHURCH, REACH COMMUNITY.

“Committed to making a positive difference in their communities, thousands of Seventh-day Adventists in Puerto Rico skipped church service on Sabbath, March 7, in order to distribute messages of hope in their communities, which are plagued with increasing violence. Church members passed out a free 16-page magazine entitled ‘A Look at the Puerto Rican Family.’ The massive distribution effort is the second island-wide activity of its kind for the church. Early last year some 250,000 magazines were distributed.”

PLANNING FOR A HARVEST is an interview of Dan Jackson, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada reported by Crystal Holloway. Jackson’s comments are lukewarm in their support of traditional evangelistic campaigns. “I don’t think the days of proclamation are over; but how you do it is another thing. How you engage people is another thing. Traditional public evangelism is not, nor should it be, the only way to reach out to a community. . .I don’t think you always need to have the spotlights and the auditorium. A small group ministry can be very effective. . .”

COUNTDOWN TO EVANGELISM reported by Bernadine Delafield provides little evidence that the 2009 Year of Evangelism will meet its goal of 100,000 baptisms.

Jan Paulsen will be sorely missed when he steps down as General Conference President. 5 THINGS I HAVE LEARNED is the self-portrait of effective Christian leadership. It’s a MUST READ.

ONE DETERMINED LADY by Roy Branson is another MUST READ. It’s a biographical portrait of Anna Knight, an African American nurse and daughter of a slave, that supported her missionary work in the South at the beginning of the 20th century with a fast horse, a revolver, and a shotgun!

THE EFFECTS OF JANUDICE by Handysides and Landless is well written and informative.

The Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies operated by the General Conference is located 27 miles south of Manila. LABORATORY FOR LEADERSHIP: THE AIIAS STORY is reported by Gina Wahlen and confirms a 135-year commitment to Adventist education worldwide.


Angel Manuel Rodriguez defines the biblical use of the phrase, “patient endurance” as FAITHFUL UNDER PRESSURE in fewer than 600 words.

In his Bible Study, LIFE-CHANGING FAITH, Mark A. Finley assures the reader that “we can have an abundance of life-changing faith” which is “a gift from heaven” and something each of us receives “a measure of. . .when we accept Jesus and become part of God’s family”. “Faith is not our Savior; Jesus is our Savior. Salvation is a gift of grace. When we trust God in an act of faith, we receive His grace. Even the faith we exercise to receive God’s gift of salvation is itself a gift.” “Faith in God is the secret to dealing with worry, anxiety, guilt, fear, and defeat.”

Next month [Finley] will begin a series on the book of Revelation, beginning with “Revelation’s Incomparable Jesus”. It appears my “faith” will require the gift patient endurance