United Brethren has retired.

What was TTW thinking?

Regarding the Martha Beck controversy, she is clearly a troubled person (whether or not her accusations are true). Over at DMI, a link has been posted to the publisher's page regarding the release of the book. Now, I suppose I can't blame the various doctors and life Coaches who offer support to Martha's book as the product of a deeply troubled woman, but Terry Tempest Williams is a Utah native (although her church affiliation is unknown to me).
"Very sad. Very brave. Very true." is excerpted from her blurb regarding the book. I am assuming that she can see from a mile away the inaccuracies as discussed in the DesNews and SLTrib articles. What would possess Williams, a widely respected author and essayist who appears to be fairly intelligent, to put her name to such easily dismissable drivel?
I suppose I should withhold judgement until the opportunity presents itself to read the book. Not that I can see much to recommend it at the moment, except that the purported accusations are ridiculous in the extreme.
Additionally, I am curious as to what her publishers at Random House were thinking? Were they trying to tap into that under-exploited Anti-Mormon market? I am sure the Tanners are shaking in their boots now that a large publisher has entered their niche.

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Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 05, 2005 9:27 PM) 

I veiw the quotes that are made to "support" a book the same as I do quotes that support movies...many times out of context and usually twisted to the benefit of the book or movie. Why else would they use the quote.

I received an email encouraging members to email Oprah (Martha works for her) to not support the book.

It will be interesting to see what the "public" say and or feel about the book.

I'm old enough to remember "No man knows my history" and the controversy that book caused. Today the church is looked upon in a better and different light, so it will be interesting.

The obvious reason for writting the book, for publishing the book....MONEY!  

Posted by don


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 06, 2005 12:55 PM) 

John C., I agree, the whole thing seems bizarre at this point. For one thing, the title "Leaving the Saints" seems entirely incongruous with the style of of the book. The title makes it sound like it is an objective and reliable account of why one bright person (as MNB admittedly is) changed her religious opinions or convictions and exited. Someone with a PhD in sociology could write such a book and do it very well. But the book seems to deliver something entirely different, a rambling, nameless account full of purported memories and shady, indirect allegations.

Who, one wonders, is the intended audience? What is the theme or thesis of the book, if not "Leaving the Saints"? I don't suppose "Figuring Out My Screwy Childhood and What Happened Afterwards" would sell many books. 

Posted by Dave


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 06, 2005 2:29 PM) 

Even Rebecca Nibley, whom all siblings agree is Beck's strongest supporter in the family, doesn't believe their father abused anyone.
"The one thing she wanted so badly was for us to say, 'it happened to me too,' " she said. "But we couldn't because it didn't."
And Nibley, four years older than Beck,
is surprised that her sister failed to mention several key facts in this memoir: that Beck and her husband are divorced and that both are gay.
or more ...

Her book makes many exaggerated claims about Mormons and Mormonism: that the governing First Presidency maintains a "death squad . . . to deal with malcontents," The saddest quote is:

Beck's family says she's the unstable one.
"She has a long history of mental illness,
Pretty much the bottom line.

Sad, and bizarre, but sad. The audience is the general self-help/self-discovery crowd, intellectually a part of the National Enquirer/Weekly World spectrum and from the first chaper (on Amazon) the book looks directly written to that group.

I wonder how the publisher is reacting to the possible legal battles to come.


Posted by Stephen M (Ethesis)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 12:44 PM) 

Don, I suppose that this is what so amazes me. I have been told (having never read it myself) that Brodie's book at least attempts to be scholarly (whether it succeeds usually depends on who is talking about it). But many of the accusations that Beck is making are so obviously crazy that it is hard to understand why she or the publisher felt a need to make them. As Dave said, the title and the contents are incongruous.
Working under the assumption that Beck is intelligent and that she knows that most of this is unprovable (whether or not she believes it to be true), why make the accusations? Especially when the accusations make more sense in the Tabloid aisle than in the self-help section. 

Posted by John C.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 1:52 PM) 

I too recieved the email, it is all I can do to hope and pray that the relief society of the church does NOT email Oprah in mass, and make a big hullaballoo about it. If the excerpt I read truely was from her book, I am disapointed that a daughter of Nibleys is so far removed from true information ... 1st presidency hit squad?

Though, She is on Oprah, and she is a Doctor, so I must be one of the duped millions...

I am not one for these repressed memory abuse thins either... I think they are garbage.(Sexual abuse by her father is an allegation she makes, yet the other siblings say absolutely not.)

To be honest, I don't think it will keep honest and open truth seekers away form the church, it may draw a few, and those in Oprah's Army that it effects, who cares if they don;t want to come over...


Posted by Jake


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 2:03 PM) 

A few great, and telling quotes from the trib article.

Adds BYU sociologist Marie Cornwall: "If you believe 'Desperate Housewives' is an accurate reflection of American society, then you'll believe this book."

"...failed to mention several key facts in this memoir: that Beck and her husband are divorced and that both are gay.
"When the key issue in the book is her sexuality and how she got the way she is, to leave that out is going to make her look foolish," Rebecca Nibley said."

"She has a long history of mental illness, especially anorexia and depression,"

veeeeery interesting...

Posted by Jake


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 2:49 PM) 

[Conversation between two Evangelicals:]

Bill: I hear the Book of Mormon says its OK to kill people if they threaten your religion.
Bob: Yeah, some guy got his head cut off Zarqawi style.
Bill: And that black people have some curse and that if they become Mormons they will be white.
Bob: Really? Have you read the Book of Moron?
Bill: Well, no. I got this from Ed Decker.

Honestly, guys, someone please actually read this book before getting too riled-up.

1. If this woman truly is "mentally ill", then she deserves our pity and our forgiveness.
2. You cannot know that she wasn't abused by her father.
3. We've survived this before. "Secret Ceremonies", Godmakers II's accusations of abuse against President Hinckley.

Now, I agree that it does actually sound like complete rubbish, but isn't it just so sad to see a Mormon family so divided? Whilst I have no idea whether Brother Nibley is to blame, I am reminded that "no other success in life can compensate for failure in the home". I imagine that his stellar work for the church is cold comfort to him in the face of the loss of his daughter right now. How sad. May God bless the Nibleys, all of them. 

Posted by Ronan


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 3:21 PM) 

Ronan, I can send you the first chapter if you haven't seen it. She really is just drudging up discredited nineteenth-century anti-Mormon criticisms that have been dealt with by scholarship in the intervening century. She doesn't have to provide footnotes to these subsequent academic debates, though, because she alleges sexual abuse in the same paragraph.

A couple of other points:

(1) Whilst I have no idea whether Brother Nibley is to blame, I am reminded that "no other success in life can compensate for failure in the home". Mr. Nibley scholar, I would hope that you are at least willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Hugh Nibley and, if nothing else, to apply the maxim, innocent until proven guilty to Hugh's alleged sexual abuse. So far, the evidence and "proof" are against Beck, given the sworn affidavits of the other family members.

(2) I imagine that his stellar work for the church is cold comfort to him in the face of the loss of his daughter right now. It seems a little harsh to lay the blame for Beck's outrageous life and claims on Hugh Nibley. If she has gone insane, or even if she is merely malicious, then why must we look to Hugh Nibley and apply the maxim "no other success in life can compensate for failure in the home"? This maxim is meant to apply to people who put their careers first rather than their families and who do not teach their children the principles of the Gospel while young. Why can't the presumptions here be against Beck? That is what worries me. If even you aren't willing to discount as outlandish Beck's claims, then what is the Oprah-loving public, who doesn't have any idea what FARMS is and of the quality and content of the numerous scholarly studies devoted to clearing up the types of anti-Mormon claims that Beck brings, supposed to think. Because sexual abuse is the key word, innocent until proven guilty flies out the window and Hugh Nibley, an old white religious man, is automatically guilty of sexually abusing his daughter while wearing an Egyptian ceremonial mask, which is, of course, what every Latter-day Saint high priest does, right? 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 3:43 PM) 

One thing I must learn to do is to express myself more clearly in these comments. I don't mean to cast doubt on HN, and I certainly find his daughter's claims to be highly suspect. But if I were him, even if I had a clear conscience as regards my role as a father, I would be desperately sad and would indeed feel that any success in life paled in comparison. To have your own daughter hate you so is a failure, not necessarily his, but someone's. It just makes me want to pray until my knees are sore that whatever I achieve in life, and however my kids turn out, that they will love me and I them. There's no guarantee, but there, but for the grace of God go I. I feel so sorry for Hugh Nibley, certainly a Latter-day hero, at this time. But I don't think that Mormons crucifying his daughter (whom I presume he deeply loves) is going to comfort him. These are people, not mythical characters. 

Posted by Ronan


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 4:17 PM) 

Actually, the reason I posted this to begin with was not to rag on MNB (who, as stated above, clearly has a lot to deal with in her own life). Additionally, I am not terribly interested in the Nibley's homelife (although 1. most who have read his work must imagine (I think) that he would have been a bear to grow up with and 2. in spite of all our respect, all the evidence, and all the reason to the contrary, he may have done it). Instead, I am interested in what would have inspired people to publish this. What inspired Terry Tempest Williams, who really should know better, to associate her name with this project? I honestly think that MNB is being used here by people and I am having a hard time seeing the motivation. 

Posted by John C.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 4:22 PM) 

Ronan wrote But if I were him, even if I had a clear conscience as regards my role as a father, I would be desperately sad and would indeed feel that any success in life paled in comparison. I share this perspective: I would be very sad if I were him. I can imagine that he has a broken heart right now at the end of his life at the hands of his mercilessly anti-Mormon daughter.  

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 4:26 PM) 

John C., what do you mean by the statement that HN must have been a bear to grow up with? Is that based on MNB's description of his apologetics in her first chapter? I imagine it more like growing up with Jack Welch: always interesting, stimulating, and eye-opening conversation about Latter-day Saint topics. My wife is truly lucky to have had such a father. I don't think it would have been a burden at all. I think it would be fun to grow up with someone versed in ancient languages and cultures and always ready with well-founded answers to questions. 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 4:55 PM) 

$ince when ha$ controver$ey or unproven and wild allegation$ ever hurt the bottom line?

I can't imagine any good reason for publishing this, unless someone at the top really believes all the rubbish about the Church (leaving the Nibley's out of it.) 

Posted by Ben S.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 6:28 PM) 

Well, I should just point you to Boyd Peterson's comments in the DesNews article. But imagine what if you were an average teenager and your father was constantly telling you about the evils of money and temporal wealth and all you really want is a decent car and your father drives around an old clunker and you all have to live in a broken down little house which he never works on because he is always working on these ancient documents that you honestly couldn't care less about. And so on...
This brief dramatization has been brought to you by my inner 15-year-old. Enjoy! 

Posted by John C.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 6:48 PM) 

Wow, John C.: everyone in Russia, East Germany, and the rest of the Eastern Bloc should be alleging sexual abuse against their fathers by now! 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 7:26 PM) 

Ouch! I was just pointing out that it might not have been the most pleasant of childhoods (again referring to Boyd Peterson's published remarks). I was not implying that such scrapes and bruises were the motivations behind the cry for help from a clearly delusional woman. 

Posted by John C.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 7:27 PM) 

Since I've brought it up twice, here are Peterson's remarks:
"None of the family agrees with her story," said Boyd Peterson, who is married to Beck's sister Zina (and who authored a Hugh Nibley biography). "And the Nibley family is itself pretty diverse. Probably 50 percent of the brothers and sisters are no longer members of the LDS Church, or they are members in name only. All of them have issues with their father. The boys are angry about his being a big Mormon celebrity who was too often absent from the family."
Peterson considers it "a nasty book" that has Beck unfairly attacking her parents and her church. He considers the material concerning Mormonism to be "bizarre — she thinks the Danites are going to come and kill her."

Posted by John C.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 08, 2005 2:31 PM) 

Those quotes, among others, pretty much kill her credibility. If at one time she taught at BYU, and she had a very intelligent father(for sure), she is either terribly messed up, or terribly ill informed.

From my own experience and family, I am seeing a real pattern of people who hold themselves to an unrealistic level of obedience and achievement, or who have decided that there are some passions and appetites that take a presidence over the gospel.

Somehow, the gospel is not true because...(insert favorite disproven anti-lds statement here), and by the way, I am gay, have cheated on my spouse, drink like a fish...etc.

Pick any reason. It is just interesting to me, that as soon as the road gets rough, or the gospel does not fit into someones lifestyle, they are like the Aesop's fable about the fox and the grapes, where the fox, not being able to access the grapes decides that they are sour and not worth having, the difference being that so many can not seem to walk away. They actually feel the urge to attack it.

I am astounded by the many sites on the internet of Former-mormons, who have a laundry list of reasons as to why they are so much smarter than millions of others and how they have been singled out by the lord to lead all us heathen back to the right path, but it seems the best they can do is to quote each other, as apposed to giving real reasons.

How terrible it must feel to loose a child from the faith. How much worse it must feel to have that child turn on your family. It is obvious that there is mental illness involved. What a struggle it must be to see a child go that way.

Being a new member of the parents club, I have been going over scenarios in my head. terrified of what my Daughter will become. Will she sit with me and tell me she feels that she is gay? will she have an utter distain for the church? Am I as a father giving her the time she needs? It is a little scary to think about, and the best I have been able to come up with is that we will see when the time comes.

I was blessed to be raised by slightly nutty parents, throwbacks from the hippy era. My mother as liberal as they come, this has given me a slightly different outlook than my wife, and pretty much everyone else in the church around me... I am conservative myself, but am apalled by parents who are ready to divorce children who do not make it on missions... I am sickened by parents that give up on children that do not stay active in the church... I am not a fan of the black sheep lable, but in all reality... I will love my kids no matter what. I can only imagine that our very own nutty professor feels the same way... I would die myself if my child were to make accusations like that... and die a faster death if they were true...

The one thing that we can be sure of, is that this poor lady is a little wacky. This from her personal history, and her ill researched version of the church's history.


Posted by Jake


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 08, 2005 8:27 PM) 

But if I were him, even if I had a clear conscience as regards my role as a father, I would be desperately sad and would indeed feel that any success in life paled in comparison. indeed.

Beck got into self-help repressed memory recovery using self-hypnosis. The good science on that is that using self-hypnosis to 'recover' memories is a good way to create them -- and to create memories you believe in.

A sad mess for a mentally ill child. 

Posted by Stephen M (Ethesis)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 24, 2005 3:44 PM) 

In response to your statement about TT William's church affiliation, she also was once a member of the Church.


Blogger HP said ... (February 24, 2005 4:51 PM) 

Thanks for the information


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 25, 2005 4:02 PM) 

There was a Feb. 22, 2002 article in the Salt Lake Tribune "Desert Town Guards Its Isolation" about Castle Valley. I would have to pay to read it again, but my memory is that it mentions Terry Tempest Williams teaching seminary there.

--John Mansfield


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