From the time I first heard the then-newly-popular explanation of spiritual gifts back in the 80’s, I’ve had my reservations about it. It just seemed entirely too convenient that you could distill out of the Pauline epistles a checklist of Divinely-supplied skills so tidy that you could make them into a vocational aptitude test and assign every member his place in the whole.
To be clear, this is not an endorsement of one position over another. This isn't even a statement of what I might have voted. There are many things, such as location of my hypothetical residence and my perception of how I'd be affected, that I would have to consider. As it is, in reality, I don't live in the UK and I am not a UK citizen. Be that as it may, I can sympathize with those who voted in favor of Brexit.
Some of the weird, angering, funny things that have happened to me religiously have led me to ask the question, “Why do people even have a church?” It seems I am not the only one asking this question. A relatively recent survey found that Millenials are leaving the church at rate greater than their similarly situated generations in the past. 26% of Millennials claim no religious affiliation. This is six percent more than my generation at that time and 13% more than the generation before mine.
I cannot write a column about bioethics, Adventism, and Adventist healthcare this week without referring to the massacre in Orlando, Florida. I have often said I can find an ethics issue behind every bush. It is not hard to find one here. Fear and hatred appear to have taken hold in my United States in ways that I do not recall as a youngster. The demonization of Others is so prevalent and acceptable that national leaders gain followers by appealing to it. The embrace of violence in American culture combines with a supposed liberty to own any gun we wish, to deadly effect.
Johan Cruyff, “In Memoriam” (1947-2016)
Johan Cruyff, the worldwide prophet of modern soccer, died some weeks ago leaving behind a particular ludic and anthropological legacy. Applying Max Weber’s sociological ideal-type classification, he showed persuasively that discipline and tactics are blind without beauty and elegance, as much as pleasure and creativity are empty without rigour and hard work.
Last month I spoke on a panel of psychotherapists at a workshop about mental health, hosted by one of the nearby Adventist churches. It was a worthy topic that was perfect for Mental Health Awareness Month. As the program drew near the close, someone asked "how do you find a good psychotherapist?" The psychiatrist, the clinical counselor, and I, all offered suggestions. Then a sister from the audience came to the microphone.
Even before my daughter was born, one of my favorite things to do was to come home at the end of the day and read her a Bible story. Now I will admit it was probably a little strange to start that tradition before my daughter was born, but story time was and continues to be one of the more nonnegotiable parts of my day. I found a Bible story app on my phone and we have been telling her the common Bible stories that Christian children come to know when they’re young.
Lately independent Adventist media has been abuzz with stories of a church leader in the Southern African and Indian Ocean Division office whose academic degrees turned out to be unsubstantiable. The responses to this revelation have been, it seems to me, unnecessarily scathing, as though the church has been irreparably damaged by this one man claiming degrees he didn’t have.