Reviewing the Review: X Edition

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April 8, 2010 - Vol. 187, No. 10

GENERAL COMMENTS
This issue is pretty standard faire. Two pieces stand out: Cliff Goldstein’s ANOTHER MAN’S SKIN and LESSONS AT THE FEET OF JESUS: THE TESTING OF GEORGE I. BUTLER.

WORLD NEWS & PERSPECTIVES
Two church members were killed in Jos, Nigeria, and six others had their homes burned during an antichristian riot. A police guard protected a newly constructed Adventist church.

James D. Standish was a member of an inter-religious task force that met with President Obama. He “lent the task force an expert grasp on ‘the role that church-state separation and religious freedom play in keeping faith independent and vital’”.

Adventist composer, Marcos Galvany’s opera, Oh My Son, “essentially a series of scenes from the life of Christ”, will debut in New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Jan Paulsen continued his unscripted dialogue with youth living in the Netherlands. Environmental concerns were discussed, as was the church’s position on homosexuality.

REVIEWS
Bill Knott seems to be struggling with his own night of the soul. His editorial, NAMING THE STARS begins with these words: “It takes no special genius to discern the darkness of our day. We wake to news that thousands have perished in the small hours of the night as whole buildings and economies collapsed. We tremble when we learn that entire nations may this month default on massive international debt: in this global village, their great sickness will almost certainly soon be ours.” Thank goodness, “the eternal stars shine through” the darkest night. Hang in there Bill.

In a little more than a month, Kimberly Luste Maran will attend a high school reunion. In PROGRESSION, she reflects on her own memories of those years, and imagines that even “graduates from 50 years ago must still savor bittersweet memories”. Kimberly, I can assure you that the 1959 graduating class of Glendale Union Academy did more than “savor bittersweet memories”. We had a blast!

CLAIMING CONTINUES. Kimberly Luste Maran and Manny Cruz talk about the Just Claim It conference that just took place in Columbus, Ohio. It was “the largest gathering of the church’s youth and young adults in recent memory”. 15,000 Adventists aged 14-35 were expected.
MILES HIGH ON MARRIAGE by Grenville Kent explores temptation and the reasons for fidelity at 30,000 feet. “The airline seated me next to someone with a soft Irish accent, a wicked laugh, blue eyes, long dark hair, and dangerous curves. We talked through the flight, and as the plane made its approach over the lights of New York, she made her approach and invited me to her Manhattan apartment for coffee. I suspect “coffee” means more than a macchiato.”

IN ANOTHER MAN’S SKIN is a MUST READ. Clifford Goldstein just read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and he called it “the most moving, troubling, and insightful book my eyes have pierced in a decade”.

“Malcolm X was a Black Muslim; I’m a Jewish believer in Jesus. Little of his theology, attitudes, and conclusions resonate with me (no doubt, little of mine would have with him, either). I’m not here to praise the man; I’m here to praise his book, which powerfully reinforced for me Jesus’ words “Judge not” (Matt. 7:1, KJV). Sure, actions need to be judged, but The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which put me into another man’s skin (the skin of a different color), showed me the world through another man’s eyes and made me tremble at the thought of judging another man’s soul.” Read more about Malcolm X on Wikipedia.

For readers, like Cliff, who wonder where Malcolm’s life’s journey might have taken him, had he not been assassinated by rival Black Muslims, I offer his comments from a 1965 conversation with Gordon Parks, two days before his death.

“Listening to leaders like Nasser, Ben Bella, and Nkrumah awakened me to the dangers of racism. I realized racism isn't just a black and white problem. It's brought bloodbaths to about every nation on earth at one time or another.

“Brother, remember the time that white college girl came into the restaurant—the one who wanted to help the [Black] Muslims and the whites get together—and I told her there wasn't a ghost of a chance and she went away crying? Well, I've lived to regret that incident. In many parts of the African continent I saw white students helping black people. Something like this kills a lot of argument. I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I'm sorry for now. I was a zombie then—like all [Black] Muslims—I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man's entitled to make a fool of himself if he's ready to pay the cost. It cost me 12 years.

“That was a bad scene, brother. The sickness and madness of those days—I'm glad to be free of them.”

WHO HATH BELIEVED by Elsie Perry Jones is a reminder that only one man is on record as understanding the meaning of his death. “In all that crowd of onlookers and participants, only one person brought a benediction into Christ’s closing hours. Just one humble soul! A thief who knew his own unworthiness was the only one to speak faith in the surety of Christ’s future glory, faith in Christ’s eternal triumph. “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”

(Elsie Perry Jones died on February 2, 2010, one day after she granted the Review the right to publish this essay. She was 95.)

Kameron DeVasher writes about George Butler’s initial opposition to the counsel of Ellen White in LESSONS AT THE FEET OF JESUS: THE TESTING OF GEORGE I. BUTLER. It’s a MUST READ.

“George I. Butler was one of Adventism’s most influential leaders. During his lifetime he served the church in a variety of administrative positions, including president of several conferences, head of two publishing associations, and president of the General Conference on two separate occasions. But for all the positive leadership he provided over the course of his career, those familiar with our denomination’s history likely associate George Butler with one polarizing experience: the 1888 General Conference session. At this session, during his last term as General Conference president, Butler joined with General Conference secretary and Review and Herald editor Uriah Smith to oppose the influence of the two young coeditors of the Signs of the Times, A. T. Jones and
E. J. Waggoner.”

In THE DOWNSIDE OF DIVORCE Angela Baerg takes an honest look at divorce and its consequences. She begins with the following statistic: “By the time they turn 18 years old, about 50 percent of children who were born in 2000 in the United States to parents who were married won’t know what it means to have their parents stay together until “death do they part.”

FACING OUR FEARS by Hyveth Williams talks about fearfulness that has become a way of life. “Legitimate fear is understandable and allowable, but chronic fear is a corrosive and destructive force. It takes away our incentive, kills our sense of adventure, saps our creativity, and makes us hostages of our own imagination so that we ‘play it safe and take no chances’. This fear makes us critical when we should be compassionate, hateful when we ought to be loving, and complainers when we should be compliant.”

STAND STILL is a James Black reflection. “Many of our church members may never know the numerous ways God blessed attendees of the first North American Division “Just Claim It” Youth Prayer Conference held February 28–March 4, 2007, in Dallas, Texas. The objective of this prayer conference—and the second congress scheduled for April 7-11, 2010, in Columbus, Ohio—is to meet the spiritual needs of Adventist youth and help lead them into a closer relationship with Jesus.”

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