Editorial: Spilling Coke on the Server

(Spectrumbot) #1

The ad for Coca Cola that premiered during the Superbowl begins with angry images. “I hate u” types out across a phone screen in a text message. Then at 12 seconds in, a worker in a room filled with computer server equipment, spills his bottle of Coca Cola on the machine and the sugary drink is shown flowing through the cables, working miracles in reconciling and changing angry people into laughing, smiling souls.

Another text message on the phone in the hand of a young boy morphs from “No one likes U” to “There’s no one like U” and his face changes from hurt to self-assured.

Would that the solution to a happy, friendly Internet were so simple. I’d love to think that spilling a caffeine-free Diet Coke could have the same effect on the Spectrum server.

In another series of ads by Coca Cola, teenagers talk about cyber bullying, and one girl tells about her personal campaign to be a change agent. She wants to stop cyber bullying among her peers before it happens. On a computer screen within the ad, a popup ad blinks “Rethink Alert”. Another says “Negative-free zone.” More teen comments are shown before the ad closes with the message “The Internet is what we make it” crawling across the screen, “Make it happy.”

These ad images come to mind as I read the messages in my e-mail box from the members of the Adventist Forum Board discussing the commenting on our website, its supposed negativity, and what it is doing to our reputation. And I bemoan the need for this repeated conversation. The list of people insulted by the Spectrum commenting section just seems to get longer all the time. There are the guardians of Adventism that are offended by anything that does not match their experience or definition of the Adventist church. There are those who have walked out the door of the church, wounded, and who want to make sure that everyone knows it. There are those who find the negativity of both these groups off-putting, and so they complain about the web site itself as though we are responsible for the comments of all who happen by. The list of those who are capable of finding something to offend themselves seems never-ending.

My first reaction is to say, this is not just a Spectrum problem. It is an Internet society problem if Coca-Cola is addressing the issue of Internet negativity in an ad campaign. So you can be sure the issue requires more than just a software fix that allows for us to move the comments, or regulate how, or who, or where the Spectrum comments are located. But that does not change the fact that we still want it fixed here on our site, in our community. What can we do about our problem?

Meanwhile, I pick up Anne Lamott’s newest book "Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace." The first chapter is about the “The Book of Welcome” which she surmises must have been “way down there in the slush pile of manuscripts—that somehow slipped out of the final draft of the Bible. . . . went missing.” She says that we have to write that book ourselves, adding that she has needed such a book for a long time, because she “didn’t know how to let go of judging people so quickly, on how they look, or dress, or speak,” so she couldn’t stop judging herself.

Ahh, judging. That does seem to be a major problem. No matter where we find ourselves in the conversation about the Internet, judging others actions as inappropriate seems to be what we all do. Myself included. Acknowledging our own judgmentalism is sooooo difficult, because it means that we might have to think of things differently and that is always tough.

Lamott’s proposed solution to this judgmental problem is to offer welcome to someone else. It helps a lot, she says, “especially to the deeply unpleasant or weird. The offer heals you both. What works best is to target people in the community whom no one else seems to want. Voila: now welcome exists in you.”

So today, I want to spill that Diet Coke on the Spectrum community and extend welcome to all. If you are reading these words, you are part of the community. Whatever your criticism of the words and positions put forth here on this site, you are part of the community. Whether or not you have membership in a Seventh-day Adventist church, whether or not you like or dislike the people who comment, you are part of the community. We are counting on you to do your part in making this a place of welcome. We invite you to help us write the book of welcome within the Seventh-day Adventist community. Doing so should heal us all. We have a wonderful message to share, and heritage to cherish.

Let’s make the Internet and Adventism a happy, welcoming place.

Bonnie Dwyer is the editor of Spectrum Magazine.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6656

(Alexander Carpenter) #2

Thank you, Bonnie, for this hospitable expansion of my understanding of welcomeness. For me, it dovetails with the serious questions that Loren Seibold recently raised about church and being community in space and time.

Being together, even virtually, is not easy.

But I think the elision that happens here fits into the process of Christianity and the larger progress of humanity. Together—over time and beyond space—humanity bends toward the better.

(Elaine Nelson) #3

Should there be a difference between judging people and judging institutions? Obama has many enemies who have called him all sorts of horrible names but it has never changed who he is. But if there were no critics or judgments made about our country, just as in religious institutions, there would be no effect on our voting or our aligning with church or political ideology.

Perhaps the SdA church should be more like the Roman Catholic system: the freedom to speak but only the Pope, and their councils will ever make changes. I see a great resemblance in both operations.


Lovely thoughts, Bonnie, and a wonderful goal. Thank you.


Excellent! A month ago, I visited our conference president and a conversation ensued. He asked me: “Brother Clifford, have you noticed how our church members talk to each other? … they get angry easily and throw words at each other. Our members have become too emotional. My brother, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Spectrum is an Adventist community. Let’s fill here with gracious words.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #6

maybe Spectrum should adopt Kipling’s “IF” As a Mast Head. It seems that Spectrum has an agenda on several issues that requires telling their “Truth” to power. Trying to create change from within has its risks. Thus debate may remain civil but not necessarily universally pleasant. “Truth forever on the Scaffold”.
Tom Z


Hello Elaine, there is nothing wrong with councils, the apostles had them to sort out issues. It only becomes a problem when that institution forces everyone to follow those laws, to the point of death even. Anyone can leave the SdA church if they do not agree with its biblical interpretation; and that being without the fear of being burnt at the stake.

I forget which denomination it was, recently gave the go ahead for same sex marriage. This was not done by the lay people, but by the leaders in the church.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #8

Adventism is a religion with a well defined set of behaviors based upon a thread barren theology. That engages even Chuck’s table talk. Christ came among us to reveal the Father as One Who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. The epistles are given us to declare His Righteousness and how that Assurance graces those that believe in its saving power. The debate that arouses --Is Christ- like Behavior the cause of God’s Love or the result? LGT says the former, there are those who find that untenable to canonical thought. Sometimes that tension has a raw edge, even from the top. The book of Revelation tells us that will continue until the end of time. Adventist Forums was established to tell the Truth to power as well as to share it will its fellows. May it remain true to its calling. Diet Coke still retains its caffeine. Tom Z

(David Read) #9

Isn’t it a logical contradiction to condemn judging in an article that is mostly devoted to judging “negative” Internet commentary?

(Kade Wilkinson) #10

One of my favorite poems. Another of my favorites by Kipling is “The Gods of the Copybook Headings.”

(Steve Mga) #11

If you are thinking of the Episcopalians for SSM
it was a grass roots project that finally made it to
a Vote by their “General Conference”. [they have
theirs the same years we have ours.
This year [2015 in Indianapolis] they will be voting
on “Transgender Issues and the Priesthood”.
Some see a favorable voting for Trans persons
accepted in the Priesthood with no reservations.

An interdenominational program called Believe Out Loud
was also begun by grass roots lay persons [Episc.]

(George Tichy) #12

David, I was actually thinking of that.

I am now wondering if there is some “subliminal” message in this Coke article… that we are supposed to capture in the air…

I also wonder if we should focus on the difference between “negative” and “disagreeable” comments, which would make sense since the former should be avoided but the latter should always be permitted.

(Elaine Nelson) #13

We, and the church all need to listen to each other if we are to be a community and not and army with marching orders from a few.

(le vieux) #14

Hmm . . . I don’t think that’s where the problem lies. If I see a friend lift something from a store (an “inappropriate action”), and I call them on it, and try to convince them to make it right, that’s the kind of judging we are called to do. If we care about the person at all, we will not just ignore destructive behavior like that. What we can’t and shouldn’t do, is to judge motives, or one’s standing with God, or their eternal destiny.

(Ex Sda) #15

ok, ill post, just this once, ever since the direct attack to me on this site, i have decided to start my own site, altho i still follow the discussions, i have found the moderators tho hardworking, are sometimes blind to the abuse on the site. Admittedly it’s gotten a little better, but i don’t plan on returning to the conversation anytime soon.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #16

one line I thought judgmental-- “walking out the door wounded”. How about enlightened? Does Des Ford sound wounded? Maybe Walter Rea did! The fundamental question is --How long can an institution survive on a glue entitled “Grave Consequences” still in the shadow of Glacier View and it epic aftermath? its bookends are Aage and Chuck. Tom Z

(Brenton Reading) #17

Thank you for this call for all of us to extend hospitality to one another even, or perhaps especially those with whom we disagree. I am reminded of Derrida’s discussion on the impossibility of hospitality. To be truly hospitable we must open the door to anyone be they friend or enemy. In so doing, we place ourselves and our guests at risk and thus become inhospitable. I am saddened that the open welcome to all commenters on this website has made it an inhospitable place for many. May God help us become an impossibly hospitable community.

(Interested Friend) #18

Ah, yes, Birder, you are absolutely correct, but the definition given in the blog to judgmentalism is the favorite one of some liberals. It has been around a long time and is often used in an attempt to silence a believer who dares call sin by its right name.

In The Grip of Truth


Thanks Steve, I read about it the other day and forgot who it was.

You help to illustrate my point well. Regardless if it is a grassroots movement or not, it, like other churches, had to go through the right procedures and finally be voted on by their General Conference/a council.

Dear Sir/Madam @webEd,

I was wondering if you could help me with something please. I went to upload a different avatar, which it allowed me to do, but the picture wouldnt show up once I saved it. I tried going back to my previous picture, but I cannot seem to get that to show up either :scream: And now I feel somewhat bland, another useless number :wink:

Yours truly,

Awesome Ton :thumbsup:

Oh…your kidding me! Now the “thumbs up” emoji doesnt even work. You know, I reeeealy don’t want to get out the conspiracy theories, but what choice am I left with :smile:

Yours truly,

No-thumbs-up-Ton :unamused:

(Jared Wright) #20

I wonder whether reading this as an article judging negative commentary misses the intent. Content and conduct are different things, and my sense is that this article has more to do with conduct (which may manifest itself in the form of the content of what people say, sure).

Calling us to a higher level of conduct, even while we disagree with one another, is, I think, to begin walking down the road toward Community (which is what Spectrum aims for, after all).