It looks like Oprah has put the book up in her book club afterall. That's rather unfortunate as it will give the book a lot of marketing it otherwise would not have. I admit that I had a lot of hope when the emails going around against the email campaign said that Oprah wouldn't have it in her book club. Was this a reaction to all the antagonistic email? Was the fact Beck was an employee a factor? I don't know. In a way I'm not that surprised. She did do a full show on the Laake book back in the 90's, so we shouldn't be that surprised. Still it is very disappointing. One can but hope that people who read the book will have friends and acquaintances who are Mormon. That way they'll have some basis for asking questions as well as doubting some of the presentation in the book.
Once again, note that I'm not focusing in on the main charge of the book towards her father. More the fairly outrageous and ridiciulous charges towards Mormons and especially people living in the Provo area.
I may be posting on this topic from time to time. Especially as controversies pop up. Although to be honest, now that some time has passed since I've read it, the controversy of it all seems much less that I thought it would. It truly seems like a woman with mental problems that perhaps a publisher has taken a bit of advantage of so as to earn some money through the controversy. The more I think about it, the sadder I am for Beck. In any case I've put up a single page that'll include links to all the stories I do on the book.
Just a note, apparently the email going around that the church PR department had spoken to Oprah was false. They never did and that email going around saying they had was apparently faked by someone trying to stop the other email campaign. I still think that such letter writing campaigns are counter-productive. But I thought some might want to know.
One more bit of information. Apparently the big media outlets are now picking up on the story and are asking the Church for an official response. (Presumably so they can quote it in stories for this weekend's newspaper editions) So I suspect we'll see a press release the next day or so. I'll link to it when it pops up.
This isn't good news at all. I'm surprised Oprah would post this book in her club. Too bad. I look forward to hearing/reading the Church's response.
How many LDS women watch Oprah? From experience I'd think they are a strong number of her watchers. In my mom's war I think there are a least two Oprah book clubs. She's probably not making a wise decision.
I'd be very opposed to any pressure in that sense. Consider it from Oprah's point of view. She doesn't know the Provo area that well. When she comes here she hangs out up at one of the expensive homes around Sundance and hangs out with the Sundance crowd. I believe her main positive contact is Stephen Covey who has reportedly taken her to church a few times. But the point is that the Sundance crowd, despite being only 10 minutes away, is pretty isolated from the culture of the region. Further the main figure at Sundance is Robert Redford who hasn't exactly had good relations with the region due to the canyon construction project. Without getting into all the conflicts let's just say it might be understandable if all Oprah's heard is largely negatve.
Now consider an employee of hers who writes for her on emotional and psychological problems. She probably has a positive relationship with this person. This person claims to have been abused by her father and has horrible things to say about all the repressed people in Utah.
Who's Oprah going to believe?
It really is fairly understandable. Further, once you leave out all the exaggerations and so forth and the religious overtones, the book is exactly the kind of story they love on afternoon talk shows. Seriously. Further it fits in nicely with the anti-religious perspective in the media. All the problems of the Catholic church provide a context for this. It is, to the average person, believable and interesting.
That's why initially I thought Oprah would push the book. I changed my mind only due to possible conflicts of interest on Oprah's part, as well as the lawsuit that is reportedly pending.
We'll have to see if and when Oprah has Beck on TV.
Regarding LDS viewers though, I think they make up a small enough market as to not count that much. Further recall that there have been some quackly LDS on those shows before. Apparently there was a pretty massively dysfunctional LDS family from Phoenix on Dr. Phil last summer.
I am terribly curious of your source relating that the letter about the church's PR department is a hoax.
I have not heard about this book before reading your posts on it. I don't get out much.
Anyway, the fact that the author works for Oprah should not create any legal problem in fact, you might want to connect the dots a bit, does the book's publisher have any business relations with Oprah, her production company or the network? "Cross promoting" is the norm these days. It may or may not have played a role.
As for life in Utah and innacurate discriptions of its "strangeness". I was a non-member when I moved there and did indeed see many things I considered strange. For example, I'd say that about 90% of the time I was asked by Mormon land lords about my religious beliefs when looking for housing. Of course this is against the law. So its not that suprising to me that there would be many other such stories about how "strange" life in Utah is.
Abuse: This charge does not suprise me. Before I joined the church I watched a friend go through the very painful experience of notifing her very mormon family that her father and several other priesthood holders in her neighborhood had been sexually abusing young women over the course of years. From what I understand sexual abuse is no less common in the church than it is in the general population. And it is fairly common in the general pop, all be it under reported.
Recovered memories: Only the most sensational stories of recovered memories make it to the headlines, including the ones most likely to have been shaped by the influence of an unethical hipnotherapist. Nonetheless, remembering tastes, smells, acts, places, events is pretty common for people undergoing theapry for sexual abuse. One theapist I know put it something like this: Memory is a natural and necessary part of the process, how much someone remembers depends on their individual situation and what they need to remember in order to heal from the abuse, and what their unconscious needs to protect them from.
Don't assume that Oprah knows nothing about Utah. Its safer to assume that She and everyone she knows has spent many lovely vations skiing at Deer Valley.
Alex, I'll ask the person who gave me the information if I can answer that. If I can I'll post it here.
I'm glad you're putting up an other site. In my opinion the more the better. However while your certainly are the one to decide your tone, might I advise as much caution in how we respond as possible? Perhaps I'm being a tad over-cautious, but I think it very important to not overreact and be sure we only say what we're sure of. For instance a few of your comments seem drawn from that email that was going around along with some of the newspaper reports. Yet in a few places those reports weren't as careful as they ought to have been.
For instance you have in your page as an excerpt, "the First Presidency maintains a death squad, in the tradition established by Joseph Smith, to deal with malcontents." That, however, isn't in the book. It was in a widely dispersed email. Were I you, I'd be careful quoting from the secondary sources that have been widely emailed around. They aren't that accurate in certain places. As I wrote a few days ago the general gist is similar. But I think, to avoid charges that we are engaging in distortion and hyperbole that we ought to be very cautious in only asserting what we're sure of.
Some of the other quotes you discuss are accurate, based upon my copy of the book. But a few responses one ought be cautious about as well. For instance you mention Boggs and Van Buren from a 1972 Ensign article. However Beck's comment about early persecution of Mormons, while highly selective, isn't that inaccurate. Sometimes we focus on the wrongs done do us, but ignore the overall political environment. Often we gave as good as we got. Further while it is probably understandable after years of persecution, some of the responses by Mormons were definitely inappropriate. (IMO) That's not in the least to agree with Beck. Merely to point out that the history of the conflicts in Missouri and Illinois are much more involved that the Ensign article discusses. That in no way justifies the actions taken towards the Mormons, let alone the travesty of legalized genocide. But one can't neglect various Mormon activities in the period when understanding the history. That is focusing purely on Bogg's actions independent of what was going on militarily before that is misleading.
A good introduction to the war is LeSueur's The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri. As with any text, some points LeSueur makes not everyone will agree with. The important thing that I think is unarguable is that Bogg's actions were in response to Daviess County raids by the Mormon militias. There many homes were burned and many non-Mormon settlers in the area were driven out. The crucial event was the battle at Crooked River where three Mormons and one Missourian were killed. The events were highly exaggerated in the telling and caused quite an uproar in Missouri and the full militia was called out to quell what they saw as a Mormon rebellion.
Of course the events that took place in October, which led to the full conflict were due to earlier persecutions of that year. Not just that year but vigilantism against Mormons in Missouri going back at least to 1833 when Mormons were completely driven out of Jackson County. Vigilantism against Mormons continued over several years. So I think, that in part, the Mormons had reached the end of the line and decided to fight for their rights. However, having said that, it was often Mormon action which aggravated the non-Mormon leaders of the region.
How one judges events will certainly depend upon whether one privileges the events of 1838 by Mormons over the events from 1831 - 1837 by non-Mormons against Mormons.
I should add that an other good source on the events is Leland Gentry's A History of the Latterday Saints in Northern Missouri from 1836 - 1839 and Alex Baugh's A Call to Arms: The 1838 Mormon Defense of Northern Missouri. A good online source of information is Mel Tungate's web site on LDS Missouri. I don't agree with all of Mel's views by any means. However I do think that many people are somewhat ignorant of the nuances of the actual history of the era.
If Beck is guilty of high exaggeration, I think we have to be cautious not to do the same. The fact of the matter is, however, that the events of a war in 1838 in what was most definitely the very wild west has little or nothing to do with events in Provo in the 1990's. It is akin to saying that because Americans killed native Americans for land in the 1850's that Americans are killing Iraqis merely to occupy their land. Same sort of argument.
History can be informative. But all too often appeals to history are distorting and inflammatory. What Beck really is referring to isn't the history of the era, but the myths of Danites and violent Mormons that captured the popular mind in the 19th century leading to the justification of violence against Mormons.
Fluxus, I'll certainly not disagree that Provo isn't like most places.
The housing situation is a little more complex than you let on. However you are right about the issue being illegal and the ACLU raised that issue until a compromise was reached regarding BYU standards housing. I don't recall the date on that, but I believe it was the mid-1990's. I honestly don't know where the situation stands at the moment.
For others reading, the issue is that there are about 36,000 BYU Students who have an honor code that talks about things like not drinking, no sex, no women in ones apartments after midnight, and a few other odds and ends. The question then became how to allow these standards without infringing upon the rights of those who don't hold those values to find apartments. The typical situation was that apartments were listed as BYU approved or not. BYU approval meant that in theory the landlord enforced those standards. BYU Students were only allowed to rent BYU approved housing.
Now in practice, the rules often weren't enforced. However this sometimes led to conflicts in apartments where you were sharing a room and often had 4 - 5 roommates. What do you do if someone is bringing over women and having sex or drinking and you don't want them to? Yet at the same time, there are lots of non-Mormons around and the other college in the town, UVSC, has something like 25,000 students and has no such honor code. (I don't recall the actual student population there)
While that whole situation certainly will seem odd to outsiders, it really has little bearing on the claims Beck makes about Provo which can be shown to be false or at least highly exaggerated.
Regarding abuse, I certainly agree with you that there is abuse everywhere. The church is trying to stop it as much as is possible. But there definitely is abuse around and there definitely have even been leaders engaged in abuse. You'll recall that a few months after George P. Lee (a Mormon 70) was excommunicated it came out that he was being charged with abuse. So it happens, and I think we have to be cautious in dealing with this case precisely because it does happen some times.
At the same time though, I think Martha Beck has in her book a lot of deception and misleading rhetoric that makes one think twice about her charges. When you consider many of the things she has left out of the book that seem quite relevant, one is left with many doubts about the events.
Regarding Oprah, I think the point is that she's not going to be familiar with regular life in Provo and will hear it second hand. Skiing in Deer Valley and hanging out in expensive lodges in Sundance with Robert Redford, Pierce Brosnan, Tom Brokow and all the others with homes there isn't quite the same as living in regular Provo. That's basically my point. She likely can't judge Beck's discussion of Provo and would therefore give Beck the benefit of doubt.
Alex's site highlights a small issue regarding Oprah's use of the book. He writes:
"Oprah's web site links to a "READING ROOM" - a brief review of the book - it is not clear to me whether this is the same thing as her Book of the Month Club. It may just be like what many magazines have - a listing of new and noteworthy books....the email campaign against Oprah is only slightly off-target - unless the "READING ROOM" is her book club."
I don't think they are the same. It appears that the "Reading Room" blurb on the book will run in the March issue of O Magazine (2.7 million readers). Beck's book, however, is not a Book Club selection. Oprah only selects "classic literary works" for her Book Club (the current pick is _The Good Earth_).
I think that there is some ambiguity over what is or isn't in her book club. I'll confess I don't watch Oprah so I can't say on that. However the email purporting to reflect information from the public affairs office said that Oprah "never had any intention of sponsoring such a book." Clearly that is false. For those interested here's the full email that was passed around.
This is regarding the Martha Beck/Oprah e-mail.
The Church Public Affairs department is very aware of the Martha Beck/Oprah situation and has asked for our support in trying to turn off the flow of e-mails to Oprah. I just spoke with my father (for validity's sake he's a member of the Seventy) who asked me to spread the word that Oprah has contacted the church saying that she has been inundated with e-mails asking her not to lend voice to Martha's book. She told the church that she never had any intention of sponsoring such a book, and has asked for their support in trying to stop the barrage of e-mails.
Lets do what we can to turn off the spigot by forwarding this news along and hopefuly it will catch up to the ones asking us to write.
Clearly that email is demonstrably false. Whether it is just mistaken or is a fake email I can't say for sure. I suspect the latter.
With regards to contact between the Church and Oprah, Allen Wyatt of FAIR talked to the Church Public Affairs department yesterday and they told him that there was no contact. Further they said that the church had no involvement in any email campaigns nor stopping them. However they apparently have been contacted by some major media outlets and will have an official statement sometime soon.
So I guess it wasn't clear that my Deer Valley comment was ment to be humorous?
But don't give Deer Valley a bad wrap, I mean, how much time have you spent skiing there? huh? Well, I can tell you I've met PLENTY of regular Provo folks there. Let me see there was the dean of the UCLA law school, A few .com guys who got out in time, a few producers from L.A. A princlpal in a major NYC law firm, you know just regular provo folk.
BTW there are some business links other than Beck working for O. Crown books is part of randomhouse which has published 4 book involving O in addition, I think that Randomhouse and Oprah's T.V. Network have the same parent company. (I'll need to check that to be sure) anyway. Don't take this the wrong way, I don't think there is any kind of wrong doing here at all. Its just that big corps like to use as many of their assets as they can to advertise new products. On Amazon the book has a sales rank of #666 today, which some might find amusing.
Sorry for missing the joke. I guess I've just skied Deer Valley too much. (grin) Actually what's funny is that the best skiing in the area by far is Alta and Brighton which are also the cheapest. I wasn't impressed with Deer Valley too much. (I should also add that I skied for free - the benefits of connections and working it back in my single days)
I suspect you might be right about the Oprah thing. We'll see I guess. I wouldn't at all be surprised if she has Beck on her show and probably on her Dr. Phil show as well. What is most sad to me is that one need not read the book very far to realize that this is a mentally ill woman. Some of the claims are just so outrageously silly that the publisher had to know. I really think this is the publisher taking advantage of a woman's painful emotional problems. The fact that so many key facts are left out of her history (some I'll not repeat here) really makes one wonder what the publisher was thinking.
Skiing deer valley for free is the only way to do it.
Watch out, if you keep saying you like Alta, you're going to be accused of being "old school" and I'm not just talking about your philosophy. Although I sure You probably mutter things like, "free the heel, free the mind." when standing in a lift line.
As for publishers, I doubt very much that they fact check personal bio manuscripts. From my small experience in the publishing world I'm gonna venture a guess that for work in that genre they give the authors a great deal of leeway.
How interesting all of this is! All of you are putting out so much negative on the book. It looks like you are trying to hide something rather than perserve your faith. If you believe in God and that he will pull you through anything. Then let God handle this. If what she says is false, then you should not be worried. If mormans are so devote in thier faith then you have nothing to worry about. But, as always anytime anything negative comes out. LDS church raises the banner of they are just attacking the one true church. There are no true churches. There is only the trinity. God is the only god, and through the blood of Jesus we are saved. I will defend God to the end of my days. Not a church and its way of life. Whether I feel it is good or bad.
Sara, with regards to the church, I somewhat agree. (Well minus the Trinity of course) However there are also individuals involved - Nibley's family - and I think they deserve to have people who will hear the charges hear some rebuttal.
I read Martha's book, am a former Mormon, attended BYU, etc. I think the only thing that is important about this whole thing is that Martha has the right of free speech to say whatever she wants to say. The fact that her family and others are trying to discredit her is so sad. People who try to say someone has false memory syndrome is also so so sad. This entire thing is sad. Since I left the church over 20 years ago, I have become a much more loving, compassionate, accepting person and it is because I left the church and experienced first hand the rejection that comes from people who profess to love you. Now I have people in my life who I know I can count on no matter what. This whole thing breaks my heart. I think Heavenly Father is allowing this to happen to force everyone to learn forgiveness and the true meaning of love - acceptance and empathy and compassion.
Janet, if someone falsely accused your father of sexual abuse and you knew it was false, wouldn't you defend him? Certainly Martha Beck has the right of free speech. But I don't quite understand why forgiving Beck entails letting her smear someone you love.
If you'll note, the Nibley family has been rather restrained with regards to Beck's comments. They have pleaded with people not to attack Beck or to be mean to her. They have said that they love her and worry about her because they think she is suffering mental problems and that she might not be able to cope with personal attacks. That to me suggest that they are being loving, compassionate and forgiving. You might wish to read these comments by Martha's sister that I quoted. (Down in the comments a few lines)
But I honestly do not feel that forgiveness entails letting people hurt others. If Beck truly is lying or at least promulgating falsehoods, then it seems entirely appropriate to point those out. And, frankly, most of the things she says about BYU are demonstrably false. There often is a kernel of truth in the center, but the shell is anything but accurate.
I feel sorry for the LDS folks who are actually afraid of this book. They should read it openly and pray about it. I was inspired by Ms. Beck's work. What are you afraid of?
I am afraid of the societal consequences of outright fallacies being sold and bought wholesale.
I just finished her book. Martha did an excellent job of conveying the spiritual struggles and experiences that I know I've gone through as a member of the church. I began reading the book assuming (based on what I've read by Beck critics, even some people I admire) that it would be filled with wild exaggerations and flat-out lies. I was wrong. She does get carried away sometimes, but for the most part, I believe she is telling the truth.
For those of you who think she is lying about the abuse by her father, Hugh Nibley, ask yourself this: If Hugh did what Martha claims, nearly 40 years ago, what motive would he have to lie about it now? Based on the reputation he's built for himself in connection with the church, his motive to lie would be HUGE. And his pattern of lying fits the pattern of someone with such a stellar reputation in a religious organization- avoiding the issue but quietly denying it only when confronted. Martha's allegations have existed publicly long before she wrote her book. How often did Hugh publicly deny them? Ever? On the other hand, what motivation would Martha have to make up such horrible lies about her father shortly before he died? And not only that, but to do so publicly, loudly, and in great detail? Read the book and decide for yourselves.
Isn't there a conflict between saying Martha made up the claims prior to his death and the claims being around a long time?
Now as I've said, I've no idea what happened. But I find all the claims of Danite activities, wiretapping, outright lies about footnotes, censorship of documents at BYU, and a lot else to be deeply troubling. The first reading I had of the book though I was convinced by her. It was only when I went back and reread it that I started seriously questioning her. When one adds in what the rest of the family says then I find things even more troubling.
With regards to motive though, if Beck truly is suffering from strong emotional problems, wouldn't a loving father not want to attack his daughter? Certainly the obvious motive would be to launch a big public opinion battle over it. But he didn't and it was only the family at the end who did.
With regards to Beck's motives, what is the motive of the book? She says publicly that it wasn't to get her father, it wasn't revenge or all the rest. But, if she's making these sorts of things, wouldn't there be some motive to get the demonstrable facts right? I think the problems are more than simply "gettting carried away." Further, why doesn't she bring up the other issues? Things like the prior sexual abuse by the neighbor? Isn't that deceptive? What about the issue of memories?
Once again I've no idea what happened. And, as you say, people can read the book and decide for themselves. I'd add that the key two pages in the book is anything but told in great detail. It isn't clear in the book whether she is describing Nibley has motivated by things Egyptian (in which case how would she know as a young girl?) or whether he was dressing up and acting it out as the family claims she initially said. When I discovered that there was controversy over those two pages, I reread them many times, and it really is quite difficult to discern what is her reading back into events more than 30 years later imagined motivations, what are her actual memories, and what is metaphoric or literary device. It's a very confusing passage.
Just to clarify, I am not the Blake who posted above -- and I disagree with the sentiments stated by "Blake". I knew Hugh Nibley -- and his motivation to tell the truth far outweighed any ego he had in scholarship (since he had none). He didn't give a woof what others thought about him; but he feared God.
I've been overdue to respond to comments people directed to me in this conversation - I didn't notice them until I saw traffic come from here to my page (I suppose I need to make use of the comments RSS feed) - and even then I took forever to reply.
I don't make any bones about some objections, and it's lengthy, so I've posted it at my own page on this topic (that's a link to it).
Regardless of how badly some of you want to defend the church for whatever reason, you have to give her the benefit of the doubt when it comes to being molested as a child.
I have known and been very close to several people, in and out of the church who have had to deal with the same, very traumatic thing. It can be extremely devestating to the person who has had to deal with it and they should be given every chance to deal with it in whatever lawfull way that she feels is necessary. If she is not being truthfull, then it will eventually come back to haunt her.