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But Hinckley qualifies that: "We don't spend a lot of time talking about or dreaming about the millennium to come; we've always been a practical people dealing with the issues of life. We're doing today's job in the best way we know how." From the beginning, the Saints' millennial strain was modulated by a delight in the economic nitty-gritty. Of some 112 revelations received by the first Prophet and President of the church, Joseph Smith, 88 explicitly address fiscal matters. And although the faithful believe the "End Times" could begin shortly, their actual date is (to humankind) indefinite, and certain key signs and portents have not yet manifested themselves. Rather than wild-eyed fervor, most church moneymen project a can-do optimism.
Or, in their higher echelons, a case-hardened if amiable professionalism. A primary reason for the church's business triumphs, says University of Washington sociologist Stark, is that it has no career clerics, only amateurs who have been plucked for service from successful endeavors in other fields. (In fact, there is no ordained clergy whatsoever: the term priest applies to all males over age 12 in good standing in the church, and "bishops," while supervising congregations, are part-time lay leaders.) Religious observers point out that this creates a vacuum of theological talent in a church with a lot of unusual theology to explain. But the benefit, notes Stark, is that "people at the top of the Mormon church have immense experience in the world. These guys have been around the track. Why do they choose to invest directly? Because they are not helpless. They are a bunch of hard-nosed businessmen." Rodney Brady, who runs Deseret Management Corp., has a Harvard business doctorate, served as executive vice president of pharmaceutical giant Bergen Brunswig and from 1970 to '72 was Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Similar figures fill the church's upper management: Tony Burns, a "stake president" (the rough equivalent of an archbishop), is chairman of Miami-based Ryder Systems, the truck-rental empire.