In Memoriam to the Living: A Shout-out to Spectrum Commenters

The Akan people of Southwestern Ghana have a tradition of naming their children after long-dead ancestors, a reflective attempt to provide their young with exemplary models. That the actual lives of the exemplars are sometimes sanitized for the desired effect is considered a minor trade-off. The rationale behind this practice seems self-evident. If one’s father, for example, was a scoundrel, his children wouldn’t have to be saddled with the taint of his name during their lifetime. If a saint, his name would live on in ancestral lore, as future generations would celebrate his memory by naming their children after him.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11509
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This is probably my most fave articles here. An appreciation to the those have the courage to voice out their thoughts and help readers think about their own thoughts too on different subject matters regarding our lives and beliefs as SDAs.

What about the likers, do they count too? :roll_eyes::slightly_smiling_face::blush:

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Matthew, Thank you for highlighting the fact that we are interconnected. Your reflections are a treasure. Wishing we could all be together for some table fellowship--------Carmen

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All I can say is, “Wow!”

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A good friend from the UP of Michigan calls her kayak her pew. I can say my computer chair is mine - good conversion with people who think. Thank you.

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This is an amazing article and I think the spirit of community is alive and well in Spectrum. If we can display the love of Christ here , a sense of respect for and an appreciation of others, inspite of our diverging views, can you imagine what would happen if Christians modelled this behaviour in their dealings and interactions with each other! Surely we would turn the world upside down and they would know that we have been with Jesus!
Well done Matthew! Congratulations to all associated with Spectrum and may we continue to love others as Jesus has asked us to do!

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Besides the loyal, the skeptical, the in-between is also the group that will move between them dependimg on the issue at hand. These are they who have realised that blind loyalty is blind, toxic skepticism is poisonous and those in-between are compromisers.

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Hmmmmm… :thinking:

Well, this is interesting, and thanks, btw, Matthew, for the brief mention. It was drawn to my attention by a former participant here who saw it and sought me out to inform me.

That’s a fitting statement. Let’s see…

I’ve not been around for quite some time, as is the case with a number of others, each of them mentioned at some point in your above missive. Public floggings are never pretty when they happen, especially when we have to watch it happening to one of those whom you so eloquently tribute, much higher in your column than my own brief mention.

And really, it doesn’t matter whether what the commenter in question did was appropriate or not. Spectrum had a long standing, high standard of avoiding public floggings, even when asked specifically to address a commenter’s activities. Suddenly that high standard was thrown out the window in one “swell foop.”

I won’t speak for any of the others who left but that incident was the reason I left. They can speak for themselves, should they choose to do so, but I suspect you’ll hear the same thing from them.

That is only part of what is necessary for a healthy reconciliation. Public floggings are wrong and when they happen there are steps necessary on the part of all, not just on the part of those “taking the healthy step of skipping a gathering or two.” So far the governing body of Spectrum has indicated by their initial voice and their subsequent silence that the public flogging was perfectly fine with them. Que Será, Será.

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Matthew, in case you missed one of my comments, my wife and I spent a year in The Ivory Coast, back in the late 70’s.

And as I’ve also mentioned previously, while there I worked with some of the poorest people I’ve ever met.

Coincidentally-or perhaps not?!?!-they were also of the among the kindest, most caring people I’ve known, either before or since.

(I don’t know if this is the case in your country, but I grew particularly fond of the Ivorian’s custom requiring that everyone shake hands with everyone first thing every morning…although I sadly had to unlearn that habit upon my return to the states!)

That said, an exceptionally congenial coworker-and with whom I felt a special connection as he spoke English rather than French-was from Ghana.

So now I’m thinking maybe that trait is ubiquitous in your country as you’ve definitely exhibited that same spirit in your article!, :raised_hands:

(As an aside, the company I worked for also hired a worker from Liberia. He was excited to speak with me during his first day on the job as he was anxious for me to know that he too spoke English. Unfortunately, his first, heavily Liberian-accented sentence was pretty much the last time I understood anything he said!:rofl:)

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@PapaAfful - Hi Matthew!!!

@cincerity - Kim Green told me about your essay. It’s a great one, and thanks for mentioning so many dear people, including the “parakeets.”… lol - An update on them: I just painted their cage, matching the color to the new color of our house. They are doing well, practicing using ZOOM, getting ready for the incoming election of a new GC President (or the same, who knows, eh?)

By the way, since you mentioned Elaine Nelson, she actually passed away about two years ago, not sure about the date. Her daughter told me that she was very discouraged because her macular degeneration didn’t allow her to read/write anymore. I talked to her several times on the phone, though the last time she was kind of not remembering things well. I could sympathize with her because I am myself dealing with macular degeneration. It was diagnosed in 2011, and has been getting worse since. A few weeks ago I decided to never drive at night again…

I miss the “old times” at Spectrum, when we had great conversations, often with good laughs that broke the cold of the “deep thinking.” It’s been almost a years since I left. @elmer_cupino and I were suspended for 30 days when we posted Season Greetings, which I had done every year for over 20 years. Because that one post was considered “off topic!” So we suspended ourselves for an extended period of time… (as did a bunch of other Spectrumites too). Sad!

So, even though I am tempted to do it right now, I won’t wish anybody anything for the incoming Holidays, because this is not the topic of this conversation… :wink: :wink: (I can’t take the risk… :upside_down_face: )
Be well Matthew, and everyone else as well.
George

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I could not have said it any better than this, John.

After this incident, I decided that Spectrum was not a safe place to comment any more. It was the proverbial “Straw that broke the camel’s back”.

I do appreciate this article however and recognize all of the various names of the former community of which a few are no longer with us.

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Aw! Thank you so much for your kind remarks, Mr. Quartey.

I’m reluctant to wish everyone season’s greetings at the risk of being “out of topic” and be suspended again. But here I go, “Season’s Greetings” and carry on Spectrum.

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John, I still don’t understand the publication of this article. Did someone at Spectrum blink because Matthew @PapaAfful always writes great articles so they didn’t even read it before posting it? I am trying to figure out what happened. But I am certainly happy that the issue was raised, though I am not sure it will actually change anything anyway. Five more days and it all be buried in silence again.

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Spot on, Kim. No longer a safe place. @Carmen

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John, I think I understand what you’re pointing to. Often incidents that take place in public require public acknowledgment or contrition in order to move on. I get that. But you should take my article at face value. I wrote this piece when it dawned on me following Robin’s death that life is too tenuous. Sometimes we go through life and take some of the simplest things for granted because we assume they’ll always be there. Then Robin dies and suddenly I realize that he represented more than a commentator on Spectrum, that he was, in ways that I can’t easily explain or even comprehend, like family. It is in that context that I started viewing the frequent commentators on Spectrum like extended family members whose presence and insights about religion and life itself have enriched my worldview. I realized how much I’ve missed that and I felt I should at least express that while I can.

Now I learn from George that Elaine has also passed on, and a hint from Kim that others we’ve bantered with on Spectrum may have as well. Before the “incident” we sometimes learned in passing or officially when our friends were sick or died. Now it’s all silence. And I thought that silence could be injurious to our collectively health. Viewed in that context I feel we gain more from one other while we can, which may require “forgetting” past hurts and slights and enjoying the relationships and ideas fostered by our interrelationships here on Spectrum if we can. I, like everybody else have made my fair share of mistakes in life and sometimes given time we are able to acknowledge that to people we’ve hurt in private for public wrongs. But until then my take is we shouldn’t keep our beautiful minds to ourselves and not share with the community.

Blessings.

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George, you’ve warmed my heart. I just returned from SS where my class struggled to figure out what Cliff Goldstein was getting at in this week’s lesson where he admonishes us to choose life (defined by obedience to the commandments). My class kept wondering if Goldstein has ever read Paul. So it was a frustrating session with Cliff.

Reading your updates on the “keets” seems good medicine for my befuddled mind. How have the parakeets handled Covid considering the upheaval it has made to human life? Do they practice social distancing and wear their masks? What is their view on the vaccine or are they all totally opposed to it? Or are they waiting on the CDC to make a determination on if and when they can get their pokes? As you can see, your updates has prompted more questions.

I was saddened to learn that Elaine has passed on and a bit worried about your shared diagnoses. But we trust you’ll continue to do such sensible things as stopping nighttime driving and following your doctor’s advice.

I don’t want to rehash the past because I feel a year is long enough to be absent from family gatherings. If you belonged to my tribe in Ghana, the elders would have sent a party to go in search of your bones already, and if they found alive the resulting fines would guarantee an early grave. For our mental health’s sake, get the gang - Kim, Cfowler and Elmer - to report to duty. While you’re at it find out from Kim where in the DSM she finds that a one time occurrence constitutes “unsafeness.”

Jokes aside, it’s good to see you here again.

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Unfortunately this is true, that’s the way I feel too. Actually, my intuition tells me that, for some reason, Spectrum (or just one, two people?) no longer wanted to have open discussions. First was the “one comment only” policy; then the 7-day duration of discussions; and finally, the violent imposition of the “off topic” policy - but not applicable to all. However, looking at the record of participation in the discussions, it is obvious that “great success” was indeed reached.

I am just voicing these issues since there was an opening to the issue. Nobody has to suspend or me again for saying what I just said - I am NOT planning to resume participation here, because, as Kim @cincerity said, it’s no longer a safe place, due to a constant fear of being flogged. And there are other places that are equally fulfilling and safe anyway.

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Matthew, tanks for your warm and kind words. They reflect many things that I believe in, about being a family here. We used to be a great family - I participated for about 20 years or so. It was always a support group. And I can feel in your words the desire to have that rebuilt. But, I am not sure it’s possible. How do we rebuild confidence when we have a gun constantly pointing at our chest?

You referred to Kim’s statement,

Well, actually there was tension building up. Remember the WebEd scorching me badly when I opposed someone who was saying that racism happens only among white people? That was awfull, to say the least. Which told me at that time, that something changed here seriously. It was obvious then that something changed drastically, and the level of tolerance for free speech was shrank by someone. I just didn’t know that posting Season Greetings was on the list and could have you suspended for 30 days. Maybe I didn’t get the memo on that one?.. :wink:

So, yes, I still have to agree with Kim @cincerity .

By the way, the parakeets are so smart that they always wore a mask, and were the first ones being vaccinated around here. They have been a little depressed though, due to boredom since lately I have not asked them on anything that I could post on Spectrum… :wink: :slight_smile:
Cheers!

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I hear you, Matthew. Thank you. And yes, I think I understand your greater point. Perhaps part of the problem is that your experience with family may differ from that of some of us. Of that I am not certain.

For me family was often not a place of safety. That lack of safety was not limited to the home but extended to the church and to the school. Authority figures within those three settings were not always trustworthy and didn’t always have the safety of those within their care at the top of their list of concerns.

Thankfully, in the case of my own family this acknowledgment was made many years after my departure from the home to establish my own life following my graduation from academy. I have that and appreciate it more each year, more than a decade now after the deaths of my parents.

As for the other two institutions I mentioned. There seems to be no collective conscience in either that suggests amends or acknowledgments of wrongs might be in order, nor do I expect there to be, though it would be good if God’s people were collectively more introspective and proactive in doing so.

The thing is, when safety is violated, as happens in families, or in churches, or in schools, or here on Spectrum, often those who are violated withdraw from those situations as best as they are able, in order to protect what safety remains. Toxicity is, after all, toxicity, and the natural instinct is to withdraw from it. Some of us have lived off and on for years with an added layer of toxicity telling us that it was wrong to keep an arms length from unsafe people or situations. That the best course is to “stay the course”, so to speak, to remain within the context of a lack of safety in order to accomplish what? A hoped for extended hand of reconciliation whilst looking over one shoulder and sleeping with one eye open in order to know when the next unfortunate “incident” might take place?

No, but I do appreciate the sentiment you express. I’m not convinced it would be a healthy course of action. Not when I have other avenues of fellowship where safety seems more assured, as evidenced by the ebb and flow of experience within the fellowship.

As always with your articles, I appreciated this one. I always look forward to them. :slight_smile:

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Thank you John. I appreciate your willingness to discuss why our perspectives might differ due to possible differences in our life experiences. It points to the difficulties inherent in the metaphors we employ in conversations and why we should always be alert to how others interpret them. The word “family,” as you effectively point out, may mean different things to different people based on the contours of our life journeys. So thank you.

But this goes partly to my larger point, that our experiential uniqueness make us almost irreplaceable in conversations. Unless there is someone to point out that our pictures of life are not universal, we may plod along happily thinking they are. I will be the last person to insist that there is value in abusive or “unsafe” relationships or associations. And only the individual can make that judgment for themselves because they bring a set of life experiences through which they filter what is safe and unsafe or abusive and wholesome. In my article and through this dialogue I’ve tried to privilege our shared love for ideas as a means of overcoming other issues. But I also agree with you that for some people, that by itself might not be enough to overcome the safeguards they have in place to feel secure. It is my wish, ultimately, that we continue to share our thoughts in safety with others who appreciate and benefit from them.

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