If you subscribe to BYU Studies Quartely like I do, you’ll know that the latest issue is no longer hot off the press. Not even warm, really. Mine has been lying around for a while, clamoring for recognition, languishing for want of care. Without further neglect, then, the JI brings you another content overview for BYUSQ 52:4. Three historical articles in the issue may be of interest to JI’s readers:
Galen L. Fletcher, “Loyal Opposition: Ernest L. Wilkinson’s Role in Founding the BYU Law School”
Like other recent offerings from BYUSQ, educational history is plentiful in this issue. Galen L. Fletcher’s leadoff article introduces some nuance to the origins of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU, where he is a member of the faculty. Drawing on diaries and personal papers, Fletcher highlights what he characterizes as the unrecognized involvement of BYU President (and erstwhile attorney) Ernest L. Wilkinson in the conceptualization of the School in the early 1970s. Among other things, Fletcher demonstrates that Wilkinson had ambitions to become the School’s first dean, and apparently an implicit understanding with Church leaders to that effect. This interest brought about Wilkinson’s rather abrupt resignation from his University post. As the project moved ahead, however, Wilkinson was eclipsed by the new BYU President Dallin H. Oaks, Bruce C. Hafen, and others. Fletcher skirts most of the conflict, but he acknowledges that it partly grew out of Wilkinson’s intensely conservative politics and his interest in seeing the Law School run by individuals with the same bent. He argues, however, that Wilkinson’s initial role in developing the law school deserves recognition.
Barbara E. Morgan, “Benémerito de las Américas: The Beginning of a Unique Church School in Mexico”
The issue also features research on the origins of another school—Benemérito de las Américas—the LDS church-owned high school in Mexico City which was transformed into an missionary training center in early 2013. Barbara Morgan of the BYU religion faculty examines the early history of the school, which became “the educational and cultural center for the Saints in Mexico.” Booming Church growth in Mexico during the mid-twentieth century and poor levels of literacy among many new members led the Church to consider establishing its own schools there; Morgan explores the cultural, political, and financial deliberations that led to a the development of a large campus with housing facilities north of Mexico City. Benemérito had a forty-nine year career, enrolled about 23,000 young Mexicans and, Morgan argues, fundamentally shaped the development of Mormonism in Mexico.
Craig Harline, “What Happened to My Bell-Bottoms?: How Things That Were Never Going to Change Have Sometimes Changed Anyway, and How Studying History Can Help Us Make Sense of It All”
Also part of the issue is a revised version of the 2013 BYU Hickman Outstanding Scholar Lecture, given by Craig Harline. Part of the faculty in the BYU History Department, Harline is well-regarded and prolific scholar of early modern Europe, whose books include A Bishop’s Tale: Mathias Hovius Among His Flock in Seventeenth-Century Flanders (Yale, 2000); Sunday: A History of the First Day from Baylonia to the Superbowl (Doubleday, 2007); and most recently Conversions: Two Family Stories from the Reformation and Modern America (Yale, 2013) [see Ben P’s discussion of the last, here]. Harline’s lively lecture is a reflection upon the value of history in thinking about social change. Surveying the past from 1970s bell-bottoms and hairstyles (including compromising photos of Harline himself) to doctrinal changes in Christian history to more recent changes to LDS practices like polygamy, universal male ordination, and even unisex bathrooms, Harline shows how studying history undermines the illusion that the present is static. Historical consciousness recommends, he argues, attitudes toward change that are less dogmatic (“more inclined to disagree humbly,”) less nostalgic (eschewing “the centuries-old habit of insisting that the old days were always better”), and less embattled (feeling less “uniquely and cosmically picked on” when unwanted change occurs). In other words change, Harline contends, is something we surely ought to expect and sometimes ought to welcome.