April 19, 2010

1512 Web Letters

It’s Not Just About Animals
As a dairy farmer almost all of my life, and following generations of farmers, I would like to comment on the article, “What Are We Really Doing To God’s Creatures?” (Mar. 18, 2010).
The author is to be commended for addressing our need for conservation and our neglect as stewards of the earth. Modern agriculture has contributed a lot to the degradation of our planet.
However, I would like to address some issues:
Even in “factory farms” samples of every tank of milk are tested before being loaded onto trucks and transported from the farm. Serious fines are levied if any antibiotic is found in the milk; so milk does not contain the antibiotics that some people fear.
Cows are happiest when they are pastured and free to wander. This is true when the weather is pleasant, but otherwise the cows are glad to be confined.
Most farmers would like to have “small family farms” and enjoy the bucolic environment with less stress and a more stable environment. But economics, the pressure to be more efficient, and the desperate need to pay bills, have contributed to farmers feeling the need to expand.
Fortunately, in the Northeast there is a fairly strong market for organically produced foods. In keeping with our family’s desire to remain farmers, we have become a “certified organic” farm. This means that we do not use antibiotics, commercial fertilizers, pesticides, etc. Pasturing our animals during the grazing season is required. Though this method is much more expensive, we feel that God has led us to a healthier alternative, and away from the practices of conventional agriculture.
I, too, read Wendell Berry’s book, The Unsettling of America, and was profoundly influenced about my stewardship of the earth. Too many of his predictions have been fulfilled.
May we Adventists truly value our privileges and responsibilities.
Paul E. Miller
Vernon, Vermont

Regarding “What Are We Really Doing to God’s Creatures”:
The mission statement of Adventist Review is: “Our mission is to uplift Jesus Christ by presenting stories of His matchless love, news of His present workings, help for knowing Him better, and hope in His soon return.”
I think it’s a far stretch to use this precious resource to denounce and malign farmers who have invested their lives, their family’s security, and a lot of hard work in making a living. I suppose you could use the same arguments to denounce the shepherds of Jesus’ time. The animals they kept were butchered, hung up, and sold in the marketplace.
Did the author ever depend on the sale of cows or their milk, or did he work a sweating team of horses to provide a minimal subsistence for his family? A man’s worth in society and his knowledge are not determined by the letters after his name.
Our society is beginning to worship animals. Many of the animal protection organizations consider animals to be equal with humans, if not more important. I’m quick to condemn those who are cruel to animals, but do we have to condemn people who raise animals for sale?

One measuring rod does not apply to all people.
Bill Wetmore
Cleburne, Texas

The Difference
I’m not sure why, of the numerous times I’ve thought of writing about an article or editorial, I’ve chosen to write about Stephen Chavez’s editorial, “There Is a Difference" (Mar. 18, 2010).
Perhaps it’s because I have had a hang-up about the number of fictional books written by Seventh-day Adventist authors concerning how the end-time Sunday law and resultant persecution might possibly come about. Regardless of how much we know about end times, it is quite likely that none of the fictional books come close to describing how things will actually happen. We’ll all probably be surprised (even though these events could be very near at hand). Chavez made no mention of any of these particular books, but I believe it would have been appropriate had he done so.
He did mention the Left Behind series, and indicated that we should not waste our time debunking such fiction. However, these books play on the real beliefs people have concerning the end times, which they believe are based on Scripture! Sorry, but I have to say it is appropriate and necessary to point out that these types of novels are based on a premise that is not supported by Scripture and, at the same time, point out what Scripture actually does say.
Isn’t there an old adage: “If something is repeated often enough, it becomes accepted as fact” (e.g., evolution)?
Robert N. Knickerbocker
Laurel, Maryland

Stephen Chavez misses the point entirely. Fiction is, and always has been, created for more than entertainment. Fiction has been a medium for the devil for as long as it’s been available. Those who write it use it to convey their ideas and beliefs about many things, whether true or false. They often mix true and false together. The books that Chavez mentioned involve belief systems from the bottomless pit. Although people know they are fiction, they accept many of their ideas as truth.
The Left Behind series is an example. I have family members who ascribe to the futurist ideas in these books. These ideas have been successful in derailing the Protestant reformation. They know that the books are fiction, but speak of them almost as the standard of eschatology.
Chavez seems to think that books such as Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code are harmless because they are fiction. That’s not true. The devil is muddying the waters with these books and movies so people cannot recognize his masterpiece of deception when it happens. These exciting stories numb minds to the truth as it is in Jesus. Satan’s confederacy of evil is preparing the world for the final events by trying to make God’s people foolish virgins. He works harder at this as we approach the end.
In our schools and churches we hear conversations among young and old that recount details of these movies and books. Entertainment seems to be the “god” of many so-called Christians. I think of it as replacement oil for foolish virgins that dries up and is useless.
I speak from experience. God rescued me from a life of pleasure-seeking through vicarious living in media. How many out there have been drawn to a life of witchcraft and worshipping demons because of Harry Potter, a fictional character? God wants to rescue as many as He can from the artificial. He just might do it through someone’s “boring” book or slide presentation.
Richard Story
Valley Center, Kansas

Protesting for Peace
When I finished reading the news story, “Adventist Schools Close To Protest Violence,”  I found I had a number of misconceptions about Belize and it’s people. For a country with only about 300,000 people who live on about 8,500 square miles, with a multitude of racial, ethnic, and religious groups, and a number of languages, I could see obvious reasons for a lack of communication between groups within the population. Also, its history reflects the usual European colonial misuse of locals leading to rampant inequality and mutual fear and disrespect among the many groups.
It turns out that those who suffer the largest number of murders and rapes belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Second are Seventh-day Adventists. The most frequent cause of violence and murder is apparently the production and trade of marijuana and cocaine. Most Christian denominations, including our Seventh-day Adventist Church, teach against the use of such substances. Therein, it seems to me, lies a good part of the reasons Christians are being attacked: intimidation by local drug lords.
Youth involvement in religious activities should be encouraged by all religious organizations. Treat the poorest as though they are the most important people there. Teach them to express their rightful indignation at how their families have been left out because of racial and ethnic/religious ostracism. Engage them with hope. They can change the downward spiral of sadness and the drugs used to relieve it.
Ron Dahlke
Walla Walla, Washington

The Strangers Within Our Gates
Most of us are aware that there was a march in Washington recently for those involved with immigration.
I was happy to read in the Online Issue that on Monday, March 22, there was a White House meeting on immigration, attended by representatives from Hispanic Christian organizations and religious organizations including Evangelicals, Catholics, and Jewish religious leaders. Even though Seventh-day Adventists could have been represented in the Evangelical delegation, it was not mentioned.
My concern is that, in spite of loud discussions on this topic for several years, I have not read one word from the North American Division regarding the Seventh-day Adventist stand on immigration.
It is well known that many, if not most, recent baptisms to the Adventist church have been among immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries, Haiti, and Asian countries. Yet we’ve heard not a word from headquarters as to how members should relate to immigrants and their families.
I was hoping that after all these years the North American Division had become at least among the middle group, rather than being the tail so far as immigration, which affects so many of our members’ families, is concerned.
If the North American Division is so slow on these issues, God help us when more pressing issues arise.
If the North American Division does not give leadership, it appears that each family or member must pray for guidance from the Lord, the Creator of all humankind, for guidance in these matters.
I am praying that North American Division leadership will, before it’s too late, become real leaders in this and other issues as we see the day of the Lord rapidly approaching.
Richard S. Norman