We’re just back from a performance of The Audience, written by Peter Morgan, at the Liahona Preparatory Academy in Pleasant Grove. The production was put on, quite well, as part of the 2022 season of the Creekside Theatre Fest, with Jayne Luke portraying Queen Elizabeth II. I had, I confess, never heard of either the Academy or the Group. But we have seen The Audience before. In California, I believe. For a history enthusiast such as myself, it’s a deeply interesting play, taking us through the premierships of Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Gordon Brown, Harold Wilson, David Cameron, Margaret Thatcher, and John Major. I enjoyed it a great deal.
En route to the play, we dropped in at a fiftieth-anniversary reception for my friend, former BYU colleague, former Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages chairman, and former College of Humanities dean Van Gessel, who is a noted scholar and translator of modern Japanese literature, and for his wife, Elizabeth Gessel, who taught my children in high school. The Wikipedia article about Van Gessel gives some idea of his many achievements and honors, but no real sense of his personality; he is one of the funniest people I know. It was good to see several other former colleagues there. I’ve had the very good fortune of spending most of my life surrounded by very good people.
This afternoon, up in Salt Lake City, I delivered the concluding remarks at the Joseph and Polly Knight 2022 Family Reunion. I wasn’t especially pleased with my delivery, but I still think that the talk went reasonably well. At least, nobody threw anything at me. (My friend and neighbor Tom Pittman was a huge help with the technology.) I also enjoyed chatting with a number of people there, including (among others) Professor Bruce Brown, a former colleague at Brigham Young University, and Mark Ashurst-McGee, whom I have regarded for many years as one of the more interesting historians among those who focus on the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
On Monday evening — Tuesday morning, Japanese time — I’m slated to give a devotional address via Zoom for Mikuni International College, which is located in Yuzawa, Minamiuonuma District, Niigata, Japan.
Months ago, doing all three of these talks so nearly back to back seemed like a good idea. At least, not an unreasonable one. Now, just back from Europe, far behind, and jet-lagged, I’m not so sure. But this too shall pass.
In my remarks at the Knight Family reunion, I cited a passage from the late William Hartley’s 2003 collective Knight family biography, Stand By My Servant Joseph (xiii):
It is not just a history of a good family involved in Mormonism’s earliest days but a group witness provided through words and actions of loyalty and sacrifice about the man they knew to be a prophet of God. Sixty Knight relatives, including more than a dozen adult couples, were well acquainted with Joseph Smith from the starting days of his ministry and remained loyal to him and his mission until their deaths. Although none of them was among the Three Witnesses or the Eight Witnesses, the Knight family network became an unequaled collective witness of the restoration of the gospel.
For fairly obvious reasons, witnesses have been much on my mind of late, so this passage, which was included on one of the items available at the reunion and which is drawn from the Journal of Newel Knight, caught my eye:
The year 1830 is closing upon us. Great things transpired, too great for pen to paint. To reflect that the closing year has been one to which all future generations will date the rise and organization of the Church of God upon the earth, no more to be thrown down, and to know that I have witnessed the important events with my natural eyes and to know of a surety that the heavens have been opened to my view, that I have beheld the majesty on High and heard the voice of my Redeemer which has spoken words of comfort and instruction to me, fill my whole being with gratitude to my Heavenly Father while I write these things which are verily true. And I write them that my posterity and future generations may know of them, and that I may leave a faithful testimony of the things which I do know to be verily true. And may the Lord bless me with a wise and understanding heart, that I may ever do his will and help to establish his great purpose upon the earth is the greatest desire of my heart.
Here’s a thought-provoking little article that you might enjoy pondering:
Changing gears rather dramatically: I regard the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal as the best in any newspaper of which I’m aware, and this small but lucid essay by the Journal‘s editors does nothing to weaken that judgment:
To it, moreover, as what you might consider Exhibit B in my case for the remarkably high quality of the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, I add this article, byand Jennifer L. Mascott:
And, while I’m on the topic of abortion, this is worth a look: