Links for purchasing Surrender of Sovereignty.

Dr. Clendenon's book "SURRENDER OF SOVEREIGNTY" is now avaible through major bookstores: Amazon.com, or Barnes & Noble, and is also available in the Kindle format compatible wtih PC, iMac, iPad, iPhone, 3G, Wi-Fi and Blackberry.

10/22/2010

The Changing Earth

If one comes to the conclusion that there are other possibilities with regard to the history of this planet than the Genesis account, a new horizon opens up.  I found this very interesting.  Tectonic Plate Movement has now been mapped by GPS: different plates moving different directions over a large expanse of time.  I have read Christian books pooh-poohing Tectonic Plate Movement, but this pretty well cinches the idea that such movement exists.  Here is the link to the GPS site of Jet Propulsion LaboratoryClick Here

10/19/2010

Dreams Sacrificed (Part 6 of 6) Waking Up In Life's ICU

In Parts 1-5 of this series "Dreams Sacrificed,"  I recounted the following:
(Part 1)  the Bible's obsession with sacrifice,
(Part 2)  how Judy and I had such high expectations for the future,
(Part 3)  how we began to realize those dreams amid controversy within our faith,
(Part 4)  how our starting a family caused us to take inventory of our lives and decide to sincerely pursue our religious heritage, even at the cost of sacrificing our original dreams by selling our thriving business and new home, moving out further into the country,
(Part 5) and finally after living out in rural central Nevada for three years, coming to the realization that we would have to move again in order to keep our children in Seventh-day Adventist schools.

This final section covers the period of time from 1984 to the present: 26 years.  We raised our two sons, built a dental practice in Caldwell, Idaho, enjoyed our family at large, and evolved from being a Seventh-day Adventist to an evangelical charismatic Christian and finally out of Christianity altogether. It has been enjoyable.  I'm not going to expound in great detail about this time period, because in my book, Surrender of Sovereignty, I explain quite a bit in the autobiography at the end of the book.  And the book also covers in detail why I moved out of Christianity.  So lets just start with the fact that after making such major decisions  based on our religious faith and then subsequently quitting that faith, we found ourselves a little battered and bruised facing the rest of our lives.  We did feel like we had awakened, not in some warm fuzzy place of truth, but in life's ICU wondering what we should do next.

Our dreams of security and retirement have been severely limited by our decision to follow our religious faith.  I have built a practice of dentistry in Caldwell.  But it has been in a remodeled old building.  My dreams of building a better office, like I had in Carson City,  have not realized.  I have struggled constantly over these 26 years to make this practice successful.  I believe I have built a good reputation, but the economy simply is not as brisk here as it is in more populated areas.  Having moved my practice 3 times has not been a wise financial decision.  And these decisions were based on our religious faith, not upon our original dreams of security in our retiring years.  I will need to work as long as my health will allow me, and then settle for a retirement probably much more meager than my peers. 

I know this sounds like crying over spilled milk.  But actually, I am happy and okay with life.  I have had a far better life than many, and I feel fortunate.  But I do harbor regret with regard to religion and its effect upon my life.  By now you know I see things more in "black and white,"  and if I believe something, I run with it, regardless of the risk.  You could blame some of my regret on me because of the choices I made.  You would be partially right.  But during the years I was a Christian, I sought God for direction.  I sought his involvement in the decisions I made.  I believe a book such as the Bible must work for every personality and type of person to be relevant.  It can't be just for those who think clearly, because many do not think clearly.  How could it be God's Word if you have to have a certain ability, education, IQ or station in life to understand it properly and without bias.  Jesus said that in order to enter the Kingdom, one needed to receive it as a little child.  And I agree.  If the Bible is to be the Word of God to mankind, it must be such that it can be safely used by the simple in mind as well as the highly intelligent.  An obsessive over-thinking sort of person like me needs to be able to understand and apply its teachings as well as a person who is more docile and prefers to follow the lead of others.  The Bible, in my mind, is like a loaded gun in a baby's hand.  It can be used for good and it can be used for harm.  It can make some folks lives more happy and yet it can bring disappointment and division into the lives of others.  It can be made to say whatever you want to hear.   Seventh-day Adventists make it say you should move out of the populated areas to avoid glorification of Sunday as a day of Worship.  Others see in the Bible the "sermon on the mount" where Jesus gave salient suggestions for everyday living.  Charismatics see in the scriptures an emphasis on receiving the Holy Spirit.  Others see dietary suggestions and restrictions.  Others see the need for God to test their faith.  Some, striving to have the faith of Abraham, literally sacrifice their children.  Some justify their odd relationship with society as being what the Bible calls God's peculiar people.  Some see the Bible as a reason not to serve in the military.  Some see it as teaching pacifism.  Others see it as justifying capital punishment.  Some see it as encouraging forgiveness, while some use it as justification to render swift and harsh punishment.  Some see in the Bible  the need to sacrifice their lives to God, and others see the opportunity to enrich their temporal needs and desires, reaping a harvest of success in this life.  When some read the admonition of Jesus to eat his body and drink his blood, they feel compelled to commit symbolic cannibalistic acts of devotion.  How could this book be for all believers, when it can be taken so many different ways.  Certainly God would covey his will to mankind in a less easily distorted way.

And in my case, I diverted my dreams to accommodate the founding beliefs of the faith of my fathers.  I have lived a good life, but I do have regrets.  I will list some of the main ones here.  If I had my life to live over, believing as I do now that the Bible is a compilation of the writings of many different human beings and not the Word of God, I would change these areas that I currently regret:


1.  I would have stuck with our original dream, stayed in one place and let my professional business bask in the success it was having.
2.  I would strive to be the best I could be, without the encumbrances and hangups of the ancient writers of the Bible.
3.  I would not go by the Biblical code of what is right and wrong to eat.
4.  I would enjoy learning basic physical sciences with an open mind, not viewing everything through the keyhole of Creationism, nor at the same time feel obliged to embrace any prevailing belligerently-opposite view to it.
5.   I would love to raise my children once again, not pressing upon them a predetermined set of standards dictated by people of ancient history who were unfamiliar with our present world; but rather I would enjoy teaching them to use their minds, feelings, and experiences to make wise decisions.
6.  I would love to see what would have happened if Judy and I, from the start, respected her wishes as much as mine.  Not seeing me as a tie-breaker, but collaborating as a loving, multifaceted team of equals.  Maybe we could have moved where she wanted to, instead of where I thought we should, subsequently coercing her to agree with me.
7.  I would love living my whole life without guilt.  Not seeing myself as someone who was incomplete, broken and needing a savior to represent me before a holy father.
8.  I would love to have not grown up in a religion that thought they were right and everyone else was wrong.  It gave me a dogmatic tilt to my thinking, always thinking that my way was right and superseded the opinions of others.    I think it spilled over into my family life, and I believe I squelched individual thought and drove my family's thoughts and decisions underground.  I believe it engendered deceit and stubbornness..
9.  I regret that religion has caused so much heartache in our families.  To watch our aging parents wrestle with their perceived possibility that we may not be with them for all eternity in heaven, is indeed disturbing.
10. I regret that the Bible, with its doctrine of tithes and offerings, has usurped so much of what our hands have produced, leaving us far behind the goals we once set.  I think the parable of the Sower in the Bible, which promises that seeds planted by faith into good soil (you if you're faithful enough) will bring forth a hundredfold harvest in this life, is a false promise and has robbed me of much substance in this life.  Paying a faithful "double tithe (20%)" for years and donating things like our travel trailer and my motorcycle to the cause when funds were needed by our church resulted in no noticeable blessing, but rather a scarcity of operating capital for my business. I feel ripped off by Christianity.

But now, as I close, let me tell you what I do not regret.  I do not regret being faithful to my inner self in seeking truth at all times.  I do not regret the honor of finding our way out of religion and restoring our personal sovereignty.  And now, with what is left of our lives,  we can enjoy living a life with more freedom and fewer regrets.

10/12/2010

Dreams Sacrificed (Part 5 of 6)

Isolated and Dreamless

Our Mobile Home, Toolshed and Print Shop In Fallon, Nevada
It was a harder life for us in Fallon.  Judy is a  natural homemaker, and when we left our new home out in beautiful Jack's valley, near Carson City, her dreams were restricted even more than mine.  She was like an artist without a canvas.  I like the desert and with a Jeep we were able to have a lot of fun times exploring the desolate areas of Nevada with our sons.  We were on final approach for Fallon Naval Air Station, so the boys and I enjoyed seeing the airplanes and roughing it like guys like to do.  But Christianity is a male dominated religion, whether modernists agree or not, and my wife was taught to honor her husband.  Being as persuasive as I am, Judy supported me in this move.  It was a sacrifice for me, but it was a bigger sacrifice for her.  And we do have a scrapbook full of wonderful memories from those three years, but we were isolated and we had sacrificed dreams to follow our beliefs.

But this series of Posts is not about whether we enjoyed life or not.  It's about Judy and my dreams and how they were sacrificed to our religious beliefs. We moved to Fallon because of what our church taught and we believed.  Many of our friends and family questioned the validity of this move. But looking back, I still think that our actions were justified considering we were trying to follow the foundational concepts of Seventh-day Adventism.  In this photo you can see our back yard.  The building on the far right was our Print House.  It was equipped with an offset printing press and all the other equipment needed to produce books and pamphlets that we sent to a growing mailing list of people in the country and abroad who were interested in advocating a return to the original teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist movement.  The point is that our blossoming dreams in Carson City were abandoned, and we put our hearts and families into doing this work of reformation in an effort to hasten, clear the way, and prepare ourselves for the return of Jesus to this Earth.

We remodeled an old home in Fallon for our dental office.  It was not designed well for a dental office, but we made it work.  Our business was slow, but we were able to survive on what business we could get, because we were able, with the sellout in Carson City, to own what we had in Fallon without encumbrances.  We home schooled our oldest son through second grade.  The emphasis in our lives was definitely on following the foundational teachings of our faith, not pursuing the dreams we had started with seven years ago.  During this time we sponsored several camp meetings in a beautiful isolated lake in the Sierra Mountain range called Silver Lake.  After two years we felt the need to put our oldest son in the Fallon Seventh-day Adventist Church School.  But by 1984, as my brother's daughter was finishing 8th grade in the same school, we suddenly realized that we had not foreseen where our children could go to school after 8th grade.  We were not willing to put them into public school.  Home schooling was not as easy in those days.  We had to fight the public school system all the way,  the internet did not exist, home schooling resources were nothing like what is available nowadays, and we suddenly realized that we had a problem.  Seventh-day Adventist Schools for grades 8-12 were not within reasonable driving distance.  Although my oldest son was only in 3rd grade in Fallon, we knew that we would face the same dilemma as my brother's family in just a few years.  Our dental practice was barely making it, and our reasons to stay in Fallon were melting.

Had God led us to Fallon?  We certainly had believed that we were following our faith's foundational beliefs.  Our early dreams for a successful dental practice and eventual financial security had been gambled on this move to Fallon, but we were willing to sacrifice it if necessary in order to do what we thought was right.  Our nest egg had indeed dwindled since Carson City.  And now we could see that we needed to pull up our stakes and move once more.  Our destination choices were limited to places in states where I had a license to practice dentistry that had Seventh-day Adventist school systems extending through the 12th grade.  And we wanted to stay within a reasonable driving distance of our families.  We chose to move to Caldwell, Idaho.  This choice was not in the best interest of Judy and my initial dreams, but was based mainly on our continuing  conviction to live in a rural setting yet have the ability to keep our children in Seventh-day Adventist schools.

I feel the need to give you, at this point, a short Summary before the next and final Post: Dreams Sacrificed (Part 6 of 6): Waking Up in Life's ICU.  Christianity, following the narrative of the Bible, has spawned many sects and denominations which claim to have the truth.  Seventh-day Adventism, by following the direction of its founders during the Great Religious Awakening in the mid-1800's who had developed a unique interpretation of the Bible and its prophecies, was one of them.  Our ancestors were leaders and converts to that religious philosophy.  After we both attended college and I finished dental school, our hopes and dreams of a successful life and secure future were high.  Though neither Judy or I were raised to be strict Seventh-day Adventists,  our entrance into parenthood caused us not only to return to our religious heritage but to endeavor to practice it even more diligently than our parents had.  This brought our dreams of success and future financial security into conflict with our renewed religious faith.  Thinking of our children, we chose to follow our faith, in many cases making decisions which did not promote or secure our earlier dreams.

10/09/2010

Dreams Sacrificed (Part 4 of 6)

The Dream Crumbles

Our dreams were right on course: happy marriage, successful dental practice, new home, and by 1980 we had two children, Jake and Zach.  Judy and I were attending church at the Carson City Seventh-day Adventist church.  We were concerned that we should "train up our children in the way that they should go," as the Bible advocates.

The photo at left is a poster from the Canadian province of Ontario.  It depicts what all Seventh-day Adventists fear: Sunday Laws or Blue Laws.

Cooking classes, stop-smoking clinics and health lectures are usually 7th-day Adventists' best foot forward to the public, and are usually the subjects people think about when a 7th-day Adventist is mentioned.  But once a new interested party attends one of these, they will eventually be contacted and invited to either Bible Studies or a Daniel and Revelation Seminar.  It's all in the name 7th-Day Adventist.  We believed in the soon coming and return of Jesus to the Earth, and we believed that keeping the seventh day of the week as a Sabbath of rest was the final test of loyalty for believers in the last days.  It is not often talked about, but Ellen G. White, the church's special messenger, claimed to have a vision that showed that those who did not come out of the other Protestant churches and did not join the Advent Movement, rejoicing in the hallowed sacredness of the 7th-day (Saturday) Sabbath, were in fact being led by the unholy influence of Satan.

Further, Seventh-day Adventists believe that, following mild Sunday Laws like those depicted above, stricter laws will be enforced by our national congress to honor Sunday.  They still believe that, in the United States, a national law requiring  honor to Sunday as a holy day, enforced by a death decree, will cause true believers to flee to the mountains.

Here we were pursuing our dreams and everything was going quite well.  As Judy and I wanted to train our children properly, we were perplexed in that our two families observed Sabbath differently.  We decided to find out what God had shown Ellen G. White pertaining to true worshipers and believers. As we did so we found that she said the following:

"We are not to locate ourselves where we will be forced into close relations with those who do not honor God. . . . A crisis is soon to come in regard to the observance of Sunday. . . . The Sunday party is strengthening itself in its false claims, and this will mean oppression to those who determine to keep the Sabbath of the Lord. We are to place ourselves where we can carry out the Sabbath commandment in its fullness. "Six days shalt thou labor," the Lord declares, "and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work." And we are to be careful not to place ourselves where it will be hard for ourselves and our children to keep the Sabbath. If in the providence of God we can secure places away from the cities, the Lord would have us do this. There are troublous times before us".--Manuscript 99, 1908. 21 

"When the power invested in kings is allied to goodness, it is because the one in responsibility is under the divine dictation. When power is allied with wickedness, it is allied to Satanic agencies, and it will work to destroy those who are the Lord's property. The Protestant world have set up an idol sabbath in the place where God's Sabbath should be, and they are treading in the footsteps of the Papacy. For this reason I see the necessity of the people of God moving out of the cities into retired country [places,] where they may cultivate the land and raise their own produce. Thus they may bring their children up with simple, healthful habits. I see the necessity of making haste to get all things ready for the crisis."--Letter 90, 1897.

I imagine that there are some non-Seventh-day Adventists as well as some Adventists who read this blog.  The former are probably thinking that this is preposterous, and the latter is thinking that they agree with what has been quoted.  But in 1980, when Judy and I lived in Carson City, Nevada, there were long standing governmental policies which honored Sunday such as the US Post Office delivering mail 6 days a week, but not on Sunday.  Nevada Legislature was having hearings on a bill that would require automobile dealerships to close on Sundays.  The Lords's Day Alliance in Atlanta, Georgia was pushing for more Sunday Laws.
It seemed to Judy and I that we should follow the advice that was given and move further out in the country.  So we sold our home.  We sold our dental practice and beautiful facility.  We moved 60 miles further out into Nevada to the farming community of Fallon, where we put a small mobile home on an islolated acreage of sandy soil and sagebrush.

Next: Dreams Sacrificed (Part 5 of 6):  Isolated and Dreamless

10/07/2010

Dreams Sacrificed (Part 3 of 6)


So far, our dreams were proceeding right on schedule.  After a one year associate-ship in California, Judy and I decided to build a new office building in Carson City, Nevada.  It was a calculated risk, but it was my home town, and I thought local support justified going a little ways out on a limb, even though we were starting from scratch. It was a wonderful office building for me, with a full basement and all new dental equipment.  It looked like opportunity was smiling upon us, and were very excited.  Business was adequate for my survival almost immediately. 

But shortly after moving to Carson City, our first son Jacob was born. And in 1980 we adopted our second son Zach.   An amazing transformation of mind and purpose accompanied our entrance into parenthood.  We loved our children immensely, and our thoughts turned to the responsibility of making sure they were raised well.  It seemed to us like it was time to begin once again attending the Seventh-day Adventist church in Carson City.  As we enjoyed these early years of parenting and being members of the local church congregation, our religious practices remained about the same as they were during dental school.  We ate meat, enjoyed alcoholic beverages from time to time, and did pretty much anything we wanted to do on Sabbath as far as recreation was concerned, except that we were still careful not to cause anyone else to work on our account.  At least that was the way we practiced our religion in Carson City; but when we visited Judy's parents, we would go out to lunch on Sabbath if they wanted to.  This was occasionally  their custom, and we didn't care very much one way or the other. 

The point of all this is that we were liberal Seventh-day Adventists.  And Adventism is not a very liberal religion when you strictly practice it according to the foundational beliefs.

Attending church in Carson City had its own set of problems.  Over the past ten years a power struggle had developed between some of the old founding members of the Carson City group and the Church's Conference Office in Reno, Nevada.  To make a long story short, we became sympathetic with a group of folks who were agitating for the Church to stop compromising its message in order to be well thought of  by other denominations.  We became self-appointed reformers.  This caused us to study our denomination's early history and to investigate in detail what Seventh-day Adventists were supposed to believe.  We found that modern Seventh-day Adventism had strayed from its original course and we sought to work towards its reformation.  Reformers are rarely well thought of, and Judy and I soon found ourselves achieving our dreams on one hand but becoming isolated  from our church in Carson City on the other.  Although it didn't effect our dental practice or finances, it did effect our children's lives.  We weren't sure that we wanted them growing up in a bickering church environment.  Going to church was becoming a battle.

Belonging to a small church like the Seventh-day Adventist church takes some degree of backbone and willingness to swim upstream.  Although its doctrines are founded on many Bible passages, most of Christianity thinks you're nuts.  From my perspective now, having belonged to a different Christian church for 8 years before I left Christianity altogether, I believe the Bible says so many different things in so many different ways that it is conducive to the formation of differing denominations and fanaticism.  And here we were, in a slightly unpopular church, in a squabbling congregation, trying to bring reform and yet trying to follow our dreams.

Next: Dreams Sacrificed (Part 4 of 6): The Dream Crumbles

10/05/2010

Dreams Sacrificed (Part 2 of 6)

 Dental School Graduation: A Dream Milestone

The purpose of this series of posts is to demonstrate how in my life, religion restricted and short-circuited my dreams.  It is not that I think anyone is particularly interested in my personal history, but I do think religion's effect upon my life and dreams could be of value to others.

This day in 1973 was indeed a wonderful milestone for Judy and me.  We had both worked so hard to accomplish this goal.  The future looked full of possibilities.  Our parents had been very supportive and we all celebrated the occasion.

But since this series of posts will chronicle the relationship of our dreams with our religious experience, I will note the following facts:


1. We were both raised Seventh-day Adventists.

2.  Neither of us was raised to the strict standards of the church's primary messenger of God, Ellen G. White.  This means that we both ate clean meats such as beef, chicken, fish etc. Both of our families were okay with outdoor recreation such as boating, swimming, exploring on the Sabbath day.  Judy's family was more liberal than mine in that they would go to a restaurant on the Sabbath day.  But my family, while they would never consider going to anything which required another person to work for us on Sabbath, were okay with tennis, baseball, football, skiing, etc. as long as it was not organized but just for fun.  So the net result of this was that at this  point in life we could see that our church's standards of conduct were open to individual interpretation.

3. Although we were both Seventh-day Adventists and attended church occasionally, we did not practice it much.  I remember going to the Santa Anita Race Track and betting on the horses on Sabbath.  We felt free to have alcoholic drinks whenever it suited us. But still, in the back of our minds, we believed Seventh-day Adventism to be true. We knew that when we started to have children we would probably have to wise up and get with the program.  :-)

Next Post: The Dream Grows,  Dreams Sacrificed (Part 3 of 6)

10/03/2010

Dreams Sacrificed (Part 1 of 6)

This is Part 1 in a series of 6 posts that I intend to share in the following days.  It will explain how one of my greatest dreams was sacrificed on the altar of faith.  I am not bitter about it, but I am disappointed.  It will be personal, but it is intended to underscore the 10th and 11th chapters of Surrender of Sovereignty: The Bible Is Internally Incohesive And Promotes Strife and Christianity: A Fertile Bed For Fanaticism.

Sacrifice is a major sub-theme of the Bible.  The story of Adam and Eve describes the disobedience, the fall, the imposed death penalty, the sacrifice to absolve the sinful disobedience, and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.  You can read all about the story in the first chapters of the book of Genesis.

The Bible mentions a "Book of Life" in which God is keeping record of the names of all whom He intends to grant eternal life.  Although the Bible depicts the alleged virgin birth of God's one and only Son and his short martyred life to become mankind's Savior, it also records further sacrifice on the part of every believer:

Psalm 51:17 declares what God wants out of this human experiment: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

And in the New Testament of the Bible, more sacrifice is encouraged in Romans 12:1-2: "Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do  not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

In the following Posts, I will explain how my dream for success and prosperity has been restricted and significantly short circuited by believing the Christian Bible.  Part 2 in this series will be about my dream: to become a successful dentist and provide for my wife and family a good life with financial security.