My Boundless Dishonesty




One of my crazier critics is now evidently claiming that I hurriedly joined the board of Salt Press in order to improve my public image after the very recent unpleasantness at the Maxwell Institute.


I joined the Salt Press board between eighteen months and two years ago, to the best of my recollection.  Maybe longer than that.  I think I’ve been there from the first, or nearly so.


This sort of nonsense reminds me of one of my favorite accusations from a critic:


Many years ago, a certain ex-Mormon was publicly claiming that, while we were in the old Language Training Mission (LTM) together preparing to be sent overseas, he had asked me why I didn’t hold the Book of Mormon to the same standards to which I held the Bible.  I had allegedly answered that I didn’t do so because the Book of Mormon couldn’t withstand such scrutiny.


The story is transparently absurd on its face, of course.  When I was nineteen, I hadn’t published anything on the Book of Mormon nor, for that matter (apart from my high school newspaper), on anything else.  I had no reputation as an apologist, let alone as a defender of the Book of Mormon, because I wasn’t one.  I was an underclassman who had just changed his major from mathematics to classical Greek.  And, if I had really believed the Book of Mormon to be indefensible, I wouldn’t have been in the Language Training Mission at all.  I wouldn’t have been a member of the Church.


Most importantly, though, I couldn’t recall having ever met the guy.


So I wrote to him and asked when he had entered the LTM.  “October 1973,” he replied.  But I had entered the LTM in June 1972.  By the time he began his mission, I was nearly 75% done with mine.  And we didn’t serve in the same mission.  I don’t think we even spoke the same mission language (though I may be wrong on that one).


At which point, he accused me of lying about the years of my mission.




I suppose there’ll always be hostile critics.  I wish they could all be so zany, though.  Too often, alas, they want to be taken seriously.


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  • Bryan Stephen Kerr

    Someday you should write a book about all of the attacks you have received over the years. This stuff is fascinating.

    • danpeterson

      Psychologically fascinating. I agree.

  • E Mack

    Dr. Peterson,
    Some of us can see through the arguments of the ones who “want to be taken seriously.” One of the things I most admire about you is your respect for the leaders of the Church and for generations who have gone before. I know this doesn’t carry much weight in some intellectual circles, but I have felt the Spirit many times when I have read your work and listened to your speeches on YouTube. Please continue to defend the Church as you have done so excellently in the past.

  • Adam Dyal

    Hi Dr. Peterson,
    I just wanted to comment and tell you I really admire and respect your work and testimony. Over the past month, due to some health complications with my newborn son, I haven’t had the time to keep up with my religious news, let alone inner workings of BYU and the Maxwell Institute, so I just found out yesterday about the change that occurred. Regarding all the useless banter and anonymous controversy that you confront daily, I just wanted to say that I’m sorry you have to go through it all. Thanks for the wisdom and faith you share openly and freely with anybody interested and humble enough to give it thought. I hope you continue this great little blog for all us readers. By the way, have you ever considered compiling all of your columns at the Deseret News into a book? I’ve told my wife for months that if you don’t then I will! Fantastic balance of apologetics and insightful reflection.
    We’ve met, by the way, at least once. Maybe three or four years ago you were up at Aspen Grove giving a little talk to an alumni group about translating Islamic texts and the governments approaching you and the like. Loved it. I was one of the student coordinators for it and shuttled Adam Ruri, the BYUSA president, who sang a solo at it. Your musings helped me all the more decide to pursue international relations and inter-religious relations. Thanks for that, too.
    All the best!

  • Kim Walker

    Several years ago I was boarding a plane to Chicago and noticed that the man in front of me was the diminutive Bob Larson, the former Denver radio talk show host of “Talk Back With Bob Larson.”
    My wife was travelling with me at the time and I excitedly told her of my discovery and that I was going to approach Bob after we’d taken off to tell him I was an avid listener of his program. I used to listen to his diatribe out of amusement when he would loose his cool and start ranting about the church. I had a copy of the BOM with me and I wanted to present it to him as a small token of my appreciation for his getting the “word’ out. Once my wife realized I was serious about chatting it up with Bob she begged me not to approach the affable Mr. Larson. Under much protest I finally relented and bowed to her wishes. We had a good trip but it would have been more memorable for me if I could have answered the question that still haunts me until this day, “What about Bob?”

    The last I heard of Bob he’d moved on to another calling as a professional exorcist. Maybe I’ll see him on another plane someday and he can tell me some ghost stories. I ain’t fraid of no ghosts.

    • danpeterson

      Wow. A professional exorcist?

  • Kim Walker

    Yes, I saw him on a segment of ABC’s 20/20 that ran several years ago. Youtube shows Bob working his magic during one of his more spirited outings. Bob’s business apparently picked up after Dr. Peter Venkman retired.