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).
I spent April 18 through May 5, 2010 in our Park City, Utah home. My original plan was to fulfill a teaching assignment at Utah State University in Logan during the first week, spend the second week attending the National Genealogical Society Family History Conference in Salt Lake, spend a few days working on the Miller Eccles website, then return home. Dawn stayed home as she had classes to teach and had already traveled quite a bit recently.
The first week went according to schedule, as I drove to Logan and back (a three-and-a-half hour round trip) on Tuesday and Thursday (May 20 and 22) to teach in Dr. Philip Barlow’s Mormon Studies class. Dr. Barlow specializes in American religious history and religious geography. After graduating from Weber State University, he obtained a masters and then a doctorate in theology at Harvard Divinity School. Phil and I serve together on the board of directors of Dialogue Foundation, publisher of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. While visiting in his office we had a nice opportunity to discuss issues related to same-sex marriage and to get to know each other better.
Phil’s office is on the third floor Old Main, the iconic and historic building that a visitor first sees when approaching the college. It was there when my parents graduated from Utah State. Both of us treasure opportunities to exercise, so we walked up and down the stairs each time we went to Phil’s office. Continue reading →