Friday, September 25, 2009

Reviewing Spectrum

Summer 2009
Volume 37, Issue 9

This issue is more than fast food. Bonnie has prepared generous servings of a tasty meal along with a choice of desserts. As usual, the following diner’s guide reflects my personal sense of taste and flavor, but rest assured, you’ll enjoy the meal.

"It takes me aback what I see people insisting—Insisting to the point of saying opponents should be barred from full participation in church life—on their reading of Genesis 1. The Bible seems quite at ease with simple statements of divine creation--and it bears witness, in any case, to the idea that God's thoughts and ways are higher than ours. In light of verses 8 and 9 of Isaiah 55, it's hard to credit people who say they alone are right about when creation happened or how long it took."

"By seeking to meet the market expectation of many committed Adventists who are not pursuing Adventist higher education does not necessarily mean compromising our product! Moreover, the definition of excellence in Adventist higher education changes over time; what was optimal one hundred or twenty-five years ago may not be optimal today." Ray Paden, Dripping Springs, Texas

"Christians can be involved in the political process as ecological/environmental activists (and, I would venture to add, social activists as well) without, in Ellen White's words, 'identify[ing] ourselves with party interests'. There is no conflict here with God's prophetic guidance to his people."

"Paulsen addressed concerns that partnerships would be at odds with the church's mission, saying, ‘some have been critical, and rightly so, all of an eschatological perspective that serves simply to reconcile us to current ministries. Awaiting [Christ's return] is not a passive exercise, but something that the man's action [in] the present’."

“PROCLAIM LIBERTY” OR “SUBMIT TO AUTHORITY”? The Biblical Basis for Civic and Ecological Activism Among Adventist Christians by David J. B. Trim
"Christians can be involved in the political process as ecological/environmental activists (and, I would venture to add, social activists as well) without, in Ellen White's words, 'identify[ing] ourselves with party interests.' There is no conflict here with God's prophetic guidance to his people."

“SWINE OF THE TIMES”: Ecumenism, Ecology, and Ethics in the Era of Factory Farming by Sigve K. Tonstad
"From the point of view of the Bible, interest in non-human creatures and the earth is not motivated by an ecological state of emergency but by recognition of the dignity and rights of the rest of the created order. The ecological paradigm is too narrow."

"My favorite moment came when Grace Dammann began to speak. Dammann was a 2005 Unsung Heroes awardee who had suffered paralysis from a motor accident. From her wheelchair, she could not properly reach the microphone. So when she began speaking and no one could hear her, the Dalai Lama quickly got up, adjusted her stand, and instructed her to speak directly into the microphone. The people in charge of sound grew red with embarrassment, but the rest of us enjoyed a good belly roar."

SOMETHING YOU DO: Rachel Davies Interviews Karen Hanson Kotske
"At its best, and Adventism teaches that Jesus saw the world through a prism of compassion. He told us that our lives should be about feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty. I don't believe there are any lines drawn between hungry Hindus or hungry Christians. I doubt that Christ asked anyone's religious affiliation before he provided them with fish and bread."

“THEY PREACH A POLITICAL GOSPEL”: The Prophetic Witness of Washington, D.C.’s Earliest Seventh-day Adventists by Douglas Morgan
"The bitter divisions and crushing setbacks that lay ahead almost wiped out the memory of the time when Adventists in Washington were at the head and not the tail when it came to racial justice and equality; when, on the basis of the Gospel they resisted a national capitulation to racism. Their long-ignored place in the Adventist heritage needs to be restored, for without it we diminish the power and clarity of the light we draw from the past for the journey ahead."

FIFTY YEARS SELLING CHOPLETS” Alita Byrd Interviews Allan Buller
"Alan Buller joined Worthington Foods as a young ex-soldier immediately after the Second World War and served as an executive at the legendary Adventist food company for more than fifty years, until he retired as president and chief executive officer in 1986."

NOTE: In the past, I've complained about the length of a number of articles published in Spectrum Magazine. In this case, however, the seven pages devoted to this interview are engaging, well written, and provide an important history of the Adventist Church’s involvement in the production of meat analogs.

"Today's canonical disciplines did not begin with well-defined epistemological boundaries. For example, early mathematicians often were scientists or philosophers or even religious leaders. Over time, the modern disciplines developed naturally into epistemological categories, which resulted in great advances. Today, interdisciplinary work is once again taking the lead, but this time its synergy is leveraged in a powerful way by the clear-eyed recognition of epistemological categories.

"I think that all disciplines are searching for truth and reality, but with different ways of knowing (epistemologies), different standards of 'proof', and different scopes of questions that can be addressed."

CHANGE, SCRIPTURE, AND SCIENCE: Good News for Adventist Thinking in the Twenty-first Century by Fritz Guy
"To insist that theology be limited to past knowledge is spiritually shortsighted, intellectually unrealistic, and theologically self-defeating. Since the eleventh century, theology has been famously defined as 'Faith seeking understanding', and the reality of 'present truth' is a call to advance in understanding."

MAPPING THE CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE: A Review of Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, “An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith” by Ken Curtis
"For Adventists, the implicit challenge in Taylor's book is to consider what it might be like for us to define ourselves less with detailed doctrinal descriptions and to imagine instead the possibility of us immersing ourselves in the world around us. Instead of relying upon twenty-eight fundamental snapshots of doctrine, what might it be like for us to define ourselves by envisioning a series of fundamental video clips that demonstrate possible engagement with those around us? Could the way we relate to the world be at least as important as how carefully and uniformly we describe it within the context of theology?"

PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST: Will It Ever Be Achieved?
David A. Pendleton reviews the following books: “The Faith Club” by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner; “Islam and the Secular State” by Abd Allah Ahmad Na’um; “Against Us” by Jim Sciutto; “A Deadly Misunderstanding by Mark Siljander; and “Dreams and Shadows” by Robin Wright.
"These authors provide a central balance and nuance to the discussion [of the West's conversation on the Middle East and Islam], reminding the reader that, among other things, Jihad need not entail violence; terrorists do not speak for Islam, there are varieties of legitimate expressions of Islam, continuity and change characterize all faiths (including Islam), and although Muslims agree on what the Qur'an says, as with the U.S. Constitution, interpretation is required to discern what the Qur'an means. Moreover, one senses throughout these works a steadfast, if cautious, optimism about Islam."

POETRY SLAM: Prose Poems by Brittney Mourer, Emily J. Hickerson, and Katie Paul
These poems, “Do We Ever?” “A State of Silence” and “Goodwill, or How to Pretend you Never Followed That Fad”, are the reflections of three English majors attending Andrew’s University.

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