May 13, 2010 - Vol. 187, No. 13
GENERAL COMMENTS This issue is worth reading. Bill Knott and Stephen Chavez came through with excellent editorials. The cover feature was a thought provoking MUST READ, there was good advice for college students about the dangers of debt, Clifford Goldstein’s essay is a MUST READ, and Hyveth Williams blew me away with a MUST READ editorial concerning women and the Church. Unfortunately, there were two AARRRRR! moments, but I get to those at the end of the review.
WORLD NEWS AND PERSPECTIVES Roy Adams, Lawrence Geraty, Miroslav Volt, and Henry B. Wright were the featured speakers at the annual, Adventist sponsored seminar in the First Congregational Church, adjacent to the campus of Fuller Theological Seminary. The theme of the conference was The Importance of Scripture for Contemporary Life.
A new Hope Channel media studio at Silver Spring “is the next step in the church’s digital communication commitment”.
The Wall Street investment income of the World Church is rebounding with the strengthening of the dollar. However, income from tithe and mission offerings has fallen off significantly. Officers are cautiously optimistic.
REVIEWS Bill Knott’s editorial, OF FABRIC AND FRENCH SILK, is a refreshing reminder that “that a healthy church community is formed of many more things than those a pastor may initially be interested in.”
In his editorial, HANDLING TRUTH, Stephen Chavez lauds Rotary’s “Four-Way Test of the things we think, say, or do. . .Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”
The cover feature, A CULTURE HUNGRY FOR GOD, was written by Belinda Kent, a missionary who, along with her family, lived with the Iwam People of Papua New Guinea, for eight years.
Along with [my husband and] our three small boys, and later our new baby daughter, [we lived] in a 400-square-foot home, learned how to paddle dugout canoes, and climbed the log ladders into Iwam huts, where we visited and ate with them. We spent eight years playing, working, weeping, laughing, loving, and worshipping among them as we established a church planting movement.
She writes from Berrien Springs, Michigan.
Rather than finding a culture around us antagonistic to spiritual life, we find a culture hungry to experience God, to figure out who He is, if He is real, and if He is relevant and meaningful to daily life. There is a search for a spirituality that is authentic, that improves relationships, and that is a wholistic faith. Unfortunately, for far too many, Christianity is not an option that fills these needs.*
The problem with Western Christianity is that we’ve divorced the knowledge of God from our experience of God. We’ve reduced God to an idea and live life as if He doesn’t exist for us personally. We go to church a couple hours a week, and then go home, living the rest of our lives apart from experiencing Him—which results in a powerless Christianity.
DOES GOD FEEL OUR PAIN? by Walter Booth is an essay that argues that we should be better able to deal with the pain and suffering and horror that “flesh is heir to” because God suffers with us. I’m always uneasy when people tell me what’s happening in God’s mind. What I do know is that Jesus healed people. I assume he did it because he was compassionate and they were suffering.
Melody Tan shares the following financial advice to young people GRADUATING FROM COLLEGE and all the rest of us!
1. Open a bank account. . .and limit yourself to using money from that account only on “rainy days.” 2. Shop around for a bank. 3. Put money aside that is different from your dedicated savings account. 4. Write it down. Know exactly how much money you have spent in a day and how much money you have left. 5. When you see something that you want to buy, especially a big-ticket item, ask yourself if you really need it. 6. Do you need a credit card? If you do, use your credit card as you would a debit card. Spend only what money you actually have. 7. Choose friends wisely. Friends who habitually get into debt will influence the way you spend. 8. Get financial advice.
THE LAST ENEMY by Clifford Goldstein is a beautiful essay about life and living and Christian hope. Here’s a taste.
It’s weird: as I age I sense myself kind of, well, fading. High-pitched sounds bounce off my ears. I need thicker reading glasses to pull letters into my eyes. My muscle tone is dwindling. I’m even, I think, getting shorter! I used to have a head of rich-black, wavy hair that’s now gray, crinkly, thinning. With the exception of a metal plate and seven screws in my ankle (courtesy of a hockey injury last year), I’m evaporating (makes me think of James’s words about us being a “mist,” James 4:14). The only thing I’m adding is negative space, wrinkles—the graffiti of time, which constantly remind me that my stint here is just that, a stint.
Yet again, that paradox: the longer I’m here, the more I put into this world and, thus, the greater its pull, even though there’s less of me to pull on.
LIFE FOR LIFE by Doug Rennewanz is a story about a kidney transplant, a sister’s love, and a special blessing.
In THE TESTIMONY OF TWO WITNESSES, Hyveth Williams tells it like it is!
Even on my servants, both men and women” will God’s Spirit be poured in the last days (Joel 2:29). The word “even” tells us how unusual this is, for it’s the very first time in the entire Old Testament that such an inclusive blessing is promised to slaves/servants. This word predicts that there will be no segregation in God’s true community of faith. And if we really are the remnant church, this will not be named or practiced among us.
For when God planned to send His only begotten Son to die for the sin of the world, He also made provision that His Holy Spirit would be poured out in full measure on males as well as females, so there would be unity in His church, and all would freely share in His everlasting grace!**
BOOKMARK is a review of the book, Parochialism, Pluralism: Challenges to Adventist Mission in Europe (19th–21st Centuries), Adventistica 9 edited by David J. B. Trim and Daniel Heinz, (Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang, 2010), 208 pages, hardcover, $61.95, reviewed by Gerald A. Klingbeil, associate editor of Adventist Review.
The book is divided into 15 chapters, written by 13 authors, and looks at Adventist mission to Europe from a historical as well as a missiological perspective. Trim’s helpful introduction (pp. 9-29), a good read and chockfull of insightful and challenging observations.
AN OLD STARGAZER REMEMBERS. Robert G. Wearner reflects on 90 years of looking at the stars. As part of the celebration of his 90th birthday, he told his story to his grandchildren and us. Thanks Robert.
*Could this be one of the reasons Paul Young’s, The Shack, much maligned in this magazine, has been translated into over 30 languages and become a worldwide best seller?
**I was able to identify the faces and figures of 59 men in this issue and only 15 women. (I counted advertisements and used a magnifying glass.) The size of faces and figures favored men, also.
COMMENTS The INBOX included a letter from Richard Story in which he concludes, “Many have been drawn to a life of witchcraft and worshipping demons because of Harry Potter.” This is the kind of irrational, unsubstantiated rhetoric that makes Christians like me cringe, and nonChristians question the rationality, if not the sanity, of the speaker or writer. I am also prepared to wager that Mr. Story has not read any of the Harry Potter books.
In my opinion, and the opinions of the vast majority of children's book editors and critics, the Potter books belong in the same fantasy genre as Homer’s Odyssey, T. H. White’s The Sword in the Stone, Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising books, Lloyd Alexander’s Pridane Series, and L’Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.
If the decision is made to ban books dealing with the supernatural, we would have to get rid of works by Shakespeare, A Christmas Carole by Charles Dickens, Walt Disney's Snow White and Cinderella, Milton’s Paradise Lost (one of Ellen White’s favorite literary sources), and The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis, where supernatural evil creatures are actually portrayed torturing and killing the defenseless Christ figure, Aslan.
If the claim is made that the Potter books lure children into witchcraft, it follows that the Shirley Temple movies set in the nineteenth century South teach young viewers to be slave holders, or, as John Monk, editorial writer for “The State,” in Columbia, South Carolina, opines “Treasure Island entices children to be pirates, or Peter Pan urges children to run away from home.”
WOMEN’S ORDINATION IS NOT ON THE GC SESION AGENDA because
a canvass of the church’s 13 world church divisions revealed only three willing to accept a change in the current policy of not ordaining women to pastoral ministry, and eight divisions reporting the move would negatively impact membership. Two other divisions apparently did not respond.
I guess “negatively impacting membership” takes precedent over doing the right thing. There are two women who are ordained Adventist ministers in China because the communist state required these women to be ordained if they were to assume leadership positions. It is unconscionable that the presidents of divisions in areas of the world where women face demeaning and unholy discrimination have the authority to continue this worldwide practice for at least another five years, because “ordination under church bylaws is required before certain offices, including election to most executive leadership roles”.
These 10 Division Presidents should be fired for their failure to require their ministers and missionaries to include women as full partners in Christ’s Kingdom. Leave it to a woman to get it right as far as the qualifications for leadership are concerned:
The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.
(Ellen White, Education, page 57)
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2405