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Frisson Spotlight (1.8) Advancing information technology would make Adventism more congregational, but also more global

This is part eight of the conversation with Timothy Puko. To read them in sequence, click here. ____________________________________________________Yesterday I really wanted to write that rapidly advancing information technology would make Adventism more congregational, but also more global. When I then thought about that statement, I realized it made no sense at all and was a complete contradiction, so I took the pussyfoot (and equally contradictory) "semi-wholesale" conclusion. But, today, I'm glad to see you addressing my original idea, that Adventism will become "increasingly local, cross-geographical, and independent."I still don't know what Adventist media will become because that's really going to be determined by a number of other pressures that you alluded to. We seem to agree that the speed and variety of communication are really going to give power to smaller groups and local congregations within the church. Now that's just going to exaggerate a lot of the culture pressures affecting the church in various parts of the world. There will be a lot of resources available for people who want to break off and create their own form of Adventism. This really puts into question the church's ability to maintain itself as a worldwide organization. That probably already was in question.I know this was supposed to be our last post, but Alexander, let me ask you this: What can the General Conference do to stay relevant to its congregations? And, should it?One love,

Puko",1]
);

//-->Puko

Frisson Spotlight (1.7) The old categories of right/left in Adventism are over

This is part seven of the conversation with Timothy Puko. To read them in sequence, click here. ____________________________________________________Mr. Puko, I hope that your Sunday will treat you well. Just read a good Slate article on the origin of the Sunday brunch, apparently it started around your old Upper West Side 'hood.
Well, now back to your cheery post from yesterday . . .this
conversation along with my reading and conversations of late and
attending this Global Internet Evangelism Network forum confirms a
growing suspicion: The old categories of right/left in Adventism are over. I'd
say that the any definitions that persist come between those who see
and talk about coming changes and those who don't. And I'm not talking
primarily about doctrine. Traditionally that has been the largest
conflict point, but your report on Costa Rica shows that there are
struggles over other things. Yesterday I received two emails - sparked
by your article - about the conference/mission shift in other parts of
the developing world.
Online communication is radically shifting the power bases
within the church. Last night I sat through a very impressive
demo/sales talk by the sharp folks at NetAdventist
. In two oversimplified sentences: in the very near future - a couple
of years - every local Adventist church will have its own completely
integrated web hub. Paying tithe, church directory, prayer requests,
watching and reading church media is already happening all online in
some churches.  But what is really radical about this is that it is a
horizontal connection. Combined with some type of tagging technology, $100 crank laptops
hitting the developing world this year (thank you MIT) and increased
contextualization, the reality is that Adventism as we know it will
change exponentially (that's not hyperbole) becoming increasingly
local, cross-geographical, and independent. I ate lunch with your pal Ray Dabrowski yesterday and he
talked of whole villages in Andra Pradesh, India joining the church
because the village leader did - flooding the churches by tens of
thousands in weeks this year. Let's face it, those folks aren't joining
because they really dig the 2300-day prophecy. Although I, too, don't have the degrees, I'd say that
community and cellular organizational strategies will be the talk of
the town. I don't know if Monte Sahlin
is reading this, but I'd love to hear a little forecasting from
him. The Anglican Communion is experiencing this jumping of territorial
boundaries and from your reporting on Costa Rica, (
translated to Spanish
),
it sounds like folks are starting to think like that within Adventism.
One of the biggest complaints by the net evangelical folks is that
their bible study leads aren't being followed up due to territorial
concerns.  It will be interesting to observe what happens in the future.  But no longer are the
terms conservative or liberal relevant - the laity and leadership can
care about the changing church or not, period.  (How's that for a
tenuous dichotomy?) The dead binary was "critics of the church" vs. "the
loyal," but now most leaders of note are loyal critics.  We're
all conservatives in that we want to preserve something of the past and
all liberals in that we know that the new contexts will shift what our
past means. And so I see your "semi-wholesale changes" and raise you a "what the hell will they be?" Thanks for this conversation and, now, you get the last word. Peace,

Alexander

Question for you

What if the Spectrum Blog looked and functioned like this blog?

Notice the central area as well as the diary listing on the side.

It's run by Scoop, a Perl-based CMS. Read about the features here.

Frisson Spotlight (1.6) Adventist media will need semi-wholesale changes

This is part six of the conversation with Timothy Puko. To read them in sequence, click here.
______________________________________________Well, the news media's business model is totally broken. (And we'reoff to a very Sabbathy start.) There's no denying that. One thing: Itdoes seem like a clean break. Where on the Net did you find that storyabout Newspapers? At a magazine's Web site. After music downloading,social networking, porn, shopping and youtube, where do people gomost? Sites run by newspapers and other established newsorganizations. The demand is still there, but the businesses justhaven't found a way/realized the need to make the new medium profitfriendly.Adventist media will need semi-wholesale changes. Satellite is good.But the next generation of Adventists is not going to be satisfied tosit around after Sabbath reading the Visitor. Those times are over.Obviously, church programs and services will follow the money, but asfor what media the next generations of Adventists will support, well,I don't have enough degrees to tell you.

- Show quoted text -PukoOn 9/1/06, Alexander Carpenter <alexanderccarpenter@gmail.com> wrote:> Happy Sabbath,>> You are right to point to the scriptures as evidence that God cares more> about effective leadership than the sacrificial scent of good news.>> The God present in the life of Jesus (cleansing the temple, healing the> blind) certainly cares a lot more about means than end numbers - whereas I> sense that many administrators primarily rate church workers on their> loyalty and numbers, (baptisms, web hits, tithe, board votes). Now these are> all important, but frankly quite easy to manipulate as your article so aptly> points out. Middle conference management is especially susceptible to> forgetting that long term success always beats short term numbers however> pleasing.>> Back to Costa Rica for a moment. I had actually heard from a student> missionary friend of mine about the emphasis on baptisms over education.> Reading your details made me realize that similarity with some American> conferences. There exist presidents who actively recruit young converts as> pastors who have not been educated in Adventist religion depts.These dudes> often attend an eighteen month training course and then are given jobs> because they can "finish the work" untainted by a liberal arts education.> While troubling, especially if one wants a well-rounded pastor, reading your> article I realized that these young para-pastors tend to be very dependent> on their administration. Trained in authoritarian contexts, in old methods,> with little access to the historical context of the faith, they prove their> worth via obedience. In fact, the last I heard, Michigan conference doesn\'t",1]
);

//--Puko

Frisson Spotlight (1.5) Wither Adventist media?

This is part five of the conversation with Timothy Puko. To read them in sequence, click here. ______________________________________________

Happy Sabbath,

You are right to point to the scriptures as
evidence that God cares more about effective leadership than the
sacrificial scent of good news.

The God present in the life of
Jesus (cleansing the temple, healing the blind) certainly cares a lot
more about means than end numbers - whereas I sense that many
administrators primarily rate church workers on their loyalty and
numbers, (baptisms, web hits, tithe, board votes). Now these are all
important, but frankly quite easy to manipulate as your article so
aptly points out. Middle conference management is especially
susceptible to forgetting that long term success always beats short
term numbers however pleasing.

Back to Costa Rica for a moment. I had actually heard from a
student missionary friend of mine about the emphasis on baptisms over
education. Reading your details made me realize that similarity with
some American conferences. There exist presidents who actively recruit
young converts as pastors who have not been educated in Adventist
religion depts.These dudes often attend an eighteen month training
course and then are given jobs because they can "finish the work"
untainted by a liberal arts education. While troubling, especially if
one wants a well-rounded pastor, reading your article I realized that
these young para-pastors tend to be very dependent on their
administration. Trained in authoritarian contexts, in old methods, with
little access to the historical context of the faith, they prove their
worth via obedience. In fact, the last I heard, Michigan conference
doesn't allow its pastors to wear wedding rings. Talk about a testing
truth. Since wearing a ring doesn't seem to destroy God's work anywhere
else, it clearly just becomes a test of submission. Although cloaked in
the language of spirituality, it's about loyalty.

As ol' GC vice president Calvin Rock says in his book, Church Leadership,
conversion doesn't automatically make one ready for church leadership.
And I can say from experience that conviction doesn't always make for a compelling
sermon.

Since I've got you, a card-carrying Columbia-trained
journalist here, I'd like to get your perspective on the state of
media. I just read the recent Economist cover story entitled "
Who Killed the Newspaper?"
Apparently some experts suggest that mid-level newspapers (Everything
between the Times and niche 'zines) will be gone in less than forty
years.

For whatever reasons - too much free content online,
blogger/reporters, changing advertising models, kids these days - the
newspaper will disappear. Of course this has serious implications for a
church weened on the printing press, with a prolific prophet, and a lot
of DIY
members. The stark reality is that very few Adventists are willing to
pay to read print issues of Adventist Review or even Spectrum. What are
your thoughts on the publication of prolix in this shifting context?
Wither Adventist media?

Washing the print off my hands, Alex

Weekly Potluck: What's hot in the Sevy blogosphere

By Alexander Carpenter


"I rock so much," says La Sierra University pastor Sam Leonor on the Kev and K.C. Show podcast.

Commenting on the Sabbath school lesson, Greg quotes Mark Twain: "history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

Also, I am at the Global Internet Evangelism Network conference. Just met some of these savy fellas at netAdventist.  They set up this blog on the conference. 

Hollywood pastor Ryan Bell recommends a bibilical way of thinking about the bible

And speaking about smart evangelism, Monte Sahlin points out: "A lot of things were said in passion during the fall and early winter
of 2001. 'Postmodernism is over ... an American revival is underway ...
things have changed forever.' That's all nonsense and some of us said
so at the time, but Christian leaders didn't want to listen. . . . We have to get real about
what it takes to influence such a massive organism. That includes at
least two things that it seems that Christendom, and American
Christians in particular, have a hard time coming up with: (A) A long
attention span. (B) A serious investment; at least the majority of our
total giving."If you have a recommended blog, let everyone know about it in the comments section.

Frisson Spotlight (1.4) Being a supportive Adventist sometimes means I have to kick a friend in the ass

This is part four of the conversation with Timothy Puko. See below for the first three posts. ______________________________________________You know, I went through a period where I tried to read the Review. I really did. And it wasn't even that long ago. But it was too much fluff. It provides a really irrelevant mix of cliché stories I don't care about and unrealistically fundamentalist opinion. There are a lot of things I love that I don't have time for in my life, so I couldn't, and can't, rationalize making time for the Review.Being religious in the age of post-modernism is a really interesting experience. Trying to balance those worlds within a culture, especially for young adults, constantly reveals these marvelous shades of gray: sexual abstinence, homosexuality, the difference between evangelism and imperialism, and so on and so on. We have no answers for these things. OK, "we" have answers, but few if any are realistically applicable in many of the cultures where Adventists live and connect with non-Adventists. So we desperately need to be talking about these issues. That's why the Review, and usually anything the church itself puts out, doesn't feel honest to you: They never really address any of these issues except in the most fundamentalist, echo-chamber-for-our-biggest-donors way. I do have hope for the church, however. Paulsen's "Let's Talk" series is actually pretty good. Those sessions do feel honest (except for that absurdly cheerful host--remember, too nice too soon makes me skeptical) and that's what we need more of. There's always talk about historical Adventism, blah blah blah, let's get back to our roots, blah blah blah. Fine, good idea, but let's get back to our real roots. Let's think of ourselves more as the church of present truth rather than the church of the 28 fundamental beliefs. Just because some jackass GC president with initials for a first name made a moral proclamation 50 or 100 years ago doesn't mean it works today. The church was founded in opposition to just that type of mentality and if we would just consider that, and openly confront these modern issues, I think we would provide a much more spiritually fulfilling experience for our young adults.Again, my place in life is to tell people what's up, to let them know. If you don't want to know, I can't help you. That's the only conclusion my thoughts have found. If you need consoling, read the Bible, pray, see a pastor. Help someone. I did not get the spiritual gift of sugar coating skills. If God values that, he hasn't indicated such to me. One afternoon in England, a close friend there half-heartedly encouraged me to seek out church employment. I refused. There's no room for someone like me in any Adventist office where I could wield real influence. I can't tow a company line and that seems to be a really important attribute for potential church administrators today.Your administrator "friend," did he ever read the Bible? For real? I mean, how much of scripture focuses on "good news"? In the Bible there are a lot of people doing a lot of bad shit, even believers—David, Aaron, Peter, etc. Jesus wasn't focusing on good news when he rolled into the temple area and started turning over tables. We have to turn over some tables and talk about our problems if we're ever going to recognize them and fix them. That's the process that I get started. One thing I try to do for people, including non-Adventists, is remind them that I love the church. When we get on to my opinions, I can really get fired up about problems in the organization (see above). So, in those cases, you have to say, "I'm only saying this because I love the church and want it to be even better. In fact, here's a short list of what I love about Adventism: present truth, Sabbath, logical reading of the Bible, principled stances, belief in self-sacrifice."As I said yesterday, having love for the church doesn't mean I, or anyone else, should hold back if some fellow Adventist needs to be held accountable. Being a supportive Adventist sometimes means I have to kick a friend in the ass so he or she takes a few steps forward.Wondering if I'll ever again be asked to participate in an open Adventist forum,Puko

Frisson Spotlight (1.3) Do you read the Review?

This is part three of the conversation with Timothy Puko. See below for the first two posts. ______________________________________________Hello Puko, Greetings from San Diego. I'm down at a GC-sponsored mini-conference for (read with He-man voice) the Global Internet Evangelism Network. Thus far it's consisted of a bunch of hackneyed Mac vs. PC jokes. (Anyone for a little pirates vs. ninjas?)
I bring this up because of your great comments:

"Being a professed Christian in a Christian group doesn't give you a free pass from accountability."

"If you want a constituent-based organization, then
respect the fact that your constituents need to be well informed."

This
evening I sat right next to the communication head of a union on which
Spectrum reported. He looked visibly bothered when I mentioned the
journal. I asked him if he knew of anything interesting going on. After
a couple of silent seconds, he turned to me and said: I focus on good
news. . . .  I just looked back at him, realizing: "so is that what
leadership thinks - either with us or against us."  In the future, it
would be great to change this false dichotomy. Perhaps members can be
involved in the life of the church beyond just paying dues for good
news.  I'm not sure that the Adventist 4th estate should be
antagonistic - but on the other hand, Judith Miller shows what can
happen if things become too tight. While I think that
Spectrum, and your report does a fine job of hard-hitting while being
fair-minded, I sense that the average member is still uncomfortable
with knowing too much about their religion. Have you pondered these mix
of responsibilities? How do you articulate being a supportive fellow Adventist and maintain a journalistic approach? The
reality is that there are not many places for honest conversations
about the beliefs, governance, and culture of Adventism. Perhaps in one
or two college classes, but other than that, not much. Even the most
powerful executive committee doesn't get much time to think creatively.
Along with that, I'm curious how a Columbia University trained
journalist reads the Adventist Review and the other church news. I
can't think of a single college-graduate friend of mine who actually
pays any attention to the church papers. Perhaps that's part of the
general move online for news or perhaps its the propaganda feel of the
writing. Often it just doesn't feel honest - and I read almost all of
it - I have a sick fascination with the rags like I enjoy VH1. Do you
read the Review? Back atcha,

Alexander

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