Correcting errors

Correcting errors October 30, 2023

 

Thames and London
The dome of St. Paul’s to the left, the skyscraper called “the Gherkin” to the right, and, over the River Thames, the Blackfriars Bridge
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)

 

Halloween is nearly upon us — here in England as well as in the colonies — so some of you might find this article of interest that my late and much lamented friend Bill Hamblin and I published in the Deseret News back in 2015:  “Are Halloween’s roots evil and satanic?”

And, speaking of Bill Hamblin, I sometimes receive notes from faithful Latter-day Saints wondering whether the rumor is true that Bill had lost his faith by the time that he died.  And, sometimes, I receive triumphant notes from unbelievers in which they gloat over the “fact” that he had, in fact, lost his faith.   Well, just before I left on this latest expedition to Türkiye and Egypt (and, it was thought, to Israel), I was looking for a note that Bill had sent me two or three years before his sudden, untimely, and still shocking death, and I came across the note that I reproduce below.  It is the second to the last communication that I ever had from him — the absolute last, sent on 1 December 2019, was a brief and purely operational note, of no special moment, about a column to be submitted to the Deseret News — and it was sent on 27 November 2019 in response to this, from me:

I also owe an introduction next week for the forthcoming volume of Interpreter.  Wanna write it for me?  (Your fans miss you, and would be delighted.)

Bill replied negatively, as I knew that he would:

Sorry, I am done with Mormon studies.  It’s astonishing how the Church has managed to destroy LDS apologetics in just a decade.
1- Let BYU Destroy FARMS
2- Even worse, replacing it with MI as Sunstone South now officially part of BYU
3- Hire people who reject historicity in religious education + dumbing down the RE curriculum.
4- Punish all those at BYU attempting to support historicity of scripture
5- publish the new volume of the BOA Joseph Smith papers which overtly rejects historicity, and completely ignores decades of work by dozens of scholars.  This will now be perceived as the official Church position.  Any further attempts at BOA apologetics can now simply be dismissed without further discussion.  Historicity of the BOA is dead.  Furthermore, this will be used as justification to dehistoricize all other JS scripture.  If the BOA is ahistorical, why not the BOM?
6- Continually downplay and decontextualize scripture.  Now it’s down to 2 hours a month in Sunday School.  The manuals are even more pablumatic than before if that’s possible.

So I quit wasting my time years ago, and I’m glad I did.  I’m happier without it, and having fun in retirement.

Now, there are several things that might be said about this note.  I disagree with his take in several crucial regards, and I was disappointed at this firm refusal to get back into what was then still unproblematically called “Mormon studies.”  I certainly don’t think that “LDS apologetics” has been destroyed, although the destruction of FARMS and the hostile takeover of the Maxwell Institute by people who rejected apologetics certainly set us back for a while.

For my purpose here, however, I want to note the obvious fact that there is no trace in Bill’s note of a loss of faith in the scriptures of the Restoration.  Quite the contrary.  There is, clearly, a strong sense of disillusionment, even bitter disillusionment, with certain Church and University policies.  (I knew him very, very well.  Bill was, temperamentally, never — ever — an “organization man”; he would never go along simply to get along.  He had a fiercely independent streak and was often the rebel.). If anything, Bill was expressing the sentiments of a passionate but disappointed lover.

As I’ve said above, the note to me that I’ve included here was posted to me on Tuesday, 27 November 2019.  He died, while visiting Texas, on Tuesday, 10 December 2019.  If he really lost his testimony at the end of his life, he had only two weeks in which to have done it.

I really wish that critics would stop trying to enlist him, posthumously, in their war against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 

Hyde Park Chapel, London
The Hyde Park Chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, London
(Wikimedia Commons)

 

I’ve been mildly puzzled for years now about the hostile personal fixation that some pseudonymous folks over at the Peterson Obsession Board seem to have on me.  Well, I finally have a clue with regard to one of them — the one that I’ve identified here as Everybody’s WC — who claims that he hates me because of a multiyear crusade of defamation and slander and ceaseless personal attacks that I conducted against his best friend in an attempt to get that friend fired.  Having seen the stress, the hurt, and the frustration that his friend and his friend’s family suffered over those years, Everybody’s WC has concluded that I am, in his words, “pure evil.”

That would be a somewhat understandable reaction, I suppose, if a bit overwrought.  But I have literally no idea what he’s talking about.  I can think of no such case.  Even after searching through all of the dim recesses of my mind, I can’t think of any instance in which I’ve ever sought to have anybody fired.  Moreover, I can’t even imagine myself doing such a thing.  What on earth does he have in mind?

I really would like to know.  Seriously.  So I invite him, or some surrogate for him, either to contact me privately or to post something here in the comments section so that I can understand his accusation.  As it is, I haven’t the foggiest idea.

 

The first temple in the United Kingdom
The London England Temple (LDS.org)

 

And, not to be forgotten, this new installment of our ongoing weekly radio show has just been archived and posted:  Interpreter Radio Show — October 15, 2023

For the 15 October 2023 episode of the Interpreter Radio Show, the discussants were Bruce Webster and Robert Boylan.  Their conversation focused on Come, Follow Me New Testament lesson 46, changes in the Church’s name, and a recent article in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship by Brian C. Hales.

The “New Testament in Context” portion of this show, for the Come, Follow Me New Testament lesson 46, “An High Priest of Good Things to Come” on Hebrews 7–13, will also be posted separately on Tuesday, 31 October 2023.

The Interpreter Radio Show can be heard on Sunday evenings from 7 to 9 PM (MDT), on K-TALK, AM 1640.  Or you can listen live on the Internet at ktalkmedia.com.  Even if you’re in London.

Posted from Bankside, London, England

 

 

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