Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reviewing Spectrum

Fall 2010
Vol. 38, Issue 4

This issue is worth the price of a subscription. The information conveyed is substantive, intelligent, and thoughtful. However, article length remains a problem. Come on, editors, help us Sabbath afternoon readers stay awake!

The cover is graphically exciting. However, labeling of some of the illustrations in the magazine made me smile. (I assume most readers recognize dinosaurs, unicorns, Stonehenge, mermaids, and Darwinian spoofs!)

AFTER ANNUAL COUNCIL by Bonnie Dyer is a report along with an editorial comment that first appeared on the Spectrum blog and touched off 10 days worth of comments. It was these two paragraphs that did it.

“What really concerned me, however, was the sense that the focus of the church is shifting away from reaching out in service to reaching in with judgment. Rather than being concerned about serving the needs of the world, we are focusing on each other with a critical eye. To use the words of Pastor Ryan Bell, there seems to be more concern about being right than about doing right. And that is worrisome. Judgment is not our job. We are to be known by our love for one another. It is only love that breathes revival into our souls.

“My love for the church has never been greater-- nor has my fear of administrative micromanaging. I guess it is time to turn our eyes upon Jesus and look full in his wonderful face. And, perhaps, the things of earth—including all things bureaucratic--will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

PUNITIVE ADVENTISM by Charles Scriven’s editorial is an appeal for civility, of “living out God’s grace in the world”.

Bonnie Dyer’s NEWS FROM ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2010 is straight reporting. The 2011 budget was approved, the Nominating Committee reported, Griggs University will become part of Andrews University, and a Mission Board was created that will coordinate the various missionary programs of the church. Testimonies and prayer closed the session.

A PORTRAIT OF THE ENEMY AS MOTHER by Judith P. Nembhard is a poetic sketch of the mother of Sisera’s torment before she learns of her son’s assassination at the hands of Jael.

TRUE BLOOD: RACE, SCIENCE, AND EARLY ADVENTIST AMALGAMATION THEORY by Ronald Osborn is awarded 15 pages. His conclusions: Ellen White and more recent Adventist believers were of the opinion that humankind and animals mated before the flood and after. Their progeny were people with dark skin. The flood was God’s unsuccessful attempt to destroy these “amalgamated” creatures. White believed that these “races” were fully human, but her views were not shared by many of her contemporaries.

In CIVIL RIGHTS: NEW STUDIES ON ADVENTISM’S MIXED LEGACY, Douglas Morgan acquaints the reader with unheralded Adventists, like T.R. M. Howard, who were in the forefront of the Civil Rights movement in the United States, and by contrast, chronicles the less-than-enthusiastic support of the movement by the Adventist Church.

STATUS, TRENDS AND ANALYSIS OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST REGIONAL CONFERENCES 1950-2009 by Henry E. Felder is a 15 page argument for the preservation of the nine Regional (Black) Conferences in NAD. He cites extensive statistical evidence of membership growth and per capita giving.

MOVING ON TO MATURITY: FROM CULTURE TO DIASPORA: THE THREE ANGEL’S MESSAGEW AS AN EITHICAL MULTICULTURAL ENCOUNTER by William Ackah makes the argument that “a failure to develop ethical positions on diversity and to emphasize the importance of the multiple nature of Adventist identity over and above any singular allegiance to nation, race or culture leads to lazy accommodations and tolerance of racism and prejudice…

“The result is that today you can be a racist and a member of the SDA church but not a smoker and a member…Adventist identity seemingly inhabits a contradictory space between modernity and postmodernity—relativist and seemingly flexible on racism, genocide and ethnic cleansing, but deterministic and all-knowing on dietary requirements…

“The case of regional conferences in the US is a clear example of a particularistic, culturalist accommodation that is now an enshrined institution. It provides an unfortunate model for groups that wish to assert their identity and authority as their numbers grow, and they perceive that their particular cultural Adventist practices are not given sufficient recognition.”

WHAT HAVE VOLCANOES AND SOILS TOLD GRAHAM WILL? “I cannot reconcile what I see and what careful scientific studies have shown with a short chronology for the history of the earth.”

JUST WHAT IS THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST POSITION ON WHEN LIFE BEGINS? is a nuanced, thoughtful, scientifically based discussion of the official position of the Adventist Church that informs without legislating. It made me proud to be an Adventist.

PSALMS: FOR THE BLUES II by Ramona Hyman suffers from the inclusion of the last three cantos. It’s part of a larger piece, In the Sanctuary of the South, and without that context, the last three cantos spoil the music. Leave them out, and the poem rocks!


It bothers me
It bothers me
when authority
is science
love is gobsmacked
by politics
mustard is forbidden
in the GC cafe
arrogance reigns

It bothers me
that Spectrum
Discipleship and Truth
authority demands
Faith and Obedience

It bothers me
that I don’t just want
I want hope
I want
out of this Adventist
cage fight
over stuff like
short chronology
Noah’s flood
apples and snakes
literal ignorance
7-day creation
women’s ordination

It bothers me
that I can’t just
walk away
shake the dust
from my Birkenstocks


1 comment:

Kim Ranger said...

Dear Andy,
seems as if you are bothered by the issue of Church as Institution when thy heart calls thee to Jesus' example of living into God. You are in good company, friend.