Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Are Adventists passive aggressive?

By Ami, brought to you through the generosity of our Patreon donors

Alex and I started dating at the end of our junior year at Adventist academy, and by Valentine’s Day of our senior year, most people seemed to think of us as a done deal. Our yearbooks are full of admonishments to “marry that girl” or “don’t let him get away.” Beyond the mental marrying off of couples who held hands two vespers in a row, our classmates and teachers seemed genuinely delighted by the idea of Alex and me growing up and growing old together, which made the anonymous notes we received just before graduation all the more bizarre.

I’m sure we still have them somewhere: two plain white envelopes with our names typed on them, delivered to our dorms through interoffice mail. Inside, a photocopied article from Insight about the deep, inevitable regret of premarital sex, and an anonymous note typed on a hot pink post-it: “You were observed outside the beautiful new gym at noon on Thursday. I think you should consider what you’re doing.”

We spent days speculating about those notes. Who sent them? Our friends knew we weren’t having sex. Other students would probably not have remarked on the “beautiful new gym.” Were they a joke? If they were, we’re still waiting for the punch line because no one confessed to sending them. For a long time we assumed a teacher or other adult who did not know us personally must have sent the notes. Surely an adult who knew us well would have spoken to us directly if they were concerned. Right?

After nearly two years of co-hosting the Seventh-Day Atheist Podcast, I’m not so sure.

Before we launched it, Abby and I talked a lot about what the fallout of producing this podcast might be. We chose to be semi-anonymous because we worried that, if we identified ourselves, our families would be harassed about what we were doing. We talked quite a bit about how we would handle the Adventist trolls we were sure we would eventually attract. To our surprise and joy, they have not appeared. As our audience has grown, we’ve received a handful of negative reviews, some obviously from Adventists who haven’t listened to more than a few minutes of the podcast, but none of those people have emailed us or commented on our blog. An anonymous iTunes review, like an anonymous letter to the academy dorm, seems to be the limit of their confrontation. I wonder if part of it is that Adventism is very internally focused. Most Adventists don’t go looking for things that will contradict them.

I’m not complaining. I have much better things to do with my time than battle internet bullies, but I’ve begun to recall other instances when I expected confrontation with Adventists and found passive aggression or apathy instead. When I asked to have my name removed from the books of my home church, for example, I fully expected a phone call, a pastoral visit, an email from one of my former teachers, but none came. Adventists are not fire and brimstone people, and I’m beginning to think of them as less confrontational than I remember.

How about you? Do you think of Adventists as non-confrontational?