Seventh-day Adventists are rarely represented in literary fiction. And when the Adventist church does get a mention in serious literature, the depiction is often unflattering. Darcie Friesen Hossack’s recent novel Stillwater offers a damning portrait of an Adventist community that is also thoughtful, nuanced, and insightful.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/arts-essays/2023/canadian-novel-explores-adventist-self-supporting-culture-review-stillwater
What a wonderful review! I’m as impressed by the careful and systematic analysis as I am intrigued by the novel itself. I appreciate the challenges presented by the task of writing about near community, and the assessing, sometimes dismantling of the faith that is passed on to us. Only by doing so, of course, does faith become genuinely our own. Or, conversely, only then do we break chains of unhealthy traditions, or associated dysfunctions and forge new beliefs more faithful to our values and the reality of what it means to be a Christian— Adventist or Mennonite, or other, as we seek to follow Jesus.
Pain is there to teach us something, to caution, and as Morgan-Cole reminds us, ultimately to protect us. And so what’s uncomfortable in this novel is only a call and opportunity for self-examination and truth-telling. I look forward to reading this myself, and am grateful to Spectrum and this reviewer for perspective that will help that effort yield important discoveries.
Having come from a religious background with a father who was raised Mennonite and later changed to Adventist, I have feelings about this novel, and they tend to be negative–not the writing but subjectivity.
I love both groups, but with their practice of shunning former members, my father had to eat alone when visiting family. However, when my husband and I lived among them for four years as part of a rural dental program, they accepted me as part of their group for some remembered my family and I met distant relatives.
Of course, the book misrepresents normal Adventists; and so does the reviewer with independent health care resorts, seeming to compare them to cults–and laughably to “unhealthy traditions.”
The use of Silver Hills by the reviewer is unfair, and she obviously knows nothing about it. Silver Hills is in no way rigid but loving and accepting, and the food is delicious. Like Weimar, they change lives. One of the denominations biggest mistakes was separating its health system from prevention to only band aids, surgery and drugs.
When I wrote my own novel, I respected and defended other Christian denominations.
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