Columns

The Somewhat Doubtful Holy Land

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My friend Marge recently returned from her first trip to the Holy Land. She excitedly showed us her pictures, and described standing on the spots where Jesus walked. Her travelogue brought to mind our own Holy Land trip some years ago.

Faith’s Foe

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It shouldn’t have surprised me, but the truth is that I did not expect that the desire to reform the system used to pay for medical services in this country would awaken the belligerence and the suspicion of a large number of American citizens.

Where Have All Our Thinkers Gone?

Many of the world’s problems are directly related to people’s refusal to think. I’m not referring to the kind of thinking that is synonymous to having a gut originating opinion. This type of thinking is ubiquitous. It’s the type of thinking that gives free reign to dictators and yields power to congressional representatives in pseudo-democracies. The kind of thinking to which I refer is summed up in René Descartes’ reflective statement, Cogito, ergo sum. Sadly, this sort of thinking is scarce.

More of What Works, Less of What Doesn’t

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I have never in my life used the phrase tour de force. I have never needed it.

Science and my Faith

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The most remarkable scientific advances of our times have been in the fields of physics and genetics. Biology has taken major strides since Ernest Rutherford discovered the atom’s nucleus in 1909 and Francis Crick and James Watson announced the double helix in 1953. Among these advances is a new understanding of the nucleus of the atom as, essentially, a vacuum. This modification of our scientific understanding of material reality did not undermine our estimation of science. Rather it demonstrated one of its basic characteristics. No scientific thesis intends to be the last word.

What’s the Cost of a Soul?

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I’ve heard people say, “The value of a human life is incalculable.”

No, it isn’t. We set a value on lives all the time. The valuation requires some big generalizations, is based on hard-to-pin-down factors, and differs with the context in which it’s measured. But there’s no doubt that a life has definable value.

Civil Rights and Savage Wrongs

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As a person who exhibits dominant African genes, it’s always a privilege to visit the region from which my ancestors were kidnapped about two or three centuries ago. Although they were probably abducted from one of the tribal nations in the west, placing my foot anywhere on the continent evokes an indescribable feeling of belonging. Admittedly, all of my sentiments are not warm and fuzzy, for the African social scape is cluttered by chains of colonization that in many ways appear to be permanent.

The Prophetic Career of Ernie Knoll

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Back when I was much younger, I was given some letters (letters, children, being how we spread church gossip before the Internet came along) circulated by a Seventh-day Adventist woman who claimed God had selected her to be a new prophet to our church.

Sectarian or Catholic?

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As the years go by, I feel an increasing intellectual tension that I have been trying to resolve. I have been trying to decide whether Adventism is supposed to be, as it is at present, a Christian sect or a universal religion—that is, to be catholic in the original sense of the word.

The Disappearance of Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand”

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“What we are experiencing is not a crisis of capitalism,” writes Fareed Zakaria, a scholar, social commentator, and host of a weekly television news program on CNN. “It is a crisis of finance, of democracy, of globalization and ultimately of ethics.”

Denouncing Sabbath Worship

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Friday evening worships were a major event in my parents’ home. After a sumptuous meal, Mom, Dad, and the ten children would transition to the front room and get settled in our favorite spots as we tried our best to get comfortable for the two-hour ritual.

The Inertial Church

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I ran into a pastor friend a few weeks ago who I’d not seen for awhile. After greetings, “So, Loren, do you think we really can do it?” he asked. It sounds like a question out of the blue, but I knew exactly what he was asking.

The Weight of Familiarity

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Awhile back I took my MacBook up to the church audiovisual station and asked the technicians to show my sermon slides from it. Afterward my friend Johnny, one of our AV volunteers, said, "I really hate Macs."

What About Dissidents?

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The statistics about retention of recently baptized members are not encouraging. A year or two after a large baptism in Latin America, very few are still members of the Church. In the United States, where large baptisms are unknown, the young are the ones who leave.

The Expert

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Did you know that Newton’s second law of thermodynamics states that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”? I did. Did you know that it is absolutely impossible for water when heated to surpass 100 degrees Celsius? I did.

The Creation Wars

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Working scientists agree, overwhelmingly, that evolution explains much of what we see in nature. Many Christians, including some with doctorates in science, reject this consensus.

The conflict reaches deep into Adventism, and has the potential, as everyone knows, to tear our church apart.

Adam Smith and the Human Impossibility of Benevolence

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Those who plunged the entire world into our current economic difficulties have no right to claim Adam Smith, the so-called “father” of capitalism in eighteenth-century Scotland, as their intellectual and moral father, or so I have argued in three previous columns.

Faith and Hope

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This quarter’s Sabbath School lessons deal with the church’s basic themes. The author and the editors of the lessons, I am afraid, do not treat faith and hope in a way that allows the highlighting of their essential features.

Some Things I Am Unable to Understand

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I’m taking a page from Solomon this week: his listing of several things, often unrelated, plus an extra, that puzzle or amaze him.

Here are some things that I wonder about.

Adventists and Interfaith Weddings

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“Where’d you get married?” I asked.

“In Jim’s church,” Terry said. Jim is a Seventh-day Adventist; Terry isn’t. “The Adventist pastor stood up in front with us and preached a sermon” she said.





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Sat, 10/25/2014 | Los Angeles Adventist Forum
October Adventist Forum
Ronald E. Osborn, Ph.D., A 2014-2016 Mellon Postdoctoral Fell ow in the Peace and Justice Program at Wellesley College (Boston), and a 2 015 Fullbright Scholar to Burma/Myanmar, Formerly an Adjunct Faculty Membe r in the Dept. of International Relations at USC, and in the Honors Progra m at UCLA. Topic: "Death Before the Fall?: A Conversation with Ronald Osbor n."

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