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RELIGION: Scotty McLennan



Religions try to answer two basic questions: What is life all about? and How should I behave? It overarches all the academic disciplines, and it is appropriate that our conference on globalization should open with it.The July-August, 2001 issue of Stanford has a feature article on Stanfordīs new Dean of Religious Life, Scotty McLennan., who will preach a sermon on religion and international affairs at Stanford Memorial Church on Sunday, July 29. In the afternoon, he will lead the session on "Religions and Globalization".

The Stanford article is entitled "How a radical atheist hippie found religion. and a Stanford calling. Cut from a different cloth." The word "hippie" is inappropriate. Scotty McLannan was involves in the ancient search for truth, in the highest sense. He went to India and studied with a Hindu priest, who persuaded him that there are many paths to God. He became a universalist unitarian. At his installation ceremony, the sermon was given by his old mentor William Sloane Coffin, known for his defiance of secular authority. Scotty vows to speak out frankly on the morality of the university administration's actions, even of its powerful sports establishment. I wish him well. When I warned that the CIA plan which led to the Bay of Pigs was stupid and dangerous, the CIA put such pressure on the administration and through it on me, that I resigned as founder-director of Stanfordīs Latin American program.

There is much talk these days of compassionate conservatism. Much of it is just that. talk. "Not everyone who says 'Lord, Lord', shall enter the kingdom of Heaven." Scotty has practised compassion. Despite his affluent background and his academic achievements which would have opened for him the possibility of an easy academic life, he chose to use his legal training to work as a church-sponsored poverty lawyer in Boston, handling welfare, landlord-tenant immigration and other issues.

The session of the conference he will lead with members of United Religions will face the explosive issue of religion as a cause of war. To get people to talk reasonably on this subject will be a miracle. Even on less explosive issues such as polygamy it will be difficult to keep the peace. How well does polygamy work? Testimony from the Muslim world is almost impossible to obtain. In Utah, there are still families practising it, and when interviewed the wives declare how happy they are. Their testimony is not quite convincing. A new documentary reproduced frank discussions with the wives in a polygamous Pacific society. They threatened mayhem should their husbands take another wife. I suppose our feminists support them. It sounds as though polygamy is unWAIS. Any light on this subject would be appreciated. But no heat, please. Scotty will keep the peace.

Ronald Hilton - 7/12/01


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