In George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith is a low-level member of the Party who works in the Ministry of Truth, or “Minitrue.” There, his duty is to rewrite history books and old newspapers so that what they say accords with whatever the current Party line happens to be. (“We have always been at war with Eastasia.”) The purpose of these activities is to make it impossible for anybody to oppose the Party, just as the purpose of Newspeak—the new and impoverished language created by the Party—is to make subversive thoughts (“crimethink”) literally unthinkable.
Just this evening, a friend shared with me something that evidently appeared on a predominantly secular/agnostic/atheist message board where I’m particularly reviled. It was written by a person who likes neither me nor much of what I do—he’s even publicly complained that the people at Patheos have allowed me to blog on their site—and it’s striking on several levels. I’ll mention two of them.
“Dan,” this unsympathetic author declares, “was given the opportunity and plenty of time. He fought it. The Mormon Studies Review was supposed to reflect the new vision, and he failed miserably with the first issue. He further made [clear?] with the trashed issue [which would have been 23/2] that he refused to embrace it. It is my understanding that the [Maxwell Institute] staff wants to start fresh and pretend that the first MSR never happened by beginning the next issue 1:1.”
Now, I admit that I haven’t heard about the idea of beginning the numbering of the Mormon Studies Review over again so as to pretend that my minions and I never existed. Perhaps it’s really going to happen. Perhaps Brother Winston Smith now works for the Maxwell Institute (“Maxitrue”?). Perhaps, having been found to be “doubleplusungood,” as Newspeak would express it, and declared “unpersons,” we and all our works are being consigned to the “memory hole.” (Orwellian neologisms somehow come readily to mind in this context.)
But, as I say, I know nothing of such an idea, and can’t comment on it.
What I can say, though, is that the notion that, having been “given the opportunity and plenty of time,” I “fought” the “new vision” and defiantly “refused to embrace it” is a flat out lie, whether it’s this particular author’s or somebody else’s.
Maria Alm, Austria