The beliefs and sentiments expressed by those whose letters appear here are not necessarily shared by the Adventist Review or its editorial staff. These letters have been edited for clarity and length. -- Editors

Say It Straight
I read with interest the General Conference president’s comment on the Muslim cartoon issue. But I was disappointed that in spite of using a lot of words, he actually said very little. Does he support freedom of expression, or not? Is truth still truth, even if it offends others? Are we to water down our gospel message to avoid getting on anyone’s bad side? Did Jesus?

Dillon Cocks
Adelaide, Australia

Learning History’s Lessons
Thanks to Bill Knott for his excellent article, “The Nearly Adventist President” (Jan. 26, 2006). It was certainly an interesting time when the United States president had such close ties with the Adventist Church.

I was especially interested in your references to Heber Votaw, being that I am one of his distant relatives. You might be interested to know that during his time as superintendent of Federal Prisons, Elder Votaw was able to implement a successful inmate work program in the Atlanta penitentiary. A cotton duck mill was established at the prison and more than 1,200 acres were purchased for a prison farm. When Harding died in office Votaw was investigated by the Senate regarding drug trafficking, as the article mentioned. He was among many administration employees who felt the political backlash when Harding was no longer in power. There was certainly some corruption in the Harding administration, but sometimes this point was exaggerated by political enemies of the time.

Pastor Delmar Austin
Green Bay, Wisconsin

I read with interest the obviously well-researched article by Bill Knott, “The Nearly Adventist President.” But I wondered why so many pages of the Review were devoted to it (aside from recognizing the Harding legacy of Adventist physicians), until I came to the part, “Lessons Learned.” Then on p. 20 I read an item in “Newsbreak” about the Sligo Adventist Church’s hosting a celebration for the life of a former Indian president. I wondered why one of our churches was involved in this. Do we celebrate the lives of all deceased foreign presidents, or only those who are friendly to our church?

Helen Kelly
Ridgetop, Tennessee

Challenged to Be More
Wow, thank you to Sandra Doran and William Johnsson for writing a powerful article and editorial that helps keep me centered and focused as an Adventist Christian. I love the last paragraph of Doran’s article “Tipping the Scales” (Jan. 12, 2006), where she says, “I understand now why Christ has promised to return to this earth when His character is perfectly reproduced in His people. . . . It is not hyper-awareness of our own needs that He wants. It is a heightened sensitivity to the suffering of this earth that will shake our complacency and cause us no rest day and night as we pray for Him to come to relieve the pain that sin has inflicted upon our planet.”

William Johnsson’s editorial, “A Call for Radical Discipleship” (Jan. 19, 2006), deeply resonates with me, as I have felt challenged by Jesus’ radical call on my life. What I see in most North American churches is so different from what Jesus modeled for us, and from what the New Testament church was. We have domesticized and civilized the life and teachings of Jesus to the point that they are like a bedtime story instead of a call to action. I look forward to reading the CrossWalk edition of the Review.

Brenda Maldonado
Monroe, Washington

I hear and accept the clarion call to discipleship in William Johnsson’s editorial, “A Call for Radical Discipleship.” Those scary and challenging words, “arise, shine,” came to me as a 10-year old in sixth grade (fourth standard in colonial Burma) in a Baptist school in Rangoon, two years before World War II.

My well-meaning Karen tribal leader insisted that those two words from Isaiah 60:1, 2 be expressed clearly and loudly (no microphones then), so that parents, family, and staff could hear. During rehearsals the teacher relentlessly brow-beat us. At times tears and anger commingled to frustrate me: I could’ve stomped off the scene.

Now, in my “sundown years,” I wonder what the Review will do to craft and couch meaningful prose and poems in future issues that will continue to challenge us. Will we “old fogies” be able to comprehend Jesus, the radical divine-human, Healer, Teacher, Counselor, Redeemer, Savior, so that in 2006 I can simply be His follower and disciple?

Keith R. Mundt
Riverside, California

Hold On to the Good
I wish to thank the Review for giving temperance and health such a prominent profile in the last few years. Brian Bull’s article, “To Drink, or Not to Drink” (Jan. 12, 2006), was thoughtfully written and, although not a full length treatise on the subject, it clarified some very important points including the ubiquitous “J” curve. It is essential that readers take time to read the entire article and not scan it cursorily, otherwise the full message will not be understood.

Literature supports the cardioprotective benefits of flavonoids and other phytochemicals obtained from purple grapes and unfermented grape juice. There is no dispute about this beneficial and positive effect. There is, however, a body of evidence that points to a benefit to coronary artery health from alcohol of any kind. It is here that special perspective is needed. Alcohol is a toxin in all forms. It is addictive and carcinogenic. It is associated with domestic violence, accidents of all kinds, and social disruption. The daily glass of wine that is so readily recommended as cardioprotective in both the medical and popular press is associated with an increased incidence of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. It further needs to be stressed that whatever positive effects may be seen in endothelial cell cultures in the laboratory should be very cautiously extrapolated into real life because life is not lived in a petri dish.

The official stand of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is clear. We abstain from alcohol use for the many reasons already mentioned. Even more importantly, I find it most compelling to keep my mind a clear and open channel for the working/speaking of God’s Holy Spirit in my life. The body is the temple of God, and it should be kept free of the influence of alcohol.

I was interested to note the suggestion in one of the readers’ letters that the Review should send special issues related to addictions and other behavioral topics to every church, home, and school. Thanks to a generous donation, the special issue, “Adventists and Addictions,” has been distributed throughout North America and some divisions.

Thank you to all at the Review for having a genuine and “real-time” interest in the issues of our church--even those we would rather ignore at times.

Peter N. Landless, MBBCh, MMed, FCP(SA), FACC
Associate director, General Conference Health Ministries Department
Executive Director, International Commission for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency

Define and Discuss
I’m the first to agree with Karl Haffner that there is truth and there are moral absolutes. We should embrace these and advance them. However, the embrace of truth does not exempt us from carefully applying truth to the concrete experiences of people groups. Thus, Mr. Haffner’s online column, “Politically Carrot”, struck me as both confused and confusing.

First, the term “politically correct” was never defined. Maybe it’s me, but when such a volatile term is undefined, it opens the way for all sorts of misinterpretation. For instance, if “politically correct” is verbal conformity to some transient “trend of the month,” such conformity might be misguided. If it means that we cannot discuss truth for fear of social disapproval, we should reject the notion out of hand.

But if “politically correct” means that we engage in important conversations on sensitive issues with care and consideration, that what we mean to share is what is heard in the larger market place of ideas, then the idea of “politically correct” is appropriate, even Christian.

Let’s take the idea of “victims” cited and dismissed as by Mr. Haffner (which, by the way, is undefined as well). While persons or groups can be “victims” in their own minds, it does not logically follow that people or groups cannot be and therefore are not, “victims” in fact. Were not Jewish people victims of Nazism during Hitler’s tyranny over Germany in World War II? Or, when we see scientifically validated disparities in health care treatment and outcomes for minority populations as per the latest Institute of Medicine report, are these citizens victims in “self perception,” or in fact?

It strikes me that Haffner’s column is simply one more way of dismissing particular histories, experiences, and the sensitivities that accompany them in the name of truth telling. I have never read the gospel or the ministry of Christ in that way. But then again, my concerns for sensitivity and context might simply be “politically correct.”

Leslie Pollard
Loma Linda, California

Online Offerings
Thank you so much for putting radio and television programming on the Adventist Review website. It’s exciting for someone in North America’s southwest to be able to partake of these awesome media.

Karen Phillips
Yuma, Arizona

Why must a person register to read articles on Adventist Review Online? All the other secular websites do that. Why does a Christian website railroad people into registering to read articles that could help them in their walk with Christ, or in their marriage, relationships, or church life? I was disappointed to start reading an article, only to have to stop because I’m not registered.

I’ve been receiving the ARIntouch newsletter for almost five years. I don’t think this has any place on a Christian website. I have decided to forego the article (which could have been a great blessing to me) rather than to have to fiddle with registration, trying to remember a log-in, and so forth. You should warn people before they start reading. It just seems wrong and misleading to do such a thing after a person is interested. I expect it from the New York Times, or some other for-profit website, but not the Adventist Review.

Oveta Foster
Huntington, New York

The Adventist Review, for nearly 150 years, has been built on a financial base that includes subscription sales. Providing a portion of the weekly print edition free to website visitors is one of our many ministries. --Editors

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