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
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
Now say it out with pride and joy!
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