Thursday, March 24, 2011

Reviewing Spectrum

Winter 2011
Vol. 39, Issue 1

This issue brought me to face with the realization that Spectrum’s editors and audience, while willing to opine about what bothers us about the Adventist Church, seem reluctant to speak out or take action that will bring us into direct conflict with official church hierarchy, i.e., refuse to pay tithe or organize protests at Silver Spring. In other words, Spectrum, magazine and blog, is a place where disaffected, cultural Adventists like myself, can let off steam. It’s not a place where activists are comfortable.

In her editorial, A TIME TO MOURN, Bonnie reflects: “In the spiritual journey of our community, we pause for reflection at the passing of these family members. Each was controversial in his own way—Wilson for his handling of crises related to church theology and the equality of women, Maxwell for his theology, and Drum for her sexual orientation. Yet they are all part of the Adventist family and so deserving of our love.”

Bonnie, Holly Drum was not a part of the “Adventist family”. She was an Adventist pariah. She was a practicing homosexual. For that offense against God and the Adventist Church, she warranted inclusion in this “A” list of sinners: sexual pervert, sexual abuser of children, fornicator, one who is promiscuous sexually, one guilty of incest, and a producer and distributor of pornography. (Adventist Church Manual, p.44.)

There was no cry of outrage that our church may have been complicit in Holly Drum’s suicide and who knows how many others? It was only recalled that she was crushed when she was “disfellowshipped by her home church in Oregon years ago and that she was very interested in finding out if a local church would be open and accepting”.

Charles Scriven’s editorial, MEMO TO ELDER WILSON begins with these words: “Because my counsel is unbidden, it may never reach you, or if it does, it may seem obtrusive. But we are brothers in the faith, and that makes me bold to offer perspective on two challenges you are embracing. One is revival and reformation.” The other is “the doctrine of creation”.

Chuck, aren't you distraught that your carefully reasoned, logical, friendly, even obsequious attempt to reason with Ted will fall on deaf ears? He has repeatedly demonstrated that he is dismissive of your “perspective”. He is a divinely appointed, he already knows THE TRUTH, and controls all the levers of power in a hierarchical system that takes its orders from the top. That’s him.

I ask again, “Where is the outrage, the call to mobilize, the call to action? Don’t look for it in Spectrum. Our motto is “community through conversation”.

You can click on the site and discover what’s in this issue for yourself. The Sabbath articles were boring. Perhaps it’s because I am a cultural Adventist who has had the Sabbath “truth” preached, discussed, and inculcated since the day I was born at Glendale Adventist Hospital. John Brunt’s article is reviewed because his advice is instructive. I have not commented on the other Sabbath articles, lest my observations do them an inexcusable injustice.

I agree with reader T. Joe Willey that “It is high time for Adventists to throw amalgamation theories and the hocus-pocus satanic eugenics into the trash bin of pseudoscience, and simply abandon ‘amalgamation of man and beast’ and the surrounding Noah’s curse with a footnote that the Ellen G. White Estate no longer maintains these views after the nineteenth century—the position essentially taken in The Story of Redemption.

Bonnie Dwyer’s CELTIC SABBATH JOURNEY was suspenseful because if she had discovered Celtic Sabbath Keepers, I would have had to question my personal research into early church history. The sources I know agree that most Christians were worshiping on Sunday before the time of Constantine. At that time early church theology and practice emphasized the resurrection. Sunday worship was also regarded as evidence that early Christians were not a Jewish sect. Paul’s words in Romans 14 may also have been used to sanction worship on a different day.

NEGOTIATING SABBATH OBSERVANCE IN THE LOCAL CHURCH by John Brunt provided the following sensible Sabbath observance principles: 1. Positive Sabbath experiences don’t just happen. They take lots of thought, work and advance planning. 2. Part of a positive Sabbath experience is negotiating community within diversity. 3. Corporate Sabbath observance is affected by age and stages of emotional and spiritual development. 4. Sabbath observance is not only theoretical and individual; it is practical and communal as well.

If I hadn’t known that archeologists freely admit that WE DIG DIRT, I would have found the article by John McDowell fascinating.

THE HOLISTIC SPIRITUALITY OF ELLEN WHITE by Harri Kuhalampi is psychological snake oil.

I agree with Heather Langley that there is an ART OF INTERVENTION, and Kent Rich’s life is a portrait of all of us can celebrate.

THROUGH THE LENS OF FAITH, the producer of the film, Adventists, offers the reader some memorable lines.

“I believe we are called upon—even commanded—not just to convey the story, but if we are to truly be part of the transformation of this world, then we are called to become part of the story ourselves. Jesus was the master storyteller, but in the end he became the story. His life, death and resurrection became the heart of the Christian story, our story. To be an active part of that legacy commands us to advance as Jesus did—in wisdom and age and grace before God and men.

“How does film illuminate faith? How do our stories of faith not get separated with the chaff? By telling stories so profound and compelling, so poignant and riveting, that the medium itself is humbled in their telling. If we live the lives we are called to live—with our whole hearts—if we are truly committed to being part of the transformation of this world, then we will have no choice but to become part of the stories ourselves. It holds true whether we are filmmakers, health care workers, teachers, caretakers, no matter what we do or in what field we labor.”

CAPTURING SPIRITUAL MOMENT—DIGITALLY by Rajmund Dabrowski proves that a picture us worth 1000 words.

TIME TO ACT: STRONG CONVICTIONS EXPRESSED AT A NATIONAL SUMMIT ON ADVENTIST EDUCATION by Gilbert M. Valentine resulted in the following bureaucratic gibberish:

“To request the North American Division Office of Education to establish a Commission on Education in North America (CENA) to study and make strategic recommendations to the relevant authorities that will ensure the future viability of both K–12 and higher education in the North American Division. The Commission should be subdivided into subcommittees co-opting expertise and resources as appropriate to accomplish its mission for K–12 and higher education.

“The Commission’s terms of reference should include but are not limited to the following issues:
1. Identity and Mission
2. Structure and Governance
3. Marketing
4. Funding
5. Constituency Involvement
6. Leadership Development
7. Pastoral Partnership

“The resolution was forwarded to the North American Division Office of Education by the Summit conveners Professors Kiddo and Valley the following week. The resolution is now in the hands of the North American Division. Whether the turn taken at these crossroads leads to peril or promise remains to be seen.”

CONGRATULATIONS! NOW WHAT? Q & A WITH MT. ELLIS ACADEMY’S PRINCIPAL DARREN WILKINS by Jared Wright is a refreshing commentary on Adventist education. If I were going to revitalize Adventist education in North America, I would eliminate a layer of official bureaucracy—local conferences would be my choice—refuse to spend another dollar on idiotic evangelistic campaigns that attempt to frighten people into the church with beasts and end-time terror, critically evaluate all print and media projects and drastically reduce the amount of tithe money invested in them.I would then put people like Darren Wilkins in charge of the money saved.

Jared Wright: “If there are changes that need to be made in Adventist education at the academy level, what near-term or long-term changes might you call for?”

Darren Wilkins: “Well, every school has a different set of circumstances, so I hesitate to generalize. I will say this. We could fill every desk in every SDA school in North America with children of immigrant families who can’t afford to pay for private school. If we really want our schools to have an impact on the next generation and on the future of the church, we need to figure out how to get those kids in our schools.”

SHE PRESENTS A PAPER ON THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING by Mike Mennard is an interesting poem. The premise, that science is leading to a “truth” that God exists, seems tenuous. However, it’s an interesting proposition. The illustration is remarkably unattractive.

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