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Paranoid Eschatology, Part 2

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I discussed in my last column the overly fearful reaction of some Adventists to the current financial crisis. How do we make sense of it?

Back in 1964, Richard Hofstadter wrote a piece for Harper’s Magazine that has become a classic monograph on political paranoia.1 Hofstadter wrote “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” in the wake of McCarthyism, the founding of the John Birch Society, and the fearful hatred of the civil rights movement that lurked in the Goldwater right.

Alternatives in Dying Well: California Doctors Must Now Tell All

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Although mentally competent citizens of the United States do not have a right to die, they do possess the right to refuse any medical intervention even if doing so results in their foreseeable deaths. Unfortunately, many dying patients needlessly suffer because they don’t know this. On September 30, Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger of California signed into law legislation that I think will help.

Survivalist Eschatology

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I have some anxiety about what’s happening in the financial world right now. After decades of a defined benefit retirement plan, the Church switched the younger of us over to a defined contribution plan. So now most of my retirement is in that erratic stock market, and the rest in my unsalable house.

Christian Babylonianism

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A church member pointed to the cross on the cover of a Bible I was carrying one day, and asked, “You know what that stands for?”

“The sacrifice of Jesus?” I said.

“No,” he said. “That’s what the Catholic Church wants you to think. It is initial of the pagan god Tammuz. The Catholic Church uses it to keep paganism alive, while people are deceived into thinking it’s Christianity.”

Bless his heart.

Why Does Desmond Ford’s Biographer Lament Our Wesleyan Heritage?

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Those of us who write about others usually reveal much about ourselves. I believe that Milton Hook does this in Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist (Riverside, Calif.: Adventist Today Foundation, 2008). Among other things, he tells us that he is not happy with the Wesleyan heritage that we Seventh-day Adventists share.

The Unchurched

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First, I hate the word unchurched. Just as I hate hearing a book called a “good read.” Or “impact” used as a verb. Or the word literally tossed in to strengthen an assertion. Or starting sentences with “thus.” Or this, the winner of the most annoying word award: “anyways.” As in “So anyways, that was a marvelous read that will literally impact the world.”

I’m probably just too easily annoyed. But who thought up such a horrid thing to call people who don’t go to church?

Think Less of God Intervening, Think More of God Participating

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I suggest that we think less often about God intervening in our lives and think less highly of it. It is better to think of God as participating. It doesn’t hurt to think about divine intervention now and then, perhaps when we are thinking about the Big Bang and other very unusual things. But we should probably limit it to that.

Truthful Evangelism

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Every day, I check Google news with the search phrase “Seventh-day Adventist.” Most hits are local newspaper announcements about a cooking school, a church school concert, or a Pathfinder club’s Halloween food drive.

Recently, a piece from Grand Forks, North Dakota, caught my eye.

The Grand Forks Seventh-day Adventist Church is where, thirty years ago, I served my internship year before going to seminary. It was a good year: there were quite a few young couples in the church, and I had a senior pastor I liked.

Lessons from the Lunatic Fringe

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Sometimes I awaken in the middle of the night, for whatever middle-aged guy reason, and can’t get back to sleep. So I’ll put my earbuds in and listen to the radio. Apart from popular music (which I don’t care for) the choices are limited: a couple of shrill political shills, a station that takes calls from eerily impassioned sports fans who stay up all night critiquing athletic feats they themselves could never do, and (where I usually land) Coast to Coast AM with George Noory.

Revisiting Ellen White on Masturbation

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Those who have studied the writings of Ellen White know that she said some things about the physical consequences of “solitary vice,” a term that many take to be a euphemism for masturbation, which the majority of medical specialists today do not confirm. In An Appeal to Mothers, one of her early publications, she attributes a number of maladies to its practice.

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