"Dear Editor . . ."
A century ago the columns of our church paper, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, not only included articles on theological or other topics being discussed by church members, but also answered questions sent in by subscribers. The responses often contained touches of humor that reveal the warmth and wit of long-time editor, Elder Uriah Smith (1832-1903).
One topic that came up for discussion several times was whether or not it was proper for a man to wear a beard. Elder Smith plunged into the discussion by writing, "...as to its looks, and the plea that has been advanced, that to shave was to mar the divine beauty of the human visage as God designed it, we must remember that, in the eyes of many, a projecting moustache and flowing beard are as apt to make a man look like a rough goat as a venerable patriarch, and perhaps more so. We only say, let everyone endeavor to form correct views of propriety and abide by them; and if under these circumstances they can feel free to . . . brandish a razor, we have no objections to offer" (Eugene Durand, Yours in the Blessed Hope, 120)
Apparently Elder Smith's only real concern was with those who wanted to make a religious test out of something that the Bible was silent on, not whether or not a man grew a beard. Another time he wrote, "We care not whether a man wears a beard or not. The Bible says nothing against it and it says nothing for it" (Ibid., 120-121).
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Regarding a completely different subject, a man who was obviously concerned when he wrote out his question to send to the Review asked, "Will we know each other in heaven?" He added the comment after his signature, "Per order of wife." Editor Smith responded,
"We are a little at a loss to understand just what condition of things this indicates. If these parties want to know each other in heaven, and both get there, we apprehend there will be no difficulty whatsoever. But if they do not want to know each other there, it is very clear they will never both get there, and hence there will be no danger." (Durand, Review and Herald, May 20, 1982, 4-5).
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On another occasion a reader asked whether some who were teaching that the Holy Spirit was electricity, were guilty of the unpardonable sin. Uriah Smith responded, "We think it would be giving too dignified a title to call it the unpardonable sin. It is simply unpardonable nonsense" (Durand, Yours in the Blessed Hope, 128).
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Sometimes Elder Smith wrote just for fun. He once joined George Amadon in writing a tongue-in-cheek article called "A Record of Some of the Pride and Extravagances of the Battle Creek Church." They concluded by saying, "And we must confess also that there are some in this church who wear 'artificials.'" [At the time, the people reading the article typically understood that the term "artificials" referred to a hair piece.] Three have fallen into that sin. And worst of all, these are brethren! Think of brethren wearing artificials, and it is a fact that Brethren Smith, Lockwood, and Byington all wear "artificials." – legs (Ibid., 123).