35 years ago today - 35 years ago - August 23, 1985

[Michael Quinn]

[From his 1988 and 2009 memoirs:]

Continuing work on Mormon controversies.

During the Sunstone Symposium, I gave a talk at the Hotel Utah about connections between the occult and early Mormonism. Learning that I planned to make a round-trip to BYU to print-out its reading-text, my friend Gordon A. Madsen very kindly invited me to use a computer in his home to prepare the talk. The Salt Lake Tribune featured it on the front page of its local section, along with a photo of one of the Joseph Smith Family's magic parchments (lamens). I would speak publicly on the same topic four times in 1986, coast-to-coast, and once in Cedar City, Utah, in May 1987. Then I would publish a book about it in August 1987. Nonetheless, Stake President [Hugh S.] West refused to follow the Apostolic

instructions to 'take further action' (disfellowshipping or excommunication) against me for my continuing to promote controversial history. - More than once in 1985, I left Stake President West's office knowing that the temple was not the only part of Mormonism I must learn to live without. Yet I still could not face the reality of total loss. November [From his 1988 memoir:]

Former mentor says I've gone too far.

Signature Books asked Davis Bitton to review the first draft of my book on early Mormonism's connections with occult traditions and folk magic [published as Early Mormonism and the Magic World View]. He made some helpful criticisms, but most of his review was a plea to me and the publisher to abandon this project. He said that my study was an assault on the faith of average Latter-day Saints. If I insisted on publishing this book, Davis instructed me not to mention in the acknowledgements that he had read the manuscript. His letter stunned me and I was in deep depression for weeks, while I reconsidered what to do. After telling Signature to put the book on hold, I decided to do an extensive revision to respond to the questions and criticisms by Davis, by Lavina Fielding Anderson, and by Allen D. Roberts. None of them particularly liked the study. This revision and new research took me another seven months. My second book, and now it's defenders of the New Mormon History who want me not to publish! I guess I AM a radical, even though I've never felt like one. I had already resigned from Signature's board of directors, because I felt that it would be a conflict-of-interest for me to vote on financial matters at the same time I was submitting a manuscript for purchase and publication. I had served on its board for four years. When I wrote the preliminary manuscript's introduction during this Summer, I referred to the so-called 'Salamander Letter' as a possible forgery. Aside from passing references to it, my first draft excluded this '1830 Martin Harris Letter' because of serious questions then raised about its authenticity. Thus, I needed to revise only a few sentences and a paragraph for the upcoming Magic World View that would be published [in August 1987] after the police released their evidence of Mark Hofmann's forgeries. [Quinn's Early Mormonism and the Magic World View was published by Signature Books in 1987; a revised and expanded version appeared in 1998.]

[From the diaries and memoirs of D. Michael Quinn, in 'On Writing Mormon History, 1972-95,' edited by Joseph Geisner, Signature Books, 2020]

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