Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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ii2 I Dialogue upon that to have made a career within the Church. I had all the right ancestors, all the right genealogy, all the right connections, and I could have utilized those connections. I recognize that you do not do those things unless you are called, but if I had been so minded, and some of my associates were so minded, I could very well have built upon those particular connections. No other member of my family knew that as clearly as I did. Do you see why my belonging to the Church was something more than voluntary? With that personal heritage in the Church, how do you assess the period after you left graduate school and took your first professorial position? You mentioned that you experienced possibly a more reflective, critical period in your life regarding the Church. It is hard to assess what happened. We were the only Mormon family in the town and the closest Church was about eighty miles away. We became active in the Methodist Church; my wife and I were invited to serve as co-superintendents of Sunday Schools and I played the pipe organ for the Methodist Church. The pastor of the Baptist Church was doing his master's thesis with me and the Congregational Church minister had me fill in for him when he went away for conferences. We were active as Methodist Church members, but we were known everywhere as Mormons. It was a good religious experience for us, but it was during that period that I received a wire from the Church Commissioner of Education notifying me that I had been appointed president of Ricks College, a position for which I had not applied. The appointment did not seem to be contingent on my accepting it. I countered with, "I am not free to take a position of this sort/' I was head of a small department and could not be freed immediately. But I told him that I would come out and look it over if he would send me expense money. He countered that my appointment had been cleared, the Brethren had approved my appointment. He was not asking me "if I would accept"; I had been appointed! Finally I went out and spent some two weeks between quarters looking the situation over and decided not to take it. I indicated that I could only be interested in the position if there were a separate board of trustees made up of local people from the region. This was probably the first opportunity that I had to return to the Rocky Mountain country and to resume my rightful place among the elite. But when I got there, I just did not take advantage of it. I was told that if I made a go of it at Ricks, I would be the new president at Brigham Young University. I suppose I was appalled that there would be no more competition than that. President George Albert Smith once visited us and gave me a view of my life's mission that I had not considered before. I told him that I was one of the first scholars ever to be employed full time to do nothing but teach and do research in my area of specialization. I told him that I occasionally found that invitations to serve the branch or in the district interfered with responsibilities that were emerging in my profession and that this disturbed me. He put his hand on my knee and said, "You can tell any district president, any branch president who asks you to serve in a Church capacity to go back and pray again. Tell them that you have a mission, that your mission is as important as far as the Church is concerned as anything that you could do within the Church itself. Your mission is to discover, if you can, the