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