On Thursday (June 10, 2010) I appeared on KUER’s Radio West show, hosted by Doug Fabrizio. For those who don’t know, KUER is the University of Utah’s public radio station. Because I don’t live in Utah, I haven’t listened to the show except by accident when I am visiting. In researching the show, however, I see that it is highly regarded and covers a potpourri of subjects, many of which would be very interesting to me. I see it is possible to stream the shows live on a computer or download podcasts of past shows.
[Left: Doug Fabrizio, host of KUER's Radio West]
The subject of the show I was on was the documentary film “8: The Mormon Proposition,” which debuted at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The primary interviewee was Reed Cowan, the maker of the film. I think the main reason KUER asked me to be on the show was to get a more moderate Mormon view of the fallout of Prop 8 in California. Some of my conservative Mormon friends may question the use of “moderate” to describe me – they no doubt consider me to be a liberal. On the other hand, many former Mormons and gay activists probably consider me to be on the conservative, or at least moderate, end of the spectrum. It reminds me of when I was a kid and used to think of Chicago as being “back east,” never realizing that Bostonians thought of it as being “out west.”
Dawn and I have just finished attending the annual conference of the Mormon History Association in Kansas City, Missouri. For the first time in several years I did not present a paper at this conference, so I relaxed and enjoyed listening to excellent presentations by other fine scholars.
Although I didn’t speak, a very nice thing happened to me nonetheless. At the Awards Dinner on Friday night I received one of three J. Talmage Jones “Article Awards of Excellence” for my BYU Studies article titled “The Boggs Shooting and Attempted Extradition: Joseph Smith’s Most Famous Case.” The other two who shared the award were Matthew J. Grow (history professor, Southern Indiana University) and Edward Leo Lyman (retired history professor, Cal State San Bernardino). Both Matt and Leo have been recent speakers at our Miller Eccles Study Group meetings and Dawn and I had a chance to get to know them better by taking them out to dinner. They are both fine historians and speakers.
I don’t know if it is ingrained in every personality to want (from time to time) a degree of validation, but I know it is in mine. I’m not sure why — I’ll leave that up to the psychologists. I know my little award doesn’t compare to winning the Nobel Prize, or the Pulitzer Prise, or even the MHA “Best Book Award,” but it made me feel good. It was a nice reward for the enormous amount of time I spent researching, writing, re-researching and re-writing the piece. Perhaps I would accomplish more if I pushed through each task more quickly. I ask myself, Why strive for perfection when you know you’ll never come close to achieving it? Perhaps it is my mother’s mantra that continues to ring in my head: “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”
I mentioned in my last blog entry that my plan was to spend the second week of my Utah stay attending the NGS annual conference in Salt Lake City. I had even paid my registration fee for the event. However, shortly before I left for Utah, I was asked if I could participate on a panel at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government that would address the topic, “Is Marriage a Right?” It would require me to miss most of the NGS conference.
Nevertheless, this seemed to be a great opportunity to return to Cambridge and speak on a subject I feel passionately about and Kennedy School students are likely to be heavily represented among future leaders of governments. I agreed to go.
The panel was co-sponsored by four of the Kennedy School “caucuses” (affinity groups) – Mormon, LGBT, California and Massachusetts. It would bring together students from a church that supports laws prohibiting same-sex marriage (Mormon), a group that is directly affected such laws (gays and lesbians), a state where same-sex marriage is legal (Massachusetts) and a state where it is not (California).