Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Spectacular Misreading

I have long been used to individuals misreading me. It is an occupational hazard as well as a common fact of human life. As Peter Novick pointed out:
There is nothing more tedious than the spectacle of disgruntled authors complaining that they have been misrepresented or, even worse, whimpering that they have been “misunderstood.” Academic authors, above all others, should be immunized from such concerns, after years of seeing the versions of our lectures we get back in blue books at the end of the term. (Peter Novick, "My Correct Views on Everything," The American Historical Review 96/3 (1991): 699.)
Individuals are free to read what I have written on this blog or elsewhere any way they like and there is nothing I can do about it. I have been aware that some individuals consistently misread my blog. One individual, however, understood yesterday's Maxwell quote as an attack on BYU President Cecil Samuelson. Such was never intended; such a thought never crossed my mind, and I publicly repudiate such a reading. I said, "I guess some things have changed." What I understood to have changed is that Elder Maxwell said that at BYU:
Such individuals [those with inarguably good scholarship and also with testimonies born of the Spirit] need never look anxiously over either shoulder.
At the moment that seems to have changed, at least in some corners of BYU. I do not know who is responsible for the change in those particular corners. I do not know how pervasive that change may be. I do not know if the change is the work of a single or multiple individuals, if it is purposeful or accidental. I do know that it is not right, particularly at a Church sponsored university. Our jobs should not be jeopardized for defending the Church, the gospel, or the truth.