Yep, I’m talking about Seattle. My flight was without incident, and Alaska Airlines left a good impression.
I met up with half the students at the airport, and we took a shuttle 90 minutes to the Seabeck Conference Center where we stayed. It’s all the way on the other side of the bay from Seattle, and is located beautifully. Everywhere is green, rainforest-like luscious, except with lots and lots of pine trees. And of course different animals. We were 100 yards from the ocean, and there was also a pond on the property. I went boating almost every day, and saw deer on the shore as well as a majestic bald eagle flying overhead. Lovely.
The scenery was scintillating, but the purpose was politics. Daily, we dived into discussions debating liberalism. “What is liberalism? Has it failed?” That was the theme of the conference, and the professors who presented overwhelmingly declared, “I don’t know exactly” and “yes, and no” in response to those questions. Helpful, right? In all honesty, I learned an incredible amount. The topic is so nuanced an actual definition is tough, but I left feeling very comfortable with the opinion that I had formed and my understanding of it. I won’t bore with Jules Verne dry details of each day, but here are some key takeaways:
-Liberalism is constantly changing and advancing. (which makes it hard to define, because various groups like liberalism up to a certain point, while others are “progressives”.) We heard about 9 waves of liberalism, which showed how each wave is advancing a new freedom, except they are all in tension, and thus each new wave lessons the freedoms of the previous waves.
- Freedom from religious persecution
- Freedom from foreign domination
- Freedom from civil war
- Freedom from arbitrary rule/tyranny
- Freedom from government interference in the economy
- Freedom from rule by another
- Freedom from tyranny of the majority
- Freedom from exploitation by sub- political groups (both in the economic and social sphere)
- Freedom from biological necessities
- Freedom from ??????
What will the tenth be? I’ve an idea, but would love to hear any others. Basically, man has given up building a literal Tower of Babel, and instead is trying to become god, by freeing himself from God. Won’t turn out good.
Interestingly, 90% of the group this year (and every year) is Catholic. They have a philosophical tradition which is absent or nearly so in Protestantism.
Shout-out to my friend named Theodore ********, whom i met at this conference. This week he went by Rod. This was his bio he submitted for the conference
“is a rising senior at Villanova university studying literature and oceanography. Hailing from Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, he frequents service trips which have taken him all over the globe, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Wilmington, Delaware. At Villanova, he takes great pride in his position as First Mate of the Carpathia Society, dedicated to locating the true wreckage of the RMS Carpathia at her watery grave in Davy Jones’ locker.”
Hilarious. What other kid would think about showing up at the airport with a sign that read “ISI’S meeting here.”
That said, I was disheartened by the lack of creative or original thinking. Everyone, with the exception of a handful of students, was clearly repeating what they’ve been taught.
Thursday we took the day off from discussion and went into Seattle. Instead of driving around the bay again, this time we drove to a nearby town and took an hour long ferry ride to the city. I stood on the bow and loved every second. On the way back, D+C 61 was hanging around in the mind and made it less enjoyable, but this was still one of the most enjoyable parts of the entire trip.
I visited the Pike’s Place Market, famous for its fresh fish but even more impressive with all the fresh produce being sold. Ranier cherries = 10/10. As were the golden peaches. There was so many jams that I taste-tested for an hour. There was also an “eastern medicine” boutique that I walked past and then ran by realizing immediately that this was not a place to buy essential oils. Oh no.
Then, a group of students and I walked into a bookstore. Which happens to be an extreme left-wing bookstore. The general title went something like this “How to start a revolution with no money and Defeat Capitalism.” Those two shop encounters in the space of 10 minutes crushed a lot of my american naivete. Add to that more gay pride than I’ve ever seen and innumerable homeless people, and it felt distinctly different than any city I’ve ever visited.
We split up, and I went solo, walking along the harbor, visiting the Klondike Gold Rush museum, the Seattle Mariners and Seahawks stadiums, Amtrak train station, a waterfall garden, the original starbucks store, another bookstore (only dealing with architecture thankfully) and some city parks. At 5, we met up at the harbor and enjoyed a group dinner at “The Crab Pot.” I ate some salmon, and finished the night off by bringing rhubarb cake and ice cream on the ferry back.
Above everything else, I was amazed that with all the discussions we held at the conference, no solution was available without a nationwide understanding of our identity as sons and daughters of God. We must understand that being “endowed by [our] Creator” is an essential part of being American.
I find it very informative that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in their testimony said
And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.
They testified first of God, and then our relationship to Him. I am thankful to know that we are all children of the Most High God, and draw strength knowing that He loves us and wants the best for us.