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Yesterday I met Hume, today I begin an affair with Nietzsche. I tried reading Birth of Tragedy last year, thinking it fit to start at the beginning of his writings. It is his worst work as well as earliest, however, and his critique of Greek art was too foreign to me. I felt like I might be corrupted by his approach to the matter, since I could not contextualize his opinions.
Today I opened Genealogy of Morals, and have already found it to be almost as exciting and relevant to my questions as Hume's Of the Standard of Taste was last night (Which I stayed up 'till 4 AM exploring -- making for easily eight hours of reading and writing [unposted]).
He opens up with a word to the difficulty of what we might call today emotional intelligence, or "EQ," which is the making the most of our experiences and synthesizing wisdom from them:
"We are unknown to ourselves, we men of knowledge -- and with good reason. We have never sought ourselves -- how could it happen that we should ever find ourselves?" -- Nietzsche
It is hard enough to marshal the experiences I have had into the full educational potential they hold. Lord knows many fail utterly at finding clarity and wisdom, even if they have a century of experience. My writing shows, I hope, the serious nature of my efforts to induce truth from the details of my life.
And yet my experience, and necessarily my wisdom, is severely limited. Even if the induction process (Experience => world view) were pure (Which it is not), my father and I have very different experiences. And that's not to mention people further from me: drug addicts, Buddhists, Taiwanese, French, and ancient Greeks, just to name a few. To confront something so large as truth -- be it via philosophy or science -- is a daunting task to undertake. Experience is the key, and yet we have so little:
"Whatever else there is in life, so-called 'experiences' -- which of us has sufficient earnestness for them? Or sufficient time?" -- Nietzsche
This is why I want to go to Africa, or otherwise have adventures -- international, intellectual, and industrial. Wisdom and clarity come to the ignorant only as hoaxes, and so my ignorance haunts me like Marx's spectre.
The point is that I resonate with Nietzsche's opening paragraphs, and have added him to the list of intellectual crannies ("Experiences") I would like to explore.
Soundtrack and scenes from Dead Man (1995), directed by Jim Jarmusch. Music by Neil Young.
It stars Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Billy Bob Thornton, Iggy Pop, Crispin Glover, John Hurt, Michael Wincott, Lance Henriksen, and Robert Mitchum (in his final role).
Okay, not exactly as global as Coca Cola, but this month, two Adventist Forum chapters will be hosting discussions of the REDbooks play.
Dr. Steve Parker writes from Aberfoyle Park, Australia:
Apologia: Red Books: Our Search for Ellen White
Sabbath afternoon, 29 November, 3:00-5:00, Morphett Vale Church. "Red Books: Our Search for Ellen White" is interview-based documentary theatre that explores the Seventh-day Adventist community's relationship with one of its founders, Ellen G. White.
Using excerpts from some 200 interviews with current and former Adventists, the play travels through four generations of our denomination and their perspectives on Ellen White to create a riveting discussion about icons -- why they are built, destroyed, forgotten, and the impact on a faith community. "Red Books" reveals stories untold from Adventism's history -- personal stories of faith and hope, as well as traumatic events that shook academia in the '70s. In bringing together the voices of a wide spectrum of Adventists, the play seeks to find our common ground in order to start the conversation about where we are, how we've come so far, and where we may be able to go. Not to be missed!
And this Sabbath, Greg Schneider, Professor of Psychology at Pacific Union College, will be presenting an afternoon talk on his experience inside the play and inside PUC during the Des Ford crisis. If you're in the Northern California area on Sabbath, come on up to PUC for the day. It should be a good time of fellowship and reflection.
Adventists are contrarians.
Most Christians go to church on Sunday; Adventists go on Saturday.
Most Christians think you go to Heaven or Hell when you die; Adventists believe you go to sleep.
We're a conservative denomination that promotes vegetarianism, for goodness sake!
I don't think Adventism is contrarian in principle. It's not as if our pioneers set out to believe or practice the opposite of other Christians. They just believed you shouldn't do what everyone else does just because that's what everyone does.
Nevertheless, I think Adventism attracts contrarians, because it takes a special personality to go against the flow. The problem comes when those contrarians have children and raise them in Adventist churches, schools, and institutions. Contrarianism is nonsustaining, because the second generation is born with an above average desire to be contrary to the mainstream, which for them is their parents' religion.
The loss of the Adventist converts' second generation is almost guaranteed after their Adventist religious training. Adventist religious training has traditionally focused on imparting reasons the Adventist religion is correct rather than Adventist religious experience. The problem with this is that the primarily cognitive religious training of Adventist young people equips them with intellectual tools they can later use to tear down their faith. Cognitive reasons for faith make no sense without the experience of faith, so when the reasons for faith are divorced from experience of faith, reason ends up being used against faith.
I suggest a twofold solution:
(1) That the first generation devote more focus to imparting the experiential as opposed to primarily cognative aspects of their faith. Ellen White was onto something when she talked about Adventist youth needing "experimental" (that's 19th century for experiential) religion.
(2) The first generation should channel the contrarian impulse of the second generation into semper reformanda, the principle that the church should always be in the process of reformation. The first generation is often deceived into thinking that because they have traveled so far against the mainstream there is no farther to go. Adventists have leveled this critique against other protestant denominations, while ignoring the implications for their own. Instead of pretending perfection and leaving the second generation to turn their contrarian impulse against their faith, Adventists should encourage their children to refine, expand, re-express and appropriate their parents' faith.
The survey was conducted for Spectrum by Roger Dudley, director of the Institute of Church Ministry at Andrews University. This is the third election survey of Adventists that Dudley has done for Spectrum during the past twenty years. Complete results from the survey will be included in the next issue of Spectrum, to be published in early December. Students at Andrews University, Southern Adventist University, Union College, La Sierra University, Pacific Union College, and Walla Walla University participated.
ADVENTIST COLLEGIANS SPEAK OUT ON PUBLIC ISSUES
Students in Seventh-day Adventist Colleges and Universities in the United States closely resemble national polls on the eve of election 2008. A web-based survey of the students in six American institutions of higher learning taken during October revealed that:
This is a reverse of 2004 where while 75% did not vote (perhaps because of age), 14% voted for George Bush and only 9% for John Kerry. Not only that, 31% identified themselves with the Republican party compared with 29% who considered themselves Democrats. The largest identification (40%) was Independent. This suggests that some Republicans may have voted for Obama, but it was the Independents who gave him the collegiate victory.
Students were given a list of nine issues and asked to rate their importance from "not important" to "most important." Combining "very important" and "most important," the top three issues were:
Lowest among the choices was: "a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriages" (40%).
In choosing the economy, the students reflected the concerns of their elders, but the high choice of human rights and justice seems to be a departure from typical Adventist thinking.
In considering abortion, the students rejected the extremes of "abortion is entirely the woman's choice" (29%) and "abortion is not acceptable under any conditions" (18%) to choose the middle ground: "abortion is acceptable in extreme circumstances such as rape, incest, and threat to the mother's life" (53%). This stance adheres most closely to the guidelines published by the church.
The survey also explored religious practices and viewpoints. For example:
As to how they would self-identify their religious orientation, 24% were fundamentalist or conservative and 22% liberal. The majority (53%) took the middle position of moderate. Religious faith is quite or extremely important to 89% of the students with only 3% saying it was not really important. Finally, 76% said that their religion influenced their voting behavior.
The six colleges and universities that participated were scattered throughout the country, thus assuring a national sample. While selection of the students was voluntary, not random, the findings show that there was a balance between the various poles of political and public opinion.
The good folks over at Faith in Public Life crunched the numbers last night and they show a significant shift in America's religious landscape and its voting patterns.
It would be interesting to see how last night's voting broke down along Adventist lines, not only weekly attendance, ethnicity, and region, but also level of education.
Religious attendance and the so-called “God Gap”:
-- Obama increased his share among all church attendance groups, but he made his greatest gains among voters who attend church more than once per week, narrowing a 29-point GOP advantage (64% - 35%) to a 12-point GOP advantage (55% - 43%). This represents an 8-point increase among a strongly Republican group.
-- Obama won monthly attenders 53% - 46%, while Kerry lost them 49% - 51%, a 4-point pickup.
-- Obama beat McCain soundly among Catholics (55% - 44%), performing better than Kerry in 2004 and Gore in 2000.
-- Among white Catholics, Obama narrowed the Republican advantage from Bush’s 13-point advantage (56% - 43%), with McCain holding only a 5-points advantage (52% - 47%).
-- In FL, Catholics swung from the Republican party to the Democratic party. Obama improved upon Kerry's Catholic performance by 16 percentage points, from trailing by 15 points in 2004 (57% - 42%) to leading by 1 point (50% - 49%) in 2008.
-- In IN, a 13-point GOP advantage in 2004 (56%-43%) disappeared, with Catholics split evenly between the candidates (50%-50%).
-- However, in PA, McCain won Catholics 54%-46%, increasing GOP advantage from Bush’s margin of 52%-48%.
-- White evangelicals turned out solidly (23% of the vote) and strongly supported McCain (75% to 24%), but evangelical support for McCain was 5 points lower than support for Bush (79%) in 2004.
-- In a number of states (including OH, MO, MI, IN, and NC) white evangelical turnout increased over 2004, but this increase did not favor McCain. For example:
-- In NC, white evangelical turnout was up 6 points from 36% to 42%, but McCain’s support (75% to 24%) was down 9 points from the strong advantage Bush held over Kerry (84% to 16%).
-- In OH, white evangelical turnout increased by 5 points (from 25% of the electorate in 2004 to 30% in 2008) and McCain’s support (70% to 28%) was down 6 points from Bush’s 76%-24% lead in 2004.
-- In CO, GOP advantage narrowed by 15 points among white evangelicals, from 86%-14% in 2004 to 71%-27% in 2008.
(PDF of these findings available here.)
There are a lot of folks who like to think they know what's on the minds of "the kids these days." Here are young Adventist college students talking about what in their faith matters.
This is the second of four videos in the "Express Yourself" project - a 2008 Walla Walla University Communications senior project by Adrienne Thompson. Music: "B Minor" by Lanterna.
I stood at the intersection of Magnolia and Pierce Street for four hours yesterday with a sign that said "Vote No on 8 - Unfair and Wrong."
It was an unforgettable experience. I got lots of honks and thumbs up. Some took pictures of me with their camera phones and others waved as they sped through my intersection.
I also got plenty of angry shouts and people giving me the finger. People shook their heads and scowled.
I lost count of how many times I heard people yell, "F--- you faggot!" People threw food and other objects at me. I got spit at twice, once missing me, the second time not.
Standing alone on the island where four lanes meet, I discovered that solidarity stings.
My younger brother is gay. I was thinking about him each time someone yelled "faggot" and flipped me off. My eyes stung as wave after wave of hatred washed over me with the ebb and flow of traffic. Some times I held back tears, other times I couldn't.
People chanted, jeered, yelled, and cursed.
Some people smiled, and their smiles helped me to stand up straighter and hold my sign higher though the muscles in my back and shoulders were burning. When a young woman slowed at the corner, rolled down her window and yelled "thank you", my eyes burned some more.
I wish that I could have been a sponge to absorb the hatred that flew out of car windows if it could have shielded my brother from it all. I wish I could have soaked it up and left their pools of anger dry, but I guess hate doesn't work that way. It breeds in the dark but seems to grow each time it sees daylight.
The thing is, at the end of the day, I was able to go home and put down my sign and return to my wife and wash the spit off my shirt. But my brother can't do that. For him, this is a daily reality. He can't walk away from it.
I think that everybody ought to experience this some time.
Everyone ought to hear the sound of the words Fuck you screamed over the din of rush hour traffic. Everyone ought to know the humiliation of being spit on by a stranger. Everyone ought to experience what it feels like to be the object of raw animosity and ridicule, and for just a little while, everyone ought to be on the receiving end of unbridled hatred.
Because if everyone knew the feeling, maybe, just maybe, there would be fewer people cursing and spitting and throwing things out on the roads of this Christian nation.
Maybe...becuase for the first time as I stood on that island clutching my sign, I recognized the sound of my own voice, yelling, taunting, shouting "Go home faggot." I realized that sometimes I'm the one who curses and screams, and my eyes burned once more.
p.s. this story is not really about Prop 8