March 18, 2010 - Vol. 187, No. 8
GENERAL COMMENTS This issue motivated me. I’m almost a vegetarian, and I think WHAT ARE WE REALLY DOING TO GOD’S CREATURES pushed me over the line. For that I am truly thankful. DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL motivated me to once again speak out as strongly as I can against the Adventist Church’s official position regarding homosexuality. To have to do that again makes me want to pull my hair out. Thank goodness for Stephen Chavez’s editorials: THERE IS A DIFFERENCE and LET’S CLIMB OUT OF THE BOX. I felt his calming hand on my shoulder.
THE INBOX Two letters caught my attention. The first, from Frank McMillan, made the point that the words we use can have unintended consequences. In the Review of February 11, referencing Adventists Among Fatalities in Haiti Earthquake, Haitian Earthquake, survivors were told, “We are saddened for the members we lost in this tragedy and yet are so thankful that the Lord spared you. . .We thank God that He took care of most of our people. . .” By implication, the Lord did not spare some of the Haitian members and God did not take care of some of our people.
Keith R. Mundt, made this timely suggestion referring to the article, The Decision (That No On Wants to Make) in the January 21, Review. “I appeal to Adventist Health to develop a vision, plans, and a mission statement to assist young adults who need to make serious decisions for loved ones needing long-term care.”
WORLD NEWS AND PROSPECTIVES In the two preceding months, the Adventist Church lost three of our best. In January, Arthur Griffith died. He was a deaf ministry pioneer and the first ordained deaf Adventist minister. In February, Harold D. Singleton and Maurice T. Battle passed away. Elder Singelton was the first President of the South Atlantic Conference; Elder Battle was a Former World Church Associate Secretary and was instrumental in the Adventist Church’s efforts to dismantle apartheid in South Africa.
Jan Paulsen continued series of unscripted dialogues with the young people of Inter-America, and the multilingual Bible toured the Dominican Republic on its worldwide journey to the General Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
REVIEWS HELP FOR HAITI—AND HUMANITY by Kimberly Luste Maran reminds readers that, “We can offer aid to Haiti and—on a grander scale—humanity. If you can give big, do it! But also remember that small things make a difference, sometimes a world of difference.”
I’m a fan of Stephen Chavez. His editorial, THERE IS A DIFFERENCE, is so down-to-earth sensible that discovering it in the Review blew me away! It’s a definite MUST READ!
Whether we’re talking about Harry Potter, the Left Behind series, or The Vampire Diaries, no useful purpose is served when we engage the public in a discussion about fiction as if it were fact. Most people know the difference between the two.
The only thing such a debate reveals is that Christians are easily sidetracked about matters that most of society sees as entertainment, not doctrine.
If we want to be known as defenders of the truth, we have plenty of real error to oppose. But if we can’t tell the difference between the two, we’ll earn nothing but scorn from those who’ll think, Poor Christians—they don’t know the difference between fact and fiction.
TRY ANYTHING by Connie W. Nowlan is a lovely parable about an aerialist who discovers that there is nothing to fear if your father is your catcher, and he knows when you’re ready to fly.
The cover story, WHAT ARE WE REALLY DOING TO GOD’S CREATURES? by Sigve Tonstad is a MUST READ. As I said earlier, I’m now a vegetarian!
“We should expand the emphasis from an interest in personal health to include an interest in ecology and of ethics and ecotheology. We should give additional reasons for our food choices, raise the prominence of the issue, and get more serious about advocacy for change. We cannot afford to have just this nice, private piety that is interested only in what we put on our tables. We have to hear the plea of nonhuman creation, be sensitive to the abuse that is happening.
“I wish our universities would provide an education for people interested in careers in advocacy and public policy. If we did that, we would find many allies and would become more involved in dialogue with other sensitized communities that ponder these questions with convictions and sensitivities that are sometimes lacking in the Christian world.”
VISION FOR OUTREACH is an eye-opener. The outreach opportunities associated with ASI (Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries) are limited only by the imagination. Norman Reitz, the Association’s President, asks readers to “visit the ASI Web site www.asiministries.org to see how you can become involved, either as a member or supporter of ASI. There is a place in the ASI family for any member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church who is sincerely interested in sharing the gospel.”
CAFETERIA: MEETING PLACE MORE THAN AN EATING PLACE is the place to hang out according to Jarrod Lutz.
“Mealtimes are a chance to slow down and realize that life is so much more than the time in between assignments. A meal can be better defined as a memory. As sad as this may sound, the ideal situation for any Friday afternoon is arriving at the cafeteria at lunch and not having reason to leave until after dinner.”
In PLUGGED IN AND READY TO GO Gerald A. Klingbeil shares the following insights from Jesus' devotional life.
“1. Adapt your lifestyle to your convictions. . .2. Learn to live with silence and tranquility. . .3. Remember that worship is not only an intellectual exercise. Meditate and listen. . .4. Do not get discouraged. Try again. . .5. Live on a balanced spiritual diet. Build change into your devotional time. . .6. Practice the presence of God. The Creator of the universe is ready to spend time with you.”
THE LOST MEANING OF THE SEVENTH DAY by Sigve Tonstad is a book review by Peter M. van Bemmelen who believes it to be “the most significant study of the seventh-day Sabbath published by a contemporary Adventist.”
CHURCH TRENDS is a MUST READ. Monte Sahlin has some very interesting news and identifies some invaluable resources.
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America stepped across a significant demographic threshold in 2008. For the first time there is no ethnic majority. Whites made up just 50 percent of the members, and people of color made up the other 50 percent.
“Dealing successfully with growing ethnic diversity requires creating an atmosphere in which people can talk honestly, ask questions openly, and learn to listen carefully. Adventist churches may target certain segments of the community as a matter of missional effectiveness, but they must also be open, welcoming, and inclusive fellowships that portray the reality of God’s love for all.
Resources Seventh-day Adventists in North America: A Demographic Profile (can be obtained from the Center for Creative Ministry web site at or 800-272-4664). Additional updates can be found on the Web site produced by the Bradford-Cleveland-Brooks Leadership Center at Oakwood University.
LET’S CLIMB OUT OF THE BOX is another thoughtful reflection on Adventist life by Carlos Medley.
“Adventist churches do a great job of providing the best for their members. We have scores of talented musicians; we cook healthful, nutritious food; we offer quality education for children as well as a litany of youth activities. In many churches you’ll even find active senior ministries and special programs for singles.
“Unfortunately, most of these ministries are just for us. What a difference we could make by being more intentional about sharing our gifts with our communities. We might find a world that’s longing for the gifts and blessings we take for granted.”
COMMENT DON’T ASK DON’T TELL by Fredrick A. Russell is a huge disappointment. Elder Russell is on the fence when it comes to the military’s policy, and claims a scriptural foundation for his belief that “homosexuality—in practice—is a sin”.
When I grew up in Glendale, California, in the forties and fifties, I thought African Americans, like you, Fred, were descendants of Ham, Noah’s son who saw him naked and was cursed by God. According to the story I was told, he and his family had their skins turned black and were doomed to be slaves and servants thereafter. The Bible also told us white people to treat you kindly and give you a break from working on the Sabbath. Since homosexuals were not mentioned, I didn’t grow up to think they meant me any harm.
Adventists, like all Christians of the literalist persuasion, pick the Bible admonitions they choose to honor. I’m glad we don’t treat women as badly as they were treated in the Old Testament and have decided, against the advice of St. Paul, to allow them to speak in church and even hold church office. Why not just skip over other pronouncements of ignorant biblical authors?
Fred, I wish I could introduce you to my students and friends who are Christian and gay. It sounds to me like you are just ignorant when you talk about homosexuality as “a choice”; when you speak of your concern “that there seems to be a well-designed plan to impose the gay lifestyle on everyone.” You claim to be “fine with private choices, but uncomfortable when those choices are forced on me”. Fred, I got the Civil Rights Act forced on me, and when that happened, fortunately, I cheered!
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2296