Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Christian Science Testimony Meeting

This last Wednesday night I stopped in at the local First Church of Christ, Scientist, for their weekly testimony meeting. It was my first visit to a Christian Science Church and I brought with me only my knowledge of the basics, Mary Baker Eddy, the unreality of matter, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and a demographic over representation among the who’s who of 1930's Hollywood.

The service was begun with an introduction, followed by a hymn, then extensive readings from both the Holy Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Like the LDS Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christian Scientists operate largely with a lay clergy, at least at the congregational level. The women conducting the evenings service was probably British, though maybe she had one over those overly formal Boston accents, which would make sense as the "Mother Church" is based there. Anyway she had what I might call a ‘book on tape’ voice, which worked during the readings, but later on her combination‘weakest link’/NPR speaking style did get a little tiresome.

The readings were followed by a few minutes of silent prayer, then a vocal recitation of ‘The Lords Prayer’, which was given so slowly I kept vocally tripping on myself. Then the time was open for members testimony’s. It took a while for someone to raise their hand, after which an usher brought a microphone around (ala Quaker services, which a congregation member pointed out to me later). Several others offered to bear their testimonies afterwards, most of which focused on things brought up in the meetings, and how the various speakers had been ‘healed’(a key word in the faiths parlance) of aliments, be they physical, spiritual, or other (all of which according to the theology are illusional in nature) .

I found several parallels to Mormon belief and practice, though arguably superficial ones, in the lay congregational structure, veneration of the Church founder (which arguably they do even more then the LDS), bearing of member testimony’s as a regular part of worship, and even a little bit in chapel design (both Mormons and Christian Scientists have distinctive styles of rostrum). I did find the ‘now on sale at the reading room’ section of the service (between the Lords Prayer and testimony’s) to be rather odd though, I’m uncomfortable with even vaguely commercial announcements in a church setting. On the whole I’m glade I went, I enjoyed the experience, though more on an intellectual then spiritual level.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Inis Hunter Passes

Inis Hunter, the widow of the late LDS Church president Howard W. Hunter, has passed away at the age of 93. Inis was Presidents Hunter’s 2nd wife, a divorcee whom he had first met while serving as the Bishop of a California ward in the 1950’s. The couple married in 1990 while Howard was serving as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, seven years after the death of his wife Clair Jeffs, who had passed away following a prolonged illness. Inis Hunter traveled widely with her husband during the first few years of their marriage, and tended to him during his brief nine-month presidency, the shortest in Church history, and one in which he was mostly ill. Sense President Hunter’s passing sister Hunter has been known to make the occasional appearance at General Conference. She was the last living widow of a Church president.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mormons and Presidents: Quincy Adams - Tyler

#6 John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)

The "Mormon" Church did not yet exist during the time of the second Adams presidency, but it was during the course of that four years that Joseph Smith married his first (and only legally recognized) wife, Emma Hale, and received the Golden Plats (1). Former President Adams did however interact with the Latter-day Saints in 1844, when in his capacity as a member of the House of Representatives, he twice meet with Apostles Orson Pratt and John E. Page, to discus their entirety for federal government intervention in the deteriorating situation in Illinois. He was apparently at least somewhat sympathetic, but unable to provide any real assistance. Joseph Smith was per portably a fan of the former president, and had instructed Elder Pratt to make a point of seeing him when in Washington as an envoy for the Church.

#7 Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)

Andrew Jackson was the President of the United States at the time of the organization of the Church, first printing of the Book of Mormon, and many other important events in the history of the Latter-day Saint movement. A Church owned newspaper in Ohio endorsed Jackson’s re-election in 1832, and most Mormons were Jackson supporters. When Church members where driven out of Jackson County, Missouri (2), by their enemies in 1834, they sent an appeal to the President as instructed by divine revelation (3). The president, in accordance with the "States Rights" legal thinking of the time, was unable to intervene without a direct request to do so by the state government, though apparently he felt such exclusions were an undue limitation on his power. Some of President Jackson’s economic policy’s may have been indirectly at fault for the later failure of the Kirtland Savings Society in 1837.

#8 Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)

President Van Buren holds a place of particular disrepute in the Mormon consciousness. In the fall of 1839 Joseph Smith and a small party traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with as many influential politicians as they could to seek redress for the Mormons being driven from the state of Missouri. The President meet with Smith twice, and on his second visit gave this famous replay to the Saint’s request: "Gentlemen, your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you... If I take up for you I shall lose the vote of Missouri."

Ironically Van Buren lost the Missouri vote, and the national vote, in his attempt at re-election in 1840. Joseph Smith purportedly cast a curse on Van Buren that he never again be elected to public office, which he never was, despite an attempted run again for the presidency in 1844. Most of Van Buren’s temple work was intentionally delayed for decades on account of his treatment to the Latter-day Saints. Though in all fairness, had Van Buren attempted to interfere with the state of Missouri in the matter of Mormon redress, it would likely have erupted into a big political mess on account of the "States Rights" political philosophy then so tightly held to, especially by slave states.

#9 William Henry Harrison (1841)

Do to frustration with the Van Buren administration, Joseph Smith led the Latter-day Saints in supporting Harrison’s 1840 candidacy for the presidency, this despite the fact that Mormons had voted against him in large numbers during his 1836 run for that office. Section 124 of the Doctrine and Covenants consists of a "solemn proclamation directed towards various leaders including ‘the honorable President-Elect’"(4), and entreats them to come to the aid of the Saints as they prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. Joseph Smith’s campaign literature for his quixotic and short lived 1844 run for the presidency (5), contains great praise for the late President, implying that had he lived much good would have come from his administration.

#10 John Tyler (1841-1845)

Tyler was the President of the United States at the time of Joseph Smiths martyrdom in June of 1844. The president had a number of interactions with the Latter-day Saints both in letters and in person, and some interesting anecdotes about these are contained in Winder’s book, my favorite of which is that Karl G. Masser (6) taught piano lessons to two of (then ex-president) Tayler’s daughters to help finance his mission. Tyler, like his predecessors, did not intervene to help the Latter-day Saints despite several entireties to do so. Joseph Smith predicted in may of 1844 that Tyler would not win the presidency that year, in June of 1844 the President was denied the Democratic nomination and mounted a third-party bid to retain his office, this ultimately failed.

1. Both events occurring in 1827.

2. Named for the siting president.

3. D&C 101: 86-89

4. Winder, Michael K.; ‘Presidents and Prophets’, Covenant Communications Inc.; American Fork, Utah; 2007. Page 56.

5. It would be easy to see Joseph Smith’s attempted run for the presidency as evidence of delusion or megalomania. However it can be viewed as something akin to similar "hopeless" efforts by candidates like Ralph Nader or Pat Buchanan, designed more to bring attention to a certain cause or set of issues, then to really win the office. The campaign was cut short by Joseph’s martyrdom in June of that year.

6. Karl G. Masser was an educator and the first German convert to Mormonism. He later served as the first president of Brigham Young Academy, later Brigham Young University.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mormons and Presidents: Washington - Monroe

Having a strong interest in both Mormon history and American Political history, as well as a vague aspiration to being a writer, I have long had among my list of potential future projects a tome on the relationship between the nations chief executive and the LDS Church. Well that book has been written for me. It’s called ‘Presidents and Prophets’ and was authored by one Michael K. Winder (1), a man with a strong background in both Mormon history and the study of the Presidency. Now that such a formal work is not ‘required’ by my hands, I’ve decided to embark on an informal crash course on Prophets and Presidents for my blog. I will use information taken from Winder’s book, as well as much else I have learned over the years in satisfying my interest on this subject. Anyone interested in perusing this topic further should really get the afformentioned book, which would look nice on one’s coffee table, especially if one never actually uses it for coffee.

The first few Presidents covered (2) are a bit of a stretch in that they held office prior to the organization of the Church in 1830. However LDS conceptions of the men might be of some interest.

#1 George Washington (1789-1797)

Given the much remarked upon "Americanus" of the Mormon faith and the patriotism of its people, it should come as no surprise that George Washington is venerated by the Latter-day Saints. Our nations first president has long been cited in LDS discourse as a man to be emulated, and as a spirit "foreordained"(3) to his great work.

In 1877 Apostle and future Church President Wilford Woodruff recorded that he was visited by the spirt of George Washington and other founding fathers in the then newly completed St George Temple (where he was serving as Temple President). According to Woodruff, Washington and the forty-nine other signers of the Deceleration of Independence, demanded that their vicarious ordinance work be done, and kind of gave him a guilt trip for having not done so already. Elder Woodruff promptly had ordinance work done for all those men, as well as for fifty other prominent historical figures (4). George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were also vicariously ordained to the office of High Priest, where as typically deceased males are ordained to the office of Elder (5).

#2 John Adams (1797-1801)

As Adams died four years before the organization of the Church, the chapter on him in ‘Presidents and Prophets’ is comprised mostly of a brief discussion of the 2nd presidents religious views, which I will not get into here.

#3 Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)

Jefferson was the President of the United States when Mormonisms founding Prophet Joseph Smith was born in late 1805. He is venerated for his support of religious liberty, and his role in writing the U. S. Constitution, which Mormons believe to have been divinely inspired.

#4 James Madison (1809-1817)

James Madison would, like Jefferson, be chiefly appreciated by Latter-day Saints (theologically at least) for his role in the crafting of the Constitution.

#5 James Monroe (1817-1825)

Monroe was the sitting President when Joseph Smith has his ‘First Vision’ in 1820, and was first visited by the Angel Moroni in the fall of 1823. Some Church leaders have stated their belief that the ‘Monroe Doctrine’ was divinely inspired, included among this group was First Presidency Councilor J. Reuben Clark Jr., who was something of an isolationist (6).

1. Winder is a decedent of LDS First Presidency member John R. Winder, who was the subject of his first book.

2. Meaning the first few Presidents period.

3. Mormon theology holds that the spirits of all people existed with God before they where born, and at least some of these people were selected to accomplish certain tasks in life.

4. These run the gamut from Lord Byron to "Stonewall" Jackson.

5.. The hierarchal arrangement of priesthood offices in the LDS Church (excluding atypical offices such as Apostle or Church President) progress as so: Deacon, Teacher, Priest, Elder, Seventy (now defunct), and High Priest. Though it should be noted that LDS Apostles are usually referred to as ‘Elder’ despite there all being ordained High Priests, this is because Elder (in Mormon thinking) has the connotation of ‘one who preaches’.

6. Clark served in various diplomatic posts, mostly under the Republican presidents of the 1920's. While early in his political career he was involved in the planning of various American intrusions into the affairs of Latin American nations, he later grew to oppose such practice, and took an isolationist position during World War II.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Newsweek Cover Story on Romney

I’d like to say a few things about the recent Newsweek article entitled: ‘A Mormon’s Journey: The Making of Mitt Romney’. The selection of Mitt Romney for a cover story at this time seems a bit odd in light of his placing fourth among the Republicans in most national poll’s, however he is leading in both Iowa and New Hampshire, hoping a strong performance there will give him the boast he needs to carry other states and get the nomination. At the outset I want to remind readers about two things: 1) I like Mitt Romney, I think he’s a good man, and 2) I am not however (at least currently, and probably never) supporting him for the Republican nomination (I’m a Giuliani man right now), despite my being an active Mormon and sometimes Republican.

A major aspect of the story (written by Jonathan Darman and Lisa Miller) regards what role Mitt’s Mormonism is to play in the framing of the campaign. Mormonism is of course an issue with the party’s evangelical base, many of whom regard the LDS faith as heretical or even a cult. However Mormonism still occupies a place of suspicion in the broader American mind set, due to its history, doctrines, and a widely held perception, that there’s something just not quite right going on underneath the faith’s clean-cut image. This is frustrating in that we’ve kind of gone through this ‘alien faith’ thing before already, nearly fifty years ago with John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism. Regardless of theological differences with its denominational peers, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s is the 4th biggest church in this country, and its members very much part of the fabric of American life, not to different from their neighbors, and a long way of from the ‘threat to civil society’ their forbears were widely perceived to be in the 19th century. Mitt Romney’s not Warren Jeff’s or Brigham Young, he’s a blueblood establishment businessman whose done some position flopping, and that’s were the criticism and analysis would be most relevantly directed by the public and media.

That being said I still must express a certain fascination with the only tangentially important father son dynamic going on with Mitt and the late George Romney. Now Mitt’s father’s a man I’d have been happy to vote for. He switched his opinion on the Vietnam War when he encountered the facts on the ground, it was a principled not expedient change, and he was eviscerated for it in the media. He was a believing Mormon, very pious in many ways, yet he was not prone to impose his religious values on others, stocking alcohol in his house for non-member visitors, and insisting that an Italian exchange student who stayed with the family attend meetings of his Catholic faith on Sundays. I like Mitt Romney, but I really like George Romney.

Anyway as the article states, George’s telling it as he saw it approach, and how it subsequently hurt him politically, may have been a major factor in his son’s development of a hyper-conscious phraseology and presentation in his rhetoric and campaigning. Here we have a mirror with the Bush’s, son’s not wanting to repeat father’s political mistakes, and in both cases sacrificing some of their parents principled practicality in exchange for a certain base courting shallowness. I really don’t think we as a country want to go through that again just now.

Some Thoughts on General Conference

So the October conference has ended, and turns out I was wrong in my predictions regarding the new appointee’s to the First Presidency and the Twelve. Elder Bednar was not named Second Councilor despite where he was sitting at Women’s Conference. Instead another Hinckley appointee to the Twelve was chosen to fill the position opened by Presidents Faust’s recent passing. Apostle Henry B. Eyring, a Fmr. President of Rick’s college and two time Church Commissionaire of Education, was called to that post. Eyring had been President Hinckley’s first appointment to the Twelve following the latter’s ascendancy to the Church presidency in 1995, and filling the vacancy occasioned by the death of Church President Howard W. Hunter, following a mear nine months in that office. Eyring is the son of famed Chemist Henry Eyring, who wrote the book ‘Faith of a Scientist’. President Eyring’s formative years where spent in Princeton, New Jersey where his father taught, and where a small branch of Mormons meet in his family’s home.

The vacancy in the Twelve was filled by Quentin L. Cook of the Seventy, who is not to be confused with the more well known (until yesterday) Gene R. Cook. The appointment of Elder Cook took me by surprise because I don’t know anything about him, I mean I’d heard the name but that was about all. In fact Elder Cook was obscure enough not to have had a Wikipedia entry on Saturday morning, by Saturday evening however he had one. It turns out Elder Cook was born in Logan Utah in 1940, served a mission to England during the early 1960's, and his business career was spent as a corporate attorney in California, where he also served 14 years as a volunteer city attorney in the San Francisco area. Elder Cook doesn’t have an overwhelming presence and thus his initial address didn’t leave me with any strong impressions, other then that he seems like a throughly decent man. He’ll doubtless grow in the office.

As far as other themes go this conference a number of the talks seemed address perhaps more to the media and non-Mormons then to the membership at large. This was alluded to several times when speakers in their remarks made statements along the lines of: ‘There has been a recent increase in media interest in the Church do to the presence of prominent members on the national stage’ (read Mitt Romney, and maybe Harry Reid), or ‘It is important that we define ourselves and not allow others to do so’ (alluding to common mis-characterizations about the faith by non-believers). Elder M. Russell Ballerd gave a talk concerning some basic information about the Church non-members frequently want to know. Elder Jeffery R. Holland defended the Christianity of the Church’s non Trinitarian conception of the Godhead. While Elder Russell M. Nelson gave a sermon on the Biblical justification for some distinctive Mormon doctrines.
In fact Elder Nelson was also involved in one of the more memorable events to occur at this conference. Ninety year old Apostle Joseph B. Wurthlin started to have a spastic shaking fit about five minutes into his sermon, this kind of thing sometimes happens when very elderly people stand for atypically long periods of time. In response Elder Nelson got up from his seat and steaded Elder Wurthlin so he could complete his talk. It was very sweet, and reminded me of a few other incidents from earlier conferences, including Howard W. Hunter’s famed stumble at the pulpit, and the time Elder David. B. Haight couldn’t think of the term ‘mustered seed’ until President Hinckley prompted him from behind (Elder Haights memorably good humored response to this aid was: "Thank you President. I keep the President around for occasions such as these."). I mean the top councils of the Church may seem to many like just a lot of old men administering a large bureaucracy (which they in fact largely are), but there’s a great sense of brotherhood about them that is inescapable if you watch there interaction for any protracted period of time. They really love one another.

Finally there were several talks that included stories about members of the Church who helped non-members in some important way, but that aid did not result in the conversion of the persons helped (or at least such a conversion was not explicitly mentioned). One was a talk by President Monson, the First Councilar in the First Presidency, who told the story of a non-Mormon childhood friend of his who was killed in World War II. Shortly after learning of his friends death Bro. Monson went to visit the deceased mother to offer some comfort, he assured her that her son continued to live on in the next world. Years later at the April 1969 General Conference, Elder Monson (by that time an Apostle) gave a sermon entitled "Mrs. Patten, Arthur Lives", in which he addressed the dear women, whom he hadn’t seen in decades, and reiterated what he had said before. Through a perhaps unlikely series of events, the non-Mormon Mrs. Patten heard the broadcast at the home of some LDS neighbors in California where she then lived. Shortly there after she wrote Elder Monson a letter expressing her gratitude for the talk, and how his words had brought her some real comfort and peace about the issue of her son’s eternal state. Had she joined the Church President Monson would most likely have mentioned this in his story, but he did not. Likewise another sermon contained a story of how Church founder Joseph Smith had once taken a poor boy into his home and helped him to find the lost brother he was seeking. Again no ‘conversion ending’ is given to this story, just a Church member doing good for someone regardless of faith, and that being a virtue in an of its self. Of course that should all be simple Christian logic, but with the emphasis on conversion in the outreach efforts of Church members, its important that we be reminded that doing good is its own reward, the recipients of our good deeds don’t need to join our Church for our efforts to have been worthwhile. I’m thankful that important message was relayed to us through this recent conference.

I quite enjoyed Conference this year, it was the first time since my mission that I have been able to catch all five sessions (I’ve typically worked on Saturday’s). I felt a real positive energy and tried to keep some rudimentary notes. I actually look forward for the Conference issue of the ‘Ensign’ (official Church magazine) and a chance to examine some of these sermons in more detail. I may include greater analysis of some of these sermons in future blog posts.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pumped for General Confrence

Well I am particularly pumped for this weekend's LDS General Conference. Unlike a lot of denominations regular conferences, the LDS General Conference is for the 'general' membership, and consists largely of sermons (in the LDS parlance referd to by the more mundane term "talk") from upper echelon members of the Church leadership. These sessions are broadcast on regular television through much of the western United States, on the Church owned cable channel BYU-TV, and by satellite directly into LDS chapels around the world (you can also stream it online at the Church website or in some cases find it on radio).

However like the conferences of some other church's, it is also the occasion on which important matters of denominational business are attended to. Vital statistics are given, the deaths of prominent members are acknowledged, ecclesiastical training classes are held, and new policies and appointments are announced. It is in relation to this last matter that the coming conference holds the most potential interest, as it will be the first time in more the 12 years that the First Presidency is to be reorganized.

A little background for those not familiar with the hierarchical construction of the mainline branch of the Mormon faith. The LDS First Presidency is the highest governing body of the Church, it consists of the Church President and his two councilors. This summer second councilor James E. Faust passed away (some one on another Mormon blog stated that the best words of praise they could think of for the man was that he was a "Class act all the way", I echo this statement). This has created a vacancy in the First Presidency that the Church President will have to feel. Traditionally such a replacement is taken from among the membership of the current Quarm of the Twelve Apostles, though this is not always the case, for example in the 1930's Church pres. Heber J. Grant appointed Fmr. U. S. Ambassador to Mexico J. Reuben Clark Jr. as his second councilor, he would later go on to serve as first councilor under two subsequent Church presidents.

If President Hinckley appoints a member of the 12 to the fill the opening in the First Presidency then a new Apostle will also have to be ordained. If this is to be the case then Marline K. Jensen would be a well received possibility, has got a lot of grassroots support on the net that I've noticed, also he's a registered Democrat like Elder Faust was, so there would be some value in keeping a member of that party in a predominate position in this largely Republican Church, as Mormon Democrats sometimes complain of feeling a little marginalized (and not without reason). Also a Latin American Apostle would be well received, given the Church's astonishing growth in that region over the last 40-t0-50 years.

But it is the new First Presidency that will be the center of attention, as the the Hinckley/Monson/Faust combo was the longest serving FP in the Church's 177 year history. Though there has been much speculation as to who would be appointed, that answer may have already been telegraphed to the Church at last weekends General Relief Society (Mormon women's organization) meeting. According to some women I know who attended, Elder David A. Bednar, the most junior member of the Council of the Twelve, was seen sitting in Elder Faust's old seat at the meeting. While it is true that more senior Apostle Russel M. Nelson was also in attendance at the meeting, he was not seated in Elder Faust's chair. If Elder Bednar is in fact to be the newest member of the First Presidency, he would likely be the youngest man to occupy a position in that body since the 19th Century (Elder Bednar is in his mid-50's). It would be a bold choice to bring such young blood into that geriatric body. However the choice would also seem kind of natural because Bednar has had a rather rapid rise as something of a Hinckley protege.

It was under President Hinckely that Elder Bednar was called to be a General Authority, and the Church President kept him in his position as President of Church owned Rick's college, as that institution transitioned from a two year junior college, into the four year Brigham Young University- Idaho. President Hinckley also called Bednar into his current position as an Apostle in 2004, following the death of the aged Elder David B. Haight (born 1906). So that Bednar may be appointed to Second Councilor doesn't seem so surprising in context. Plus with President Hinckley now 97 years old, and President Monson suffering from Diabetes and other ailments, it seems wise to have someone (relatively) young added to that body at this time. I'm excited to find out for sure tomorrow.

Three Speakers

Even though I graduated from Boise State back in May, I've been on campus a fair bit in the last ten days or so, because there's been a concentrated influx of guest speakers I've wanted to see. Boise State actually does a good job of bringing in interesting guest speakers, and during my years at the school I got to hear some notable people speak, ranging from Feminist Gloria Steinem, to Polish Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa.

On Monday the 24th of September Fmr. New Jersey Superior Court Judge Andrew Napolitano, now a radio personality and legal analyst for Fox News, as well as an author on Constitutional issues, came to speak. Judge Napolitano was brought in as part of the Brandt Foundation Lectures, a libertarian leaning organization that has endowed Boise State with its lone named professorship, that of Brandt Professor of Free Enterprise Capitalism, currently occupied by Dr. Charlotte Twight. Judge Napolitano offered a few amusing anecdotes about his days as a judge, followed by a lecture on how the vast majority of elected officials have little or no respect for the limitations placed upon them by the Constitution. However the Judge pointed out that one notable exception to that rule is Idaho's own philosophically libertarian governor C. L. "Butch" Otter, who in fact showed up to introduce him. The Brandt Foundation brought reporter John Stossel in to speak as there featured lecturer last year.

Factoid: BSU President Robert Kustra is himself a former Lt. Governor of Illinois.

On Saturday the 29th of September, Boise State and the Idaho Human Rights Educational Center sponsored a visit by John Bul Dau, one of the "lost boys" who survived Sudan's decades long civil war (this was a separate conflict from the current Genocide going on in Darfur), and whose story has been told in his book "God Grew Tired of Us" and a National Geographic documentary of the same name. At 14 John fled the killing in his home country and walked for three months to Ethiopia, where he lived in a refuge camp for four years. At the end of that period a cue had brought a new regime to power in Ethiopia and he was forced to flee again, ending up in the car of a humanitarian organizations that arranged his transfer to a home in upstate New York. John is now a United States citizen and I believe is finishing up a Master's degree, he's also founded several charitable organizations and was here in the west helping to organize the visit of a group of Utah doctors to perform vital surgery's in his native land.

Yesterday was the 24th Annual Frank Church Conference on Public Affairs at BSU. The conference is named for the late Idaho Senator Frank Church, whose famed "Church Committee" helped rain in the intelligence abuses that where brought to such prominence during the Nixon years. Being that the Senator was from Idaho its perhaps surprising that he ever got a chance to be such a liberal icon (Idaho hasn't cast its electoral votes for a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964), but such left-of center figures as Ralph Nader and George McGovern have been known to sing his praises.

Anyway the key note speaker was Fmr. Colorado Senator Gary Hart. Hart almost won his party's presidential nomination in 1984, and seemed a potential front runner in 88' until he was brought low by a sex scandal involving pictures of the Senator with a young blond on a boat. Hart resigned from the Senate and has sense been a teacher and author of 17 books. One of these books I actually bought a copy of last night, it's called "God and Caesar in America" and addresses issues of the appropriate boundaries between Church and State in American Politics. At first thought one might not think that Hart would be the best candidate to address such issues, but I was surprised to learn that the Senator has a Doctorate of Divinity from Yale, and his family has been involved with the Nazarene Church since its beginnings.

Senator Hart's lecture its self was about national security and he had some good points, however I won't spend time going over them. Perhaps the highlight of all Church conference is the keynote speakers introduction by Frank's widow Bethine Church. Wheelchair bound but still feisty, Bethine is herself the daughter of a fmr. Idaho Governor, and has enough accumulated respect and pull that she can pretty much get any Democratic Senate veteran to come and speak, she was even responsible for Al Gore's visit to campus earlier this year, an event that broke previous records for attendance at a speaking event. Frank and Bethine's son Forrest is a prominent minister and theologian in the Unitarian Universalist Church.