Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cloak and Dagger Research: The Greg Smith "Hit Piece"

I just concluded a long, intriguing, and sad read here.  This is the infamous "hit piece" written by Greg Smith about the podcast of Mormon Stories.  Shortly after this piece was pulled from publication the director the Maxwell Institute fired Daniel Peterson and others as editors of the Mormon Studies Review.  This was considered the end of FARMS, and I linked to it previously. 

I thought the article itself was good, especially the part about the Micheal Coe interview. This is mostly because I listened to that podcast, had the same impressions as Smith, and I may have inspired his parenthetical thought about how Coe didn't know about chiasmus and Dehlin had to google it in the middle of the interview. (See page 28 of Smith's article and compare to comment 46 from me.) I don't understand the hyperbolic reaction to it, and didn't see it as a "hit piece" filled with ad hominem attacks; though it was certainly critical of Dehlin.

The second article discussed the timeline and facts surrounding the suppression of his piece, and the rather intense politics associated with the direction of the review and their termination.  Ironically enough, it made me rather sad.  I research and write about The Book of Mormon because I love it.  It pains me to think my research might have entered me into some sort of gladiator pit match with other Mormons in academia.  So Smith's article described the kind of fighting that comes from the cutthroat world of academic politics, and recalled the vicious cloak and dagger  stories from The Book of Mormon.  It also made me kind of grateful I'm not yet important enough to have to avoid getting shanked by academic politics. In short, being invisible sometimes feels better than being stabbed. I'm relatively anonymous enough to go about my work and I feel blessed to have avoided a great deal of controversy in my career so far. I'm thankful for the opportunity to share my research, and to have your readership.