From the Author

One of the prerogatives that comes with working/playing with language is that of making up new words when it seems appropriate. And, when invited to contribute a monthly column to Adventist Review in late 2002, I took the opportunity to create a new word to mark the occasion-the story goes something like that.

Our Christian faith is always relevant. But how we do it, how we explain it to ourselves and how we attempt to share it with others and what we do with it in the wider world is not always quite so. Relevation must be our perpetual challenge and goal.

If I were to adopt a mission statement to what I try to do through writing, I would probably borrow the following suggestion from another Adventist writer: "But what is desperately needed are people who speak distinctively and movingly from within Adventism to the larger community; voices who, from the core of Adventist particularity, express a universal message for our time; people who allow the power of the gospel to challenge those who oppress the vulnerable" (Charles Scriven, quoted in Plantak, The Silent Church).

Forgive me if that sounds too lofty a goal for my amateur musings. But I believe God works through our efforts-and sometimes in spite of them-to make some kind of difference in our world and, by what I am able to do, I hope to join in with the adventure of God.

And I believe that makes a practical difference in our lives and our world. Somewhere deep inside I believe that good is more powerful than evil-and that even if it isn't, it is better to be defeated in the cause of good than victorious on the side of evil. That affects how we think about church and how we relate to those around us in significant ways. And, even if just occasionally, we need to take that seriously.

So what follows is something of my attempt to do this. Trying to "change the world 700 words at a time" has its shortcomings. There is little opportunity to present other apsects of an issue and one tends to seek neat formulations and strong conclusions when one really intends to raise questions and begin discussions.

Of course, these are pieces written at specific times and as such try to be relevant to those times. But given that it's relatively recent history, I am sure you will be able to forgive the attempts at timeliness that may now be somewhat dated.

Writing-and having people bother to read what one has written-is a remarkable privilege and I especially appreciate that the editors of Adventist Review have seen fit to lend me a page each month for the past four years. I hope I have treated that privilege with the respect it deserves. Special thanks to Dr Johnsson for his support and mentoring in this capacity and to Steve Chavez as he has overseen the practical process of getting my words onto the magazine pages month by month.

Also added to this collection are other pieces that have been published in Record in the South Pacific. My thanks must also extend to those with whom I have worked in this role and the contributions they have made as critics and encouragers.

Thanks to my wife, Angela, who is always my first editor and most important critic.

Ultimately, this is about God and I trust Him to use it as He wills. Without Him, it's just ink on paper that would have been better left as trees.