Thursday, September 25, 2008

Quick Stop Shopping

Modified from the comic Non Sequitur, by Wiley
(click to enlarge)

Cordwood: More Poems from the Forgotten War

Ralph Jacobs, the author of CORDWOOD, A COLLECTION OF KOREAN WAR POEMS, is a treasured friend and a Harvard educated medical doctor. He served in Dog Medical Company, First Marine Division, in the Korean War.

I served in the Marines from July 1950, through June 1951. . . I hope the poems will offer a personal lens for you to see and feel my experiences in Korea. Many of the events, situations, and dilemmas in these poems mirror what others have seen and felt in other wars."
Ralph Jacobs, from his Introduction
April, 2004

The four poems that follow are from Ralph’s third “chapter”: Winter and Early Spring, 1951. I will post poems from his final chapter, Late Spring, 1951, before the presidential election.


A counteroffensive—
we Marines recapture rice paddies, villages
seized by the Chinese three weeks ago.

Ambulanced to our field hospital—
six wounded GI’s—left
wounded in the snow weeks ago.
North Korean farmers risking death
had carried them into their huts,
fed them rice and tea by the fire,
helped by wives and children.

Phil gaunt but with a feeble smile—
wasted to the marrow,
has bilateral bronchopneumonia.
His punctured chest cavity oozes green.
We suction pus, insert drains,
start Streptomycin and penicillin.

The top of Ernie’s left foot—
a thick cotton dressing applied weeks ago
by a Chinese medic.
a swarm of maggots eating dead tissue—
nature’s beautiful debridement—
extensor tendon sheaths shine below.

We place their stretchers by our pot stove,
feed them Hershey bars, and listen.

Screaming news—600—heavy casualties
from the Marines, the Army, ROK* troops.
Everything is coming our way—right now.

Evaluating the wounded in Receiving:
I order shock therapy stat.
I order others to the holding tent—
belly surgery, chest surgery, many for major debridement.*
Pressing corpsmen to quick-step and IV and IM meds,
surgical preps, IV plasma and blood.
Snarling suddenly—too low a blood supply.
Commanding by phone--more blood by copter.

Scrubbing up to insert chest tubes in the short of breath.
Sheathing hot water bottles around frozen blood units.
Surveying surgery—all teams with shiny retractors bent over
wide-open bellies, wide-open chests,
large shrapnel wounds being debrided—
then lavaged, lavaged, lavaged.
Supervising corpsmen casting arms, legs,
dressing face wounds—
dressing genitals, abdomens, thighs.
Wolfing a Tootsie Roll for supper.

Lifting stretchers, flipping sutures, giving open drop
ether anesthesia throughout the night.
Devouring a Spam sandwich at midnight.

Overcast dawn, bitter 20 degrees below, light snow falling.
A wall of cordwood:
Two piles, each four frozen bodies high,
line our path to the mess tent.

*Republic of Korea
**removal of dead tissue and foreign material

A stretcher in our hospital tent—
a Korean mother,
a six-year-old girl clings
to her quilted jacket.
Shell fragments had thundered—
flung her against her stove
Her right upper arm—
a triangle pointing backward—

I flush the wound with saline,
Pluck out clothing with forceps,
necrotic tissue with scissors,
smooth the plaster of Paris into
a hanging cast from shoulder to hand,
Ace-wrap the cast to her body,
write on it in Korean—
Please don’t take off for three months
—until May.

One month later our hospital
is 100 miles north in rugged mountains.
On a mountain path two men plug along
with a patient on a stretcher,
a small child dogging their footsteps,
through rain and sleet.

My patient—castless.
Her fracture grates.
I’m pleased to see her flesh wounds healed.
I reapply that cast
And plead—Please,
please don’t take off for three months
—until June.

On post-op rounds one morning
I attend patients from seven countries
lying on a row of stretchers.

The small Korean boy—
the plastic repair of his hand looks fine.
A US marine in a leg cast has
a fracture from a mortar wound.
The Royal British Marine has good bowel sounds
since belly surgery.
His Cockney accent I understand.
The Frenchman’s breathing improves
since chest surgery.
His English is much better than my French.
The Aussie with his broad accent
thanks us Yanks for his face-neck repair.
The tough looking Greek—large dressings
over his lumbar spine and right thigh look OK.
The wiry Turk looks even tougher.
I check his arm and side bandages.
We shake hands.

Poems from Jacobs’ first and second chapters of poems: Trip to Korea, Inchon and Seoul Campaigns, and the Chosin Reservoir Campaign can be read on this blog. In addition, Spectrum Blog has previously posted a piece I submitted in which Jacobs’ poem, Cordwood, is featured.)

“Cordwood” can be purchased from Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Bl., Corte Madera (415-927-9016) or Ralph Jacobs, 55 La Costa Ct, Novato, CA 94947 (415-898-6064).

I’m posting this cartoon because it was rejected for publication in Kid’s View.

From the comic Opus, by Berkeley Breathed
(click to enlarge)

Revelation Seminars Just Aren’t What They Used to Be!

From the comic Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis
(click to enlarge)

Sorting Out Belief, Faith, and Religion

“Beliefs are unprovable propositions about reality; faith is trusting that those beliefs are true, and religion is a system of communal behavior designed to enforce and reinforce faith in the correctness of those beliefs.

“Beliefs should not be confused with facts or hypotheses. Facts and hypotheses are testable; beliefs are not. That is why you need to have faith in God but not in gravity. Because beliefs are not testable, they need not change. Beliefs only change when experience makes faith in them indefensible.

“When scientists demand that myth conform to physics, and religionists demand that physics conform to myth, we get silly religions and bad science. We needn't choose between science and religion, we only have to insist that each be true to its calling.”

Rabbi Rami Shapiro in Spirituality and Health / Sept, Oct, 2008

Leigh Ruben

That is the famous Leigh Ruben of Rubes fame. He invited me to attend his “cartoonie” presentation in Sacramento, and I went, bought seven of his cartoon books, and posed with him. That picture was a failure, so you, dear reader, are spared another shot of my mug.

Leigh is a great guy, very funny, down-to-earth, and modest about his amazing talent. He is syndicated in 400 newspapers, and has graciously allowed my to “modify” some of his cartoons on my blog.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. (Paul)

Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. (Jesus)

Comic from Rubes, by Leigh Rubin.
(click for enlarged image)

Reviewing the Adventist Review

September 11, 2008
Vol. 185, No. 25

I was really disappointed! Mark A. Kellner’s cover article was a tease. How Would Ellen White Vote? Was the Review about to go political? Obama or McCain? A subtitle even promised to reveal how “any of the early Adventists” would have cast their ballots. In the end, all that was revealed was the following:

“From Ellen White’s words, as well as the counsel of other Adventist pioneers and many of today’s thought leaders, the message seems clear: Seventh-day Adventists have the ability to help shape society through their votes and political participation. It’s up to each of us to follow our consciences—and to pray for more than human wisdom in making our electoral choices.”

Kellner should have consulted me. The historical evidence is overwhelming. White: Obama; Early Church Leaders: McCain.

This is a solid edition. The editorial comments are thoughtful, the stories are inspiring, and the news articles are informative. This would be a good issue to share with a friend.

Even though Mark Kellner bailed out on his presidential prediction, he earned a BOUQUET, along with Lainey S. Cronk, for the article, Adventist Surgeon Helps Disabled Children walk. Scott Nelson, an orthopedic surgeon, is in the midst of a five year commitment to serve in the Dominican Republic, is working for CURE.

“CURE, based in Pennsylvania, is a [nonAdventist] organization seeking to combat diseases that often destroy lives and families in the developing world, but that are treatable with modern medicine in the Western World. Nelson’s expertise as an orthopedist, for example, is used to correct cases of “club foot,” a birth defect.

“CURE also emphasizes their teaching hospitals, through which they train local medical professionals and students in first-world medical techniques with the goal of raising the standard of medical care in the countries it serves.”

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Reviewing Adventist World, NAD Edition

September 2008
Vol. 4, No. 9

This issue of Adventist World is deeply disturbing if one believes that Adventist theology is based on the bedrock of sound biblical scholarship. The theological contributions of the Director and Associate Director of the SDA Biblical Research Institute might be more easily dismissed if the writers were amateurs.

Consequently, Black Eyes have been awarded to Foundations for Ellen White’s Prophetic Call by Gerhard Pfandl and Angel Manuel Rodriguez’s Our Influence Over Others.

With these two exceptions, the articles and editorials of this issue and thoughtful, nicely illustrated, and well written.

Going Forward Thoughtfully by Jan Paulsen.
“We engage in mission with an unwavering conviction of God’s truth, but also with a spirit of humility. We recognize that growth and discipleship are always works in progress. Our witness is not an exercise in judgment or caricature, which condemns everyone before they have had the chance to know and experience something better. Instead, our mission work is a constant drive to lift people into a knowledge and relationship with God that is richer, deeper, more fulfilling, more true.”

God’s Printing Presses: The History of the Pacific Press, by Nicole Batten, is beautifully documented in pictures and words.

Gerhard Pfandl’s The Foundations for Ellen White’s Prophetic Call is an extremely odd defense of Ellen White’s prophetic credentials.

“According to the principle of interpreting Scripture with Scripture, this leads to the conclusion that “the spirit of prophecy” in [Rev.] 19:10 is not the possession of church members in general, but only of those who have been called by God to be prophets. . .’According to the parallel in [Rev.] 22:9 the brothers referred to are not believers in general, but the prophets. . .This is the point of verse 10c. If they have the marturia Iesou [the testimony of Jesus], they have the spirit of prophecy, i.e., they are prophets, like the angel, who simply stand in the service of marturia Iesou.’

“In summary, we can say that one of the identifying signs of the remnant church, which according to prophecy exists after the 1,260-day period, i.e., after 1798, is the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy, or the prophetic gift. The Seventh-day Adventist Church, from its very beginning, has believed that in fulfillment of Revelation 12:17* the spirit of prophecy was manifested in the life and work of Ellen G. White.”

*Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Angel Manuel Rodriguez attempts to answer the question, “According to Exodus 34:7, God punishes children for the sins of their parents. Does not this bring into question God’s justice?”

Instead of speaking directly to the idea prevalent in the evangelical community that God punishes entire countries, geographic regions, religious or political groups for the “sins” of others, Rodriguez launches into an exegetical dance that could only have meaning for biblical literalists.

“We find in the Old Testament what has been called collective, or transgenerational, retribution. This is a complex subject about which I can say only a few things that I hope will be helpful. Some of the biblical evidence may provide an interpretational grid with which you are welcome to disagree.”

“Transgenerational retribution could and would be abused in any human legal system. The Lord is the only one who can enforce it because He has perfect knowledge. This clearly suggests that WHEN COLLECTIVE RETRIBUTION IS ENFORCED BY GOD (my emphasis), it is based on knowledge that justifies its enforcement and may not be apparent to the outside observer.”

Friday, September 12, 2008

Reviewing the Pacific Union Recorder

September 2008
Vol. 108, No. 9

The stated mission of the Recorder “is to inform, educate and inspire readers to action in all areas of ministry”. Union and conference leadership needs to take these words seriously. This “mission” cannot be achieved by editorials bemoaning the “escalating tone or depravity” in the world or announcing for the umpteenth time that we are living in “these last days”.

It is my fervent and prayerful hope that “Jesus is coming soon”, but Adventists have been repeating those words since our Church was founded.

These words have become a cliché, a catch phrase, a linguistic crutch used by editorial writers, ministers, and lay people to encourage church attendance, to warn other Adventists about the eternal consequences of withholding tithe, of not actively proselytizing, of not “keeping the Sabbath holy”, of not sending their children to Adventist schools. The detailed accounting of how Administrative decisions are made and money spent isn’t a priority if “we are living in end times”.

The “End Time Message” isn’t getting it done if church membership is a criterion. A magazine designed as a public relations instrument can’t get it done. Advertising and sunset tables will not accomplish the mission. However, a Pacific Union Recorder designed to inform and educate can inspire and motivate. I am confident that a transparent accounting of how the Church works and the difficulties it faces will inspire Adventists, Union wide, to meet the challenges faced by SDA’s in the twenty-first century.


This issue is newsy and beautifully illustrated. There can be no arguing about the fact that Adventist groups are working to make their communities better able to meet the needs of people, spiritually and materially.

In July, the Feather River Hospital in Paradise, California, was endangered by the huge 53,000-acre Camp Fire and had to be evacuated. Professional and volunteer efforts, along with fire suppressant gel got the job done. It was a brilliant effort!

I was also impressed by Arizona’s Paradise Valley Spanish Church. They converted a bingo hall into a spacious, 700-seat church for pennies on the dollar! Maybe SDA’s don’t always have to build churches.

La Sierra University sponsored an “Origins” seminar in which Elaine Kennedy, and geologist and retired Geoscience Research Institute scientist, “addressed beliefs and issues raised by Seventh-day Adventists about [dinosaurs], whether they existed and whether God created such predators”. Scary stuff for traditional Adventists! The report did not include Kennedy’s response.

Pacific Union College has a Film and Television Production Program. No telling what these kids will come up with. Does Hollywood beckon?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Summer is a terrible thing to waste.

From the comic Opus, by Berkeley Breathed
(click to enlarge)

A Creation Institute Special Edition

Comic from Rubes, by Leigh Rubin.
(click for enlarged image)

Cordwood: three more poems

Ralph Jacobs, the author of CORDWOOD, A COLLECTION OF KOREAN WAR POEMS, is a treasured friend and a Harvard educated medical doctor. He served in Dog Medical Company, First Marine Division, in the Korean War.

I served in the Marines from July 1950, through June 1951. . . I hope the poems will offer a personal lens for you to see and feel my experiences in Korea. Many of the events, situations, and dilemmas in these poems mirror what others have seen and felt in other wars."
Ralph Jacobs, from his Introduction
April, 2004

The three poems that follow are from Ralph’s second “chapter”: Chosin Reservoir Campaign. I will post poems from the two following chapters periodically in the weeks leading up to the presidential election.


The Only Road

We are not retreating—we are merely advancing in another direction.
--General Oliver P, Smith at the Chosin Reservoir

In frigid earliest dawn
our platoon lurches forward
against a stabbing wind
down the frozen rutted road
guarded by new snow, a few scrubby pines.
Shrouded mountains mirror a pallid sun.
Sentry peaks stare.

Our sergeant reconnoiters, signs halt.
Close-support Corsairs rocket, napalm,
machine-gun the Chinese roadblock ahead.

The sergeant gestures forward.
Enemy machine-gun fire.
Earth shards smack our legs.
Tom pitches—
a bullet through his hip.
His cheeks blue-white, his pupils fear-dilated.
Bright red blood soaks his uniform.
I bandage his hips tightly together,
ran a morphine syrette* into his arm.

Fear seizes me. I must leave him.
I tuck a blanket around him,
prop him against a sprawled roadside truck.
Its bullet riddled windshield clouds
the stare of its frozen driver.

O God, please let him live.
Let him be carried to a hospital.

*plastic syringe and needle to inject morphine tartrate

To the Sea

Moonlight outlines against ashen snow
a silent, spectral procession—without lights
box-ambulances, jeeps, trucks
lurch down the mountain in ruts
on the tortuous icy road.

Its cargo: the wounded, sardined,
insulated from artic wind and 30 below
With parkas, tent flaps, blanket, tarps.

Gaunt men trudge behind—
beards encrusted in ice—
strain to see through frozen lashes,
dead lift each frost-bitten foot, devoid of feeling.
stumble forward in rag-wrapped boots.

A white phosphorus flare.
Bullets splatter our ambulances,
mortar shells burst.
Sgt. Clements and his marines clamber up a knoll,
barrage the ambushing Chinese
with machine-gun, automatic carbine fire.

One of our men killed.
We bandage four wounded.
We roll on.

Christmas Holiday, 1950

The First Marine Division battles out from
the “Frozen Chosin” reservoir
to the sea at Hungnam, North Korea.
We give thanks.

Bleary-eyed bearded marines lurch
onto the deck of a decrepit Japanese LST.
We give thanks.

We weigh anchor. The only boiler shudders—
explodes at the harbor mouth.
The Japanese Sea currents us south to Pusan.
not north to Siberia.
We give thanks.

Under air cover we drift five days.
The Japanese crew share their larder—
boiled squid and rice.
We give thanks.

We bivouac in the snow in Masan west of Pusan.
Christmas morning in a nearby Catholic church:
candle iridescence, mystic Oriental music.
Dawning of life, of hope.
We give thanks.

A big turkey dinner flown in.
My straight flush in seven card stud poker.
Good bourbon, camaraderie—
grateful for life one more day.
We give thanks.

Poems from Jacobs first chapter of poems: Trip to Korea, Inchon and Seoul Campaigns, can be read on this blog. Three other poems from Jacob’s second chapter, Chosin Reservoir Campaign, are located here as well. In addition, Spectrum Blog has previously posted a piece I submitted in which Jacobs’ poem, Cordwood, is featured.)

“Cordwood” can be purchased from Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Bl., Corte Madera (415-927-9016) or Ralph Jacobs, 55 La Costa Ct, Novato, CA 94947 (415-898-6064)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Reviewing the Adventist Review

August 25, 2008
Vol. 185, No. 24

This issue is thoughtfully put together. The Cover Story, It’s Elementary, by Brad Watson has earned a Bouquet. It’s the amazing account of Asian Aid, an organization that has “been quietly sponsoring children for more than 40 years”.

“Foundational to Asian Aid’s work is the belief that through God all things are possible, and small seeds sown in the lives of young, poor children will result in blessings that are truly amazing. Without fanfare, without access to sophisticated marketing or celebrity support, and entirely through God’s grace, Asian Aid continues to grow and serve the Seventh-day Adventist Church in its global mission. In 2009 sponsorship is expected to reach 8,000 needy children, all of whom will be assisted in partnership with local churches and their institutions.”

Honorable Mention honors include Army Honors Desmond Doss With Hospital Guesthouse Naming reported by Kristin Ellis, and Are Medications Safe to Take? By Handsides and Landless. The Roy Adams editorial, Thinking Aloud About Laodicea suggests that it’s unwise to categorize all members of any church as Laodicean.

“Is it possible that there could be segments of the church, perhaps even large segments, that aren’t Laodicean at all? If we were to run into such a segment, would we recognize it? Or would we feel obliged to lay on them the Laodicean message with the same intensity as elsewhere?”

No piece earned a Black Eye. However, I do have three critical comments.

In Wilona Karimabadi’s editorial, Roll Out the Welcome Mat, she laments the fact that when she and her friends where ignored when they attended an Adventist church “far from home”

“When we entered the church—a group of strangers to this congregation and far from home—we were handed bulletins. That was it. Once inside the sanctuary, we stood around for a while trying to find seats, unassisted by a deacon or elder or any helper for that matter, until someone in a nearby pew scooted over and made room for all of us. Once the service ended we stood in the lobby for a few minutes and were approached by no one. Then after, as we perched ourselves prominently on the church property—again, a group of unfamiliar faces standing around in the heat—no one came by to find out who we were and what we were doing.”

Wilona, did it occur to you to introduce yourself to someone? To the preacher perhaps? Friendliness is a two-way street! Maybe it’s just me, but I’m tired of hearing this story from another Adventist.

In Clifford Goldstein’s My Wife’s Garden, he “gazed at the petals [of a flower] and pitied all Darwinists”.

“That flower makes fools of us all. Some can look at it and declare—backed by scientific proofs, formulas, and theories (all peer-reviewed, too, mind you)—that it was an accident, that it wasn’t designed, that it exists by chance. Me, I looked at it and saw, besides my own ignorance, undeniable evidence of God’s love. Something in that flower gave me a young Wertherian sense of trust in the divine, something beyond words, beyond explanation, and thus beyond refute.”

Cliff, I’m a creationist, and I understand that the argument for creationism is a deductive one and therefore “beyond refute”. Who is attempting to “refute” your argument? Surely not the readers of the Review! What I don’t understand is your sarcastic putdown of reputable scientific journals “scientific proofs, formulas, and theories”. It is highly probable that the inductive methods of science have made it possible for your “heart” to imagine (“I love my wife’s garden as long as I don’t have to work in it!”) “’the simple, harmless joys of the man who brings to the table a head of cabbage he has grown himself, and in a single moment enjoys, not only the vegetable, but all the fine days and fresh mornings since he planted it, the mild evenings when he watered it, and the pleasure he felt while watching it grow’”.
(A Goldstein quote from Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther)

Kid’s View has expanded into an eight-page magazine, and it looks pretty good for a first edition! I particularly liked Dr. James Appel’s story, One Doctor, One Horse, and One Boy. If I had been asked, I would have had two suggestions for Kimberly Maran and her staff. Reduce the clutter on the first page. And a modern soldier, dressed for combat, would have communicated “the armor of God” more effectively than a picture of a medieval knight that looked like a statue encased in metal!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

White On White

Pictures from the pages of Adventist Word, Adventist Review, and Pacific Union Recorder

How many days until the election?

From Non Sequitur, by Wiley
(click image to enlarge)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Reviewing the Adventist Review

August 21, 2008
Vol. 185, No. 3

Mark A. Kellner and Monte Sahlin have earned Bouquets. No Black Eyes have been awarded. Fain or Feign? by Joyce Rigsby deserves an honorable mention. The rest of this issue is well-written, attractively presented, standard Adventist fare.

Kellner has done an outstanding job of reporting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s releases regarding religious discrimination guidelines for employers. Unfortunately, I was not able to find this report on the website. Darryl Hosford usually does an excellent job as the online host. Online readers will miss Kellner’s EEOC report and news of Hosford’s own Global Internet Evangelism Network (GIEN) award. Perhaps it’s not too late to add the missing World News & Perspectives section.

Sahlin enthusiastically recommends three books that deserve attention when it comes to practical evangelism. A project called “The Voice” has begun to produce tools for those who may want to read Scripture or tell Bible stories in a reader’s theater format. You can get these tools from Thomas Nelson Publishers at most Christian book stores, here, or directly from The Voice Scripture Project.

Ruthie Jacobsen suggests personal evangelism strategies in her book “Bridges 101”. You can order this book here or 
by calling (800) 328-0525.

A new book by May-Ellen Colón focuses on how to keep the Sabbath. It is titled “From Sundown to Sundown”. You can get this book from your Adventist Book Center or by calling (800) 765-6955.

There's Still Room, Mark A. Kellner’s editorial, makes a convincing case for citywide public evangelism, namely Claim LA scheduled for 2009. “Is there a place for mass evangelism? The Billy Graham organization thinks so: they’re still sending Franklin Graham, one of Billy’s sons, out to hold large campaigns.”

I have a comment and a question. Billy Graham holds his crusades at the invitation of the pastors and churches in a given area. After the invitation is extended, the Billy Graham Organization requires that a specific percentage of churches and pastors in the area support the evangelistic series. Was a similar process followed preceding the proposed Boonstra's meetings in LA?

I don’t doubt that The Lord Is With You, Fredrick A. Russell, but the “confident” claim, “God is with us!” has been used to promote some mighty shaky leadership decisions!