February 2, 2010

02 Web Letters (2010)

The Adams Review
Thanks to Roy Adams for “Yes! And Good Riddance!” (Dec. 24, 2009), a thoughtful reflection on the year’s happenings in 2009. All the issues he noted, and others, have an impact on how we live our faith and fulfill our mission. It is critical that we remain aware of, and appropriately engaged in, what happens in our world. We have the opportunity to be agents of transformation in our world, not merely observers and commentators.

Having grown up in a predominantly Buddhist country, I was interested in Adams’ reference to Buddhism being awarded “The Best Religion in the World Award” for 2009, especially since Buddhism sees itself more as a philosophy than as a religion. My attempts to learn more about this award and the International Coalition for the Advancement of Religion and Spirituality (ICARUS) have raised doubts about the credibility of the cited Geneva Tribune article, and even the existence of the ICARUS in Geneva. Nevertheless, the practice of compassion and peace within Buddhism is indeed something for Christians to ponder, as Adams suggests.

Raj Attiken
Columbus, Ohio

Roy Adams’ review of significant issues in 2009 was uncanny in its predictions under the heading “Issues of Security and Peace.” His article was obviously written before the December 25, 2009 near-catastrophe over Detroit, when the perpetrator hid potentially destructive explosives in his underwear, unnoticed by security officials at the Amsterdam airport.

I was also impressed by Adams’ gentle but honest reminder that too many American Adventists worry about being involved in politics. While we have Ellen White’s counsel that we should steer away from partisan politics, the word politics itself, “the art and science of government” (Webster), is a reality none of us can escape.

In her lifetime Ellen White involved herself courageously in moral issues that had become an ugly theater with partisan clashes. In courageously following suit, we will witness to significant others and answer their queries about what makes us tick in these pre-apocalyptic times.

Warren R. Zork
Berrien Springs, Michigan

A Passion for Christ
Before I even finished reading the Review for December 24, I felt strongly that the article, “A Great Awakening,” might be the answer to the problem the church has of our youth slipping out the back door.

Certainly, if our youth can be invigorated with a passion for Christ and evangelism, and the numbers for Generation of Youth for Christ keep doubling every year, it speaks to the need for this ministry in the hearts of young people. They want to be needed. Who slips out the back door when they are needed?

May God bless this new ministry, and may the rest of us not sit in the seat of the scornful but give our encouragement to something new that may move young people as nothing else seems to be doing.

Judy Bolyard
Jonesborough, Tennessee

Celebrating the Season

I read the article, “The Strong Galilean” (Dec. 24, 2009), hoping it would explain why Seventh-day Adventists don’t celebrate Christmas. However I was sorely disappointed when the author, after taking us through the life of Jesus, wrote: “At this Christmastide, come to the manger.” Look to the manger? Really?

I was taught that Jesus was not born in December, so there should be no looking into any manger at Christmas, because the manger would be empty, just like His tomb. I was taught that the world celebrates Christmas because the Catholic Church indoctrinated it to do so. Is this not a pagan ritual that was brought into Christianity by Sunday worshipers?

I am astounded when I watched most Seventh-day Adventist [television] channels and saw Christmas trees. It gives the impression that we do celebrate this ritual.

So tell me: Where is Christmas from? What is the root of this celebration? Why is it that no emphasis is being placed on indoctrinating the world as to what is really being celebrated?

Erica Harvey-Beecher

At the risk of stating the obvious, the birth of Christ has been celebrated since the angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem with the message: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” (Luke 2:14, NRSV).

“So [the shepherds] hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” (Luke 2:16-18, NIV).

Long before there was a Catholic Church, believers have been celebrating the miracle of “Immanuel”—which means, ‘God with us’” (Matt 1:23, NIV).

True, it is impossible to pinpoint the date of Christ’s birth. And yes, it was probably not on December 25. But just as we “come to the cross” to experience forgiveness and redemption, the manger in Bethlehem remains a symbol of God’s love, no matter when we observe it. —Editors

Saying Thanks, and Goodbye
Thanks for running Jimmy Phillips’ column, “Here’s to You, PVA” (Dec. 24, 2009), about Platte Valley Academy.

I’m a 1975 graduate of PVA and I feel very sorry to see the place bulldozed under. While I understand the decision, I must face the reality that boarding schools are struggling to stay in the black, especially those in the farming heartland. Fewer students mean fewer funds, and the place just couldn’t float.

I support the Kansas-Nebraska Conference Committee that made the difficult choice. They are brave, honorable people. It’s kind of like having to put down a much-loved pet; we hate to do it, but it must be done.

I wish to say: “Thank you, Lord, for having Platte Valley alive and well during my teen years. Thank you for the wonderful, dedicated staff that nurtured me through those formative years. And thank you, Lord, for my little church in Neligh, Nebraska, that raised worthy student funds to keep me at PVA.” I am eternally blessed because of my three years at PVA, our “Prairie Queen.”

Vicki Rutherford
Auburn, Washington

Needed: Local Leaders
I’m writing to thank Fredrick Russell for thinking outside of the “clergy” box and writing his timely column, “Is There a Better Way” (Nov. 19, 2009).

During my 35 years of membership in the Adventist church I have mourned as I witness many pastors offered conference, union conference, division, and General Conference oversight responsibilities and removed from frontline [pastoral] ministry. The apostolic model encouraged the church leaders at Jerusalem to be fully engaged at vanguard, church-level ministry. The complexities of leading the institution is secondary to the Great Commission.

Let’s continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to lead God’s church, and change practices so that the world can be reached with the Three Angels’ messages.

Dennis E. N. Wilson-Cole
London, England

Consider the Sparrows
Seeing the Sparrow Fall” (Nov. 19, 2009) was one of the most touching stories I have read in the Review.
Having watched sparrows at my birdfeeder, I am amused at how feisty they are for being such little birds. If too many land on the perches, the first ones there are sure to chase the others away. They fly and peck at each other, push and bully; I’ve even seen them kick.

So it was with curiosity that I looked more closely at the cover photograph. Sure enough, one little sparrow was standing on one leg as he braced his other foot against his neighbor on the fence post, ready to push him and the bird below off the post.

Yes, God watches over us and the little sparrows. He also sees us when we fall; when we push our way to the top, when we trample over others, when we kick and peck and fight to have our own way. May 2010 be a year of new beginnings as we allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in refining us.

Sharon Klahn
Wilmington, Deleware