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With all due respect to William Johnsson, I found his recent editorial entitled "What the election of Obama means to Adventists" embarrassing.
Though nobly emphasizing the importance of this event for African-Americans, this editorial managed to successfully marginalize a group of Americans and it propagated the unacceptable concept of "us" versus "them." While his words aim to highlight the importance of hope and unity, this editorial misses a greater point. I believe it is impossible for us to have intellectual unity with different types of people if we subscribe to the notion of "I can not fully understand them."
Johnsson began by correctly asserting, regarding Obama winning the election, "Many people have a vague sense of something big happening before their eyes, that they are living through a kairos, a moment when the wheel of history has turned sharply." He makes a critical point by noting that many people were pleased, along with the rest of this world, about this "something big happening before their eyes." I agree with him that not all were pleased that Obama won, because many Americans voted otherwise. But pleased because, Yes, our country has its first biracial president-elect. Like Johnsson touches on, Obama's youth, political beliefs and powerful message of hope are not the kairos we are experiencing together; they are all great things, but not firsts for our American history. What all Americans are experiencing together, including the ones who voted for someone other than Obama, is that American history will never be the same now that we will have our first biracial president. Was it inevitable? Most likely. Was it surprising? Maybe not. That does not need to make it any less thrilling to us all.
But then the article states only one group of Americans are able to "stand a little taller," and "their eyes shine brighter." He writes African-Americans are experiencing this kairos phenomenon to a higher degree than the Americans who are not of the African race. This is a dangerous concept because it marginalizes African-Americans by creating division within America's varied racial groups. Are we one America or not? Is there one American history being written or are there two? Let us unite and share this phenomenal moment together, standing taller, eyes shinning brighter, as one body.
Then he writes, "Those of us who do not share that history of horse-whips, lynchings, segregated water fountains, slights, insults and denial of the right to vote can never enter fully the experience of black Americans … No, we cannot enter, but we can watch from outside, and rejoice in their rejoicing, whether we voted Democrat or Republican." I believe we must remember that Obama's mother is white and his father is directly from Kenya. By Johnsson's definition, not even Obama can rejoice to the full extent of the 12.8% of people who identity themselves as African-Americans in the USA. Johnsson's premise is noticeably unsuitable for Obama's racial heritage. What I think is even more critical is to understand that "horse-whips" and "lynchings" infected the souls of African-Americans no less than other Americans. Inhumanity to humans poisons all sides equally; the perpetrators, the bystanders, and the victims.
Some may argue that we can not truly understand a person who had a different set of experiences or background. I can appreciate this idea to an extent, but believe it is an incomplete concept. If you follow the thought on it's logical path, you separate every human from each other: Nobody, not even identical twins, shares all of the same experiences in their life. God created us with blessed individuality, but gave us hearts to connect to each other. It is true, we can not literally step inside another person's brain with it's unique thoughts and emotions. But this is precisely why I think we should say to each other, "Even though we have different backgrounds and perspectives, you can understand me if you listen to my story." We can value the God-given action of connecting. By doing this we can honor each other as equals who possess the ability to use our imaginations and connect. Without denying our differences, we can come together as one.
This is why I disagree with Johnsson's idea that different American racial groups necessarily experience the impact of Obama's election to a varied degree. I believe this concept misses what hope for humanity should look like and what Obama's message was really about. In the 1st century AD, Paul wrote to new believers in modern day Turkey, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28; NASB). Although slavery was an issue of class, not race at that time, it was still an inhumane arrangement for all sides of the institution: owners of slaves, slaves themselves, and those aware but not participating.
Paul was not saying we must ignore the differences between each other, but that we need to advance by realizing we can be one in Christ Jesus. Paul's message was to unite believers and we can use it to help us understand what America should strive for today. We can transpose Paul's mantra to unite all types of Adventists today: There is neither conservative nor liberal, there is neither mixed race nor unmixed race, there is neither upper class nor lower class, there is neither intersexed nor solitary gendered; for we are all one in Christ Jesus.
A 2005 graduate of Andrews University, Heather M. May taught ESL in South Korea for the SDA church from 2005-2006. She worked at Southwestern Adventist University from 2006-2008 and is headed to Graduate school.
Once upon a time there lived a poor man named Christian who had a very limited wardrobe. It consisted of only one garment - a robe given to him by his Lord as a present. He wore it to church every week and was content. He didn't care much for fashion and paid no attention to what others were wearing.
Now it so happened that there also lived an itinerant tailor who roamed the earth from end to end. One afternoon he knocked on Christian's door.
"Excuse me, sir", said the tailor. "I attend at your church from time to time and couldn't help notice your shabby robe. It stands out in sharp contrast from some of the real classy dressers in your congregation. So I took it upon myself to inquire and see if I might be of some assistance. I am, in all modesty, the finest tailor in the Christian world. I have designed clothes for some famous churchmen, whose names might surprise you. But I even make clothes for average people like you. In fact, I've created whole wardrobes for many in your congregation. Perhaps you've noticed?"
Christian admitted he hadn't. Then he looked down at his garment. It looked fine, even beautiful. But he was a bit flattered that such a popular tailor would be willing to sew for him.
"Well", said Christian. "I've never paid much attention to how I'm dressed. But I would like the others in church to think well of me."
The tailor smiled and discreetly edged his foot in the door.
"I can see already that you're a man of good taste. But let me tell you more."
"I will make for you a handsome suit of clothes. It will be made of the finest material, which I myself will weave. But here is the most remarkable thing - the material is invisible to those who do not truly know God."
"Why that's amazing!" said Christian to the tailor, who by now was standing in the front hallway. Christian felt strangely excited. "No one in church ever notices me", he thought, and looked down again at his robe.
It was very plain.
"Yes sir", he said. "I believe I'd like a suit like that."
"Fine", said the tailor. "I was sure you would." He whisked away, then returned in a flash with his equipment - loom, cutting table, etc. which he promptly set up in Christian's living room.
"Now", he said. "Let's decide what kind of suit would look best on you. Are you intellectual?"
"Well, I don't know", said Christian. "Why do you ask?"
"Oh, I've made some marvelous suits out of intellectual material", said the tailor. "I have some Higher-Critical thread that might weave up just fine. Perhaps with a matching eschatological vest, an existential hat, a pair of antinomian loafers ...".
"Well, I don't know", said Christian. "I dress a bit more conservatively than that."
"Ah, conservative! Something along traditional lines. Yes, yes. I often make clothes like that. Let's see ... something zealous! Perhaps some heresy-resistant material would be best. A nice blend of upholding-the-standards and avoiding-evil."
The tailor paused. "No, that's not quite you. Yes, I have it. For you we need something middle-of-the-road. A nice triple-weave of attendance, loyalty and tithing. Something comfortable, right? Woven from the finest thread - imported from Laodecia. Then maybe a hat that will keep out the sun, a sturdy pair of shoes that will go the second mile. Nothing flashy, just durable. Clothes that you know will take you through to the kingdom."
With that the tailor began to set up his loom. But to Christian's shock - there was no thread!
"Oh dear", he thought. "Could it be that I do not truly know God?"
"Look", said the tailor. "See how durable, yet fine the thread is". He held his empty hands out toward Christian. "Do you like it?"
"Uh, yes", said Christian. "Superb."
The tailor smiled to himself, then began threading the loom. All afternoon he worked, the shuttle clacking back and forth across the empty loom. Evening came. Finally he finished weaving and elaborately removed the finished product. He carefully carried the pile of air to the cutting table.
"See how beautifully muted the pattern is?" he said. "Such strong and durable cloth."
Christian squinted. Could he see it? It must be there, it must be! "Why yes", he thought, "I believe I can see it. I'm not a spiritual giant like the tailor but I believe I can even make out the pattern. Knowing God is certainly harder than I thought, but", he squinted harder, "I do believe I'm making progress."
Now the tailor was fitting the pieces and the suit began taking shape. On through the night he worked. Dawn came. At last he was finished.
"There!" he exclaimed, holding up a bare coat hanger. "Look at it."
Christian raised his head from the arm of the couch where he'd been sleeping and rubbed his eyes. Was it there?
"Oh my, my", said the tailor. "No time to lose. You'll be late for church. Here, let's try it on."
Christian took off his robe and was helped into the suit.
"Look in the mirror", said the tailor. "Isn't it great?"
Christian looked at his jockey shorts. "Great."
"I knew you'd love it. Here's the bill. I take Visa or MasterCard."
Christian was stunned. The price was enormous! Why hadn't he asked about the price to begin with? Too late. The tailor whisked Christian's Visa card out and ran it through his machine.
"Sign here. You're late for church."
"Better hurry along", said the tailor, pushing Christian toward the door. "I'll let myself out."
Christian stood on the porch. It certainly was cold out here. He looked at his watch. "My, I AM late", he thought, and began to run. He ran the several blocks to church, up the steps and into the lobby, out of breath. Then he remembered. His new clothes! And he looked down at himself. He was standing in his underwear. An edge of panic began creeping up. He looked around the lobby. And there was the Head Deacon – standing in HIS underwear. And there was the Choir Director and Education Superintendent - standing the THEIR underwear. It seemed like half the lobby was underdressed!
"Good to see you, Christian", said Deacon George. "Say, that's a sharp suit you've got on. I've been wondering when you'd get some new clothes."
"Uh, you look good yourself, George." Christian stared at George's long johns.
"You know, I think we have the same tailor."
Rich Hannon is a software engineer who lives in Salt Lake City. His reading interests focus on philosophy and medieval history.
A ranking of the number of visits per city over the last year.
8 Los Angeles
7 Evans, Georgia (I wonder who lives here. : )
6 Monterey Park, California
5 New York
4 Casselberry, Florida
3 West Hollywood
1 Loma Linda
Others in the top 25 in descending order of visits.
Dallas (holds the highest non-Spectrum employee time on site record with an average of 10:39 minutes per visit.) The average visitor spends 4:51 per visit.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our precious father and husband. Shortly after midnight on Saturday, December 20, Samuele Bacchiocchi breathed his last breath. During his last breaths, he was surrounded by his three children and wife of 47 years (today would have been his 47th wedding anniversary), and we read together 2 Timothy 4:6-8: "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." This quote sums up the life of a man who sacrificed practically all of his time and energy to help others understand the Bible more fully, even up to end as he gave his last seminar in England the Sabbath before being taken to the emergency room.
We are very grateful that we could all be together at this time and believe that it is fitting that God chose the Sabbath day, the day that he loved most and spent his life preaching and writing about, to be the day that he entered into his final earthly rest. We take comfort in the fact that the next time he will open his eyes he will see his Lord and Savior, and that we will be reunited with him in heaven. His incredible journey here on earth has come to an end, but may we continue his legacy until Jesus returns!
The funeral services will be held this coming Sabbath, December 27, at 4:00 pm at the Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan.
We would like to thank each and every one of you again for the incredible outpouring of love and prayers that have provided us with supernatural peace and comfort during this difficult time. We are privileged to be a part of this extraordinary community of faith.
If any of you would like to send a message to the Bacchiocchi Family, we encourage you to send it to any of the following addresses of his children: Loretta Bacchiocchi, at email@example.com, Gianlucca Bacchiocchi at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Daniel Bacchiocchi at email@example.com.
May God richly bless you all,
The Bacchiocchi Family
Continuing our Top 10 "end of the year" countdown, here are the top ten countries in terms of visits to Spectrum.
All total we have:
337,891 visits from 205 countries/territories
10 Argentina* 1,872
9 Germany 2,005
8 Chile 2,006 (that was close)
7 Brazil 2,106
6 Spain 2,413
5 Mexico 2,861
4 Australia 10,189
3 United Kingdom 11,423
2 Canada 11,976
1 United States 256,940
With all the Spanish speaking countries, kudos to Johnny and our Café Hispano team.
* just barely beat out South Africa at 1,839 which gets an honorable mention at 11th.
Here on the Spectrum Blog we're taking it a little easy through the holidays and counting our blessings. As the site inches toward the big one million pageviews mark we're going to be counting several year end top ten lists. The first is the top ten most read articles this year on the whole Spectrum site.
And the number one post on Spectrum. . .
1 Before He Speaks: Pastors' Wives Parody with 69,647 pageviews.
Which post, on this list or not, was your favorite this year?
You may or may not know that I represent the Adventist Peace Fellowship on the National Religious Committee Against Torture (NRCAT). They have a couple of things that I hope you are willing to do in your church:
1. A powerful 6 minute video is available on the NRCAT website of several speakers from a conference in Atlanta recently that was co-sponsored by Evangelicals for Human Rights and NRCAT. These speakers from various faith traditions describe why their faith led them to oppose torture. It can be used as a discussion-starter or simply to educate your congregation.
2. NRCAT is still looking for believers willing to sign a petition called "Declaration of Principles for a Presidential Executive Order Banning Torture," especially before the Inauguration. You can help this effort by putting a "web sticker" or banner on your organization's web site that will encourage visitors on your site to endorse the Declaration. There are two versions of these. More information is below. NRCAT is asking only that you keep this on your web site until January 21.
The codes that your web master will need are below each of the web stickers. If you have any difficulty using the web sticker, please call NRCAT at 202-547-1920.
Click to get this wiget.
Please go to this website, to tell NRCAT that you have put a web sticker on your web site.
Reviewing the Adventist Review
November 20, 2008
Vol. 185, No. 32
This edition of the Review is worth reading cover to cover. I have some comments, of course, but the magazine is edited well, informative, and more often than not, inspirational.
One Bouquet has been earned along with four Honorable Mentions.
The cover article, THINK GLOBAL—ACT ADVENTIST is truly a “vision of what the contemporary church could be. Won K. Yoon speaks eloquently of a global outlook that is open, inclusive, and creative. He closes with the following words.
“We Adventists must either develop a global attitude or experience increasing difficulties in our attempt to convey our message to our contemporaries. The church has established a solid global hardware, so to speak. But it now needs to develop a global software—namely, its people. The new wine of present truth needs a new wineskin.”
INBOX—Letters from Readers
I didn’t know that there are nearly 325,000 members and more than 451 organized churches and congregations in Haiti. They, along with their countrymen STRUGGLE WITH DEVASTATION FROM FOUR MAJOR HURRICANES. Adventist volunteers along with ADRA are working to help victims in the worst hit areas. (There is no better Christmas gift than an ADRA gift card!)
REJECTING THE CURE by Connie J. Beehler
THE SILENCE IN BETWEEN by Dixil L. Rodriguez
I have two concerns. One is factual; the other is theological.
FACTUAL: There are reasons why the title, Clear Word, does not include “Bible”. It could, if it were a legitimate paraphrase, but it isn’t! It is a “bible” rendered consistent with the interpretations supplied by Ellen White without regard for the plain words of the Biblical authors. The Review and Herald Publishing Association knows this, as evidenced by the title, but it is advertised in the Review as a “popular paraphrase”. The advertised audio CD is doubly misleading in that the “Clear Word” in italics is followed by the plain text “New Testament”. The type is small but the intent to mislead is again present.
THEOLOGICAL: This issue contains a pullout titled, The New Believers Plan. It is an attempt to get free subscriptions of the Review into the hands of new converts. That is an admirable endeavor. However, in this attempt to “sell” the Review, Bill Knott advertises Cliff Goldstein as an author that will “continue to offer new believers plenty of evidence why biblical faith is the only viable alternative in a sea of relativism”. It is difficult for me to agree with Knott’s assessment in light of Goldstein’s editorial writing. His reactionary essays are provocative rather than enlightening.
Knott goes on to assert that Angel Rodriguez will give new converts the “tools for talking with their neighbors and friends”. I don’t know the “tools” to which he is referring, but only occasionally does Rodriguez provide answers that do not confuse the issue under discussion.