- Observations of Hugh Nibley
Observations of Hugh Nibley
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. Life feels very full and intense and ‘wonder’ full this week. A combination of some remarkable letters written by Hugh Nibley in the 1940s from Zion’s, Pat Ward’s recounting of her husband’s Life after Death experience following his stroke, my spiritually enlivening class today as we discussed ‘What Lack I Yet?’ and some ‘new’ music of Leonard Bernstein depicting love and married life in a fresh, new way.
January 8, 1997. I met with David Whittaker today on the Nibley archives.
April 10, 1997. Met with Boyd Peterson and Gerald Bradford at FARMS concerning the Nibley collected works. Boyd will be doing an increasing share of the work, leaving me without yet another project.
June 26, 1997. Jacques Cousteau died yesterday. He is the first of four 87-year old famous people I know of who have died. The others are Mother Teresa, Hugh Nibley and President Gordon B. Hinckley.
August 7, 1997. Weary from reading one Dialogue after another, I decided to work on the inventory of Nibley’s personal correspondence. I found a little gem in a letter written in 1946 from Hurricane. In it he describes his learning of Russian in Heidelberg by paying the rent for a Ukrainian soldier in return for Russian-Only-Spoken-here! Here are his words:
“If there is any language that simply must be heard to be learned it is Russian – don’t you agree? Everything goes along just too lovely for words for a few days, and then one morning you wake up to discover that it all seems weirdly unfamiliar, and you have to start all over again. Unless somebody keeps dinning the stuff in your ears without mercy until it is fixed there for good and all, you can never tell when your mind will spring a leak and the whole thing run off. Haven’t you noticed that when you are thinking and reading Russian you have the greatest difficulty in comprehending anything else, even English? That may be symbolic. The whole thing is spiritually another world.”
Here is an unexpectedly funny niblet – a wonderful sentence – from Nibley in 1948, addressed to his lawyer friend Paul Springer:
“I would say that the ghostly carnival that cavorts over your churning counterpane represents by comparison with the febrile excesses of the waking mind a wholesome and rational interlude, a retreat as it were of the overwrought spirit from the giddy chamber of mirrors in which it lives by day.”
Incidentally, Nibley has been ill these past few weeks, getting dizzy every time he stands up or tries to walk. A student had found that he had fallen on the sidewalk between BYU and his home. He jokes about death, obviously very ready, but he wants to make sure Pat Ward, his secretary, gets his book One Eternal Round together correctly so that he won’t need to try to communicate with her from the other side of the veil. It is reported that he has had several blessings which tell him he will live into his 90s. But then, only the Lord really knows for sure.
August 25, 1997. The Utah Valley Symphony gave its annual UVSC summer concert tonight. Ralph Laycock substituted for Clyn Barrus, who, surprisingly, was in the audience. He sounds and looks very frail from his ordeal with a brain tumor, and it appears that he needs to have radiation to complete his recovery, if that’s possible. But I have a funny feeling that because of Clyn’s gentle and kind heart he is needed on the other side of the veil, perhaps in the capacity of a missionary to some of the great composers. The Lord’s will be done. We shall miss him! Hugh Nibley is also not doing well. Apparently he has just had a stroke from trying to do too much at his age.
September 15, 1997. An anagram for my personal interests:
M Music (movies)
A Aviation (air)
N Nibley (νοuς)
T Temples and Teaching (tolerance)
I Indians (Native Americans) (inner spirit)
C Christ and Christianity
September 17, 1997. A student named April Black is attending BYU and wants to attend BYU, majoring in Cosmology. Since she has read some of Hugh Nibley’s works, I showed her the primary sources in the Ancient Studies Library. Seeing Hugh Nibley’s door open, I took a chance and introduced April to Hugh Nibley, back to work finally after his summer illness. He was very friendly and gracious to her, and after I mentioned to him that April wanted to major in Cosmology, he mentioned the study of the Pearl of Great Price and then gave his rendition of “If We Could Hie to Kolob,” using the older tune which predated the Ralph Vaughn Williams tune. It was a wonderful few moments with a great man, and a moment April will not soon forget, I’m sure.
October 13, 1997. Today I learned from Jack Welch that I may be helping Boyd Petersen move Nibley’s books from his garage to the Ancient Studies library. That will be exciting work.
November 21, 1997. I can’t believe that I’ve written nothing in my journal this entire week! I guess it’s been a fairly uninteresting week so far. However, last night I was working on the Nibley correspondence for the first time in a long while. The very last letter I entered into the inventory was a letter to the editor of Christianity Today (1961) concerning Paul’s and Moroni’s ‘hymns of charity.’ I would have considered this topic to be extremely esoteric, but this morning a gentleman by the name of Merrill Andrus asked me about a common source for Paul’s and Moroni’s ‘Hymn of Charity.’ I let him photocopy the letter and asked him what he thought the common source was. He believed that it was a hymn passed down through generations of Jewish women before 600 B.C. but which was not included in the Old Testament because it was written by a woman! Astounding! I must have been listening to the Spirit about what I should be doing this slow night. It was not some cosmic coincidence, for I believe that although the Lord doesn’t force us to do anything, he will move us around on his ‘chessboard’ if we are open, willing and inspired to let Him move us. The lesson from all of this is obvious: too many of these things happen in my life to be simply called coincidences! Another insignificant one occurred in the same manner at the same time.
Yet another Nibley letter, more personal in nature written in 1960, mentioned that Ironton steel plant was being shut down, and that Springville would become a ghost town. Well, this morning the news mentioned that Provo and USX were going to clean up the old Ironton property. It’s something Signe and I have been discussing for a long time.
November 25, 1997. Today during Department Chairs meeting, I listed the main focuses (if you would call my career focused!) of my job during the past 26 years. These are basically in order and will be fleshed out elsewhere with dates:
General Reference and research
Foreign Languages collection development responsibilities, including post-graduate at Denver U
Indexes to Church magazines, almost throughout my entire career
Sanders and Howell English books published before 1700; compilation of English Pilgrimage
Teaching New Testament and Book of Mormon in the College of Religion
The Catholic Left in Latin America, with Mark Grover and Terry Dahlin
Hugh Nibley professional development and the compilation of Of All Things (2 editions)
Soviet Union subject specialty, including missionary proposal to Pres. Spencer W. Kimball
Ancient Studies librarian, including the development of the collection and a newsletter
Philosophy librarian, including the teaching of Philosophy 105
Art and Design, including the taking of classes
BYU STUDIES indexing and member of the editorial board
Foundation of Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) board and member; editing
Mormonism and Mormon History Association, becoming the library specialist
Thinking Styles and Philosophy of Librarianship, with David Squires and Helen Hoopes
Jerusalem Center and the Middle Eastern Librarian Association, including Baltimore conference with my presentation on BYU’s Jerusalem Center library
Rare Books cataloging, including Rare Books School at Columbia University
Department Chair, History/Religion Reference and Humanities
Near Eastern Studies, including the teaching of several graduate classes and orals committees
Psychology of Music class assistance
Computers, including the teaching of classes, Library Use Instruction, homepages, etc.
The building of airplane models during lunch hours, for enjoyment and history class
Native American religion bibliography, with Susan Fales and Randy Olsen (not yet completed)
Library OMS management workshop every spring, 1994 –
Inventory of Coptic manuscripts for Nat’l Endowment for the Humanities project w/ Kent Brown
Filmmaking, including a film class with Sterling Van Wagenen
At home I focused on the following:
My wife Lyn Ruhland, and children Grant and Adina (1969-1977)
Church service and learning the Gospel (1969 –)
My wife Betsy Bayliss, and children Grant, Bonnie, Adina, David, Annalyn and Timothy (1977-1986)
Today’s Herbs newsletter for Bi-World
Pre Me novel begun
Book for Bi-World, How to Drive and Survive in the 80s with Your Own Alcohol Fuel
My wife Cherie Hopper, and children Grant, Bonnie, Adina, David, Angela, Mark, Annalyn, Jamie and Tim (1986-1987)
My wife Signe Hale and our combined family of 17 children (1987 –)
Singing with the Utah Baroque Ensemble
Treasurer of the board of the Utah Valley Symphony [later, Business Manager]
December 3, 1997. Yesterday as I cleaned up in the Ancient Studies Library, I found an unfinished article Hugh Nibley had left on the shelf. As I read it this morning I was cosmically awakened by this thought of his: “The greatest fun in the world is the unfolding or unwrapping of intelligence, making of life a perpetual Christmas morning, and that is the one thing God desires more than anything – to bring others up to his own level, ‘This is my work and my glory,’ to share it all with all of us …. The more intelligence is shared, the greater it becomes; light cleaveth to light and intelligence to intelligence, the eager reception of whatever is good, true, and beautiful is the rule that sustains the universe, and it is simply love. Why then did the world have to be a vale of tears? For learning and for testing: to be without experience of the whole spectrum of suffering would leave one woefully unequipped to deal with the throngs of anguished spirits and sinful inhabitants that to our certain knowledge swarm around us. If our mission is to save others, we must know what they must be saved from.”
December 11, 1997. A couple of hours ago James Fairbourn brought down the bound volumes representing many hours of work that I did on Coptic materials in the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Al-Azbakiyah, Cairo. After I complimented him on a wonderful job of binding, I took the three copies of the work back to Kent Brown’s office so that he could send two sets to the National Endowment for the Humanities. When I did so, I discovered that Kent wasn’t there. So I showed the tomes to Hugh Nibley while Pat Ward, his secretary, was on the phone. He was amazed. I remarked that it was too bad that we didn’t have three or four lifetimes to do things such as explore the many microfilms these inventories represent. He remarked that the ancient Egyptians believed there had to be a pre-existence and a post-existence, otherwise we wouldn’t be blessed with brains that are full of such potential that it would take several lifetimes to use them! As I was leaving, he pointed to Pat’s screensaver on her computer telling us that he camped in the snow at that very place – near the Mittens at Monument Valley, a place I hope to visit someday. (Next summer?) He was definitely in a reflective mood. I also asked Hugh if in the 50s he would have thought our civilization would have lasted so long. He doesn’t see how, given all the things that have happened in the last forty or so years. Then when I told Pat and Hugh that they wouldn’t have to move upstairs until the new library was finished, he said that he wouldn’t be alive in 1999. Pat then reminded him of his blessing that said he would be alive until he was 97!
December 17, 1997. I was just in the Ancient Studies office to check with Kent Brown concerning the Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. Before I could leave Pat was telling us that yesterday Hugh Nibley told her it was the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. He also told her that as intelligence officer in Order of Battle it was his business to find out what direction the German army was coming. He told the commander what he thought the Germans would do, but the commander would not listen and the American troops were not moved. Consequently, the Germans came straight south in a concentrated counter-offensive, wiping out many of the American troops in this famous battle. The next day the commander told Nibley he had been right. Of course this incident didn’t get into the history books: it was just one more mistake in that war.
May 8, 1998. Two reference questions today were right down my alley: the Masoretic text of the Jewish scriptures and Nibley’s One Eternal Round.
May 28, 1998. Art Pollard poked his head in during lunch and told me the latest from his worldview. He listened to a radio talk show last night where a Native American was being interviewed. He told the host that normally medicine men are not willing to share their future prognostications with just anyone, but that things were so close to being ‘wrapped up’ that they were telling everyone. A thought that we both talked about: would the Millennium Bug (computer problem) be the catalyst that would bring about the Second Coming and Millennium? Intriguing. Perhaps I should only be involved in doing those things that matter in the long, eternal run! But hold on…I felt this way back in 1975 also– so strongly that Lyn and I wouldn’t purchase a house and continued to rent. Only the Lord knows the hour and the day. We need to live on faith and exercise infinitely more love and compassion. Art is a good friend, even if he doesn’t know when to stop talking, and even if he is the eternal student who after all these years still doesn’t have a normal ‘job.’
Hugh Nibley just asked me where to find the Encyclopaedia Judaica. As I walked over to the reference stacks with him, I asked him about the Hopi medicine man above. He said he wasn’t surprised. Last July the Hopis invited him down for the last Annual Corn Dance. This is significant since they have been performing them for the past one thousand years. Another millennium! Hm.
June 26, 1998. I spent some time lying on the grassy slope next to the creek at the Provo South Fork Park, soaking up the ground beneath, the sunshine, the air and the sound of the creek nearby. Just as I got to this point, I needed a trip to the restroom not far away. I anchored the pages of Abraham in Egypt I was working on and left the table by the creek. When I returned I noticed several pages of the manuscript on the ground near the creek: unfortunately a gust of wind blew pages 32, 33, 34, 35, 37 and 39 of chapter 4 into the creek! (Wait until I tell Brother Nibley!)
July 8, 1998. I was thrilled today to read in Nibley’s Abraham in Egypt that Sarah’s sacrifice (before the Pharaoh of Egypt) was as much a sacrifice as Isaac’s and Abraham’s.
September 1, 1998. Alex Nibley, a son of Hugh Nibley and whom I haven’t seen in over 15 years, stopped by my office to get permission to use the Ancient Studies Library to interview his father. Alex told me about an amazing scene in the new Spielberg movie Surviving Private Ryan in which a glider has crashed because armor plating had been built around a general who at the last minute took one of the seats. The glider was part of the 101st airborne. So was Nibley. And Nibley was bumped off the flight because a general wanted his seat. What a coincidence! If Nibley had been on that flight he may not have been with us to make the many contributions to the church he is so famous for.
September 2, 1998. Hugh Nibley was interviewed again today by Alex, but I was asked to park Alex’s rental car in the museum lot after Alex brought his dad from home. Alex invited me to listen to some of the interview. Some juicy tidbits: Outside of war and its attendant follies, Las Vegas and Disneyland are as close to hell as you can get.” Alex: “The death of a scholar is like a library burning–that’s why we’re trying to get books out of you now.” I also met Hugh’s daughter Christine and asked her about her Uncle Sloan Nibley, who was the screenwriter for The Addams Family. The library would like to get his papers for its Film Archive.
September 11, 1998. Today I received what I consider to be a great honor: I now have Nibley’s unanswered letters to respond to. Pat Ward thinks he needs as much pressure taken off the finishing of his book as possible.
September 14, 1998. Wrote one Nibley letter to Karen Merkley in Salt Lake City, who wants Nibley to submit a chapter for her book on submitting to the will of the Father.
September 17, 1998. Victor Purdy met with me this afternoon to see if Nibley’s letters to Dee Jay Nelson could be put with the Nelson collection in Archives. I didn’t see why not, but that is up to Nibley or his family.
September 18, 1998. I received an interesting e-mail from Karen Merkley, to whom I sent my first letter in behalf of Hugh Nibley:
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 09:53:58 -0700
From: email@example.com (Karen R Merkley)
I inadvertently deleted my undeliverable message to you! So, briefly, thank you for your kind and thoughtful response to my letter to H. Nibley. I was impressed, also, with your poignant perspective and rendering of your own experience in context of the work I’m involved in… I also look forward to wrapping my mind around your recently published work. I sensed, perhaps, some potential interest in the work-in-progress, and am also writing to explore that. I wondered if you would be interested in taking the exquisite core you shared and magnifying it into an article (or if you needed a book to do that in – which you’ve already done) or whether you might consider letting me use that paragraph as part of my piece. Let’s visit when you get a moment – on-line or phone, as you wish. Karen 553-0919
September 23, 1998. While we were looking for Lisa Hardman to interview Jed for a job doing shelving, I saw Nibley’s door open. I knew the kids would like to meet him, so I introduced them–and Signe. Jed told Nibley that people back in Tennessee insist that he has been dead for several years! Then Nibley started getting esoteric on us by telling us he had a brainstorm last night about the Book of Breathings: the most important Egyptian document.
October 1, 1998. Today Eugene England was interviewing Hugh Nibley. I wonder what Gene asked him?
October 5, 1998. Talked to Nibley today about bringing his books from his garage to the library: wouldn’t hear of it. I guess our timing is off now.
October 9, 1998. Not feeling like doing anything that required much concentration, I went to Level 5 to see which books of José Saramago were on the shelves. The one that caught my eye was The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. I read the first chapter to see whether I wanted to continue it. As Saramago described the Crucifixion scene and talked about the two thieves, he comments that “good and evil do not exist in themselves, each being merely the absence of the other.” I had never thought of good and evil in this way. The more I read of Saramago, the more I see a personality like Nibley’s.
October 19, 1998. This evening it seemed I couldn’t get away from inventorying the Nibley letters from 1989. I ran across a particularly interesting interchange between Nibley and a woman writing in behalf of her son. She had asked Nibley what language would be best for her son to read (Latin) and what books Nibley found influential in his own life as a teenager. He firmly but heartily suggested George Borrow’s Lavengro. Well, I had never heard of Borrow, much less a book with a strange title such as Lavengro. An hour later I had some answers as I poked around in the stacks on level 5. Borrow was a 19th century British author who eschewed most Victorian literature and who wrote in his own slightly autobiographical style. His subject? Gypsies! Now I had a connection with Nibley’s encounter with a fortune teller on his mission in the 30s who predicted he would not die until he was 97 (the same number of years his patriarchal blessing foretold). So now we know why Nibley has an affinity with gypsies! Signe and I are both intrigued enough with the book that we both want to read it.
October 22, 1998. New York Times best-selling author Gerald Schroeder, a Jewish physicist and Bible scholar spoke at BYU today. In answer to men and women alike who think God is prejudiced since there are very few references to women in the Bible, he told us that in the Hebrew language there are male and female nouns. In every case where God gives divine input to human beings on the earth, the Hebrew words are in the feminine endings. Earthly and material words are in masculine endings. Interesting? I then took it one step further to myself: if divine instructions are given in female form, is the Giver also female? I learned so much today from this interesting man. (His book is The Science of God, in which he reconciles science and religion.) He also talked about his opinion that the Flood was localized, not global. And that “creation out of nothing” (creatio ex nihilo) is not Biblical. He went on further to say that matter is condensed energy, which in turn is condensed wisdom, which is what began the creation. And that there is no conflict in the amount of time creation took, because there is cosmic time and earth time. Finally, he vindicated Nibley’s “Before Adam” by showing that man predated Adam but was not yet human with free will.
November 9, 1998. On to the Cotswolds south of us, where most of the houses were built with Cotswold limestone, a mellow yellow. First town: Broadway, usually a tourist trap in the summer, with beautiful streets and old buildings. We seemed to be the only “foreigners,” and enjoyed having the place mostly to ourselves. The shops were delightful! Halfway to Broadway we passed an RAF base. As we got out of the car in Broadway, an RAF Jaguar fighter-bomber flew overhead. As we drove on to the next village, we saw a female gypsy and her colorful caravan on the side of the highway, cooking over an open fire and most likely waiting for her husband to come back from the village, hopefully having gotten a little work to do. (Dick and Maggie [our hosts in England] called her a Romany, which is very interesting, because we are both reading the book “Lavengro” by George Borrow, which greatly influenced Hugh Nibley’s life, and follows the life of a gypsy band, who were called Romanies.)
December 1, 1998. In a dream last night I received the distinct impression that I needed to give a sacrament meeting talk about Hugh Nibley.
January 6, 1999. Today I had the privilege of hearing another of my ‘Zion heroes’ speak: Dr. Stephen R. Covey. (The other is Hugh Nibley.) For those of us who have finished the Covey course on the Seven Habits, it was a good summary of what we had learned, particularly when Covey applied it to BYU as a school in Zion.
January 15, 1999. Tom [Rogers], I just finished your amazing article in Sunstone. Along with Elder Maxwell’s devotional address this week, it is just what ‘the doctor ordered.’ Thank you! I suppose I have been wallowing about in ‘mundane things’ this last little while, feeling a cumulative burn-out from raising 17 teenagers (and not finished yet) whereas my agenda was to follow a similar scholarly track to yours, Nibley’s, Stephen Ricks’ and others’ whom I idealize.
May 30, 1999. At 1 p.m. we parked and attended the Mt. Pleasant Second Ward— the same one we have visited previously. Tim and I were welcomed by a Brother Lane, who introduced to the opening exercises of priesthood. While heading to our various quorums, a brother stopped me and asked if I were the Gary P. Gillum who compiled the Nibley quote book. Indeed! He thanked me profusely.
August 7, 1999. Despite its ‘R’ rating, Signe and Tim and I watched the video Saving Private Ryan. Never has there been a movie which portrayed war more realistically and vividly. Not only that, there was a sequence in a which a 101st airborne glider had crash-landed, killing nearly everyone aboard because armor plate had been added to the glider to protect its ‘General’ passenger, thereby destroying the aerodynamics and trim on the glider, making it fall like a brick out of the sky. It was [perhaps] this glider that Hugh Nibley was kicked out of just before D-Day, giving up his seat for this selfish general.
September 1, 1999. A disappointment today: Randy told me that because of political and scheduling reasons the Nibley room naming was postponed. I hope they don’t wait until his funeral!
November 2, 1999. Meeting with Randy, Cali and Brent Hall re Nibley. We made lots of decisions, but they all have to be approved by the administration, chiefly Alan Wilkins. Coincidentally, I received an e-mail from Becky Everett in Hawaii. She told me how badly she wants to paint a portrait of Nibley. I told her that we would love to have her paint a portrait for the Nibley Ancient Studies Library, provided we not pay her and that the library and the Nibley family would have to approve the portrait. Her e-mail response was the most excited I have seen yet in cyberworld!
November 10, 1999. I finally reached Boyd and Zina Petersen with Rebecca Everett’s request to paint a portrait of Nibley. They were delighted that Becky was willing to do so. It warmed my heart, in fact, to hear someone of the Nibley family feeling so positive about something like this. He even informed me of a sculptured bust a shirt-tale relative had made of Nibley, asking me if the library would be willing to display it.
November 12, 1999. As I studied for the ministry I remember hanging a cross around my neck, with my choir robe on, and pretending I was already a minister. The robes and the jewelry were a real temptation for me. Then when I heard Nibley talk at commencement one year about the robes of the Apostate priesthood, I knew I had someone on my side.
November 23, 1999. You have made nine excellent choices for the BYU professors of the 20th century. In my opinion, number ten is Hugh Nibley. Here are my reasons:
1. At 90 years of age (as of March 2000) Nibley still comes to the library to do research on his writings. Currently he is finishing One Eternal Round, which is about the hypocephalus shown in Facsimile no. 2 in the Pearl of Great Price.
2. He has affected the lives of many people, from basketball player Kresimir Cosic to converts like me.
3. He has written over 15 books and over 200 articles, not to mention the many talks he has given.
4. He has not only written about Ancient History and Religion, but is a critic of society (in favor of Zion) and has met with the Brethren concerning the temple endowment and other topics.
5. Although he was never an administrator of any kind, he served for many years as a Gospel Doctrine instructor, helping members of the Church arrive at an eternal perspective of life.
6. He has not taught for some years now, yet even Freshman students have heard of him and are awed by his knowledge and wisdom.
7. Finally, BYU Today considered him important enough to feature him on the cover of its February 1984 issue.
November 24, 1999. I received a response from editor Jeff McClellan at Brigham Young Magazine today: Thank you for your nomination and for your thoughts about Professor Nibley. – Jeff
November 30, 1999. Today I finished proofreading the 680 pages of galleys for Nibley’s Abraham in Egypt, to be published by FARMS and Deseret Book next year– with my name and Shirley Ricks’s names as editors on the title page. (I first began editing this book at least 13 years ago.)
January 16, 2000. Cynthia Hallen called me to inform me that Arthur Henry King had passed away– and that his funeral would be tomorrow at noon. He was one great man, a Shakespeare expert (especially King Lear), and worked closely with the library after his retirement from the English Department. He was the same age as Hugh Nibley and Gordon B. Hinckley.
February 24, 2000. Nibley’s ‘Naming of the Room’ celebration was put off because of room construction and Cali’s illness.
February 28, 2000. Meeting with Randy, David Monson, and Kayla Willey concerning the digitizing of FARMS material. I have been asked to write a proposal so that Nibley’s unpublished papers and other preliminary papers can be digitized and put on the Web.
March 2, 2000. I finished Derrida for Beginners tonight while at the desk. A quote on deconstructionism on p. 166 summed up his essential teaching: “Deconstructive therapists [architects, educators, librarians, historians, painters] feel that all knowledge, including scientific knowledge, is influenced by one’s perspective– and that any perspective, even a scientific one, is the product of dominant cultural influences and ideologies.” I therefore feel I am a deconstructionist, because I agree very much with this sentiment. I would also call Hugh Nibley one, because of his self-imposed marginality, and the difficulty everyone has trying to pigeon-hole him. My friend Buddy Richards, with his interesting philosophies on LDS education, would also be called one, for he certainly is not a traditional, secular university man. This leads to the LDS Church: it has deconstructed Christianity. No longer was religion centered on the authority of tradition or even certain scriptures! It centered itself on revelation. Finally, Ernest L. Wilkinson partly won his court case with the Indians because of his beliefs. In this book on Derrida, author Jim Powell quotes his Native American grandfather: “White man’s law is based on the assumption that the white man’s God is central and better than the Great Spirit. But why not think that the Great Spirit is central instead of marginal. Then white man’s law has no foundation for keeping our ancestral lands from us!” Wilkinson’s God was both the white man’s God as well as the Great Spirit. He had a perspective advantage over other lawyers because the LDS God is also the Native American Great Spirit.
March 28, 2000. Elder Loren C. Dunn of the Seventy called Haybron Adams and Michael Hunter, who both contacted me to see whether Hugh Nibley had participated in Operation Market Garden and or the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. Eventually Pat Ward was able to reach Nibley at home and found out that he was. I already knew that he was on the ground at the Bulge, but now we found out that he ‘arrived by air’ in Holland, and we don’t know whether that means he parachuted (because he was in the 101st Airborne) or landed on a runway aboard a Gooney Bird (C-47). Anyway, it will be interesting to see whether Elder Dunn uses this information in his conference talk this weekend.
April 7, 2000. Before leaving for home today, Rebecca Everett sent me a scanned photo of her portrait of Hugh Nibley. I replied to her how pleased I was by its excellence. I also showed Pat Ward, Nibley’s secretary, while Nibley himself was on the other side of the room totally engrossed in his research. I know that he won’t approve of the portrait, no matter who painted it, but I’m sure the family will approve 100%. Nibley’s wife Phyllis has been in the hospital all week with her diverticulitis, including a couple of days in intensive care. I hope she is able to see the portrait.
April 12, 2000. A patron showed me color photographs of some pictographs found on some cliffs between Vernal and Roosevelt. At first glance they appeared to be some sort of proto-Greek language. As this Brother C. R. Richins and I looked further I found that the Lydia script, an Anatolian language which derived from Hittite, to be the closest language to this script. After printing from the Internet some history of the Lydian language for him, I began to wonder how such script, dating from before the birth of Christ, found its way to Duchesne County, Utah! My ease in finding the possible language was proof of how my study of languages throughout the years has finally paid off in something like this. I most likely am wrong about my guess that it’s Lydian, but since no one on campus has come up with a better explanation, I will stay with mine. Brother Richins was sent by Dr. Kent Brown who is doing work on Indian petroglyphs in southern Utah.
April 13, 2000. Brother Richins returned today to do some more research on this unknown language. We are both convinced that the language has something to do with ancient Lydian, since the scripts are so similar. But when I told him that I was no expert and that he shouldn’t take my opinions as truth, he said that I had helped him more than the ‘so-called’ experts had! In my own small way I may be following in the footsteps of Nibley’s philosophy.
April 28, 2000. E-mail from Cali concerning my newest feat:
Gary Gillum is the editor of the just published volume 14 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley: Abraham in Egypt, published by FARMS and Deseret Book. He reports that he first began editing this volume in 1985. It represents the most difficult (and rewarding) effort of his 22-year Professional Development project which began with a subject index of the works of Hugh Nibley. He is very happy to see this 700 page book in print – at last.
May 11, 2000. Randy came up to show me that the Hugh Nibley plaque had been mounted in the Ancient Studies Room, using words I had suggested – “In appreciation for Nibley’s academic and spiritual contributions to the university.” Now for the celebration in the fall…
May 24, 2000. “Hugh Nibley: the Academic Prophet” presentation for the Financial Aids office staff meeting in 2044 JKHB. Went well— a bright spot during my recuperation. About twenty of Marilyn Miner’s colleagues were in attendance. Here is the outline:
Introduction: my initial acquaintance with Nibley (Improvement Era, Feb. 1969)
His life and teachings: education, mission, WWII (Sgt. Nibley, PhD), 101st airborne D-Day, Battle of the Bulge, BYU & John A. Widtsoe, marriage, 8 children, church service, teaching but also serving the brethren, Nibley myths.
Why academic prophet? Combined the scholarly and the spiritual.
1) The Gospel: serious, simple; Repent & forgive
2) Perspective of life; the assumptions we make about truth; Sophic vs. Mantic; Horizontal vs. Vertical; George Q. Cannon in Journal of Mormon History 53 (as opposed to tradition, the written word and the mistakes of men); The Eschatological Man, NDE’s
3) Education: liberal or specialized?
4) Leadership vs. Management
5) Zion. Environmental balance: progress and stewardship
6) Book of Mormon: the Nephite disease
7) Temples and early Christianity
8) Law of Consecration (Work we must, but the lunch is free)
9) Pearl of Great Price; the works of Abraham
June 29, 2000. This evening was the open house for Special Collection in the library. Since Signe was playing in the string quartet, I needed to wait until 6 PM for her to finish. So I went to the bank to make a deposit for the Utah Valley Symphony. When I came back to the library, Brother Nibley was waiting near the front entrance. I asked him if he knew about the open house. He didn’t. But when I told him that a string quartet was playing and that Chad Flake had told the audience in the auditorium that the Mercer Egyptology collection was the first special collection acquired by the library, Nibley seemed interested in going downstairs with me. So we took the elevator to the first floor and entered the open house. Because of his jovial mood Scott Duvall and Brad Westwood were able to talk to him about he is leaving his personal papers with the university archives. All of the official negotiations have come to naught, but simply because I saw Nibley waiting to go home, things are happening with his collection. I can hardly wait for Randy Olsen to return from vacation so I can tell him about the success we had with Nibley.
August 30, 2000. Ronald Combs, a Sephardic Jew and Rabbinic/Kabbalistic scholar from El Paso, was brought to my office by my colleague Rebecca Jacobsen and her grandfather Dr. Jacobsen. In addition to Joseph Smith and Kabbalah, we talked about Hugh Nibley, Combs’ efforts to find Mt. Sinai in the Midian desert of Saudi Arabia, and how his book 99 Questions Christians Ask Jews was reprinted at the behest of the Democratic party because of a Jew, Joe Lieberman, being asked to run as Gore’s running mate in the elections– 10,000 copies! I then showed him the Ancient Studies Library, especially the Hebrew materials and Nibley’s annotated copy of the Book of the Dead, where Combs noted that Nibley, in addition to making notes in English, shorthand, and Hebrew, used the Yiddish nu in one marginalium!
September 1, 2000. My dear old friend Howard Kempton, who first put me onto the Nibley index way back in 1974, paid me a visit. We chatted for about 45 minutes. He is asking me to participate in a seminar on ‘Abraham in Egypt’ on Friday nights. I feel honored, but a little bit intimidated.
September 22, 2000. This morning I chatted a little with Curtis Wright and Dan McKinlay in Curtis’s office. We began talking about Nibley, and how when Curtis was a student in Nibley’s Greek class, he one day saw Nibley reading his Book of Mormon. Nibley exclaimed to Curtis: “I found a mistake in the Book of Mormon!” Curtis thought it was some important error, but had a real laugh when Nibley responded: “Well, here in Alma 42:10 it talks about how we are all “carnal, sensual and devilish.” The writer forgot to add “Stupid!” Curtis has also been having trouble with editors lately: “The editor killeth, and the footnote giveth life!”
October 16, 2000. Today I tried to tone down Curtis Wright and his feud with FARMS. I think he should wait before he sends his conclusions to Elder Dallin Oaks. My own involvement is on the cusp of my intellectual competence, and I told him so! He changed the subject and told me that Nibley had gone to high school in Los Angeles with composer John Cage and artist Andy Warhol.
October 30, 2000. Rebecca Everett arrived in Provo from Hawaii in heavy rain, toting her Nibley portrait with her, fortunately wrapped very well to protect it on the plane and from the moisture. We unveiled her portrait in the New Friends Room, in the presence of Randy and Julene. We were all astounded and amazed at the beautiful labor of love the portrait exhibited. She had even written a poem, “The Blueprint,” which captures the spirit of the Book of Abraham (it is on the next page, so that it can be complete on one page by itself. Following it, an explanation of the portrait).
Having appreciated and studied Nibley’s writings ever since 1969, the same year I first became enamored with him, her greatest desire was to be able to meet Nibley in person. So after a chatty and amiable lunch in the Cougareat, we went to the Ancient Studies Library, hoping that we would have the same success meeting with him as we did with Nibley. The Muses must have been with us, for we not only found Nibley in his usual spot doing research, but he was in a good mood. All three of us were visibly moved by the experience with the portrait and by Rebecca’s reading of the poem to him. Finally, I dared take a photograph of her standing with Nibley, the portrait between them. What a joyful day for Rebecca and me. It was more than a red letter day in her life!
October 31, 2000. This morning Randy asked me to draft a letter of appreciation to Becky for the Nibley portrait. I felt honored to do so, and Randy said that my writing is good enough for me to be working in the development office. Here it is (the spacing was more professional in the original):
November 1, 2000
55-147 Naupaka St.
Laie, HI 96762
Dear Sister Everett,
When Gary Gillum approached us with your offer to paint Hugh Nibley’s portrait, we had no idea at that time the portrait would appropriately represent not only Nibley but the perspective, spirit and talent of one of the Church’s finest artists. Those of us in the Library Administrative Offices who were able to see this fine work of art, offer our heartfelt thanks – and awe – at what you’ve been able to accomplish in what is much more than either a portrait or a tribute. It will serve well as an artistic centerpiece in the Hugh Nibley Ancient Studies Room.
We do apologize, however, for not taking more time with you during this momentous occasion. Other matters very much preoccupied our minds so that we could not give the attention your marvelous gift deserved.
We understand that you were able to meet with Hugh Nibley on Monday afternoon. Gary conveyed to us your deep joy and satisfaction at this ‘chance’ encounter. We’re happy that it was such a fulfilling experience for you.
As Gary has probably indicated, we hope to have a ribbon-cutting for the Hugh Nibley Ancient Studies Room sometime in the Spring. You are cordially invited to be a part of that celebration so that you can be recognized by the university for your generous gift. We will remain in contact with you as we prepare for the occasion. We would also appreciate your sending any photographic negatives you may have of the painting so that we can include a photograph in an upcoming Friends of the Harold B. Lee Library newsletter.
Thank you once again for the kind and generous gift of your time and talent.
Sterling J. Albrect, University Librarian
Randy J. Olsen, Deputy University Librarian
(Upon Pondering Nibley’s Temple and Cosmos)
In the beginning, God put forth His beautiful hands
and dipped them deep into the long blue-black night;
brought up and shaped with perfect fingers,
His every most exquisite thought.
Each fervent element rejoiced to have been called and named aloud
by His galvanizing voice, and brought within His powerful cognition.
Like pearls the chosen worlds were gathered up,
warmed and rolled between His palms, caressed and pressed,
each crystal core not stone, but holy nacre layered on.
Next cast He out into the purple net of space the spinning universes,
whole and entire, luminously spiraling, still glowing from His touch.
He traced their architectural trajectories in heaven’s vast and rolling span,
numbering unto Himself the limitless multiplicity of worlds:
appointing and fixing their bright orbits,
and naming to each turning sphere its purpose.
Then in answer to questing Enoch and lone Abraham’s implore, and to Moses,
awestruck before the bush, and to humble Lehi in a dream,
and to stalwart Nephi’s query, and young Joseph’s prayer,
scrolled He back the starry curtain, revealing thus the ordered gates
of His eternal timepiece.
Oh, the wonder, the astonishment, the awe!
To be granted the privilege of seeing!
The hair on end! The reeling mind!
The racing heart! The burning breast! To know!
That He took of the host of glimmering intelligences
and made He them His children.
And Loved, and taught and knew them each by name,
and planted them upon the endless earths.
To understand the elegant simplicity of God’s eternal plan!
To then be taught to build the distilled cosmos
of His holy edifice, and enter in , and covenant,
and there, enlightened, to align ourselves with His celestial compass.
To begin to comprehend the garden dramas, the Sacrifice,
and the long enduring battle.
To have written in our hands the shining answers
to all the Terrible Questions!
~ Rebecca Fechser Everett ~
~ A Note of Explanation upon the Portrait of Hugh W. Nibley ~
or: An Approach to the Portrayal of A Door-Keeper of the Lord,
by an Ignorant Peasant, Rebecca Fechser Everett
I have really enjoyed the whole process from thought to finish. I’ve developed the piece to attempt to include as many images that I could associate with Brother Nibley and his life’s interests. It is built upon a collage of images from the Dead Sea scrolls, the Nag Hammadi, the facsimiles, images of various temples, ancient and modern, and images from the Holy Land and of the BYU campus area where he has spent so much of his time teaching and in research.
Additionally, placed over the collage, is the shape of a large circle, a reminder of the prayer circle, the sun, the symbol for time, or a day; the disk of the sun god Ra; Uroboros, a ring, eternity…etc. This I have delineated in 18k gold leaf, with a sketchy inner edge and a defined outer edge, aligning with arches on the upper corners of the piece, formed by images of papyrus-headed pillars from an Egyptian temple. Up in the bits of sky visible outsides the arches and bounded by linear representations of the square and the compass, are constellations of, on the left: the Big Dipper, by which most of us orient ourselves to find the North Star, and on the right: Orion, of all the constellations perhaps the one most easily recognized by anyman, and thus perhaps an entry point, or a first step toward a personal and intimate contemplation of the mysteries of God.
The portrait itself is superimposed over the collage and further developed in many layers of glazes so that the underlying images are secondary to the portrait, yet still discernible. I wanted to portray the nobility of scholarship, the quizzical disinterest in the honors of men, and a subtle but definite twinkle in his eye that speaks of the deep joy he dervices from the daily study of the gospel, and the surprise and fun of encountering truths dressed in types and metaphors.
Also inscribed in gold ink and forming a sort of frame to the bottom third of the painting, and into which descends the lower third of the large circle, (making a sort of overall under-image, if one might be permitted, of the hieroglyphic symbol for the horizon) is the outline of the temple plan, as found on the Qumran Temple Scroll. I especially liked how the East gate centers upon Brother Nibley’s point of concentration in the small image of him at work on the image from The Book of Breathings.
Included in the piece are his ubiquitous stacks of hand-written 3×5 cards, which I felt MUST be a part of any true portrayal of the man, along with a book of scripture close at hand. And of course, the wonderful bit of papyrus that shows the image of what we call “Facsimile Number One,” had to be included as well. My husband, Dennis, has recounted to me his memories of Brother Nibley’s office in the JSB, when he had a janitorial job as a freshman back in 1969. He will never forget the frisson of heightened feeling, a sort of reverence that fluttered over him as he attempted to sweep while maneuvering between the walls shoe boxes full of documents and carefully dusted around the stacks of notecards without disturbing anything. He knew that office was the workplace of a true scholar!
Along the left edge of the piece I’ve inscribed a column of hieroglyphics that (I DO hope!) read:
“I, Rebecca, make this offering; this portrait, or image; this likeness or similitude; by my two hands, actually; as an honor, or in honor of ~(Hugh Nibley)~ (in a cartouche) He who perceives and understands truth; discovers or uncovers things that are hidden; pertaining to ancient documents or manuscripts; an instructor or teacher; a very learned and educated man; a just and truth-speaking man; an un-tier of knots or a solver of difficulties; an expert, an adept; concerning old records and ancient laws; a truthful scribe; a whole lifetime; his heart was glad to do it. In celebration of his 90th birthday: All Life! All health! All prosperity! All stability! All joy of heart!” This took me days of happy study to figure out how to write it all. I only hope that it says what I meant it to say!
I wanted the overall tone of the piece to be warm and quite rich, in deep sepias, siennas, ochres, golds, the colors of old parchment, reddish sandstone colors with some grey-blues and deep greens. The portrait is approxmiately 22″x30″ unframed. I have framed it in a wonderful large but simple moulding in an antique finish of mottled green and gold, with a flax-coloured liner. I am also a framer, and felt it would not be right to leave the final presentation to another. I am very pleased with how the framing suits the portrait. It is elegant, but not grand or fussy.
I am delighted to have had this wonderful experience and felt particularly honored, as I have been a hungry student of Brother Nibley’s writings all of my adult life. I will confess here that throughout my artistic endeavors there have been many instances where a concept or a turn of phrase first encountered in my reading, proceeded to a finished artwork. Many of my etchings have begun as sparks of inspiration during study of Nibley. I will be very glad if this portrait is considered even partly worthy.
E-mail to Becky Everett:
Beck, I still feel overcome and overwhelmed by the events of Monday, October 30, 2000! And it wasn’t just the Nibley portrait or the meeting with Nibley, although they were really important. It was the time I had to get to know you (and Dennis) better. Thanks for the great one-on-one! I feel that you are a kindred spirit in many ways, and not just because we both began reading Nibley in 1969 (February for me)! Everything you put in the Nibley portrait is something that resonates in my own soul, and many of those things I have been involved with myself over the years.
Several students and fellow faculty members have seen the portrait in my office since you left. They are all amazed, and one even asked if you had ever submitted anything to the annual Church art contest. Have you? If not, you should. I think you’re a hidden artistic talent in the Church who needs to be much better known. But then one reason you did so well with this portrait is that you were PASSIONATELY involved with what Nibley is and stands for. Pat Ward, Nibley’s secretary whom you met, told me yesterday that when she asked Nibley what he thought of the portrait, his response was, “She is very talented.” That is high praise from a man who offers few words on anything that has to do with praising him or his accomplishments. Both he and I were very moved by the reading of your poem.
I’m sorry I never responded to your e-mail on Gorecki, which you mention below. I DO have that recording, and I feel the same way you do about the composition, although I never listen to it when I need a boost. It works much better when I need to be put in my proper place and humbled.
I’ll be keeping in touch with you as events are planned for the Nibley naming, hopefully in the Spring. I am insisting that the least we can do is fly you out here with no expense to you. But having no authority, I can’t promise anything. I will try. Thanks again. Love, Gary
Saturday 4. E-mail response from Becky:
You know, I too am still floating on a little cloud of amazement at the events of that afternoon. I do not understand why it should be such a major high, but it IS. To have had the opportunity to actually meet the man, and hear from his own lips, my efforts pronounced ‘good,’ was all a validation. To have been allowed to actually read the poem he inspired, TO HIM, and have him be moved by it… was an amazing gift. It ranks right up there with other epiphanies in my life: kneeling across the altar, hands clasped, eyes locked, breath in suspense, hearts sealed for time and eternity; the births of my children, the beauty of their perfection, and the wonder of another person suddenly in the room; my first true missionary experience, the cold burning in my chest, my heart pounding, the rest of the room receding as I connected soul to soul with my dear friend and heard the words “I know it is true”; standing at the edge of Niagara Falls and feeling the ardent desire to join my 98% with it’s crashing millions of gallons of water; having tears overcome me while sitting in the outdoor theater in Oberammergau, (“you! me! here!”) as the opening scenes of the world famous Passion Play began; feeling faint with joy to be the means of treating my mother, a life-long Wagner lover, to an actual performance of her ultimate favorite, Tristan und Isolde, at the Rezidence Theater in Munich, (“this is little me, and little you, at the opera in Munich!”) and seeing the enraptured look on her face and the tears rolling down as the overture washed over us; the wonder of standing in the garden of our Cotswold stone cottage in England, and actually seeing the Northern lights, (“we are actually standing in OUR garden, in Gloucestershire, and watching the Aurora Borealis!”) curtains of green and red dancing in the sky for hours one December night; the thrill of finding ancestor after ancestor for days, and weeks, and months, and seeing their still-standing family seats and feeling the vibration of history and time telescoping into but a slim moment (“my 11th great grandfather built this! my several 24th great grandfathers fought each other and died here!”); the first time I sat down and listened to Gorecki’s 3rd and almost died of beauty and transcendence of it; the profound joy of witnessing the temple marriages of my sons; the momentous final minutes of my dying father, as we all sang hymns together and he mouthed the words, and he answered “yes, yes, yes, yes”, and “beautiful” to my asking who could he see, was so-&-so there, what did (his dead grandson) Sam look like?; the startling sensation of being in an extended out of body experience, (“I can’t believe we actually live here!”) floating on the lifting and falling aquamarine breast of the water, sitting on the beach with a loved one and watching the moonrise, spotting Orion, Scorpio, Sagittarius amongst the moving palm fronds; the amazing transport to utter joy when my Stake choir shook the rafters and stunned me, themselves and the entire congregation at the Cannon Center on Sept 17th; … ALL are “Pinch Me!” experiences. I shall never forget my few moments with Nibley. He charmed me completely, and I fell in love with him. I wished I could have put him in my pocket and taken him home with me. What a darling, darling man he is!
If I do get to fly out for the naming, I will be very delighted, and so honored! I do hope it can be managed. I look forward to talking more with you, Gary. Love, Becky
November 9, 2000. [E-mail to Becky Everett] Becky, I just had to tell you about some praiseworthy comments about your Nibley portrait. Tuesday I met with Dr. John Gee and his class on Egyptian language – and showed them the portrait, knowing that of all the people on campus, they would appreciate it the most. They were extremely impressed and spent infinitely more time looking at all the details and nuances of the portrait – rather than of Nibley himself. (I expected that.) The best way to describe their mood would be: reverent.
Today, Michael Lyon, who is not only the illustrator for the newest Nibley volume, Abraham in Egypt, but also of other art works like the mural in the Denver temple, saw the portrait for the first time. He wanted me to tell you in his own words what his response was: “I am very impressed but also very envious.” He said something about your being a better artist, but I assured him that since you did different kinds of art, that could hardly mean that one is better than the other.
I also wanted to remind you about the negatives. The one member of FARMS that I have talked to said that FARMS might be interested in selling 8x10s. I will be meeting with some other members informally in two weeks.
Lastly, I’d like to send your last e-mail of praise to my kids. It was a wonderful expression of gratitude for all of the blessings in your life.
November 29, 2000. This morning Rob Hunt, one of my graduate students who is doing his thesis on the Hellenization of Judaism in the period before Christ, asked for some assistance. I introduced him to my friend Dr. Curtis Wright, who talked to Rob about Vertical/Horizontal Judaism and about Nibley’s writings on Sophic and Mantic. In passing Rob said that he had also talked to my graduate student from last Winter, Rebecca Sybrowsky. She told him that I was one of the university’s best-kept secrets.
Today I gave some of the personnel from FARMS a tour of the new and improved library. They were very impressed. I began by showing them the Ancient Studies Library and the portrait of Hugh Nibley.
January 19, 2001. While pushing the bookcart back to the elevator on Level 2 (and then to my office), I ran into Julie Williamsen, who had wanted to see the Nibley portrait. When she saw it, she was amazed and had ideas for ‘exploiting’ Rebecca’s talents. For one, that we should exhibit her other works of art in the library. So I will keep that in mind for the future, whether or not the Nibley celebration ever comes off.
February 23, 2001. How could we miss the FARMS banquet, even though the prospects of getting there were a little worrisome with the 5 p.m. snowstorm which descended on Provo! The banquet was being held in the Provo Marriott ballroom: 450 people were going to be fed there! Signe and I picked a table in the middle of the hall and were joined by Eleanor Frandsen, who sold her house on the south hill of BYU to FARMS; Judith Long, an artist and genealogist who talked to us about Nibley, St. Augustine’s atrocities and the errors of carbon-14 dating); Alvin Smith, a Joseph Smith descendant and his wife; and two other couples we didn’t get acquainted with. Many acquaintances walked by the table and shook my hand, including Dr. Truman G. Madsen, whom I hadn’t seen in awhile. He commented to me, “You have a halo,” probably referring to my white hair. Dan Peterson spoke of the new programs, the Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts (ISPART) and bowled me over with the projects this institute is now handling. FARMS is only one part of it. Apparently BYU is now microfilming ancient records not only in the Vatican but in other libraries throughout the world which hold ancient texts. Elder Hafen closed the evening with a wonderful history of FARMS and the future of ISPART. I have no doubt that the Hugh Nibley Ancient Studies Room will play a large part in its future.
March 1, 2001. Tonight I tried to sell some Coventry Classics hot cocoa in the neighborhood, but no one was home except my friend Dr. Herb Spencer. It was good to talk to him again about Nibley, FARMS and poor health in other ward members. And he bought two canisters of cocoa!
March 7, 2001. A very full and fulfilling day, most of it having to do with Nibley-related matters. First, I received a wonderful e-mail from Beck (Rebecca Everett) with a few pages of story and gratitude concerning her meeting with Hugh Nibley. With the e-mail was the photo I took of her with Nibley and the portrait. Then I had a conversation with Boyd Petersen, Nibley’s son-in-law, concerning two World War II history books which mention Nibley in their pages. I ordered a copy of the book we didn’t have. A friendly e-mail response finally came from Salt Lake artist Judith Long, who is not only a Nibley fan but who wants to photograph and paint Alice as part of her African art exhibit. This was followed by a visit to FARMS and Dan McKinlay, who allowed me to find a Nibley memo to President Wilkinson in 1953 concerning the BYU Library being the information center for the church. I shared this quote with Randy. He was so impressed with it that he would like to make a plaque for it and place it in the Nibley Ancient Studies Room.
March 14, 2001. I went back to the Ancient Studies offices to ask Pat Ward how Nibley was doing. Well, his wife Phyllis no more than got out of the hospital when Nibley’s granddaughter’s husband died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 26! So now he has to prepare for a funeral. Pat also related how Mr. Ali Al-Shahry of Oman, an Arabian cave explorer who was supposed to speak at FARMS and BYU these next two days, was detained by police at the Oman border and prevented from leaving the country. Reason? His relatives were angry with him for not mentioning them in his book! So now Pat has to cancel the speaking engagements I was looking forward to.
April 8, 2001. At 4:30 we arrived at American Towers in downtown Salt Lake City to visit with Judith Long, who used an entire roll of film on Alice Muchanyerei. Her condo was very pleasingly decorated, and she was the perfect hostess. She not only had the Nibley collection on her shelves, but three of my own books.
April 9, 2001. Becky Everett just moved from Hawaii to Baltimore and is awaiting her furniture. She’s hoping that because of her Nibley portrait she might be able to have an exhibit in the library. (She’s also entering the Nibley portrait in the Church Art contest this fall.)
September 27, 2001. I’m sorry that my journal has been idling in ‘Neutral’ most of these past few days. I have two major excuses: first of all, so many more of my minutes are taken up with helping Liz and Kat getting their business going (and preparations for the Nibley celebration at work), and secondly, I have less motivation for keeping the journal following the heinous events of September 11. What’s the point when freedom-loving people the world over are fearful about what will come next: biological and chemical warfare; a depressed economy? On the other hand, the tragedy has greatly united the country: if only the next step could be repentance for everyone. All earthlings could treat one another with more love, understanding and tolerance. I’ll try not to give up on my journal in the future. But like most Americans, the event has saddened and depressed me. I even had another dream (was I asleep or awake?), praying “Daddy, can you bring me home?” Today I scurried around the library and my office looking for the best material I could find on Nibley so that I could send it to President Bateman, Alan Wilkins and others.
Today I scurried around the library and my office looking for the best material I could find on Nibley so that I could send it to President Bateman, Alan Wilkins and others.
November 2, 2001. Rabbi Gurary, University of Buffalo, wants mystic manuscripts having to do with Rabbi Israel baal Shem Tov and Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Lyadi. While sounding very pleasant on the phone, he insisted that he had a “feeling” we had some manuscripts he was looking for and would gladly come from New York to look at them. He became acquainted with Hugh Nibley a few years ago. He said that if I could help him out, I would be doing a great mitzvah (religious good deed) for him.
November 9, 2001. [From a letter to Ivan Gaetz at Regis University, concerning my interest in the American Theological Library Association] My heroes, other than the Savior, are Martin Luther, Joseph Smith, Hugh Nibley, St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi and Pope John Paul II. I’m currently involved in a faculty seminar studying the writings of Catholic writer George M. Marsden, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship. The highest compliments paid to me as a librarian is when people refer to me as a knowledge navigator or intellectual cartographer. Those are my strengths. I especially enjoy studying all of the religions of the world. They all bring precious and exciting truths and life-affirming values to this planet called ‘Earth.’
November 4, 2001. Tonight was the celebration I have been awaiting for ten years: the official naming of the Ancient Studies Room after Hugh Nibley. Immediately upon arriving at the library following the end of the workshop, I went straight to the Ancient Studies Library to see if everything had been done correctly. The Nibley portrait was hung too high, but the Egyptian mummy case and everything else was perfectly arranged. About 60 of us gathered in the President’s Dining Room of WSC to honor Nibley. Becky Everett sat with Signe and me. We were later joined by Jack and Jeannie Welch and a reporter from University Communications. We had lively discussions about our various trips to Europe and the dangers we had faced. Academic Vice President Alan Wilkins was conducting. After his introductory comments, I gave the invocation and blessing on the meal. Kent Brown told a story about Nibley, and then President Bateman talked about the contributions Nibley had made to the university and the church.
November 22, 2001. Tuesday afternoon I had an extraordinary One-on-One with Julene Butler. She was very complimentary of my department, praising every one of them for their professionality and library service. I had not written anything negative about any of them, and she actually heightened the ranking on Robert because of his excellent work this past year. She also praised my good writing of the evaluations. While discussing the Fisher Seminar I mentioned my idea about a Real People or Virtual Community Website which could conceivably include every member of the church. I also mentioned a possible Ancient Studies Web site which included the portrait of Hugh Nibley, and my desire to submit a proposal to teach an Honors class about the writings of Hugh Nibley.
December 3, 2001. Julene signed my application to teach an Honors Class on the life and teaching of Hugh Nibley. Cali O’Connell and I talked about the university’s quash of the publicity of the Nibley Ancient Studies Room. She was privy to some facts I wasn’t and vice versa. She didn’t want to know my Nibley family information, and I didn’t want to know her university information.
January 17, 2002. Met Stephanie with the Service Animal (for sleep apnea), a Chihuahua named Speedy. She speaks French, and Bostonian, British, Black and Jewish English. Colorful convert of 5 years; Nibley admirer; singer; studied Hebrew at a Jewish school. [Nibley very much appreciates this kind of person!]
February 25, 2002. Tonight Curtis Wright showed me the letter he wrote to Elder Dallin H. Oaks concerning his metallic epigraphy bibliography. I’ve tried to calm him down about his criticism of LDS editors, but he’s had too many years of experience. Once again he told me that of all the essays in By Study and Also By Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh Nibley, my article on repentance is the only one which addresses the inner man and faith. The others are simply by study. Coming from Curtis, it’s one of the greatest compliments anyone has paid me concerning anything!
May 15, 2002. I found out from Michael Lyon that Hugh Nibley will no longer be coming up to his office in the library. Doctor’s orders. Apparently Pat Ward will be going to his house to help him work on One Eternal Round.
June 6, 2002. I got a call from the Honors Department asking me to teach a 3-hour class, “The Life and Works of Hugh Nibley.” I was excited, for although I had proposed such a class 18 months ago, I was doubtful at this late date that it would materialize. I hope to teach it from 10 to 11 Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but my next problem was discovering that my required textbook, Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless, is out of print. So I called my friend Richard Draper in the Religious Studies Center, and he informed me that Covenant Communications had asked the RSC if they could reprint said volume — and that I should lend support by sending him a memo. So I immediately did so.
June 9, 2002. Our monthly family reunion was once again held at Karl’s home. I spent time with three groups during the evening: the former Hale clan, the Gillums, the grandchildren, and myself, putting together the clever little puzzle Karl made for me for Father’s Day, made out of a piece of cherry wood left over from the Nibley Ancient Studies Library.
June 11, 2002. The end of an era. Just as I was walking towards Devotional, Hugh Nibley’s secretary, Pat Ward, asked me to return the books Nibley had checked out of the library and which were in his office on Level 5. She then informed me that she would be clearing out his office so that it could be used by another faculty member in the Fall. Nibley has been doing research in the library ever since I first met him in 1969. I will miss seeing him. He’s been on IV’s at home because of losing electrolytes in his system, and the doctor (and probably Phyllis as well) insists that he stay home.
July 17, 2002. My conversation with Nibley today concerning the honors class I will be teaching in Winter was very interesting. He insisted that it be an Abraham class, so I’ve had to change the title to “Doing the Works of Abraham: The Life and Writings of Hugh Nibley.” We also talked about astronomy.
July 25, 2002. When I was paying for two newly developed rolls of film, I saw Duane Roberts. I told him about my Nibley lecture in two weeks. He was very interested because of a possible documentary film of Nibley based on Alex Nibley’s Sgt. Nibley, PhD. So here’s yet another spin-off from my career-long interest in Nibley.
August 1, 2002. Kris in the Instructional Media Center helped me put two video clips on my Nibley power point presentation: from Saving Private Ryan and The Faith of an Observer.
August 2, 2002. Finished Nibley presentation and will sleep on it during the weekend. Meanwhile, Richard Draper called to tell me that he likes my “Nibley as a Missionary of the Mind” as a preface to Covenant Communications new edition of Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless.
August 7, 2002. My Nibley presentation went off without a hitch– and very well! The 80 or so people in attendance were very appreciative. Terry Dahlin said mine was the second-most attended presentation of any librarian. My fellow librarians were especially impressed. Signe, Karl and Laurel were all able to attend the presentation. Here were some Nibley anecdotes told to me by Sterling Albrecht and Scott Duvall afterwards:
Sterling took Nibley with him to meet with President N. Eldon Tanner who was going to hand over the Joseph Smith Papyrus to BYU and Nibley for examination. On the way home they spotted a female motorist in distress. Sterling wanted to ignore the incident because of the importance of the cargo, but Nibley instructed Sterling to stop. As it turned out the woman could not get her hood down, so Nibley sat on the hood and shoved it down with his body weight. [around 1967]
Scott Duvall was in the copy center when Nibley was there with an ancient text. After asking Nibley what the text said, Nibley responded, “You don’t want to know. It will scare the hell out of you.”
August 15, 2002. As I walked into the library this morning I was greeted by Philip Allred, a Religion Instructor at BYU-Idaho, who thanked me for my article, “Repentance Also Means Re-Thinking,” in the Nibley Festschrift. He uses the article for his religion classes.
August 22, 2002. I am here alone, today, realizing that I have come to a crossroads in my life and needing to think matters through more thoroughly. I don’t believe this threshold is solely due to my being released as chair of the Humanities/Religion Reference department. I believe that there are other things as well. For example, my Nibley presentation a couple of weeks ago was clearly a triumph and summary of my professional career of scholarship and librarianship.
August 26, 2002. an updated report on Hugh Nibley was given to me by Pat Ward. Just after that I ran into Lou Midgley, with whom I had a very interesting conversation. (He’s become much more liberal and outspoken in his old age.) He hadn’t seen the new Hugh Nibley Ancient Studies Room, so I took him upstairs to show him. He was especially interested by the portrait.
September 18, 2002. Until now I had never realized how my being Department Chair had occupied so much of my time and mental energy. I look back to twelve years of deep personal challenge, but forward to five remaining years of less than deep personal challenge. (Or perhaps I feel guilty about the professional ‘fun’ I will be having serving students and studying the works of Hugh Nibley.)
October 29, 2002. This morning Boyd Petersen related the good news about his biography of Nibley coming out in about two weeks, with the cover taken from Rebecca’s portrait of Nibley. I’m really excited!
November 14, 2002. A wonderful quote from Hugh Nibley, as I proof-read Boyd Petersen’s new biography of his father-in-law, A Consecrated Life. I’ve read many wonderful things about his life, but so far the most important was a comment that he made while on his mission in Germany in the 1920s: “The Gospel is a fulcrum for everything else in my life.”
November 22, 2002. Revelation, Reason and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen, published by FARMS, is now in my hands, with my article, “‘Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee’: Understanding the Christ of the Restoration and the Reformation.” (This is my third Festschrift volume: the others were essays in honor of Hugh Nibley and Richard Anderson.)
November 25, 2002. Boyd,
Wow! This book can’t help to be a favorite among Nibleyphiles. I was excited, inspired and moved by many of the quotes from letters and stories you included. I’ve already sent the information to the Honors department to have the book ordered for the bookstore. Unfortunately, Nibley on the Timely and Timeless will not be out until later next year. I will have to list a choice of articles for them to read from Infobase or GospeLink 2001 and put some items on reserve. Any suggestions? Like Nibley, I’ve already decided to grade mostly from attendance and participation. But unlike Nibley, I will assign more than one paper and make the final a little easier.
By the way, how are members of the Nibley family accepting the book? Good luck!
December 11, 2002. Today I realized that during the past two weeks I have finished the biographies of three great men: Nibley, Abraham and Tolstoy. Very soon I will be finishing the biography of Neal A. Maxwell, so that will add another one. These four men all had something in common: faith and humility. Just before reading and finishing these biographies, I read the biography of Zarathustra for a Library Journal review.
December 19, 2002. An e-mail from John Sorenson:
A prisoner at Utah State Prison has been in correspondence with me for some time. He has asked a question that you can answer, and I hope you will reply with that response. He says: “In Nibley’s book ‘Of All Things’ he makes a statement on p. 138 near the top of the page wherein he says that Koran was edited completely through three times in Mohammed’s lifetime. Do you by chance know where that information is taken from? I had not previously known that.”
I really don’t know the answer myself, but I have talked to Jim Toronto and have left a message with Dan Peterson. Jim says that Nibley was wrong. The Koran was not even compiled until after Mohammed’s death. I can’t imagine where Nibley would have gotten his information, unless he misunderstood one of his 1950’s Arab students he had in a Book of Mormon class. If I hear anything different from Dan Peterson, I will let you know.
Merry Christmas! Gary
December 23, 2002. Library Journal, for which I write a book review every six weeks, has just sent me a new book to review – a choice which causes me to believe that my editor at LJ, Carolyn Kuebler, is definitely inspired: David Klinghoffer’s The Discovery of God: Abraham and the Birth of Monotheism (New York: Doubleday). Did she know that I will be teaching a course on Abraham and Hugh Nibley less than a month from now? Or that while in Yucca Valley during Thanksgiving I read a similar book by Bruce Feiler, Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths? Who says the universe is not orderly! No one can say my guardian angel doesn’t know what I’m doing . . . or being . . . or knowing. What a sense of enduring sanction this Feeling gives me! It’s like being completely bathed in divine light, love and laughter.
January 6, 2003. Class went extremely well – 20 students. We discussed the syllabus and then explored the various themes we could keep in mind while studying Nibley’s works: shedding light on new areas, ‘Big Picture’ focus, seeing things from a different angle, and his consecrated life of discipleship.
January 8, 2003. To Carolyn [Kuebler, my book review editor at Library Journal],
You’re going to begin thinking that I believe that every book I review is the best there is! I apologize for the enthusiasm, but part of the blame falls on you. Either you have access to my brain (and therefore my life) or my reviewing of this book is an example of pure synchronicity, coincidence – or inspiration (if I dare use such a term in library/literary circles). I not only had just read Bruce Feiler’s book on Abraham during Thanksgiving vacation, but I have finished reading (and reviewing) Klinghoffer’s book just in time for the class I am teaching this semester on Abraham! (I also happen to have edited a book, published in 2000, Abraham in Egypt, by Hugh Nibley, which uses Egyptological sources in telling the story of Abraham’s sojourn in that country. In addition, BYU published in 2001 Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham (edited by John Tvedtnes). Further, my leisurely reading is a fictionalized account of Rebekah, by fellow classmate and science fiction writer Orson Scott Card. Life does have a plan, as you have proved to me once again.
In short, I think you deserve a raise for being so ‘in tune’ with one of your reviewers, and I have to say that this book definitely deserves a star! Once again, my review is too long, but if I can trust you with sending the right book at the right time, I can certainly trust you to understand what I am saying about a book. (And now I’ve put you on the spot: you’re going to be nervous about the next book you send me. Please don’t be. Every book you have sent me has had a purpose in my professional or personal life. I look forward to each new book as if it were Christmas.) Your colleague, Gary
This morning Brenda Harrison bought a copy of my Nibley quote book to send to her son Chad who is being deployed overseas to Afghanistan very soon. As one who has read most of Nibley’s writings, Brenda thought this would be the perfect book to accompany him. This support of the ‘war effort’ reminds me of a compliment Pat Ward, Nibley’s secretary, gave me yesterday. I had given her a copy of my foreword to the reprint of Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless. She returned it by saying that I knew Nibley to a tee – that I had described him very well.
January 10, 2003. After talking about Nibley ‘themes’ in class today, I started the Nibley video, The Faith of an Observer. The students were disappointed that we couldn’t finish it today.
January 13, 2003. In my Honors class today I showed most of the Nibley video. It will be interesting to hear the comments of the students on Wednesday.
January 24, 2003. One of my Nibley class students, Dan Butler, married one of Signe’s former students. Signe played at her reception tonight. Dan’s father was once Nibley’s bishop, and Dan’s mother (Diane Lindo) was once Signe’s nanny way back when. Talk about coincidences.
January 27, 2003. Nibley class today: a wonderful discussion of his scientific/religious paper, “Before Adam.”
January 29, 2003. The class’s reading of “Patriarchy and Matriarchy” brought forth the kind of discussion I was hoping for today. Later, as I sat with my friend Dana Pike of the Religion faculty, I learned from him that one of his Old Testament students was in my Nibley class and had commented on how much he was learning. Two weeks ago I heard the same kind of comment from Philosophy professor Dennis Packard, whose teaching assistant, Carl Cranney, had made a similar observation.
February 7, 2003. Like all of my Nibley classes, this one went very well – with a lot of meaningful discussion, I mentioned how just a few minutes before class I had read my desk calendar’s description of a great book to read about Hildegard of Bingen and how I felt she was a female version of Hugh Nibley, despite the fact that she was a nun living in the Middle Ages. Anyway, I had gone to the stacks to find this book, when I picked up one by another author instead, turning directly to a page which had information about the Sacred Four on it.
February 18, 2003. My class is going well. It’s too bad I didn’t have the gumption to offer this Nibley class years ago, but then I wouldn’t have had the advantage of using Boyd Petersen’s wonderful new biography of his father-in-law.
February 20, 2003. As I was leaving work tonight, a complete stranger held the door open for me and wanted to know if I was a professor on campus. Telling him I was, he asked me about study habits and soon found out that I was teaching the Nibley class. He then told me that a fellow classmate in Philosophy had told him what a great class it was!
February 21, 2003. Julene was more effusive than ever about my 25+ years of work with Hugh Nibley, capped by my Honors Nibley class. She thinks I deserve some special award.
March 5, 2003. Jack Welch called me this afternoon and asked me to write a review of Boyd Petersen’s Nibley biography for BYU Studies. I told him that I would be honored to, although I don’t feel quite up to it. I will do my best, however, even if 1600 words is a lot more than the 175 words I write for my Library Journal reviews. On the other hand, I find it an exciting challenge, knowing that the publication of this review could be one of the climaxes of my career at BYU.
March 13, 2003. Helped David Paulsen find the Greek word ὕλη, a word the philosopher William James used for ‘matter’ in his writings. As I was helping Dr. Paulsen, Christian Gellinek, who is a researcher on Mormonism from Germany (or Holland?), asked me for information on the 19th century theologian John Fleetwood. I was able to find information in Schaff-Herzog. Christian came back later to thank me, and also exclaiming about the Hugh Nibley Ancient Studies Room. When he discovered that I had developed that library, he said, “Man, you make me very happy!”
March 15, 2003. These next two weeks are fairly screaming for attention from me: Wednesday’s introduction of Boyd Petersen, author of Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life as part of the library’s House of Learning Lectures; Friday’s presentation on Nibley at a Payson ward’s activity night (through the BYU Speakers Bureau); my Honors seminar March 27 (Nibley’s birthday) on “The Sacred Four and Lehi’s Brothers”; teaching the Priesthood/Relief Society 5th Sunday lesson on Domestic Abuse; the writing of a book review of Lynn Picknett’s book on Mary Magdalene tomorrow for Library Journal; and a much larger review of Petersen’s book for BYU Studies.
March 21, 2003. A rousing discussion about Nibley and the Hopis this morning in class. Tonight, in behalf of the BYU Speakers Bureau, I gave a presentation on Nibley in a Payson ward.
March 27, 2003. Happy 93rd birthday, Brother Nibley! One of the reasons for my stress was relieved today after I finished my Honors Enrichment Seminar presentation on “Lehi’s Four Sons as an Archetype of Quaternity, research given in honor of Brother Nibley’s birthday.” The response was gratifying, even though the audience filled only a third of the Maeser lecture hall.
Jack Welch called me this afternoon and asked me to review Petersen’s Nibley biography for BYU Studies. I told him I would. I also received in the mail an appreciation letter from Truman G. Madsen about my ‘excellent’ article in the Festschrift published late last year by FARMS. Dan McKinlay brought the letter and told me that Truman had a wonderful quote about today’s popular music, “The noise which today passes as music is a ‘wilderness in the voice.’”
April 4, 2003. Before class today I enjoyed speaking German with Adam Anderson. To me that is as exciting as walking back to the library with three or four students in tow or teaching in the same classroom Nibley did (250 Maeser).
April 11, 2003. Boyd Petersen, Zina Nibley’s husband and author of Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life, spoke in my Honors Nibley class this morning. He had some wonderful memorabilia to show us, including Nibley’s pocketbook journals, a briefcase he took from a dead German soldier in World War II, and pictures of the old family home in Glendale, California. Afterwards, Boyd and I talked outside for half an hour. I asked him about Nibley’s love for gypsies and told him about a 1989 letter in which Nibley wrote to a sister in the church, telling her that one of the most influential books in his childhood was George Borrow’s Lavengro, which I had purchased a copy of from amazon.com and read while we were in the Cotswolds in England in 1998.
I also received word by e-mail today that my proposal for the Abraham conference in the fall has been accepted. That will be my next project after I finish the Nibley book review.
April 21, 2003. My Nibley class is winding down. It’s been such a great experience that I’m sure I’m going to experience something like drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms!
April 27, 2003. I volunteered for one important thing during the Honors retreat: to teach a one credit class during Fall semester to Freshmen, called “Researching with Dr. Nibley in the Library.” I’m excited about jump-starting eager freshmen (or freshpersons, if you will).
April 28, 2003. Today I took my grades into the Honors office in the Maeser Building. I gave mostly A’s, A-‘s, one B+, one B and one B-. I hope no one accuses me of grade inflation!
May 3, 2003. After four months of consorting with 18 wonderful Honors students, the semester is over, yet I spend too much time reading and rereading their marvelous response papers to the Nibley articles they read (and getting ideas from them for the BYU Studies book review on Boyd Petersen’s book review I need to have in by the end of the month.)
May 9, 2003. Signe and I stopped to see Hugh and Phyllis Nibley in Provo, dropping off the 9 page folder of tributes my students had made to Brother Nibley. He is now in a hospital bed in his living room, and when he saw us coming up the walk to his house, he had a big smile on his face. Both were very warm and cordial to us, Nibley and I talking about Margaret Barker’s address and the book he was reading of hers (On Earth As It Is In Heaven), while Signe talked to Phyllis about the symphony. We wished them well and offered our hope that he would be on his feet soon, with his ischemia problem well behind him.
May 16, 2003. The first person I saw in the library this morning was my dear friend, colleague, former student and fellow Nibleyophile, Dan McKinlay. We began to talk about our favorite person and kept going at it for 90 minutes. A graduate of a theological school back east, he probably would have had my job in the library, had I not joined the Church and upset the balance. I am grateful he is such a guileless man and brother!
Then when I got home I spotted my friend and fellow ward member Dr. Spencer, walking his three dogs. It had been so long since I had seen him last, so I caught up with him and engaged in excited conversation about – you guessed it! – Brother Nibley. Thus, I began and ended my day talking with someone about my spiritual hero.
September 8, 2003. . In the afternoon I met with Brad Westwood, Larry Draper and John Murphy about the Nibley Archives. I am excited to be working with these professional archivists.
September 12, 2003. Rachel from the Religious Studies Center came over to get help on some of Nibley’s references in “To Open the Last Dispensation.” My knowledge of French, German and Hebrew were needed to solve some of the footnote questions.
September 26, 2003. This afternoon several of us from the library met at Hugh Nibley’s home to box up his books and papers for the Nibley Archive. I was there first, so I was able to talk to Hugh and Phyllis. Hugh was very happy to see me and told me how he wanted to write some letters: his brain was working fine, but his hand wouldn’t cooperate. Brad Westwood, Larry Draper, John Murphy, a student named John, Beth, and myself all worked to fill 45 boxes or so, under the guidance of Boyd Petersen and Tom Nibley. (Tom waylaid me several times by talking about my own NDE writings and his interest in them. He also told me about an organization called “Ezekiel,” which he wants me to attend. It seems a bit on the Fundamentalist side of things.) All in all, our two hours at the Nibley’s were really interesting. As I helped Beth box the books from two bedrooms upstairs I noticed how everything was random – as if Nibley put books in a certain spot because that’s where the space was; or that’s the room where he had been working. No rhyme or reason behind the placement. One exception to this was the order of Forgotten Books of Eden, a book on the Hopis, and Black Elk Speaks next to each other on the shelf. I look forward to our next trip to Nibley’s to clean out the garage. So far the oldest book I’ve seen was one on the writings of Socrates from 1698, published in Paris. (Did he find that in a used bookstore while on his mission in Europe in the 30s, or during WWII?)
Nibley Friday, October 10, 2003. A day of days, three hours of soul-satisfying, mind-fulfilling and happifying activity at the home of Hugh and Phyllis Nibley. At 1:45 I met five of my students (from my Winter semester’s Nibley class) at the Karl G. Maeser statue in front of the Maeser Building: Sarah Phipps, Adam Anderson, Ben Anderson, Matt Brice and Melbourne O’Bannion. It was a cool bu beautiful day as we descended the steps down Maeser Hill, as Hugh Nibley himself has done thousands of times in his 93 years. In ten minutes we were standing outside the Nibley home on 700 North, awaiting the arrival of Brad Westwood and John Murphy from Special Collections, and Boyd Petersen, Nibley’s son-in-law, to show us what to take today. Meanwhile, Bronya Nibley, Paul Nibley’s wife, and her daughter Anna arrived, just after John Gee left the house after discussing Abraham with Hugh.
When Boyd arrived, I asked if he felt it was all right for the students to meet Nibley while we awaited Brad and John. Hugh and Phyllis both thought that would be all right. I also told Nibley about how John Gee had brought three moldy and water-damaged books into my office that very morning: all of them about the cuneiform in the Archives at Mari, and all of them never checked out from Ancient Studies!! I told Nibley about how the person who had ‘lifted’ them from Ancient Studies, Jonathan Gemill, had died in his sleep two years ago. Nibley wondered how Jonathan had pulled that off, for he wondered if he could do that, too! A chuckle from all of us in the room! After that humorous experience with a frail and failing but still alert and awake Hugh, I invited the students in to meet our great mentor. Adam Anderson, who like Nibley had served a mission in Germany, immediately greeted Nibley in perfect German, eliciting a response in German from Hugh! (The other students were amazed!) And then each student got to shake Nibley’s hand – reverently. One of the students asked about Nibley’s magnum opus, his One Eternal Round. Nibley responded, “Still round and round.” That also got laughs from everyone. Then I ushered the students out, for by this time Brad and John had arrived.
All 8 of us together then tackled the hundreds of books in his garage: I grabbed them off the shelf while Sarah put them in the boxes, still another labeled the boxes, and yet another carried the boxes (soon to be 60) out to the BYU van. I handled books as old as 1608 and 1621 (Greek texts published in Germany), five paperback copies of the Book of Mormon (all annotated with marginalia by Nibley, pointing the way towards a future commentary of the Book of Mormon), a complete set of Tolstoy (in Russian), several books in Arabic, and a complete set of Hindu scriptures. Halfway through, however, I had to don a dust mask because of the dust in the air from moving books which had probably sat in this garage for decades.
Meanwhile, Brad, the students and I had lively discussions about Nibley and his books when we came across interesting things, like a 1920s Kodak camera in one corner. Brad and I also wondered if Nibley knew that he was a convert from Catholicism and that I was a convert from Lutheranism – working together on his collection. I was really heady from this three-hour experience, knowing the inspiring fun I would have in the future going through this fine collection of books. But I was tired as the four male students and I walked up Maeser Hill to the library, where Matt and Adam went to the loading dock to help Brad and John unload those 60 boxes to take to Special Collections. Then, as a I walked to the car to meet Signe, I wondered how Nibley must feel about all of his books being taken out from under him, as it were, after many decades of reading and researching in them. But I rested assured that Nibley is grateful that many students will get good use out of his lifetime labors and collections.
In November 1984 I expressed my dismay that working with Nibley’s writings were interfering with family and professional responsibilities. Now I realize that all of these past years have culminated with a soul-heightening and deepening experience today that testifies to me that it was all well worth the effort and the many hours I have devoted to the project. May I always feel that way!
November 24, 2003. Today I trained Judith Long in inventorying the Nibley book collection. Neither of us have learned ProCite yet, so we began using Word. Judith brought her granddaughter Jade along with her. She is the cutest child, with Anglo, Filipino, and Navajo blood. At lunchtime we went to the Cougareat, where 5-year old Jade ate ¾ of a pepperoni pizza. That’s more than Kat would have eaten!
At 2:30 Judith, Jade and I met John Murphy at Nibley’s home to finish taking boxes from the garage and the upstairs SW bedroom. Judith and Hugh got along famously, and she even finished her time with him by giving him a hug and a kiss. When she told him that his works were the only thing she could read after her aneurysm a few years ago, he characteristically remarked that he was glad his life was worth something!
After the work at Nibley’s was completed, I went with Judith and Jade to our house for dinner. Signe had fixed a wonderful lamb stew, using a Lion House recipe. We had a wonderful time visiting, and I helped Jade pick some pine needles off the ground!
November 9, 2003. This morning I called Mary Wilson to be the 12th ward librarian. In doing so I discovered that her mother, the former Marnae Brown, was once engaged to be married to Paul Nibley, Hugh and Phyllis’s oldest son. And like Judith Long, Mary Wilson had a stroke 18 months ago. Wanting to rebuild her brain, she was excited when I brought up the possibility of volunteering to help with the Nibley archives.
November 10, 2003. Mary begins working on the Nibley collection Thursday! Brad gave his permission this morning.
While evaluating three ‘new’ Nibley boxes this morning (after retrieving them from the stacks in Special Collections), I discovered a card Nibley had typed concerning the state of our Western civilization. It describes our culture very well:
No other civilization has permitted the calculus of self-interest so to dominate its
Culture. It has transmogrified greed and philistinism into social virtues, and sub-
Ordinated all values to commercial values. Thus, the business civilization combines
liberty and selfishness, egalitarianism and extremes of wealth and poverty, vulgarity and democracy, creativity and waste, respect for the unique and autonomous individual and wage slavery, the conquest of space and the destruction of the environment. (R.L. Heilbronner, Business Civilization in Decline (NY: Norton, 1976), p. 3.
November 13, 2003. I trained 12th ward member Mary Wilson to help Judith with the Nibley archive. She is catching on rather quickly. She is as excited about the project as Judith.
November 14, 2003. Judith worked on the Nibley collection while university public relations did an interview with Christiaan Heal concerning the Syrian ISPART project.
January 5, 2004. [Ala Nibley,] I met my Nibley class for the first time this semester, forgetting the syllabus and class roll! Well, I had to make-do. Things worked out fine without the roll.
January 15, 2004. Today at 11 I gave a talk in 3714 HBLL on “The Scholarship of High Nibley,” sponsored by the Student Society for Ancient Studies. Afterwards two of my friends who had attended, Deborah and Matt, insisted that my talk was incredible (even though I had to use a lapel mike because of my cold).
January 16, 2004. My Nibley class met in the Special Collections classroom this morning, where my colleague Russ Taylor showed us a cuneiform tablet from 2055 B.C. Babylon, a page from the Gutenberg 42-line Bible, and an original copy of the Book of Mormon.
February 11, 2004. Judith Long e-mailed me from Salt Lake to inform me that her work on the Nibley archives has given her carpal tunnel and back pains; therefore, she will quit volunteering immediately. This was a difficult decision because of her keen interest in Nibley. But Mary Wilson continues to labor on the project, which is about 2/3 completed. She has even taken the job of vacuuming the books, and may even do Judith’s two boxes a week, as well as her own.
February 12, 2004. Nine students of my Nibley class, plus a student from last year’s class and another student from my Freshman Experience class of Fall semester, met at our house for a party. We practiced Nibley’s “Oyster” song a few times and then played a wonderful game of “Chicken Foot.” I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. The class has been a wonderful experience for me! But it’s also hard work, so that I can hardly wait for the semester to be over.
February 26, 2004. At 5:45 I met 10 students, along with Professors Bill Hamblin, David, Seely, Michael Lyon and a couple of students’ friends. We took the traditional Nibley path from the Maeser Building to the bottom of the hill and over to Nibley’s house. Hugh and Phyllis invited us into their house to sing a birthday song to Nibley’s words “Now that oysters are in season” to the melody of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from symphony no. 9. Nibley was very touched and was mouthing the words to the last two lines. Amazing that he would remember something so well from his high school days when he was but 16 (1926)! Then I gave him a tin of oysters, a bag of pretzels and a carton of buttermilk (instead of beer) to soak the pretzels in. He and Phyllis were both so appreciative of us, especially when Nibley found out we were from BYU, not his ward!
March 28, 2004. This morning was a good time for me to make a lot of headway proofreading the manuscript for the new edition of Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless. It’s a bit daunting to have my name (because of my foreword) on the same page with Nibley and Truman G. Madsen, but I was told I deserved it. This fact is one of the blessed but surprising ironies of my life and my career. And as I read my foreword, I couldn’t believe that I could have written something so fine— and so respectful of Brother Nibley. I can’t say my life has not been fulfilling— and not just because of my considerable family.
May 1, 2004. Summit resort, etc. at The Canyons for the annual BYU Honors retreat. There we sat and visited with Boyd and Zina (Nibley) Petersen. It was wonderful to be with them.
May 4, 2004. In a New Faculty Seminar meeting with Julene Butler, Rachel Wadham and Betsy Spackman (our newest faculty member). Julene introduced me to Betsy as “the Quintessential Scholar Librarian,” a plaudit which I very much appreciated and which helped me reflect objectively on the past 32 years of my career. This was helpful, of course, in what I said about Creative Works, Professional Development, and my Nibley involvement over the years.
May 10, 2004. As I was indexing the December 2003 Sunstone I read Dr. D. Jeff Burton’s article on “Personal Experiences in the Borderland.” His comment on page 68 resonated for me as much anything I have read:
“So I routinely thank God in my prayers for the gift of healthy skepticism and the gift of faith. In some strange way, I feel it is better (for me, anyway) to have an ‘unsure’ life of skepticism and open curiosity, which drives me to learn and study about all facets of life, than have the narrow, fearful approach some strong testimony-bearing members seem to have.”
I believe Dr. Burton’s statement also closely characterizes Nibley!
June 8, 2004. An Airborne Express package arrived at Nibley’s old office in the library, so I took it with me after work to personally deliver to him. Nibley was genuinely happy to see me, but he didn’t seem to be all there. The package had two volumes of a work called, The Myth of Chronic Pain. Myth? It must be written by a doctor!
June 29, 2004. Susan Wheelwright finished the last of the Nibley boxes – for 1922 titles! What a project, which began nearly a year ago and went through over 150 boxes of Nibley’s books. Now for the printing of the 106 page inventory. Then I stopped by the LAO, where Brittany had finished re-typing nine of Nibley’s unpublished and almost illegible manuscripts.
August 5, 2004. My Nibley archives work in Special Collections and the work I’ve been doing on the encyclopedia article were heady attachments to the heart of learning. And now I even feel that something important will assert itself as I leave work in a few moments, catch the bus, and end another day at home. After all, life is coming to a close for us all – and few of us know how, and none of us when.
August 10, 2004. Today was a very positive day for me professionally. I attended an author’s party at the BYU Studies office, where Jack Welch recognized the authors of issue 43:2 (with my book review of Boyd Petersen’s biography of Nibley) and bade bon voyage to the book review editor, Anastasia Sutherland, who has taken a job at MyFamily.com. I enjoyed the praise several people at the party heaped upon me – by Jack Welch, Gideon Burton, Doris Dant, Karen Todd, and Jennifer Hurlbut. And I even indulged in some root beer and pizza!
August 25, 2004. Today I received an e-mail from Davis Bitton, a church historian who had attended our Utah Baroque Ensemble with his wife last Good Friday evening. He first complimented me on my excellent review of Boyd Petersen’s biography of Hugh Nibley, and then asked me to review a paper he had written for the FAIR apologetics conference on how he doesn’t have a testimony of Mormon history! I was flattered that he would ask me. Meanwhile, I wrote another page of the encyclopedia article.
September 24, 2004. I finished the Nibley bibliography about an hour before leaving work for home. It’s good to have a 30-page first draft. I’m sure there will be additional items to add to the list. I feel very relieved to have come this far with it.
September 29, 2004. John Murphy and his student assistant Melanie came to take four boxes of Nibley writings to the archives. I now have two additional file cabinet drawers available for use!
October 7, 2004. My 13 Honors Experience students seemed to enjoy Russ Taylor’s “Show-n’Tell” in Special Collections, from a 4000 year old cuneiform tablet from the Babylonian Empire to a first edition of the Book of Mormon. Tonight 8 of the students (and three significant others) came to our home for banana splits and a few games of pool. In between we watched part of Nibley’s commencement speech in 1983, “Leaders to Managers,” along with the introduction by President Jeffrey R. Holland and his mention of my Nibley quote book.
October 8, 2004. John Murphy brought four legal letters to my office to sign for the Nibley family. Soon the Harold B. Lee Library should have official ownership of the Nibley Archive materials.
October 13, 2004. I enjoyed myself today at work, particularly after ridding myself of the burden of finishing my personal annual report and goals. I spent some wonderful time down in the Nibley Archives, finding some wonderful manuscripts by Nibley that I didn’t know existed: like a paper he wrote for a class I 1930 at UCLA on Plato’s Republic. I can hardly wait to read it! He wrote it when he was 20.
October 14, 2004. My Honors Experience class and I were sad that today was the last day of the block. I’ve learned so much from each of the 13 students, and they all were appreciative of the class. A couple of the students say they want to take my Nibley class next semester. I hope I see them!
October 15, 2004. This ended another great day at work in the Nibley archives. (I think I’m going to get too attached to this portion of my job.)
December 6, 2004. The best news of the day was entering my office for the first time in over two weeks to see the new edition of Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless on my desk, presumably delivered by the Religious Studies Center. Despite my exertions, the editors put my name ahead of Truman Madsen’s on the title page as contributors of forewords for the two editions. I believe I was justly proud of this accomplishment – as much as I was for the review in BYU Studies of Boyd Petersen’s biography of Nibley and the editing of Abraham in Egypt.
December 9, 2004. During my lunch hour two men from the carpentry shop came to my office to get access to the Hugh Nibley Ancient Studies Room. They were here to install Jeff Kulesus’s Egyptian mummy case onto a pedestal in the middle of the room, inside a 6 foot high plexiglass enclosure to protect it. What was synchronous about the event was that six students from Dr. John Gee’s Egyptian hieroglyphics class were there studying at the same time. We ended up talking about mummy cases, the organs placed into canopic jars, and why the heart was left in the mummy (because it was the organ to be judged). I also wondered why I didn’t have the mummy case facing to the east instead of the north. In deference to Hugh Nibley, I feel that the mummy should face the temple! Finally, after three years, the mummy case is protected – thanks to an infusion of budget money from Humanities/Religion Reference department, a final gift from that department to the needs of ‘my’ room before I move to the Religion and Family History Library in May of 2005.
December 21, 2004. Don Norton and I just had a great conversation about our mutual friends Curtis Wright and Hugh Nibley. (I told him what my student friend Jamie told me about her visit with Nibley the other day. As she and her boyfriend were leaving they asked him if he still had a testimony of the Gospel. He responded with, “Insofar as it is translated correctly.”)
January 5, 2005. I met my Nibley Honors class for the first time this semester. I feel very comfortable with these students, much more so than with the 2003 and 2004 classes. There definitely is a better collective class spirit. In addition, classroom 211 holds only 25 desks, as opposed to 80 in 250: much cozier!
February 11, 2005. This noon I had lunch with Randy Olsen, Brad Westwood, Scott Duvall, Larry Draper, Richard Bennett, and our special guests President and Sister Frederick Larsen of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This church is an offshoot of the RLDS (or Community of Christ) and uses the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and other beliefs which the early RLDS church used in their succession from the Prophet Joseph Smith. In fact, President Larsen is a direct descendant of Joseph Smith. The Larsens were a wonderful couple, and we had a very stimulating conversation around the table. Later in the evening, after Signe and I had done endowments at the temple, we went to Bennett’s home in Orem to attend a reception in honor of the Larsens. There I presented Pres. Larsen with a copy of Nibley’s Approaching Zion, knowing that this ‘upstart’ church would be following the law of consecration and building a city of Zion. (Pres. Larsen is a retired chemist.)
February 24, 2005. Joanie in the Ancient Studies office just called and informed me that the Religion Department told her that Hugh Nibley passed away this morning – one month before his 95th birthday and just a few days before his daughter Martha’s book came out. I’m relieved that he’s now relieved, and I pray that their family will be able to deal with the coming storm of Martha’s book. Phyllis had checked on him at 7.a.m. When she went to check again at 10, he had already quietly and peacefully slipped away.
This afternoon Kate Jackson interviewed Curtis Wright and me for a forthcoming Daily Universe article on Martha Beck’s book Leaving the Saints and anti-Mormon literature. We gave her enough to fill both of her ears as well as her tape recorder. A little later Caleb Warnock came from the Daily Herald to get some quotes from me for his article tomorrow. Finally, at 10 p.m. tonight Bishop Mattew Christensen, who had been one of my Nibley students last year, called in behalf of Phyllis Nibley to inform me of the funeral Wednesday in the Provo Tabernacle. Through her bishop she conveyed thanks for all that I’ve done for the family.
March 18, 2005. Stephanie Newbold paid me a nice compliment after my Nibley class today: “I have to thank you, Brother Gillum, for taking the time to help us learn and grow. This is a class of potential and joy, and I love it.”
Then I paid Zina Nibley Petersen a visit in the new Smith Building. As I was looking for her, I ran into one of my old UVSC 12th ward members, Janae Pickard. I asked her where Zina’s office was, and just as she gave me the room number – there was Zina getting her mail. I went with her to her office to ask about some Nibley matters – and Martha Beck’s book, of course.
March 25, 2005. I can’t remember a more blustery cold morning as was this morning’s. The chill, rain and snow went right through me as I walked to my Nibley class across campus. And I thought spring was officially here!
A couple of weeks ago I had asked the students in my Nibley class how many would be able to come to my house for a Nibley party tonight. Eight raised their hands. I was disappointed that only three showed up tonight: Alan Buzbee, Robert Hatch, and Maggie Hansen. Fortunately Maggie was accompanied by her brother B.J., and Susan Wheelwright (a former Hum. Ref. student and RM from Steve and MaryJane’s area) came with her boyfriend Tim, who had been in my Honors experience class last Fall. [Susan and Tim later married.]
I had been playing a Chopin “Mazurka” when Alan arrived, so I let him play a Beethoven number he knew, and then at the end of our quiet party (where we discussed many things from Nibley to sports) Alan closed the evening by playing a Chopin “Nocturne” from memory. Everyone except me (because of my current liver problem) ate cheesecake, and then when Alan’s wife Heather came to pick him up, she also ate a piece – and visit taught Kat downstairs. (Oh, and to complete the coincidence – Alan is Liz’s home teacher!) After everyone else had left Signe and I talked a little further to B.J. and Maggie about our family and how instrumental their grandfather Lowell Tensmeyer was to my conversion in the Investigator’s Class back in Indianapolis in 1969 – and how he helped Amy and Edwin get settled in Indianapolis in the 1990’s when the Bensons lived back there while Edwin worked at the Butler University library. It’s definitely a small world in the church!
March 26, 2005. As the kids and grandkids were leaving, Signe and I changed our clothes to get ready for the first annual Nibley ‘Wake’ at Michael Lyon’s home in Provo. (It was, however, nothing like a Maori or Irish wake – simply a Nibley remembrance evening.) Attending were Michael and his two brothers, Stephen and Shirley Ricks, Dan Peterson and his wife, Don Norton and his wife, David and JoAnn Seeley, Louis Midgley, William Hamblin, and Signe and me. With tape recorder running, we all related our first exposure to Nibley or his writings, followed by previously prepared stories (written or otherwise) which would illuminate the man and/or his writings. (All of these would be compiled into a booklet by David Seeley.) We had refreshments and continued the stories for a good 2 ½ hours, at the end wishing that Boyd and Zina Petersen and Curtis Wright had been there as well. It was a very stimulating evening.
March 30, 2005. Martha Nibley Beck was interviewed on KUER’s Doug Fabrizio show this morning. Karl and I both skipped devotional in order to hear her outrageous statements and errors of facts. She really made a fool of herself, but she used all the tricks of rhetoric – something her father preached against in “The Rise of Rhetoric and the Fall of Everything Else.”
March 31, 2005. Doug Fabrizio interviewed Christina Nibley Mincek and Alex Nibley this morning. Their rebuttals to their sister were very reasonable and solid. Unfortunately, Martha will not pay attention to them. Her recovered memories were obviously false, especially when she hypnotized herself. One irate female caller would not even let Alex answer her questions! Lisa Jensen, Cameron Lovinger and Heidi Harris followed me to my office so that they could listen to the interview after class.
April 1, 2005. This afternoon I was blessed by a visit from Michael Lyon, who wanted me to autograph his copy of Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless. I almost feel like the end of an era is at hand, and I even told Christina I felt like I was being demoted by being sent down to the ‘dungeon’ on Level 2 (no windows). But I am worried that I won’t be able to finish the processing of the Nibley Archives or the weeding of the Catholic collection.
May 26, 2005. After my son Karl and I enjoyed devotional together in the deJong Concert Hall, I returned to my office to find three people waiting at a table for me to return: Tom Nibley, his friend Ranelle Wallace, and her daughter. Although I had been looking forward to lunchtime, I ushered them into my office and we proceeded to have a chat for almost 90 minutes. Most of it had to do with Hugh Nibley, but more specifically with his magnum opus book which he had failed to complete before his passing: One Eternal Round. Apparently John Gee is trying to finish the book but cannot find some key portions to chapter 15 on Geometry. Well, Nibley’s son Tom is a cranial sacralist and was doing therapy on Nibley’s good friend Ranelle when Nibley appeared to her and told her where to find the key to chapter 15: in a copy of the Book of Mormon on the north wall of the garage, possibly a red-penciled marginalia in Mosiah 6. Would I look in Nibley’s book archives for that particular Book of Mormon and allow Ranelle to return to search for this ‘key’? Of course I said I would do all I could – and after eating lunch I immediately went to the hinterlands of the Special Collections stacks to find 5 of Nibley’s copies of the Book of Mormon in Box 33 from the garage. My cursory perusal yielded nothing, but that doesn’t mean Ranelle won’t find something when she comes in later to search for herself. And if that fails, she will ask for Nibley’s assistance! What faith!
August 1, 2005. Ranelle and her daughter Danelle came in today to look at Nibley’s copies of the Book of Mormon. I am impressed with both of them and begin to value their friendship and openness in the Gospel. Ranelle especially became excited when I showed her Nibley’s unpublished work on creation, “The Secrets of the Scriptures.” To me it is one of the most amazing things he ever wrote.
September 3, 2005. I taught Gaye Strathearn’s 40 Ancient Near Eastern Studies students how to use the Nibley Ancient Studies Room and the Library Catalog. It was probably my best class ever, partly because such a large class of ANES kids encouraged me!
September 28, 2005. This week I have pigeonholed 14 boxes of the Nibley collection and helped Larry Draper come up with a wonderful bookplate for the many hundreds of books we will be adding to the collection in the Ancient Studies Library.
September 29, 2005. Brother Lowell Tensmeyer, his daughter Lisa and her husband Bill Hansen, and their daughter Maggie (one of my Nibley students last Winter semester) came to our house for dinner tonight: and a magnificent one at that! Brother Tensmeyer, as I have indicated elsewhere in my journal, was a spiritual father who helped in my conversion in 1969 while he taught the Investigators class in Sunday School. The evening was as perfect as could be imagined!
October 17, 2005. At work I have to say I have enjoyed processing the Nibley books for the stacks and Ancient Studies. I’ve also had some good sessions with students doing research.
October 24, 2005. Hardly a piece of music in existence can pull at the heartstrings like Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” reminding the listener of the traditional mourning and grieving associated with ‘death.’ Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise” has a similar flavor and was played at Hugh Nibley’s funeral (d. Feb. 24, 2005) by his brother Reid Nibley. Bach’s “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” is a perennial favorite, exemplifying the beauty of music and the Savior’s love (and incidentally being the incentive for my wanting to learn to play the piano).
December 6, 2005. December 6 Terryl Givens, one of my former students some 20 years ago, gave a talk in the Marriott Center on Joseph Smith. Karl and I both felt it was a very stimulating address which I downloaded as an MP3 file onto my Palm Pilot as soon as I could. His daughter Rachael will be helping me with the Nibley Archives next year – and is also taking my Nibley class.
December 22, 2005. Dean (of Students) Heperi gave the devotional address on December 13. A Maori by birth, he began his address by talking about the kauri tree, which used to be very prevalent in New Zealand. This is a remarkable synchronicity, for this morning I had just finished reading Louis Midgley’s article about Hugh Nibley and the kauri tree! (I had never heard of the kauri tree before today!)
January 8, 2006. This past week has been a whirlwind of activity, particularly since I’m getting ready for my House of Learning Lecture on Thursday at 2 in the auditorium: “Huge Windy Nebula: The Unique Scholarship of Hugh Winder Nibley.” It will be televised, so I can’t just stand up and ‘wing it’ like I usually do with a talk. In addition, I will be recognized for my contribution to the library in having Hugh Nibley donate his books and papers to the library. I will be presented the Library Professionalism award by Randy again and will receive $250 as an honorarium. (I feel honored without it.)
January 12, 2006. Today was truly one of the most important days of my 34 ½ year career! In August I had received the Library Professionalism Award for 2005. But in early fall I was informed by Julene Butler that part of the award included my presenting a paper at a ‘House of Learning’ lecture in the library auditorium, which would be recorded by BYU for telecast later. I was also to be presented with the award again by Randy in front of a camera, would receive a $250 royalty, and be given at copy of the poster suitable for framing. Now, what should I talk about at such an august gathering? I had already been considering something about Nibley, and so I decided on “Huge Windy Nebula: The Unique Scholarship of Huge Windy Nebula,” drawing upon a letter Hugh wrote to two missionary sons September 24, 1971: “As per Ever, Huge Windy Nebula.”
These past few weeks have been particularly stressful as I’ve prepared for the lecture, knowing how professional it needed to be. During the few days preceding the lecture, I also had my Nibley class to worry about, but I soon got the paper to a respectable 10 pages single-spaced, with five PowerPoint slides. But I should have someone look over it, so I asked my good friend Charity Martin to take a peek. Over the weekend she read it three times, liked it immensely, and made some wonderful suggestions for improvement, including the use of my family reunion photo as a depiction of “My Own Huge Windy Nebula.”
Coming into the presentation I felt really good. All 211 seats in the auditorium seemed to be filled, and there were even some students on the floor. Brian Champion introduced the lecture series, and then Randy introduced me and gave me the award. Then the time was all mine for the next 50 minutes, except that the Question and Answer period went until 3:15, at which time we adjourned to the Special Collections classroom next door for a reception in my honor. The praise was profuse from everyone, and some wanted copies of the talk right away.
The spotlight in the auditorium prevented me from seeing the back 2/3 of the hall, so I don’t know who was there. From my family there was Signe, Tim, Kathryn, Karl, Joe Everett – and my old friend Lexie Harris from Seattle! There were many colleagues in attendance, including Randy, Julene, Bob Maxwell, Larry Draper, Charity Martin and Betsy Spackman. FARMS personnel included Dan McKinlay, John Gee, Steven Booras and George Mitton. Reid Nibley, Hugh’s pianist brother, was there with his wife, as was H. Curtis Wright, Wulf Barsch, Stephen Ricks, David and Donna Dalton, and Ruth Christensen from the Utah Baroque Ensemble. Finally, there were my Nibley students, past and present and many other unknown people from the campus community.
Some spin-offs from the lecture: Jack Welch e-mailed me for a copy, presumably for publication in BYU Studies, Stephen Ricks wanted me to prepared some of the unpublished Nibley manuscripts for publication, and Wulf Barsch was going to ask Alex Nibley if I could look at the advance manuscript of his Sgt. Nibley PhD book. Last but not least, I’ve decided (after Curtis Wright’s comments at my lecture) to call myself a Nibley Wright!
After the very friendly reception, I went home early, and then Lexie took Signe, Kathryn and I out to dinner at the Cracker Barrel. We had a wonderful chat! She is doing so much better with her life – and looks great! We hope to be getting together again next weekend in Salt Lake. (She and her family were in our ward in Provo, back to the time of Lyn!)
January 15, 2006. I was quite surprised and elated to discover that volume 16 of Nibley’s Collected Works was now on the shelves in Deseret Book: Nibley’s largest book ever, the second edition of The Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment.
January 29, 2006. Last Tuesday I found the answer to Ranelle Wallace’s question on the ‘Spark of creation.’ It was in Nibley’s “Treasures in the Heavens,” my all-time favorite Nibley writing.
February 13, 2006. Before I left for home today, I had a strange visitor. He was nearly in tears that Nibley had died while he was in prison, and that he had come to get some advice from me. (I felt sorry for him, but I was also a little leery: he’s also homeless and misses his ex-wife and dog. He cried violently for a minute or two.) Having been in prison several times, he had lots of time to read law books and discover (his own opinion) that our prison system was not that different from the gulags of Siberia that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had written about. I didn’t know how to help him except to suggest that he write all of these things down. (This began by his having a vision!?)
February 14, 2006. Tonight at choir Raelene’s sister Diane effusively expressed gratitude for the Nibley articles I had given her last week. She had always wanted to understand Nibley the way her deceased husband did, but wasn’t able to until she read my “Huge Windy Nebula” and Nibley’s funeral address for Ed Decker. I told her that when she sees her husband again she will be able to understand his love for Nibley.
March 2, 2006. At 11:15 I took the General Reference students on a tour of Ancient Studies, describing the purpose of the room, the collections, and the Nibley connection. When it was all over one of the students said it was the best tour he had ever been on.
March 10, 2006. We had a great discussion on the Book of Mormon in my Nibley class today. These students are really on the ball, and it was easy to tell where many students came from in the comments. I’m only concerned about some of the very quiet ones, who don’t seem to have an opinion on anything.
March 21, 2006. Here is the letter I sent via Blackboard to the students in my Nibley class. Their current thread was on the Atonement of Jesus Christ:
“I don’t mean to be interrupting the thread here – but maybe I haven’t. I never thought I would feel the types of pain I’ve had these past four days. Just getting into and out of bed is exquisitely excruciating, and I always have to decide whether to continue suffering and experiencing the same pain over and over – or taking pain medication which then makes my liver suffer!
I’m thinking of you all very fondly, especially during those times when I am discouraged and notice how invasive the surgery was on my body. But also how close I was to dying from colon strangulation.
You’re all way ahead of me in your wonderful discussions above. I hope everyone in the class is reading what’s going on. (I’d like to publish the dialogues in the same manner as Plato’s!) But I am a little worried that eight of you have not responded in any manner. One of you has so far decided to send in papers for each day, and 17 of you have participated in Blackboard. Let me at least know that you are ‘listening in.’
Yesterday I was very optimistic about my recovery and even hoped I could be back to work tomorrow. But then my recovery took a turn for the worst. (I’ve checked on this – it’s normal.) Monday is probably the earliest for me, and I have to remember that in ‘days of yore’ this surgery was a major operation. And my wife won’t let me jump the gun!
I hope and pray that all your classes are going well. Brother Gillum
Responses 8 – End of Semester, Winter 2006
Andrew Walker: Nibley had a very Enoch-esque faith, which if coupled with an entire people with similar faith, would have allowed God to act through man by moving mountains, shielding against missiles, and causing the elements to stir for the benefit of man.
- The tendency to place oneself above another and to cry foul when one is blinded by personal beams, is as old as the world itself.
- About 25% of the [Dead Sea Scrolls] fragments are from traditional Israelite religious texts that are not in our Bible, but were considered true by many of the ancients – like the Book of Enoch, a favorite of Nibley’s.
- Nibley’s life mission, so prophesied by President Winder, was to help this and subsequent generations to focus upon the Book of Mormon: because we would understand it and need it.
Angela Burnett: We, of all people, are called and obligated to be a light unto the world. We are looked to, whether we like it or not.
- Perhaps I have learned enough from [my family’s] faults, and it is now time for me to return to learning from their gifts, talents and righteous deeds.
- Nibley is very good at pointing out our foolish traditions and habits as LDS, but because they are traditions and habits it takes a lot of effort to reverse their courses. It is because of the hardness of the way that people do not want to take action. They get away with this by placing the blame on Nibley himself, labeling him a radical.
Aubrey Crockett: Nibley noted that the Word of Wisdom was just that – acting in wisdom, your own judgment. Some people take it too literally – again, just like the scriptures. We must choose to keep the commandments.
- General Authorities have said that we should attend the temple often but not become obsessed with it. There are other important ways for us to serve others.
- He regularly expected for miracles to happen. I think he believed in the scripture where it says that God is still a God of miracles. And Nibley was taking full advantage of that!
Bentley Snow: The more righteous we are, the less concerned we are with others’ righteousness, at least in terms of judging.
- Things that break down – energy, our bodies with age, the world – call can be reached by the power of the “At-one-ment,” which brings their decaying particles into a healthy whole once more.
- Absolute truth is essential to the gospel. We must be able to know the truth, and know it is the truth, to escape the world of Relativism. I know the Spirit is the truth, by scriptural definition, and by it, we can “know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5)
Charles Lambert: For those who wish to ‘understand the enemy’ (anti-Mormons), it is important to do it in stride. Do your own research and find out for yourself. But most importantly stay loyal to your testimony and the whisperings of the spirit.
- I believe that a man must take care of his stewardship and provide for his family in a disciplined and insightful manner that enhances their ability to live free from many of the hardships associated with slothfulness and poverty.
- The more we expand our own capacity for learning and knowledge the more God will expand our spiritual gifts.
- Nibley explained many of the mysteries of the Gospel in a very scholarly way that I think will allow my children to expand their testimonies.
Christa Baxter: Brigham Young: “Man’s machinery makes things alike. God’s machinery gives to things which appear alike a pleasing difference.” I love this.
- If there’s any single message that stands out to me from this class, any precipitate from all the aspects of Nibley’s work that we’ve studied, it’s the concept that this world is not reality, but merely a testing place.
- I’m glad that President McKay approved of a more difficult approach to the scriptures than the general primary answers; I think one of the aspects I love best about Nibley’s work is how it makes me rethink and re-examine the scriptures and doctrines I’ve grown up with.
- Nibley reminds me that leadership doesn’t depend on titles but on character, and is transparent in the eyes of one’s followers.
Daniel Wilding: I enjoyed listening to Nibley’s “Leaders to Managers.” Hearing Nibley’s own voice and understanding more of what it must have been like to attend his lectures or listen to him speak was well worth the extra effort.
- If we learn about the Gospel of love and charity, we can be stronger than mere rule-observers.
- The perfect order would be one in which neither the man nor the woman was ‘in charge,’ but that both would work as equal partners.
- We don’t have the truth, at least not all of it. We will keep learning more and more of it, step by step. But we won’t have the whole truth until we live with God and live like Him.
David Bilodeau: [Other churches] do so much with what they have [concerning the atonement]. What does that mean for us who have so much more material and potential? Why don’t we reflect more? Why don’t we discuss Christ more?
- Nibley is set apart from other people in his incredible intelligence, grounded and founded in gospel learning.
- It is interesting to see that the text of the Isaiah scroll is closer to the fragments of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon than to the book of Isaiah as found in the current Old Testament.
- We are here [on earth] to look inside and see the problems in us and to work to correct them so that we will be the being that can stand in the presence of God.
Eurah Park: When the Lord endows one with gifts, they should be shared.
- Historical proof and political comparisons of theBook of Mormon and its accuracy is impressive, but it’s the ability to apply it to my real life that is truly precious.
- I feel like my relationship to Heavenly Father is greatly strengthened as Nibley helps me fully understand it and helps me to interpret the mass of gibberish that is in the world today.
Jacob Orme: A lot of my priorities need re-tooling. I worry so much about one thing that I forget to consider another. I get so carried away on one project that I don’t remember about all the other things that need to be done.
- Criticism in our modern society is pejorative, presumptuous, and pretentious. When we criticize it seems that we are not – as per Nibley’s translation – following the pure doctrine of criticism: that of refining, searching and of changing.
- Geology’s inexact and every-shifting ‘truths’ could neither support nor supplant a true Latter-day Saint’s testimony.
- No matter how wild, how unexplainable, how unpredictable our lives become, the preservation of our own personal universes depends on our connection with God, however we can make it.
- Not everything that hurts is bad, and life is for living. It’s always an epiphany with Nibley.
Jeff Sorensen: We need to strive to be leaders like Christ was. We don’t have to be especially smart or have strong charisma; we just have to look to other’s needs before our own. That to me is what a true leader does.
- The Book of Mormon has passed the test of the witnesses, just like the Roman who originally possessed those plates did. My hope is that my entry in the Book of Life will be able to pass those witnesses as an acceptable record.
- How infinitely difficult it would be to go from a state of perfect organization and go down to experience death. No wonder the brethren are so adamant about us going to the Temple to “reorganize” ourselves according to Heaven’s standards.
- To criticize the brethren is really to criticize our own ability to save ourselves through the application of the Lord’s atonement. Little wonder why we are very seriously instructed to beware engaging in it.
- Nibley sets himself apart by being more hungry and thirsty for truth than almost anyone I’ve ever known of. The only person that I know of who equals Nibley in this respect is Joseph Smith.
Jeff Thomas: The universe is perfect and operates in it way seemingly for and in behalf of spiritual, intelligent life.
- Nibley is correct when he asserts that evolution cannot account for the fulness of man. Natural selection selects for survival elements, not spiritual elements.
- My integrity, my love, my time, my testimony, all of these things can be dominated by the desire for money, but none of them can truly be bought for money.
- Joseph Smith stating that no man will be damned for believing too much frees up the minds of Mormons to incorporate other religious truths into their own personal religious practice without fearing that they are believing against sacred creeds or absolute doctrines.
Jill Reimann: I thought the findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls were interesting because they are actually religious texts. The government documents are cool to look at, but as far as insight that can be gained from them, they seem kind of insignificant.
- My ultimate goal is to truly love and value those around me, even though I am aware of their faults. I think that his how Heavenly Father feels about all of us as His children.
- Without agency there really would be no progression. And when we aren’t actively choosing to repent and forgive, then we aren’t progressing.
- I really like how the temple orients us to the world we are in, and also orients us to what we really want to face, and what’s most important in this life.
Jordan Elliss: Retiring was never a possibility to Nibley. Retiring meant that he would have to give up doing what he loved best: getting people to think clearly about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Nibley’s article demonstrates that time, planets, and other things are measured according to where God is now.
- From where the temple is built to what is included in the building process, one can find symbolism. One such symbolism was progression.
Joseph Sowa: It is a folly to separate faith and works as if they were different, though related, matters. They seem to be two aspects of the same manifestation of the grace of God, which is given to us freely according to our desires, and without which, neither would exist. Hence, the real issue in question is not what we do, but what we desire.
- Though the Father has only one prerequisite to grant us gifts, namely that we ask for them in faith, Latter-day Saints often refuse to believe it. We’ve been given an inexhaustible gift of grace and mercy, and there’s only one requirement: lifelong repentance born of faith in Christ. Let’s have faith in this – and in ourselves, that this is truly the desire of our hearts. I, like many, can repent of this disbelief often.
- The stylistic elements of Nibley’s writing [often] reveal an implied mockery.
- I’ve come to see not only the human side of Nibley but also how his faith mitigated his weaknesses.
Kadi Walker: The unique nature of this religion is the emphasis placed on constantly learning and growing and seeking new understanding.
- The responsibilities of men and women are different, but each is respectable. I believe a lot of today’s troubles would be solved if there was in general more respect and patience for each other.
- Christ instilled trust and adoration in all those who followed him and do follow him today, and I believe that He did this through achieving the perfect balance between manager and leader.
- For me to openly criticize someone’s belief because I know it is wrong is entirely inappropriate. The only thing I can do is encourage further research in a topic but the choice has to remain I that individual to see out and receive understanding.
- The only thing that matters in life is our progress towards eternity. We should follow Nibley’s example and do everything in our power to pursue the spirit and will of the Father.
Kristi Spackman: One of our greatest challenges here is to choose those things that will focus our time and attention on – those things that we will value mostly highly and go the greatest lengths to attain and preserve.
- Nibley says that rather than trying to make others change we should simply think for ourselves and live what we know to be true. This can be observed in any nursery class.
- I believe the question of what we want most is the central question of this life. It is why we are here.
- Temple service is redemptive – not only for those for whom vicarious work is done, but also for those who are doing it.
- Righteousness is not determined by our income tax bracket, but rather by what we do with what we have.
Landon Wiest: Document preservation and sealing was prevalent in ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean civilizations, and the Nephites most likely kept their records in a similar manner that preserves so well that they would last for years.
- Temple worship: becoming unified with God and Christ.
- As a defender of the faith, Hugh Nibley was able to find congruity, while compiling the ancient information and resources that became his writings. It is interesting to see that when one is doing something for righteousness’ sake, the reasoning seems to hold together.
- If one wants to destroy Mormonism, all that must be done is to destroy the Book of Mormon.
- We are here to learn how to become “celestial citizens.”
Liz Muir: I love Nibley’s description of the Church as “an organization made up so largely of nonconformists.” My liberal readers may scoff at thinking of their “orthodox” Mormon friends as nonconformists, but that depends upon your definition. I’d say all that’s required to be a nonconformist is to not do things for the purpose of conforming to a norm.
- It was certainly a revelation for me, having previously thought of the sealed portion [of scripture] as containing doctrinal mysteries rather than as a verification of the translated portion. It would also be interesting to think of these principles in reference to the seven seals in Revelation.
- The problem with the Fall, Nibley says, is not that it was a wrong choice. It was that the choice was made by Eve alone, rather than in conjunction with Adam and especially without consultation with God.
- Reading a lot of Nibley has helped me recover a sense of tradition – that Joseph Smith didn’t just make it up in 1830, but that the practices of the Church go far back, especially when it comes to the temple.
Mark Denninghoff: In the book of 2nd Jeu, considered by Carl Schmidt to the most instructive of all early Christian texts, the apostles and their wives all form a circle around the Lord, who says he will lead them through all the secret ordinances that shall give them eternal life.
- Nibley was more a critic of Mormon culture than of the Mormon Church. What he saw among Saints was that they were settling for mediocrity.
- Commentaries and statements made on or about certain scriptural passages are opinions of those good individuals and should not be taken as doctrine.
Meleece Orme: We know that Satan must love war, for it is a further level of distraction! He can make our brothers and sisters enemies and give us the excuse to kill in the name of ‘good’ or freedom.’
- I loved Nibley’s attitude. He didn’t appear to have any regrets or boastfulness in his accomplishments. The only thing he worried about was his children and the future. But his past was just that: past.
- When women try to make everything equal between them and men, they in reality lower themselves.
- We must not make it our assignment to correct others and seek out the weaknesses and faults in them. Mother Teresa once said, “If we are judging people then we are too busy to love them.”
Ricci Polczynski: I support the honorable men and women who serve our country in times of war and peace. No matter the politics of the situation, whether we are for or against any given war, righteous soldiers are the ones who deserve our constant support.
- Physical science has taught me the principle of Occam’s Razor, that in science you take the simpler of two explanations when you have more than one. Joseph Smith’s story might be an incredible one, but it is the most believable.
- God could keep us safe from all sin and adversity. There is no lack of power on His part; rather He loves us enough to give us our freedom, even when it results in His pain and ours.
- We should spend less time trying to appear a certain way and spend more time being a certain way, for who we appear to be will follow as we strive to be who want to be.
- I can gain much more knowledge from the Spirit when I am truly preparing and searching for it, rather than just waiting for it to come.
Ross Mangum: [Like Nibley,] I know I won’t be perfect in my familial relationships, but I know that if I focus my actions on the Gospel, it will all work out and I will have a happy, eternal family.
- I believe it was Nibley’s willingness to exercise his faith in the Lord and his representatives that originally caught the eye of the Brethren and increased their trust in Nibley. All of his writings support the Church. He clearly is spreading the Gospel in a way that only Nibley is capable of.
- By going to the temple your spirituality increases. As you become more spiritual the Lord can place more trust in you as His child. Once you have reached this point he begins to send additional insights.
- Thanks to “Two Ancient Roman Plates” I now have a little better understanding of the blessing of being a citizen of the USA. [From a display in the Harold B. Lee Library]
Sean Driscoll: Surely wars [with the Native Americans] needed to be fought, but (as Nibley mentions) both then and now there has been a disgusting pervasive greed that has accompanied this “manifest destiny.”
- The traditions of the Gospel would seem strange if they were merely rites invented in colonial America. They, however, are of divine origin.
- Personal consecration in today’s world is a difficult issue with which even (maybe especially) the most capable people struggle.
- We have no professional clergy because the presentation of meetings and qualifications of the officiator are not what matter. It is solely the content communicated that is important, and the establishment of a clergy in lieu of this is contradictory: earthly qualifications do not further the work of God any better than it would proceed otherwise.
- When it becomes Theology with a capital “T” I run for the hills. God has certainly given us hints (and I would argue as much as we need to know) about his character and plan.
- Nibley’s astonishingly accurate criticisms are balanced by his lack of advice regarding the implementation of his principles. That has always – and likely will always – be the struggle.
Ted Lee: Nibley’s amazing ability to always be learning and developing skill and real knowledge, and not just a scaffolding or a facade to hide behind, has always astounded me.
- I have focused more on my relationships and the gospel than worrying about worldly things. It has been nice. I have been much happier and blessed by doing so.
- I feel like Nibley is like reading Isaiah – there are plenty of details that most often none of us will ever really fully understand… But if we capture the grand picture Nibley is attempting to paint, we can see how comprehensible the Gospel really is.
- I can understand Nibley’s fascination with other religious sects…It is neat to understand and discern the kernels of truth in other religions, and this only affirms the truthfulness of the Gospel.
- A good Christian life is doing, not wishing, hoping or believing. One must also remember that the Brethren are not the Church.
April 27, 2006. We were kicked out of the library at 2:30 today because of commencement exercises, so Signe picked me up then so that we could do a temple session. When people asked why I was dressed up, I told them it was not so that I could put on the black robes of the apostate priesthood [Nibley’s phrase] but for the temple instead.
June 1, 2006. Today I worked on Nibley’s unpublished paper, “The Jomsborg and the Jomsviking-saga.”
July 18, 2006. I went to Karl’s to hear Alex Nibley talk about his documentary “False Knowledge” about his sister Martha (along with Karl, Christopher and Dee) and show the mock-up of his new book, Sgt. Nibley Phd.
July 28, 2006. While going through Nibley’s papers today, I discovered an important unpublished Nibley article: “Christian Teachings about Our Preexistence.” It needs to be transcribed and cleaned up.
August 17, 2006. As Kyra and I were returning from the library we ran into Jack Welch, who told me he had transcripts from Nibley’s New Testament class and would send me a copy for the article on Nibley and the New Testament I am writing for BYU Studies.
August 31, 2006. When I got back to the library I ran into Randy Olsen, University Librarian. We talked about my impending retirement and how he would like to see me stay on longer and how my greatest legacy would be the Hugh Nibley Ancient Studies Library.
September 1, 2006. A red letter day today, of sorts. I picked up my ‘Intent to Retire’ document to sign and will retire a year from today! But I have mixed feelings. After all, it will be the end of a 35-year career. As I’ve said previously, I will not miss reports, meetings, and politics. Everything else I will miss, however. I also told Cali thought I would want to sign up for a faculty study for the next fall so that I can continue to work on the Nibley papers.
September 10, 2006. This evening I was enjoying Alex Nibley’s Sgt. Nibley PhD: Memories of an Unlikely Screaming Eagle. It is a very interesting, controversial, and insightful memoir of World War II.
October 9, 2006. I gave the lesson tonight at our monthly ‘empty-nesters’ Family Home Evening. Since I am unique in being a Nibley expert, I taught a spiritual lesson revolving around some experiences Nibley had in World War II, as recounted in Sgt. Nibley, PhD. It went over very well. Olsens, Snelsons, Philips, Twitchells, Ericksons, and Sister Rawlinson came tonight. We were only missing Katie Harris and the Wrights. What a great bunch of Latter-day Saints and good friends! Signe made some wonderful zucchini and pumpkin bread.
October 12, 2006. Following yesterday’s Nibley Archives meeting with Brad Westwood, John Murphy and Larry Draper, I sent the following e-mail this morning:
Brad, Thanks for the very helpful and informative meeting yesterday.
I want to set your mind at ease about what I’ve done so far. As I’ve looked at John’s process plan, it is essentially a shortened and unalphabetized of my longer ‘subject index.’ So again, I don’t think our visions of the Nibley Archives are that different – except in some very small details. More important, if experience is the best teacher, I have not only been Nibley’s ‘personal librarian’ for thirty years, I am also the first person to use his archives (most recently from BYU Studies in their request for me to write an article for them entitled, “Nibley and the New Testament”). Additionally, as ‘Nibley expert’ on campus, I have fielded hundreds of e-mails, phone calls, and personal visits from Nibleyphiles who are seeking all sorts of information about Nibley and his writings. I have been close to the family for many years and know what they want out of an Archives. All of this, of course, precludes what historians or researchers will want from the Archives in 100 years, but I have also tried to keep that in mind. I don’t think there are many Archives of anyone in the world who have been blessed by a ‘curator’ who was also that Archives’ chief researcher and teacher of life and teachings as well.
As a convert from Lutheranism who never used to believe in personal revelation, I am now convinced after many experiences during 37 years with relatives and others over the years, that Nibley is now looking over my shoulder as I lovingly (literally) examine his papers. (I am not saying this to justify any mistakes I may have made, only to show you that I have had help – and will continue to receive it, in the same way that a genealogist has the right to receive help from his ancestors.) It is these matters, I think you will agree, that make our Archives second to none in the world.
I hope to meet with the BOC in two weeks. However, I just learned last night from my brother that my 90-year old mother is failing rapidly. There’s a slight chance I may have to leave for her funeral in California in the next couple of weeks.
Please let me know if you have any other concerns. Gary
October 26, 2006. This morning I was a visitor at the Board of Curators to discuss my preliminary report on the Nibley archives. All ten of the curators, including Brad Westwood, were impressed by what I had done so far, and I left copies with each of them so that they could criticize.
Later, John Murphy and two of his Archives students came down to relieve the Nibley Archives annex of the Tracy Hall and McCune Music School boxes so that I would have more room. I’ve been hoping for this day for a long time.
November 29, 2006. During intermission Diane Teichert told me that the main reason she joined the choir (in retrospect) was so that she could ‘save’ her family from the riches of the world. I have given her a couple dozen Nibley articles to read, and she and her daughter have devoured them.
December 12, 2006. [Use in Nibley syllabus] “It is absolutely critical that students learn how to think analytically. It doesn’t matter if they’re studying science, business, law, the humanities, or the arts—it’s essential that students learn to use their minds.” – John Bell
December 14, 2006. This afternoon Diane Teichert, from the Utah Baroque Ensemble, came to pick up a Nibley article from me, “Tewa the Hopi and the Anthropologist.” I showed her the Nibley Archives annex and the Nibley books in the Hugh Nibley Ancient Studies Library.
January 6, 2007. Today was not only our January birthday party at Judith’s, since Amy and her family were in town, but a special Epiphany dinner for the BYU Studies staff in the Wilkinson Center. It was a wonderful occasion, good food, and company. (My colleague John Murphy and his wife Leslie sat across from us at our table.) Jack Welch gave his 12 days after Christmas speech, with the things BYU Studies was most thankful for, and three colleagues shared some favorite stories, the funniest of which was Richard Cracroft’s telling of his chat with Hugh Nibley (when Cracroft was his stake president), asking if Hugh wouldn’t like to serve on the High Council. It was hilarious. Earlier, when each of us was asked to introduce ourselves, Jack added that not only was I working on the Nibley papers and was due to retire at the end of August, but that I worked with Chuck Tate and Linda Adams during the early days of BYU Studies back in the 1970s.
January 8, 2007. I met my fifth Nibley class today in 299 of the Talmage Building. These 30 new students, plus one auditor, seem as promising as the ones I’ve had in the past. I look forward to the semester with these 18 men and 12 women. They all seem very eager to learn about Nibley.
January 11, 2007. While hardly anyone was on campus, Sarah Phipps, one of my favorite Nibley students from the 2004 class, came by to see me. She had returned from serving a mission and wanted to help me with the Nibley papers. So I had her do something menial while I did something more in depth with the Nibley and worked on a book review as well.
I then ran into archivist John Murphy, who had heard I had someone working with me. I told him about Sarah and her History major. He then informed me that she could work as an Archives intern and get three hours’ worth of History credit by working five hours a week! I just knew within my bones that Sarah would jump at this chance, so I got her number from information and called her. What a reward it was for me to hear her excitement and relief that something so wonderful could occur! So on Wednesday we began to fill out the paperwork, she met John Murphy (who would be her trainer) and after the Martin Luther King holiday, along with some training and orientation, she and I will begin doing some serious Nibley work! Moreover, she wasn’t sure what she would like to do with her History degree after she graduates from BYU. Now she thinks she may become an archivist! (And once again, the Lord helped me help someone else!)
January 24, 2007. John Murphy and I met with Sarah Phipps, Rachael Givens, and Julie Slater today. All three students will be helping me with the Nibley papers. (Sarah and Rachael are both former Nibley class students of mine.) I’m really happy to be getting some help with this laborious project.
February 9, 2007. My Nibley class has just critiqued the poem “Two Stars.” Amazing insights! And then I opened Martin Raish’s listserv and found this eye-opening thought from Boris Pasternak, author of Dr. Zhivago:
“Poetry is a rich, full-bodied whistle, cracked ice crunching in pails, the night that numbs the leaf, the duel of two nightingales, the sweet pea that has run wild, Creation’s tears in shoulder blades.”
February 20, 2007. After talking with Signe about it, I told Terry Dahlin and Randy Olsen this morning that I was willing to extend my retirement date by four months, to the end of December. They were really happy about that, mostly because there is no way they will have my replacement found by September 1 – and I would have to come back to help train anyway. Other reasons: Signe’s apprenticeship lasts until December, we are not going to be building in Mt. Pleasant, I would now retire at the end of a budget year instead of in the middle, the Nibley will take me longer than I had anticipated, and getting together my library papers and history will be time-consuming.
March 19, 2007. [Hallucination while in the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, recovering from surgery after an intraspinal hematoma.] Dancing with Signe, Kat, Leah, George and other friends. Spoke only French to Kat. In the middle of all this I had a very amicable interview with Hugh Nibley’s daughter Martha Beck concerning her father and his research. It was different from her book. She was very forgiving of her father.
March 21, 2007. [Another hallucination]. On the morning of March 21 Jack Welch took me to meet Nibley in Nibley’s sanctuary, where Nibley himself showed up, a whole person. I was so insistent to Signe that this had actually happened that I wanted her to call Jack to verify that this excursion had actually occurred in real life. [Signe’s words: “Gary had a very bad, painful morning, shaking so much that he couldn’t do anything – he had to have two people to get him dressed. In the later morning and afternoon, he was a different person – walking, cognizant, and did very well in physical therapy.”]
April 6, 2007. Ten members of my Nibley class came to our house tonight for a class party. We had a rousing discussion about all kinds of things, and at the end of the evening I told Signe how much having my students here tonight had strengthened me and helped me to feel more myself than I had since entering the hospital. I felt whole.
April 9, 2007. After breakfast Signe took me up to campus. First, I had to take care of one humongous roadblock created by my month’s absence: the acceptance or rejection of about a 100 Yankee Book dealer items, thanks to the assistance of Lyn Clayton. That taken care of, I did the reference books and checked on the Nibley books in Ancient Studies. Then Signe and I went to the Talmage building to meet my Nibley class. Jack Welch was there to teach as well, and after the prayer and preliminaries, we had everyone line up at the front of the class so that Signe could take a couple of photos. I told Jack and the class the hallucination I had about Nibley in his ‘sacred grove’ and how if he were alive today he would really get into the Mormon blogging activity. Then Jack finished his last hour with the students, discussing “The Sacrifice of Isaac” and the “McMurrin Letter.” He’s been more than a good friend to help me with the class. And now the last three classes of the semester will be mine.
April 11, 2007. I did, indeed, make it to symphony rehearsal tonight. Bryce, Emily and Leslie Bettweiser were especially happy to see me – Leslie even gave me a gigantic hug! I spent most of the evening on this laptop trying to flesh out the experiences of the last five weeks, with lists of card senders, visitors, well-wishers – everyone from family and friends to colleagues and the students of my Nibley class.
April 16, 2007. It was a sad morning to have to meet my Nibley class for the last time this morning: in fact, my last class as a BYU faculty member. I taught them a few lingering things on the atonement, grace and music; they had a few questions for me; and then I either shook hands with or hugged students as they left. I have definitely been surrounded by love.
April 21, 2007. I have felt closer to normal today than at any time since March 3. By noon I had finished all of my student papers and final exams, except for two which haven’t come in yet. It was a great sense of accomplishment, for I had originally told the students that they would not get their “Nibley-esque” responses until well into summer, via e-mail.
April 25, 2007. I felt good about getting my Nibley class’s grades posted today, so I don’t have to worry about them any longer. Twenty-four students got ‘A’s, the others ‘A-s.’ I also feel good about the fact that I am nearly caught up with all of my backlogs in everything, except for the Nibley archives work.
June 16, 2007. Naomi went to work with me to the Nibley archives, where I made a joke about messilaneous Nibley and a duck with speech impediment: black, black.
July 21, 2007. Emma is now back from Europe and brought me a small statue of Don Quixote and told me that her LDS tour guide from Washington discovered from her that I am her grandpa when he happened to be talking to Emma about Hugh Nibley and the book he owns, my Of All Things Nibley quote book. I’m going to surprise him by sending him some unpublished Nibley items.
August 8, 2007. Today I took Rachel to work. What a creative person! She could make something artistic from anything we take for granted in an office: from paper clips to paper to dry erase markers to staples. She made some wonderful things, and drew a ‘likeness’ of me on the whiteboard outside my office. She has the genes of her grandma Everett, who painted the Nibley portrait in Ancient Studies.
August 8, 2007. It was a pleasant day working on the Nibley archives today. I learned a lot of wonderful things about his grandfather Alexander Neibaur.
August 22, 2007. Sveta Tamtik is a former Nibley student of mine from 2006. She is continuing to do research on the Orthodox Church, in her former country of Russia. She is really excited about her research.
August 23, 2007. Razvan Tatu is a PhD student in Theology at the University of Bucharest in Romania. A resident of Ploesti, which my Dad helped bomb in World War II (the oil fields), he is asking about all kinds of research tools that I can’t help him with. What I can so freely access from the Internet costs him a lot of money in Romania. His dissertation is on “Eschatology.” I sent him a lot of Nibley material on eschatology.
August 24, 2007. This morning I was pleasantly surprised to see Joey Price get on the bus and sit next to me. He was one of the students from my first Nibley class in 2003 and had gone to get his PhD in Economics at Cornell University. He is now on the Economics faculty at BYU! He told me that he had used some of the Nibley articles in Institute classes at Cornell.
August 27, 2007. This morning Joey Price again sat next to me on the bus. He was one of the members of my first Nibley class in 2003, along with Sarah Phipps, who also came back to work today after a brief hiatus to prepare for her wedding. She will only be working through the end of the week, and then we won’t see her until her wedding reception in October. Then in the afternoon I saw my old Library Science professor, Victor Purdy, in the hallway. We talked for some time about Nibley and about his retirement projects.
September 13, 2007. A very remarkable day. I was able to get a lot of editing done on Nibley’s “The Great Plan,” and then I walked over to the deJong Concert Hall at 12:45 so that I could hear Orson Scott Card’s address, “I Just Make This Stuff Up,” from the library auditorium. It turned out to be one of the most remarkable experiences of my career at BYU. He said so many things that I wanted to hear, and I came out of the experience wanting to read his books all over again – and editing my own novel Pre-Me so that it could be published. (After all, I started working on it before Lyn died.) Also, he convinced me that my written artifacts are important for the university archives. Scott was so down-to-earth and frank about everything.
September 14, 2007. I was doing some work in Archives (with Marissa) when John Murphy came by for a chat and to check on our progress. We talked about Scott’s lecture, and he said that I absolutely need to give all my papers to the university, for I have not only contributed a great deal to the BYU Library and the Nibley archives, I am the first convert in my family and have a huge posterity of 17 children and nearly 60 grandchildren. Marissa heard part of our conversation, and I think between the two of us, she is convinced to go to Library School to become a librarian. In fact, John felt she could have easily taken my job, if I had only waited another year to retire!
September 21, 2007. This evening was a pay back for me. Sarah Phipps was one of my favorite students from the first Nibley class in 2003. I kept in touch with her during her mission, her return to BYU, her being hired to help me with the Nibley, her concern while I was in the hospital, her courtship with Christopher Heaton, and her concerns about getting marriage, what with her parents considering divorce. Well, tonight Sarah and Chris had a sit-down wedding reception dinner at the Chef’s Table in Provo – by far the fanciest and tastiest meal we’ve ever had.
October 25, 2007. I taught my last Library Literacy class today: It was Dr. Holzapfel’s New Testament class. Some of the students got excited about what I was teaching. Some were the normal kinds of students. The end of class was bittersweet. I remember wheeling in a cart of books to teach this class back in the 1970’s. Now all my sources are online. Progress! Today I sent a letter to Elder Holland, asking him about our Christology correspondence and the Nibley papers. Whether I get a response or not, at least he will know what’s going on.
Dear Brother Holland,
I apologize for intruding on your time, but I have some important questions to ask you which are related to your personal correspondence – and to Nibley. First of all, the BYU archives want my personal and professional papers. Included among them are the correspondence we had with each other during your tenure as president of BYU. Is it all right to keep that correspondence with the archival material, or would you rather I disposed of them? Secondly, I have a binder of copies of the Christology papers I once presented to you for your research on Christology in the Book of Mormon. May that also go into the University Archives, or would you like it? A final question is related to my privileged but frustrating task of organizing Hugh Nibley’s papers for the University Archives – about 200 boxes worth of writings and research, plus about 1500 books from his personal collection (some as early as 1521). Since you know about Brother Nibley from ‘higher spheres,’ do you have any suggestions or directives on how best we deal with Nibley’s scholarship so that the members of the Church will be able to benefit most?
Thanks for your lovely letter, Gary. I can’t believe you are retiring. That’s the end of an era.
In answer to your questions, you can do anything you want with our correspondence. If it is better to keep it with the archival material, do so. If it is just a space user, dispose of it. I have my own copy of the Christology papers. You are free to put yours in the university archives if that is useful. I am not sure what to counsel you to do about the Nibley papers, but I think you are asking the right question. I think these are going to be important enough in the years ahead that we need to have access to them. Why don’t you make a good decision within the library and archival family as to how you want to keep them as accessible as possible.
With warmest regards,
October 8, 2007. My wonderful student Marissa Jensen, who is working with me on the Nibley papers, has been accepted into the Washington Seminar. She hopes to work in the Library of Congress during Spring and Summer terms – and perhaps go to library school in the fall. She is very grateful for the positive recommendation I gave her.
December 21, 2007. Emma and I had a good time together, eating lunch in cafeteria with Jack Welch, my dear friend and colleague from the Law School. Our meeting was propitious, in that he invited me to give my “Nibley and the New Testament” paper at the annual convention of the Society for Biblical Literature in New Orleans, November 2009. If Signe and I happen to be on a mission then, my membership fees and registration would even be paid for me. So… something else for my mission.
January 2, 2008. One of my first new acts of the New Year – and retirement – is to set up a G-mail (Google mail) account on my Lenovo laptop, which I will be using at work for the Nibley from now on. Randy and I ran into each other today. He asked me about how retirement was going, and I told him that I was still trying to find my rhythm. After following certain habits and routines for 35 years, it’s a little weird doing things more spontaneously and freely than before, even though I am still working as part-time faculty for 20 hours weekly on the Nibley collection.
January 7, 2008. Marisa Snyder, another Nibley student, was hired to be the supervisor in the Digital Imaging Lab in Special Collections. She is one of my last Nibley students. So I have definitely had some influence on students from my classes. In some ways I would love to teach the Nibley class again.
January 10, 2008. I think I have found a rhythm. I begin each day in my faculty study checking e-mails and getting settled, and then I go down to the Special Collections workroom to work on Nibley’s papers, with Marissa Jensen there to help me with questions. Then I return to 5421 to eat my lunch, usually spending only 30 minutes so that I can get more work done. Then I spend some time on the Nibley book collection bibliography and end my short day working on the Nibley papers in the afternoon.
January 11, 2008. When I arrived home I received an e-mail from Sally McDonald, a former student on the 5th floor, who is in Library School and wants to spend six weeks of this spring doing her practicum on the Nibley project. Thanks to her help, I may finish the Nibley papers by May!
January 16, 2008. David Lurth, my intern from last year who helped with the list of Nibley’s donated books, is helping me re-format the list.
February 2, 2008. President Hinckley’s funeral began at 11 a.m. in the Conference Center. What an outpouring of love and respect, especially from the young people in the church who have only known him as Prophet! The closing hymn by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was one of my all-time favorite hymns: “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need.” With the death of Pres. Hinckley, all four of the 1910-born famous people I have followed are now deceased: Jean Jacques Cousteau, Mother Teresa, Hugh Nibley, and Gordon B. Hinckley.
February 8, 2008. While reading Jacob Weisberg’s excerpt from The Bush Tragedy (Random House, 2008) in Newsweek magazine tonight, I saw a few sentences that Hugh Nibley could have made him reconsider his opinions before writing “Leaders to Managers”:
“Despite his MBA training, Bush emphasizes leadership and decision-making to the exclusion of administration and management. He delegates manfully, but doesn’t solicit feedback, evaluate results, or hold people accountable, except in extraordinary circumstances. Unlike his father, he isn’t comfortable entertaining inconclusive debate. Bush sees reconsidering decisions or openly changing course as evidence of weak leadership.” (January 28, 2008; p. 33)
February 24, 2008. If it’s not for BYU Studies or Library Journal or having to do with Nibley, I don’t seem to get anywhere with my writings. So will it be a waste of time for me to try writing? Is this a message that we should get ready for a mission?
March 6, 2008. It was good to go back to ‘work’ today on the Nibley archives. It was good to see Rachel and Marissa, and we decided what to do on the Nibley the next few days. It feels good to be getting to the end of the project.
March 14, 2008. Marissa, Rachel and I have made great progress today on the Nibley archives. We hope that the additional 40 boxes of Nibley that John is picking up next week will not add too much to the burden.
March 19, 2008. Yesterday Marissa and I took 24 boxes of Nibley’s note cards back to the stacks, hopefully to never have to lay eyes on them again. The 36 linear feet of cards was just too daunting to even consider analyzing. Well, I don’t know whether it was the Spirit, Nibley himself, his grandfather Charles W., or a student yet to be born in 50 years who wants to research Nibley, but the feeling I got in the middle of the night was, “How dare I relegate thousands of hours of note taking to an anonymous burial ground in the stacks without even looking at the contents or analyzing them by subject?”
I came to work this morning humbled and repentant and told John Murphy I was going to analyze the cards by topic. He agreed that I should. And once I had delved into the simply amazing collection of notes by at least ten languages, I found some real gems, including note cards for an institute talk he had given on knowledge and wisdom.
March 26, 2008. FARMS meeting with Shirley Ricks and Andrew Skinner this morning. We had a lively discussion, as usual, but decided that our Nibley volume would have to wait until after my mission and Andy’s stint at the Jerusalem Center. After the meeting was over, he passed on to me a compliment from Randy, who said I was ‘the best.’ He was especially impressed that I basically hand-picked my successor.
April 10, 2008. As I was coming home I thought about how I’d like to be doing something different: it’s all right to serve, but I often teach three lessons a week (Institute, Sunday School and Priesthood), work on Nibley 20 hours per week, go to Utah Baroque Ensemble rehearsal every week, and do the library stuff. Maybe our mission in a year will be a welcome break. The best thing about going to work is seeing all of my friends and colleagues!
April 17, 2008. In appreciation for their hard work on the Nibley papers, Signe and I took Rachel and Marissa to dinner at Cracker Barrel. We had a wonderful time – and they were grateful.
April 25, 2008. Graduation is over, meaning that the Winter semester is over: and the first four months of retirement. But I’m also losing my four Nibley students, whom I shall miss greatly: Marissa Jensen, Rachel Hunt, Sally McDonald, and John Crawford. I’ve written work or graduate school recommendations for all of them. I wish them every success.
I continue to get praise from my friends on Facebook. This is from Bryce Haymond, who has mounted a Temple Study website:
I’m truly honored that you like my website, TempleStudy.com. You’re the second person just today who has emailed me and told me how they appreciate it. Many have emailed and told me how much they have learned. I hope to help bring some of the best temple scholarship, particularly Hugh Nibley’s, to the new web audience, and help perpetuate what Dr. Nibley started. The internet is such an incredible medium of communication, and through it many can become acquainted with Dr. Nibley and his profound wisdom on the temple, and where we can discuss such great scholarship and continue to learn more.
From what I know, you’ve been closely involved in much Hugh Nibley scholarship. I’m very happy to be acquainted with someone who knows so much about Hugh Nibley, and has worked with him. I love Dr. Nibley’s writings, and wish I had been able to attend his classes and been mentored by him. Just when I was becoming acquainted with him was when he passed away, and I attended his funeral. But I feel as if I’ve been able to get to know him well through his writings. His one-of-a-kind scholarship will have a profound influence on many people for many generations to come, and you have been a part of that. For that I am very grateful to you too. Your own scholarship on FARMS and elsewhere is excellent.
Please feel free to leave comments on the posts on TempleStudy.com. I’d be very interested in the insights that you’ve gained by such close interaction and work with Dr. Nibley. If you’d like to contribute posts to TempleStudy.com I would also be very grateful! You could add much insight. Please let me know if you are interested in that.
April 27, 2008. As I continue to slog on through Nibley’s many notes and scratchings, I ran into this little piece from Martin Raish’s Library News. It is so very true of Nibley, as it was of Galileo:
GALILEO’S HAND ON YOUR SHOULDER Reports of the book’s imminent demise are, say those who toil among great stacks of them, greatly exaggerated. What is changing is the reference function of libraries. Indisputably, the service aspect of the printed word — dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, handbooks, technical manuals — has gone online. At the same time, however, Google can digitize all the books it cares to, said a rare book librarian, but it can’t provide the goose bumps that arise in the presence of a 14th century hand-written book. Another example of the power of the printed book. In 1623 Galileo penned a correction in the margin of The Assayer, his treatise on comets and other astronomical matters. After 385 years it is still there, in the copy in the library of the University of Chicago. Looking at the book you can imagine Galileo wincing and sighing as he proofreads. In that enchanted instant, the centuries dissolve. Your hand is on the book; his hand is on your shoulder. (Los Angeles Times, 23 April 2008)
May 2, 2008. Tonight Signe and I went to Provo so that she could play her violin (Massenet’s “Meditation from Thäis”) for David Card’s mother, who was celebrating her 80th birthday. Signe played the piece on Sister Card’s 240 year old violin, which had a brighter sound than Signe’s more mellow sound. There was hardly a dry eye in the extended Card family. David also recognized me as a Nibley expert who gave his mother a copy of my book, Of All Things a couple of years ago.
May 23, 2008. The exciting thing about my Nibley work today was my running across a lot of notes on the Book of Mormon. It made me think that perhaps I should compile a Nibley commentary on the Book of Mormon: from manuscripts, from note cards, from his books on the Book of Mormon, his Sunday School and Priesthood lessons, and his Book of Mormon classes at BYU. I’m sure that would with the approval of the late Elder J. Reuben Clark of the First Presidency.
May 29, 2008. I met Rachel Hunt for lunch this noon on the deck of the JFSB. We talked about the Nibley project and her new job writing a chapter on divine feminism for a book by David Paulsen. Then I gave her a copy of my book Of All Things for the great help she has been to me. The project is getting pretty tedious, so I will be glad when we have another student to help out.
June 11, 2008. This morning I found Nibley’s paper “The Divine Embrace,” about the atonement of Jesus Christ. It was quite synchronous for me to find this on the day I would be giving a lesson on the atonement in my Institute class. Because of it, class went very well: we had good discussion, good scriptures to read – the whole nine spiritual yards!
June 12, 2008. This morning I was surprised by two Nibley items: one was a scrawled note labeled “Last Words, May 23, ’02.” (He must have had a bad day, for he was still three years away from death.) The second item was incomplete but expressed clearly what I’ve felt ever since I’ve embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and it is a great explanation for the unseen things we accept by faith; for the need for discernment of unseen things; and for personal revelation in discovering unseen things. Here is my transcript of his notes:
…the DOWSER, who immediately located water on the university lands after the Dept. of Geology had failed to do so after years of determined effort. So Hippocrates lays down the rule, that it is better to prescribe a scientifically grounded prescription, even though the patients die of it, than it is to allow them old home remedies, even though THEY regularly cure them. And so for centuries doctors killed millions of patients with the latest scientific medical principles of the Four Humors, while condemning the traditional herbs and poultices that really healed.
Science is KNOWING (the Greek word is better – it is GNOSIS) vs. [Karl] Popper: Science is GUESSING, nothing more. The different viewpoints are those of the mantic and SOPHIC. The MANTIC holds that there are always unknown values connected with worlds or states of existence which lie beyond our immediate grasp, but which are nonetheless real and have an influence in our lives.
The SOPHIC holds the no-nonsense view of Gertrude who could not see the ghost of Hamlet’s father & so could only conclude that Hamlet was out of his mind: “I see nothing at all,” she says, ‘YET ALL THAT IS I SEE.” (Scientific credo) That is the ultimate folly – that is what one can never say: ‘ALL THAT IS, I SEE!”
At the trial of Socrates he asks his accusers, who had accused him of sacrilege, whether they thought the Sun and Moon were divine objects. “Of course not,” one of them replies contemptuously, “the moon is only a chunk of earth and the Sun is only a hot rock!” For them that told the whole story – they were scientists. [caps. are Nibley’s] (Nibley Archives, “Three Shrines: The Mantic, the Sophic and the Sophistic.”)
June 23, 2008. This Sabbath morning we had a piddly hotel breakfast of a roll and butter before we attended all three meetings in the local Lucerne [Switzerland] ward. We performed Lily of the Valley, Racine, and Martini during the course of sacrament meeting, with the Pilgrim’s Hymn between talks. These were interpreted from German into English, with a young elder as interpreter. It was mentioned by the bishop that the Utah Baroque Ensemble had sung at Hugh Nibley’s funeral in 2005. I found it interesting that the bishop would make that remark, since Nibley served in the Swiss International Mission in 1927 and probably left his mark here, somewhere between serving in Germany and Greece.
July 31, 2008. After doing errands today I stopped by to see Sister Nibley. It was good to see Phyllis, and the feeling was mutual. She expressed gratitude for all that I had done for her husband and the collected works, and I, in turn, offered my help and the help of Archives personnel in helping her with some of her husband’s effects as she gets ready to move to Orem in late Fall. Signe and I need to stop by and see her later.
August 6, 2008. This morning I was working on Nibley in the retirees room when I noticed Tom Wells across the hall unpacking a box of items, among which looked like a real Nazi flag. I immediately went across the hall to pick up the flag as well as a Deutsche Wehrmacht armband, a cap and an internal passport from the Nazi era. They were all a gift of J.M. Heslop, once a member of the Signal Corps in World War II and more recently a reporter for the Deseret News. They brought back memories of an awful time in our world’s history and the part my Dad and Hugh Nibley played in arresting it.
September 2, 2008. Today was a red letter day at work on the Nibley. I have started the fine-tuning on the Finding Aid, which means beginning to transfer material from brown packing boxes to grey archival boxes, talking to John Murphy about the next step, and cleaning off my desk.
October 9, 2008. I reached the 200th archive box for the Nibley collection today, with a possible end number ranging between 250 and 260. Mary and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
October 17, 2008. Mary Downs and I reached a milestone today with the Nibley papers: “One Eternal Round” is finally complete in all of its many archival boxes. Now we can continue to tidy up and get things ready for John Murphy to look at and approve of.
October 21, 2008. I stopped to see Phyllis Nibley today. She was in the midst of moving out of her house on 700 North, with the help of her son Tom and his wife Debbie. I know she hates to leave this house around which so much of her life with Hugh revolved.
October 24, 2008. Signe and I went to the Provo Temple tonight: it was one of my best sessions ever, perhaps because the person I was proxy for (James Fuller, b. 1696 in Vermont) was so receptive. It didn’t hurt that I was not only receptive but wide awake. I received answers to prayers as well, especially having to do with the biography of Hugh Nibley I have to write for the Nibley Papers Finding Aid.
October 26, 2008. Our temple class was successful in that I passed around my papyrus copy of Facsimile No. 2 from the Pearl of Great Price, along with Nibley’s book about the Egyptian endowment: showing that such rites were further back even than being ‘ancient.’
November 5, 2008. At the dinner table Signe and I talked about how our mission may have to do with our grandchildren, since we have so many of them. Life is so much more challenging these days than when we were growing up that our 65+ grandchildren need all the help they can get. Besides, FARMS and Archives want me to be around for the 2010 celebration of Nibley’s 100th anniversary of his birth.
November 6, 2008. I spoke very freely to my student Mary Downs about politics and personal feelings today, until she got tears in her eyes. She is a very open and listening student for my mentoring. I am indeed fortunate to have her work with me on the Nibley, which is even closer to completion.
November 7, 2008. I drove to Utah Valley University, where I addressed the 30 faculty members of the Institute. It was like going home, because of my service there in the UVSC stake back in 2002-2005, and because of my own Institute instruction in the BYU 2nd stake.
The Institute secretary, Karen Hepworth, introduced the meeting, and after an opening hymn and prayer, my own brother-in-law (Grant’s Kristene’s dad) introduced me. Then I spent an hour speaking on Nibley and his scholarship, followed by 40 minutes answering questions. Everyone seemed to enjoy it very much, and Karen said my presentation was better than great. After arriving home and checking my e-mail, I saw that one of the faculty, Stephen Weber, had Face-booked me. I was very honored to be a part of this august gathering: and to gain some more friends for Nibley. In fact, the one instructor who was in charge of the Institute budget, asked for permission to purchase some more Nibley volumes for the Institute.
I stopped by the BYU library to check on Mary’s work, and as I was leaving I ran into Randy Olsen and Julene Butler. We reminisced for a few minutes, and both said that there were so many new faces in the library—and so few old—that they are looking forward to retirement, but hoping to ease into it like I have with the Nibley papers. Julene also told me she had just signed the papers so that I could get paid to work on Nibley during Winter semester.
December 9, 2008. Today Mary and I said goodbye to the Nibley manuscripts and ephemera and hello to three boxes of photographs. John Murphy sat down with us and gave us some training. We hope to be finished before Mary leaves for Singapore next week.
December 24, 2008. We hoped to find Curtis Wright home so that I could give him a present of my transcription of a long letter he had written to Hugh Nibley in the late 1950s. But we left it on his doorstep in Orem.
January 5, 2009. Mary Downs and I talked about our ‘game plan’ in finishing the Nibley photographs. It’s so nice to see the end in sight on the Nibley archives.
January 10, 2009. While Signe and Kat went to MaryJane’s in Sandy to help her remodel her bathroom, I went to work to help Mary enter the information from the Nibley photographs onto the Finding Aid and to help David Nielsen begin an inventory of Nibley’s audio/visual materials. We made good progress today.
January 30, 2009. Mary and I attempted to completely finish the Nibley Archives today, ending with 5 boxes of photographs. It’s a great feeling to be almost done – maybe Monday.
February 2, 2009. A red letter day, if there ever was one. Mary Downs and I finished processing the Nibley papers, a project I began nearly three years ago. All that needs to be done is to encode the Finding Aid (after John Murphy goes through it), label the boxes, and microfilm the collection – three tasks that Mary and I are not responsible for. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment. Mary is now working on my own papers. (I would never have thought I would deserve a spot in the University Archives!) And now I am working on the volume of Nibley unpublished articles, beginning with “The Great Master Plan.”
February 5, 2009. In addition to initiatory, veil and new name work today in the temple, I spent some time in the temple laundry and played the piano for prayer meeting for veil workers. In our 6:20 prayer meeting I led the music and listened to Pres. Danes quote Matthew Brown (The Gate of Heaven), Hugh Nibley, and S. Kent Brown – all temple scholars whom I have known well.
February 9, 2009. A week ago Mary, John and I completed the Nibley papers. Today, with contracts and a copy of the 369 page Finding Aid in hand, John and I drove to Edgemont to meeting with the Nibley family: Phyllis, Paul and Christina Mincek. We had a delightful conversation, in which we got to know each other better, and even made arrangements for the library exhibit around Nibley’s 100th anniversary of his birthday next year, March 27. A very successful meeting even without Alex Nibley.
February 11, 2009. Alex Nibley signed the contract today, with John and I present, in the donor room. Mary Downs, Randy Olsen, and Rex Carlson were also involved later. It was a good meeting, with Alex wanting to donate a dozen canisters of 16mm film that were used for “Faith of an Oberver.” As Alex was leaving I showed him his dad’s personal library on the shelves of the Hugh Nibley Ancient Studies Room. Alex pledged his support to help in planning a Hugh Nibley exhibit in 2010.
The Eschatological Dignity of Hugh Nibley:
Surprises from the Nibley Archives
Information gleaned from his papers
Featured piano soloist in at least 2 concerts
Diplomas and certificates of achievement never displayed
Asked to contribute to James Charlesworth’s Apocrypha of the Old Testament volume. Declined, even though he said OK to the Encyclopedia Judaica article on the “Greek Apocalypse of Daniel”
Sat on a committee doing curriculum study for Book of Mormon course
Thick folder on “Dewey and Education” (An article in progress?)
Original draft of “Change Out of Control” mentions the World Trade Center and the need to tear it down in 30 years because of technological advances (1970s)
Amazing Lamanite documents about the Hopi, Mayan and Navajo tribes (in the Themes box of the Nibley Archives)
He refused payment of $5000 from the Brethren for writing Approach to the Book of Mormon manual for Priesthood lessons. Under pressure, he finally accepted the check (1956).
Ägyptologie Papyruskunde catalog from Otto Harrassowitz bookdealer in Wiesbaden (1978) with several items checked.
Instructions for the new G.I. (soldier): the beginning of a biography
Participant in a summer music program at BYU and Aspen Grove (1942)
List of influential friends and acquaintances
A detailed accident report, March 16, 1970
A 1962 application for a Guggenheim Grant, with the best Curriculum Vitae we have from him. (He didn’t get the grant, for he missed the deadline for application.)
Possible chapter or article outline?
“Where does the Hyp. Belong? Ditto seer-stones? Prayer circles? Temples? Vestments? Fasts? Prayers? Alms? The 5 Duties of Islam? The Sacraments? Forbidden food?
Thousands of excerpts from Brigham Young’s writings in the Journal of Discourses typed and stapled according to subject.
Participated in the design of the San Diego Temple (see letter by William S. Lewis, Jr.)
Letters from and to Pastor Schmiessing in Winfield, Kansas, in 1961, while I was a Lutheran student there (see Nibley Finding Aid: Book of Mormon Studies, 100, 15).
Dec. 22, 1938 letter from Apostle John A. Widtsoe asking him to submit articles on the Book of Abraham to the Improvement Era, especially on the three Facsimiles. This pre-dates Elder J. Reuben Clark’s requests and the Church’s request for research on the Joseph Smith Papyri by almost 30 years.
Correspondence with Paul Springer was Nibley at his best and most relaxed and free.
Speaker at the Utah State Prison (Medium Security) on Jan. 30, 1972: subject unknown.
Speaker at Oklahoma State University’s Religious Emphasis Week, March 5, 1963, where he gave three papers: “The Play Must Have a Part,” “Is Religion Materialistic?” and “Does Religion or Christianity Have a Place on the Campus?”
Speaker at evening lectures on religion at the University of Utah, Utah State and BYU between October 22 and December 17, 1956: “The Varieties of Christian Theology.”
Speaker at the Wells Stake, Whittier Ward MIA Speech Festival, February 2, 1954 – on folklore
Speaker at Provo Community Church (1950s)
No journals? One entire box of journals! (Unfortunately, most of the entries are in Niblish)
Spencer W. Kimball’s article, “The False Gods We Worship,” (Ensign, June 1976), found in 14 widespread locations throughout his papers. More than any other article written by anyone else, this one seemed to be Nibley’s ‘mantra’ or philosophy of life.
Three photocopies of Harold Bloom’s talk on American Religion and Joseph Smith, spread throughout his papers. All were heavily annotated.
Six copies of “A Strange Thing in the Land” on Enoch from the Ensign found throughout his papers. Unusual in that Nibley has heavily annotated each already published article of his.
Three copies of Temple and Cosmos in his personal book collection have been annotated, almost as if he were reading another author.
Favorite fiction writer seems to have been Agatha Christie, since 13 titles were found throughout his house. In the back cover of one, he writes: “She finally got it right.”
New Yorker cartoon by Dr. Duane Davis depicts two inscribers chiseling hieroglyphics in an Egyptian temple. The supervisor noticed a mistake and said “man before jackal except when followed by hawk.” (“I” before “E,” etc.) Nibley didn’t to get it (or was pulling our leg.) He translated the glyphs, said it was authentic, and gave a history. Ever the literalist!
“Genealogists are the only true historians.”
“Steamer trunks full of note cards” (as mentioned by his brother Reid Nibley in Faith of an Observer) = 67 ½ linear feet or 810 linear inches, or about 250,000 cards. (Nibley’s ‘hard drive’) There are many more cards within his research folders. These are in English, his modified Gregg shorthand, and in many languages. Unusual topics include: Las Vegas Credo, Slavic Epics, obsolescence of science, Muslim sects, the bee, Joseph Smith and Enoch, the Copts. His handwriting was neatest when writing Cyrillic script.
Cancelled checks dating back to his UCLA days in the 1930s
Purple jogging shoe pin, given to him by someone, reminiscent of his wearing purple K-Mart shoes and black suit.
Dentist’s office receipt in the middle of many Joseph Smith Papyri drafts and notes.
Kresimir Cosic’s personal correspondence and papers a part of the Nibley papers. (Cosic obviously trusted him with them.)
His own cartoon drawing of a man ‘having fun’
From his secretary Pat Ward’s office: a copy of C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces, from the library of Orson Scott Card, presumably lent to Nibley by Card. Book was added to the Card Archives.
Languages: From his writings, his language study materials, his books, his experiences
Avestan (related to Sanskrit)
Coptic (incl. Sahidic)*
Old Bulgarian (Church Slavonic)
Turkish (see also Arabic)
Gregg shorthand, modified
NOTE: Fluency in the various languages varies widely. An * marks his most fluent. Nibley probably learned code language in the Army, and if Music notation is considered a language, that should be included. However, computer language is decidedly not.
By-products of processing his papers:
Finding Aid of 350 pages
A list of unpublished papers
NOTE: Most of the above items can be found by using a word search on the Internet version of the Nibley Archives Finding Aid.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS to those who helped with the Nibley Archives.
His papers: Rachael Givens, Sarah Phipps Heaton, Marissa Jensen, Rachel Hunt, Sally McDonald, John Crawford, Bethany Chapman and Mary Downs.
His personal book collection, now located in the Hugh Nibley Ancient Studies Room of the Harold B. Lee Library: Tom Bell, David Lurth, Susan O’Connor, Judith Long, Mary Wilson, Maggie Hansen, Anela Ormsby, and Mary Anne Jeppson.
And many others who helped on my Nibley projects from 1972 onwards.
February 18, 2009. In the evening two of my Nibley students came over for a Nibley finishing party: a pot luck to which they both brought boiled potatoes! My current student Mary was one of the two. Julie Slater, who just returned from the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission, had helped with the Nibley correspondence in 2007.
February 20, 2009. Our student David Nielsen brought his brother and father by to meet me today and asked if I could show them the Nibley collection. Apparently David’s father’s testimony was greatly increased by his reading of Nibley’s writings.
March 13, 2009. Shirley Ricks of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute wants me to continue Nibley after our mission.
March 27, 2009. Happy 99th birthday, Brother Nibley!
April 9, 2009. Another meaningful morning at the Provo Temple. In the initiatory session I happened to have Brother Dale Nelson as one of my proxies. He had written a book a few years ago about the lost civilizations around Central Asia, a book which Hugh Nibley endorsed. Well, Br. Nelson was also directly responsible for the submission of tens of thousands of Punjabi names for temple work. We’ve done most of them in the Provo Temple.
April 10, 2009. Between 1986 and 1992 Hugh Nibley was asked by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve to teach them about the temple. From those notes Nibley wrote an article called “Endowment History” which was subsequently published a couple of times as “On the Sacred and the Symbolic.” Recently, my colleague Paul Hoskisson found an earlier manuscript with some FARMS materials, some of it with sensitive material. He was asked by Elder Dallin H. Oaks to send the material to him. Then Paul asked me if the Nibley archives had these earlier materials as notes and typescripts, and I told him it did. He asked to see them, and Mary Downs made them available to him last week.
Meanwhile, this afternoon my successor Ryan Combs came down to Special Collections
with a message for me to call Elder Oaks. Elder Oaks told me that the First Presidency were concerned about the sensitive material and wanted me to go through this material and send to him anything which would be too sacred to let fall into anti-Mormon hands. I told I would, and I will spend the next week on these materials. Elder Oaks also made it a point to tell me that he had been in the meeting where Nibley had taught them. Even more remarkable was his comment that he trusted me with the project. I will do better than my best for him.
April 13, 2009. I set about finding any sensitive material in Nibley’s writings about the temple so that I could send them to Elder Oaks.
April 14, 2009. I finished Nibley’s endowment materials and prepared about a dozen pages to be sent by pouch to Elder Oaks. Becky, one of the students, took it to the mail room in the ASB for me. It was only fitting, since Elder Oaks had set apart her father in a stake presidency.
May 21, 2009. I’ve had many unusual experiences in my life, but the one I had on Monday was surely one of the most bizarre. I was annotating the last of the 1200 Nibley books in Ancient Studies when a particularly toxic smell and touch violated my senses. It was the most horrible smell I’ve ever known and made me nauseated immediately. This Greek anthology, published in Leipzig in 1892, smelled like a cross between mouse droppings, mold and garage toxins and chemicals. (It had actually been stored in Nibley’s garage.) I asked Naarah Gonzalez later to assist me in putting the book in a freezer bag with cotton balls of lavender oil and lemon peel to deodorize and disinfect this toxic book.
June 11, 2009. [At the MTC] Thursday afternoon we were taught by Scott Thomas. At the end of the session he came up to me and asked if I were related to the Gillum who had worked with Hugh Nibley. When I told him that I was that man, he asked, “You are Gary Gillum?” He then began to praise and honor me for my work.
June 19, 2009. A little after 5 President and Sister Watrous took us out to dinner at Polly’s on Main Street in Santa Ana. We could have talked all night! Everything from our families, the Mission, and Hugh Nibley to Catherine Thomas’ book A Light in the Wilderness and what to do about a chiropractor for my back. What a delightful couple! They appreciate our coming here so much!
July 7, 2009. President Watrous appreciated my giving him a copy of my Nibley quote book Of All Things. This should save him some time looking for inspiring thoughts.
October 25, 2009. [My wife and I gave a fireside at the Garden Grove Stake Center on Bolsa Ave. The stake president had mistakenly put a photo of Nibley on the flyer instead of one of me, probably because he wanted me to speak about Nibley as well as about families.] Afterwards a Chinese brother in attendance told me that he had had Hugh Nibley for a Book of Mormon class at BYU. Even though he didn’t understand Nibley, he understood the Book of Mormon enough to join the church.
November 13, 2009. [After Don Norton gave the Veterans Day address at the Garden Grove Stake Center] he told me that he had been to a faculty center meeting last Tuesday where they had shown the participants the 350 page Finding Aid I had produced for the Nibley Archives. It was generally agree upon at the meeting that only Don Norton, Stephen Ricks, Jack Welch, Dan McKinlay and I had read all of Nibley’s writings. (I would add, however, that since I processed many unpublished manuscripts of Nibley’s that I had read more than anyone else – not to be boasting!)
November 23, 2009. This week is catch-up week for Signe at the office, so we got there at 7 a.m. every morning – except Thanksgiving Day and Saturday, when we arrived at 10. I had no need to catch up, however, so I used the quiet time before the other four office staff arrived to excerpt Nibley entries from my journals, beginning in 1975 and ending in 2009. It was something I hadn’t planned on doing, but I hope BYU Studies will be interested in publishing these pages. I believe Nibley fans would be delighted!
 My favorite Lutheran minister, who encouraged me in study for the ministry, and for whom I worked as vicar.
 ‘Nibley index’ always refers to the bibliography of Nibley sources I was compiling, unless it was a forthcoming new book of Nibley’s, which would then be a true index.
 Twenty years later found me finishing the editing of a new edition of this great book: one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life! But it was so good to see my name of the title page of one of Nibley’s books.
 This second edition was finally published by FARMS in 2000. It took me further beyond my comfort zone than almost anything else I’ve done in my life.
 His ‘project’ was the excellent biography of his father-in-law Hugh Nibley, which would be published as Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life, published in 2002. This was his first request from me, Nibley’s ‘bibliographer.’
 In one of his last conference addresses, President James E. Faust spoke a great deal about ministering angels and who they might be.
 Michael Rhodes is actually doing the final edit of this book, due to be published in March of 2010.
 Pat Ward was Nibley’s secretary as early as August 1988.