I was so excited to go to former President Carter's new book (We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land) signing last night at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. The last time he was here (Dec 06), Mikelle had a Christmas program at school, so I had to do the right thing and go to the Christmas program. Well, this time, there was nothing pressing and I even asked Chris to work a 1/2 day so we could go. It would be our Valentines Day celebratory night.
I must say, I was disappointed. Sure, there were a lot of people there, but they wouldn't even let you "meet" the President. He signed the book you bought, but it was just sent through his hands like he was Ethel and Lucy in that episode with the chocolates assembly line. And he was blocked off from the people with velvet ropes. You could take a picture of him, but if they saw you lingering, they asked you to move along (the cops or the secret service or a CH employee). All I wanted to do was shake the man's hand (and sure, get a picture with him, lol, but if all I could do is shake his hand, I would have been content). Chris was already asked to move along, but somehow I managed to linger in the area where people were photographing him without any problem. Chris managed to sneak back and took some pictures. He even tried to get me and the President in the same pictures.
Yes, that's me in the red blouse with the clip. The back of my head looks great if I do say so myself.
And here is the side of my face with the President in the background.
And here's me with a blurry President Carter in the background.
I am glad I had the opportunity to go, but am trying to shake off bummed feeling I have with the "cattle call" and impersonal way the thing was ran. Maybe I kind find out when he's teaching Sunday School in Plains, Georgia and try to attend sometime this summer. But I would be royally pissed if I went to Georgia and he wasn't there teaching. In my opinion, there's really no other reason to go to Georgia! In his 2005 book, Our Endangered Values, he said:
Of the several hundred visitors who attend my Sunday lessons each week, only about 15 percent happen to be Baptists. When I take a few minutes to let my class identify themselves, there are usually about a half dozen "mainline" Protestant denominations represented, often accompanied by Roman Catholics, Amish, Mennonites, Mormons, Quakers, and Seventh-day Adventists.I would love to be one of the Mormons that can attend one of his classes.
Our church (also) welcomes Jews, Muslims, and other non-Christian worshipers, and we encourage everyone to to take part in the discussions. They are quite interesting and helpful to me, and over the years I have acquired an insight into the beliefs and interests of many other religious people.
I get so annoyed when people criticize his presidency to the point that it maligns his character and who he is as a human being. And I can see their points when they mention political issues, but he acted with Christian Courage in his Presidency than playing political games. Anyone that didn't like him due to partisan reasons, he actually made most of his decisions based on the issue than with party lines. Sure, with the hostages, having Christian Courage made him look like a wuss, but he was concerned about the lives of the hostages. He wanted them to come back alive and not compromise that in an aggressive attempt to end the crisis. And there was an attempt to rescue them, that not many people mention or seem to be aware of. Weather problems (sand storms, etc) played the biggest factor in why that rescue mission failed. Not the Carter Administration.
President Carter is also not afraid to tell it like it is as a Christian. I admire him for that.
As for his Humanitarian efforts, he has done more as an ex-President than any President we've had - no matter if that President was popular or not. And I know he doesn't do it for his own recognition. He does it to recognize the important cause because he feels it's the right thing to do. And he has the resources, being that he was President, to make these things happen.
And I don't care if you're Republican or Democrat - we're all human and when it comes to human suffering, it's great to have allies. I'm so frustrated that people judge others based on politics and their political opinions dictate on whether they feel that individual is a good person all around or if they should burn in effigy. It's unfortunate that politics do that to people.
About a year ago, there was an article on President Carter's speech to fellow Baptists. I'll paste about 1/2 of the article, but if you want to read the whole thing, go here:
ATLANTA -- Since his days in the White House, former President Jimmy Carter has served as an elder statesman on global issues and garnered the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work along the way.
Now he's using his religious credentials -- particularly his 65-year history of teaching Sunday school -- to bring peace to another warring party: Baptists.
He has spearheaded the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant, an unprecedented three-day gathering of more than 10,000 Baptists that began Wednesday.
"It's hard to find an example of a Baptist layperson who has done more to put feet to his faith than President Carter," said Mercer University President Bill Underwood, who started planning the Atlanta gathering with Carter two years ago.
"I don't think there's anyone in the world who could have brought this diverse array of Baptists together ... other than President Carter because he is so respected for the work that he has done."
The former president continues to teach Sunday school about 35 or 40 times a year at his Maranatha Baptist Church, a small congregation near his home in Plains, Ga., which supports the mission programs of both the Southern Baptist Convention and the more moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
"Whenever a Sunday comes and I'm in Plains, then I teach," Carter said in an interview.
On Wednesday, in an emotional moment, Carter said the celebration was "the most momentous event" in his religious life and urged a renewed focus on the key aspects of Baptist faith, including salvation and unity.
"Unfortunately, the arguments and even the animosities that exist among Christians are like a cancer that is metastasizing within the body of Christ," he said.
That last line is one of the top reasons I admire President Carter. His Christian courage and seeing the true meaning of Christianity instead of the BS that exists among Christians as they tear each other down, which last I checked, is the opposite of what Christ taught!
Anyway, off my soapbox for now. For anyone that wants to simply be educated about what kind of man he is (not politician, but person. His character.) I recommend his book Our Endangered Values (2005).
Happy Valentines Day! Since Chris and I celebrated last night (despite that I was kind of bummed by the time we got to dinner), we're taking the kids out tonight to do something "Valentiney". Don't know what it is yet, but that's the plan for now!