July 22, 2011

Web Letters

Judge the Evidence, Not the Person
Shawn Boonstra’s otherwise balanced commentary, “Undeserving: The Casey Anthony Verdict,” seems to have been negated by his statement: “To be sure, I’m not at all happy with the Casey Anthony verdict.”

This statement seems to imply that he believes Casey is guilty of the crimes with which she was charged. Being the father of a little girl I also recoil at the thought that the life of precious, innocent Caylee was so prematurely snuffed out, and that no one has been punished for the crime. But I have no legal training, and my exposure to the case was limited to watching the closing arguments in which--by my admittedly uninformed and uneducated judgment--absolutely not one shred of viable evidence was presented that convinced me that Anthony is guilty.

Sure, someone is guilty. And while it is certainly possible that Anthony may be guilty, my limited exposure to the evidence did not convince me of that beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, I am delighted with the verdict. I am a proponent of consequences (including, but not limited to, the death penalty when warranted by the evidence), but I am grateful that our society would rather err by letting a potentially guilty party walk free than to err by taking the life of someone who may be innocent, or incarcerating them for a long period of time.

“Beyond a reasonable doubt” is an appropriately high legal standard. And anyone who might be vexed at the outcome of the Anthony case should re-direct their chagrin to society’s “reasonable doubt” standard, or to the ways and means by which the case was prosecuted, rather than to second-guess the jury’s completely appropriate lack-of-evidence-based decision.

--Eugene Korff
Columbia, Maryland

Principles, not Practices
Roger Walter did the church a great service in his article about church planting, “A Church Plant Success” (July 14, 2011). Too often stories of such activities center on specific steps taken, which may have worked well in a particular location but would not work equally well elsewhere.

Instead, Walter lifted up in a unique way key underlying principles that allow for all kinds of procedural adaptations. Once one has a clear perception of core guiding principles, the details of how to proceed fall into place. Thanks for the powerful principles enunciated and demonstrated.

Again, Adventist education cannot be oversold for its value--even if we are a bit slow in solving some very real operationally structural problems, as Larry Backmer pointed out in the article “”Adventist Education: Alive and Well” (July 14, 2011). It is the genius behind where we are today in church growth. It has produced real giants for the Lord’s work.

I also commend the steady, continual, and persistent service of one of our unsung Review heroes. He goes quietly and persistently about the task of compiling and sharing information about the church and related matters that we would otherwise likely never know. No hoopla, limelight, or celebrity, but Monte Sahlin is dedicated to doing something he feels is important--and he has done it for years. Thanks.

--H. H. Hill
Pendleton, Oregon

Live Up to the Billing
I read “Live Up to the Billing” (June 23, 2011) and cried. I’m tearing up as I type this. Fortunately, when my son was living with us--alcohol, tobacco and all--he occasionally attended church with us. We had some “mothers in Israel” who hugged him and told him they loved him--T-shirts, blue jeans, odors, and all.

Now many years later, he has been re-baptized and comes to church with us all the time. God is Love.

--Stanley Murphy
Zephyrhills, Florida

I was somewhat disappointed with Kimberly Luste Maran’s editorial, “Live Up to the Billing.” While I agree that “no congregation . . . is without flaws,” I do not take such a low view of our churches as she seems to.

While there have been times I would have been embarrassed to bring a non-Adventist to my local church, where else would I direct them? If, as I believe, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is God’s remnant people, with an end time message that is of vital interest to all, I’m certainly not going to send them down the street to a church that preaches only part of the truth (i.e., error), or tell them to stay home.

Neither would I be inclined to prejudice them ahead of time by voicing doubts as to the “decency” of any given congregation. As defective as our churches may be, they still provide an environment where God is able to work miracles with those who are searching for truth, the faults and foibles of its members notwithstanding. God is bigger than our faults and failures.

--Walter Sumner
Canaan, Maine

History Made New
I was touched by David Trim’s article about the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in “Stones of Meaning” (June 16, 2011). It’s also refreshing to see a picture of someone who is young and not the stereotypical idea of a person who would write such an article. I only wish that he could make the camp meeting circuit and encourage the members of the church to read about our history. It was an excellent article.

I’m also happy to know that Trim has been appointed as director of Archives and Statistics at the General Conference. I wish him the very best as he continues his work.

--Peggy Williams

Breaking the Mold
Ellie Gil, in “Loving Life” (June 16, 2011), put together a comprehensive list of behaviors and attitudes that we would do well to follow to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy.

However, she obviously does not know that there are many healthy, strong Seventh-day Adventists who do think outside the box and use the natural resources that Forestry Service permits provide to those who are willing to work hard. Like many others, we have a wood stove to heat our home, and in felling pines, cutting them into chunks, and chopping them in early summer, our wood shed is already full in readiness for the winter. After stacking just one truck-load of logs, we know we’ve had a productive morning.

And no, we are not stuck in the past. We have electricity, Internet access, teach on-line from our home, run the local food pantry, grow some of our vegetables, and are part of a small, active congregation in our rural community. That being said, we are not overweight and so far have had no serious health problems. We just do life differently from many others, and praise the Lord for the opportunity to live this way.

--Tabitha Abel and Gary Gibson
Chiloquin, Oregon

Journalist to Journalist
After reading the June 23, 2011 Adventist Review I was both amazed and flattered. It seems as though a complete issue had been put together just for me.

As a former military officer, I marched in step with medical officer Peter Landless in his struggles with the regimental sergeant major. As a former journalist, I was in the newsroom with Andrew McChesney. For the first time I understood the Beatitudes after reading David Asscherick’s logical, sequential presentation. And Bonita Joyner Shields gave me a new understanding of temptation as a test.

Finally, a bonus: a new graphic idea I picked up to use in our local church newsletter, which I edit.
You ink-stained wretches were obviously inspired. Bless you, and thank the Lord.

--Ernie Schultz
Edmond, Oklahoma

Thank you for your kind words. As you doubtless know, long gone are the days when type had to be set by hand or linotype machines. Today the closest we get to ink is when we have to change the ink cartridge in our computer printers. But we proudly and gratefully carry on in the spirit of Adventist editorial types of the past.--Editors