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