From Campbell (The Glad River, 1982; Brother To A Dragonfly, 1977), a well-meaning but preachy fable about religious life in America. It's 1994, and America has itself a born-again President--a Baptist--who begins his speeches with ""My fellow Christian Americans."" Which is just one reason why the hot eye of publicity is on the Convention of the Federal Baptist Church in Chicago, where a new and powerful church president is to be elected. Arriving in Chicago as delegates from a little town in southern Mississippi are Exell McBride, night watchman for a lumber company, and his wife, Dorcas, a woman of extraordinary faith who takes in foster children, and is even now shocking her neighbors with her decision to adopt a black orphan. The McBrides throw themselves into the factional infighting of the fractious convention, and--amazingly enough--the little, known Dorcas emerges as a prime candidate for church president. She's running against Dr. Roger Hagan, a preacher right in the pocket of certain Texas Senators who have an in at the White House--so much so that when it looks as if Dorcas poses a serious threat, the President himself descends from on high to make a speech before the assembled convention. But to no avail: Dorcas wins, reads a telling passage from the Bible, and then resigns immediately (certain she'll be co-opted in no time) and heads back to Mississippi and the kids. Campbell's heart is in the right place on race, women's rights, ecumenism, you name it--but altogether this is less fiction than sermon.