Just a brief bit of new news regarding the Nibley situation. As I mentioned yesterday, the New York Times has up their review. I suspect we'll see other media talking about it. In other news the Nibley family has put up a web site. It will include their official statements. It also includes a defense fund to pay for attorney and psychologist fees as they attempt to defend their name. I'm not sure what actions they plan on taking. Whether it is just to get their side of the story out and clear their name or whether there will be actual legal action raised against Beck or the publisher.
I may be posting on this topic from time to time. Especially as controversies pop up. I've put up a single page that'll include links to all the stories I do on the book.
I just heard that Hugh Nibley has just died. The events surrounding his daughter is a tragic way to spend ones last days on the earth. The family dealing with both the forthcoming publication of Beck's book next week and now a funeral at exactly the same time is a horrible burden to bear. Our prayers rest with the family.
Just a note that I'll put in this thread links to discussions on various blogs regarding Nibley's death.
Millennial Star, a group blog I contribute to, has up a thread on Nibley's death. Times and Seasons has up a discussion as well.
I'll not link to everyone discussing the issue. But hopefully most of the significant ones. I have a suspicion that this will raise the interest in the book of Beck's even more than it otherwise would be.
Referring to the Krakauer book, the NYT review says "As with the Beck book, the Mormon Church issued a statement condemning it before it was published." Does the Church do this based on reading an advance copy, or do they routinely issue general preemptive statements against books that have generated a negative buzz?
My sympathies to the Nibley family during this difficult time.
I had a different question regarding Christian's quote. What statement has the Church released? I haven't seen anything on their media relations site in terms of press releases or their "Mistakes In the News" section where I would expect it. I know they do not always post releases on the site but does anyone know of any official statement by the Church on the book? With Brother Nibley's death I suppose it will come sooner rather than later.
I don't know if the Church's PR department had a publisher's proof copy or not. I'd suspect they did - something that didn't come through in the NYT article. I don't know about the Krakauer book. But generally people asked to respond to books have pre-release copies of the book so as to be able to respond.
The Church PR department did say last week they were preparing a response and it was widely rumored that it was in response to questions from some large media outlets. As to why they haven't put it up on their web site yet, I don't know. Perhaps they were still crafting something more complete and running it past attorneys. I can't say for sure. Given the case, I'd expect it'd be wise to pass it by some attorneys first. Just in case there is a legal case against Beck or her publisher.
Perhaps the Church did wait because they knew Dr. Nibley was not long for the Earth.
Here's what the church did for the the Krakauer book.
Any defense may be a little more complicated due to very different circumstances and that the book is framed as a personal memoir and not a direct attack on the Church (or is that wrong?).
I often read Oprah's magazines and browse Martha Beck's articles. None of them has interested me greatly, although she generally picks interesting-enough topics so I glance at them. I was surprised to hear she was LDS.
I am suspect of her claims, not because of who she claims abused her, but because of the nature of the claims. My sister made similar claims, she lost me when she said it also happened to me. She's off her nut now pretty much and I still am not sure what is or is not true. However, she has been treated by several (at least) mental health professionals who, I believe, convinced her that something had happened, not vice versa. In our case, there was alcoholism and physical and emotional abuse, and extreme poverty, which I did witness, so perhaps, in an effort to please her psychologist, she extrapolated to what extent I don't know.
I don't trust these claims no matter who makes them.
I suppose there had to have been some type of dysfunction in the Nibley home. So perhaps there's denial and untruth on both sides of that story.
For those interested, the AP now has a story out about Nibley. I suspect it will be in most papers by this evening.
Just a few of the more notable tributes. I should first note an excellent one by Russell Arben Fox over at Times and Seasons. It's a very nice tribute. Orson Scott Card has a tribute up at Meridian that is particularly touching.
Three other good tributes. The first is from Deseret News which has a lot of comment by the family. The next is from the Daily Herald in Provo. The last is from FARMS.
The expected negative reports are coming out as well. The Times from Engliand has a very negative report which lists all the pro-Beck comments and nothing else. It also links Beck's book with various other books that have been negative towards the church along with that guy up in Montana who was accused of soliciting sex with a minor. While I certainly think the Times ought to report Beck's side of the story, it would be good journalism to report some of the facts that go against Beck's claims.
Most of the new stuff up the last day or so isn't that different from what has come before. However Tania Rands Lyon has up a review in Sunstone which is available online. It's a very interesting read as Tania initial believes Beck and then starts to apply her sociological training and a more rigorous reading to the book. One paragraph from the review caught my eye as it was something I'd missed during the reading. (Probably because at the time I didn't know the identity of the pseudonyms in the book.)
She starts out with one of her many pseudonyms: “Let’s call her [the therapist] Rachel Grant” (234). One paragraph later, Martha is sitting in the waiting room having second thoughts and letting her mind wander: “I wondered if Dr. Grant was descended from former Mormon president Heber J. Grant,” and she proceeds to spend a paragraph sharing an anecdote about her own ancestor accompanying President Grant’s awful singing on numerous occasions. My eyes flicked back to the part where the author had just mentioned that the name “Grant” was fake. I wondered if maybe she had changed only her therapist’s first name. Later research revealed that the therapist is in fact named Ruth Killpack (and is thanked openly in the acknowledgements for Expecting Adam). More than anything, this one self-evident passage unsettled me about the way Martha chooses to narrate her life. I am left with the feeling that she never lets the facts get in the way of a good story.
The Grant description really bugged me too. You don't have to know the true identity of the therapist to recognize that something weird is going on in the quoted passage. One simply doesn't create pseudonyms by changing the first name only. The editors really screwed up letting that one through.
Sunstone has up a tribute page along with links to the articles Nibley published in Sunstone.
I agree Bryce. I honestly don't know how I missed that. The whole use of pseudonyms honestly bugged me a great deal. I could understand for people whose identity needed to be kept secret for privacy reasons. But her therapist? Especially when in her prior book she gives her therapist's name? The fact that the therapist is by most accounts a fairly controversial figure herself seems a rather crucial fact for Beck to mention.
I don't know if you noticed but in the SL Trib's article about Nibley's death, they interview Beck who says Nibley visited her after his death. It is kind of a bizarre quote.
In a phone interview from her home in Phoenix, Beck said she felt her father's presence for two hours Thursday morning. "He was so beautiful, full of love and joy," Beck said. "I hope I can live the rest of my life to honor his memory, as paradoxical as that seems."
How do we know it is the family that put up the defense fund? It might just as well be FARMS, using the family's public statement denying Martha's allegations. The family's top priority in this has always been getting their sister back, not getting back at their sister.
The family has said they put up the defense fund further if you do a WHOIS to the domain name it belongs to Alex Nibley.
FAIR has up two reviews of Beck's book now. The first is by Allen L. Wyatt and the second by Tom Kimball.
Boyd Peterson, Nibley's biographer and the son-in-law of Nibley has up a draft of his review of Beck at the Sunstone Website.
Just a note that A Bird's Eye View has up a summary of Nibley's funeral. I've heard rumors that it was taped by BYU and may end up on KBYU. (I can't confirm that) Reportedly FARMS is taking donations so as to send out the video Faith of an Observer on DVD to all its members.
Beck just put up on her blog a "clarification" regarding recovered memories. It really isn't that different from what she wrote in her book. She claims that she did not recover them via hypnosis nor therapy but they came to her then she went to therapy. The family, by contrast disputes this. Clearly the key issues such as her claim her mother initially agree with her, her scarring, and so forth are disputed by her ex-husband, mother and other members. What is the truth? Based solely on the claims it is difficult, if not impossible to judge. One can, I think, merely look towards associated claims that can be tested. And there as I've said, I don't think Beck comes off too well.
Beck is also starting her publicity tour. She was interviewed this morning by Charlie Gibson. Her approach appears to be to go around telling people that she loves Mormons. Reportedly Gibson asked her where that love was. However according to people who did see it, Beck was thrown soft-ball questions and the family was not given a voice to respond. ABC has put excerpts from the book on their website.
The serious minded person will reflect on the testimonies of countless sexual victims who have broken out of their mental prisons later in life to tell candidly about their abuse from fathers, mothers, brothers, uncles, and preditors disguised as Mormon priesthood holders. Beck might be lesbian, but she appears to be expressing honestly what she seriously believes happened to her as a child. A person as intimately associated with research into cultural mysticism and ritualism, as was Hugh Nibley, is prone to become affected by it. Nibley was compelled to defend Mormonism and its anachronisms even when he could not rationally propose a defense. The Mormon temple rite has come through a lot of changes to make it acceptable to the orthodox Christian eye. Even though the changes have occurred, there are many who believe that its original intimations of female sexual domination, in association with the deification of priesthood bearing fathers and husbands, should not have changed. I believe that Nibley was one of these many. Hence, perhaps sexual abuse, masked as pure Mormonism, occurred on a regular basis before the turn of the 20th Century. Perhaps Hugh Nibley endorsed this practice.
Elvis, I think that the fact that there have been people abused says little or nothing about whether any particular abuse claim is accurate. I just don't see the relevance.
The claim that Nibley couldn't provide a rational defense seems false. His defense may or may not be wrong. It certainly has flaws. But being wrong and being irrational are two quite different positions. Had Beck provided any evidence in the least that Nibley was irrational we might have something to talk about. Sadly the claim is simply stated with no justification.
The main problem with Beck's claims is that in the book she makes so many false and outrageous claims that one is left wondering why this particular claim about her father would be any different.
Put simply, the fact something might possibly be true is a far cry from it be plausibly true. Otherwise the mere fact anyone cries abuse must always be taken at face value. Yet what our nation found in the early 90's was frankly that there were a lot of false claims made - often in connection with recovered memories.
Now people who do think Nibley's arguments are false or who hold a grudge against Mormonism are more prone to believe Beck. But it seems to me that these sorts of judgments are just projective. Just as many Mormons hear the charges and instinctively demonize Beck. I'd say in most cases those people are merely projecting. I think actually engaging the book and claims itself (along with the counterclaims by Beck's family) is sadly done infrequently.
Elvis: Those of us who have worked in the legal setting with psychologists who purport to give birth to recovered memories know just how precarious such memories are. I had a case in which an opposing party claimed recovered memories and yet it was demonstrable that such memories were fallacious. That this person honestly believed that her so-called recovered memories were true is thus irrelevant to the truth of the matter. Recovered memories are inherently unreliable in my view -- and Beck's story is, as Clark says, so full of demonstrable untruths and indications of instability and personality disorder that I think it is foolish to argue that since there are truly sexual abuse victims we cannot seriously discount what Beck claims.