Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Great Disappointment Version 2.0

Desmond Ford pictured with Blog author Peter Veitch.

The Great Disappointment Version 2.0
(From Little Disappointments Big Freedom Grows). 

Over three hundred people attended this Des Ford Q & A afternoon meeting. It was held in the Church in the trees uniting church in Morisset, (just over 100km north of Sydney Australia) yet only minutes away from  Avondale  college Desmond Ford's old stomping ground where he was head of the theology department for about 20 years or so. Adventist administrators were given the first offer to host this event but predictably refused. 

As far as I knew I was the only out atheist ( ex SDA)  attending, and I was late! I had flown up from Melbourne to Sydney, then train to Morisset. 3pm meeting, my train arrives 309 pm, arghh no taxi! I jog walk jog to the church, unfashionably 15 mins late, I will be noticed…very well, I will be noticed. Fifty yards to the church, engage music on speakerphone mode “Losing my religion”, ok, in hearing distance, turn it off. Church is packed, people standing outside, not enough seats.. is there an empty seat down the in the front row? Yes! Is it ok if I sit there? Yes.. it begins…

Slowly I walk down the central aisle,  wearing “proudly evolved atheist T shirt with a Darwin fish / proudly evolved atheist logo, will I be noticed? Not all ex SDAs are still christian, my presence a gentle reminder of that. I get to the very front, turn around and look at the audience, just enough time to show the front of the shirt. I sit, pretty much directly opposite Des. 

I planned on asking a question, I had rehearsed it, even showed it to Peter Dixon ( event organizer/ muso click link for song )  to see if it was ok to ask that. My heart was racing, why did it feel like Daniel in the lion's den? I don't even think that story was true.  “Do you ( Des) accept the literal six day creation as true”? yay somebody else asked it for me, phew that's a relief! In retrospect I think it was probably better that the SDAs asked this anyway.  Des had to say no of course. (His view isn't young earth creationist yet not evolution by natural selection, sort of in between, a version of so called "ID" etc)  I could feel the tension in the room after that. The nervousness in the voices of the questioners etc, thinking that particular line through, IMO, has much greater implications for the SDA sect than the IJ dogma.

I didn't expect as much overt preaching during the Q&A, argghh. It was my first time in decades in a church with a minister actually preaching , albeit in snippets. How did i feel? Was any of this real? Felt quite bizarre really, unreal really. An honest person ( Des) sincerely expressing some of his deepest held convictions! It didn't sound plastic, didn't feel plastic.. and yet … the direct expression of what I now see as religious superstition? -  talking like it was a given, that the asserted magic stuff actually happened? I suppose it was a given for most if not all of the attendees minus me? I was in the front row, I had to  try not to let my eyes roll, this isn't easy for me, I let the religious nonsense ( as I saw it) slide, tried not to yawn ( double difficult due to tiring travel up from Melbourne) . Some of the preaching made my skin crawl, was I that far out of it? I know that Des believes that stuff but to me, now, it fells like somebody talking about Thor or Zeus as real etc.

One person asked Des a question about his view on atheists , I was surprised to hear something like that here. That was a good question - no, it was a wonderful question, it deserved applause, oh what the heck, I did a slow loud one person clap, I stood ( from the front row) turned around and looked at the questioner, and continued to clap ( I no longer felt so totally out of it! Yes, there are good open minded people here, I was impressed, I was grateful, I let it be known.  Des did an answer that was basically: as long as atheists responded to the holy spirit and were nice people then yay ( more of less).  TBH I think the question was better than the answer but c’est la vie, I don't quite get how I am supposed to respond to something that I can't tell exists or not. Anyway,  Des not sending atheists to hell is an improvement over the usual SDA responses.

My overall impression? Mostly nice people trying to figure stuff out. I got the sense that most wanted to be open minded but may have been only willing to  consider reconsidering the "Investigative Judgment" dogma but little if anything else. No data or survey, just a hunch, I could be wrong. It seemed like some tried to pin him down on the SDA YEC creation week as real or not. ( I was going to ask that, it was my prepared question! and yet maybe it wasn't, ie I’d have had a congratulatory stamp on it whereas I think they seemed to have it as a negative frame ) - maybe even as a trap question? The overall range of questions wasn't bad I guess though all seemed soaked in a priori religious assumptions.

Would Des accept an apology ? - no, it would have to be more than that, he said that they would have to acknowledge their dishonesty ( I can't see that happening, seems a bit of painting himself into a corner maybe?) I suspect that if they adopted Des’s views on Adam and Eve, a creation week, Noah and boat etc as not literally true then maybe the church would explode, implode or fade away .

Apart from pushy YEC fundamentalist pushing tada evolution is impossible - the others that chatted with me, were real nice people with what I surprisingly noticed to be rather open minded! Was I that arrogant / ignorant to not know this? Maybe the church has already changed since I left in the post 1980's Des Ford aftermath? It was a special treat to meet and chat with Des’s daughter  Elènne,  what a delight! she is very nice, gentle, caring and clever etc … win ! She insisted I met and chatted with Des in person. She even arranged and took the pic with Des and I. ( Now wouldn't that be amusing to get in the spectrum mag or others? 

Après meeting. Dinner at Punjabee's with a bunch of SDAs and ex SDAs, excellent. none of that them and us stuff- it was just ..."us", there was no "them" .

Saturday ( sabbath for most) Feb 6th 1016
Links for the two relevant Des books below.

Investigative Judgment - Des Ford

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