The End of an Era (for Me)



The Fall of Constantinople, 1453


Well, we arrived home rather late last night.


And that’s it.


I was accompanying a tour of Turkey for major supporters of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.  It’s over now, and that’s presumably the last substantial involvement I’m going to have with the Institute as a whole, the last time I’ll be acting on behalf of, or in connection with, the organization as such.  (I will, it seems, be permitted to retain something of my link with the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, which I conceived and founded but which now, through my decision many years ago, belongs to the Institute.)


I never anticipated this dramatic change.  I certainly never wanted it.  I still don’t see why it was necessary.  (I now know for a fact, on the very highest authority, that, despite widespread rumors to the contrary and despite even claims from some to have privileged information regarding alleged participation of the presiding quorums of the Church in my ouster, it was not ordered from Salt Lake City.)  I’ve given much of my time and energy over the past quarter of a century to what began as FARMS and is now the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship — at considerable cost, frankly, to my own personal academic interests.  I was happy to do it.  I believed in the organization.  I still do, though I find much about its current leadership, state, and direction lamentable.


Fortunately, I now have some new causes to which I can contribute.  I’m going to be much more engaged, for example, in the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy than I’ve heretofore been.  And there is, of course, the new Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture and its supporting foundation.  There are exhilarating new vistas ahead, in fact, and a wide range of exciting possibilities, worthwhile projects.  I’ll be mentioning them here as the days, weeks, and months go by.


Another way of looking at the situation:  With the conclusion of this trip to Turkey, I’m finally free of the Maxwell Institute.  I’ve been in a kind of liminal state for roughly three months: no longer in, not quite fully out.  This was rather awkwardly true in Turkey.  But now I can move forward.  And I will.


Nevertheless, there’s a real continuing sense of painful loss at being separated, unexpectedly, suddenly, and against my will, from an organization that I helped to create and to build (as an editor, an author, a public spokesman, a director of research, an associate executive director, and a director of advancement, and as a member and a chairman of the board) over so very long a time.  I was the last survivor from the old leadership of the organization; my marginalization from it is more than merely personal.



Each evening, from December to December,

Before you drift to sleep upon your cot,

Think back on all the tales that you remember

Of Camelot.

Ask ev’ry person if he’s heard the story,

And tell it strong and clear if he has not,

That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory

Called Camelot.

Camelot! Camelot!

Now say it out with pride and joy!



Camelot! Camelot!



Yes, Camelot, my boy!

Where once it never rained till after sundown,

By eight a.m. the morning fog had flown . . .

Don’t let it be forgot

That once there was a spot

For one brief shining moment that was known

As Camelot.






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  • David Miner

    Well my friend someone once told me that the only opinion you need to worry about is The Lord’s. And The Lord once told me in The Gospel of Mathew that God rewards all your deeds done in private. In short, those who are your friends matter and those who aren’t don’t… and God’s infallible score board is still tallying you up….. Thank you for everything you’ve done.

    • danpeterson

      Thanks very much for the kind comments.

  • Bill Hamblin

    Or, as another song from Camelot goes:

    C’est moi! C’est moi!
    I’m forced to admit
    ‘Tis I, I humbly reply
    That mortal who
    These marvels can do
    C’est moi, c’est moi, ’tis I

  • Lynn Svedin (LBHRPGofDCP)

    Dr. Dan, you have always impressed me, not only with how much you know, but of your ethics, your morals, and especially of how you have treated other. You have changed my life a lot over the past several years that I have known you and looking forward to having it change even more. BTW, I love your use of wit and sarcasm, or is that irony?

  • Jorge Albarrán

    Dear Brother Peterson,
    I’m a Latinamerican LDS who has enjoyed the humour and insights from your speeches along with other commited LDS scholars. In my articles and talks I have uploaded onto my website and in my own stake special talks I’ve shared some of the great insights from the FAIR articles, specially regarding the study of the Book of Mormon and I’ve tried to introduce your name and the names of the other LDS faithful scholars to our Spanish speaking Saints in Chile so that they get to know you and read out your articles posted in LDS Fair and also the Maxwell Institute (though I don´t agree with their present-day policies). This is just a note to say thanks and give you all my support in this new and exciting new stage you are in. I’ve already read some of the articles published in “THE INTERPRETER” and they are great, you have kept the same high academic level but fortunately explained in a way we can understand, edifying and insightful supporting evidence. Thanks a lot.

  • Eric Stoddard.

    Sorry that such ham-fisted management practices are associated with Elder Maxell’s name. I understand the pain of someone unjustly evicted from something they love. For some the pain goes away, for the rest of us it lies smoldering and hidden for decades. Sometimes forgiven, then sometimes in burst of flame it returns unforgiven. Keeping it tamped down becomes the “thorn in the flesh.” B. Franklin said it best: “a man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”

  • Dr. Steve R. Lynn

    There is a reason for all things. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

  • Bart J. Kowallis

    Onward and upward, Dan. Better things are on the horizon ahead.

  • Don Ormsby

    Only better things await you, Dan! For one, I am a better and more informed person for your efforts. I am very grateful! Best wishes in your continuing choice of pursuits – I’ll be watching and following!

  • Gerald Smith

    Dan, thanks for all your efforts in the past. We look forward to future things from you. I guess when funds for NAMI dry up, or greatly shrink because you are no longer there, then those who ousted you can fondly look back to the days when they made this decision that reduced FARMS to something less than it once was, and say: “It wasn’t supposed to happen this way! Dan, please come back! We need the money! And the readers!”

  • Scott W. Clark

    Brother Peterson,
    I’ve been meaning to tell you this for awhile but haven’t gotten around to it. I will though now.
    I and my family live in Ukraine. We have a branch president who speaks English but is very much Ukrainian born, raised and educated here. I told him about Romney’s candidacy and said that there were some things that the press might push about the Church that we might ought to get prepared for. I told him I had some things I’d send him and he said he’d appreciate that. But thinking about it for a moment he said, “Better yet, just point me to something from FARMS.” This is a small and insignificant branch here in Ukraine but yet, but yet, the footprint of FARMS is here.
    Thank you for what you have done and continue to do. It has been significant for many, many people who don’t speak up about it. They go about their lives quietly thankful for the work that you have done. I am one of them. You don’t know me and I don’t know you (though I did pass you once at the FARMS offices. You had a pleasant look on your face.) But you and what you have done have had an impact on me and my family.
    And the critics? Like the poet said, “Let them rave.” There is too much beauty in this good earth and too much good to be done to pay them any regard.
    Thank you.
    Scott Clark and family

    • danpeterson

      Dear Brother Clark: Thank you for a very, very kind and encouraging note. I appreciate it very much.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Professor Dan, I hope amid all the lemons that have been thrown at you, you can continue to make that bracing lemonade of humorous and insightful rebuttal to the ignorant critics of Mormonism that so many of us look to you to provide, even if you are marketing it on a street corner atop an orange crate. Your fans will follow you there.

    • danpeterson

      Thank you. I appreciate your note.