Speaking as an animal lover (and occasional activist), compassion for all forms of life is important, and that's what I hear Thieme articulating. Undoubtedly the luxury to extend compassion to animals is a rich-country issue, but it's not an exclusive gesture; people who care for animals almost always extend that compassion to people first. I'll wager that animal rights activists are also typically well-informed and involved in ways to alleviate suffering for people in other (or local) parts of the world. (And the reverse is very frequently true as well--people who mistreat animals or think of them just as commodities often treat people the same.)
And, although I'm a vegetarian, I'm not someone who thinks the whole world has to be vegan. It seems improbable, not to mention an idea that would probably have lots of unintended consequences (like the near-extinction of farm animals). However, I am a firm believer in ethical farming practices, which means that all of our animal products (even milk, yogurt and egss) should cost us a lot more than they do, and we should consume a lot less of them. Mechanized, factory-farming should be what goes extinct. (And I'm speaking as someone who spent three years working at a poultry as a teenager.) These ethical concerns about our food choices should extend beyond animals though, even though that's a logical place to start--what about the people who pick our strawberries? What about the shuttering of family farms in the face of large, corporate farms?
by Daneen Akers ________
Peter asked the same question of Christ, "Lord, what about this man?" and Jesus answered, "If I want him to live until I come, what is that to you? Follow me." Basically saying, You follow me and don't spend time worrying about your brother's journey.
One can argue theological (or political)differences but it is hard to object to another's personal experience. As Elwyn says, we each come in with our own set of givens. Thankfully there is no prerequisite of uniformity to the commission, "Go and tell what God has done for you."
However, it's hard for me to believe that there was not a lot of lively and heated discussions in the upper room prior to Pentecost. And when the Holy Spirit descended, the question came to them, "What does this mean?"
I believe that Spectrum contributors are gathered for the same reason - to figure out just what and how the gospel looks and sounds in the 21st century.
And thank you, Bob, for making me think!
by Donna Haerich ________
There is nothing to add. You have fully described the sentiments that students, or anyone experiences when they are coerced to worship. Worship must be fully given from the heart, just as love. Imagine a determined effort to force people to love a dictator. This is what can result from mandated "worship." It becomes repugnant to a truly spiritual person.
How can someone love a God who demands worship?
by Elaine ________
I am proud of being a part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I am proud of being a part of the Puritan-Methodist-Wesleyan-Anabaptist tradition I am proud of being a part of the Protestant community. I am proud of being a part of the Roman Catholic-Western heritage. I am proud of being a part of the Christian Church. I am proud of being a part of the Jewish world. I am proud of being a part of the Monotheistic sphere. I am proud of being a part of the Spiritual realm. I am proud of being a part of the Human race. I am proud of being a part of the Universe.
by HC ________
Tom & Elaine:
As one who reads your stories with much sympathy, I have often asked myself why not join the Episcopal Church or convert back to my ancestral Judaism, maybe Reformed?
In my family there are many Catholics, former Adventists, and one current Adventist (my father's mother); there are several great-uncles, aunts, and distant cousins who are Adventist, but I don't know them well. I currently live with guardians, one who is a Lutheran minister and the other a Catholic who serves as president of the congregation.
My father and uncles were compelled to attend Adventist academy while my mother was forced to go to Mass; both of them had less than ideal experiences with Seventh-day Adventism and Roman Catholicism. They let their parents have limited religious influence on us children.
Ultimately, should I leave Adventism for the Episcopal Church or the Association of Unitarian Universalism or Reformed Judaism (the only three faith traditions that appeal to me, other than Adventism) the issues debated may change, but the fact of there being differences will not.
Adventism has much that inspires me--from people, to theology, to its service to others. It also has much that discourages me--separate white and black conferences, fundamentalism, failure to ordained women to the ministry, exclusion of homosexuals, obsession with exclusionist theology.
Yet with both the inspiration and discouragement--for the better and worst--Adventism has been an identity that has shaped my human experience. The question that looms for me is whether the future of Adventism is constrained by its past or if the future depends on those of us who dare push the boundaries and discover in the process that what may seem to be vitol issues today, will with time, find themselves in the dustbins of history--such is the story concerning the aftermath of the Disappointment; those experiencing the intense emotion of that time had a choice to accept that all is lost or engage the matter further, I submit that for all of the conservatism and fundamentalism that we may find in the church, Adventism has striven to "engage the matter further." I join that tradition with my membership in the Forum.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/370