Thanks for the tip…will look.
"Let’s just forget the past and move on!"
It is easier to move past something if it is never acknowledged. Of course, there are consequences to these sorts of things…but it is the price that the church has had to pay.
I can’t verify it, at least now. Just what I have heard.
Don’t believe it is an SDA story.
It seems like the early history of the Adventist church involved some level of hysteria. These were simple people with little scholarly guidance. It feels like it’s a point of pride that it was initiated by a little seventeen year old girl, giving it an air of innocense and openness to God’s blessing. After the “disappointment” there was a sense of “who will stay faithful”. There had been a high emotional investment that was hard to calm. Add visions and knockings into the mix, a lot of vulnerable people were motivated to keep this going.
This might be our evaluation of what happened in the early years if it had been someone else’s church we’re looking at. For me, it was “someone else’s church” as I attended a series of meetings when fifteen. The emphasis for me was the Sabbath - the SDA church being the only church that “keeps” all ten commandments. At that time I had no way of fact checking any of this. Actually, facts had nothing to do with any of it. What fifteen year old kid would be able to even know what the questions are. It was all based on emotion, even while it was presented as studied intellectual assertions. No one goes to religious meetings in a church they don’t attend if there isn’t some underlying emotional need.
Looking at these stories after decades of “knowing” Adventism, they’re not surprising.
Well said, Sirje.
Although I was a bit older than you, 23 yrs old when I first started attending, I was very unknowledgeable about all but the very basics of Christianity. I had no knowledge of “prophets”, much less about true and false ones.
Exactly! Funny how SDA’s see the glaring problems of prophets from other churches, but not theirs…they have the true one.
Nothing is to be done. The SDA Church cannot address the EGW problem without ceasing to be the SDA Church. After erroneously equating EGW’s writings with the “Spirit of Prophecy”, and after spending 150 years stating that this is one of the “proofs” the SDA Church is the “Remnant Church ™”, they can hardly just say “oops, we got this one wrong” without shaking the foundations of the institution.
As Luther discovered that the RC Church was unreformable, SDAs seeking a reformation of teaching and doctrine will discover that the SDA Church is unreformable. None of the sanctuary doctrine, sabbath as seal of God, Sunday Law, etc. teachings can be corrected or jettisoned without impugning EGW as an inerrant messenger of God. And EGW’s writings cannot be gainsaid without threatening the foundations of the church. Everyone seeking to steer SDA teaching towards a more biblical understanding will founder on this problem.
can this be captured on video…i’d love to see it…
Have heard that story for many decades.
Haven’t seen any interviews with a live person [who would give
their name for quote]. Most of it is “word of mouth.”
legends always start and perpetuate by word of mouth…but i would think that someone would see the importance of preserving something like this on video…
I looked again and at a couple of other things I read this week and can’t find it. It was about the plant life, etc., (former?) underneath the ice sheet in Antarctica. Not the same subject as above, but interesting.
Thank-you for researching!
Ellen’s grandchildren retold that story in videotaped interviews. The interviews were conducted in the mid-1980s at Elmshaven with Grace White Jacques and her brother, Arthur White. Of course those videos were later edited. Copies of the original videotapes were kept in the E.G. White Study Center at the PUC Library.
They were kept on video to some extent. See my post regarding that.
I’d guess that many incipient legends would wither and die if videographic evidence was considered important for their preservation.
Alice – yes somewhat tropical.
this is the point…with some people, if they think nothing can be proven or disproven, they feel free to invent…
The hope that Ellen White might be seen as a coherent part of the milieu in which she lived is certainly admirable (is this the point of this article–I’m not quite sure, but I think so). However, I question whether any Adventist exposed to a culture which abnormally reveres her can do this. And it seems no one else is interested in her. So what are we to do? But I do appreciate the small attempt here in the article. Placing her in the larger narrative of her time is at least always interesting.
Reading the letter Ellen White wrote to her son is a reminder of the type of person she was. Her turn of phrase is strange, and not just because it is written 140 years ago. I spend quite a lot of time reading documents and letters from the last three centuries and am used to stilted language. By contrast I have many letters written by my own GGGgrandmother who lived at approximately the same time, in the same region, who also had very little formal education, and who was also a very early Adventist. The contrast is remarkable. My GGGG is relatable and does not speak in weird Victorian speak, I can sense her personality and intellect through her writing and she does not center her writing on herself. Ellen White on the other hand is consumed by her health. On this trip through the Rockies in Colorado she spent a number of days in bed (at least five in a row) and seems to have suffered from migraines, which is unfortunate. She does not know if she can go on working without her husband, which is understandable given that this is just five weeks after his death, but somewhat surprising given that she had been doing this work for over forty years and presumably might feel herself able to continue as God has chosen her as His messenger. Most interesting to me is how she has clearly convinced herself that the church leaders have led her off course and distracted her from writing to God’s people, which she must feel is her real work. Telling people what God wants them to know–this is her interest. She is upset to have been involved in the bureaucratic leadership of the church. Clearly this is not her interest. She seems like an old maiden aunt in a Victorian novel. She also brings to mind the common tale of visionary early leaders of corporations who, although they are the important originators of ideas, are unable to move on to the next level and are sidelined. The SDA church certainly had to deal with their early visionary for a long, long time. And they had to continue to venerate her. They did a pretty good job even though she didn’t really like many parts of her role.
That Ellen White reported a dream as real in which James appears to her is bizarre given the Adventist tradition of denigrating anything that had to do with spiritualism and also given her own strong stance on the state of the dead as being one of soul sleep. As an example of her anti-spiritualist leanings Ellen White gave up her multi-year support of the Dress Reform movement, which was quite important to her, to avoid any taint of spiritualism which she believed it represented to the public.
A modern psychiatrist might have done her some good, but they were another group she disliked and denigrated. I suspect she would have been resistant to therapy.
Something may have “happened” in her life and to her, but I’m not sure that it merited what was made of it by her and by the leaders who derived their own position from the movement she started. Most importantly her position was later inflated by millions of Adventists over the last 150 years because of what they were led to believe by those in authority.
Can the SDA church put EGW aside? As others have said, probably not. In the NAD in the past 25 years it has become quite uncommon for younger members to actually read anything she has written, so their exposure to her is quotes read in church or possibly Senior Bible during high school. In just a few more years, when the older generations are gone, there will be few NAD Adventists who remember the long lines of red books that once sat on the shelves of all SDA families or who have actually opened one of those books. When she fades even more from memory this will all become moot. The stories told about her can be even more carefully crafted and will be little more than legend–like the stories that are told about any important founding figure. The stories we tell about these people say more about us than about the person themselves. (In times of war George Washington is a great soldier, in times of peace a great farmer, in times of the love of home brew he is a prescient early distiller! We see what we are looking for.)
What are SDAs really looking for in Ellen White? As long as Adventists are looking to her to tell them what to do they will not be able to give her up. Once every word no longer has outsized meaning maybe she can be put aside.
I lived in Angwin in the 1950’s to 60’s and also worked at the ‘San’. The story then was that during the early morning when Ellen was working, this glow came from her corner Bd.Rm. window. It was while she was alive. Hope the guide isn’t saying it is happening now. If so, then we have more issues to be concerned with than ‘a heavenly glow’.
this sounds more plausible…
Here is my Elmshaven story:
I have a dear friend who owns a stunning property in Sonoma County,
at the estuary of the Russian River.
While a house guest of my friend, I wished to view the campus of PACIFC UNION COLLEGE.
So one Sabbath afternoon we drove through St Helena to get to Angwin.
I asked my non Adventist friend if he would like to view an old Victorian mansion in St Helena — so we detoured to Elmshaven , which was open, that Sabbath afternoon,
with a nurse from the Adventist hospital acting as a docent / tour guide.
In the first room there was a huge photograph of Ellen, sitting demurely in her little black dress ( we later learned that the strings of pearls which once adorned her breast had been blackened out by “ the brethren” so as not to confuse the laity ).
My astute friend, in regarding the photograph, innocently asked:
WAS SHE BLACK ? I gasped , because, for the first time I did see that EGW did have some negroid features !
The docent replied that yes, EGW was partly black , a descendent of a slave and a slave owner ! This has never been subsequently corroborated for me.
I did feel that Ellen’s squashed nose might have resulted from the stone that was hurled at her face in her adolescence ( this injury could also have caused her later trance like “ visions “ )
However, in a bedroom upstairs we were shown a photograph of
Ellen and her identical twin sister. Both had identical noses and facial appearance and could have passed for black.
On departing Elmshaven, my friend commented;
Your Mrs White was white in name only !
This black heritage has never been confirmed by any other source other than the docent / guide in Elmshaven.
My other take away from the visit —- this was a very elegant, upscale house for the era. We were shown a water tank on a high scaffolding —- supposedly to produce enough water pressure, since EGW had the first FLUSH TOILET in the Bay Area !
This lady lived elegantly with five employees at her beck and call, including a personal dressmaker, a carriage driver, a cook and a housekeeper. We will not count her numerous secretarial “ assistants “ ,