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Introducing Frisson Spotlight (1.1) Timothy Puko

Occasionally the Spectrum Blog will post a series of email exchanges with an interesting Adventist. We call these exciting multi-day conversations: Frisson Spotlight.This weekend, we are chatting with Timothy Puko, the investigative reporter who wrote the article on the Costa Rica situation in the current issue of the journal. Feel free to join the conversation, propose questions, and post comments below.Timothy Puko majored in journalism as an undergraduate at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and as a graduate student at Columbia University in New York. He went to public schools in suburban Pittsburgh and currently is a reporter for the Press of Atlantic City (NJ). ______________________________________________Greetings Timothy,

Welcome to the Spectrum Blog. And thanks for taking time during your vacation this week to share your Sevy journalist secrets.
Kudos on your investigative report, "On Becoming a Conference: The Costa Rican Story," in the current (Vol. 34:3)
I'd like to start out our discussion by talking about your experience
researching and writing that piece and then maybe we can move into a
discussion about the role of journalism in the
Seventh-day Adventist church.

First a couple of quick questions: How did you get involved in the
Costa Rican story? How long did it take you to gather the evidence and write it? What was the most interesting
aspect of the investigation to you?

I really appreciated the tone of your reporting - it's easy when
encountering this level of buck-passing and maleficence to sound
cynical or to see behind every stonewall a conspiracy. In the stories I
investigated on the corruption in the Lake Region Conference and the
strange 3ABN/Hope Ten Commandments Day fiasco, it became apparent that
incompetence and me-and-my-sycophants-first greed turned out to explain
a lot. Beyond the problems in Costa Rica, your report
seems to finally hinge on the question: Who has oversight - the
division or the general conference?  Did you get the impression that
the GC and the division were thinking
about solutions or merely pushing away questions?

How did the conversations with Inter-American Division President Leito
go? Was it difficult to get him to speak on the record and directly
answer questions? What about the ex-pats?
I really enjoyed the way that you structured the ending, the circle
tightens and we are left with the leadership either not reading the
evidence or dismissing the concerns of the membership. It's like ending
a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story with all the characters saying that its
the other guy's job to investigate. Someone should tell Dabrowski that
telling the demos, to go through
'proper" channels which are supposed to correct themselves (?) is not
called democracy, but bureaucracy. Frankly, it's a little Kafkaesque. We've got laity calling for the GC to investigate the
division for ethics violations, the GC saying "we haven't even looked
at the evidence, but let the division investigate itself" and the
division ignoring the evidence and dismissing the laity as unethical. Here I
wish that you had parsed out why Leito would dismiss Scarone when
Humberto Rasi, a semi-retired GC official, supports his call for GC
oversight. I would hope that Leito realizes that calling Scarone
"unethical" needs some kind of support especially when Scarone has 418
pages of evidence on Costa Rica and the cooperation of Rasi. Any thoughts on why Leito responded that way?
Now that the experience is over, what are your thoughts on the role
of the investigative journalist in Adventism? And what decisions did
you make to both tell the story and affect the people involved? Best, Alexander

Losing Our American Soul

Take a break and enjoy this vintage clip of Jim Wallis on The Daily Show.

One of the worst aspects of recent American Christianity has been its privatistic core.

  • Gettin' saved
  • Born again
  • Righteousness by faith
  • Personal relationship with God

Strangely, it's all about my individual problems.

The disaster is that this language completely misses the actual example
of Jesus who changed the world not only through his passion, but through his actions toward the social
situation of his time.

The reality is that humanity needs both personal and
community change. 

Nothing could be more clear to believers after
living through the last five years of Katrina, 9/11, and Iraq. These
disasters reveal serious problems in the social fabric of this world -
now ripped apart by decades of me-first racism clothed in
anti-government rhetoric, get-rich-quick-at-any-cost globalization, and buzz-off-world-and-half-of-America unilateralism.  

"Gotta get myself saved" is causing us to lose our

It's time for a new, balanced understanding of American faith - one
that draws upon the traditions of social action for the common
good. Just saying a quick prayer of acceptance will not change the
world - but turning that faith into action will. Faith is a community
experience and the future of humanity rests not just on what we believe,
but will be determined by how we actually live and vote.

How can we change the basic definitions of our faith so that we follow the
living example of Jesus? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Adventist Education Rank Potluck

By Alexander Carpenter

With crisp Berkeley breezes buffeting me as I dodge the now Ipod smokin' kids on Telegraph Ave - I've realized that it's time for a back-to-school special edition of the Spectrum Potluck. (It's the new patented term of a round up.)

This week we're going to check how Sevy schools did on the (let's face it, dubious) US News and World Report College Popularity Contest.

You go alma mater! The only nationally ranked Adventist school, Andrews University, moved from the fourth tier to the third tier in the nation. It now can hang out with the 248 member in-crowd of "American universities (162 public, 86 private) that offer a wide range of undergraduate majors as well as master’s and doctoral degrees; some emphasize research." I guess. . .if you call apologetics research? According to Andrews University Relations: "Andrews also ranks as the 14th most diverse campus out of all 248 National Universities. Last year its ranking was sixteenth. Andrews is also the National University with the sixth highest percentage of international students, with 12% of the student population coming from outside the United States."

While not exactly the Harvard of the Adventist system, perhaps it is the Wheaton.

Now onto the regional rankings.

With 2,390 students and an endowment of $21,131,589 (a million more than AU!) - Southern Adventist University ranks 29th in the South.

It beat such schools  as Kentucky Christian University (49) and last place Oakwood College (53). Granted, Oakwood has about 1751 students and about fifteen million less.

In the Mid-West, Union College, with an endowment of 1.5 million (excuse me, hello alumni?), comes in at 46 out of 52.

And Walla Walla College ranks 41 in the West-Masters degree category. It has 1670 students.

Atlantic Union College makes the fourth tier. It lists 478 students and an 1.4 million endowment. And yes, it does offer cooking classes.

Endowed at fifteen million, and fifteen hundred students,  Pacific Union College ranks 14th in the West.

And Southwestern ranks in the third tier for BA schools in the West. So I
assume that PUC is in the first tier - come on US News, give me some quick

Wait, could one reason: as ol' Andrews (third tier National) is to Northwestern (14th rank National) so Southwestern and La Sierra (third tier BA West) are to PUC (14th rank BA West)?

Thus, PUC ranks comparatively best; OMG - analogies are truth! Why did you get rid of them, SAT?

Tired of asking what colleges can do for you? The brilliant Washington Monthly asks what colleges are doing for the country? Check out the do-gooder rankings here.

Some venture capitalist Adventist should fund a study based on the Washington Monthly matrices to rank which Adventist schools are best for the church and the community.

While I wait for Spectrum's phone to ring - I'm going to practice my analogies.

Art: Adventist Artist Elfred Lee

By Sharon


The current
issue of College and University Dialogue features an interview with
Adventist artist Elfred Lee
. Born in
Seoul, Korea, to missionary parents, Lee became
interested in art while, as a child, he and his family spent three years in
Japanese prison camps in the Philippines. Today he is a well-known illustrator and painter
who teaches at the SDA University of Montemorelos, in México.

Lee is
interviewed by Humberto M. Rasi, director of the General Conference Education
Department and editor of College and University Dialogue. The journal
is an international publication on faith, thought, and action, published by the
Committee on Adventist Ministry to College and University Students (AMiCUS) in
cooperation with the 13 world divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist
Church.Elfred Lee on the Web
Web Site: Elfred Lee

Art Gallery: Elfred Lee Religious

Article: Elfred
Lee Unveils Noah's Ark Painting

Shop: Elfred
Lee Artwork on
Is there an artist you'd like to see featured on the Spectrum blog? Let us know.

True Religion Is This

If the name "Seventh-day Adventism" doesn't stand for peace and social justice, I don't know what does.

The promise of peace in Sabbath and the coming of Godly justice - by
putting their beliefs into action some in our faith community work on the cutting
edge of prophetic Christianity.

Check out these fine Adventist-run organizations.

Oregon Center for Christian Values

Adventist Peace Fellowship

Adventist Peace & Justice Fellowship (UK)

Adventist Women 4 Peace

If you know of others, let us know below.

Preparation Day Round Up

Law student locus standi notes that Pathfinders looks like military training.

Adventist Pulpit writes on Be-Bop Jazz Preaching. Sounds good to me!

Monte Sahlin channels E. E. Cleveland and points out the Spiritual Foundation of Social Justice.

And finally, Johnny ponders the Most Important Adventist Doctrine Poll over at Adventist Pulpit.

The Means and Ends of Adventist Media

By Alexander Carpenter

The Adventist blogosphere has raised some questions about the Danny and Linda Shelton divorce and Adventist Today's coverage.

Perpetual Student
points out, "Now I don't have the time or interest to figure out what really
happened, but I thought the letters provided a good example of some of
the pitfalls that a ministry can face if it is too tightly controlled
by a dominant personanility (sic)."

Ron Corson and the rest
writes: "It may be a shame that people search the
AToday site for information on the 3ABN situation but that is really
not the fault of AToday. To report on the situation is part of AToday's
purpose in reporting news of Adventist interest and it certainly does
not have lots of material on the subject."

But let's not mix posting emails with news reporting.
I worry that my friends at Adventist Today are letting the wrong kind
of interest drive their content. At the root, it seems, they are
mixing their means and ends.

Behind some the prurient discomfort over the Sheltons' personal lives lie serious objections to the content and management of 3ABN. 

But let's stop for a second. We must pull away
from the brink of employing personal relationships as substitute arguments for
raising essential questions about the people who represent our faith to the world.  It troubles me that some
religious folks have been at the forefront of personal attacks on
public figures (Bill Clinton/John McCain) - and we cannot allow dehumanizing titillation and argument by innuendo to leak into the
public discourse of our faith community.

I've interviewed Linda for
and investigated the multi-million
dollar waste and the bumbling right-wing coddling of 3ABN
. And yes, you can buy a wedding dress or a doll by Marie Osmond from 3ABN on Ebay.

But beyond the personal, Danny's email retort reveals a troubling morality - essentially saying
that he has many converts so shouldn't be criticized by folks with
less. That hint of "ends over means" justification should make his
accountant and 3ABN board sweat.

gets at that when he writes: "Just claiming that Danny Shelton is
spreading the gospel is not enough, Christian responsibility calls for
accountability as well."

When a person starts defending themselves by saying: "but look at all
the good I've done (Duke Cunningham/Pol Pot)," their moral jig is up.

believe, Mr. Shelton, that the Spanish Inquisition got even more
converts than you.
As an Adventist I want to see better content and leadership at one of
the largest cultural signifiers of Adventism; but we should make sure
that our own means stay high. Concerned Adventists need to drive smart
change at 3ABN, but we'll give our whole community a better media experience by staying off
"the he said/she said" road.

Controversies, great and small

By Bonnie DwyerAmong the books on my night stand calling out to be read is Nancey
Murphy’s Bodies and Souls or Spirited
, so I was pleased to find commentary on it while web surfing.

Lynne Rudder Baker reviewed the book for Notre Dame’s Philosophy Reviews.

Baker does a nice summary of each of the chapters and then concludes
that Bodies and Souls is
“written in a comfortable conversational style and introduces many of the
controversies that confront Christians today.”

\n\n \n\nBonnie Dwyer\n\n \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n",0]

//--> So I am determined to begin reading Murphy tonight for myself.

seem to be so many controversies, of late. Zeroing in and gaining some
understanding would be a good thing. Not to mention the Forum Conference is
coming up in October. Nancey will be the speaker. This is a chance to get
acquainted ahead of time.

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