Doubleplusungood

Mr. George Orwell

 

I’ve noticed a new item on the website of the Maxwell Institute at BYU.

 

“Dr. Kristian Heal,” it says, “has been appointed to serve as the Maxwell Institute’s new director of advancement (fundraising). He succeeds in this position Professor Daniel C. Peterson, who has elected to step down and return to full-time teaching as professor of Arabic and Islamic studies in BYU’s Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages.”  (Emphasis mine.)

 

Sorry.  I just found that hilarious.  I’ve vowed to say little or nothing more about the matter publicly, but . . .  well, I mean, really.

 

 

Print Friendly

  • Kent G. Budge

    I just visited the Maxwell Institute site, hoping to find a suitable email address to which to send a protest of their mischaracterization that you ‘elected’ to step down.

    There’s no contact address anywhere on the site. Only a stereotypical “feedback” form that might have been designed, Orwellian-fashion, to make it impossible to register a coherent complaint.

    I have loved BYU since I was a student there, and I believe that choosing BYU for my undergraduate education was possibly the best decision I’ve ever made. I still believe the university has a great mission and destiny. This lack of integrity by those at the Maxwell Institute falls far short of my expectations.

    • danpeterson

      BYU’s a great place. And I really believe in the Maxwell Institute. I devoted roughly twenty-five years of my life to it, and still believe that it has enormous potential for good. I deeply disagree with recent decisions there, however, and not merely (nor even principally) with those involving me, personally — though my sacking is inextricably related to that broader context.

  • Scott Pierson

    Daniel, after all is said and done, this was all just a huge misunderstanding. They thought you were resigning. Really. That IS what they thought.

    • danpeterson

      That is a huge oversimplification of what happened. Remember, no adequate account of what happened has been offered to the public. Not by the current leadership of the Maxwell Institute and not by me.

      Eventually, I’ll write up my account of the episode. Sooner rather than later, I hope. I almost certainly won’t publish it. Not, anyway, for a very, very long time, if at all. It will, however, go into my life story or autobiography, and a copy of it will surely go into my papers, wherever they end up. I was serious in citing George Orwell above; I take seriously the idea of controlling, or at least of having a say in, how future historians will understand their past (my present). I won’t permit the story to be told solely by those either hostile to me or uninformed. I feel that I owe that to myself, and, frankly, to the truth.

      • http://www.bobjones.com Bob Jones

        Why not write something about Islam instead of focusing on the supposed faults of your priesthood leaders? Do you think that somehow the Board of Trustees was not made aware of this decision well before you even heard about it? Talk about speaking ill of the Lord’s anointed. Your actions are in complete rebellion to the Church as you are undermining the godly duties of President Samuelson. What a fine example you are setting for the students at BYU. If you don’t like your priesthood leader’s decision, write about it on a blog rather than support and sustain. Perhaps you should visit the temple again. And soon.

        • Beth

          *ahem*
          Just because these gentlemen in question held the priesthood doesn’t mean they held priesthood stewardship over Dr. Petersen; that honor belongs to his bishop and stake president. I’ve had bosses before who have had the priesthood, but that doesn’t put him on par with my bishop. And I’ve had BYU professors in the past who were called as Stake Presidents, but that doesn’t mean it was completely out of line for disagreeing with a grade I got on my paper. He may have been a stake president, but he wasn’t MY stake president. And my temple worthiness wasn’t the issue, my paper was.

          Also, priesthood leaders can make mistakes too. My dad is a bishop, so I ought to know.

          • http://www.bobjones.com Bob Jones

            President Samuelson is called of God by the Prophet to lead BYU. Thus he presides over the university with priesthood authority — including the MI. To question his decisions publicly is to undermine his sacred calling.

          • JohnH

            Bob Jones,
            I think you need to rethink what it means to preside in the priesthood. It is not a dictatorship. You might want to consider D&C 121 for instance. Being called to a position does not make one infallible, nor (and especially this) does it give one knowledge of what everyone needs, wants, and difficulties are. If one considers the D&C then one would see that many of the revelations came due to questions and concerns that people had and took up to the highest levels of the church. While it is possible that God could provide instant knowledge of all problems in ones area of stewardship, He generally doesn’t do so as we are to exercise our own agency and learn (as outlined in D&C 121, for instance).

            Furthermore, it is very dangerous to assume that having priesthood leadership as ones boss, even if they were called to be ones boss, means that their decisions in the realm of work are to be taken as gospel truth.

        • Rodney Ross

          Mr. Jones,
          In this case the President of BYU is Dan’s boss, not his priesthood leader. Those who supervise NAMI are Dan’s bosses and have no priesthood authority over him. While the Board of Trustees may or may not have known what was coming down regarding Peterson and NAMI, the entire thing is not a priesthood matter. Was Dan’s reaction perfect? Likely he should follow President Packer’s old advise and “let it go.” We’ve got to give the guy a little room to be human. Besides, he writes a great blog!

          • danpeterson

            I have no reason to believe that the Board of Trustees authorized my dismissal, and strong and specific reason to believe that they didn’t.

        • Dermfellow

          Lord’s anointed? No, I don’t think so. I grew up walking BYU’s halls (my father worked there for >20 years), then graduated from the esteemed institution. It’s a great place, and I’m glad I studied there, but I never had the illusion that the people who taught or worked in administrative positions were called of God to preside like a bishop or stake president. There are plenty of politics at BYU that would be worthy of the great and spacious building in 1 Nephi, and plenty of dirt under the rug. Perhaps a bit less than your average university, but enough to be eye-opening.

          • JL

            That is the truth.

  • Ishmael

    But you did resign.

    Right?

    I mean, they would have fired you. But they gave you the option of resigning instead. Which you accepted. Why does one bother with this formality, if the end result is the same? Isn’t it so that you can honestly say that you resigned, if you ever find yourself in a situation where it looks better to say you resigned rather than were fired? I assume allowing you to choose how your termination would be characterized was some kind of professional courtesy.

    And it works both ways. They also get to say you chose to resign, if it ever reflects better on them to do so.

    • danpeterson

      I did resign, just as Isidor Straus really did pass away on a sea cruise. Just as Abraham Lincoln really did die unexpectedly during a theatrical performance. The nuances, though, are significant.

      And no, they didn’t permit me to resign as a professional courtesy rather than be fired.

  • Fred Fourth

    The MI post is about the Director of Advancement position. You specifically stated that you resigned the post of MI Director of Advancement in a widely circulated email. And that is what the MI post says.

    • danpeterson

      What has been made public about this matter doesn’t tell the whole story, or give the context. I haven’t told the whole story publicly, and neither has the current leadership of the Maxwell Institute. But the way the item quoted above puts it is, well, rather too sunny.

      And I never “”opted” to return to full time teaching in my home department. I teach there (I’m teaching two classes right now, for example, along with two separate directed readings courses), but I’ve long had a somewhat reduced teaching load in order to permit me to work with the Maxwell Institute (e.g., on the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (METI), which I conceived and founded). Whether I’ll have significant opportunity to work with METI in the future remains to be seen, but I’ll apparently have no support in or help for doing that from the Maxwell Institute. Which I certainly didn’t “opt” for.

  • http://www.bobjones.com Bob Jones

    Why is this on Patheos?

    • danpeterson

      Because I was doing a blog quite independently, Patheos invited me to blog on Patheos, I said that I wasn’t interested if it involved changing the eclectic and completely free vision I had for my private and independent blog (which includes politics, religion, movies, travel, and anything else that I feel like writing about), they said that I could proceed as I had been, and . . . well, I’ve been proceeding as I had been. You’re entirely welcome, of course, not to read what I write.

  • Ishmael

    “The nuances, though, are significant.”

    Are these kinds of blurbs usually nuanced? It’s a brief announcement, and it’s only tangentially about you. It’s meant to be light and polite, not to air dirty laundry. It’s like a real estate listing that says “cozy” or “charming” instead of “small.” Again, didn’t you resign for just this reason? So that you (and they) could say you resigned, and avoid the unpleasantness of your termination all together in such situations as this?

    In all seriousness, how would you prefer this blurb read? Did you want them to admit fault, or just not mention your departure at all?

  • http://www.bobjones.com Bob Jones

    Grow up and stop bitching about “resigning.” People get laid off or lose their jobs all the time — especially when they are so arrogant to try and dictate to their boss how things should be done. BYU wants to make the MI a respectable place for scholarship, not a publishing house of tabloid reviews masquerading as legitimate intellectual work.

    Who on earth puts 4-5 reviews of the same book in ONE PUBLICATION??? Do you really think BYU would let this nonsense continue?

    Your behavior now clearly demonstrates why BYU forced you out of the MI. You are behaving like a petulant spoiled child.

    • Jason Covell

      I’ve tried to find something constructive in your comment, “Bob Jones”, but without much success.

      You appear to have an extraordinary amount of insight into workplace dynamics, industrial relations and the academic publishing business. I’m sure that kind of expertise commands a handsome salary, which you are no doubt at this moment collecting.

      • http://www.bobjones.com Bob Jones

        Thank you for the kind words, Jason. Your devotion to Brother Peterson over your devotion to following our Church priesthood leaders is duly noted. The sifting has truly begun.

    • Stephen Smoot

      “Who on earth puts 4-5 reviews of the same book in ONE PUBLICATION??? Do you really think BYU would let this nonsense continue?”

      I’ll tell you who: someone who doesn’t put up with pseudo-scholarly nonsense masquerading as history. Palmer’s book was a travesty, and he rightly deserved to be humbled by these excellent scholars.

      It never ceases to amuse me to see how desperate critics get over the thorough demolishing Harper, McGee, Allen, and Midgley did of Grant Palmer. The best they can do is complain about how “mean and nasty” the rebuttals were without offering any sort of counter-argument to the critiques made by these scholars.

      To this day I have yet to see a substantive response by Palmer or his followers. All they do is whine about how mean FARMS is and continue to parrot the same disproved assertions.

      • http://www.bobjones.com Bob Jones

        Stephen, you may need to wait until you hit puberty before you can recognize some of the complexities here. Dan is in apostate rebellion against his priesthood leaders. It is your choice to follow his example. As for me, I will keep my eye on the President of BYU.

        • danpeterson

          I suspect that you’re a poseur, BJ. That’s fine. (I expect that others will recognize it, as well.) But if you offer another personal insult like that above, I’ll erase your posts.

          • Rodney Ross

            Go for it Dan. He’s ridiculous and transparent!

        • Stephen Smoot

          To use the popular meme-phrase (with reference to Bob Jones):
          Obvious troll is obvious.

  • David

    Folks,

    You have to stop feeding the trolls. They win when you grant them any sort of response. The only way to win is to ignore them (online) and be kind to them (in real life). They obviously have other issues in their lives that require someone to love them.

  • John Ziebarth

    YES! As Latter-day Saints we are supposed to not think for ourselves. Abject obedience to bureaucrats IS absolutely required of us in order to be worthy to attend the temple and achieve celestial glory in the next life. Damn-it Daniel quit thinking and start obeying the orders of your superior bureauc.. er officers!

  • danpeterson

    There are a lot of assumptions (along with some rather misplaced passion) in several of the posts here that simply don’t accord with the facts. I’ll mention just two:

    1) I respect the administration of BYU, from the president and the vice presidents through my dean to my department chair and my section head, but they aren’t my “priesthood leaders,” and I’m free to form and to hold my own opinions about University policies and decisions. Moreover, I’m free to express those opinions as long as I do it with respect and charity and as long as I remain loyal to the University’s mission, and I’ve done so openly for my entire tenure at BYU.

    2) Related to (1), above: My dismissal wasn’t ordered by “the Brethren.” I know that fact in the most direct and reliable possible way.

    Finally, my post, to which some are responding here (and some rather angrily, it seems), was quite mild and temperate, and consciously refrained from getting into details of this matter — details which, I repeat, haven’t been made public. Much of what certain people think they know about the case just isn’t true.

    Best wishes to all!

  • StopTheWhining

    Dan, just let this stuff rest. You sound like a whiner. Move on, the MI has.

    • danpeterson

      There’s no whining in my blog post. The negative emotion here, and the hostility, has come from my critics.

      • http://www.bobjones.com Bob Jones

        This is nothing but whining. You resigned your position and then threatened to negatively impact the finances of the MI. You even had the nerve to complain about the injustice of not having TWO offices at BYU. Oh the horror!! Many people would be very grateful to have just one office.

        You poor poor martyr.

        • danpeterson

          Compare the tone of your comments here, BJ, to the tone of my blog post above. The contrast is instructive.

          You do realize, I trust, that your comments appear here by my permission. Don’t test my patience.

          But I’m happy to respond to the matter of two offices: Several people in my small home academic department alone have second offices, apart from their department offices, because they have responsibilities elsewhere on campus. It’s scarcely unprecedented at BYU.

          As for the rest, you simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • John Smith

    Mr. Peterson, you made a public statement on MDDB, that you resigned as the Fundraiser, yet you sculk about over here perpetuatibg your own myth as a completely innocent victim.

    • danpeterson

      You know only snippets of the actual story.

  • http://www.bobjones.com Bob Jones

    From your email to Bradford:

    You’ve achieved your goal. I resign.

    I resign as Director of Advancement, effective immediately. You’ve already fired me as editor of the Mormon Studies Review.

    You quit!!! Get over it.

    • danpeterson

      You don’t know the context of that letter. I do.

      • http://www.bobjones.com Bob Jones

        You assume I don’t know. Let’s be very clear.

        • Tom O.

          Quit your games, they are tiresome. If you know more, drop the deception. Otherwise, you should move along or post this pettiness on your own blog.

          • http://www.bobjones.com Bob Jones

            I will repeat what I have already said. Everything in the Church is done by revelation and the spirit. It is our duty to support and sustain our leaders.

        • danpeterson

          Feel free to tell us precisely what you claim to know, and to identify your sources.

          • http://www.bobjones.com Bob Jones

            I know all these changes were done by the revelation of the spirit under the direction of the Church’s highest possible authority.

          • danpeterson

            Okay. You’re just being a buffoon.

            Change the tone right away, or I’ll simply block your posts.

          • http://www.bobjones.com Bob Jones

            And you yourself said the MI leaks like a sieve. I’ve been lucky to catch a few drops.

          • danpeterson

            Yup. You caught a few drops . . . and now you imagine yourself a buccaneer sailing the seven seas.

  • Tom O.

    Bob Jones appears to be the one who needs to get over it, although I do confess that as someone with no dog in this fight (except as a distant admirer of DCP) it is fun to see someone like him, who obviously has too much time on his hands, reveal his (or her, I suppose) pettiness and lack of charity. On second thought, it’s not fun. Its sad.

    He really comes across as the same kind of quacks who post on anti-Mormon sites. That nonsense about university bureaucrats having the same standing as priesthood line leaders has anti-Mormon troll written all over it, like a bad parody.

    Unless, of course, “Mr. Jones” wants to drop the pseudonym and show some integrity, as the author of this blog does with each post. I’m not holding my breath.

    • http://www.bobjones.com Bob Jones

      Tom, who sits on the Board of Trustees at BYU? What quorum is President Samuelson a member of? Both the Board and Pres. Samuelson were well aware all of this.

      Condemning the MI is condemning those who organize it and sustain it: the priesthood leaders of the Church. Everything in the Church is done by revelation and the spirit. To express open dissent indicates something quite troubling indeed.

      • danpeterson

        President Samuelson is an emeritus member of the Seventy. And he is president of BYU. Presidents of BYU have the authority of the BYU presidency. Two of them, recently, have also been general authorities. But this is a separate matter, and President Samuelson is not currently a general authority.

        If you have evidence that my dismissal was ordered by the Brethren, or by the Board of Trustees, I hope you’ll share it with us. I happen to know for a fact that it was not ordered by the Brethren.

      • Tom O.

        Your fallacy is to conflate the leadership of an institute within the university with priesthood line authority, unless your suggestion is that the First Presidency and the Twelve micromanage the operations of the university to what would be a stunning degree, in which case you would be simply wrong.

        I hope you don’t suggest that criticism of the BYU football team is, similarly, apostasy. If so, we are all doomed.

        • Beth

          “I hope you don’t suggest that criticism of the BYU football team is, similarly, apostasy. If so, we are all doomed.”

          Thanks very much for this! It made me laugh on an otherwise blah day.

        • http://www.byu.edu BYU Alum

          When I was a student at BYU, there were shirts going around that said “Fire Gary Crowton” and on the back quoted 1st Nephi — it is better that one man should perish etc…. Anyone wearing this shirt on campus was asked to leave and return when they had put on a different shirt.

          It seems then, that criticism of the Bretheren’s choice of head football coach is a problem.

          • danpeterson

            I doubt that it had anything to do with “the Brethren’s choice of a football coach.” People were and are free to criticize play-calling, etc.

            But to demand, rather cavalierly (on a tee shirt? with a scriptural quotation?), the firing of somebody at BYU — to demand that he lose his livelihood — seems inappropriate to me, too.

      • Tom O.

        The broader point is this: MI (unnecessarily) made a statement that, while possibly true in a hypertechnical sense (and given my limited knowledge that appears to be far from a given), was presented in a way that is at best disingenuous. I say that statement was made unnecessarily because they could have simply said that DCP had “moved on” or was otherwise no longer affiliated with the institute, without trying to spin the truth.

        The statement, like much of MI’s behavior in recent months, failed to demonstrate the kind of integrity worthy of an institution carrying the name of such a great man and affiliated with such a fine institution as BYU.

        • http://randomrunner.wordpress.com/ Bob Crockett

          On the one hand, we read that BYU is not the Church and the priesthood should not used as some sort of cudgel against Dr. Peterson (Bob Jones), and on the other hand we read that MI’s behavior fails to demonstrate the kind of integrity worthy of an institution carrying the name of a prophet of God, applying the eschewed cudgel. Seemingly inconsistent views (but, advanced by different factions of course).

          Having grown up in BYU’s academic world with family members of my own, I can see the reality is that faculty members and supervisors have conflicting and different views of how the Lord’s university ought to be run. They often go running to the Board of Trustees with their complaints and concerns, and the BoT has to make tough decisions in balancing the need for academic freedom, the conscience of its producing faculty members, the ambition of its faculty members with the need to teach the Gospel. Like any university, there’s infighting and disagreements, and sometimes the wrong people win. (Depending on whose side you’re on, of course.)

          But it is naive, truly, to think that BYU’s retention, hiring and resignation processes are subject to some discernment process that prophets go through in deciding to approve a new section of the Doctrine & Covenants. While I believe that the Board of Trustees is “on board” with the decision to accept Dr. Peterson’s resignation by doing nothing to reverse it, I have a hard time believing that the event was ever placed on its agenda for consideration, particularly in light of positive things I’ve heard from the mouths of apostles in private settings.

          It is also naive to argue that Dr. Peterson’s resignation was voluntary and a happy event, and to that extent the recent MI public release seems disingenuous and not diplomatic. That is an odd thing to me, as if somebody over there isn’t thinking this through all that properly. Surely they’ve been watching the firestorm.

          Good luck, however, with your continued public venting. Maybe I’d do it in your position, but it doesn’t seem to be headed towards any particular objective.

          Bob

          • danpeterson

            I’ve scarcely vented publicly at all, compared to how I feel about these events of the past few months. And, please recall, my concerns are only partly personal. Mostly, my objections to what happened have to do with larger issues than merely yours truly. (My critics, here and elsewhere, by and large don’t have a clue about those issues, but presume that they adequately understand what happened.) And those objections don’t — shouldn’t — just “go away.” They involve (among other things) matters of philosophy and approach, not of pique or wounded pride.

      • Dermfellow

        Your black/white, all or none approach gives away your underlying modus operandi. If you don’t believe what you’re saying, you’re a cynical troll. If you do, you’re a fool.

      • JL

        It is inexplicable to me why some people hang out on blogs for the sole purpose of being disagreeable, and in your case beyond obnoxious. Certainly, your “holier than thou” stance is a giveaway to your true self.

  • danpeterson

    Bob Jones, either come up with something substantive or move on. You’re contributing nothing of any value.

  • http://deleted Fred Fourth

    As publically and poorly as Dr. Bradford handled this, the BYU administration and the Board of Trustees must be quite upset with him. I’m wondering how he survives in his position.

    • http://www.bobjones.com Bob Jones

      Dr. Bradford keeps his position because he follows the counsel of his priesthood leaders. Pretty simple.

      • danpeterson

        BJ: You insinuate that I was dismissed as editor of the Review because I didn’t/don’t follow the counsel of my priesthood leaders.

        But I did and I do. Feel free to consult my bishop, my stake president, etc., about whether I’m loyal or not.

        And there is, to the best of my knowledge, not a single directive from any of my UNIVERSITY leaders that I’ve disobeyed. And that includes the director of the Maxwell Institute, who was formerly among my leaders.

        You persist in making false and baseless allegations against me. You’re walking a very fine line here.

        • http://deleted Fred Fourth

          But you are still the head of MITI, and MITI is still part of MI and Dr. Bradford is still director of MI, no? So he is not formerly your leader, he is still one of your leaders. I wonder how that bumbler keeps his job.

          • danpeterson

            These matters are, alas, not altogether clear.

  • Ishmael

    I remain curious, Dr. Peterson, as to how you feel your termination should have been portrayed in this brief, two paragraph press release announcing the appointment of Dr. Kristian Heal to the position you previously held.

    To say that you were fired would have inaccurate—if only technically so—since, technically, you did resign. Surely such a brief public announcement is not the proper venue to get into the nuances about your termination, is it? Should they simply have kept your name out of it altogether?

    Please tell us, what should they have said?

    • danpeterson

      A simple “Daniel Peterson is no longer with the Maxwell Institute,” or something to that effect, would have been quite adequate. I’m not asking them to publicly admit that recent events at the Institute have been misguided, unjustified, and poorly handled, but I would also appreciate their not attempting to put a smiley face on those events.

  • Fred Fourth

    Dan Peterson posts:
    “And those objections don’t — shouldn’t — just “go away.” They involve (among other things) matters of philosophy and approach,”

    Do the Brethern have a voice in how such questions, objections, philosophy, approach, and other things are resolved?

    If they do, how is such communicated to Dr. Bradford?

    • danpeterson

      The Brethren certainly have opinions on such matters, some more than others. I doubt that Gerald Bradford hears much from them either way.

      • http://deleted Fred Fourth

        Well, I’m astonished that no one up the change of command has reined in this loose cannon. Proper apologetics is integral to the four fold mission of the church. I don’t see how Dr. Bradford keeps his job.

  • http://joelsmonastery.blogspot.com Gerald Smith

    Elder Neal Maxwell must be rolling over in his grave. Again.

    • http://www.byu.edu BYU Alum

      I think he’s rather happy, actually. The new MI will be a place of true scholarship and not simply a polemics factory.

      • danpeterson

        The Maxwell Institute was never “simply a polemics factory.” You casually slander the meticulous work of Royal Skousen on the textual history of the Book of Mormon, John Sorenson’s pathbreaking research on transoceanic contacts, and literally hundreds of other Maxwell Institute publications. I realize, of course, that your insult is aimed at me, but it doesn’t even honestly characterize my publications (e.g., on the Book of Moses and Babylonian city laments, the goddess Asherah in 1 Nephi 11, the identity of the gods in Psalm 82, and etc.).

        Exodus 20:16.

  • http://www.byu.edu BYU Alum

    All I can say is that without you at the helm, the MI will now receive sizable donations from my family. Your continued slander of the MI and childish nonsense only confirms our support Dr. Bradford (and the BoT) have chosen for the MI.

    Your threats to hurt MI funding are despicable. FINALLY, BYU has a chance to become the Notre Dame of Mormonism: faithful to its religion but also a place where real scholarship (as opposed to apologetic silliness) will win the day.

    God bless Dr. Bradford for his brave decision. Your continued behavior demonstrates the wisdom both he and the BoT possess.

    • danpeterson

      Feel free, “BYU Alum,” to donate as much of your money to the Maxwell Institute as you would like. I have absolutely nothing against it. I would be content, in fact, to see you utterly empty out your bank account and make it and your salary over to the Institute. Just, please, don’t let your enthusiasm hurt your wife and children.

      As for my allegedly threatening to hurt the Institute’s finances, that’s a hostile distortion and a lie (though one that isn’t original with YOU). I never did, and I never have. What I did say was that, when people ask me — as they have always asked me — whether the Maxwell Institute is a good place (let alone the best place) for them to put their money in support of Mormon apologetics, I can no longer answer Yes. It’s a matter of integrity and honesty. I won’t lie.

      Thanks, though, for your insults. Any fair-minded person comparing, say, my blog post here (to which you’re allegedly responding) and your response will, I think, quickly recognize the difference in tone.

      And, incidentally, I’m aware of absolutely no reason to believe that the BYU Board of Trustees (your “BoT”) was involved in Dr. Bradford’s ostracism of me from the Maxwell Institute. Quite the contrary.

  • http://www.byu.edu BYU Alum

    Dan, you said:

    And, incidentally, I’m aware of absolutely no reason to believe that the BYU Board of Trustees (your “BoT”) was involved in Dr. Bradford’s ostracism of me from the Maxwell Institute. Quite the contrary.

    Do you really believe that Dr. Bradford would have made such a move given your high-profile in the Mormon community? You were featured prominently on the PBS special and you are everywhere in Mormon publications. I don’t think anyone anticipated your childish response but certainly this is not a move that would have been done within the walls of Bradford’s office. If you think that Bradford made this (great) choice without consulting his superiors (the BoT and Pres. Samuelson) I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d LOVE to sell you.

    • danpeterson

      I’m not speculating with regard to the Brethren. I know, directly, what I’m talking about.

      And drop the insults. You comment here by my permission. I’m being civil. My blog comment was civil. You have no justification for speaking to me the way you’re doing, and I won’t permit it any more.

  • http://www.byu.edu BYU Alum

    I too, am being civil. You simply don’t like what I have to say.

    • danpeterson

      You’re correct. I don’t like what you say, and I disagree with it. Still, I’ve approved your posts.

      But I don’t have to put up with your calling me “childish,” etc. That’s just being uncivil.

      Do that kind of thing again, and your post won’t go up, or, if it manages to go up when I’m not looking, it will be deleted.

  • danpeterson

    And, incidentally, on an earlier comment of yours: It’s impossible for an ordinary mortal to know for certain right now how Elder Maxwell would have reacted to my ouster from the Institute named in his honor. But I knew him for many years, and spoke with him on a number of occasions about what we were doing, and I know his family. (I’ve known one of his sons for most of my life, since we were pre-mission students together at BYU.) I have a pretty strong hunch about how Elder Maxwell might feel, and it’s that Gerald Smith was right, above, while you were wrong.

  • http://www.byu.edu BYU Alum

    Elder Maxwell was a true intellect. He would be ashamed of how Grant Palmer, Michael Quinn, Brent Metcalfe and others have been treated in the FARMS review.

    • danpeterson

      They weren’t mistreated. They received negative reviews.

  • http://www.byu.edu BYU Alum

    Do academic book reviews ever mention a person’s homosexuality and then use it as a weapon against them? What about allegations that Grant Palmer was deceiving his institute leaders. Maybe he was struggling and trying to figure things out. You took deeply personal aspects of both men’s lives and then used them as polemical weapons.

    IMO, book reviews should focus on the content of the book.

    • danpeterson

      These weren’t just simple two- or three-page book reviews. They were essays in intellectual history, as well as book reviews. Do you seriously claim that academic articles about books never give background about their authors?

      Should the reviewers, in your view, have suppressed the fact that Mike Quinn, who had authored an extraordinarily tendentious and misleading book about historical Mormon attitudes toward homosexuality, is himself a self-declared homosexual? Isn’t that fact relevant to explaining the approach he took? Would suppressing it have been a responsible thing to do? Would it not have been a disservice to readers? Still, the reviewers didn’t, contrary to your insinuation, go on and on about it. They didn’t talk about it at length, let alone — as you falsely suggest — do so in lieu of discussing the contents of his book. (And please remember that one of those who wrote about Quinn’s book in the Review, and whom you seem to be identifying as part of my evil cabal, was Klaus Hansen, who not only isn’t an apologist but isn’t even, so far as I’m aware, active in the Church or a believer in Joseph Smith’s prophethood.)

      And, by the way, the answer to your question about whether academic book reviews ever mention that an author is homosexual, the answer is “Most definitely, yes.” I did a quick search just now, and the very first review that came up did, in fact, mention the homosexuality of the author of a revisionist book on historical religious attitudes toward homosexuality — a rather close analogue, by the way, to Quinn’s own book. See http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/bosrev-paglia.asp . I have absolutely no doubt that further searching would find many more such examples, and quite soon. But it seems pointless, because I have no real expectation that you’ll change your mind on this matter.

      With regard to Grant Palmer, was it not absolutely fair game, in view of his claim (made on the cover of his book and central to its marketing) to be an “insider” and an academic historian of Mormonism, to note — among pages and pages and pages of substantive critiques of his book — that he was no more an “insider” than any other seminary instructor is, and that this was his first apparent publication in Mormon history? Academic writers ROUTINELY publish articles discussing the genesis and evolution of various books; do you really believe that such information ought to be censored or suppressed with respect to Grant Palmer?

      Trust me, though. The reviewers said less than I and others know. We were quite careful in what we said, and violated no confidences.

  • http://www.byu.edu BYU Alum

    1) Tell me if this is, in any way, an accurate portrayal of Quinn’s work:

    The core of Quinn’s story is that in the nineteenth century, beginning even with Joseph Smith, the Saints were considerably more tolerant of sodomy than they are at present.

    Did the reviewer even read the book? Quinn’s thesis was that male-male relationships of all kinds were different in the 19th century. Society was more open to shows of affection etc… Unless I missed a page I don’t see any claim that Quinn says Joseph Smith — or anyone else — was accepting of sodomy. And yes, the entire review hammers on the point that Quinn is gay.

    2) As has been explained to you many many many many times, Palmer didn’t name his book. The editors did. I agree it was poorly titled. However, rather than focus on the interesting content you focused page after page about how Palmer really isn’t an insider. Who cares?? I want to read an intelligent response to his book, not some sophomoric attack on the book title.

    • danpeterson

      You need to take your concerns up with the reviewers, not with me. I didn’t write the reviews, and I didn’t influence their content.

      For example, of the three Quinn reviewers in question, I’ve only met or directly corresponded with one.

      And it doesn’t matter to me who chose Palmer’s title. Moreover, you once again pretend that we published nothing of substance about Palmer’s book. That’s simply false. Even the Midgley review, which plainly draws most of your ire, provided devastating and substantial criticism of Palmer’s risible misuse of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Der goldne Topf. But you act as if the reviews from Steven Harper and Mark Ashurst-McGee and James Allen don’t even exist.

  • http://www.byu.edu BYU Alum

    Dan, you were the editor. The buck stops with you.

    I think some of the points made against Palmer’s work are legitimate criticisms. The whole Golden Pot seemed like nonsense to me.

    In any case, I look forward to more articles from the Interpreter.

    • danpeterson

      Of course I was the editor. And I’m perfectly willing to defend my publication of those articles. But if you want to debate particular points in them, you need to do that with the particular authors — who were entirely autonomous and who said what they did without any input or direction from me.

      I’m happy that you’re reading Interpreter. It’s going to do some very good things.

      Incidentally, I suspect that you and I are the only two folks reading this exchange at this point. In terms of return on investment, it’s probably advisable to move on. I’m sure I’ll do other things, and write other things, to which you’ll be able to take strong exception. Probably several times a day.

  • Markk

    Hi Dan,

    Been awhile since I talked with you. I haven’t followed your dismissal at all, who did you tick off? Or was it a collective agreement of many? Was it from the top?

    Thanks
    Mark

    • danpeterson

      It was absolutely not “a collective agreement of many,” and it was definitely not ordered “from the top.”

      It was an unfortunate (though very ugly) bit of college politics.

  • Markk

    I know it is none of my business, but who did you tick off? I have had similar things happen to me, on much less of a scale, but I know it is a ego bruser for sure…
    Take care
    Mark

    • danpeterson

      The central player is M. Gerald Bradford, currently the director of the Maxwell Institute. He has at most two, or possibly three, principal allies, so far as I can tell, and the acquiescence of two or three people in the BYU administration.

  • Markk

    Did you confront him and ask him why? ( you don’t have to answer). Anyways I wish you the best.

    • danpeterson

      I believe I know why.

      • Markk

        Do you think that with your open posting at Mormon Discussions. and you being real ( and enjoying yourself) with those there, that it may of brought unwanted exposure to the MI and LDS church as a whole? I just can’t help, right or wrong, to think this…just seeing the way that FAIR has been reeled in by a ‘higher office’, again, I can’t help to believe that you were but a maverick they had a hard time controlling, in that you are more or less the “champion” to “common folks” at FAIR, you were out of the country and they cut the cord?
        Online LDS apologetics has changed since the Monson Presidency, no argument about that, and you being one of the principal “founders” of LDS Internet apologetics (under Hinkley)…if they wanted a change you simply had to go?

        Mark

        • danpeterson

          The Brethren weren’t involved in this.

          And, by the way, we’re talking about the Maxwell Institute, not about FAIR — which is a wholly distinct and independent organization.

          • Markk

            My point was Internet apologetics. You were outspoken on both MD and FAIR…I’m sure some folk’s saw that as beneath someone in your position standards being a leader at a conservative LDS think tank. FAIR has changed, someone like myself would not be welcome when in the past I was, I still read there and it has changed…why? Bottom line LDS apologetics (online) has changed, control or lack of has gone back to the brethren…right or wrong I believe this, and until I have someone give me a logical “other” reason to believe different, my theory makes the most sense to me…but I am open to another reason Daniel?

          • danpeterson

            I haven’t participated on the Mormon Discussions Board for something on the order of two years now, so that can’t have been the reason for June’s nonsense.

            And I’ve scarcely participated on MDDB for almost the same length of time, except to publicize columns, articles, books, and conferences.

            Incidentally, I misunderstood when you referred to “FAIR.” I thought you meant the organization, but you intended the message board. But that board (MDDB) hasn’t been affiliated with FAIR for several years, and it was NEVER actually RUN by FAIR.

            There is absolutely no involvement of the Brethren in any message board. They don’t follow such things, and most probably don’t even know they exist.

            I’m not going to give you a “logical reason” for believing that the Brethren weren’t involved in my dismissal. You can either believe me or disbelieve me. It’s your choice. But I know, directly and beyond dispute, that they were not.

  • Markk

    It just seems to me that someone so dedicated as you are in defending your faith and others, could be treated like your were w/o the brethren knowing…heck even when I resigned from the church I got a letter from a GA (Ballard) and I’m a nobody.
    If they truly do not know that websites like MD, and New Order Mormons do not exist…they should…they would see the pain ex-members are going through?

    • danpeterson

      You can reason all you want about how the Brethren must have been involved.

      I know that they weren’t.

      I’ve said it enough times, I think. If you still want to believe otherwise, that’s your privilege.

      • Markk

        I don’t know if they knew or not Daniel, and you certainly know better than me, I am not arguing. I just have a hard time understanding how they can let this happen to one that put so much effort into LDS apologetics in basically addressing the work of the Tanners, Mckeevers and other Internet critics. If it didn’t come from the top, they, at some level, certainly had to know about it at some time, and chose not to ‘fix” it?

        Is that a fair assumption?

        Thanks
        Mark

        • danpeterson

          It may be. And they might have chosen “not to fix it” for various reasons. On the other hand, it’s only been a few months, and I’m not dead yet. The story may or may not be over.

          • Markk

            I believe that for sure, I wouldn’t want to get in a water ballon fight with you…On another note, do you know why MADB cleaned house and kicked folks of like myself. Maybe I just imagined it, but tolerance seemed to stop like one shutting off a light switch. I know I ticked some folks off but they dished it out more than I gave it top them, and I always respected the LDS people as a whole, my argument was always with the faith it’s self. Was there a official or unofficial order to stand down?

          • danpeterson

            I know absolutely nothing about moderation at MADB. I don’t even know who the moderators are. Sorry, can’t help you on this one.

  • Markk

    Do you know the “owners”, it would not come from moderators but from the top…

    • danpeterson

      No, I don’t know the “owners.

      I do know that FAIR doesn’t own the thing.

  • Markk

    Oh, I thought that MADB and FAIR were all “owned” by the guy that the Tanners tried to sue? Wyatt Allen? My Bad.

    Anyways haven’t you seen a change in the way Internet apologetics ( LDS /Evangelical) has changed, and I understand things change, but it was too quick in my opinion to be a natural evolution.

    • danpeterson

      Nobody “owns” FAIR. And I don’t know who owns MDDB. (I have no reason to believe that it’s Allen Wyatt; I’ve never heard him mention the place.)

      Sorry, I haven’t paid enough attention to MADB to be able to confirm, deny, or explain your suspicions about it.

  • Markk

    Have you noticed a change in Internet apologentics (LDS/Evangelical)? LoL…it is no fun anymore!

    Do you think you damaged your reputation with your peers by “exchanging thought” with apostates, and for lack of a better term, “common folk?” I would guess it had some play in your dismissal, even if under the radar?

    Thanks
    MG

    • danpeterson

      I really don’t pay much attention to MDB and MDDB anymore. Sorry. I really don’t. I think I’ve pointed that out before: I really don’t pay much attention to MDB and MDDB anymore, so I’m not in a position to comment.

      I think, frankly, that Jerry Bradford’s objection to me was, first and foremost, my interest — which I think was, historically, the interest of FARMS itself — in communicating to and with non-scholars. He wants to focus on writing primarily if not solely for scholars, rather than for scholars and for ordinary members of the Church, etc. I’m only guessing about this, of course, because he never really explained to me why he did what he’s done; contrary to the mythology that some are confidently passing around, we never actually had a conversation on these matters. I’m just piecing clues together in retrospect.

  • Markk

    Take a look at MADB and you will see how the evangelical really has absolutely no voice at all, they tolerated myself and folks much more “anti” for years. When I lurk there now occasionally, I see a different spirit there all together.

    Too bad on them no wanting to reach the folks…whats the point if all they want to reach is scholars, that seems kind of shallow to me, and kinda 180 from your mission…whether I agree with it or not


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X