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Sabbath School for a New Generation

Among Seventh Day Adventists, Sabbath School is a time for discussion and learning. It is the belief of this site that Sabbath School should be an exciting venue for the discussion of new ideas, instead of rehashing old arguments. So welcome to a virtual Sabbath School, a Sabbath School for a new generation.

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I am an Electrical Engineer, working at Intel in the Portland area. I received my undergraduate degree from Walla Walla College and graduate degrees from the University of Southern California. The views expressed on this website are my own and do not reflect the viewpoints of anybody else. I reserve the right to change my mind at any point in time.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

New Blog

Much has changed in my thinking, which makes this blog somewhat obsolete. When I first started blogging, I was interested in posting notes about religious topics because of my role as a Sabbath School teacher in my local Seventh Day Adventist church. Because of areas of significant disagreement with the church, I doubt I will be allowed to return to that role. The new blog will discuss my thoughts about interesting events, books, and ideas. I am interested in science, religion, philosophy, and technology and I may include auto-biographical material as well.

For reference on my past thoughts, all posts will be archived on this blog as long as Google desires to host it. The views presented were my views at one point in time but may not reflect my current thinking. Additionally, the words you read on this blog will reflect my views at the point in time they were written. I reserve the right to change my mind at any point in the future. My new blog can be found at http://journeyofaperpetualstudent.blogspot.com/

Friday, July 31, 2009

A review of Samir Selmanovic's book

It's been awhile since I have posted on my blog. But I thought I would start things off again with a review of Samir Selmanovic's book, "It's Really All About God". I have also posted the review below on Amazon.com and the visual bookshelf app on Facebook.

A friend of mine divides the beliefs of Christians into two types: messy theology and clean theology. “It’s Really All About God” by Samir Selmanovic is a clear example of messy theology in all its glory. And for those of us who have a messy theology, who deal with uncertainty and doubt, who revel in the complex mystery that we call God, this book will be a breath of fresh air.

Samir’s book is part auto-biography and part theological treatise. It is firmly based on a life experience that is rich in its variety. Samir grew up in a family of Muslim heritage; he became an atheist, and then converted to Christianity during his year of military service. He uses different aspects of his life to illustrate each point. One of my favorite stories is told near the beginning. At one point in his pastoral career he became friends with a woman who was Wiccan. He invites her to pray at a religious conference that his church is hosting. It is a charming story of the “other” giving encouragement to a discouraged Christianity.

In his book, he talks about how Jews, Christians, and Muslims teach that we are created in God’s image. God is not confined to one belief system and we cannot control him (or even our own body at times.) In fact it is much too easy to domesticate God and create an idol out of our religion. Therefore we cannot exclude the “other,” those who are not from our religion. For one, God may have called them to share His truth for us. Yes, God can use even an atheist (or a Wiccan) to call us into the Kingdom of God and away from the idolatry of our religion. It has radical implications to how we share our beliefs. Instead of attempting to convert others we dialog with them.

Samir has strong words of warning for religion if it is not able to embrace the other. We are in danger of losing our rich cultural heritage that religion provides. Religion is in danger of dying. On the other hand he is able to see hope in that new life coming from death is a common Biblical metaphor.

Although I enjoyed reading the book, there were times when feelings of guilt would creep in. Any many ways this is a prophetic book that calls those who follow God to a higher standard. There have been so many times that I have been a failure when it comes to communicating and interacting with others and so many times that I have not acted in love to those created in the image of God. And there have been times when for me, it wasn’t really about God.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This story makes me sick

A symbol of freedom from sin is manufactured in a Chinese sweatshop. Here is an alternate veiwpoint from the Catholic News Service. So what should happen next? Kernaghan of the National Labor Counsel (author of the report) says:

"Following a thorough investigation, St. Patrick's and Trinity should work together with the Association for Christian Retail to clean up the Junxingye factory in China and implement concrete steps to guarantee that the legal rights of the young workers will finally be respected," he said.

"Pulling production from the factory would only further punish these young women, who have suffered enough already," he added.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Best quiz yet

From Pastor Greg's blog comes the best quiz yet. I am sure by now you know which super hero you are, which car you are most like, and your kindrid Harry Potter spirit. Now you can find out which church father you are most like.

You’re St. Justin Martyr!

You have a positive and hopeful attitude toward the world. You think that nature, history, and even the pagan philosophers were often guided by God in preparation for the Advent of the Christ. You find “seeds of the Word” in unexpected places. You’re patient and willing to explain the faith to unbelievers.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!

Monday, March 05, 2007


Your word of the day is Archeoporn. This word sums up the documentary "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" where a couple of filmmakers claimed that they had found Jesus's grave with Jesus's bones. It was applied to this documentary by Dr. Reed, during an experts panel after the show. Dr. Reed is a co-author of In Search of Paul, which is an excellent book that I have discussed earlier. This of course fits with Simcha Jacobovici's method. He takes a bunch of highly unlikely interpretations and strings them together in a format that titillates more than informs.

My biggest complaint concerned their "statistical" analysis. It was very ad-hoc with very little rigor and the assumptions weren't explained well and they may or may not have been valid. Additionally if you assume for the sake of roundness that there were only 60,000 families, you would expect to see this cluster of names in 100 tombs. So overall it was a very weak argument.

Additionally they linked their ossuaries to the James ossuary, an alleged forgery. The ossuary is real, but the inscription is suposedly a modern addition. It turns out that one of the 10 ossuaries that were found in the Talpiot Tombs went missing. The film claims that the James ossuary is the missing ossuary. Since the inscription is a forgery, it would cast into doubt all of the inscriptions if there is in fact a link between the ossuaries.

Overall the film, while it was about two hours in length, could have been presented in 15 minutes. In fact there wasn't much new information that wasn't contained in their original media circuit on the Today show and others.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Jesus' tomb???

A couple of film makers have claimed to have "discovered" Jesus' tomb. James Cameron, of course, is famous for that one movie that made about $2 billion. The director is Simcha Jacobovici who recently made the documentary, Exodus Decoded. I saw this on the Today show yesterday as well as on Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

I am planning on watching it, but I don't expect a very high quality product. The problem is Simcha Jacobovici has a reputation for making sensational "discoveries." These usually involve looking at the evidence (you might call it twisting the evidence) in a very different way than what is accepted by scientists. He will leave out evidence that contradicts his "hypothesis" and build a very convincing story based on a part of the data. The atrocities are documented in this review of Exodus Decoded, which also includes a dialogue with Simcha Jacobovici, so read the whole thing. However I think this quote sums it up nicely.
By the end of the film I grew weary of the piling-on of amazing discoveries. Each one is historically dubious and requires a willing suspension of disbelief.

I expect this upcoming film will have many of the same problems.

Update: I forgot to mention one small detail. The tomb they claimed to have discovered wasn't empty. In the tomb there was a box labled "Jesus son of Joseph" and box labeled "Judah son of Jesus" along with a box attributed to Mary Magdalene.

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Inconvenient truth

I watched An Inconvenient Truth this weekend. Al Gore has put together a stunning and compelling picture of the danger our planet faces. The Oscar was well deserved. At the end of his movie, they list a website that gives suggestions on how to reduce our carbon footprint. Many of these ideas make sense from an economic perspective and not just environmental. For example, riding my bike to work saves me $1 - $2 a day depending on the price of gas. Additionally, I am hoping it will save on my healthcare costs down the road. Some of these ideas have already been implemented in my household and some still need to be done.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Evolution Vs. Creationism

Here is an interesting compilation of videos featuring scientists and their view about Evolution and Science and Creationism.

The video below is the section on peer review and how the process works.