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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.
Reviewing the Adventist Review
November 13, 2008
Vol. 185, No. 31
This is a solid issue. I do, however, get tired of the recurring “signs of the end” refrain that permeates all official church literature. Assertions like the following that conclude the cover feature, THE END OF A SIGN, OR A SIGN OF THE END? damage the Church’s credibility with members and nonmembers alike. “While we do not know how much longer time will last, the prophetic periods and signs confirm that truly we are in the end-times.”
One article has earned a Bouquet, and several pieces deserve Honorable Mention
The Inter-American Division is a happening place! IN ONE DAY, ADVENTISTS FEED ONE MILLION. Sabbath, October 11, 2008 was the yearly division-wide Day of Kindness and Compassion. No wonder SDA membership in this part of the world is exploding! Imagine what might happen if instead of “evangelizing” North America in 2009, we spent those millions providing food, education, and healthcare to the poorest of the poor in North America?
INBOX—Letters from Readers
EDITORIALS—thoughtful words from Stephen Chavez and Carlos Medley
RAISING CHILDREN TO DELIGHT IN THE SABBATH by Barbara Ann Kay
THE NIGHT OF MIRACLES by Rosie Boom
I was unprepared for but delighted by the illustration that accompanied Elaine Hayden’s THE POWER AND THE GLORY: A REFLECTION ON JESUS’ GREAT PRAYER BEFORE THE CROSS. The portrait was of a man of African heritage.
I got a little behind with these reviews so I regret posting them late, but we're just about caught up. We are close to almost a whole year of Andy Hanson's reviews. - AC
Reviewing the Adventist Review
October 23, 2008
Vol. 185, No, 30
This issue is a MUST READ! BOUQUETS have been awarded to the following:
EDITORS AND TECHNICAL STAFF for doing an exemplary job
FIVE THINGS I LEARNED FROM MR. ROGERS by Sandra Blackmer
If you’re kind and caring, you can touch the hearts even of criminals. Fred Rogers’ car was once stolen from near the TV station where he worked. The story was picked up by the media, and, incredibly, the car was returned to the spot from which it was stolen. On the dashboard was a note: “If we’d known it was yours, we never would have taken it.”
DO WE LOOK FOR ANOTHER by Ed Dickerson
True to our name, Adventists are students of last-day events, often attempting to identify the movements, causes, or even individuals God will use as specific instruments to fulfill His Word. A few among us invest countless hours filling in intricate, highly specific charts that detail the precise nature, order, and relationships of the final events of earth’s history, demonstrating, I think, a desperate desire to accurately predict the future.
But that is not our proper role. Rather than building faith in God, such an approach seeks to replace faith with knowledge. It springs from a desire to walk by sight, rather than by faith. And if John the Baptist and the Millerites could misinterpret events, so can we.
KIDS VIEW editors, young writers and poets, and graphic designers
ONE DAY AT THE LAUNDROMAT: WHAT DO YOU SAY TO A NAKED MAN by Sheryl Mostert Young
Before I could change my mind I grabbed my box of laundry soap and walked over to the man. I tried to look directly into his eyes. For the first time in my life I stuttered: “Hi, I, uh, I noticed you might be a quarter or two short and I have extras. Can I help you start your machine?”
HONOR THY FATHER? SHOULD WE FORGIVE NO MATTER WHAT? by Ann Hanawalt
So here I was, sitting in the jail’s visiting room wondering what to say. I knew the girl he had molested—a 7-year-old with long blond hair and trusting blue eyes. She and her family had befriended Dad while his wife was suffering from cancer. They mourned with him when she died. They included him in family gatherings and outings. They had trusted him, and he had molested their daughter.
FIGHTING A KILLER by Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless
We continue to be saddened by women who decline [breast cancer] therapies that can save their lives (and have been clearly documented to do so) in favor of untested, unproven, and often disastrous forays into such things as fruit and vegetable juicing.
In previous articles this month we’ve considered:
In this article we will consider Adventist Forum funding as a whole and how that relates to the website.
First, consider these actual Adventist Forum income totals for the 2008 fiscal year (July 2007-June 2008):
Income Source Amount AF Membership $49,441 Advertising $5,623 Sales $4,045 AF Board & Advisory Council $116,535 Other Contributions $8,988 Total $184,632
Now, some explanation as to what each Income Source means.
AF Membership income is from subscriptions to Spectrum magazine. People who subscribe are considered to be members of Adventist Forum. Note also that this income doesn’t even come close to fully paying magazine costs (i.e. production and editor salaries), so cannot provide spill-over funding for the website.
Advertising revenue means ads placed in the magazine and/or website. This income source has much more potential than these totals would indicate. We have, since these ’08 Fiscal Year numbers were totaled, hired an advertising coordinator. That adds cost but also, in our case, has significantly increased revenue. So there is a net gain here that is still growing.
Sales include: books published by Adventist Forum, back issues of Spectrum, etc. Basically anything we might choose to sell. Income from this category has, in the past, varied widely. The above figure is mostly income from some books published by Spectrum (note that there is a link to a tiny Spectrum Website store on the Home page menu bar, where these materials can be purchased). But there is no ongoing effort to produce future books for sale. This would actually be something well within AF’s mission and something we would like to do more of. But for every venture there must be corresponding effort. And a small organization has to choose where to place its resources. In addition, we would like to significantly increase the type and quantity of offerings in our on-line store. Perhaps this will be realized during 2009.
But, as you see above, almost 2/3 of last fiscal year’s income came from either the AF Board of Directors or a group known as the Spectrum Advisory Council. This second group is comprised of committed supporters who contribute at least $500 per year to ensure AF’s continuing financial stability. A current list of these people is published in each issue of Spectrum magazine, on the inside back cover.
The Other Contributions category is from people – such as magazine subscribers or website readers – who contribute amounts smaller than $500.
Now it is evident when looking at past revenue that a relatively small number of people have provided the majority of funding. This means there is a significant inversion between readers and supporters. And it would seem both unrealistic and inappropriate to expect a major reversal of this few-serve-many equation. But what does seem both reasonable and appropriate is to decrease this disparity somewhat by asking you, our readers, to become more involved as partners in this venture by providing greater overall financial support. Some of you should consider whether your finances and priorities allow and motivate you to be major sustainers by becoming Advisory Council members ($500 or above). But certainly, the great majority of those who visit this website will not have that ability. To you we would ask you to consider a much more modest contribution of, say, $10, $20 or $50. This is well within the means of perhaps most of our readers. And many responses at this level would make a major difference to us.
Finally, as this calendar year comes to a close many of you will consider both your tax situation and what discretionary tax-deductable contributions you want to make. For American readers please note that Adventist Forum is a qualified 501c-3 organization and gifts are fully tax-deductable.
Chairman - Adventist Forum Revenue/Finance Committee
I should have had this up on December 10. It was the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I challenge (for fun) anyone to go over to Religious Liberty.tv (the emerging undistracted voice in Adventist religious liberty issues) and read the entire declaration (it's short). Is there anything with which you disagree?
“Uncle” David Gates wants you to know that we are living on the edge of a cataclysmic convergence of global crises in the final months of Earth’s history. Jesus will certainly come back no later than 2031. In the coming months, the American economy will utterly collapse, the military will “seal” and prevent entry into or exit from all major cities, and soldiers will come and remove the bodies. Just like Katrina, Gates says.
If you’re making 20-year plans, you are just demonstrating your ignorance. Your money is already worthless, you will not be able to buy any food, and if you are not planting a garden already, you’re toast. Oh, and by the way, if you watch soap operas, listen to “worldly” music, or read “worldly” literature, you’re not going to make it, sorry. 144,000 Adventists who will be saved? Probably an exaggeration, Gates says.
Watch Gates Discuss the Coming Crises
Short version of similar presentation
Now I recognize that this is probably not the best time to be Ben Bernanke, but predicting the immanent death of most Americans and saying and the army will swoop in and pick up the corpses? Come on! What is going on here?
It would be one thing if this were coming from a man in a cave claiming to see visions, but this is an associate director for ADRA, a guy with several television stations in South America, millions of dollars in assets, and an email list of tens of thousands of Adventists! This is someone who speaks to Adventist audiences around the globe, and is probably Adventism’s most famous (and sought after) missionary.
And he is asking you, Seventh-day Adventists, to get serious about mission work. Sell your stuff, because it’s going to be worthless anyhow, and invest everything in saving souls.
Gates is not alone. Look at these excerpts from a piece by G. Edward Reid, the North American Division stewardship director. The article is entitled Last Generation Gives All.
Quoting Ellen White:
Commenting on the Widow's Mite:
Ed Reid (see his Even At the Door) and David Gates both push a looming doomsday scenario fortified with dire financial predictions (those $100 bills will soon be used for toilet paper, Gates says). Both Reid and Gates do ministry structured around benevolent giving—Gates to fund multi-million dollar mission projects, and Reid as the North American Division stewardship czar.
Tossing homiletical and hermeneutical ethics out the window, both blur the lines between eschatological expectancy and terror-tinged guilt trips. The message, in essence, is that in light of the Economic Armageddon (Reid’s term) that is almost upon us, you’re crazy to cling to money or property. Give it to the work of saving souls instead (if you’ll just sign here…). Otherwise, it’ll be gone anyhow.
We’ve been down this road before—the Qumran community went there, the Millerites went there, the Branch Dividians went there… If anything, those events ought to serve as cautionary tales that temper what Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Professor of Religion at George Washington Univeristy Paul B. Duff calls “crisis mongering.”
Duff notes the ostensibly successful tactic of crisis mongering—creating a crisis or exacerbating an unstable situation so that a crisis might result—serves to rally a community around a common purpose and to ensure the indispensability of a charismatic leader. Or in our case, to persuade people to relinquish their assets for the sake of saving more souls.
I am certain that both Ed Reid and David Gates fully expect to see Jesus come within the next few years. Nobody should doubt their sincerity. At the same time, Qumran, Ascension Rock, and Waco all stand as sobering reminders of the potential consequences of selling the farm in the face of apparent coming crises.
After all those previous end-time episodes, here we are.