From Gary Gillum’s Journals
May 29, 1972. Read Hugh Nibley et al., To the Glory of God, which I purchased in the BYU bookstore and had autographed by Brother Nibley.
November 26, 1972. Dick Beeson and I talked about how coercive education is instead of being motivational. Dr. Hugh Nibley, in a faculty conference supposedly said: “Why talk about students’ cheating. What about our cheating the students!” Classic!
June 25, 1973.A miraculous week, tingling my striving intellect and desire for truth towards new heights. Summer session began, and with it my taking of Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. Dr. Hugh Nibley, BYU professor of the year, and our church’s own omni-learning R. Buckminster Fuller, teaches it. A wit as well as a scholar he opened up a new world of learning for me, specifically Egyptian. I began reading apocryphal writings and saw that they often had more truth than the Bible. My enthusiasm caught Lyn on fire also, so she, too, wants to learn. Meanwhile, all week Brother Nibley poured this knowledge into our thirsty brains – Egyptian temples, LDS temples, writing, past history, etc. etc.
July 3, 1973. Hugh Nibley’s class was great, as usual.
October 22, 1973. Received a return memo from President Oaks, thanking me for sending him the encouraging memo of last week. Mine so happened to uplift him at a strenuous moment. Hugh Nibley gave a lecture today entitled “Beyond Politics.” Repentance & obedience are God’s ways. Humility at its best is when we are in the presence of children – those closest to the image of our creator. Man is not able to govern himself but should seek to know the will of God through revelation. Talked about the evils of law, business and politics. The days are ripe for the coming of the Lord. Prepare and repent.” I thought about Dr. Nibley and Pres. Oaks. What humble men in their separate tasks. With Pres. Oaks’ memo I remembered that even men in high places have need for encouragement and praise. My respect for him was greatly lifted. The kids were very precious today.
December 31, 1973. I read three Nibley books this year: No Ma’am, That’s Not History, When the Lights Went Out, and Since Cumorah.
July 26, 1974. Worked until 11, being kept awake by Hugh Nibley’s article in Dialogue.
August 21, Education Week, 1974. Hugh Nibley’s “Sin against Nature” increased my feelings towards all of life (I gave the opening prayer), and A. Roger Merrill helped me to better understand the power of the priesthood – in the wake of George Pace’s feelings about the imminent coming of Christ within 26 years.
September 3, 1974. At 4 I went to Hugh Nibley’s Early Christian Literature class, only to discover that it had been dropped because of Dr. Nibley’s health.
April 11, 1975. When I returned home Lyn was listening to KSXX. Some Mormon apostate based his apostasy on the fact that the Pearl of Great Price was not translated from the recently-found papyri. Hugh Nibley was called and indicated that he was awaiting a further manuscript. Meanwhile, the Book of Breathings will be treated comprehensively in Nibley’s new book, The Egyptian Endowment.
June 9, 1975. I finished Numerology and felt that I had learned some important truths in this 2500 year old Pythagorean science. I discovered that not only was I a spiritual 9 but also Jesus Christ, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Hugh Nibley.
July 26, 1975. My ears were able to hear the wisdom of Hugh Nibley as he berated the world and extolled eternal perspective in an Academics Awareness lecture. He was very pointed. Know thyself! Listen to the promptings of the Spirit!
August 7, 1975. Today I began some work on the Hugh Nibley article. I’ve gotten together everything I have in books and periodicals and someday will be able to get it all together.
August 12, 1975. Jayne called and expressed delight at reading some of Hugh Nibley’s writings.
August 13, 1975. Doug Bush asked me to give a report on Hugh Nibley’s magnum opus, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment. Gladly. Now I have to get it done.
August 14, 1975. Today I found out I could hold my own in a theological or philosophical discussion with other scholars. John Taylor, Curtis Wright and I chanced to meet in the bookstore and began talking about Hugh Nibley, the church, and the gospel. At times the discussion, which lasted nearly an hour, got heated. Curtis did tell us that when he went fishing with Hugh Nibley he found out that this latest book was written only because everyone was making a fuss over a piece of papyrus. His real opus is yet to be printed – the Book of Enoch.
August 27, 1975. Ward Clerk work tonight and then home taught the Sillitos by giving them a book review of Hugh Nibley’s new book.
September 4, 1975. Started Nibley’s Pearl of Great Price class, but Hugh didn’t show up. So I registered for James Harris’ class.
September 5, 1975. My class reached 63 students today, and felt so spiritually overwhelmed and satisfied with how well the class went that I felt I could apply to the department of religion for full-time teaching. I bore today one of the strongest testimonies ever because I felt inspired to do so. Several students came up to me afterwards to thank me for my testimony. I finally feel that as a teacher I have come to a turning point. What a beautiful experience! I also had a great experience at noon when I gave a book review of Hugh Nibley’s new book. Everyone raved about my review, and we talked about how early Christian history is being rewritten because of the finds of ancient documents.
September 7, 1975. I finally mentioned Nibley’s book on the Egyptian endowment. I related how my teaching had improved since last April, and how, while doing the temple endowment for Papah I was inspired to believe that since I had now taken him the gospel through temple work, he would help me in my teaching through his spirit!
September 20, 1975. Endowment session in the temple early for Jesse Looker, 1843. Everything took on a new perspective after reading Hugh Nibley’s book.
October 1, 1975. Worked on stewardship interview questions, task force report for Public Services Committee, and sent copies of the knowledge chain to some of the geniuses on campus: Danielewski, Arthur Henry King, Hugh Nibley, John L. Sorenson, Jae Ballif, Thomas Rogers, Charles Metten.
October 15, 1975. At 6:30 I heard a lecture by Hugh Nibley on the “Sacred Vestments” – garments.
November 27, 1975. This morning I had an unusual dream. John Thomas (our non-member friend across the street) and I went visiting with Bishop Ludwig, doing works of service. Somehow we got separated in the snow, and later me from John. I had 34 miles to walk home, but something happened and I never made it. Instead I found myself ascending stairs to a building that looked like a cross between a temple, a cathedral and the Indianapolis Public Library. Beautiful maidens descended towards me offering 12″ wide yellow roses. The ascent seemed effortless. Friday morning an equally unusual dream. Hugh Nibley and I were in the Pentagon trying to get important religious papers out by means of a tiny model railroad that stretched for miles. Our intent was to reduce the size of the documents so that they would travel well on the train. But alas, our secret was found out, and the railroad was sabotaged.
November 22, 1976. I was happy to provide personal service to students in my office today, besides helping out the Ensign with a quote from Hugh Nibley.
November 28, 1976. [One of my lifetime goals]: Write a book of non-fiction (Nibley Of All Things).
May 24, 1977. Tuesday BYU was graced with the presence of one of America’s geniuses, a man whom Hugh Nibley calls “The High Priest of Technology,” R. Buckminster Fuller. His forum address was not what you would call lucid, but he had some fascinating observations to make about the future of our country. The Varsity Theater had its usual question and answer period. I asked the first – and as it turned out, the only – question of the hour. He had made a comment about universities being out of date. I asked him to elaborate. He did so in the grand Nibleian manner. What a great visionary!
May 25, 1978. Tuesday and Wednesday I also became acquainted with John Greenway, who wrote a superbly interesting essay at the beginning of some letters by Hernando Cortes. He writes in the witty, interdisciplinary style of Hugh Nibley.
July 13, 1978. I wrote a letter to Dr. Truman Madsen, chiding him for the lack of an index to the beautiful new book Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless.
July 19, 1978. Yesterday I received a return memo from Truman Madsen: YOU ARE ON! (meaning an index, of course). So now I am busily indexing Nibley so that I can do the one on the Religious Symposium later.
July 27, 1978. After relaxing around the house and indexing one of Hugh Nibley’s essays, Allen came home and we went on a picnic to Battleground State Park – with its tall pine trees and carpet-like grass and tree-encircled lake, perhaps one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever seen.
August 1, Tuesday. The first day of my Professional Development leave, working on the bibliography of the Catholic Left in Latin America. A boring project. Before I began, I finished the index to Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless.
September 5, 1978. A dream about an in-depth appraisal of Nibley’s works.
September 8, 1978. Create Professional Development proposal for an index of Hugh Nibley’s works. Meet with Howard Kempton of Religious Studies. He suggested the proposal for my 1979-1980 professional development – a comprehensive index of all of Hugh Nibley’s writings.
September 18, 1978. Interview Haybron Adams re Hugh Nibley.
September 19, 1978. Compare Hugh Nibley bibliographies.
October 4, 1978. Talked to Hugh Nibley at 9 a.m. about Isis of the Shepnag. I then called Louis Midgley about other unpublished manuscripts of Nibley’s.
April 23, 1979. I moved books in the Locked Case, proof-read a Nibley tape transcription, searched Latin American materials in the card catalog, and had a Welfare Services research meeting with Jeff Johnson of Welfare Services, Lynn Tyler of the LIRC, and his assistants Debbie Koon and Pam.
May 31, 1979. We [Alan Keele and I] ended up talking about writing in the Church. He doesn’t care even for BYU Studies and called Hugh Nibley a sloppy scholar.
June 30, 1979. I determined some heroes for me:
Like Spencer W. Kimball in spirituality and compassion.
Like Hugh Nibley in scholarship, knowledge, and wisdom.
Like Edwin Pieplow in sociability, ease in public, and openness.
Like Dick Gregory in stamina, self-control, and physical ability.
August 24, 1979. Neither Truman Madsen nor Spencer Palmer could speak at our library forums Sept. 20, so I asked Hugh Nibley to speak on the 150 years of the Church and how it compares with early Christendom.
August 25, 1979. Ed Ashment’s comments [at the Sunstone Symposium] about the Joseph Smith papyri were very significant, true, albeit revolutionary. Hugh Nibley responded by saying that 4/5 of what he himself has written is wrong.
August 28, 1979. Before faculty meeting LaMond Tullis said Louis Midgley (a philosopher professor & friend of Hugh Nibley’s) told him he had heard my marvelous symposium paper [my response to John Tanner’s, Ed Millet’s and Scott Birdsall’s papers].
September 6, 1979. Today was a very full day, including visits from Alma Sillito, Ron Holtzberry, and Ed Millet, plus a talk with Hugh Nibley on his September 20 address.
September 20, 1979. The big day of Library Forum’s Sesquicentennial Lecture by Hugh Nibley, “How Firm a Foundation! What Makes It So.” The Varsity Theatre was packed, and we had to turn away over 200 people. My introduction was very short: “The most revealing introduction anyone can give Hugh Nibley is that he needs no introduction at all. Brother Nibley . . . “ His topic was mostly on the Law of Consecration, which he has now determined to live himself. His talk was well-liked, though very materialism-slandering. He talked about Geneva, A-bomb testing, the MX missile system, etc. Students want copies of the talk so badly that the library will be selling them in the bookstore. LaJean Purcell, Doug Bush, and I took Brother Nibley to the Skyroom for lunch. He was delightful to be with. He was very serious about everyone’s living life to the fullest – consecrating everything to the Lord. Now to edit his lecture . . .
September 29, 1979. In Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites Hugh Nibley contends that the Jaredites came from the steppes of Central Asia. Yesterday in the 1978 Soviet Life I found that a Soviet scientist had discovered about the same thing, lending credence to Nibley’s theory. I took the article down and showed Brother Nibley immediately. He stood up and mumbled in surprise – a curious sight, since he was wearing a tattered grey suit and purple jogging shoes!
October 15, 1979. I talked to Tom Rogers, Curtis Wright and Bruce Jorgensen today. All seemed to have a higher regard for me because of either the Sunstone Symposium or the work I am doing with Hugh Nibley. And tomorrow is our interview with him. Mary Bradford, editor of Dialogue, stopped by to prepare for it. She, Curtis, tom and I will be privileged to interview him. Already I’ve had to come up with some questions.
October 16, 1979. A special day. Mary Bradford, editor of Dialogue, arrived early and we prepared our tape recorders in 4010 HBLL for our interview with Hugh Nibley. He was in a delightfully good mood today, complete with his purple jogging shoes – but he loves them for their comfort. Mary, Curtis Wright and I attempted to interview him while he opened his fan mail from the general authorities. My questions to him were:
Does the atonement have anything to do with the second law of thermodynamics?
How does one teach self-motivation and self-education? EXAMPLE
What is the greatest problem in the Church today? NOT KEEPING COVENANTS
Besides Church leaders, who has brought more truth to the world in this century?
EINSTEIN (R. Buckminster Fuller, Nabokov, Mark Twain and Joyce were also mentioned)
What value is science fiction and fiction to the Latter-day Saint?
October 19, 1979. Hugh Nibley’s talk on the Law of Consecration finally went to press today after a long wait of editing. Hopefully that will go on sale in the bookstore early next week.
October 23, 1979. Hugh Nibley’s “How Firm a Foundation!” went on sale in the bookstore today for 35 cents, but the scant 480 copies were sold by 5 p.m. Ordered another 2025. George Bickerstaff of Bookcraft called to say he is interested in my index to Nibley’s Lehi in the Desert. I will have that ready perhaps by next weekend.
November 10, 1979. [At the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (in Wichita)] I met Bruce Wrightsman of Luther College and Harley Wagler of KU (who knows Kresimir Cosic in Yugoslavia, whom Nibley helped to convert), as swell as the chairperson for our religion panel, Dennis P. Reinhartz.
November 14, 1979. A long day! At 7 a.m. University Research Committee meeting, work until noon, Nibley’s talk in the law school on “Patriarchy and Matriarchy,” temple work at 1:30, work until 10.
November 28, 1979. Wednesday I saw Hugh Nibley as I walked to the parking lot on the way home. He was gazing at the pink sunset [reflected] on the mountains and remarked how all of the sunsets are different. I responded with, “It’s too bad most people don’t notice them.” He said, “They’re too busy.” I’m amazed that Nibley’s September lecture has done so well – 3000 copies so far. (Today in priesthood Beau Parnell told me that the seminary faculty had been counseled to know the talk well.)
January 1, 1980. In September I began the Nibley index with gusto, and because of my relationship with Hugh Nibley and his family, I was asked to introduce him at the Library Forum’s talk in September and then to interview him with Mary Bradford and Curtis Wright for Dialogue.
February 10, 1980. George Bickerstaff of Bookcraft called. He is sending me some books in payment for my index to Lehi in the Desert by Hugh Nibley.
February 25, 1980. Index Nibley’s NEB.
February 28, 1980. Got Paxman (200 copies), Gardner (300 copies) and Nibley (500 copies) talks printed for the bookstore.
March 8, 1980. After talking with my friend Bela Petsco I realized some other blessings. He thinks that both my journal through high school and college, as well as my book of letters from Mom, should be published. He said that he was going to call his friend John Drayton, editor of the BYU Press, and make the suggestion to him. But there’s the Nibley Quote book . . . Wow! Talk about blessings!
March 15, 1980. Finishing H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, I look again this Saturday nap-time through the living room windows past the grey and white clouds and the blowing dust to the future of this planet, which is now at a crucial turning point in its existence. As a matter of opinion, H.G. Wells is very optimistic in his strange but truthful tale. Then I reflect upon Hugh Nibley’s parable of an eschatological man – the man who truly knows the meaning of life’s enigmas & unlimited meanings, shunning the narrowed, the superficial, the fleeting, the eat-drink-and-be-merry syndrome. Oh, the veil seems so very thin at times – so very thin and transparent.
March 25, 1980. Saturday he [my 9-year old son Grant] and I played basketball as a break from my proof-reading of How to Potty-Train Your Husband, indexing Nibley and going through ex-convict William Hightower’s poems and things for the possible book The Sage of San Quentin.
April 6, 1980.Had a good talk with Victor Purdy Friday afternoon concerning education, library science, life, and Hugh Nibley – especially the latter. He’s a very understanding and empathetic soul. We also talked about the future of the Church, with seven new temples to be built in Buenos Aires, Santiago, Atlanta, West Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga and Sydney. Wonderful! And this is only a beginning. There will someday be temples in every land. The last days are approaching!
April 11, 1980. Another full day at work: Public Services Committee meeting; indexed LIT of Nibley and some of SIN (Since Cumorah); read articles for the Collection Assessment Manual; took David with me to lunch and Ream’s; cleaned up my office; and had a department meeting.
April 24, 1980. This spring break at BYU has given me a rest from certain labors and has given me a chance to catch up on the Nibley index. The new publications committee met yesterday (Dean L., Blaine and I) to consider details on the publication of the Sesquicentennial Lectures.
Not often can I or dare I tell an actor in one of my dreams about it. Yesterday I told Dr. Curtis Wright simply because he was in it: the scene was a college of religion meeting. Arguments back and forth. Finally, someone (me? Curtis? Nibley?) got up and said: “You teachers had better get a testimony or the Holy Spirit is going to knock you on your asses!” Strong words that needed to be spoken – to me and others.
May 29, 1980. Checked Baker & Taylor books; called Scott Washburn; worked on Nibley; met with LeGrand Baker on Professional Development; visit from David Lisonbee of Bi-World; and Randy Olsen called me to serve on a Search and Screen Committee for a new librarian.
July 1, 1980. To do list:
Nibley MES (Message of the Joseph Smith Endowment: A Egyptian Endowment)
Meet with Cody Carter, Philosophy dept.
See Hollis Scott
Finish Nibley SIN (Since Cumorah)
July 11, 1980. ! As I was indexing Nibley I thought how great it would be if Charlotte Smith would buy Lyn’s organ handbook so that I would have $5.00 with which to buy Mendelssohn’s Elijah. A mere 30 seconds later she walked in with the money! Talk about serendipity! Two hours later it happened again. I found an organ journal for her to use for her bibliography. At that very moment she was writing down the very citation I was bringing to her from the new books. Our family is going to have to get to know her family. They are special.
July 30, 1980. The day at work was long also: helped Charlotte learn how to use IBZ, met with Scott Duvall, indexed Nibley MES [Message of the Joseph Smith Endowment], called Vee Hull, Tony Ferguson and Don Jarvis. Outline for D&C.
August 6, 1980. [Part of ‘To Do’ list] Finish Nibley PAS [“Passing of the Church”]
December 31, 1980. Actually, all I need is a quiet place and time occasionally in order to catch up on this here journal (a little Payson slang). The Ancient Studies Library on New Year’s Eve is ideal – empty and quiet. All I hear is the fluorescent lights and Hugh Nibley on the telephone in the secretary’s office. This priceless room, just recently keyed to serve only bona fide students and faculty, and unfortunately turn away the noisy and gluttonous ὁί πολλοί (hoi polloi), will soon take some authentic Egyptian papryi into its bosom in the Spring when Griggs and Mackay return from a dig in the Near East.
I’m sitting in the most erudite room on campus – the Ancient Studies library. It is here that students, faculty and some scholars come to look at, pore over, browse or sample the Egyptian, cuneiform, Arabic, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Coptic, Aramaic, French and German reference books on subjects ranging from Elephantine and the Pyramids to the Nag Hammadi and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Most who come within these walls can read no language but English, and indeed, many are business students who use the quiet atmosphere to test the noise of the rebounding action of the keys of their expensive calculators. If Paul the Apostle were here he would liken these toys or idols to the small silver icons the Ephesians carried around with them in imitation of the great goddess Diana. These silicone and plastic toys, however, imitate computers, man’s most recent efforts to erase humdrum calculations from his brain so that business ‘of greater import’ can make hurricane waves in his brain instead. But too often these machines are Greek slaves to their Roman masters, more intelligent and more able to think. Well, what is ‘of import?’ To me it’s knowing, in a room like this, what all of these ancient men and writings were after: nothing more than THE TRUTHS of the vast universe. For calculators to be among thinkers, then, is to have pearls before swine who know only of those things which fill the belly, not the mind.
January 28, 1981. Can a physical change in the body which enlivens some nerves never used and other overused – effect a change in my spiritual and emotional outlook, or in the words of Nibley, “eschatological viewpoint”? That is indeed a deep philosophical question which I cannot answer at this time. But so much in life (mortality) seems so pointless and makes me extremely impatient and irritable, while other things seem vastly more important.
February 23, 1981. Friday the 23rd at noon I met with 12 members of the Ancient Studies group in the Skyroom. Hugh Nibley, Richard Anderson, Kent Brown and others were there to discuss my role, the Ancient Studies Library, and other matters. I felt privileged to be there. Tom Mackay and Wilfred Griggs are participants in a BYU dig in Egypt until April. Earlier I had overheard Griggs reading off his checklist of archaeological supplies. Then Wednesday Tom Mackay drew me a map of the area and outlined the possibilities of finding some papyri and bringing back some to BYU. I felt not only awe and wonder but even a slight tinge of jealousy and envy. What if I had a doctorate like all of these brethren I so much admire?
February 9, 1981. Today I also helped Hugh Nibley find some bibliographic citations.
March 16, 1981. But just now I’ve prayed and have received the revelation I’ve needed so very much:
My Son, you have taught my brethren so well concerning the most important things in the Gospel, especially of the everlasting atonement. But you need to learn these things better yourself. Verily, your mission on this earth has come into better focus since your testimony to my Seventies on the Sabbath. You have wrongly thought that when your patriarchal blessing said that you bear your testimony wherever you went, it would be to those who have not my Gospel. At this time, my dear Son, your missionary stewardship is to bear your testimony to those who do have my Gospel but who take it for granted, don’t live it, don’t fully understand it, or don’t have an eternal perspective in their lives. Lo, your task is to strengthen your brethren. To do this you do not have to be in high positions at this time, although you can be a positive influence to those who are in high positions in my church. Further, you will be inspired in the writings you shall include amongst those of my humble and willing servant Hugh Nibley, and verily, he shall be an example unto you, not in scholarship, not in discipleship, and not in staying apart from others, but in his willingness to learn truth and his enthusiasm to teach it.
Guard your time on this earth wisely, using as much as possible to write, speak, and bear testimonies of all truth, whether in congregations, small gatherings, newsletters, books, articles or example. Be teachable, and my spirit shall attend you, and your family will help you find the time you need and support you. Be near me always. Repeat the words of your talk yesterday often, for my saints will not find faith or security in pleasure or the things of this world, but in Me, my words, and in doing service to my people daily. Teach love, above all. And be an example yourself, so that your words be not in vain. Finish your tasks at the university so that I may lead you to other fields, when you are ready. Learn from me and my words daily, and your mind shall be filled with truth, your heart with love, your spirit with the mysteries and wonder and joy of the everlasting Gospel which I have restored to the earth at this time. Sing praises to the God who made us all and has given us the light of truth. I make an end at this time.
Oh, my Savior! Thank you so much for these beautiful words to me! May I always keep them in my heart and share the message with others. (Then I sang a spontaneous, joyful song of praise to the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. Oh, may I not forget.) What a night this has been! Oh, how I crave to be alone in pure silence so that I may [more often] hear my Savior answer my prayers! I hope the Lord will grant me the strength to arise earlier so that I may study his word and pray more often. [I was serving as senior president of the Payson Stake Seventies Quorum at the time.]
April 4, 1981. Truman Madsen took my Nibley quote book manuscript to Bookcraft two weeks ago.
April 18, 1981. Bookcraft rejected my Nibley quote book, which means that Truman Madsen will publish it through the Religious Studies Center.
July 23, 1981. One hundred and fifty-three years ago Martin Harris took a copy of some Book of Mormon hieroglyphics to Drs. Samuel Mitchell and Charles Anthon in New York to determine whether the ancient writing was authentic. Today, as well as one afternoon last week, Reno, a Chiricahua Apache, and his friend came to me with a birthright medallion which had been passed on from one generation to another as far back as the Mayan Temples – or so Reno said. Like Samuel C. Mitchell I referred Reno to others who were more versed in ancient writings: Hugh Nibley, Kent Brown, Kent Jackson and David Freedman, but not until I had told ‘chief’ Reno that the inscription looked like a combination of Egyptian, Hebrew, Arabic or Sanskrit – possibly the ancient Mayan language itself, although I had never seen a sample of the writing. This 50-cent piece sized medallion was neither coin, amulet nor talisman but a well-worn object wrapped in a leather pouch and hung about the neck. In fact, it was too worn to be fraudulent, and the opposite side showed a table and a tree much like the facsimile in the Book of Abraham. But the writing was what was interesting to me, in addition to the 49 rungs of the ladder (see next page) and the 54 staves surrounding the main scene. Of the tribe of Gad, Reno told me that Catholic priests refuse to interpret the message for him since they know it will prove that the Indian [Native American] nations originally came from the Near East. Furthermore, he said that Sasquatch (Yeti, Big Foot) are protectors of the tribe of Gad who speak many languages and are mentioned in Job chapter 41. (I sent a copy of the drawing to William F. Macomber at St. John’s University.)
Reno was not a scholar and was certainly not dressed according to BYU standards, but his search and his message were important enough for me to ignore the pouch hung over a bare torso, covered partly by a leather jacket, and the smell of tobacco. His quest was important enough for him, at least, that he recorded every minute detail in his diary (which he showed me) and was able to recount his oral genealogy several generations back. (My name was spelled Gary Gillan!)
Do I take his search seriously and at face value? Or am I to be skeptical and cynical like Charles Anthon was? At this point I shall remain open-minded, perhaps naively so to many who may read these words. But no matter: it was the most exciting reference question I’ve had in years – since “1 million years in a duffle bag”!
July 31, 1981. I had always wondered how Hugh Nibley would respond to my complete index and bibliography of his works. Today I found him in an excellent ‘chatty’ mood and took him to my office after telling him that the ‘surprise’ was too big to bring to him. As he walked into my office he exclaimed, “What hath the gods wrought?” and then wished, after seeming grateful, that he had had use of it before now. Well, all of this boosted my ego for the day. Next, it will be time to show him the Nibley quote book.
As I was compiling the annual report for 1980-81 of the Library Forums Committee, my mind wandered back to the delightful time I had with Gerald Marks in January. He was so effusive in his flattery of my driving, my talents and my sensitivity, but even though he said he would correspond with me and make me a member of ASCAP I have heard not a word from him. I supposed that many people in show biz act that way only to let you down. I’ll take the non-celebrity any time if he is sincere and honest. Nibley, on the other hand, though a celebrity, makes no promises through his words. Rather, he is an alternate conscience, plus much, much more.
August 14, 1981. I presented a complete report to the Professional Development Committee concerning my Hugh Nibley project. The members of the committee raved about it and encouraged me to continue, even though no publisher seemed in view. They even offered assistance from Marilyn on the word processor in the director’s office, to which I siphoned some of the material today. Yesterday, then, Jack Welch, founder of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) and Lavina Fielding Anderson, former assistant editor at the Ensign, met with me in my office to discuss possibilities for the Nibley, share lists with me and ask me to write a Nibley project report for the FARMS newsletter. Enthusiasm was high as I got to know them and them me, two more influential friends in my life. As an editor for the new Signature Press Lavina was almost sure they would publish the Nibley quote book, and she therewith took the manuscript with her to SLC. Jack, on the other hand, wants to get me involved in FARMS and asked me to be the New Testament-Paul-Book of Mormon expert. Thus, a new direction for my Ancient Studies librarianship! (One of these days I’ll get over the feeling of thinking, “What else new can happen in my life?”) Evidence has shown me that exciting things are happening all the time!
October 2, 1981. The other day I asked Nibley what he would think if someone (like me) were to put together excerpts of his lectures into a book for publication. Typically, he replied, “Irresponsible.” And then added with understatement, “Besides, it would be a rather slim volume.” Meanwhile, such a book, my “Nibley Quote Book” is being considered by Signature Books of Salt Lake. I expect to hear from Scott Kenney of the board any day now.
October 14, 1981. This week has come into being with a bang. Monday I hardly had a chance to sit down because of all the running around I had to do. I was amazed when they brought 90 books, newly cataloged and ready to shelve in the Ancient Studies Library. It was my good fortune that Hugh Nibley happened to be in the room when I arrived with them, for he was one 71-year old child perusing these wonderful sets we purchased at the end of the budget year: The Midrash Tancuma, a beautiful reprint of Graetz’s 1891 history of Israel (9 volumes), The Massorah (6 volumes), The Sefer ‘Anukh Ha-Shalem (6 volumes), an 11 volume Babylonian Talmud, and the 50 volume Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae, the long sought-after set that Nibley raved about the most.
Seeing that dear old “Mr. BYU” himself Nibley was in good humor, I remembered my charge from Gifts Librarian LeGrand Baker to approach Nibley on the possibility of his donating all his papers to the BYU library. He was willing, adding that much of it was junk. (But what is one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.) Happy and relieved that this worrisome task was at last accomplished, I contacted Le Grand, who will make the detailed arrangements for housing the Nibleyana.
Tuesday I was asked by my boss [Tony Ferguson] to represent him in a luncheon given in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Atiya, who donated Coptic, Greek, Hebrew, Sahidic, Bohairic and Arabic documents to BYU, from the 6th to 17th centuries, 59 items in all. The Atiyas are from Cairo, although they’ve taught at the University of Utah for the past 22 years. These shards, papyri, parchment and ostrakhans from Middle or Upper Egypt are very valuable for our Ancient Studies collection, and I am tickled to be a part of the process. Mr. Atiya was a gracious man and appreciated the opportunity to donate these items to BYU. It was quite an experience to handle these ancient writings, all hand-written, before they were taken to the vault in Special Collections.
November 17. 1981. Monday at work I received the glad tidings from my editor Lavina Fielding Anderson that Hugh Nibley was encouraging, if not irreverent, about my Nibley quote book whose tentative title is Nibley: Of All Things. Publication date is spring of ‘82. I can hardly wait.
December 9, 1981. The work is nothing but unrelenting these days. Dialogue, Sunstone and BYU Studies all seem to need indexes at the same time, and Signature Press has given me the green light to proceed on my Nibley book, which I am now calling “Nibley: Of All Things.” In connection with Nibley I’ve been given the signal to get from him all I can for the Nibley archives, and I was even interviewed for This People magazine Sheryl Wickman. Nibley’s new book, Abraham in Egypt, has also come out, and I found myself dropping everything else to index it. The bibliography will take some time, however.
I’ve received additional notoriety and respectability from the Ancient Studies people as a result of a story about me in the FARMS Newsletter and through my own small newsletter, “Bibliotheca Litterarum Antiquarum,” which was sent to 30 faculty members who are involved with Ancient Studies. And somehow an apostate named Richard De Witt, a member of Bradley’s Church of the First Patriarch, has come up twice to talk to me and complain to me. I did the best I could with him, and the result was that he found out how false his new religion really was. So now he is coming back into the church. I am grateful to the Spirit for giving me aid in re-directing this ‘otherwise lost’ soul. I didn’t think I would be of any influence.
December 31, 1981. After several days off to work on the introduction to the Nibley book, I relaxed on the last day of the year, catching up on things in the den, and helping David snap together his new Kenworth Aerodyne diesel truck.
January 24, 1982. Nibley once wrote that we are both Kingmen and Freemen. As an example, let me use my mother-in-law, Ruth Ruhland. On the one hand, I would like to wring her neck (or worse). On the other hand, I know it is important to love her, forgive her, and treat her charitably. Another: drunkards, murderers, terrorists, etc. The same thing. Also, I love to get nice and new things, but there are so many people who have less than I do. I’d rather give the money to them. That holds true for the 1980 VW Vanagon we might buy. It’s a nice car, and we need a trade-in for Sebastian [our 1976 VW, purchased on Johann Sebastian Bach’s birthday], but in these days of economic problems it doesn’t seem fair to the others who are not doing well.
February 20, 1982. Last week had to be one of the most hectic of my life. I was not only busy proofing and indexing the Hugh Nibley Of All Things! but editing LaDean Griffin’s monstrous but excellent 600 page book that she wants edited by the end of next week. Naturally the most satisfying of all of this work was the Nibley book. For a change of pace I read Genesis in my Hebrew Bible out loud, imitating David Lurie in Chaim Potok’s book. A neat activity!
February 24, 1982. I have to pick up Nibley galleys.
March 12, 1982. There are some days when I feel grossly unconverted, disconverted or underconverted. Those days make me feel as if I were two distinct persons in a Steppenwolfian manner after Hesse. Such a time was Monday night. The day before, I had just finished the index to my Nibley book, thereby finishing all responsibilities I had for Of All Things! It was as if I had just given birth to a baby, and now it was all over. A letdown. A frustration (post-partum depression?). A part of my hectic life no longer there. The least little problem set me off and flying off the handle. Adina, unfortunately, was the scapegoat, and I regret so much having behaved so much like a beast or wild animal. But it was in me, and had to come out, for some reason. I have never yelled at someone so loud as to become nearly laryngitic, nor slammed a door so hard that everything on my bulletin board became detached and flew to the floor. I gave my leave, slammed the door to the carport, jumped in Caroban, and, at first, drove aimlessly, not knowing where I was to go. But feeling an undeserved pride for the Nibley book, I decided to treat myself to a shake at Jerry’s Dairy in Salem, thanks to the suggestion of Susan Kenney, my publisher’s wife. I ordered peanut butter, and sinfully and alone enjoyed the sweet flavor. Then, almost as a retribution or good deed for one of a dastardly, un-Christian nature, I was inspired to go to Joyce Pulver’s house to see Bobbie, who had been injured on a horse and had ended up in the hospital for three days with 300 stitches in her leg. The time I spent there was fruitful, and I tried to be loving to everyone in the family, even, or especially, the unmarried mother Linda and cute Jeremy.
Homecoming was sweet – such a loving, forgetting and forgiving family I have! Yet I still feel like lecturing them on their childish behavior – and did so, including my own dastardly crimes of childishness. An explosive evening ended oh so peacefully.
March 28, 1982. Of All Things! A Nibley Quote Book is now for sale, but even though I am the editor I have not yet gotten a copy. David Reed of SLC came into my office Friday to photocopy some unpublished Nibley material, and that’s the first chance I had to look at the book. They did a very nice job of publishing it. I am still a bit upset that I haven’t gotten a copy yet, but perhaps this will keep me humble!
May 20, 1982. Last night’s Payson Chronicle had a half page review of my Nibley book. The reviewer, Mike Olsen, said that I performed a great service for Mormondom in compiling it. Also, he called Nibley the Henry David Thoreau of the church.
June 20, 1982. Dr. Larry Shumway and Dr. Tom Mackay have both been good friends to me in the last couple of weeks. I told Larry my goal was to be able to be on my own at home and write. My ego went up a few notches when he told me I was needed by too many people at BYU to hide at home. As far as a PhD is concerned, he felt that someday I’ll deserve an honorary doctorate! Well, I seem to be gaining more and more respect all the time. Part of it might be because of my Book of Mormon bibliography I am compiling for the Book of Mormon encyclopedia project – 1200 cards already. The other is undoubtedly the Nibley book. The other day after watching Ike – The War Years on TV I asked Nibley about June 6 D-Day. He then animatedly began to tell me about not being put on the glider that ended up crashing, instead driving General Pratt’s jeep ashore to Utah Beach, and then hiding out later in a French farmhouse. He cracked me up.
October 3, 1982. Friday I sat next to Hugh Nibley as we listened to Dr. Swelim’s lecture on his excavation of the Sinke pyramid in Egypt. For once Nibley called me by my first name. Earlier in the week Jack Nixon had asked me if I would give a Library Luncheon talk on my Nibley book. Yes!
December 12, 1982. On Friday Jack Nixon of the Library Luncheon Committee asked me to give a presentation on Nibley January 19. I’m debating on whether to call it “Nibley: Some Cornographic and Demosthenian Niblets” or “Some Corny and Lofty Niblets on Nibley.” It’s a presentation I am actually looking forward to. It will be funny!
Christmas Day, 1982. at 8 we all sat in the living room and watched Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in Frank Capra’s meaningful film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I tried to think of some ways I had tried to touch people’s lives. In other words, how would life have gone if I hadn’t been born? Maybe it’s a good thing to consider:
The many religion class students and student employees.
My mother and father, Mike and Mark, grandparents. How much comfort and solace would my mother have had during World War II if she hadn’t had me while Daddy was in Italy?
Lyn might have remained an old maid.
My conversion story in No More Strangers.
My testimonies in Fast and Testimony meetings.
Of All Things! A Nibley Quote Book. Bringing Nibley to the people.
Grant, Adina, Annalyn and Timothy would not have been born.
Betsy would be raising David and Bonnie alone.
Perhaps even my spirit touched some people while I was still a Lutheran.
My spiritual contact with friends and relatives. I think especially of Florence Bale, Ethel Phipps, the Williams, the Harris family, the Ham family, Philip Berry, etc.
Families I have home taught.
Payson City Library board.
I wouldn’t exist!
January 24, 1983. Wednesday noon for the BYU Library Association luncheon I gave my presentation “Cornographic and Demosthenian Nibley.” It was received well by the 20 in attendance. Dean Larsen seemed to like it least, and Robert Espinoza, who is Catholic, the most – for he thanked me the most prolifically.
Feburary 28, 1983. Debbie Boyce, who works in cataloging, told me about her newly converted friend in Philadelphia, Mark Simmons, who wanted to meet me because he liked mine and Hugh Nibley’s writings better than anyone else’s in the church. I didn’t know the Nibley book was giving me such notoriety!
April 3, 1983. About 10 days ago Mimi Fox passed away. She was an old friend of mine, Kent Brown’s and Hugh Nibley’s. She was not only Jewish but an avowed atheist. (I wonder what she’s thinking now! “Hey, this isn’t supposed to be here!”) Oh, we tried so hard just to get her to believe in God! I really sound like I believe there’s an afterlife! But I don’t just believe – I know!!
October 2, 1983. Tuesday Margaret Smoot of KSL News interviewed Hugh Nibley for a Prime-Time Access program next week. I gave her some biographical and bibliographical material on Nibley before she left at 5 to be on the 6 p.m. news. (She didn’t make it.) The next day she interviewed me on the telephone, wanting my feelings about this great man.
October 7, 1983. In the evening we watched Prime-Time Access at 6:30 on KSL. Margaret Smoot interviewed Hugh Nibley and remarked on some of the things I had told her on the telephone. The program was actually a little disappointing. I would have expected more for a great man.
December 1, 1983. Today was one of my favorite days of the semester, despite the fact that the weather outside was so dismal and rainy. First, Karl Bauer of the Daily Universe interviewed me concerning my Nibley material. The article appeared this week in the paper but included nothing on my plea for Nibliophiles to come forth with any Nibleiana they might possess. I was misquoted and the plea for materials from others was replaced by the ad for waterbeds. How disgustipating!! (It was a good article about me.)
July 26, 1984. On Thursday FARMS met, and I discovered that since FARMS now has a contract with Deseret Book they want to publish all of Hugh Nibley’s works in several volumes. I imagine there’s going to be quite a bit of editing to do in all of that.
September 8, 1984. I hired a Singhalese girl from Sri Lanka, Jeyanthy Ponnuthurai, to take Anna Damien’s place typing the Nibley bibliography A through K, of which I just finished and gave to FARMS and the Religious Studies Center.
September 23, 1984. I think I am resolved to my not being the music librarian, for at the FARMS meeting I was given the total green light to begin preparing Hugh Nibley’s works for a volume of his early writings, then later volumes as I can. I will be head of a committee made up of myself, Jim Gordon, Janet Twigg and Don Norton. The collected works will be published by Deseret Book as soon as we finish arranging, editing, correcting, etc. I hope Tony will allow me the time to finish up the Nibley materials.
October 28, 1984. Everything is going ahead full speed on the Nibley collected works. I’ve met twice with the committee, and we are now attempting to solve the problem on whether to have a topical or chronological arrangement. For that purpose Jack Welch and I are going to Deseret Book on Tuesday to meet with the editor. I feel privileged to be involved in the project. Almost overwhelming!
November 4, 1984. Jack and I met with Deseret Book’s Vice President Ron Millett and Chief Editor Eleanor Knowles. All of my work on Nibley paid off, for they accepted the committee’s suggestion to publish a 16- volume complete works of Nibley. Hence, they gave Jack and me the green light to work on a project which will probably be the most scholarly large project Deseret Book has ever undertaken.
November 25, 1984. I have felt trapped or cornered this week, as it looks more and more like the Nibley project is an intrusion into an already full life of family and professional responsibilities. So far I don’t know of an escape. I hope the trip to San Francisco this week will be an outlet to help me get my head on straight so that I can think of alternatives. There simply aren’t enough hours left in the day. Sensing ‘impending doom’ with the Nibley, I joyfully finished typing a 23-page family history on my Macintosh at home.
December 12, 1984. Wednesday at 11 I gave my religion final, and some students wrote some nice comments concerning my teaching. In the afternoon Sue Bergin of BYU Today interviewed me regarding the Nibley works.
January 20, 1985. What with the Nibley works, Madsen’s mammoth concordance to the writings of Joseph Smith, the index to John Sorenson’s book on Mesoamerica and the editing of my Book of Mormon bibliography, I nearly have two jobs.
February 3, 1985. Saturday Betsy and I drove Joe’s pick-up truck to Provo for me to take part in the Sidney Sperry Symposium, where I gave my paper “Repentance Also Means Re-Thinking.” At the dinner beforehand Robert J. Matthews, Dean, asked me to serve on a committee to honor Hugh Nibley’s 75th birthday in March. I felt honored to be asked to serve!
February 15, 1985. Friday morning I met as part of the University Committee for BYU’s celebration of Nibley’s 75th birthday. I feel honored to be a part of it, along with LaMar Barrett, Keith Meservy, Al Christie, and Peter Johnson. Not to be a boast, but I had the most ideas: The Hugh Nibley Ancient Studies Library, Honors involvement & bookstore. Best of all, Betsy and I will be at the March 27 birthday dinner with the Nibleys, President Holland, and Neal A. Maxwell, who will be the main speaker.
I had an inspiring and uplifting talk with Hugh Nibley (he was in a priceless & reflective mood) about his across-the-veil experience when he had appendicitis and was clinically dead. It indeed helped his perspective towards life. His wife had had a similar experience. They told her at the registration desk on the other side of the veil that she wasn’t done yet on earth – that she had children to bring forth (8 altogether). I related my own experience to him. He also told me he had written several poems before his mission and would like to see them in his collected works. And here I didn’t even know he had written poetry! What a wonderful day!
March 29, 1985. I’ve actually edited two of Nibley’s articles for publication. And speaking of Nibley, the university celebrated his 75th birthday on Wednesday the 27th. Having been on the committee to celebrate, I put up a Nibley display in the library, compiled the invitation lists for the birthday party, and greeted everyone at the door to the party, including Apostles Oaks and Maxwell and President Holland. (And of course the Nibleys and their family.) Betsy and I sat with Curtis Wright and his wife and John Lundquist and his wife. Nibley was a real card tonight & we sat next to him and Phyllis Nibley at the premiere showing of the Nibley documentary, “The Faith of an Observer.” It was a wonderful film. I both laughed and cried.
May 2, 1985. Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) gave me a grant of $250 monthly to work on the Nibley collected works at home.
May 5, 1985. What a week this has been! Busy as usual and full of Nibley’s works – getting them ready for publication at Deseret Book. Two days I spent correcting and retyping 390 of his footnotes in his Enoch series, “A Strange Thing in the Land.”
July 7, 1985. Most of the day I had spent at home working on Nibley, on my Book of Mormon symposium paper, and reading the textbook for the General Education seminar I had attended all morning.
July 10, 1985. How I yearn still to be a full-time teacher! Two experiences in the past couple of weeks have reaffirmed this feeling. One was teaching the Elders Quorum lesson on the spur of the moment. (I can do it!) The other is teaching the 595R Near Eastern Bibliography class and being asked to serve as part of the Near Eastern Studies faculty – even to serving on graduate committees. My class is made up of 11 seminary teachers from San Diego, Tennessee and Salt Lake City. They are a great bunch, with little knowledge in some cases, but with a considerable amount of zeal and enthusiasm. They’ve all become potential friends. And the topics they have chosen for their papers are great. Last Tuesday I brought them all freshly-picked cherries from our family picking at Albert Payne’s orchard. I also gave some to Hugh Nibley, who the next day came down to Payson and picked some himself.
August 11, 1985. One day in the past week I finished editing Nibley’s Abraham in Egypt for publication. Now for the footnotes.
August 23, 1985. I stayed home from work all last week. Here are some of the things I accomplished: 1) Completion of “Nephi and His Brothers: Archetypes of Human Temperament.” 2) Revision of the first 7 chapters of “A Journey to Light,” my novel. 3) Staining the fence out front. 4) Finish painting and varnishing of kitchen, halls, etc. 5) Work on most of Nibley’s “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price.”
September 6, 1985. I spent a lot of time on my days off doing Nibley and playing with Tim.
November 25, 1985. The big event of the day, however, was giving the 4-stake fireside in the evening on “Ramses II, Egypt and Hugh Nibley.” There were 150 to 200 people in attendance, and they seemed to enjoy my introductory talk on Ramses II, now at BYU, and the film on Nibley, “The Faith of an Observer.” We got rid of a lot of handouts that night.
December 29, 1985. One thing that dampened my holiday spirits somewhat was the rejected return of my novel “Journey to Light” from Horizon Publishers. The editors really enjoyed the book and were awestruck by it but felt it was above the reading level of most people and therefore would not sell. I’ve decided to try Signature Books next, since they did my Nibley quote book.
January 1, 1986. I was so impressed by Superman that I watched the movie again this afternoon with the children instead of working on Nibley. It’s uncanny how like the Gospel the movie was, and the use of the crystals for a library is just like the one in my novel A Journey to Light.
January 2, 1986. I finished the Nibley Old Testament volume index three hours ago and mailed it at the post office. How wonderful to know that the first volume of these projected 14 volumes will be published in a few short weeks!
January 11, 1986. While we sat down in the kitchen eating our homemade enchilada casserole, somehow the subject of devil worship and the telestial, terrestrial and celestial kingdoms came up. Bonnie was very receptive, and the rest of the kids, sans Timmy, were all ears. “Why should we mess up our eternities by some stupid, foolish mistakes we make here?” Afterwards I went back to the study to work on Nibley’s The World and the Prophets. While discussing Prophets and Martyrs Nibley quoted 1 Peter 4: 12: “ Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.” As I read this I received not only comfort for my own sufferings and pain but a revelation concerning why so many of us Latter-day Saints suffer. When we are asked to partake of Christ’s sufferings, we are being asked in small measure to help atone for the sins of others. Our own pain and suffering cannot save anyone, but we are nevertheless using the example of Christ to at least feel as He feels, and therefore becoming ourselves more Christ-like in our sensitivity, tolerance, and caring towards others. Oh, what a comfort that gives me! And not only Christ, but Joseph Smith went through much more than I ever shall. Are my theories correct? They feel good.
January 13, 1986. The rest of the day I spent finishing the editing of Nibley’s The World and the Prophets, therefore reading it once again, just like I did all of the Nibley articles two weeks ago in the first volume of the collected works, The Old Testament and Related Studies. Too much of the time I spent peering out of the window at the awful fog and snow grains coming down out of the sky. Out of the entire United States, only the Wasatch Front is having this infernal fog!
January 21, 1986. And of course yesterday was the CAT scan day, after which I was going to work on Nibley at home. But lo and behold, I had forgotten the application disk for the computer. So I basically relaxed all day until Payson Civic Chorale in the evening. Meanwhile, Betsy and I talked about contingency plans if she should die. But she won’t!
February 28, 1986. Friday was really a good day for Betsy, lousy for me. I could hardly believe for part of today that Betsy was really ill. Only the sun outside really told the toll with Betsy’s yellow skin. I got three hours of Nibley done today, really proud of myself.
March 7, 1986. Friday morning I was able to get a lot of Nibley typed on the computer while Mom and Dad worked outside listening to my Mantovani tape through my office door. (That’s how balmy the weather has been.)
March 8, 1986. Saturday was an unbelievably productive day for me. I not only finished 5 hours worth of Nibley, I did a few things around the house and helped Betsy. She is really doing quite well and did a lot herself. Could these be the last few days of relatively good health before the end?
March 18, 1986. About a month ago Betsy was talking to me about how remarkable the day Lyn’s passing was, all those sevens in July 7, 1977. She felt that there was some significance behind that and wondered if she would pass away on an equally remarkable day. Besides the fact that she passed away two weeks to the day after Paul Jordan’s wife who died of the same kind of cancer, Betsy died at 45 [years old] (4+5=9), on the 18th day of March (1+8=9) and on the full date of March 18, 1986 (3+1+8+1+9+8+6=36=3+6=9). In Jewish gematria and even in the secular study of numerology, the number 9 is a very significant number, representing spiritual matters.
April 6, 1986. Conference was inspiring, and I was surprised when Pres. Hinckley read the flyleaf of the new Nibley volume [The Old Testament and Related Studies], quoting how much of a scriptorian Nibley is, plus his knowledge of Shakespeare.
April 26, 1986. Today was considerably better than yesterday. I even felt like I could get some decent work done, without feeling that I had come to just waste time in self-pity. I worked on Nibley’s Abraham in Egypt most of the day, forced to take a break when NOTIS went down for awhile. In fact, Hugh Nibley even spent about 20 minutes in my office trying to verify a bibliographic citation – unsuccessfully.
Saturday was hectic beyond belief! It was one of those days when I more than empathized with my housewife sisters in the gospel – fully understanding what they are going through. By the time I got six loads of wash done and vacuumed every room downstairs, besides catching up on the mail and running interference for the children, I found that I still had not done the kitchen floor. Add to that road show practice at noon, and I had a frustrating day – a day when I would like to have gotten something done on Nibley. (I haven’t been able to spend one minute on my Nibley moonlighting all month.) Yet the road show practice was just what I needed to relax.
May 1, 1986. Have you ever felt so much anticipation and eagerness for something that it was difficult to do what you were supposed to? I fought this tendency all day long, and did a much better job at coping with the problem than I have before, working both on Nibley and the World Classics Collection.
May 11, 1986. I did briefly say something to a girl named Katie Wright, but now I am too shy to even call her. I feel so low that I think only the Lord could cheer me up! I just don’t want to start a new week without a single prospect for the entire week. Actually, I got up enough courage after I wrote the above words to call Katie after all. We talked for nearly 45 minutes, during which time I discovered she was in interior design and has a 12 year old girl with Downs syndrome. She is the only girl I have met who is a Nibley fan, and she will be coming up to my office on Tuesday to borrow my Nibley videotape. I went to bed feeling a lot better.
May 14, 1986. Today was a really hectic day because of all the work I had to do – interviews for the Jerusalem Center, the Medieval Studies assessment, and Nibley work. It was actually a very fulfilling day, the kind where you feel good about the work you’re doing.
May 15, 1986. At 1 we had a FARMS Nibley project meeting to see how things were going on the volumes.
May 20, 1986. Today I stayed home because of Annalyn’s birthday party at home and at school. I cleaned up several things in the house first thing in the morning before doing 3 hours of Nibley in the book and on the computer. While working I listened to some tapes that had been recorded by the family during past Christmases and Easters. It was wonderful to hear Betsy’s voice, but at the same time it still didn’t feel real that she is gone from us for now. The tapes where she talked with Annalyn and Timmy were especially precious! Her own dear children! After lunch the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra did Verdi’s Requiem. I had some deep feelings surface while listening to that peace, not just because it is a mass for the dead, but because I heard it live with Mom and Dad in Garmisch, Germany in 1966. It caused me to think back 20 years to reflect upon all the things life has brought me. I wonder what is ahead of me. I often wish I could see into the future.
May 21, 1986. At home I managed to get one hour of Nibley done on the computer before I went to the City Council meeting to help represent the library in its needs. Then I went to ward choir practice in the stake center, where we were getting ready for stake conference. Again, it was good to be able to sing.
September 14, 1986. At work I discovered how far behind on the Nibley I really was, and on Friday Dr. Roger Keller, formerly a Presbyterian minister in Mesa, Arizona, came to the office to thank me for being such a great influence in his conversion to the Church. He is now teaching Comparative Religion classes at BYU.
March 20, 1987. Taught Camille Williams’ Philosophy 105 class how to use reference tools for doing scriptural exegesis. I was brimming over with excitement and enthusiasm in teaching the class. Several of the students milled around talking to me for another 30 minutes about sources, Nibley, and Book of Mormon research. Very seldom have I felt more fulfilled about teaching a class of any kind. Most of the students were very appreciative of the things I was teaching them.
July 31, 1987. Mike Lyon, a friend of mine from Denver’s Museum of Natural History, stopped in to see me at 12:30. Apparently I am one of his favorite people and one whose autobiography he would love to read. I consider him one of my closest friends as far as understanding goes. I only wish he lived considerably closer than he does. He also added that I had served the Church very well with my work on Nibley.
February 2, 1988. Louis Midgley talked to me about Hugh Nibley.
April 1, 1988. Worked on Abraham in Egypt and my personal bibliography. I fielded a reference question today concerning a quote about Darius and Alexander the Great. Church offices called concerning this Nibley quote for Pres. Monson’s talk during priesthood conference. I found it in Nibley’s Abraham in Egypt, p. 192. I will listen for it in conference tomorrow night.
April 7, 1988. Nibley archive.
April 12, 1988. My Nibleyphile colleague Chaplain Foley called from Ft. Lewis, Washington, wanting some temple material from Nibley’s writings. Everyone would like to know what Nibley says about the temple, but the material is too sacred to let the public see. I read Nibley’s “Law of Consecration” paper today and was very filled with the spirit of what he is bearing witness to.
April 15, 1988. Before I went into [Wilfred] Griggs’ office I remarked to Nibley that he had two secretaries going. He responded with: “Origen had 7 working for him.” Griggs then said: “And all writing. Right?” Nibley at 77 still has a sense of humor.
April 20, 1985. The Utah Valley Symphony Orchestra dinner was at 7 p.m. tonight in the Eldredge Center in Provo. All of the musicians, along with their spouses, were invited and in attendance. The theme was a Hawaiian Luau, and the food was not only catered, it was home-cooked and very good. The performing group was good and funny and managed to get us all doing the hula in one number. The Hawaiian War Chant and the Hawaiian Wedding Song were the only numbers familiar to me. Hugh Nibley was there at the dinner with his wife Phyllis.
April 29, 1988. Do the apocrypha index for Since Cumorah. Called FARMS re Approach to the Book of Mormon. Brent McNeeley came to see me about Abraham in Egypt. Reformation and Judaism bibliographies. (All of the above-mentioned books are by Hugh Nibley.)
May 20, 1988. I am so tired of Abraham in Egypt dragging on so long that I determined to get it behind me today.5 Consequently I spent about 5 hours running my legs off in the library looking up these blasted Nibley footnotes. Next week I will check with Nibley on a few stubborn ones, and then I’ll be done with it – I hope.
June 2, 1988. Met with Nibley concerning Abraham in Egypt.
June 8, 1988. When I called Nibley to try to reschedule a session to talk to him about Abraham in Egypt, he grumbled about salvaging some messed-up footnotes for his book on facsimile no. 2 [his forthcoming One Eternal Round, which was still not complete when he died in 2005.] He then said he should be on vacation like everyone else – that he hadn’t been out of Provo in three years. Here he is retired for 12 years now and works as hard as any employee of the university I know! He sounds and looks so tired. Occasionally I get the funny feeling that I will never get to check the footnotes with him. But no – he’ll be with us for some time yet.
June 9, 1988. Today was a remarkable day. Among the gift books upstairs was a curious paperback by Claude Vorilhon Raël called The Message Given to Me by Extra-Terrestrials in which the author relates a Joseph Smith-like experience with Deity and the injunction to write a book with a message for all mankind. The message is that we were created scientifically by Elohim on another world far distant and are being tested and tried to see whether we can keep certain laws in order to have eternal life. Many of the doctrines ring true to Mormonism, which is mentioned in the book as being close to the truth. “We were made in the image of Elohim.” Some of the passages were remarkably similar to my novel “Journey to Light” and to the near death experiences I had in 1963. As the day passed I was also reading Nibley quotes concerning the temple, and many of the descriptions fit Raël’s book. I don’t know what to make of the book. Parts of it were so exciting and full of deja vu that my body tingled in recognition of truth.
June 27, 1988. I ran into Hugh Nibley in the hallway. The conversation immediately turned to the weather and the excessive (for Utah) humidity. After telling me that the over active sunspot activity on the sun was causing an eleven-year drought cycle, he reminded me that these were the last days and that we should start behaving ourselves. Unfortunately, for a lot of people the calamities of the last days won’t make them any better. “They will become more desperate,” says Nibley.
July 7, 1988. Transcribed Nibley’s “Stage without a Play.”
August 8, 1988. Talked to Nibley about some of his footnotes in Abraham in Egypt.
August 17, 1988. This is the second performance of “Together Again,” Janie Thompson’s BYU Program Bureau reunion of her 1950s groups. Signe is one of the six Y-o-lins, performing on the same stage with former Engemann Trio, Lettermen, and Glen Miller band members. I am so proud of her, not only to see her perform on the violin, but to see her dancing and singing during the production numbers. I’m proud to be married to her, and she, in turn, is impressed by how faithful I’ve been to accompany her to rehearsals and to be supportive of her in the program. My seat neighbor to the left turned out to be Heinz Hubler, the balancer’s wife. We talked about Nibley and other things before the performance began. And what a performance! It brought tears to my eyes, even though I’m not even an alumnus of the group. The audience gave them a standing ovation at the end. Well-deserved for these grandmothers and grandfathers.
August 24, 1988. Today was a wonderful day! I spent more time with Hugh Nibley locating stray footnotes. It is always enlightening being with this great man, who was quoted at length by President Holland on Monday and who helped me find the Jewish source for the legend that Eliezer was Black. (He was Abraham’s slave.) I finished editing (on disk) the first two chapters of Abraham in Egypt. Lucy and Kathryn were up in my office today finishing some BYU business before school starts next week, and I helped them find some books for their classes. I also learned how to use the Scripture index and spent an hour looking for a Nibley footnote in a Fraktur German book, Lebens Abrahams.
August 25, 1988. Another RED LETTER day! For nearly five years I have been trying to get Nibley’s Abraham in Egypt edited. Today was the last time I had to bother Nibley with stray footnotes. From here on I merely need to make corrections on the computer disks and return them to Jack Welch and FARMS.
August 30, 1988. Talked to Nibley about the Bremner-Rhind papyrus. I had wondered whose class I would sit in on this semester to refresh my intellectual curiosity and help with my professional development in religion. It so happened that I ran into Wilfred Griggs this morning and discovered that he was teaching a class in early Christian history. I asked his permission to audit, and he consented willingly. We will be reading Eusebius, Nibley and W.H.C. Frend.
September 1, 1988. I’m getting ever closer to finishing the Nibley Abraham in Egypt volume. And it’s such a good feeling.
September 2, 1988. I worked with Nibley on footnotes again today, mostly with the Bremner-Rhind Papyrus. He was so excited to read the Egyptian hieroglyphics that he went far beyond simply translating the relevant spots. And here I was trying to get done! Nevertheless, I enjoyed the hour with him.
September 6, 1988. Checked Nibley’s Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri; printed out footnotes to Abraham in Egypt after adding diacritical marks. After nearly five years of editing I finally finished the editing of Nibley’s Abraham in Egypt and turned it into Fran Clark and FARMS.
September 7, 1988. Checked material for Pearl of Great Price volume of Nibley’s.
September 8, 1988. Signature Books is getting rid of the remainder of their copies of my Nibley quote book, Of All Things, without notifying me. I called Ron at the publisher, and he is considering giving me the book’s rights so that perhaps FARMS can publish it as a paperback for contributors. Jack Welch agreed with me later.
September 9, 1988. Pat Ward, Nibley’s secretary, told me two very interesting stories about Nibley today. One was following his baptism of Kresimir Cosic before his temple endowments. Being 7’5”, Beehive Clothing naturally had nothing in stock with his size. But when he walked in with Brother Nibley, the Relief Society sisters were astounded, now knowing why they made the oversize suit the night before, which fit Kresimir to a tee. The other story is how a Hopi matriarch took Nibley surreptitiously to an underground Kiva and not only showed his frescoes on the wall unknown to almost all white men, but the Hopi stone as well, which is similar to the Egyptian emerald stone.
September 16, 1988. The dream I had about Nibley and Picasso was one of the longest I can remember having. (Actually, Nibley and Picasso were the same person and changed often. It was a dream worthy of a novel.)
September 23, 1988. Memo to Pres. Jeffrey Holland concerning my proposal for a Nibley Ancient Studies Library. I later called Randy Olsen about my idea to have the Ancient Studies Library named after Hugh Nibley. He liked the idea and said he would bring it up in Administrative Council.
September 30, 1988. Except for the one appointment at 3 p.m. this afternoon, my calendar was free of anything! Look at it now – mostly people coming to see me concerning the Nibley project – all out-of-towners here for conference. Chaplain Jim Foley and his wife are here from Ft. Lewis, Washington. We have corresponded with each other for several years, and now it was wonderful to talk to him about Nibley and the temple. Steve Kissling asked about Nibley, too, but mostly he was here to sing my praises for all the good work I had done on the Nibley volumes and quote book. Bill Knecht, a lawyer from California, and who has been writing to me about the possibility of doing a comprehensive index to Nibley’s works, asked me specific questions about indexing and ways to use the computer.
The administrative council liked my idea about the Hugh Nibley Ancient Studies Library. It will first have to go through proper channels.
October 3, 1988. Copied Nibley temple handout for Priesthood Lesson Sunday.
October 7, 1988. When I went down to get some copies picked up this morning, I retrieved an aged copy of The Autobiography of Joseph Justus Scaliger that had been waiting for me for some time. An indexer, linguist and copyist born in France and living in Leiden, Holland until his death in 1609, he was an autodidact [self-taught person] of the highest order and one of my favorite people. Nibley feels that he is one of the best scholars the world has ever seen, except perhaps Aristotle and Plato. In defense of the drudgery of my indexing, I discovered this quote from Prof. George Foot Moore, speaking at Harvard in 1925: “It requires more scholarship to make a good index than to write the book that is indexed.” That made me feel pretty good.
October 24, 1988. Finished Nibley Interlibrary Loan list and printed them for Ricks and me.
October 25, 1988. Called Stephen Ricks and Signature Books re Of All Things paperback possibility.
October 28, 1988. Stephen Ricks talked to me about getting rights from Signature Books to republish my Nibley Quote book through FARMS.
November 27, 1988. Home teaching is a test of discipleship and faith and is priesthood compassionate service and caring. [Following these words in my journal was a circle representing what Hugh Nibley calls “the Nephite disease.” Because it is a graphic representation, I will just give the words here.]
Prosperity > Godlike society (Love of God and man) > Pride, trusting in the arm of man > Rejecting God > Withdrawal of the Spirit > Social upheaval > Anger and hatred > Destruction
Sorrow and humility > Repentance > Blessing > Prosperity
December 15, 1988. Called Jack Welch about Nibley’s Prophetic Book of Mormon volume.
December 23, 1988. [Two Nibley gems:]“All sin is a form of suicide,” and “Sin is that which diminishes the glory of God.”
February 3, 1989. Tried to use the scanner for Nibley’s Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri. Called FARMS concerning Nibley books for Ancient Studies.
March 9, 1989. Looked for suitable paper for the Nibley festschrift. Decided upon my “Repentance also Means Rethinking.”
March 11, 1989. Called Stephen Ricks about Curtis Wright’s paper for the Nibley festschrift.
March 15, 1989. Call Sister Wadham about a Nibley festschrift contribution from Rex.
March 27, 1989. Talked to Avraham Gileadi about Jones and cold fusion, the RLDS “Chronicles of the Nephites,” Isaiah, and the Nibley festschrift.
April 10, 1989. Called Stephen Ricks about Nibley negatives. They had been thrown out.
April 26, 1989. Checked with Boyd Petersen about Nibley’s personal library.
May 8, 1989. Checked with Nibley about the Pearl of Great Price documents.
July 1, 1989. [At Margaret Yazzie’s wedding in Dinnebeto, Navajo Nation.] While everyone mingled and chatted afterwards, I found the medicine man, Lorenzo, by himself, so I seized this opportunity to learn from him. Knowing about the experiences Hugh Nibley once had with the Hopi and Navajo, I asked him how he learned. A discussion about animal totems and astronomy then ensued. Suddenly I knew how Abraham learned about the heavens, for this supposedly unlearned man knew some things about the universe that I had never learned in books. He also talked about the native peoples of South America and their connection to his own people – as well as the Mongolian Athabascan language group which was similar to his own tongue. And finally, he talked about the ‘sacred four’ and the four cardinal points of the compass, as well as the colors, elements, seasons, emotions, and activities of his people which corresponded to the ‘four.’ (And none of these people were Latter-day Saints.)
July 14, 1989. Talked to Don Norton about Nibley folklore. Later, at a FARMS party at Jack Welch’s, we all witnessed Nibley quoting Shakespeare as he looked at Rock Canyon and the beautiful mountains.
October 13, 1989. Called Ken Godfrey about Nibley “Endowment History.”
October 26, 1989. Tom Rogers came to talk to me about Nibley and C.S. Lewis.
December 1, 1989. Vol. 9 of the Nibley collected works, Approaching Zion, is finally in print. Everyone is excited to see this wonderful volume – which will be read by many. But after Signe and I went to the pizza party to celebrate its arrival and to pick up my complimentary copy, I became upset when I noticed that the volume lacked a scripture index! Back in October Jack Lyon of Deseret Book called to ask me how I was coming with the index. I told him I hadn’t see page proofs or galley proofs yet. He said he was going to call FARMS and find out the status. I never heard anything more, assuming that someone at Deseret Book was doing it. I therefore determined that at work next week I will do a scripture index and have it ready for those going to the Nibley autograph party next Wednesday.
December 11, 1989. Murray Moore and his wife from Texas came in to talk to me about Nibley and Zion.
December 21, 1989. Boyd Petersen came to see me and left the following message: “I will be in town until the 8th of January and would like to chat briefly concerning my Nibley project. Would greatly appreciate a call. Thanks. Sincerely, Boyd.”12
January 3, 1990. Boyd Petersen came to the office to talk to me about his father-in-law and whether I had any Nibleiana I could let him use. He is returning to my office tomorrow to look through my files. He informed me that Dr. Eugene Campbell quit his post at Signature Books when Signature published my quote book. Presumably it was because he felt Nibley was not a scholar.
January 9, 1990. Boyd talked to me some more about Nibley and gave me copies of his letters to Klaus Baer at Chicago.
January 10, 1990. This afternoon I talked to Nibley and to Wally Whipple about the Czechoslovakian prophecy of John A. Widtsoe. Both felt it was true. I called the LDS history library to discover whether they had discovered anything authoritative about it. The rest is enclosed here on this page – or may end up in my 1990 file in the office. [The church could not verify its authenticity and recommended that it not be cited.] Following is a detailed account of my talk with Brother Nibley:
I approached Hugh Nibley asking for his authoritative opinion on the Widtsoe
prophecy concerning Czechoslovakia and the Slavic nations. He remarked that
he was conservative and not lent to making bold statements unless there was
really some substance to it. Therefore, Nibley felt that the Widtsoe prophecy has
such truthfulness in it. Dr. Widtsoe was the one responsible for getting Nibley
at BYU, and it was following a conversation with Widtsoe that Nibley vowed to
marry the first girl he met in Provo. This is the first time I have actually heard
this come from the lips of Nibley himself.
Widtsoe also asked Nibley, in connection with their conversation about
missionary work in Eastern Europe, if he knew any Russian. Nibley replied in
the affirmative, whereupon Widtsoe challenged Nibley to keep current on his
Russian, for he would need it some day. Nibley then lived for a short time in
some apartments near Temple Square after he met a Ukrainian and spoke
Russian with him, for he told the man he would give him one penny for each
English work that slipped out, and two pennies for each Russian mistake.
Then Nibley told me about the small, official Leningrad branch of the
church in the Soviet Union and of his Soviet friend Nikotin, who studied many
religions from different reference sources and decided on his own, without
ever reading the Book of Mormon, that Mormonism had to be the truest religion.
It was a delightful conversation with Hugh Nibley, and he was just as
excited about the political and economic changes occurring the Eastern Europe
and the Soviet Union as I am.
Melinda told me of an acquaintance of hers who knows Spanish and
Russian fluently who was originally called to teach Spanish at the MTC. She
is now teaching Russian instead, to prepare missionaries for the Baltic states
of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, who even now are seeking independence
from the Soviet Communist party.
Rebecca has put in papers for the mission in May. She attended a
prospective missionary conference recently in the Provo Tabernacle in which
Apostle Ballard said that LDS missionaries would be in Russia within a year’s
February 4, 1990. At 2 Signe and I set up for the Utah Valley Symphony Young Artists concert for the Senior Citizens at the Eldred Center. I sat a mere six feet from the soloists. Again, they all amazed me. Talking to Hugh Nibley afterwards, he said he didn’t know whether he could tell the difference on a recording whether Richter, Horowitz or one of these talented girls did it. Signe was also very impressed.
February 11, 1990. Brother Kiessling praised me highly for my work with Nibley.
February 13, 1990. Sent to Stephen Ricks my article on repentance for the Nibley Festschrift and my book review on A Sure Foundation to Dan Peterson.
March 27, 1990. I was proud to be part of the 80th birthday dinner of Hugh Nibley a few days ago. Mom and I and about 50 other people who contributed to a volume honoring Nibley were there in the Wilkinson Center. Apostle Neal A. Maxwell was there, too. There were people from California and New York, as well as Utah and other places.
March 30, 1990. Elbert Peck called about Nibley and Plotting Zion.
April 10, 1990. Stephen Ricks today gave me my complimentary copy of By Study and Also by Faith, the Nibley Festschrift, in whose second volume I have an article. (It will be out in June.) This was a significant day to get this volume since Nibley had a lot to do with some of the changes in the temple endowment.
December 13, 1990. Last night Signe and I were treated to an engagement dinner at Sizzlers by Adina. Also present were Matt and his parents. Matt is having a difficult time getting ready for his mission. Tomorrow his Dad is leaving for Saudi Arabia with the reserves, and the doctor he was supposed to get his missionary exam from is going there too, so he has to change all of that. On top of that, he has to get some dental work done. Matt and Adina are clearly very much in love, and we are happy for them. Furthermore, Matt’s parents are delightful to be around and are both Hugh Nibley fans.
December 19, 1990. Nibley came into my office to talk.
April 8, 1991. [From a letter to my son Grant who was serving in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission.] Monday night I showed the Hugh Nibley film to a singles fireside and talked about the man himself. Thursday I had the great opportunity to give the only faculty tribute to this great man when he received BYU’s Exemplary Manhood Award. What a privilege it was, and the tribute I made was almost entirely inspired. I needed help on it so desperately that I had to go the Lord for help. Many told me that it was the most eloquent thing I have ever said. Nibley was even pleased by what I said about him. I guess he’s probably the most exemplary earthly man alive for me. (Do you know any Nibley fans there in Durham?)
Tonight I gave a Family Home Evening with singles by showing the Nibley film.
August 28, 1991. Clean up Nibley computer files.
September 16, 1991. FARMS may be reprinting my Nibley quote book as an incentive for the Nibley series.
September 19, 1991. Photocopied Nibley letters. [Nibley’s secretary, Pat Ward, made the suggestion.]
September 29, 1991. Do you want a copy of my Nibley quote book? I remember you saying that you ran into someone back there on your mission who was interested in Hugh Nibley. I can send you several copies, if you want, because when the reprinting comes out I will have plenty more.
February 9, 1992. [From a letter to Grant.] Your mission is an excellent time to consider your plans for your life, by using the advice given in D&C 9:9. I wish I had had advice like that when I was your age. I was reading some Nibley the other day where he said that there are two things that LDS kids are no longer being taught in the church. One is that we have a guardian angel watching over us and at times giving us guidance (much like Clarence in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’) The other is that our covenants and actions and thoughts are being recorded on the other side. That scares the living daylights out of me since I have done some embarrassing and regretful things in my life. Also, remember that of the covenants you have made in your life you have made to men: they were all covenants made with you Father in Heaven!
February 14, 1992. Finished Nibley quotes for the book.
February 19, 1992. Gave the Nibley quotes to Stephen Ricks for publication.
March 4, 1992. Don Parry told me today that Deseret Book will be publishing my Nibley quote book.
March 8, 1992. [From a letter to our son Karl, serving in the Portugal Lisbon North Mission.] Your question about guardian angels. Look in the topical guide to your triple under Angels. Do you see the many references to ministering angels? And read D&C 107:18 and 19. I trust Hugh Nibley; and not only that, I know they exist from my own experiences. That’s the key. Get your own testimony. On everything! Karl, this is Mom. I agree with Dad 100%.
April 1, 1992. Label Nibley tapes.
April 26, 1992. This week I will finish proofreading my expanded Nibley quote book. Everyone is raving about it (more now than with the first edition in 1981). The manuscript will go to Deseret Book, where they plan on a wide distribution so as to catch all of the readers who want to read Nibley at his best. I am more thrilled with it this time than I was the first time.
June 10, 1992. Nibley quote book rejected by Deseret Book.
October 17, 1992. Attended Nibley lecture at 7 p.m. in the ELWC.
November 16, 1992. [From a letter to sent to Karl and Lucy, both serving in Portugal Lisbon.] Nibley teaches that the most important things we must do in this life are to forgive and to repent. Our eternal life depends on how well we do.
December 23, 1992. Take Nibley quote book galleys to FARMS. [FARMS and Deseret Book will jointly publish the book.]
January 13, 1993. It has been an exciting week. My Nibley quote book came out, and the BYU bookstore has placed it in three different locations. Deseret Book and FARMS are doing a big push on advertising, so it should go well. They have really done a nice job on the book.
March 10, 1993. Shirley Ricks met with me at 4 concerning Nibley’s Abraham in Egypt (the second edition I am working on).
August 11, 1993. Took my Nibley original papers to Archives.
January 12, 1994. A disturbing phone call from Brent Hall at FARMS today. A friend of his purchased a Mercer Egyptology book at Zion’s Bookstore in Salt Lake and was surprised that it had left the BYU library, the title being one that Nibley had mentioned to him was very valuable. I was surprised, too, and called Howard Bybee in gifts and Carol Knight in cataloging (she was the one who had helped re-classify the Mercer collection). It wasn’t long before the entire library had heard of the supposedly purloined Mercer books for sale in Salt Lake City! I hope that by the end of the week I have some answers.
February 6, 1994. Dr. Cornelia Madsen was having Hugh Nibley autograph my quote book afterwards when I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him how much Cornelia was paying him! He responded by saying that he hasn’t read the book yet (his own quotes!) but that maybe he will go home and read it tonight – that his wife Phyllis has a copy! What a funny but humble man!
April 1, 1994. A President Stewart from Florida asked a good question first thing this morning: “What is the history of monotheism?” I referred him to Nibley’s works and B.H. Roberts’ book The Truth, the Way, and the Life.
A student earlier this week also had an intriguing question. She wanted to trace the LDS concept of charity as the pure love of Christ in the New Testament. I showed her how άγάπη (agapē) is the Greek word for Godly love and χάρις (charis) the root word of charity. One of the definitions of χάρις is “joy.” Thus, we discovered that when the D&C says “Man is that he might have joy,” it means “Man is that he might have the pure love of Christ.”
April 6, 1994. Tonight the orchestra did a wonderful job of playing Saint-Saens’ “Samson and Delilah.” So powerful! Afterwards, Clyn Barrus thanked me for giving him a copy of my Nibley quote book – in appreciation for his example and wonderful music.
April 11, 1994. Jack Welch last week brought me the page proofs of B.H. Roberts’ The Truth, the Way, the Life to index. There will be a total of about 825 pages altogether. I feel honored to be a part of this project, a book which the General Authorities squelched in the 1930s because he talked about pre-Adamites. (Nibley has been teaching that for 20 years.)
November 11, 1994. Judith [our daughter] interviewed Hugh Nibley today in my office concerning Jerusalem, Salem and Abraham.
August 22, 1995. Conversations with David Sargent (music department) and Hugh Nibley.
September 11, 1995. [Devotional] “Having a Heart Like Unto God’s Own Heart,” by Vaughn J. Featherstone. Tribute to 3 men of God: Hugh Nibley (Leaders & Managers), Rex Lee, LaVell Edwards.
October 28, 1995. Tonight was our ward’s Arts and Crafts night. Signe played her violin and took her photo book – I took my Nibley quote book and three of my models – Super Constellation, A-10 Warthog and P-51 Mustang; Jacob’s pirate sculpture; and Elizabeth’s drawing.
December 19, 1995. [An experience with Hugh Nibley in the library.]
Nibley at the water fountain, swallowing an aspirin.
“Hello, Brother Nibley! Calling it a day?”
“Oh, no, I’m coming back this afternoon to do some dictation.”
“Ah, going to respond to some correspondence?”
“To hell with the letters! I’m going to work on chapters 17-23 of my book.”
“What is your next project?”
“I think you should write a scholarly novel based on your writings and life experiences.”
“That’s exactly what I need to do!”
Then he walked away.
June 1, 1996. Despite my resentments about Uncle Grant’s defrauding us of over $50,000, I found myself forgiving him in my heart as we talked about a mutual hero of ours, Hugh Nibley. His mistake was not so much one of dishonesty but of naivete and lack of knowledge (see Nibley’s “Zeal without Knowledge,” something many members of the church are guilty of).
October 2, 1996. I walked back into the library with Nibley and asked him what he thought about the construction on campus: His not-too-surprising answer was that “the administration is flexing its muscle and showing power and confusion.”
October 5, 1996. General Conference today. Some excellent talks, while I cleaned out files in my office at home. In the evening I took Joe Everett, Jacob, Tim and Jed to the stake center for the priesthood session. We were fed richly. Karl and Christopher joined us in our pew. Afterwards we had a man’s night out and went to Fuddrucker’s for some wonderful fries and a gospel discussion touching on missionary work, Hugh Nibley, and computers.
October 14, 1996. I found out today that Pat Ward’s husband had a major stroke Friday night. (Pat is Nibley’s and Griggs’ secretary.) On Saturday Nibley administered to her husband, saying, among other things, that God has a work for him to do on the other side. But he also has work for him here. So we will leave things in the hands of the Lord. So refreshing compared to the “I want you to be healed” command, not giving enough will to Heavenly Father.
November 1, 1996. First thing this morning I had a meeting at FARMS (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies) with Gerald Bradford and John Tvedtnes. They showed me four binders of Nibley’s correspondence and personal papers which they want me to evaluate for possible publication in three or four volumes, using the example of William James’ papers as an example. John and Jerry and I talked about many other Nibley matters as well: the conversation lasted a full hour. I feel very privileged to work with the Nibley materials, and as I looked at them throughout the day I saw some real gems that I didn’t know existed. (My estimation of Nibley has increased a couple of notches.) This will be fun, although it is probably destined to last until the year 2000 or beyond. I also talked to Brent Hall and Louis Midgley about the project and asked Brent if he could find a donor to set up a $50,000 endowment fund for the Ancient Studies Library, which we would then name after Hugh Nibley. When I saw Nibley later in the day I was more in awe than usual in the presence of this great but humble man, even as he derided the American economy and the sordid political scene that is unfolding with the coming elections.
November 7, 1996. I got really excited about doing the Nibley stuff tonight. I actually have quite a few things that his son-in-law Boyd Petersen does not have.
November 8, 1996. At 4:30 I could have spent two more hours at the office, so exuberant I felt about doing the Nibley. This is a little different attitude for me, really wanting to leave the office as soon as possible.
December 14, 1996.
Andrew Motion Former poet laureate
My background was very unbookish, and there was absolutely no expectation from my family of my ever reading very much or even writing anything. I wanted to birdwatch and be left alone. Then I was taught English by Peter Way (Mr Way to me), and it was as though he walked into my head and turned all the lights on.
He manifested in everything he said and did that poems were not a strange addition to life, but a part of it. And that is one of the great lessons of my life. He didn't know he was doing this, but he gave me my life. He lent me poems he liked and I showed him poems I had written, which weren't really poems but more an explosion of words. But he took me completely seriously. He introduced me to Woods, Larkin, Keats, Edward Thomas – all people who have meant more to me than anyone else. His way of teaching was very searching but also very passionate and scrupulous. When I left, he gave me the latest published edition of Moly by Thom Gunn, which had druggy poems in it. It was wonderful evidence of his broadmindedness – as if I needed any proof. He was an exemplary figure to me and now a dear friend. I don't doubt that if he hadn't taught me English, I would now be working for the RSPB.
Sarah Waters, Novelist
My most inspiring teacher was Ed Tanguay; he taught me art A-level at Milford Haven grammar school, south-west Wales, in the early 1980s. He was a really brilliant guy – inspiring in the best possible way, not just because he had all sorts of technical expertise and was good at passing it on, but because he encouraged us to think. Until he came along, art classes had been about putting a few objects on the desk and drawing them; he got us to do all sorts of crazy exercises – things about perception and response. He was a bit of an iconoclast, I suppose. One day he arrived at school having forgotten to wear a tie; he got us to make him one out of painted cardboard. He was everything a good teacher should be: stern at times, but good-natured; clever, creative, and fun.
Michael Morpurgo, Author
I'm the proud owner of a third- class degree and have been teaching for 40 years, so I'm interested to learn that the Tories don't think I'd be up to the job now. The teacher who most inspired me was Edred Wright, director of music at the King's School, Canterbury. His great gift was being able to inspire children (like me) who weren't necessarily musically gifted – that's what we should require of teachers in all subjects. With Mr Wright it was never about improving the reputation of the school, just his intense love of music. What that man taught me aged 14 has enriched my entire life.
Robert Peston, BBC business editor
I went to a north London comprehensive in the 1970s. It was called Highgate Wood, and it had been created out of a secondary modern. The ethos of the school, created by the head, Eurof Walters, was that every kid deserved an equal chance to succeed. They were great at not writing off anyone – and lots of kids were given opportunities they wouldn't have had under a selective system.
Two teachers had a particularly big impact on me: Ruby Galili who taught history, and Peter Hudgell, head of English. I have no idea what qualifications they had, but they loved their respective subjects, knew tonnes about them, and were brilliant at communicating their learning and their enthusiasm. I still keep in touch with Ruby. She has always been supportive, then and now. She's like all great teachers – consistent.
Deborah Moggach, Author
My most inspiring teacher was my English teacher at Camden school for girls. She was called Margot Heinemann and wasn't like a teacher at all, she was a hugely intelligent woman with large dark eyes and a Past. This included being the lover of John Cornford, a beautiful young poet who died in the Spanish civil war, and what could be more potent than that? I adored her, we all did, because she treated us as grownups. Camden girls were famously grownup anyway, alarmingly so, but she seemed to take that for granted even more than the other staff. She introduced us to The Waste Land, to books outside the curriculum, and somehow to life itself, with all its tragedy as well as its possibilities.
Paddy Ashdown, Politician
John Eyre really changed my life. He persuaded me to join the poetry society (which all rugby playing "hearties" resolutely despised) and gave me a lifetime love of poetry, even getting me to write some for the school magazine. Eyre lit in me a fire for literature, especially Shakespeare, which has never gone out. He persuaded me to act in the school play (I was a wordless monk in Auden and Isherwood's The Ascent of F6). He even, with the assistance of another master in my house, got me to join a group to sing in (and win!) a madrigal competition – which, to anyone who knows my totally tuneless voice and incapacity to hold a melody, was nothing short of a miracle.
I went to see him for lunch in 2001, five years before he died. He had lost none of his old spark, or his impish and acerbic nature. He opened our last meeting with, "Ah yes, Ashdown – you were always an interesting boy. But you were one of the few to surprise me – I never thought you would get as far as you have. Still, there's no accounting for fate is there?"
Kamila Shamsie, Novelist
Through much of my childhood in Karachi I was painfully insecure. In classrooms, when the teacher asked a question, I'd never raise my hand because I'd worry I was wrong. All this changed in class five when Mrs Rehman was my class teacher. I still don't know how she did it – but in the kindness of her manner, in a certain way she had of asking a question and then looking directly at me as though to say, "Go on, speak up: if you're wrong, that's OK," she made me feel confident. It's not that I started to believe I always had the right answers; instead I came to see that not knowing the right answers wasn't such a problem. From Mrs Rehman I learnt to feel more comfortable in my own skin.
Michael Winner, Director and critic
When I was 17, I went to a private tutorial establishment that was based in Buckingham Gate and Guildford, and met the greatest educationalist I have ever met. Her name was KM Hobbs. She wrote to my parents and told them I was illiterate. She said, "If you think your son is going to get into Cambridge, you'll have a long wait." Within a year I had passed the necessary exams and I was a student at Cambridge, still at the age of 17. She turned a moron into something close to a genius. That was a great achievement.
Sharon Horgan, Comedian
I didn't have great luck with my teachers. I remember a series of chinless wonders and impotent bullies. And that was just the nuns. The only one I ever think about was a lady from my primary school days called Eileen Daly. She was tough as a brick, scary, opinionated, a bit of a dark horse, she'd tell you to sit down and shut up if she felt like it, but she had the ability to make kids feel like they were individually important. And she had a sense of humour. I remember once cycling with my friend to the village where she lived and knocking on her door, hoping to sell her some tickets for a sponsored charity thing. She invited us into her home. We sat around, drinking coffee and shooting the breeze with her, like equals. It was so exciting. She bought a load of tickets and we left buzzing from all the caffeine. The thought of making her proud makes me happy.
Bonnie Greer, Playwright and critic
One of my best teachers was my history professor, Dr Turner, at university at the beginning of the 1970s. He laid the facts down and was able to show how history moved in cycles. He predicted the disaster of Richard Nixon and Watergate, based on Nixon's activities in the 1950s. He let me see that history is written by the victors not the vanquished, and that it is always necessary to investigate – never to take anyone's word for anything.
Alexei Sayle, Author and actor
When I was at foundation art college in Southport there was a teacher there called Max Eden who had known Picasso in the 1950s. He was wonderfully dismissive about things like art A-level. "Just draw the fingernails and you'll pass," he told me. He also showed me how the way you lived your life could be a work of art. Recently I opened a new wing of Southport college and they gave me one of his paintings, which I treasure.
Kate Mosse, Author
I went to a comprehensive school in Sussex in the 1970s, where one teacher stood out, my A-level English teacher, Henry Thomas. He was by way of being an eccentric – tall, patrician, often done up in a white suit and Panama – kind of a Jean Brodie, though young and English. He was passionate about writing, reading, talking too, always engaged and enthusiastic, and made each lesson unique, fun, exciting. He didn't suffer fools, but in return treated us as thinking people with opinions worth listening to. As a result, we all raised our game and, in his lessons, were students rather than schoolgirls. Most important – and even harder these days of league tables and inflexibility – he encouraged us to think not about passing exams and grades, but rather the books themselves and the writers behind them. An exceptional teacher.
Rory Bremner, Comedian
Derek Swift taught me French at Wellington College. He was unconventional, original and inspiring, constantly inventing his own teaching materials and covering the whiteboard with words and phrases in anything from German to Serbo-Croat. In his class of 24, 21 got A grades and 3 got Bs. He taught us Russian in his spare time – four got As and two got Bs. We were like Alan Bennett's History Boys. He always challenged us, setting sixth-formers Oxbridge Finals prose exams and using Asterix and other comic strips as learning aids. He also introduced me to Voltaire's novel Candide – and therefore to satire.
Shazia Mirza, Comedian
My drama teacher Mrs Fisher-Jones was a great teacher. She always told me I was really funny and that I should develop that. I didn't know what that meant – I hadn't even heard of stand-ups then. She would let us write our own plays and do improv. There were loads of us who didn't go into the arts but still remember what a brilliant teacher she was. I still get Christmas cards from her now. She says she always knew what I would do.
Trevor Baylis, Inventor
I failed my 11+ and went to Dormers Wells secondary modern in Southall after the second world war. We were considered to be inferior to those at grammar school and we were made to feel that as well. To start with, I didn't want to know. Teaching me must have been like trying to communicate with a slab of tripe. One teacher in particular encouraged me to get hands on. He taught woodwork and metalwork and showed me, literally, how to use a spanner. He would show you how to drill a bit of wood, how to sharpen your tools etc. He was a very bright type, a very intelligent chap but he was a very fatherly type too. This was before the days when health and safety came into the equation and we didn't have safety helmets but that helped me grow up as well. My teacher had to know about first aid because every lesson someone would cut their finger, so he was also a nurse as well.
David Nicholls, Writer
There was something of a double-act at my school (Toynbee Comprehensive, Eastleigh, 1977-1983); music teacher Mary Granger, and drama teacher David Dalton. Both showed incredible tolerance and enthusiasm, given that I had no discernible talent in either subject.
Miss Granger, in particular, was obliged to hear me alternate Imagine and In The Air Tonight on the rehearsal room piano, often for hours at a time. Both teachers gave a great deal of their own time to pursuing out-of-hours projects. "Strict but fair" is an awful cliche, but both managed to combine passion for their subjects with discipline and rigour. They also managed to conquer the suspicion and indifference of the (male) students. I sometimes wish that I'd had the same inspiration in more "sensible" vocational subjects. Instead I spent far too much of my adult life pursuing a career as an actor, without ever really having the ability to act.
Glyn Maxwell, Poet
In the old days there was a "seventh-term" set aside for Oxbridge candidates. There were only two or three of us going for it at my school, so we'd wander round, in and out of the building as we pleased, beholden to no one, a vaguely celestial "upper-upper-sixth".
One of my Oxbridge tutors was a man called Peter Gardiner. What was odd about Mr Gardiner was that he'd come from a glittering career in various top private schools – headmaster at one of the best – and, for his own reasons, had decided to finish his career as deputy head at our Welwyn Garden comprehensive. It seemed to me like this chap had walked right out of Greyfriars into Grange Hill. We made fun of his accent and his two posh middle names.
I went to him for one-to-one coaching in English. I'd shamble into his office reeking of smoke from the toilets, I'd not have read anything he recommended, I had all the miserable self-pity of the fortunate and promising. And this fiftysomething old gentleman – I didn't know any gentlemen – looked at me with the face of a passionate boy whose love of books and stories had filled his life to the brim.
We were different generations: I was the old at their worst: mind made up, black-or-white, full of myself, bad habits. He was the young at their best: open, innocent, self-effacing, eager to share. I think a great teacher isn't talking to you: he's talking to someone he can see inside you, so that in time you shed who you think you are, like an old skin, and walk out into the sun again as young as you can be.
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty
I don't think it's enough that teachers just need to be an elite graduate – you have to like children and be skilled at communicating with them, so I would challenge the idea that you have to be an academic genius to be a good teacher. It is more about opening up children to the possibilities that come from learning. Many of my best teachers taught music. I was never going to be a professional musician, but that didn't matter – to have a teacher who took an interest in me, and shared their passion was hugely valuable.
I couldn't pick out a single teacher, I had many who inspired me. The difference between the teachers I loved and those I didn't was whether they treated me as a person, engaged in a debate. You may find this hard to believe, but I was probably quite a challenging, argumentative kid. The teachers who were best were the ones who realised how important intelligent dissent is, rather than churning out people who become cogs in the wheel. Not all were like this, but enough of my teachers respected me, encouraged my curiosity and dissenting nature.
Lynne Truss, Author and journalist
I went to Tiffin Girls in Kingston from 1966 to 1973, and my recollection is that it never occurred to any of us to criticise the teachers, or appreciate them very much either. In the run-up to my history O-level, I did realise I wasn't learning enough, but I blamed the period, not the teacher. To save the situation, I asked her whether I could look at some exam papers, to see what else I could answer questions on. Then I just mugged up this other stuff by myself. The best teacher I had taught religious knowledge, so I took it to A-level, despite being a non-believer. His name was Levi Dawson, and I'm pretty sure, now I come to think of it, that I looked up to him mainly because he was the first person I'd ever met who had written a book.
Dinos Chapman, Artist
I hated every single one of my teachers and if any one of them are still alive, I hope they read this. They were horrible old fascists, convinced you could beat education into kids, and they threatened to cut my hair because I had lovely locks back then. It obviously traumatised me because now I'm completely bald.