We had just finished a discussion about the diversity section of our textbook. The conversation had been lively and respectful, but it was clear it had become slightly uncomfortable for at least a couple of folk in the class as we discussed nuances of class, race, and privilege. There were a few white participants who genuinely wanted to understand some of the distinctions that were being made in our exchanges. They had never thought about some of the subject matter content. After our hour was up there was still a lot that remained unsaid, yet it had definitely been a productive class.
There seems to be a cognitive disconnect in the Adventist Church. Maybe it exists in other churches too. I think most denominations would agree that the process of sanctification (or whatever word the denomination has for gaining knowledge of Christ and how He wants us to live) is an individual process. We don’t get saved in groups. Each of us will be judged by the Father individually, with Christ as our Advocate. But if this is true it leads to a question.
Jesus was growing in popularity. His list of accomplishments and feats was already the stuff of legend. He had already turned water into wine and cleansed the temple. He clandestinely explained new birth to a Pharisee and caused a commotion through one woman in Samaria. He had already healed the son of a nobleman and a man at Bethesda’s gate. He fed 5000 and walked on water. By the time we read John 8, Jesus has amassed a huge following, and in so doing has become a problem for the Pharisees.
It was a question I heard asked in a Sabbath School class—rhetorically, it turned out, for the questioner also had the answer. He opined that we don’t have many big churches because our faith is too rigorous for most people. There’s too much to give up: alcohol, tobacco, meat, a tenth of your income, and Saturday football. “People won’t make the sacrifices,” he said. In his opinion, the Seventh-day Adventist Church isn’t for everyone. Like the Marines, we’ll settle for a few good men. As for the unreached, well, “strait is the gate and narrow is the way… and few there be that find it.”
Notwithstanding the enormous and consistent development of today’s medicine, disease has not disappeared from our lives. It has just changed form, rhythm and mechanism of presentation. We realistically could just say, compared to other less industrialized cultures of the past and present, that we have invented novel ways of getting sick. This simple, empirical finding should push us to a double attitude. First, to keep resisting and fighting the rampant medical conformism and pessimism that tries to persuade us to embrace a deterministic view of disease.
A scourge that was found in playgrounds everywhere, children feared catching it. Most likely, you or someone you knew in your youth had it at one point or another during your childhood. Highly contagious and communicable by mere touch or even being associated with someone who had it, one had to take extra precautions to avoid the affliction. One could either stay in isolation or be vaccinated to prevent contacting it. Thankfully the shots were cheap and easily obtainable.
As I have stated in this space before, so much of the Christmas season is not related to Christmas at all. (This year’s foolish distraction? What Starbucksdoes or does not put on their cups.) As the Christmas holiday approaches this year, my mind is stuck on questions of ontology and causal determinism. To put it more simply – the importance of Christmas seems to me to not be found in the study of the when and the how.