Thursday, August 25, 2011

Noah Flood Story is a Joke

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

A message of hope for LGBT Adventist youth. It really does get better.

While there are no statistics specific to Adventist LGBT youth suicide, religious views about homosexuality are at the root of homophobia and intolerance.
  • LGBT youth are 4 times as likely to attempt suicide than straight youth.
  • LGBT youth with “highly rejecting” families are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than those whose families accept them.
If you are an LGBT Adventist, you should know that you’re not alone, you can find an accepting and affirming spiritual home (increasingly even within Adventism), and you are a beloved child of God just as you are.

If you are considering suicide or need help, call the Trevor Project now at 866-4-U-TREVOR.

If you want to talk to an Adventist who understands being gay AND loving Sabbath afternoon potlucks, contact SDA Kinship at or Carrol Grady at

If you are a parent, educator or pastor, please know that the teens in your life (gay and straight) are learning from your example and need your unconditional love. If you think the church needs to rethink how we treat our LGBT members, stand up and say something. “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Reviewing the Adventist Review

Vol. 188, No. 19
July 28, 2011

The sheep on the cover, along with the words, “I’d Rather Be a Sheep” didn’t motivate me to begin reading this issue, but when I got past the cover, I discovered an issue worth reading from cover to cover!

At the end of this review, I have a COMMENT and information about a LAWSUIT filed by three employees of La Sierra University against La Sierra University, the Pacific Union Conference, the North American Division, as well as against the president of the Pacific Union Conference and two officers of the North American Division.

Gerald A. Klingbeil’s editorial, UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTIONS, was an admirably honest discussion of the Adventist Church’s failure to speak out against the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany and the lessons learned or not learned in the interim.

"I HAVE BEEN THERE TOO" by Sandy Eickmann makes the case for a Jesus with a very human emotional life.

Andrew McChesney’s is back and in top form. FACING THE MUSIC is an account of his encounter with noisy, tipsy neighbors in the middle of the night. AN UNLIKELY SANCTUARY by Jill Monikone is the story of her prayerful encounter with an injured woman in Walmart. And MUSINGS OF A MISSIONARY IN A BERRY PATCH, by Fred. L. Webb is a metaphor for effective witnessing. All three are recommended reads.

Jerry Lutz’s devotional reading, THE POWER OF TOUCH is a reminder that communion services are more than just symbolic reminders of The Last Supper.

SHOULD GOVERNMENTS TELL US WHAT TO EAT? Drs. Handysides and Landless provide a thoughtful and informative answer. It’s a MUST READ.

I'D RATHER BE A SHEEP is the cover article by Martin Klingbeil in which he offers a fresh look at Psalm 23. Unfortunately for him, his opening paragraph may get him and Southern Adventist University in some very hot water with the GC, not to mention the fundamentalist Adventist organization, Educate Truth.

“I was somewhere deep in the Early Bronze Age (3150-2200 B.C.), working vigorously at layers of ancient soil—with a paintbrush. The sun was beating mercilessly on my back, and there were clouds of dust flying all around me. Another day at Tell el-‘Umeiri I was participating in an archaeological excavation in the country of Jordan, east of the river Jordan, high up on the plains of Moab, close to Mount Nebo, where Moses had overlooked the Promised Land.”

Klingbeil assumes a time frame that places his dig sometime between the Universal Flood and the Tower of Babel according to official church chronology. Explanations for this faux pas can only be blamed on Review editors. Either they are not acquainted with current church doctrine, they are attempting to undermine church authority, or they wish to discredit Klingbeil and subject Southern to the fundamentalist attention of Educate Truth. (You know the outcome of their “attention” with regard to what’s happening at La Sierra University.)

While I will not usually comment on Church News, available online, I believe this story will make headlines. What follows in the Review’s report and this link to further information about the actual lawsuit.

Church says La Sierra Employee’s
Lawsuit is ‘Without Merit’
Outside counsel retained to defend school, leaders
by Adventist Review staff

A July 28 lawsuit filed by three employees of La Sierra University, a Seventh-day Adventist Church-owned tertiary institution against its board chairman, the university and two officials of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, is “without merit,” the church’s top attorney says.

“The litigation is without merit, and will be defended in the most appropriate manner,” says Karnik Doukmetzian, an attorney and the North American Division’s General Counsel. “External counsel has been retained through Adventist Risk Management which provides insurance coverage for the defendants involved, and will be defending the organizations and individuals named in the suit."

Law firm McCuneWright, LLP, filed the action on behalf of La Sierra employees Jeffry Kaatz, James Beach, and Gary Bradley, against La Sierra University, the Pacific Union Conference, the North American Division, as well as against the president of the Pacific Union Conference and two officers of the North American Division.

According to a news release issued by the plaintiffs’ law firm, the complaint stems from “actions taken against [the plaintiffs] and La Sierra University in a June 10, 2011 meeting,” during which the three were asked to resign their positions at the school.

It’s a GRI inside joke!

Comic modified from Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis.
(click to enlarge)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bureaucratic Life in the Pacific Union Conference

Modified from the comic Dilbert, by Scott Adams
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing the Adventist Review

July 21, 2011
Vol. 188, No. 20

Due to a variety of factors, time and old age being two of them, my future reviews will be limited to comments and reflections. I am counting on the Internet address provided to supply a summary of the content of each Review editorial, news release, and article.

This issue has one MUST READ essay. GOING WRONG WITH CONFIDENCE by Bert Williams a Civil War essay with immediate application. His concluding remarks should cause every Adventist to cringe at the dogmatic language of the Church Manual and call to mind the words written “To the Readers of This Book” on pages vii and viii introducing “Seventh-day Adventists Believe: a Biblical Exposition of 28 Fundamental Doctrines”. *

“History has not been kind to the Christians of the Civil War era, especially to those on the Confederate side who died to defend an indefensible system of unimaginable cruelty and bondage. Their certainty—even to the point of shedding their own blood and that of their enemies—in no way made their ideas sounder or more biblical.

“And though it can be reasonably argued that Christians on the Union side were closer to the biblical ideal, the ferocity with which they went about promoting their beliefs in the post-war Reconstruction era effectively inoculated many Southerners against the gospel the abolitionists said they were carrying. The manner in which they acquired political and economic control in the name of their victorious ideal way eventually undermined their influence on the reunified society.

“The lesson in all of this is not that Christians should avoid having strong convictions about the morally-fraught issues of our society. By temperament, training, and education, we will have opinions—and should. Early Adventism activism on the issues of slavery, lynching, and alcohol points to a godly, non-partisan engagement with the big moral questions of our culture. But we should also have the grace and humility to hear—and answer—the hard questions of those who disagree with us, and to consider the possibility that other viewpoints may, at times, have both merit and righteousness.

“When a crowd of persons starts moving in the same direction, they can so easily convince each another to go too far in promoting what seems right—or, worse, to even head the wrong way in the certainty supplied by numbers.
* “We have written this book with the guidance of a clear directive continually reminding us that ‘if you search the Scriptures to vindicate your own opinions, you will never reach the truth…We have not written this book to serve as a creed: a statement of beliefs set in theological concrete.”

In LAW AND FREEDOM, Clifford Goldstein makes the argument that “morality without law is as impossible as is thought without mind”. Obviously. However, Goldstein makes two assumptions that are problematic.

The first is that morality is arbitrary: “Is it sinful to have red hair? Why not? Because God’s law doesn’t forbid red hair. If it did, as the law forbids covetousness, then red hair would be sin. But it cannot be sin if no divine law defines it as such.” The idea that we were created to obey arbitrary laws makes God a failed puppet master.

The second if that “morality is based…on the Ten Commandments”. That kind of thinking got Jesus killed. Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

The New Testament makes it clear that the Law of the Universe is love. The many laws given to the Israelites on Sinai were given to provide a framework for civilized behavior until Jesus came to announce that His Kingdom is based on love, not the sacrifice of sheep and goats or Sabbath observance; that we are created to resonate harmoniously in a universe whose only law is love.

IT’S TRUE: YOUR BEHAVIOR AFFECTS YOUR GENES by Andy Nash and “AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF” by Addison Hudgins are definitely worth a look.

FAGAL, Harold Edward—b. May 5, 1923, Ilion, N.Y.; d. Dec. 24, 2010, Riverside, Calif.
Haynes, William L.—b. May 14, 1923, Grand Junction, Colo.; d. Oct. 26, 2009, Caldwell, Idaho.
KEIZER, Leslie Edmund—b. Nov. 25, 1925, Indonesia; d. Feb. 23, 2011, Calhoun, Ga.
MEIER, Humberto J.—b. Brazil; d. Mar. 11, 2011; d. Entre Rios, Argentina.
MORGAN, Mary Elizabeth—b. Nov. 22, 1923, Everett, Mass.; d. Jan. 18, 2010, Avon Park, Fla.
TAYLOR, John Wesley IV—b. Feb. 2, 1933, Bolivia; d. Nov. 26, 2010, Collegedale, Tenn.
TORKELSON, Oscar E.—b. Oct. 16, 1920, Everest, Kans.; d. Nov. 4, 2010, Greenbrier, Tenn.
WHEELER, Ernest E.—b. Feb. 24, 1925, Clyde, Ohio; d. Feb. 12, 2011, Longmont, Colo.
WILDMAN, Durward B., Jr.—b. Oct. 10, 1930, Mishawaka, Ind.; d. Nov. 30, 2010, Mohrsville, Pa.
WOLCOTT, R. Andrew—b. Mar. 11, 1921, Bryan, Ohio; d. Oct. 19, 2010, Lyles, Tenn.
WOODS, Thelma F.—b. Oct. 15, 1913, Mexico, Maine; d. Sept. 25, 2010, Longwood, Fla.
WILLIAMS, Benjamin J.—b. Jan. 13, 1917; d. Nov. 12, 2009, Portland, Oreg.

When God Gets Annoyed

Modified from the comic Bizarro by Dan Piraro.
(click to enlarge)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Marketing Evangelism

Modified from the comic Dilbert, by Scott Adams
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing the Adventist Review

July 14, 2011
Vol. 188, No. 19

Due to a variety of factors, time and old age being two of them, my future reviews will be limited to comments and reflections. I am counting on the Internet address provided to supply a brief summary of the content of each Review editorial, news release, and article. Once again, I suggest that Adventist members subscribe to the Review. “You snooze, and you lose” the opportunity to contribute to and influence a fellowship of eternal importance.

Readers will be rewarded by five thoughtful pieces. The following is a first to last list of their importance: ADVENTIST EDUCATION: ALIVE AND WELL by Larry Blackmer, is a MUST READ; the cover feature, A CHURCH PLANT SUCCESS provides a realistic plan for establishing new congregations; CHURCH TRENDS by Monte Sahlin assesses the impact of the recession and a plan of action if a church family faces an economic crisis; Bill Knott’s editorial, FEROCIOUS TRUTHS; and Courtney Tait’s reflection, IT’S ALL ABOUT ATTITUDE.

One WORLD NEWS AND PERSPECTIVES REPORT illustrates, once again, the schizophrenic approach to ministry clearly evident in official church publications. While there is the universal proclamation that “the time is short”, “we are living in the last days of earth’s history”, Gideon Dayak, a risk-control consultant, cautions that outdated property assessments could mean inadequate funds to restore church property in the event of an unforeseen catastrophic event.

ADRA Update

Modified from the comic Dilbert, by Scott Adams
(click to enlarge)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

He’s full of Amazing APPs!

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
(click to enlarge)

Reviewing Adventist Today

Summer Issue, 2011
Vol. 19, No. 3

Adventist Today continues to tease, but fails to deliver. SLANTING THE TRUTH by J. David Newman, is just one unfortunate example. After discussing the “hows” and “whys” truth can be manipulated to serve previously determined ends, the reader expects a current example of how this “slanting” is being currently used by church authorities. No example is supplied!

The letters section included only one brief highly critical of the only thoughtful essay in the Spring Issue, WHERE IS WILSON LEADING US? and devoted 5+ columns to Desmond Ford’s convoluted critique of Darrel LIndensmith’s esoteric and incomprehensible analysis of Ford’s rejection of “historicism” (Desmond Ford and Historicism, AT, Spring, 2011)

Editor Newman needs an editor. His rambling, disjointed, quasi-historical essay, IS ELLEN WHITE REALLY A LESSER LIGHT? takes up 25% of this issue’s printed pages! The final answer is a predictable, “Yes”, accompanied by the comment: “it is too easy for the denomination to speak out of both sides of its corporate mouth when it comes to the authority of Ellen White. When it suits our purpose, we declare that we must follow exactly what the Spirit of Prophecy says, but when economic and other pressures bear upon us, we become pragmatic and find a way to rationalize her counsels.”

What to do with Alden Thompson remains a mystery wrapped in an enigma. In ELLEN WHITE: AN “EMERGING CHURCH” SPOKESPERSON? he makes a convincing case that Ellen was. But Thompson goes on to cite Ellen’s admiration of Martin Luther and John Calvin as similar spokespersons, irrespective of their murderous excesses.

“She praises Martin Luther for his teaching on righteousness by faith, his attack on papal abuses, and his work in translating the Bible into the language of the people.9 She does not tell us about his predestinarian theology, his brutal suppression of the peasant revolt, and his rabid anti-Semitism. She focused on points on which she could agree.

“Finally, in the chapter, “The French Reformation,” Ellen White describes the work of several reformers, John Calvin being the most prominent. She speaks highly of his efforts to establish the principles of Protestantism, but she does not mention his predestinarian theology or his heavy-handed rule in Geneva where 58 dissenters were killed and 76 banished during his rule (1541 to 1564). She looked on the positive side, focusing on points on which she could agree.” (Italics mine)

He concludes with following problematic declaration.

“In short, Ellen White was indeed a champion of the “emerging church.” She felt no obligation to attack or even mention points of disagreement. She simply practiced what she preached: ‘The Lord wants His people to follow other methods than that of condemning wrong, even though the condemnation be just.’ ”

WHAT SHOULD WE KNOW ABOUT MUSLIM RADICALS? is David Pendleton’s review of Joel C. Rosenberg’s “Inside the Revolution: How the Followers of Jihad, Jefferson & Jesus Are Battling to Dominate the Middle East and Transform the World” (Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale, 2009), 551 pages.

According to David Pendleton, the book warns of a future dominated by Muslim extremists unless peace can be achieved “through proselytism, the active and systematic conversion of Muslims to Christianity. Until theologians of Islam consistently condemn violence, he implies, adopting a peace-oriented Christianity may be the only immediate means to attain harmony among Middle East peoples…wholly secular efforts within Islam to achieve a permanent peace have proven to be ephemeral.”
America’s “peaceful influence” in the Middle East must surely dim that hope!

Alden Thompson reviews THE LOST MEANING OF THE SEVENTH DAY by Sigve K. Tonstad, (Andrews University Press: Berrien Springs, Mich., 2009), hardback, 575 pages. Thompson gently chides Tonstad for his failure to “take more seriously the role of ‘fear’ in winning broken people to God in a world where evil still reigns.”

TONSTAD ANSWERS TOMPSOM’s objection with one and a half tortured pages explaining his “generic apology of hope”. It seems to me that a reference to the woman caught in adultery would have been sufficient.

7 QUESTIONS, an interview of Clive Holland by the editor, provided welcome relief to those of us who are worried about the future of Adventist Today. Clive, the new president of Adventist Today’s board, is a guy who can rescue the foundering ship of Adventist Today if anyone can.

And ADVENTIST MAN is back! His brief sabbatical seems to have provided him with a renewed sense of mission! Brilliant!

When Ted’s Away, It’s Oliver’s Say

Parchment reflects:
“ ‘Six months ago a person claiming to be a prophet wanted to share something with Wilson. Another person wanted to tell Wilson some reoccurring dreams they had. ‘I say to myself, if I were living in [church co-founder] Ellen White's day and she wrote a letter like that to me, would I respond to her,’ Parchment said. ‘It does cross my mind. I hope I'm not putting off God by politely turning these people down.’

“Though he handles most requests of the president himself – ‘I'm like a filter in many ways,’ he said -- he lets Wilson handle some directly.”

Comic modified from Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis.
(click to enlarge)