I routinely will myself toward optimism. It is easy to be pessimistic, not just lately but chronically. Recently, however, as an ethicist, I find it difficult to speak with any hope of being persuasive. For instance, in a Spectrum Sabbath School post in December , I was buzzing along writing about "character" in relation to the story of Job. “Lying,” I wrote, “was something that everyone knew was wrong and that eventually liars are marginalized in human society.” I stopped myself mid-sentence.
Gregor Samsa, a salesman, is the main protagonist of this story. After a troubled night of disruptive dreams, he suddenly wakes up to the sound of rain hitting the window, only to discover that at some time during the night he had been transformed into a large vermin. He is quite calm about his new body and spends some time in bed reflecting on his life and on his relationships.
Hey now! Before you Adventists out there consign me to the fiery flames let me explain. When I say “dislike Adventism,” I am talking mostly about culture, not doctrine. Although Adventism has the truth (in my belief) on many doctrinal matters, the Adventist culture leads people to do things that I think harm the denomination. I’ll go into a few of those here. Of course, this post should be read in the context of my last month's column.
I had my first article published in an Adventist magazine when I was still in college. It was not very good, but I will always be grateful to the editor of Insight magazine for accepting it. It did not unleash a flood of writing for me right away—that took many years and a few more kind editors—but it immediately struck me as way of communicating that I found peculiarly compatible with my personality.
Scottish actor and producer Ewan McGregor released, some weeks before Christmas 2016, a streamlined screen adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel, American Pastoral. The movie encapsulates a complex literary masterpiece that was awarded the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for best fiction. McGregor's revisitation puts us, as does the book itself, in front of an old ethical dilemma: the continuity between actions and effects. Can our well-intended actions always produce immediate, direct, and predictable effects?
Go to any traditional Daniel and Revelation seminar, and you will hear about our Protestant departure from Babylon, (generally referring to the Roman Catholic Church). We make a significant effort to make sure attendees recognize how complete and distinct our ecclesiastical break was. The RCC’s theology caused Martin Luther’s departure, but we made ours even more complete by rejecting Catholic practices like infant baptism and, of course, the ever large, looming, adoption of Sunday as Sabbath.
In the summer of 2003, a remarkably well-preserved T-Rex specimen was unearthed in the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. A small team of researchers, led by Mary Schweitzer, took a piece of its femur, dissolved away the outer mineral matrix and were greatly surprised to find structural remains of blood vessels – hollow and flexible.
As we come to the close of another year, I am willing to admit that this year has been a tough one for me in Adventism. From both a personal and institutional perspective, things happened this year that troubled me with regard to how this church treats the least of us. These things trouble me because I have a long history with the Adventist Church. I was born into the church and baptized at eight years old. While I was in college, I took some time to explore other religions and denominations but stayed with Adventism.