This 'Adventist Home'

(system) #1

By Alexander Carpenter

Recently, This American Life played a tape recorded by a family in Berrien Springs, MI for their son who was -- at the time -- a medical student at Loma Linda University. Years later, the tape was found in a Chicago thrift store.

This is amazing documentary evidence of an Adventist family -- mother, father and daughter -- struggling for money, spiritual meaning, and emotional connection. I found the mix of religious quest, marriage issues and plodding self-discovery the wife fascinating. Among this raw confusion of human discomfort, desire, and dubious humor, this provokes questions about how we read our spiritual state through our biological relationships.

Like Sharon's visual representation in the post below, this auditory map marks a very personal -- and "presently true" for them -- landscape of Adventism. Also, there is a reference to a "Carl" Hamel, if anyone knows more on that story, please share.

Accidental Documentaries: Act One. Berrien Springs, Michigan, Circa 1967.

A Midwestern family records a "letter on tape" to their son, who is in medical school in California. Three decades later, the recording somehow ends up in a thrift store. The tape gives a complicated portrait of what goes on among the family members. Mother wishes that Father were more religious. Daughter is miffed because Dad won't help her solve her financial problems. Dad tells corny jokes, talks enthusiastically about machines and extrusions and drills used for the family business run from the basement—a business everyone else in the family resents. And after the old tape ends, Ira interviews the son they were sending these to, Arthur Davis, who's now a doctor in California. (26 minutes)Listen here.

Scroll down a bit and click on the third button underneath the photo, titled "Full Episode."

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at