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Independent. Spirit. / Adventist. Journalism. / Thoughtful. Community.

Independent. Spirit. / Adventist. Journalism. / Thoughtful. Community.

This editorial appears in the most recent issue of the Spectrum journal (Volume 51, issue 2). Subscribe to receive the premier journal in Adventism, published since 1969.

Perhaps it’s because the words were spoken by Robert Redford. Years later I still hear the actor and activist explaining what inspired the founding of the Sundance Film Festival. He said it would not exist without its independent spirit. Perhaps it’s because I relate almost all things to Spectrum these days, but I feel that independent spirit deep within the founding DNA of this quinquagenarian organization.

From the beginning, Spectrum’s independence was not self-serving. It was a deliberate choice to protect Seventh-day Adventist integrity. The founders of this association—all deeply tied to the denomination by family, belief, occupation—knew that openness and oversight requires space. Independence is not always a rejection. It’s also a form of principled protection.

After the beautiful language about self-evident truths, the Declaration of Independence launches into a “history of repeated injuries and usurpations.” Many an Adventist has their own personal list of these, especially if they have combined church with career, or even volunteering. We all know the desire to love and serve despite the pain of rejection. Spectrum goes beyond just being a safe space because we also practice journalism. Our independent spirit inspires our investigative reporting. We offer carefully researched stories as honest lessons for Adventist self-improvement.

In words that sound like an Old Testament jeremiad and yet feel very relevant today, the Declaration of Independence rages against those who “have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.” That biblical idea of righteousness and blood relation gets at the work required to create thoughtful community. It takes more than conversation. The communal requires contemplative movement—forming and reforming to create the kinship bonds that God offers us all. “No daylight to separate us,” writes Father Gregory Boyle in his 2010 book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion (New York: Simon & Schuster). “Inching ourselves closer to creating a community of kinship such that God might recognize it. Soon we imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased” (140). That’s the Spirit of present truth!

Of course, the denotative and connotative meanings of words fall in and out of fashion. They ring true until they ring hollow. But these days, I find

Independent. Spirit.
Adventist. Journalism.
Thoughtful. Community.

helpful in describing what Spectrum means to me. Feel free to remix to your taste. Recombining this Spectrum DNA has kept us going for decades. I believe it will keep us growing strong as well.


Alexander Carpenter is the executive editor of Spectrum.

Title image by Spectrum.

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