Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reviewing Spectrum

Fall, 2011
Volume 39, Issue 4

Spectrum, the magazine, was a pleasant surprise. As you might recall, after reviewing the last issue, I declared it was on life support. I’m happy to report the patient is recovering nicely!

I HEAR ADVENTISM SINGING by Bonnie Dwyer is a reflection of her positive attitude with regard to the future of Adventism.

“Obviously, the latest reports from the annual Council session show that the denomination is paying increased attention to what the numbers say… Wherever the people, in whatever church, in whichever form of praise that used worship, my musical wish is for the power in addressing to again be felt as in the days of James White and that, like the psalmist, we will sing praises to God with all our being.”

GOING FORWARD WHILE GOING BACKWARD by Charles Scriven is a paean of hope as well.

“Adventism, like all things good and beautiful, stands on the razor edge of danger… But there are shining moments when movement forward faces backward movement down.”

RE-ARRANGING THE WORLD CHURCH is required reading for anyone who is interested in church politics and current organizational activities. Of particular interest is Ted Wilson's unsuccessful attempt to standardize worship practices and define doctrinal orthodoxy in Germany, as evidenced by his five trips to the country in the first year of his presidency.

FALLING OUT OF THE CHURCH WINDOW by Kent Hansen is an essay on the compelling necessity of a Christian community.

The purpose of our gathering together is to encourage each other… What we all need and want from our community is a brother or sister who will come to our aid, embrace us in our brokenness, bring us back to life and fellowship, share a meal with us, converse in encouragement and help us home in healing grace.”

ADVENTIST CHURCH: MEMBERSHIP AUDITS PLANNED, REVISED FIGURES CONTEMPLATED is a report by Mark A. Kellner that David Trim, Director of the Archives, Statistics and Research Department, has called for the denomination to reassess its membership records. Church mortality rates have been found in some regions to be vastly lower than mortality rates of the general population. “On October 7, Jairyong Lee, president of the Northern Asia Pacific Division, acknowledge the loss of tens of thousands of names from the roles during a recent audit.”

ADVENTIST CHURCHES--THE VIEW FROM THE ROAD: QUESTIONS FOR MOTORCYCLIST, AND PASTOR MARVIN WRAY is an interview by Bonnie Dwyer that challenges the official evangelistic practices of the church.

Dwyer: Journeys is your book about a motorcycle trip across the US visiting Adventist churches. Why did you go?

Wray: I thought [a sabbatical of up to 3 months] would be a great opportunity to do what I have wanted to do for some time--visit churches all across the country.

Dwyer:  In the preface of your book you say the changes (in opinion) are the hope of the church for the future. Have you seen recent changes in the church that give you hope for the future?

Wray: No, not really. I early on coin the phrase, ‘pockets of hope.’ I saw precious few places that showed me much hope for real growth. I saw some places where they could do some significant things and grow. But for the church as a whole, am I seeing things that will lead us to growth? No I'm seeing the opposite. I'm seeing more attempts to do the same things we've been doing for the past many decades.

WHO IS THE AVERAGE AMERICAN ADVENTIST? by Ronald E. Osborne reveals that:

“The gap between the rich and poor within Adventism is greater than for any other group in the survey with the exception of the historically black Protestant churches… Adventists are by far the most ethnically diverse religious community of any kind in the United States today with the exception of Muslims…They are the only Christian group in which no single ethnicity comprises 50% or more of the membership. More than a quarter of all Adventists in the US today are Latino and more than 20% black. A smaller number are Asian or are of mixed race. Whites comprise 43% of the denomination…

 Adventists are slightly younger than the general adult population in America and younger still than Catholics as well as most other Protestants… Adventist demographics are very poorly reflected in church governance structures. While 60% of Adventists in the United States are female, only 20% (3 out of 15) of its officials in the North American division are female… Adventism in the United States today is a faith of the poor, the uneducated, and quite possibly the undocumented and these trends will probably increase in the future.”

THE POLITICS OF THE PROPHETIC GIFT is a review of Gilbert M. Valentine’s book, The Prophet And The Presidents, by Douglas Morgan.

“Valentine] is not drawn to stories about clairvoyant phenomena or amazing predictions come true, or claims for 100% accuracy and consistency. Rather, he is impressed whether’ rich tapestry of Adventist experience produced by the interaction of 3 agencies: 1) Ellen White the passionate visionary and risk taker who sometimes got angry, wrote impulsively, questioned herself, and changed her mind; 2) those who found her prophetic voice credible but also sometimes questioned it; and 3) divine providence.”

ELLEN WHITE RE-ENACTORS by Midori Yoshimura is the story of the young writers, actors and actresses, and producers and directors who have brought Ellen White back to life, and turned what it means to be a Seventh-day Adventist into drama.

CREDO by Herbert Blomstedt is a talk delivered at Mountain View Seventh-day Adventist Church, Mountain View. California, on April 2, 2011, in which the world famous conductor offered these suggestions to his listeners:

“Think about Him, pray to Him, worship Him, glorify Him, but don't argue about Him. To the eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, we own nothing but reverence, honor and glory. And to the world around us, all living things, people and animals, we owe compassion and charity.”

 “What use is it to talk to people about subtle details of God's salvation plan when they have no concept of God whatsoever? Our first missionary duty must now be to bring God to people's attention.”
WHAT ADVENTISTS CAN LEARN FROM THE PLAY, THE BOOK OF MORMON by Ron Reece is a review of the Broadway Play in which he opines, “Both Mormons and Seventh-day Adventists suffer from the sin of denominationalism: namely giving their denominations, prophets, and doctrines near divine and unquestioning status.”

IN TUNE WITH GOD by Lilianne Doukhan is a reviewed by Ken Parsons in which he concludes, “In Tune With God is a must-read for those even remotely involved in planning or presenting worship services, and for anyone wishing to learn more about the sometimes turbulent saga of church music.”

A LEADER SHOULD TAKE YOU FORWARD is a review of Jan Paulsen's book, Where Are We Going? By Rajmund Dabrowski. The title itself is a cautionary reminder to the official leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that “It's impossible to walk backwards into the future with eyes fixed on how things used to be.”

The cover art by Kent Rich does indeed “inspire creativity”.

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