Do We Really Have the Freedom to Choose?

(George Tichy) #103

Jeremy, playing with words does not help. It’s only a futile exercise trying to trick (deceive) people, a tactic that hopes there are some people out there that are distracted enough not to perceive the final intent of the word maneuvering.

I know you equate the SOP to the Bible. You once said that the SOP contains the whole Bible. I have no contest with your personal choice, I believe I can tolerate it well, even sitting next to you during a worship service. Or you playing the violin and I playing the cello (if I still could…). But our list of beliefs will be different, my list will always be shorter than yours.

Can you tolerate me as well?

(Harry Allen) #104

Thanks, @ajshep.

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In response:

Let’s assume that these are true statements. (I’d hold that a) none of them are, and b) the fact that you consider these ideas a refuge is symptomatic of white racial deceit.)

This means that, even if they were true, Douglass could still speak in abrasive, factual language about whiteness. He did this in words so lacerating that, not only did they embarrass his audience, but their heat emanates from the page a century and a half later.

The reason their heat is still felt is not just because Douglass was a masterful orator. It’s because, if you’re Black, those words have the freshness of new newsprint. These words don’t sound historical. They sound futuristic.

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Your position is defensive, so anything you utter has an odd, oblate shape to it. But you’re so deep in it, you can’t see the irony.

It’s like Gen. Custer asking, “What: Me worry?” You may not be concerned, General. But make sure you’ve signed a will.

In other words, why even affirm “whiteness”? When you do, what are you affirming? Where is “white”? German people did things, Slavic people did. English people chipped in. So did the French. Where is this “white” of which you speak?

Answer: It’s something Europeans came up with to achieve what they could not by just means: The domination of people they considered “non-white” and, thus, “inferior.”

These were myths through which, any curious, thinking, unencumbered person would have been bound to see. As such, they needed a larger myth; a meta-myth. This myth was whiteness. (If the emperor has no clothes, pay off the crowd, and they will see anything he wants.)

So, here, in the course of all that, as you tweedle the praise of being “white,” you sound daft. White culture is white supremacy. If not, why call it “white”?

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See above.

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In your rant, replace “white people” with “sinners.”

Now, see if you get the idea.

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I am a victim of white supremacy. I believe white supremacy to be the chief form of sin in the known universe.

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Prove it.

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I detest white supremacy, for the above reasons.

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That’s probably because you mostly talk to people who look and think like you. Meanwhile, the ones who would give you the truth sort of know what to expect: After one round of exchanges, they’d be accused of hating white people. (See above.)

Most of the non-white people who know you, for various reasons, probably have an interest in avoiding such conversations with you. So may I, though I’m not aware of it.

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This is irrelevant.

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I’m actually talking about white supremacy. “America,” were it to exist, would have to be something that eliminates white supremacy. Otherwise, it’s just a slang term for white supremacy. Why have a slang term for white supremacy?

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First, this is irrelevant. But, as the judge says, I’ll hear it.

Second, many would move here, because the white supremacists have dominated and depleted their homelands. As one of my editors said, these people are just following their stolen wealth.

Third, this is part of white defensiveness, here; the kind that moves them to chant, “USA!! USA!!”:

That is, we live on a planet of 7.5 billion human beings. Most of them, overwhelmingly, are happy to be exactly where they are. That some, or many, want to go to here may merely mean the economy is better here, or just larger. There may be no intrinsically sacred meaning to their immigration, beyond that.

If you live in a place that says “bigger is better,” you attribute a larger economy to being “better.” It ain’t necessarily so.

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The ones who do think so, make the trip. The rest stay where they are.

Both would agree that, to a greater degree than white people here usually talk about, or often know, their home nations have been dominated and undermined by these larger, more powerful white groups; e.g., “The United States of America.”

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It does. It means he had to turn over the Oval Office to an obviously inferior white candidate.


(Harry Allen) #105

Thanks, @ajshep.

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Yes: White people have created a seller’s market for cocaine.

Give back the pieces of “the Southwest” that you “annexed” and stop using drugs. The situation would clear up to a great extent.

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If you lived there, then you probably ran into either:

a) the white descendants, cultural or otherwise, of the people who enslaved those Africans’ best and brightest ancestors,

b) the white beneficiaries of carving up the continent for their benefit, after chattel slavery ceased to be a great business, or

c) retired, white CIA operatives, who, after destabilizing indigenous freedom movements, realized that, on their pension, they’d never get several hectares of land and a house servant—with money left over!—in the U.S. So they stayed.

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Yes. It has.


(George Tichy) #106

Agree with you on this issue.

Trump’s tactics have been to, first of all, fully discredit the media, SO THAT people who support him will believe in everything he says - all his lies, alternative facts, and so on.
If people believes that the media is 100% fake, then Trump has all doors open to make up or deny facts at will
The man is the most dangerous and threatening person in America now. And his supporters are also America’s enemies. The have all been “Puttined.”

By the way, Jeremy, can you play “La Puttineske?”… LOL

(Sirje) #107

No symbolism there! :roll_eyes: Perhaps you can explain how you separate the literal from the symbolic, particularly in REVELATION - the beasts and horsemen etc.

It’s HUMAN nature to witness retribution. We feel satisfied when the bad guy" got his". We transfer those feelings to God. Yes, evil seems to prosper, while the good gets kicked around and be abused; and our very being cries out for justice. We never see the pain and degradation behind the masks that cover the consequences of sin. We also forget that God loved us “while we were yet sinners” by choice, I might add.

If it makes you sleep better knowing that all those people who WORSHIP GOD (by the way) on the wrong day, get to suffer in a lake of fire for x amount of time - OK.

(Tim Teichman) #108

I don’t know Steven, but I like his post:



For me the conversation here is helping us not do this alone.

I refer, for example, to your own personal experience with headship, Goddard, the death of a child, and living a life so devoted to EGW’s writings you got up at 5 a.m. to read, followed the advice to a “T,” and tried to be perfect in every respect as a parent, wife, Christian.

We are listening. You told us how that went.

We’ve heard from many whose experiences are part of the conversation here.

I don’t think it is a dirty game. It’s electronic, digital community and spiritual discussions about a legacy from 1844 on.

It’s heresy pushing its nose under the tent. It’s news. It’s policy. It’s devotionals and S.S. lessons.

While some admit they are here to try to “witness” and to “convert,” lurkers and otherwise, the most powerful conversations come from the depths of our experiences and our truths.


I don’t think it’s that Jeremy wants God’s vengeance on bad people in general, or those who have undoubtedly hurt him over the years.

It takes many, many inner reference points built up by experience over long years to see this any differently, and even then, you can’t know for sure you’ve got it right. I’m never sure I’m right about the very subjective chain of inferences I’ve made.

I see why people think it’s safer to stick with concrete, literal, “plain reading” of Scripture.

Back to Kendra Haloviac Valentine: we can’t do this alone, it can only be done by the hermeneutical community with the Holy Spirit’s leading.


And for me as well, with all of you. I’m thankful for free space for us to think, talk, laugh, gripe, rant and share.

Thank you, Spectrum, and Spectrum Family! :heart:


Harry, your pain is deep, deeply personal and immersive. I would not minimize that in the slightest degree. The devastation my race has caused your race, only God can calculate, feel or heal.

The exceeding sinfulness of the sin of soul murder has darkened the whole world, and we are scarcely sensible to it.

But what if this unbearable pain is the seed of the gift you have to give to the collective, to all of us, once it germinates, grows and bears fruit?

Is that too much to consider at present? If it is, I understand.

They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.

Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

But they said, We will not walk therein.


(Harry Allen) #113

Thanks, @timteichman.

The post that you’ve reproduced, here, helps illuminate what I meant when I said to @ajshep, above:

Why even affirm “whiteness”? When you do, what are you affirming? Where is “white”? German people did things, Slavic people did. English people chipped in. So did the French. Where is this “white” of which you speak?

Now, I, like, “Steven Michael,” know there’s no answer @ajshep can give. That is, he can’t give one that won’t, if you push back even little, sound like something one would hear at a Ku Klux Klan rally. (In fact, talking about “white pride” already does sound like that.) Also, I suspect @ajshep knows this.

So, I decided to nip that nonsense in the bud by giving the answer to my own question, and making my point:

Answer: It’s something Europeans came up with to achieve what they could not by just means: The domination of people they considered “non-white” and, thus, “inferior.”

These were myths through which, any curious, thinking, unencumbered person would have been bound to see. As such, they needed a larger myth; a meta-myth. This myth was whiteness. (If the emperor has no clothes, pay off the crowd, and they will see anything he wants.)

So, here, in the course of all that, as you tweedle the praise of being “white,” you sound daft. White culture is white supremacy. If not, why call it “white”?


(Harry Allen) #114

Thanks, @Cassie.

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Thank you for your empathetic words. I should say, though, that, at this point, what I write is less from “pain,” as such, and more from a kind of counter-racist logic.

That is, I’m generally familiar with the facts of what a race system requires. So, I can describe it. The emotion I mostly feel when engaging white people on this issue is a kind of tedium, then. This is predominantly because they rarely come back with a new response, or a different challenge, on the issue. What I mostly hear is a glissando of tried and true retorts that Caucasians utter with the joie de vivre of new, brilliant insight.

I should say this, however: There are many non-white people in deep, profound racial pain, and perhaps, in many instances, in pain they’ve had so long, they may not “register” it as pain, any longer.

Part of how I speak, and what I say, is for them. I see myself, in this role, as something of an advocate, then.

In Isaiah 1:17, God says, “Seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

That sounds like Black people, to me.

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I think that this is a true statement. And so, I’m content to both “occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13) and to “not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

Not all Black people agree with me on this position.

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You’re correct.

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It’s not too much to consider. It’s just out of my hands.


(Sirje) #115

Safer in what sense? To believe that God will cause suffering for the sake of suffering - to what end? At that pointing time, the unrepentant sinner will have seen with his own eyes the truth of what he has rejected. Does he really need physical pain on top of the pain of having missed the gift of life offered by God?

We definitely pick and choose what we want to be literal from among all the grotesque pictures that accompany John’s visions; and have to relegate the rest to symbolism when it’s very obvious.

It’s not safe for my faith to carry these kinds of pictures in my head when I sing “Amazing Grace”.


Tragically, I’m sure that’s true.

That sounds like Black people, to me also.

That is a powerful, courageous, costly place to stand, Harry.

I’ll tell you a little of my story. Please scroll past if the timing is inappropriate.

I was born in Kansas City, Missouri three years and two months after Lucy Byard was taken to Washington Adventist Sanitarium and Hospital.

Both my parents were deeply racist. My mother was a religious white supremicist, along with being an Adventist convert. My home environment included many hours of racist sermons playing on the cassette player.

We lived in a Black school district in the inner city. My parents had me transferred to a white school. We would not frequent restaurants that served Blacks. We rolled up the windows and locked the car doors driving through the Black neighborhoods near ours. This was reflexive. My father carried a screw driver when he walked outdoors. The house was a fortress of locks.

When I was eight years old, I witnessed water fountains in New Orleans with signs above them that said, “White,” and “Colored.” I saw a little Black boy dancing for coins late at night on Bourbon Street.

When I went to Academy, two Black girls roomed next to my room. I dared not tell my parents for fear they would drive up and pull me out of school immediately.

My sons have had to pull me up short when racist sayings have unconsciously come out of my mouth. They were horrified. I was horrified.

When my sons went to the mostly white Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler, Texas, there was an annual football game between the Robert E. Lee team and the mostly Black John Tyler High School team. For the week before the game, the Lee kids’ cars were festooned with Confederate flags. Where were the parents? Where was I?

I saw the same thing happen last year in Tyler.

A week or so ago, I watched this:

This evening, I watched Mudbound:

I don’t even know how you might feel about this film, or this song.

It’s too big for any of us.

(Harry Allen) #117

Thanks, @cassie.

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That would have been the end of December, 1946.

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Why did your parents behave in this way?

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Why did you speak this way?

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According to The New Yorker, it’s now almost 60% “Black and Latino.”

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Where were you?

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Why, if so, did you expect something else?

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Yes, I saw it, also. I think that this program could be useful.

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Yes, I’ve meant to see that film.

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It’s a lovely performance, but this 1990 recording is more my speed:

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Ohhhh, no: I don’t agree with that at all, especially coming from a white person who testifies to the racism of her parents, that of her neighbors, as well as her own. You’re not credible on this, and to accept your summary is unsafe; literally a public safety hazard.

One of the people who has most inspired me on these matters says, “Anything people can do, people can stop doing.” In John 8:11, Jesus says, “Go, and sin no more.” I refuse to accept the conclusion that we are bound to this tacky, trashy, terroristic relationship between white and non-white people. I strongly suspect any white person so resigned of practicing racism.


(jeremy) #118

not that i’m aware of…there are things in egw that aren’t in the bible, just like there are things in the NT that aren’t in the OT…


That is correct. After Christmas.

I’ve never understood why. My Academy roommate said it was because they were afraid.

This is not an excuse for them, this is just how it was:

My father didn’t finish 8th grade. When he was 16, his father hung himself in the barn, and the adults forced him to cut his father down from the rafters. The preacher told my father that his father was burning eternally in hell. He once told me, “If hell is good enough for my dad, it’s good enough for me.”

His doctor told me he was paranoid schizophrenic. He was also an alcoholic, which we never acknowledged in our family. When I saw him receiving an alcohol IV in the hospital when I was 21 and pregnant, that was the first time I told myself he was an alcoholic, but I didn’t say it to anyone else. I thought everybody’s daddy slurred his speech and stumbled up the stairs at night.

I lived in mortal fear that he was going to kill us, shoot us all in our sleep. I would lie awake, trembling, until he started up the stairs, waiting to hear if he cocked the gun. I left my dormer window partly open, even in the winter, so, if I heard him cock the gun, I could scramble out the window and onto the roof and jump to the ground. I always felt so guilty that I would be leaving my mother and sister to die.

My mother didn’t finish high school. Her teacher told her not to bother to come to school if she didn’t have a pencil. She didn’t have the money for a pencil. She came from Ozark hillbilly people. Her mother married four times. During the Depression, the bill collector knocked on the front door, and her mother grabbed her and went out the back, never to return. She was very physically and verbally violent with me. She knew my sister and I were being abused, and lied about it even when I was suicidal.

Because I absorbed these attitudes from my early environment, and while I consciously rejected them, my mind needed the renewing of God in ways I could not comprehend, and it still does. We don’t know our own hearts until God shows us. This never ceases to be the case.

That’s interesting. I would not have guessed that.

This is not an excuse, this is just how it was:

I was in a deeply desperate and confused place. Trying to recover from incest, and being blamed for causing it, and being told I was demon possessed for questioning Ellen White’s teachings. Trying not to commit suicide and leave my four children motherless.

Tyler is deep in the Bible Belt, and racism and prejudice against LGBT people live there still. The pastor of Green Acres church was involved in supporting anti-gay legislation in Africa. I really hate to call myself a Christian, Harry, because Christianity is so rotten. But then, that’s the way I feel about myself.

I am not credible on anything, but I didn’t express myself clearly, because that wasn’t the sense I was trying to convey.

What I meant was, this plague of racism is bigger than any one person can comprehend, far less solve.

I meant that only as we join our hearts together and allow God to lead us can we ever be healed of this demonic scourge.

Well, I agree, Harry. I’ve posted on Lucy Byard and the history of Adventist racism a number of times on this forum, as well as the egregious American Christian meddling in Africa. I want this healed. I want us all healed together. I want to do what I can, and it certainly hasn’t been enough so far, I agree.

I listened to your music. It is very energetic and is coming from a lot of volcanic feelings, it would seem. Feelings that strong must be expressed, and I’m glad people are able to do it in their own way, in their own style. I hope people are listening.

I want to go and sin no more. I am a dead dog. I need God. I can’t fix myself, much less the world. I’m still in the forgiveness process for what has happened in my life, and the things I’ve done which seem unforgivable.

The point of the film is that we’re all “mudbound.” If you have an opportunity to see it, let me know what you think, if you please.

I believe God can raise us up and heal us together. It is time.


Well, I agree.

But read Harry’s posts, and listen to his music. Are we really going to tell Harry that there is no justice here, and no justice in eternity? There has been too much suffering and blood spilled by Black people. Are white people just going to get away with this for eternity?

Are Black people going to be the scapegoat we confess our sins on and send into the wilderness to die?

Remember, I saw the Confederate flag flying last year (it might have been the year before—I took a picture). And when my sons went to Lee High School decades ago, I saw Black Lee kids with Confederate flags on their cars.

So I think we just all have what Clive James calls Cultural Amnesia and need to wake up. Buried pain doesn’t go away.

At this point, I don’t know what to do but listen, pray and write.

Yes, the thread topic, “do we really have the freedom to choose?”

When my kids were in Lee High School with its Confederate flag tradition, shouldn’t I have chosen to march right into the principal’s office and demand that this outrage cease?

Well yes, I should have. That would be assuming I possessed the level of consciousness to even see the necessity of that at the time, which I did not.

And there’s a back story there. Years earlier, when we wanted to put our children in the Headship church school, it was required that I go through a two-hour inquisition alone with the principal to determine if I were properly “under my authorities,” which were my husband, the Adventist pastor, the Headship pastors and my Headship psychotherapist. I was drenched with sweat at the end.

I was later informed that I failed, and the children couldn’t attend the school. It was deeply shaming and difficult to recover from (and resonated with being called on the carpet by the principal in Academy and being threatened with being kicked out—I had failed New Testament, snuck out of the dorm, etc.).

(As it turned out, that Headship principal later became the principal of Robert E. Lee High School.)

So, it’s not that I had no freedom of choice at the time, but marching up and confronting principals was not something that was going to happen at that time of my life. It would be like running a marathon on two broken legs.

It took every bit of my resolve, but I did summon my will and made a choice, and I could show you the place on the country road where I did it. I decided I was not going to kill myself so my children could have some kind of mother, and I was going to jettison everything that was making me want to die. I had to quit the Adventist church, psychotherapy and psychoactive drugs, and I had to confront my father.

So my point is, Sirje, people are coming from very specific places that we are not privy to. People believe things for very cogent personal reasons. It’s fine to reason with people as long as we realize our beliefs are very much holding us together psychologically, and these are not simply academic issues or matters of common sense. They run deep.

There was a time when you would have seen me as very much on the same page as Kevin, because that’s what it took to hold myself together emotionally. I have a soft spot in my heart for Kevin, even though I’m hard on him.

After I left the church, I felt like a skyscraper had collapsed in my brain. Someone told me I was like a rag doll in a hurricane. I’ve been clawing my way out of this abyss for decades, giving one fistful of dirt at a time to God, often sliding backwards for months, and I’m not out yet.

I’m not becoming more perfect, but, as each tiny increment of healing occurs, I’m becoming less resistant to the the Grace of God that always freely flows. I’ll never be anyone’s idea of normal.

Evolutionary biologist Stuart Kauffman says that evolution is non-ergotic and proceeds by taking advantage of proximal possibilities. In other words, history is specific and non-retraceable. I imagine that’s why the Bible admonishes us not to judge. Only God can trace our histories, and know our frame, that we are dust.

We expect so much of each other and ourselves. God expects nothing of us. I saw a quote by Adventist pioneer Waggoner, I think it was, that said that our relationship with God is like that of a baby in its mother’s womb. That doesn’t ever change, at least in my experience. That’s why I posted this song:

And it is not safe for me, either. As I told Elmer, there are just some roads I don’t let my mind go down because…sanity.

However, I understand the emotional and ethical need people have for atrocities to be addressed in some ultimate, proportional way that satisfies their moral sense of outrage.

But I can’t transfer my experience to other people. We believe what we have to believe at any given time.

There’s no way out but through.

We’re all mudbound.

(Elmer Cupino) #121

Cassie, you have quite a life story. Amazing resilience. Obviously sometime in the past, in the mid of chaos, the Lord gave you the sense of life direction which you never lost. Therein lies your strength.

(Sirje) #122

The basic instinct that directs us all is survival; and we survive within the parameters given to us by nature and nurture. Even, and perhaps especially, our search for God is tied to our survival instinct as well, and it causes us to operate outside of our inherited tendencies and our social norms. We call those instances, miracles. The possibility of anyone doing anything that jeopardizes their own well being is possibly the only proof we have of God. So it’s difficult to comprehend when the God we all worship here, tells us to forgive those who hurt us "70X7, (which, the literalists among us would calculate to be 490 times, but in practical terms, would be symbolic for “always and forever,”) threatens those who don’t live up to His parameters with, not only annihilation, but a certain amount of pain. I have a hard time believing God expects us to show more mercy than He is willing to give.