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I am by no means a historian, but I hope that the recent Spencer W. Kimball biography serves as a model for Deseret Book's publishing. As I'm going to discuss on my blog, I thought it was rather straightforward in discussing a number of uncomfortable truths--even in the print version.

Great post, Dave. I tend to agree with Elder Packer that Church employees (i.e., CES) should be bound by hierarchical dictates. BYU is a bit more complicated, obviously. I hope that the hierarchy would take a balanced approach to history and I believe it is the more healthy outlook; that said, I don't know that we can expect that.

I think I've said this elsewhere, but I really do think that we are moving into a more open era. It may not last long, but I'll enjoy it will as long as possible.

Hey, Just for info, you can access most back issues of dialogue on-line at the University of Utah website, even those musty old copies from the '60's
Enjoy, their reader is kinda cumbersome but I've spent hours reading these old back issues
del.icio.us/canadiancynicism
-tagged Mormon and Journals
http://content.lib.utah.edu/cgi-bin/browseresults.exe?CISOROOT=%2Fdialogue

Over several pages, Bushman considers how an LDS historian would incorporate revelation, providential direction, and inspiration into his or her interpretive model, no simple exercise. It should be noted that in Rough Stone Rolling Bushman arguably did as good a job as can be done in writing sound LDS historical narrative while accommodating revelation and providential direction.

This is an interesting observation. Bushman's model, set forth in "Faithful History," has had its champions over the years, and no doubt there are those who will continue to champion it, but in practice its impact has been limited, largely, to Bushman's own writing (namely, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism and RSR).

Walker, Whittaker, and Allen's Mormon History, in discussing Bushman's essay, notes that Bushman published his essay at the beginning of the New Mormon history movement. In reviewing the events of the last 30 or so years, however, the historians paint the Bushman model as a failure, at least in terms of impact on the movement. They write: "Although widely quoted, Bushman's essay had little perceptible impact on actual writing."

No doubt some historians see this as a good thing.

"Those who have carefully purged their work of any religious faith in the name of academic freedom or so-called honesty ought not expect to be accommodated in their researches or to be paid by the Church to do it." This, too, suggests his direction is tailored to the CES audience.

I think by "accomodated in their researches" Elder Packer meant not only CES employees, but access to the Church Archives by those not doing "faithful history" in his mode. I gather, however, that in recent years the Archives have become more open than they were immediately after the end of "Camelot."

Once upon a time, I was obsessed with this topic, and read all these sources multiple times. I eventually got burned out.

My favorite quote about how LDS historians should approach the past, and in what sense they should try to be "objective," is probably by Philip Barlow, in the introduction to _Mormons and the Bible_. Alas, I don't have the text handy so I can't cite it.

Of course, Louis Midgely dismissed Barlow's comment in an essay in FARMS. But I liked it anyway.

Aaron B

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