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Scott Lloyd

A course correction for the Maxwell Institute?

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On Nov. 10 of this  year, Elder Jeffrey R Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles gave a lecture at BYU under the auspices of the Maxwell Institute titled "The Maxwell Legacy in the 21st Century."

I have held off commenting on this address, because I was not present for it nor have I had access to the unpublished text of Elder Holland's comments.

Nor do I have such access now. But I just read an essay from Daniel Peterson on the Interpreter website. that gives what I regard as a good summary -- the best I have seen yet. The gist of Dr. Peterson's essay is a pledge to apply to his own Interpreter Foundation the instruction Elder Holland gave to the Maxwell Institute in this lecture..

I raise the subject here, because from my outside and admittedly uneducated perspective, it appears the Brethren want the institute to return to being more like what it was prior to 2012, when Dr. Peterson and colleagues were purged pursuant to an anticipated "new direction" being undertaken there. 

I commend reading the entire essay from the link I have provided above, but I underscore this remarkable snippet:

Quote

 

Himself a former dean and then, from 1980 to 1989, the ninth president of Brigham Young University as well as the former commissioner of the Church Educational System (1976‒1980), Elder Holland (PhD, Yale University) left no doubt about the authority with which he spoke. “With the humility incumbent upon anyone making such an assertion,” he told his audience, “I come tonight in my true identity as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1).

Although I accept sole responsibility for all inadequacies, limitations, errors, and missed opportunities in this message, I am here with not only the blessing but also the rather explicit expectation of the officers of the university’s board of trustees, whose executive committee I currently chair. In that sense, I speak for all of your governing advisers — not just for myself. 

“I can think of few other entities on this campus,” he continued,

that have received the attention from the General Officers of the Church that the Maxwell Institute has — at least lately. I offer my non-campuswide, non‒Marriott Center appearance in this modest venue as evidence of that tonight. The Lord’s Prophet, who chairs your board, and his fellow Apostles, who sit with him, sent me to you. We hope it is affirming to you to have their strong, active interest in you at a time when the direction and priorities of the Church are being discussed as almost never before. We hope you welcome such focused attention, as you are measured for your role in these developments. 

Elder Holland even quoted from an email sent to him by Russell M. Nelson, the president of the Church, on 25 October 2018, roughly two weeks before his lecture at BYU. “Part of the Maxwell Institute problem is its identity,” President Nelson wrote. He said Church leaders need to help Maxwell Institute leaders “know who they are and why they exist.”

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Rajah Manchou said:

Another course correction for the Maxwell Institute?

Unlike the last one (2012) this one obviously is coming from the highest councils of the Church.

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I haven't heard from them.  Perhaps they don't have my phone number.
Yeah, that's it.

 

Edited by cdowis

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I've been waiting for someone to start a thread on this topic.  Back in April the Maxwell Institute issued a revised mission statement, which reads in part:

As a research community, the Institute supports scholars whose work inspires and fortifies Latter-day Saints in their testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and engages the world of religious ideas.

I wondered then if that was an early indication of a change in emphasis.  Then a few weeks ago I learned that the Mormon Studies Review (and some of the other journals?) had been moved to the University of Illinois press, I believe.  In Peterson's essay in the Interpreter he quotes Elder Holland as saying:

"In the spirit of full disclosure, you should know that initially I was against any proposal to do at BYU what was called Mormon studies elsewhere because I knew what Mormon studies elsewhere usually meant." 

So I too have been wondering if this is yet another example of the pendulum swinging from one side to the other.

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I wish we had the full transcript as well.  I have been following a few discussions on this topic and I am concerned that this might signal a swing backwards from my perspective.  

Have there been any changes in the staff at MI that might be significant?  

I also think this is emblematic of a tension that exists when a university is owned by a  religious institution.  It makes for a very difficult dance of trying to have free thought and rigorous research that is respectable, but at the same time having to please the owning institution which brings bias into the equation.  

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Deeply postmodern Book of Mormon poetry? Maybe there is publishing hope for my shallow allegorical short story inspired by the Abrahamic hypocephalus. ;) 

And even my performance on the insights in the Doctrine and Covenant's thoughts on circumcision and consecration demonstrated through Indonesian interpretive dance.

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11 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Deeply postmodern Book of Mormon poetry? Maybe there is publishing hope for my shallow allegorical short story inspired by the Abrahamic hypocephalus. ;) 

And even my performance on the insights in the Doctrine and Covenant's thoughts on circumcision and consecration demonstrated through Indonesian interpretive dance.

Give it a shot. 

They published this, after all:

Quote

The messy, networked immanence of Miller’s metaphysical materialism is also one way of conceptualizing Renee Angle’s WoO, a poetic emulsification of heaven, earth, and Mormonism in the industrial-grade blender of language. In her inflection of one kind of Mormon experience, Angle levels the transcendent, the occult, the sacred, the material, heretical, cultural, personal, physical, banal, and obscene into a polyglottal smorgasbord of prose poetry.

Nothing is not up for grabs: Nashing men necklace an abacus of each new rule. But trees to pulp and place as a poultice for poverty. Which means nightgowns hover over the mouths of every should. Through a crotch rot cemetery, after bathing suits kept on all day, a new skin safer. Inside a child a softer bomb. A nautilus, one man’s book expressed in fish. Because the rim party could descend into the canyon once they shot him. Because the ever-living liver mythifies trouble in tomb light. Off cambered backs comes bare knowledge. To split the mound like a coconut and tailor its lace. Of sorcery’s bonnet, brothers’ betrayal. (p. 22)

WoO is intentionally fragmented and fragmentary. It claims to be a reconstruction of the 116 lost pages of the Book of Mormon from fragments of biography, heritage, legend, and extant scripture. . .

 

Edited by Nevo
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4 minutes ago, Nevo said:

It claims to be a reconstruction of the 116 lost pages of the Book of Mormon from fragments of biography, heritage, legend, and extant scripture. 

???????

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2 hours ago, Calm said:

This tension occurs anytime an institution is funded by others, whether a religion, government, businesses, individuals, etc. 

I agree, yet I also think there is a history of some institutions navigating these tensions much more responsibly than others.  Some institutions have as part of their mission, very explicit foundational ideals for objectivity along with checks and balances to help in this effort, where others don’t.  

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2 hours ago, juliann said:

That is an odd choice of terms. Having a mission statement/purpose is bias? That would shut down most enterprises. 

The mission statement itself could be founded on a biased orientation. 

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2 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Some institutions have as part of their mission, very explicit foundational ideals for objectivity along with checks and balances to help in this effort, where others don’t.

Ideals are great, how many institutions actually live up to such stated missions?

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6 minutes ago, Calm said:

Ideals are great, how many institutions actually live up to such stated missions?

I imagine there is a wide range of success and failure.  

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The messy, networked immanence of Miller’s metaphysical materialism is also one way of conceptualizing Renee Angle’s WoO, a poetic emulsification of heaven, earth, and Mormonism in the industrial-grade blender of language. In her inflection of one kind of Mormon experience, Angle levels the transcendent, the occult, the sacred, the material, heretical, cultural, personal, physical, banal, and obscene into a polyglottal smorgasbord of prose poetry.

Nothing is not up for grabs: Nashing men necklace an abacus of each new rule. But trees to pulp and place as a poultice for poverty. Which means nightgowns hover over the mouths of every should. Through a crotch rot cemetery, after bathing suits kept on all day, a new skin safer. Inside a child a softer bomb. A nautilus, one man’s book expressed in fish. Because the rim party could descend into the canyon once they shot him. Because the ever-living liver mythifies trouble in tomb light. Off cambered backs comes bare knowledge. To split the mound like a coconut and tailor its lace. Of sorcery’s bonnet, brothers’ betrayal. (p. 22)

 WoO is intentionally fragmented and fragmentary. It claims to be a reconstruction of the 116 lost pages of the Book of Mormon from fragments of biography, heritage, legend, and extant scripture. . .

6obe-582x437.jpg

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dup

Edited by JAHS

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56 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:
4 hours ago, Bob Crockett said:

Not sure I grasp what is being said.

Me neither.

Me Threether

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3 hours ago, hope_for_things said:

The mission statement itself could be founded on a biased orientation. 

What is an unbiased orientation?  Preference for rigorous research is a bias in and of itself.

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1 hour ago, Calm said:

What is an unbiased orientation?  Preference for rigorous research is a bias in and of itself.

Not all bias is created equally.  As I mentioned earlier, there are very different approaches on a spectrum.  Simply acknowledging some level of bias is important to remember, but that doesn’t make everything equally or even remotely similar by degree.  

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