(We dish it. Good to take our lumps too.)
Vol. 35, Issue 4
Sharon Fujimoto-Johnson knows her job. The cover design and interior graphics are exceptional. (Notice I said, “design”. The subject’s knuckles and fingers are too grotesque to be anything but a distraction, even figuratively.)
In her editorial, KATHY JONES, Bonnie Dwyer, far from confessing that she reads contemporary fiction, announces the fact shamelessly. Not only that, she goes on to give Dennis Johnson’s spy novel, Tree of Smoke an enthusiastic review. Good on you Bonnie. In this issue she introduces her readers to former “on-the-books” Adventists, Ray Garton and Steve Spruill. Both are novelists. More about that later.
WHO WILL REINVENT ADVENTISM? by Charles Scriven is a call to “reinvent” the Adventist Church. He argues that, “a church that is merely a refuge can grow. But it cannot appeal to those it educates into prophetic, as opposed to merely sectarian, awareness”. As a consequence, people “who dare to engage the world, to imagine its betterment and to resist its evil–want more than a cloistered life, and they will leave us, if they have to, in order to get it”.
Charles, most of those people have already left and are leaving in droves. Adventism as defined by our Twenty-eight Doctrines cannot be reinvented. A metamorphosis may be possible if church members come to regard “The Twenty Eight” as “coming of age” phenomena. We have done it with the Shut Door proclamation, The Lake of Judgment Fire, and Salvation by Works. The traditional Sanctuary Message, the 2300 Day Prophecy and the Investigative Judgment seem to be following those doctrines into obscurity as well. I am hopeful that a butterfly may emerge when that happens. [A blog post offers another perspective on this editorial: Rich Hannon’s Revisioning Adventism.]
Editors, feedback is the life-blood of the magazine. Just over one full page is not enough.
Nathan Brown provides ONE REASON WHY CHURCHES GROW. That reason is summarized in his final paragraph. “As a church, we need to work together to find creative, authentic, practical, and ongoing ways to serve our communities.”
I was a student at Pacific Union College when Walter C. Utt was a professor in the the History Department. No faculty member was more love or respected. A FEW WORDS WITH WALTER by Benjamin McArthur brings him to life, visually and conversationally. I had forgotten that he had written children’s books about the persecution of the Huguenots: ”No Peace for a Soldier” is currently available from the Adventist Book Center.
I have not forgotten, however, that his was one of the voices of calm and reasonable judgment that saved me, Ernie Bursey, Larry Downing, and others from being expelled after our noisy but harmless midnight escapade involving water balloons and a siren in Andre Hall.
The following words epitomize the thoughtful perspective he brought to all who were fortunate enough to hear him speak. I don’t know to whom the following words should be credited, McArthur or Utt, but they sound and feel like a quote. There is “an ineffable sadness in the apparent vulnerability people feel. It’s not just–or even primarily–an Adventist problem. Conspiracy mongering permeates American life. Many people seem to live in an atmosphere of vulnerability. It breeds suspicion and aborts clear thoughts”.
Gary Chartier reminds us that regional COLLEGES CONFRONT MONEY PROBLEMS. Atlantic Union College and Columbia Union College are in real trouble.
Just a suggestion. On your first reading skip the FORUM MEETING RESPONSES TO BULL AND LOCKHART by Gary Land, Douglas Morgan, and Julius Nam if you don’t have an overpowering interest in Adventist Church history. The responses are long and tedious. (Editors, references need only be cited.)
AFTER TWENTY-FIVE YEARS, AAW CELEBRATES A LEGACY OF SERVICE. Loren Seibold provides brief biographies of the six women who were 2007’s Adventist Women of the Year. The accomplishments of Joy Ford Butler, Karen Hanson Kotoske, Rigmor Mari-Anne Nyberg, Qin Zheng Yi, Nancy Webber Vyhmeister, and Dorothy Eaton Watts are astonishing. The suggestion by Rosa Banks, General Conference Associate Secretary, that the AAW has become irrelevant, is disappointing. In Seibold’s words, “young women in either don’t know about AAW, or are so accustomed to the quality in the workplace that they don’t know their church is half a century behind the curve”.
Zdravko Stefanovic’s SMALL HORN WITH A BIG MOUTH: AN APPRECIATION OF LITERARY FEATURES FROM DANIEL’S BOOK should be required reading only for reviewers. “Literary Features” deconstructed the Book of Daniel into a confusion of “artistic imagery”. It also violated the spirit of the author’s final quotation from Clark H. Pinnock,s, “The Scripture Principle”. “It is very important not to forget. . .that the Bible is a means to an end, not an end in itself.”
CINEMATOGRAPHY—WHY BOTHER? Zdravko Plantak chairs the Department of Religion at Columbia Union College. This essay is an earnest effort to make it possible for “good” Adventists to go to the movies without guilt. As might be expected for someone employed by the Church, his argument involves six pages of tortured prose and “scholarly” justification. And he uses words like “cinematography” and “a meditative art form” instead of “movies” whenever possible.
Scott Moncrieff, THE RESPONSIBILITY OF WATCHING, Winona Winkler Wedth, TOP TEN MOVIES, and Daneen Akers, MAKING A LIST FOR 2007, recommend movies, and provide viewing tips, brief plot outlines, and background information. My wife, Claudia, recommends the movie reviews in “Christianity Today”, and I recommend “The Independent Lens” on PBS.
Ray Garton’s WHEN ADVENTISTS RIOT is a funny, poignant, and unsettling description of student life at Rio Lindo Academy twenty-six years ago. He writes horror stories today, and credits the beasts of biblical prophecy for his initial interest in this literary genre. The following is his introduction to “Live Girls” on Amazon.
“Live Girls has been published in several countries and languages, and has had a few different editions here in the U.S. Since then, I have written over fifty books, but Live Girls remains my most popular and well-known novel. Eighteen years passed before I finally wrote a sequel (Night Life, now available in paperback from Leisure Books). I wrote one other vampire novel, Lot Lizards (coming soon in paperback from Leisure Books), which makes up my vampire trilogy.”
Best selling novelist and clinical psychologist Steven Spruill (alias Steve Lyon, Steve Morgan, and Steven Harrison) graduated from Andrews University with a BA in biology. He claims his own idiosyncratic SDA affiliation, and in BROTHERS AND SISTERS he writes knowingly about what all Adventist have in common “under the skin” (My quote not his.)
Check out Sprill’s book, “Absorbing Sponge Bob: Ten Ways to Squeeze More Happiness out of Life” and his novel, “Sleeper”. (The following is an Amazon description.) “The Pentagon holds many secrets, but none are more deadly than what is kept hidden beneath the basement in a cryogenic freeze. It has claws that could cut a man in half and an insatiable appetite for human flesh…and someone just woke it up.”
In BOOKS ON A BEDSIDE TABLE readers learn that “Freud read Scripture as though it were poetry and learned from it accordingly”. Words fail me.
COUNCILS ON DIET AND HEALTH
Benjamin Lau, THE ADVENTIST ADVANTAGE, is a fascinating account of why SDAs “are among the longest-lived he people in the world”. But according to Lau, Adventists can do better. He is “concerned about the huge amounts of the dairy-based and redefined sugare foods” Adventists commonly ingest. He goes on to state that “lacto-ovo-vegetarians may actually consume more animal products (cheese and milk) than meat eaters”.
THIS IS ONE OF THOSE POEMS that brings back wonderful memories of Albion. I must confess, however, that the art that accompanies it on the back cover (a brick red rectangle) does not, as advertised, succeed in “moving” my spirit or prove to be helpful when meditating on Genesis 1:2.
A professor of education at California State University, Chico, Andy Hanson blogs and reviews at(Adventist Perspective).
(We dish it. Good to take our lumps too.)
Other stories you might find interesting
I had a dream last night, a dream of General Conference Sessions past and future. I stood in the center of a stadium, packed with people, all captivated by the music and stagecraft in front of them. I looked around and felt a sadness that kept growing inside of me until it was overwhelming.
Some time ago I was sitting in what quite possibly was the most boring church service I have ever been in. (No, I won’t tell you where I was.) There couldn’t have been more than 50 people in the sanctuary, and I’m being generous. We sang no less than 5 hymns. All hymns were sung in a dry, slow manner. The sermon seemed uninspired, barely prepared, and was presented with no sense of conviction. It felt like we were in church for three hours. We were in church for about 70 minutes.