Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The Second Coming of Corn Flakes
Remember not too long ago, when I was talking about the history of the Protestant churches and how it all started with Henry the VIII and Martin Luther and went downhill from there? I was admonished by some for being 'too simplistic', a criticism I fully embrace. My excuse? It's only a blog. Each denomination could take up several volumes. As time goes on, new denominations spring up like weeds in a vacant lot and their seeds blow in the wind and plant even more denominations. Today's answer to a question from a reader on a patron saint matching will take us on a whirlwind trip like weed seeds in the wind.
Sister, please give me some advice regarding a suggestion for a saint match up. I am sponsoring a young woman in RCIA, she is a former Seventh Day Adventist and was wondering if there are any saints that were former Adventists? I couldn't locate any, but I'm not as knowledgeable as you regarding these matters. Thank you for any help you can provide. ~Catherine
I don't know of any saints who were converts from the Seventh Day Adventist Church, or saints who specifically converted Seventh Day Adventists. Therefore we are going to have to find your friend a patron saint through extrapolation, and to do that, we're going to have to understand a little bit about being a Seventh Day Adventist.
I'm tired already.
A man named William Miller became obsessed with the Second Coming of Christ. Specifically, just when Christ would return. I believe Mr. Miller was a Baptist, but his obsession caused a new denomination to arise. Millerites were very plentiful in the year 1844. Mr. Miller (through his study of scripture) pinpointed the date of the return of Jesus to be sometime between March 1843 and March 1844. When Jesus failed to return by the end of that year, Mr. Miller's followers recalculated and came up with October 22, 1844.
The fiasco that ensued is known as The Great Disappointment.
An understatement, I'm sure.
The leftover Millerites fell into three (and if anyone's counting, so far, we've had the Baptists and the Millerites and now we'll move onto five denominations arising from this mess) groups who had three different interpretations of what went wrong. One of these groups was the Seventh Day Adventists, who believed that Jesus went somewhere on Oct. 22, 1844, it just wasn't here. I think Jesus entered His Heavenly Throne Room. Something along those lines.
At this point, a former Methodist (demonination #6 in our tale) who had become a Millerite and and then a Seventh Day Adventist, enters the picture. Meet Ellen G. White, a visionary (and by this I mean don't mean 'very forward thinking', although she was that, too....more on that later) started preaching about her visions, which I believe involved watching Jesus go into His Throne Room, but most certainly involved messages as to how the faithful should behave.
And on this count, I have to say, Ellen was a good egg. The basic tenets of her faith are not so different from the Catholic Church. The Holy Trinity, Jesus as Redeemer, the nature of God, really not so different. They do believe that when you die your soul sleeps until the Second Coming. Oops. I'm sure there are quite a few other such...misconceptions.
Although Mrs. White did not found the Seventh Day Adventists, she became the most influential person with that group, the de facto leader of the church. Her books, based on her visions, are the foundations of the church.
I should mention that Mrs. White got hit in the head with a rock at age nine. Her visions began at age 14. Is there a correlation? I wouldn't discount a rock to the head.
And one other thing: Mrs. White was a health nut. I say 'nut' in the kindest of tones. I am a fan of health nuts. She was such a health nut that her believers eventually got into the health care business. She influenced that super health nut, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who invented corn flakes. (Not to be confused with his brother who started the cereal company. He was the one that dumped all the sugar into those boxes.) Dr. Kellogg eventually had a falling out with the Adventists and left the denomination. Happily he did not form yet another religion.
Anyhow, Mrs. White was a vegetarian. A vegetarian in the Midwest in the 1860's. The midwest, where to this day your plate of food will consist of a piece of meat, some version of a potato and something that passes as a vegetable. (For example, if you order a Whopper and fries, the lettuce and tomato on your Whopper are your vegetables. Am I exaggerating? Not even a little.) My hat's off to her on that count.
Now, to answer your question, we have several saints that fit the bill.
First, St. Paul, the patron saint of converts, knocked off his horse by Jesus Himself.
Second, St. Stephen, the first martyr, who well understands what it's like to get hit in the head with a rock.
Third, St. Martin de Porres, a great patron saint for those who adhere to holistic medicine and herbal treatments and that sort of thing. He was very much a believer in that stuff himself.
I'm also a fan of St. John of God, who ran all around not knowing what to believe for a very long time, until Jesus had a chat with him. He founded a hospital, too!