On Seeking a College Chaplain

What is a college chaplain? A chaplain is the senior advisor to a president on the spiritual life of a campus–a critical position for the Christian college or university. This needs to be the starting point in your search. If you think a chaplain is merely a coordinator of religious activities for students then you…

They Did Not Bow

Daniel chapter 3 tells a familiar story. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, erected a golden statue on the plain of Dura and commanded all people to bow before it. Those who refused would be cast into a fiery furnace.

 In verse 8, the start of our reading, his advisors told Nebuchadnezzar three men he had appointed…

Light in the Darkness

John 1:5–“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.” Shortly after I arrived here yesterday afternoon, I went over to the Wal-Mart to join with those reflecting and praying at the memorial which was set up to honor the 22 victims who died last Sabbath morning. I went again this morning…

Nuclear War and Ethics

The Department of Defense recently issued a new document on nuclear war, JP 3-72, Nuclear Operations. It was quickly taken offline, but not before being snagged and posted by the Federation of American Scientists.  This is all it says of ethics: The law of war governs the use of nuclear weapons, just as it governs…

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

The year was 1569. The place, Holland, which was then under Spanish rule. That meant Catholic rule, and Protestants were treated harshly, especially those known as Anabaptists. Dirk Willems was an Anabaptist. When they came to arrest him for preaching the Gospel, he took off running, with an officer known as a “thief catcher” in…

Thou Shalt Not Kill

It’s one of the shortest of the Ten Commandments. It seems clear. Desmond Doss said he got his conviction against killing because of a framed picture of the Ten Commandments that hung on a wall in his childhood home, with the sixth commandment illustrated by Cain and Abel, with a club in Cain’s hand over…

Chaplains as Peacemakers

(Originally given as a devotional at SDA military chaplains training; revised and extended) Paul asked me to share with you some reflections based on an event I attended last week at the University of Notre Dame. I start with this text: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). General Douglas…

Creating a Culture of Peace

I’m attending the Summer Institute for Faculty in Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame. My reflections center on how to promote peacebuilding within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In our education, we need to encourage examination of the church’s heritage of noncombatancy, and its work in religious liberty, health and…

Teaching Peace During Multi-Generation War

For the first time in U.S. history, Soldiers are deploying to a war that began before they were born. Today’s youth and emerging adults have grown up in a world of endless war, fear, and resurgent nationalism. Yet they are open to new possibilities and increasingly engaged. The earliest Adventists spoke against war and bearing…

Rosa Del Duca, Breaking Cadence

Rosa del Duca, Breaking Cadence: One Woman’s War Against the War. Portland, OR: Ooligan Press, 2019. Rosa del Duca joined the National Guard before 9-11. She was thinking about money for education, and interested in helping out in responding to disasters like wildfires. She hadn’t reflected on war or military service. She was a teenager…

Teaching Peace — A Bibliography

Videos “Before You Enlist” https://www.afsc.org/video/you-enlist-2011 “Conscience of a Nation” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JFAN–llOE “The Conscientious Objector.” https://www.adventsource.org/store/adult-ministries/audiovisual/the-conscientious-objector-blu-ray-38916 “Field Punishment No. 1” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3124186/ “The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It: Conscientious Objectors in WWII.” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0314116/ “Hacksaw Ridge.” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2119532/ “A Matter of Conscience.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qSLHb0TGcQ&t=614s “Operation Whitecoat.” http://operationwhitecoatmovie.com “Out of Cordoba.” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1604147/ “Pax Service: An Alternative to War.”…

One of Us

Sermon preached Easter 2019 Parents, you have probably seen the bumper sticker that says, “Insanity is Hereditary: You Get It from Your Children.” Kids. What can we say about them? They have this ability to drag us through the spectrum of human emotions from one day to the next, and sometimes from one minute to the next.…

Adventists and Military Service — Beginnings

The Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1863, in the middle of the US Civil War. The church membership was entirely in the northern states, and decidedly abolitionist, and yet was opposed to war and the bearing of arms. The passing of the first US draft law spurred the organization effort.…

Ellen White and Health Extremism

During her lifetime, Ellen White wrote and spoke much on the topic of health. I think her best book is The Ministry of Healing. After her death, many snippets of her counsels to individuals were collected and published without giving the context in compilations such as Counsels on Diet and Food. In July 1919 Adventist religion teachers…

Red Letter Words

Luke 6:17-49 English Standard Version (ESV)   17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed…

The 144,000 Re-Examined

There’s a human tendency to want to be considered part of a special group. To be seen as set apart. To be part of a group that’s better or holier than another group. Paul faced that in Corinth, arguing in his first letter to the Corinthians against those who thought they were better because they…

Quibbling Over Words

It’s common among Christians to quibble over supposed distinctions between Hebrew words meaning “killing” as opposed to “murder.” Thus, they say, the commandment prohibits “murder,” but not other forms of killing. Rabbi Marty Lockshin says, no. All the words are used in multiple senses, “to teach us to abhor all killing of human beings.” Wilma…

Social Justice and the Gospel

The Torah is the story of God liberating his people from bondage, and then telling them not to forget. They are to remember they were slaves freed by God, and so are to do justice to the poor, the widow, the orphan, the stranger. Later, the prophets spend their time reminding the people to remember…

Basics of Christianity: The Trinity

I am troubled by the fact that some Seventh-day Adventists are turning their back on the doctrine of the Trinity–that is, the confession that we believe in one God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is fundamental to Christianity. We are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And the…

An End

My military career ended last week. I completed twenty years (broken into two periods, the first of which started in 1986). Because of the rules for Reserve and Guard members, I will get no pension, because I had some years in which I didn’t get enough “points” to have a “good year”–I thought my family…

Paul Tillich Against the Nazis

Over the last year I’ve been re-reading the responses of “confessing Christians” like Barth, Bonhöffer, and Niemöller to the Nazi threat. Now I’m turning my attention to Paul Tillich. He had been an Army chaplain in World War 1, and he was an early and vocal critic of Nazi power and antisemitism. I came across…

Groundhog Day

“Okay, campers, rise and shine and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cold out there today!” In the movie, “Groundhog Day,” that’s what weatherman Phil Connor  wakes up to in his hotel room in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It happens again the next day, and he feels a sense of deja vu.  And it continues the next…

Rocks

President Trump said the U.S. Soldiers he’s sending to the border should shoot those who might throw rocks at him. Then, after a lot of push back from the military, he backed off and said he didn’t say that. He said they would arrest them. I thought of that wintry day in Boston, 1770, when…

Seeing the Face of Christ: Part 2

Two years after my Guatemala trip, I headed south once more, this time to El Salvador (Spanish for, “The Savior”). Leaving Guatemala, I had questioned whether I should leave the Army, but I had nothing about it, and that was bothering me some. I had learned one lesson very well, however: I decided not to…

Seeing the Face of Christ: Part 1

When Richard Nixon bombed North Vietnam in January 1973, a number of Christians urged evangelist Billy Graham to intervene. But Graham refused. He said, “God has called me to be a New Testament evangelist, not an Old Testament prophet.” It was the pressure of the situation, no doubt, that led him to make such an…

Pity the Nation

A poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (video) “PITY THE NATION” (After Khalil Gibran) Pity the nation whose people are sheep And whose shepherds mislead them Pity the nation whose leaders are liars Whose sages are silenced And whose bigots haunt the airwaves Pity the nation that raises not its voice Except  to praise conquerers And acclaim…

Closed Hearts and Minds

I’m dismayed at some Christians today. They are so caught up in rightwing conspiracy theories, nationalism, racism, fear and hate that they cannot see Jesus in those who are naked, hungry, sick, or in prison. They have a cynical world view, and in their fear they reach out to teachers and preachers and politicians who…

Between the Pincers

My great-grandmother’s family left New Brunswick at the beginning of the Acadian renaissance, in 1883  (a year before the Acadian tricolor was adopted at Miscouche). Acadian leaders had little sympathy for those leaving at this critical time.. Léon Thériault comments, …. Although exact figures are not available, it appears that people from St. Mary’s Bay,…

Adventist Beliefs — Things Unsaid

Here are some things that the Statement of Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church never mentions. It never says which translation of the Bible to use, nor how many books are in it. You can use the KJV with Apocrypha or NIV without. It never takes a position on the “eternal generation of the…

When Chaplains Protest

[Originally posted in 2016. I wrote this when I was debating resigning. I finally did so at the end of February 2019, inspired by these examples.] You don’t often hear of military chaplains engaged in political protest or resigning in disagreement with policy. But it does happen. Charles Liteky, recipient of the Medal of Honor…