Are You An Inconvenient Adventist?

Christianity Today editor David Neff, in his review of the film says An Inconvenient Truth "engages its audience with its moral seriousness and its avuncular and folksy style. . .He [Gore] wants action now-and he's right about that."

Get two free tickets at this web site for "inconvenient Christians". 

Foundationalism, anyone?

Pastor Samir Selmanovic writes: "Mark suggested to his wife, Jean, that they visit an Adventist church. 'I'd like you to see the kind of a church I grew up in,' he told her. 'It'll be fun, like entering a time warp, like a walk through a museum!'"Read more about being a postmodern pastor at  Re-Inventing the Adventist Wheel. 

Art: Chaim Potok's "Brooklyn Crucifixion"

By Sharon Fujimoto-Johnson

The late Jewish writer Chaim Potok (1929-2002) is probably best known for his novels, many of which explore the struggle to reconcile religion and modernity. Potok was raised as an Orthodox Jew and was ordained as a Rabbi. In his lifetime, he wrote nine novels, three children's books, and numerous stories, plays, and articles.

Potok is arguably best known for his novel, The Chosen, which was made into a film and a Broadway play. My Name is Asher Lev, which Potok called his most autobiographical novel, is the struggle of a gifted artist torn between his art and his orthodox traditions that reject art. In the front of this book is a quotation from Picasso: "Art is a lie which makes us realize the truth."

Potok was an accomplished painter, in addition to being a writer and a Rabbi. In a fascinating intersection between art and life, Potok himself created "Brooklyn Crucifixion," a painting central to the heartrending climax of My Name is Asher Lev. "Brooklyn Crucifixion" (shown at left) hung in Potok's home. (Click on thumbnail to view larger image.)

And in case you haven't read the compelling story that is My Name is Asher Lev, here's how it begins:

My name is Asher Lev, the Asher Lev, about whom you have read in newspapers and magazines, about whom you talk so much at your dinner affairs and cocktail parties, the notorious and legendary Lev of the Brooklyn Crucifix.I am an observant Jew. Yes, of course, observant Jews do not paint crucifixions. As a matter of fact, observant Jews do not paint at all--in the way that I am painting. So strong words are being written and spoken about me, myths are being generated: I am a traitor, an apostate, a self-hater, an inflictor of shame upon my family, my friends, my people; also, I am a mocker of ideas sacred to Christians, a blasphemous manipulator of modes and forms revered by Gentiles for two thousand years.Well, I am none of those things. And yet, in all honesty, I confess that my accusers are not altogether wrong: I am indeed, in some way, all of those things.

Potok asserted that the conflict between tradition and modernity is constant and that the tension between religion and art is lifelong. His personal struggle seems apparent in "Brooklyn Crucifixion." And yet despite this seemingly agonizing struggle, Potok remained active as an artist/writer and engaged in the religion of his upbringing until his death in 2002.


Chaim Potok web site (hosted by La Sierra University and created by the late Dr. William Allen)Wikipedia: Chaim My Name is Asher LevRandom House: Books by Chaim Potok

Barack Obama Hangs the Right’s Rhetoric on a Prayer

By: Alexander CarpenterToday,
the man President Bush calls “the pope” delivered an incisive speech
articulating a principled way forward in the American debate over faith
and public life.
I saw it four rows away, and it was good.

Speaking at the First National City Church, to a packed audience of mainline, evangelical, and Catholic progressive activists, Senator Barack Obama
(D-IL) began with a story familiar to many—having his religious bona
fides questioned because he wasn’t conservative enough. Pushing past
both the Right’s patently parochial rhetoric and the secular stammer of
the left, the senator swung back with a vision for American values
rooted in his hopeful prayer that “reconciles the beliefs of each with the good of all.”

The only African-American in the U. S. Senate, and only the third
since reconstruction, Obama pointed out that the “single biggest 'gap'
in party affiliation among white Americans today is not between men and
women, or those who reside in so-called Red States and those who reside
in Blue, but between those who attend church regularly and those who
don't.” And thus it follows that “we make a mistake when we fail to
acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people.”

While this might seem like easy words for the crowd, already the
DailyKos community contains some prickly posts worried over the
senator's recognition that “under God” is not the most difficult or
stultifying aspect of a child’s school life. Read their posts here as well as some Obama defenders who urge people to read the whole speech, not just the AP MSM angle.

But Obama is no religious ideologue, sharing in the speech about his
own secularist upbringing, and even after joining the Trinity United
Church of Christ he recognizes the value that doubt plays in the search
for meaning. He points out that one American's doubt shouldn't force
another's awkward silence. In fact, the Left's religious sotto voce
leaves it unable to call the country to high ideals.

Not long ago Hendrik Hertzberg at the New Yorker noted the junior Democratic senator joking at the Gridiron dinner. “You
hear this constant refrain from our critics that Democrats don’t stand
for anything,” Obama said. “That’s really unfair. We do stand for

Listening to today's speech it's clear that Barack offers
progressives (and the Democratic party) a new religious principle on
which to stand.

He opposed CAFTA, has called for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and even in a skeptical The Nation
article entitled "Mr. Obama Goes to Washington," David Sirota notes the
junior senator's "rare flash of defiance when he unsuccessfully pushed
legislation this year to create an Office of Public Integrity." Obama
has even blogged on DailyKos, addressing the sphere's two dominant
topics: troops out of Iraq and into Darfur.  “They
are exactly right to be fired up about Darfur, he writes. "It is in our
national interest to stop states from failing, and to stop genocide.
But they also have to recognize that if we are willing to engage
militarily in those circumstances, then there certainly are situations
that call for direct military engagement in defense of our national
interests.” He adds, "we are less equipped to deal with Iran because of
the Iraq war.”

But Obama's short record and today's speech reveals more than
progressive ideals and sharp political timing. He also envisions a way
forward that eschews the Right's solipsistic rhetorical grip on
American values. He sees that the solutions to gun violence, poverty,
war and failed immigration policy lie in our ability to turn personal
ideals into broad movements for the common good:

“Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate
their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values.
It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable
to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I
seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the
teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why
abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all
faiths, including those with no faith at all.”

By saying to the faithful and the secular of all varieties that the
American conversation should always be privately honest and publicly
plural, today, Obama leads a party hung by others’ prayer to a new
vision for faith in public life.

Dissident Discipleship?

Faith in Context writes:

"For those who believe in the Anabaptist tradition of counter-cultural
faith expressed in a wholistic mission, a new book by David Augsburger
is probably the best expression to date of an authentically Bible-based

Read Monte Sahlin's quick recommendation here.

Art: Image Journal

By Sharon Fujimoto-Johnson

Intruding Upon the TimelessI'm reading Intruding Upon the
a collection of meditations on art, faith, and mystery by Gregory
Wolfe, founder and editor of Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion.
In this collection of essays, Wolfe explores the profound, vibrant intersection
between art and spirituality. His is a refreshing and thoughtful probe into two
cultures that have long been estranged.
"Religion and art share the capicity to help
us renew our awareness of the ultimate questions: who we are, where we have come
from, and where we are going. In their highest forms, religion and art unite
faith and reason, grace and nature; they preserve us from the twin errors of
superstition and rationalist abstraction," he writes.
Wolfe and his
wife, Suzanne, began publishing Image in 1989 as a journal in which the
sublime, and not the blatantly religious, in art and faith would be explored.
Today, Image is a door into a thriving world of artful
spirituality/spiritual art that, in addition to Image, includes Seattle-area cultural events, books, workshops, a low-residency MFA in writing through Seattle Pacific University,
and the Milton Center, dedicated to nurturing creative writing through fellowships.

The Glen WorkshopOf particular interest is The Glen Workship,
an annual summer festival for "artists, writers, and wayfarers." The 2006
workshop features a wide range of classes, in a variety of disciplines such as
poetry, fiction, art, and songwriting. This year's workshop faculty includes,
for starters, scholar and theologian Eugene Peterson, poet Scott Cairns, author
Bret Lott, artist Barry Moser, and musical group, Over the Rhine.

The Glen Workshop, Santa Fe, New
Love and Affliction: Art and the Paradox of
Suffering July 30 - August 6, 2006
Read more about Gregory and Suzanne Wolfe in
a Seattle Times feature.

Sharp Adventists on the World

Check out the Adventist Center for Law and Public Policy.  They recently hosted eight Adventist students studying international affairs at some of the most prestigious universities in the country.

Watch the videos here.

The Magical Loaf Studio

Stressed with preparation day slipping away, perhaps guests coming, and still no ideas for feeding your friends and family for Sabbath lunch?

Check out this brilliant idea.

Current Issue

Not yet a subscriber? Subscribe today!

Support Spectrum

Thank you for making your generous gift. Your donation will help independent Adventist journalism expand across the globe.





Connect with Spectrum