As I have stated in this space before, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. In my home, extravagant Christmas celebrations faded as I grew older, but Thanksgiving is the one holiday where my family is the most disappointed when we can’t all come together and thank God for his blessings of the past year. However there is a special feeling to Thanksgiving this year, as it is the first that I celebrate as a parent. Both my wife and I still feel the surreal nature of being parents to a new life while at the same time feeling like our daughter has been around forever.
Aside from growing up on a family farm, I’ve never worked at anything except being a parish pastor. When I studied for ministry I was motivated, as most of us are, by a search for answers to the disquieting questions in my own young heart. (Henri Nouwen had it right when he spoke of the “wounded healer” who heals others in the attempt to heal him or her self.) At the time, I didn’t know much about what it meant to be a pastor.
Expo 2015– the Universal Exposition hosted in Milan, Italy – closed few days ago on October 31, after six months and twenty million visitors from all over the world. Exhibits from 145 countries brought the best of their knowledge and technology on food production and distribution. The Japan Pavilion received the gold prize for the best exhibition. Milan Expo 2015 was held under the theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, and the exhibitors divided their proposals and displays under seven subthemes:
- Science for Food Safety, Security and Quality
When a friend sent me David Corn’s column for Mother Jones a few weeks ago, it was like getting hit with bad news I already knew. Sooner or later, someone was going to peek behind the first serious Seventh-day Adventist presidential candidate, and begin to scrutinize the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Some time ago I was sitting in what quite possibly was the most boring church service I have ever been in. (No, I won’t tell you where I was.) There couldn’t have been more than 50 people in the sanctuary, and I’m being generous. We sang no less than 5 hymns. All hymns were sung in a dry, slow manner. The sermon seemed uninspired, barely prepared, and was presented with no sense of conviction. It felt like we were in church for three hours. We were in church for about 70 minutes.
The last General Conference meeting and presidential election in San Antonio clearly showed that, for institutional Adventism, the Bible doesn't represent a problem, because we consider Adventism as the natural extension of the Bible and the Bible as the natural source of Adventism. But that's precisely the problem! Not, paradoxically, women’s ordination, evolution or homosexuality – but the Bible itself, with the related hermeneutical question at the center.
Much ado has been made about the Mars "discovery" of liquid water. Of course, it can't be confirmed yet because of our fear of contaminating any sources of water with life from Earth. Knowing that any observed life is actually native to Mars is very important because, well... It'd be a major discovery--life on other planets!
Over the past month, the story of Kim Davis has taken up a fair amount of the news cycle. The story of the Rowan County clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and spent time in jail for contempt of court dominated the headlines for more than a week. For those who study and comment on religious liberty in this country, Kim Davis seems like the perfect storm.
Through most of my ministry, the conventional wisdom, shared by people from all across the Adventist spectrum, was that we’d outgrown the union conferences. Union conferences had been established at a time when there were no telephones, no airplanes, no internet. At a time when it was believed that pastors needed bosses, who needed bosses, who needed bosses, who needed bosses at the very top—a whole chain of control.