The new, old piety has a blind spot.
Official publications show unmistakably that 1920’s-to-early-60’s piety is shoring up its dominance in Adventist culture. Fueled by stock phraseology—words like “earnest,” phrases like “revival and reformation,” sentences like “How many of you believe that we are living in the very final days of earth’s history…?”—this piety is in certain respects helpful. Revival is good. Reformation is good. A sense of urgency about the times, a wariness concerning the merely popular—both central in Elder Ted Wilson’s preaching—are good.
My picks for the best, most relevant films of 2010.
10. Waiting for Superman
Despite learning a great deal from Stephen Hawking and co-author Leonard Mlodinow in their recent book The Grand Design, in the end I was disappointed.
It’s not that their book lacked clarity. In the introduction they do say that their explicit purpose is to explore “Not only how the universe behaves but why.” They posit three framing questions for their rather short book (188 pages from Bantam books for around $14.00 on Amazon): “Why is there something rather than nothing? Why do we exist? and Why this particular set of laws and not some other?” (p. 9-10)
When I was a kid in youth group, our Sabbath School teacher showed us segments from the DreamWorks screen adaptation of C.S. Lewis's "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe." One girl, the pastor's daughter, as I recall, refused to watch the clips on the basis that Narnia's magic was evil. No, she hadn't seen it. No, she hadn't read Lewis's other writings, including "Mere Christianity." She knew all she needed to know. Witches and dwarves and fauns were satanic, plain and simple.
Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul by Edward Humes (Harper Collins Publishers, 2007), recounts the battle between creationists and evolutionists that was fought in the town of Dover, Pennsylvania. As with most wars, it began with a skirmish. The school board attempted to introduce Intelligent Design (ID) into the ninth grade science curriculum. The science teachers refused.
The opening sequence of Waiting for Superman begins with a routine that many Adventist families know well: narrator/director Davis Guggenheim describes driving past several public schools each day on his way to dropping his kids off at a pricy private school. In a sheepish tone, he describes the small pang of guilt that he feels. He explains that in 1999, he tried to bring hardworking public school teachers to the forefront in his documentary films Teach and The First Year.
An often-believed subtext in the Adventist Faith/Science conundrum is that here are two worlds in collision. From the disparaging and presumably oxymoronic epithet ‘Seventh-day Darwinians’ to the short-chronology requirement for membership in the Adventist Theological Society, contemporary Adventism struggles with the question of compatibility – can revelation be reconciled with science? And, where we presently cannot, how should we proceed?