On “The Witnesses: Variety and Complexity”

On “The Witnesses: Variety and Complexity” August 19, 2020


Leland Stanford Junior University
A view of Stanford University, in California. (Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)


Last night (Tuesday, 18 August 2020), I gave a little class or fireside presentation via Zoom to a group connected with the Latter-day Saint Institute of Religion adjacent to the campus of Stanford University.  It was titled “The Witnesses: Variety and Complexity.”


It was a chattier, less formal, and, therefore, somewhat less complete summary version of the remarks that I presented recently to the FairMormon conference.  That FairMormon talk should be viewed, when it’s available, as the principal or official view of this particular presentation.  However, in the meantime at least, some may find this version useful.  And some may also find it more approachable overall.  I’ve also recorded a companion piece for BYU Education Week under the title of “The Witnesses: Sincerity and Reality.”  That is scheduled to go up online in October.


In any case, both audio and video recordings of the Stanford fireside are now available at this link on the website of the Interpreter Foundation:


The Witnesses: Variety and Complexity


The video is also available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lTuAQ29J_s.  My thanks to Tom Pittman for his technical help in preparing and “delivering” the fireside.


The film clips that appear have not yet received their final form in terms of sound and color, so please bear that in mind.




Here are a couple of possibilities for your Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File:


“FamilySearch Provides 190 Years of Digitized Parish Records to Pandacan Church: Records Provided Following Recent Devastating Fire”


“Brazilian Saints Sew and Donate More Than 3 Million Face Masks: Members and friends of the faith mobilize efforts in Helping Hands to Save Lives project”




As some of you may have noticed, I recently announced here that I would no longer be blogging about partisan political matters.  That is very much against my nature and out of character for me.  And to have it happen during a presidential election year . . .  well, I’m not happy about it.


But I felt obliged to take the move.  Not because — as some continue to claim — one or more leaders of the Church ordered me to do it, or suggested that I do it, or hinted that I should do it.  No Church leader has communicated with me on the matter.  Not President Nelson, nor President Oaks, nor Elder McConkie, nor the Three Nephites. Not directly, not indirectly.  Not by email or snail mail, not by telephone, not by smoke signal or skywriting or winked Morse code.  Nor has any Interpreter donor pressured me or asked me to do so.  I simply heard of a Foundation supporter who had been alienated from the Foundation because of my political views.  And then I heard of two or three others who had evidently said something to that effect.  And I wondered how many they might represent.  Perhaps there are no others.  Perhaps there are dozens, or even more.  And I made the decision, entirely on my own, that the potential downside risks for Interpreter — something to which I’m deeply committed and that I consider very important — far outweigh the benefits to the world, considerable though they are, of hearing my entirely correct political wisdom.


Precisely as I’ve already said.  More than once.


Since discussion of this topic continues in certain internet backwaters (and who knows where else?), I thought it advisable to restate what happened yet again.



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