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Experience Honors


50 years of Honors



Years o




Experience Honors

Thank you to the volunteer students who posed for this photo.



Note from the Editor

’m lucky to go to school with unconventional people. A few months ago I walked out of the JKB to see a crowd gathered around a bride and groom—a midday wedding reception in the middle of campus. Flowers, a guest book, and a violinist signaled an exceptionally well-planned prank backed by serious genius. Then the other evening I walked out of the JKB again into Brigham Square to see a lone student fencing with a glowing red lightsaber in his hands. I thought he was just waiting for a dueling partner, but he kept at it alone for a long time; I know because as I walked past again 30 minutes later there he was still, leaping around and slicing the air with his weapon. Today, in nearly the same spot, I saw a student digging through the piled-up snow, carving out a snow fort in the middle of campus. Almost daily as I walk across campus I see students talking to friends in different languages, curled up in chairs with enormous books, studying chemistry or working on a design project late into the night. And all of this happens within one school. On a campus with so much eclecticism and eagerness to explore it’s no surprise we need a program to facilitate connections between the various disciplines of our University and provide an innovative, stimulating liberal arts education for all those who seek it. As Ernest Wilkinson pointed out, the Honors Program isn’t designed to attract or create “bookish drudges”; it’s designed for people motivated by a desire to create and discover, like those who build snow forts on campus or host fake wedding receptions between classes or work into the night finishing class projects. Yet despite the broad appeal and strong demand for the Program, many people simply don’t know much about it. For



this and other reasons, we’ve worked hard as an Insight staff to capture the essence of the Program as students like us have experienced it. That has been the goal for every article we’ve written and every illustration we’ve created for Insight, to reflect the people and programs of Honors the way they really are—open and welcoming, adventurous, fun, and serious about learning. Our staff of diligent writers, talented designers, and creative photographers has, I think, accomplished that goal. I hope you see in these pages that Honors is much more than its requirements, or a résumé boost. In essence, the Honors Program is a step towards a broader, deeper education—towards learning what it means to participate in the human conversation. More than anything it is a way to seek learning, motivated by the call of discovery. This special anniversary issue contains many examples of Honors students past and present who continue to answer the call to discover and whose lives are changed because they’ve chosen to heed that call. For me, the honor in Honors comes in seeing how these students and alumni become more complete individuals and more prepared servants. I hope you notice that in these pages, but above all I hope you see yourself reflected here, a part of our community. Whether you’re a fake bride or groom in a campus prank, a snow fort builder, or even the lone guy with a lightsaber—we believe you can find your place in Honors.

Fenton Hughes



The Great World of The Spirits of the Dead

From the midst of death and mourning comes a vision of hope, reunion, and life.


Special Feature:

50 Years of Honors

Explore the legacy of the Honors Program through alumni interviews, articles, vintage photography, and a visual timeline that chronicles the Program’s changes since its founding in 1960.


A Little Bit of Leaven

Get a taste of life with Honors professor Daryl Lee, as his daughter explores their family’s love of cooking.




Table of Contents HONORING PEOPLE






14 18

The Lebendiger Prozess

Visiting professor Dr. Daniella Schmeiser takes her students beyond borders in her Honors 303 class.

Crossing Cultures Through Art

View the Honors thesis of artist, wife, and mother: Julia Tiann Mann.

To Hellbenders and Back Again

Professor Keith Crandall knows what it’s like to get dirty doing fieldwork.




Found in Translation

Share in the folklore and story of Christianity in Chinese characters.

Reflection Essay

Enjoy Derek Montgomery’s award-winning great works response.

Free Education by the Numbers

As the Internet changes the face of education, explore the ways you can hop on board.


Defending Your Honor

Follow one student as we present a minute by minute account of his thesis defense.






Note from the Editor


Off the Shelf

Q&A With an Honors Professor

Web Team JACK MURPHY (‘13) DANIEL BARRICK (‘13) DANIEL ORMSBY (‘13) Publisher RORY R. SCANLON Honors Program Director and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education Advisory Board LAURA BRIDGEWATER, Microbiology and Molecular Biology BRUCE COLLINGS, Statistics ERIC HUNTSMAN, Ancient Scripture BART KOWALLIS, Geological Sciences BRANDIE SIEGFRIED, English ROY SILCOX, Physiology and Developmental Biology 2010/2011



Q&A with an Honors Professor

Rebecca Walker Clarke Text



REBECCA WALKER CLARKE, a first-year writing professor, talks about how she got started teaching, how she uses the rodeo to teach grammar, and how she feels about the Honors Program.


or the past 10 years, Rebecca Walker Clarke has been actively involved in the Honors Program as an instructor for Honors Writing and Rhetoric. In 2007, she was awarded the JoAnn Britsch Teaching Excellence Award. Clarke also edits an annual volume of student essays as part of the David O. McKay essay contest. Prior to her teaching career, she graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in psychology, served a mission to Guatemala, earned a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, and worked as a therapist with couples and adolescents. She is married to Sam Clarke, and they are the parents of four children: Eliza, Emme, Owen, and Christian. How did you get involved with the Honors Program? Right after I graduated with a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from BYU, my friend and fel-



low teacher, Jane Brady, mentioned that I should apply to teach in the Honors Program because they look for people with different backgrounds in first-year writing. I’d done some teaching during graduate school, and I’ve always loved writing. About a year in, I quit being a therapist and focused on teaching writing: a perfect fit for me. How does Honors give you greater flexibility in teaching? I love the small class size, not having to grade on a curve, and the encouragement to be creative in my teaching. I remember vividly the first time the Honors writing coordinator came to evaluate my class. I panicked because I’d planned a get-to-know-you game where we threw a stuffed chicken around the room, but she complimented the creative engagement of my students. That made me more comfortable about trying other nontraditional ideas in my

teaching. We’re also encouraged to have students over to our homes and to have other meaningful experiences that enhance our courses. What led you to teaching? Do you feel like teaching Honors classes makes teaching more rewarding? When I was seven years old I got a blue plastic typewriter that really typed. I loved that toy more than anything else. I’d make up worksheets for the unlucky neighbor kids or siblings who wandered too near my backyard classroom. My mom was a teacher and my dad is a teacher. I think teaching is sort of in my blood. Honors classes make teaching rewarding in that I have bright, eager, motivated students to work with—much more fun than the restless captives of my childhood. I love it. Why should someone take your class? Grammar Rodeo! Complete with polyester, vinyl, and boots. There are other rodeos, but mine is the original. Did you graduate with Honors? Nope. And I have no excuse. I was

HER HONORS THESIS HELPED SEVENTEEN FAILING HIGH SCHOOLERS SUCCEED IN COLLEGE For her Honors thesis research, Dayan Bernal developed a college-prep course for disadvantaged Latino students at Provo High. Her 25 sophomores were well on their way to becoming high school dropouts; college wasn’t an option for any of them. “If it weren’t for Dayan and her time and work, I don’t think a lot of us would have graduated or even thought

about college,” said Tabby Davila, as quoted in a Brigham Young University NewsNet press release. Davila is now an education major at Utah Valley University. Many BYU Honors students are working hard to bless the lives of others through their thesis research. We invite you to help sponsor Honors student theses projects by giving to the Honors Endowment. Every gift matters.


much too focused on product (degree, and fast) rather than on process as an undergraduate. If I could do it over again I would certainly take advantage of what the Honors Program offers. I believe it embodies the best form of a university experience.

How do you feel Honors enhances the university experience? A fellow faculty member reminded me of the story about a man in the Louvre looking at the Mona Lisa who says, “I don’t see what’s so great about it.” A guard replies, “But don’t you wish you did?” Honors teaches students how

To donate to the Honors Endowment visit or call Brent Sharp at 801-422- 6903

to see more clearly the power and beauty of what is and what has been created in the world around them. Any advice for Honors students? One of my excellent students, David Harrison Smith, said once, “Students get grades; learners get a life.” I like that. ■ 2010/2011



LARS LEFGREN Associate Professor, Economics

“I like books where the author develops characters in ways that say something interesting about life or human relationships—the story itself doesn’t necessarily have to be realistic.” Childhood: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak Young Adult: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien College: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain Adulthood: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

“When I was a teenager, I read J.R.R. Tolkien. But now when I read it, it’s pretty painful; I mean the dialogue is painful, and the characters are all one-dimensional. In terms of engaging characters—that is, a three-dimensional picture of a human being or dwarf—that you find plausible . . . there aren’t very many in The Lord of the Rings. But what J.R.R. Tolkien did is he sort of created this universe which captures your imagination and you want to be in it and part of it.”

Shelf Off the









Associate Professor, Humanities Classics and Comparative Literature

“I definitely have no investment in happily-ever-after— I mean, in a novel. In my life, I guess it’d be okay.” Childhood book: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Young Adult: The Belgariad by David Eddings College: The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne Adulthood: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote 10


“I am absolutely driven by the question of what it means to be a human being—or a mortal being is almost how I prefer to say it. What does it mean to be mortal, what does it mean to live here, now, in the body? I love how horror addresses that—you know, being scared or threatened, and how we respond to situations where we feel over our heads.”


Instructor, Honors Program

“Books took me into a world that was unfamiliar, and I wanted to escape into a place where I could be—happy? I think I was happy but childhood was hard.” Childhood: Henry and Ribsy by Beverly Cleary Young Adult: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee College: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck Adulthood: Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse “Black Rain is about the dropping of the atomic bomb on

Hiroshima. Ibuse wrote it in 1965 at the high point of the cold war—nuclear holocaust was a reality. I grew up in Kansas in the 1960s and we had tornado drills and nuclear bomb drills, but you read this book and you know none of that will save you. In Black Rain, Ibuse shows that the Japanese people suffered from the bomb’s effects for years after. But he also uses symbols that represent life enduring, a glimmer of life and hope.”

We began our journey of reading by giving mice cookies and progressed to thwarting the best-laid plans of mice and men. We cherish those first books that opened up new worlds to us. But what literary stepping-stones do we cross to bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood? We asked some of our professors to share how their favorite books have shaped their attitudes about reading and life.


Assistant Professor, German and Slavic Languages

“I didn’t read until college. Since I discovered reading, though, I always feel like I’m playing catch-up.” College: Sinatra! The Song is You by Will Friedwald Adulthood: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

“There’s something seductive about rereading [a novel] in that you feel like you have a little more control [each time through]. You can sort of anticipate different things. With something like War and Peace, I’m always pleasantly surprised by certain things. That’s a novel—although Tolstoy insists it’s not a novel—that I go back to with real pleasure.” 2010/2011



The Lebendiger Prozess As a visiting professor from Germany, DR. DANIELA SCHMEISER breaks borders by using her Honors 303 class to connect literary developments in Germany to the political and social concerns of German citizens during the time of the Berlin Wall. Text






simple comment with a powerful delivery arrested my attention during our interview: “I can reconstruct the discourse.” Answering my questions with her soft voice and distinct German accent, Daniela Schmeiser, a visiting professor at Brigham Young University during fall semester 2010, impressed me with her unique transnational perspective, the same perspective she brought to her Provo classroom in Honors 303: Literature. Schmeiser is a professor at the German University of Tübingen and part of an international research group—along with BYU professor, Robert MacFarland—that looks into emerging modernity in German culture and literature. In her Honors 303 class, Schmeiser’s goal was to have her students see the connection between literary developments in Germany and the political and social concerns German citizens faced around the time the Berlin Wall was built. On the first day of class, Schmeiser handed out a hefty syllabus; as a German professor, she has high expectations. Originally, she required students to write a 15-page paper in German. But after a few weeks of teaching here, Schmeiser decided to drop the requirement down to eight pages in German or 15 in English, because, she said, she has definitely noticed a difference between German and American students.

“For German students, no one is there to push you,” she said. “German students have to decide to work without the grade being the motivation.” In Germany, most students don’t find out their scores on any assignment until the very end of the class. Instead of calculating percentages and point differences throughout the year, the focus of class is the pure acquisition of knowledge. In spite of the differences between German and US universities, Schmeiser did give credit to her students at BYU. “Students here work harder,” she said. “They have jobs and are married.” In Germany, it is extremely rare to find a university student who is married. The average age of marriage for German women is 30 years old; the average for German men is 33 years.1 With some students in her BYU class already fathers and mothers, she acknowledged the different academic culture at BYU. After our interview, I asked Dr. Schmeiser what she was gearing up to teach in her Honors class that day. She said her next topics will be on the role of the Catholic and evangelical churches in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR). Then she highlighted for me the conflict of being a Christian in a totalitarian state and what it means to stand up for your own beliefs. In American culture, churches are usually associated with peace and solitude; however, churches in East Germany

“For Schmeiser, the literary evolution revolving around the Berlin Wall is an ongoing discourse, or, in her native tongue, a lebendiger Prozess.”

right before the fall of the DDR were a meeting place for revolutionaries who attended Friedengebets, or peace prayers in protest of the Communist government. These meetings were rallying points for the citizens. For Schmeiser, the literary evolution revolving around the Berlin Wall is an ongoing discourse, or, in her native tongue, a lebendiger Prozess. This lebendiger Prozess is a discourse where students relate the perspective of the German authors they study to the historical context of the time period. Schmeiser assigned her students to read three very thick novels—try 550 pages—dealing with the two different sides of the Berlin Wall. Much of the literature of this time period deals with skepticism; for instance, one of the books, Nikolaikirche, follows a Stasi officer (a member of the German secret police), from four years before the wall fell to right after it came down. Through the ins and outs of the plot, Schmeiser’s students discovered the motivations of the people who protested for freedom of speech and what they wanted from their government. The literature affirms the idea that people were desperate for some sort of progress—a positive change. Even though much of the literature Schmeiser’s students read supports the fall of the wall, she corrected me when I assumed that most Germans supported the reunification of Germany. As part of the West German intellectual

movement that was “a little bit skeptical about the fall of the wall,” she offered an alternative opposing view. “[There were] a lot of hesitations among the intellectuals,” she clarified. “The Eastern economy was at a really low point. . . . We wondered how we could cope with this huge political change.” Twenty years after the fall of the wall, Schmeiser simply said, “Today, we just understand that reunification worked out for the benefit of the country. There was no other realistic alternative.” Catherine Stricklan, a senior majoring in German literature and a student of Schmeiser’s, feels that she has benefited from hearing Schmeiser’s perspective. When I asked Catherine why she decided to take the class, she said that “as a German, especially as an academic in Germany, [Dr. Schmeiser] has lived in this time period. . . . She could reconstruct it for me. There is something special about someone saying ‘this is my land; this is my people.’” Why does BYU invite professors like Schmeiser to teach here? Because these professors bring special individual and cultural strengths to our campus, they enrich our learning by bringing varied life-experiences to the classroom. As the students in Honors 303 underwent their journey of research and discovery, the Berlin Wall became more than just some bricks and concrete. It became a living symbol of separation. For these

students, Schmeiser more than lived up to her promise to “reconstruct the discourse.” ■ Notes: 1. Statistiches Bundesamt Deutschlan, accessed November 27, 2010.









JULIA TIAN MANN, an illustration major, transferred to Brigham Young University from Boston University and quickly found her place in the Honors Program. Remaining a dedicated Honors student and wife and mother of one, Julia is in the process of finishing her Honors thesis—a set of her paintings that focus on her Chinese heritage and show her feelings about her Chinese-American culture.

Crossing Cultures Through Art

“Connection” 2010. Oil. A painting of Kam Mak, a children’s book illustrator and ChineseAmerican friend, that inspired Mann to combine her memoirs and illustrations and has helped her find her place in ChineseAmerican art.

Scenes from Julia’s studio as she prepares to paint




“Searching,” 2010. Oil. This painting portrays Julia’s sister in Italy, who, feeling a stronger connection to European cultures than American or Chinese, has gone to Europe searching for her identity.

“Praise Him,” 2010. Gouache. This piece reflects traditional Chinese paintings of The Four Beauties, showing Julia’s belief that everyone can praise God in his or her own culture.



“Tiananmen Square,” 2010. Acrylic. This painting expresses Julia’s thoughts about the “political and social state of China.” She chose to include many different races of people in the painting to show the new openness that she sees in China. The phoenix kite represents what she sees as a bright future for China.

“Chinese Grandma,” 2010. Acrylic. Through this painting of her recently deceased paternal grandmother, Julia remembers her grandmother’s influence and sacrifices. Julia seeks to remind younger family members that they can know who they are by understanding their cultural heritage.




To Hellbenders and Back Again From studying at a liberal arts college in Michigan to collecting hellbenders in the Ozarks, KEITH CRANDALL believes in a holistic approach to education.






Crandall, a geneticist, collects crayfish for his resarch. His studies have been cited more than 19,000 times.


rofessor Keith Crandall knows what it’s like to get dirty doing fieldwork. As a PhD student working on speciation at Washington University in St. Louis, he trekked into the hills with a friend to collect hellbenders: giant salamanders that live in Ozark streams. “The way you collect hellbenders is you put on a mask and snorkel and dive into the deepest part of the rivers and try to turn over the biggest rocks that you think you have a chance of turning over and feel around for a big glob of slime. And that’s the hellbender.” Lucky to find even a few hellbenders in a day, Crandall asked his friend if scientists in their lab were studying crayfish, which were plentiful, varied, and easy to collect. “Oh, nobody’s working on them,” his friend replied. And, out of slime and rocks, this Honors professor’s now-distinguished career was born. But pigeonholing Dr. Crandall as merely a crayfish enthusiast is misguided. Recognized earlier this year by ISI for being one of the most highly cited researchers in his field, his work in population genetics ranges from HIV to the common cold. Also a skilled software programmer, he wrote a two-page note in 1998 with a PhD student that described a piece of software they had constructed. The philosophy behind the software was simple, Crandall says. “We identified a problem [to which]


people were looking for a solution, and [the software] fixed it.” The note surely appeared minor when it was published in the journal Bioinformatics, but its usefulness has made it the highest-cited paper or note in the history of Brigham Young University. Dr. Crandall attributes much of his success to diversity of thought. “I think differently than a lot of people,” he says. “I have much broader research interests than most of my colleagues . . . it’s because of [my] broad liberal arts training.” Crandall was an undergraduate at Kalamazoo College in Michigan— a small liberal arts school. His time as an undergraduate was full of many activities not typically associated with a biology major—a study abroad program to Madrid to explore Spanish art and literature, for instance. He says that a broad liberal arts base is valuable for anyone, “especially for the science and engineering majors.” Thanks to that broad education, Dr. Crandall is able to integrate science and the liberal arts in his Honors section of Biology 100. Students cover many of the textbook topics typical of biology, but they also read classic scientific literature (Hardy, Descartes, and Darwin), discuss gender roles in science, and explore the intersection of science and religion. Professor Crandall believes that an understanding of literature—and an ability to write about it—is essential to a study of the sciences. “I have students write,” says Crandall. “No matter what career you go into, like it or not, writing is likely to be a pretty big component of it.”

Just as his liberal arts training crossed over into science, Professor Crandall believes that the principles of science can be applied to other venues of life. Though religious, he was not a Latter-day Saint when he brought his family to Utah in the 1990s. He credits the scientific method with helping him gain a testimony of the restored gospel. “You can put the gospel to the test,” he says. At a regional conference, he heard President Hinckley challenge members: “If you don’t believe it, put it to the test.” Crandall did, and the hypothesis held up: the gospel improved his life. He and his family joined the church soon afterwards. He knows that each person’s approach to the gospel is unique and he doesn’t recommend his technique to everyone, but he’s firm in its results: “For this scientist, this is what worked for me.” Professor Crandall’s opinion of the Honors Program is unambiguous: “Every student should be an Honors student,” he says. “Every student should strive for a broad liberal arts background.” He adds another piece of advice: Don’t let the thesis scare you, and it’s never too late to join. In the end, you can’t help but be impressed with Keith Crandall and the way he integrates science, religion, and the liberal arts. And if you think his citations are impressive . . . he also skis 15-20 days a year (no snowboarding, he says), and he makes what he calls “a good field jambalaya.” It’s this sort of general “coolness” that sets him apart as a scientist, as a scholar, and as an educator. It’s a sure bet his students are glad he didn’t stick with hellbenders. ■

“‘You can put the gospel to the test,’ [Crandall] says. At a regional conference, he heard President Hinckley challenge members: ‘If you don’t believe it, put it to the test.’ Crandall did, and the hypothesis held up.”




Found in Translation:

Christianity in Chinese Characters 20


A Chinese Christian unfolds a folkloric story of the Chinese language. Text

JEN JONES Photography



rs. Qingyi Yu pulled up in her red Volvo station wagon, and my mission companion and I jumped into the backseat, shaking the rain from our shoulders and hair. I combed the soggy tangles of my hair with damp fingers and thanked Mrs. Yu for the ride. I couldn’t hear her response because the deluge running under the tires and pounding on the roof roared too loudly. When we arrived at her home, we trudged through ankle-deep currents

until we found refuge inside. Her home was never very warm, but tonight it felt almost balmy, and I basked in the smell of salty dumplings and spicy oranges. Crimson banners decorated the walls. Mrs. Yu, dressed in long, black velvet, knelt on the white carpet and spoke in soft tonal Mandarin to the group that had gathered for the celebration of the Chinese New Year. She invited us to take a plate of food while she laid large, white sheets of paper in neat rows on the carpet. Each paper had a Chinese

character drawn in black marker—some characters simple and some complex. As I sank my fingernails into an orange peel, Mrs. Yu unfolded the folklore of Christianity in China. Mrs. Yu and other Chinese converts to Christianity believe that the ancient Chinese writings contain remnants of Bible stories. The Chinese language began as pictographs, a means of communication relying on drawings. She showed us several basic characters (called radicals) such as tree, woman, 2010/2011



Chinese Radicals 木 口 人 ㄦ 土 女 示 水 羊 我 田 ㄙ

Tree Mouth, Words Man, Person Man, Person Dust Woman God Water Lamb I, Me Garden Secret

and so forth. In the same way that Latin and German provide roots for the English language, these Chinese radicals provide building blocks for more complex Chinese characters. Mrs. Yu explained the folkloric tradition of how these radicals, embedded in more complex characters, give a pictographic rendition of the story of Adam and Eve. She pulled her Bible onto her lap and read in heavily accented English, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). She lifted a card with the character for create from the floor. Then she showed us the different radicals that formed the character: dust, breathe, alive, and walk. One by one, she read scriptures and dissected 22


Symbols of The Garden of Eden God +

Two Trees




“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17

Garden + Man


Secret =

田 + ㄦ + ㄙ =


“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” Genesis 3:1

characters—covet, forbidden, pattern—showing how the embedded radicals could be interpreted to tell the story of the Christian canon. The folklore behind these Chinese characters begins with the very first Jesuit missionary trips. Missionaries such as Matteo Ricci, Gabriel de Magalhaes, and Athanasius Kircher set off with the seal of Roman approval, traveling on scurvy-laden ships. These ships docked at bustling ports such as Ningpo in the Chekiang province, and the missionaries began their trek armed with the holy word of God. They traversed the terraced rice fields where the hats of peasants formed bright triangles against the sun. However, they soon recognized that the Chinese people “were so infatuated with their own country, its customs, and beliefs, that they could not persuade

themselves that anything outside China merited their attention.” The missionaries then shifted their focus from the Chinese people en masse to the literary elite, believing that the conversion of government leaders would lead to the speedy Christianization of the people. Ricci, Magalhaes, and Kircher immersed themselves in the study of Chinese philosophy, language, and history. They embraced the Book of Changes (or I Ching) and the Confucian classics, believing that these ancient texts were not Chinese, but rather the “prophetical words belonging to the Judeo-Christian tradition, speaking . . . about the Messiah.” Kircher, in his studies of Chinese history, believed that the genesis of the Chinese civilization dovetailed with the

Symbols of A Christian God Lamb







“Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” 3 Nephi 12:48

God + Man + Garden = Blessing

示 + ㄦ + 田 =

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Genesis 1:28

Tower of Babel, the site at which God confounded the primitive language given to Adam. Many European scholars believed that the search for God’s primitive language ended once they encountered Chinese. Both Kircher and Magalhaes referenced the antiquity of the Chinese language to claim that remnants of the original, divinely appointed language could be found in the ancient Chinese glyphs. To demonstrate this, Magalhaes introduced the idea of pictographic radicals in the complex Chinese characters, and he taught that these radicals served the same function as the roots of European languages. Ricci, Magalhaes, and Kircher continued their missionary efforts firm in the belief that the Chinese had anciently worshipped a monotheistic Supreme Being called the “King of Heaven.”

Ultimately they endeavored to show that the Chinese had once known “the same truths about the creation of the world, the birth of the first man, his Fall, the Deluge, the Trinity, the Redeemer . . . as the old patriarchs had known.” Though many Chinese linguists disagree with the Jesuit interpretations, the folklore of the early Jesuit missionaries carries on in the hearts of many Chinese Christian converts today. Interpreting Christian symbols in Chinese characters helps modern converts, estranged from the ancestor worship of their progenitors, to reconcile their new life with their cultural heritage. Mrs. Qingyi Yu converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints early in her adult life. As she stepped outside her upbringing, she embraced a new culture and a new fam-

“One by one, she read scriptures and dissected characters— covet, forbidden, pattern— showing how the embedded radicals could be interpreted to tell the story of the Christian canon.”

ily. She has been able to remain true to her Chinese heritage because the folklore surrounding these characters helped her “feel more certain that God is our Eternal Father” and that “Jesus Christ is the only Savior and Redeemer for everyone.” Her newfound faith in Christ holds strong. At the same time, she has reconciled the culture of her youth with the religion of her adulthood because she believes they have a common history. Mrs. Yu hopes that LDS families will “diligently study the Chinese language and Chinese culture” and become acquainted with what she considers an unrecognized facet of Christian history. In the end, this folklore has allowed her to connect the heritage of her past to the life of the present and to the future of her family. ■ Notes 1. John W. Witek, Controversial Ideas in China and in Europe: A Biography of Jean-Francois Foucquet, S.J., (1665-1741). Vol. 43 (Roma: Institution Historicum S.I., 1982), 144. 2. Knud Lundbaek, Joseph De Premare (1666-1736), S.J.: Chinese Philology and Figurism (Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus University Press, 1991), 14. 3. David Emil Mungello, Curious Land: Jesuit Accommodation and the Origins of Sinology (Stuttgart: F. Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden, 1985), 34. 4. Ibid., 63. 5. Lundbaek, 14.




Remains of WWI soldiers continue to be found each year as farmers plow or workers dig. Here the partial remains of three unknown British soldiers are buried at Cement House Cemetery, near Langemark in Flanders. Nov. 2005. Photo: Piet den Blanken (www.



“The Great World of the the Spirits of the Dead” Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the spirit world offered comfort during a time of unparalleled death—for Joseph F. Smith personally and for mankind. oseph F. Smith received the vision that became D&C 138 on Oct. 3, 1918, the day before the Church’s general conference. President Smith had been in poor health, and it came as “a complete surprise to the large congregation” when he entered the Salt Lake Tabernacle for the first session.1 In his weakened condition he spoke only briefly. He referred to his illness

and said, “I have not lived alone these five months. I have dwelt in the spirit of prayer, of supplication, of faith and of determination; and I have had my communication with the Spirit of the Lord continuously.”2 The prophet shared the vision of Oct. 3 with his son Joseph Fielding, who took it in dictation immediately following the close of conference.3 The text was presented



on Oct. 31 to the General Authorities, who unanimously accepted it. President Smith died on Nov. 19, and the text was first published in the Deseret Evening News on Nov. 30 under the title “Vision of the Redemption of the Dead.” We do not know the immediate circumstances that led to this revelation. But it is illuminating to consider it in terms of biographical detail 2010/2011


THE GREAT WORLD OF THE SPIRITS OF THE DEAD and contemporary events. It is worth asking—even if a complete answer remains elusive—why this revelation was given just when it was.

but a vacant little chair . . . and only the one desolate thought forcing its crushing leaden weight upon my heart—she is not here, she is gone! 5

A Legacy of Death On Jan. 23, 1918, Joseph F. Smith’s eldest son, Hyrum Mack, an Apostle then 45 years old, died of complications from a ruptured appendix. President Smith wrote in his journal: “My soul is rent asunder. My heart is broken, and flutters for life! O my sweet son, my joy, my hope! . . . O God, help me!”4 Suffering from ill health since 1916, President Smith declined markedly in the months following Hyrum’s death. As heartbreaking as was his son’s death, it is only part of the long legacy of death in Joseph F. Smith’s experience. He was just five when his father, the Patriarch Hyrum, was slain with the Prophet Joseph Smith at Carthage Jail. His mother died when he was 13. In 1915 his wife Sarah Richards died, followed later that year by his 25-year-old daughter Zina Greenwell. Of his 44 children, 13 had died, many in their childhood. In the abundant literature of mourning, there are few expressions more poignant than those Joseph F. Smith penned in his journal and letters. When his first child, Mercy Josephine, died before her third birthday, he wrote:

Joseph F. Smith’s memory of each of his deceased children remained vivid and affectionate. He wrote commemorative poems for them and continued to mark important anniversaries long after their deaths, noting in 1916, for example, that 49 years had passed since Mercy’s birth.6 Death had surrounded him throughout his life, and the longings these deaths had awakened could not be fully soothed in mortality. Finally, just days before the vision of Oct. 3, Hyrum Mack’s widow, Ida Bowman Smith, died of heart failure six days after giving birth to a son, whom she had named after his deceased father.7 The death of Joseph F. Smith’s daughter-in-law just before conference could only renew his grief for his son. The prophet, asking himself what purpose the death of the young Apostle might serve, must have found consolation in the words of the vision that now comprise verse 57: “I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance . . . in the great world of the spirits of the dead.” It must also have brought comfort to see his father Hyrum—the namesake of his son and his newly orphaned grandson—among the noble and great ones (see D&C 138:53).

My heart is bruised and wrenched almost asunder. I am desolate, my home seems desolate. . . . I look in vain, I listen, no sound, I wander through the rooms, all are vacant, lonely, desolate, deserted. . . . No beaming little black eyes sparkling with love for papa; . . .



The Great War Printed alongside a summary of President Joseph F. Smith’s general conference remarks, a second con-

text for the vision dominates most of the front page of the Deseret Evening News from Oct. 4, 1918— World War I, the Great War. From the page’s various headlines one might form the impression that the Germans and Austrians were retreating as fast as they could. The Macedonian front had indeed collapsed, but resistance elsewhere was fierce and desperate, and some costly battles lay just ahead. The great American battle, the Meuse-Argonne offensive, was just beginning. Still, it was just 38 days from the end of the war. President Smith had watched the war from its inception in late summer 1914 with concern and sadness. In a Christmas message that December, the First Presidency wrote: While rejoicing over the birth of the Incomparable One, the light of our gladness is overshadowed with the war clouds that have darkened the skies of Europe, and our songs and salutations of joy and good will are rendered sadly discordant by the thunders of artillery and the groans of the wounded and dying, echoing from afar, but harrowing to our souls as the awful tidings come sounding o’er the sea.8 Abandoning its earlier hope of avoiding the conflict “over there,” the United States declared war in April 1917, but it would be almost a year before American troops saw action in France. Several of President Smith’s sons were drawn into service; one of them, Calvin S., was wounded on the front.9

(Above) Joseph F. Smith. Intellectual Reserve, Inc. (Below) Hyrum Mack Smith. Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

(Above) The Student Army Training Corps in front of the BYU Maeser Building, Oct. 1, 1918. Two weeks later the university closed because of the flu pandemic. Courtesy University Archives, BYU

(Below) The 1918-1919 flu pandemic caused BYU to close in mid October 1918. When classes resumed in Jan. 1919, students and faculty still wore masks well into winter semester. Courtesy University Archives, BYU




“The war laid the land waste. War poet Wilfred Owen describes the landscape as ‘Gray, cratered like the moon with hollow woe, / And pitted with great pocks and scabs of plagues.’”

Shell-shattered and flooded landscape at Chateau Wood, near Ypres, Flanders, 1917 (detail). Photo: Frank Hurley (



What many thought would be a short war soon settled into a long slaughter, facilitated by new technology: the improved machine gun, long-range high-explosive artillery, airplanes, tanks, submarines, and mustard gas. The loss of life was unparalleled. At Verdun, for example, there would be over 1 million casualties between February and December 1916. The ossuary at Douaumont, which overlooks a vast cemetery, contains the bones of some 130,000 unidentified soldiers. To take pressure off Verdun, the French appealed to the British to launch an offensive on the Somme. By the time that battle ended in November 1916, it too had claimed over 1 million casualties. The war laid the land waste. War poet Wilfred Owen describes the landscape as “Gray, cratered like the moon with hollow woe, / And pitted with great pocks and scabs of plagues.”10 When the rains came, as they so often did, the soil, churned up by artillery, was transformed into what nurse Mary Borden called, “The vast liquid grave of our armies.”11 Thousands simply sank to oblivion. The ubiquity of death was overwhelming. Isaac Rosenberg, another war poet, describes the front as “Dead Man’s Dump,” with “wheels lurch[ing] over the sprawled dead.”12 Owen writes to his mother of “the distortion of the dead” and of their “unburiable bodies.”13 No Man’s Land, the space between the opposing trenches, was dotted with unrecoverable corpses, some perpetually suspended in barbed wire. As a defense mechanism, some became numb to death, but most could not. It is no wonder that Charles Sorley

begins a sonnet: “When you see millions of the mouthless dead / Across your dreams in pale battalions go.”14 In the end, 70 million men took up arms. There were more than 30 million military casualties, including more than 9 million dead—9 million! On the first day of the battle of the Somme, on a 14-mile segment of the 500-mile Western Front, the British suffered nearly 60,000 casualties—more than one for every second of daylight. It remains the deadliest day in British military history. The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme bears the names of 73,412 British soldiers who died in the battle of the Somme and have no known graves. Such memorials are related to a theme of the period—absence—an idea manifested in various ways. Sculptures depict soldiers carrying an empty bier, at times accompanied by a quotation from Ecclesiasticus 44:9: “And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished, as though they had never been.” Absence is also felt in Britain’s most important memorial: the Cenotaph, or empty tomb, in Whitehall, London, which has been the focal point of mourning and remembrance since it was erected shortly after the war. Here the dead are honored by silence, itself an absence. The sheer, overwhelming quantity of death awakened individual and communal grief on an unprecedented scale. With loss came questions: What is the fate of the dead? Do they continue to exist? Is there life after death? Will I see my loved ones again? The world was dense with loss, and, as soldier-journalist Stephen Graham wrote upon revisit-

ing the battlefields in 1920, “There is a pull from the other world, a drag on the heart and spirit.”15 The Flu Pandemic Many more deaths would soon follow—so many, in fact, that the horrific losses of the preceding four years of war would soon more than double. The new killer was the genetically reassorted flu virus, which was more virulent than any virus ever known and is little understood even today. Three excerpts from the American Experience documentary Influenza 1918 give some sense of the disease’s scope: In thirty-one shocking days, the flu would kill over 195,000 Americans. [October 1918] was the deadliest month in this nation’s history. Coffins were in such demand that they were often stolen. . . . The orderly life of America began to break down. All over the country, farms and factories shut down— schools and churches closed. Homeless children wandered the streets, their parents vanished. The vibrant and optimistic nation seemed to be falling apart. . . . In Washington, Victor Vaughn [the government’s chief epidemiologist] came to a frightening conclusion[:] “If the epidemic continues its mathematical rate of acceleration, civilization could easily disappear from the face of the earth.” ... On Nov. 11, the Armistice ended The Great War. In San Francisco, the scene was surreal. Thirty thousand people paraded through the streets—all dancing, all singing, all wearing masks.16



THE GREAT WORLD OF THE SPIRITS OF THE DEAD To return to the Deseret Evening News of Oct. 4, one headline reads, “Spanish Influenza Still Spreads over Land.” The subheading “Influenza spreads in Philadelphia” refers to 738 new cases that had been reported over a 24-hour period. In October alone, however, 11,000 people in Philadelphia would die of the flu, 759 on a single day (Oct. 10). The next subheading, “Influenza Making Headway in New York,” foreshadows a grim harvest: of the city’s population, about 1 percent (33,387 people) would die of the epidemic between September 1918 and March 1919, over half of them in October and early November.17 References to army camps appear lower in the column. It was in these camps that the flu first emerged in a milder form, and it was to these that the deadly reassorted strain of the virus first returned in September. In the military camps and on the troop ships, people were perishing at an astonishing rate, their bodies stacked like cordwood in the morgues. In France, of the 116,000 American soldiers who died in the war, more than half died of the flu or the attendant pneumonia. At Camp Devens, near Boston, a doctor described how soldiers arriving at the infirmary with what appeared to be ordinary influenza “rapidly develop the most viscous type of Pneumonia that has ever been seen. . . . It is only a matter of a few hours then until death comes and it is simply a struggle for air until they suffocate. It is horrible. . . . We have been averaging about 100 deaths a day, and still keeping it up.” 18 In the same Oct. 4 issue of the Deseret Evening News, there is a re-



port of Utah’s “first authentic case” of Spanish influenza (as it was then called), contracted from contagious soldiers taken off a troop train at the Ogden depot. By Oct. 9 the number of flu cases had grown so quickly that an order was given to close all public gatherings. BYU suspended classes and did not resume operations until January 1919. The Armistice was declared on Nov. 11. A few days later, on Nov. 19, just after his 80th birthday, President Smith himself died. The General Authorities of the Church and family representatives agreed that “in view of existing health conditions in the community, it would be improper to hold public funeral services.”19 A month later, Church leaders designated Dec. 22 as a day of fasting “for the arrest and speedy suppression by Divine Power of the desolating scourge that is passing over the earth.” Shortly thereafter the epidemic seemed to have passed its crest, and church services resumed on Jan. 5, and temples reopened on Jan. 6. But a further wave of the epidemic in the spring caused the April general conference to be postponed until June.20 In the end, 675,000 Americans died of the flu, more than all the deaths (620,000) suffered in the Civil War.21 From 1917 to 1918, the nation’s average life expectancy dropped by 12 years.22 Worldwide, the death toll was staggering. The most conservative estimate is 20 million (more than twice the number of combat deaths in all of World War I); British virologist John Oxford thinks 100 million is a more likely number, arguing that 20 million died in India alone.23 A more recent

Grave of Stanford Hinckley, elder brother of Gordon B. Hinckley, at the American cemetery in Suresnes, overlooking Paris. Stanford died in France of the flu pandemic in Oct. 1918 while serving in WWI, leaving behind a widow and an infant son. Photo: George S. Tate

Walter Allward’s Canada Grieving from the Canadian national memorial at Vimy, Northern France. Photo: Laura Clayton

study locates the toll somewhere between these two, at 50 million, “cautioning that this vast number may be understated by as much as 100 percent.”24 According to historian Alfred Crosby, “Nothing else—no infection, no war, no famine—has ever killed so many in as short a period.”25 Timely and Timeless Katherine Anne Porter nearly died of the influenza. Her condition was so hopeless that she was left for dead on a gurney; the Denver newspaper for which she wrote set her obituary. She did not know, during her long periods of delirium and unconsciousness, that her fiancé, the lieutenant who had cared for her before she was hospitalized, had himself died of the flu.26 In her autobiographical novel Pale Horse, Pale Rider, her fictionalized self, struggling through hallucination, hears a voice in her mind ask: “Where are the dead? We have forgotten the dead, oh, the dead, where are they?”27 The vision given to Joseph F. Smith on Oct. 3, 1918, answers this question and speaks to the great, worldwide need that underlies it. The vision proceeds from and reminds us of the “great and wonderful love” of God (v. 3) as it is expressed through the Atonement of Christ—an atonement the vision shows to be universal, proffered to all who have ever lived or died. The vision addresses the unfathomable losses of the war and anticipates the even greater quantity of dying that lay ahead, not only in the pandemic but through World War II (which would be five times more costly in

loss of life than World War I) and beyond—comforting, “bind[ing] up the brokenhearted” (v. 42), and providing hope and reassurance. The vision shows how the work of redemption was and is organized among “the hosts of the dead, both small and great” (D&C 138:11). In the last weeks of his life, the Prophet Joseph Smith had alluded to missionary work among the dead, and Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff later touched upon this teaching, but the doctrine had not been clearly developed and depended in part on inference. In Jesus the Christ, a work completed in 1915, Elder James E. Talmage infers such work from the same part of 1 Peter that Joseph F. Smith later pondered. Joseph F. Smith’s vision not only affirms these teachings, but it also articulates how this work was established and how it is continued. The vision renews the connection of temple work to the redemption of the dead, inviting us, the living, to remembrance and active participation, through seeking after the dead and performing vicarious ordinances and, in so doing, drawing the two worlds together. Although the vision was not officially adopted as canonized scripture until 1976, its formal ratification on Oct. 31, 1918, gave it particular authority. In its grandeur and scope, the vision is the capstone of all teachings on the work of salvation among the dead. In an age so painfully preoccupied with absence, especially where the bodies of loved ones had irretrievably vanished, the vision, with its inherent promise that the Atonement opens the way for all to be resurrected, affirms the central

and eternal importance of the body in vivid terms. For after enumerating ancient patriarchs and prophets up to Elijah, whose mission “foreshadow[ed] the great work to be done in the temples of the Lord . . . for the redemption of the dead” (v. 48), it says of this righteous host: “All these and many more . . . mingled in the vast assembly and waited for their deliverance, for the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage” (vv. 49–50; emphasis added). Hence their eager gladness at the prospect of being liberated “from the bands of death. Their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fulness of joy” (vv. 16–17). As an inspired commentary on a scriptural passage (1 Pet. 3–4), the vision—with its representation of “great and mighty ones” (v. 38) from Adam and Eve through the patriarchs and prophets to Joseph, Hyrum, and their associates—harmonizes Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon (v. 49), the Restoration, and the inspiration of the living prophet, at once expanding our understanding and showing us that the gospel is, indeed, everlasting. As Richard E. Bennett has observed, the section affirms biblical authority in the midst of the “higher criticism” prevalent in the early 20th century.28 Finally, in a world where the faith of so many was shattered by the calamities they witnessed and experienced, the vision declares to all through the mouth of the Lord’s

Front page of the Deseret Morning News, Oct. 4, 1918. Courtesy Harold B. Lee Library, BYU



THE GREAT WORLD OF THE SPIRITS OF THE DEAD the ongoing work of salvation for all God’s children. Thus, this remarkable “Vision of the Redemption of the Dead” is more than a doctrinal clarification that Christ did not go himself among the wicked spirits in prison but “organized his forces” and “commissioned them” (v. 30) to go forth on his behalf. Nor is its audience limited to members of the Church who may be interested in such questions. Addressed to all the world through the living prophet in the last weeks of his life, the vision came at a time of great worldwide need. Such a panoply of dying; such universal and unresolved grief, particularly where loved ones had vanished without a trace; such pervasive hunger to know the fate of the dead—all these things give a special resonance to D&C 138, with its great concourses of the dead, its assurance of divine love and of the unspeakable comfort of the atonement, the blessings of which extend to all mankind, both the living and the dead. Timely and timeless, the vision spoke directly and compassionately to an agonized world in 1918 as it still speaks to us today and will continue to speak in future ages. ■

Notes: 1. “I Have Dwelt in the Spirit of Prayer,” Improvement Era 22 (November 1918): 80. 2. Joseph F. Smith, Eighty-Ninth Semi-Annual Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City:

Serre Road 2 Cemetery, Somme, Northern France, looking south toward BeaumontHamel.This is the largest British cemetery on the Somme, with over 7100 graves. (Commonwealth War Graves Commission statistics, Photo: George S. Tate



The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1918), p. 2; compare Joseph Fielding Smith, comp., Life of Joseph F. Smith: Sixth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1938), 466. 3. Smith, Life of Joseph F. Smith, 466. 4. Ibid., 474. 5. Ibid., 455–56; emphasis in original. 6. Ibid., 455. 7. “Beloved Woman Hears Call of Death,” Deseret Evening News, Sept. 25, 1918, 5. 8. “A Christmas Greeting from the First Presidency,” in Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1833-1964, comp. James R. Clark, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-67), 4:319 (Dec. 19, 1914). 9. Smith, Life of Joseph F. Smith, 419. 10. Wilfred Owen, “The Show,” lines 4–5, in The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen, ed. C. Day Lewis (New York: New Directions, 1964), 50. 11. Mary Borden, “The Song of the Mud,” line 34, from The Forbidden Zone (1929), in Lines of Fire: Women Writers of World War I, ed. Margaret R. Higonnet (New York: Plume, 1999), 507. 12. Isaac Rosenberg, “Dead Man’s Dump,” line 7, in The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry, 2d rev. ed., ed. Jon Silkin (Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin Books, 1996), 221. 13. Wilfred Owen to Susan Owen, Feb. 4, 1917, in Wilfred Owen: Collected Letters, ed. Harold Owen and John Bell (London; Oxford University Press, 1967), 431. 14. Charles Hamilton Sorley, “When You See Millions of the Mouthless Dead,” in Silkin, ed., Penguin Book of First World War Poetry, 89. 15. Stephen Graham, The Challenge of the Dead (London: Cassell, 1921), 36. 16. Influenza 1918 (WGBH/PBS Video, 1998); a transcript can be found at filmmore/index.html. 17. Gina Kolata, Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1999), p. 20; Alfred W. Crosby, America’s Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 60–61. 18. Letter from “Roy,” an otherwise unidentified doctor, Sept. 29, 1918, quoted in Kolata, Flu, 13–14. 19. Anthon H. Lund and Charles W. Penrose, “No Public Funeral,” Deseret Evening News, Nov. 19, 1918, front page. 20. “Special Announcement,” in Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, 5:115–16 (Dec. 20, 1918); and “General Conference Notice,” in Eighty-Ninth Annual Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1919), 1. 21. Crosby, America’s Forgotten Pandemic, 206. 22. Kolata, Flu, 8. 23. Ibid., 7, 285–86. 24. Niall P. A. S. Johnson and Juergen Mueller, “Updating the Accounts: Global Mortality of the 1918–1920 ‘Spanish’ Influenza Pandemic,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 76, no. 1 (2002): 105–15. 25. Crosby, America’s Forgotten Pandemic, 311. 26. Joan Givner, Katherine Anne Porter: A Life (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982), 125–28. 27. Katherine Anne Porter, Pale Horse, Pale Rider: Three Short Novels (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1939), 255. 28. Richard E. Bennett, “‘And I Saw the Hosts of the Dead, Both Small and Great’: Joseph F. Smith, World War I, and His Visions of the Dead,” Religious Educator 2, no. 1 (2001): 119.

About the Author: About the Author: George S. Tate, a BYU honors graduate, is a professor of humanities and comparative literature and former dean of Undergraduate Education at BYU. This article is condensed from the 2007 BYU Studies article “‘The Great World of the Spirits of the Dead’: Death, the Great War, and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic as Context for Doctrine and Covenants 138” (vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 4–40). Insight is indebted to Peter Gardner, Senior Editor for BYU Magazine, for his abridgement of the original article.

“In a world where the faith of so many was shattered by the calamities they witnessed and experienced, the vision declares to all through the mouth of the Lord’s anointed that the Father and the Son live and are still earnestly engaged in the ongoing work of salvation for all God’s children.” 2010/2011



Insight Special Feature: 50 Years of Honors

Years of


Born in 1960 with a vision to provide an academically stimulating education for BYU students, the Honors Program continues into 2011 providing engaging intellectual experiences throughout campus. In this special section we celebrate the Honors Program’s past legacy and future potential.



Welcome Letter from Associate Dean of Honors

Rory R. Scanlon


y work in the arts has always challenged me to reach for the extraordinary. I know, however, that I am not alone. A great studio artist of our day was asked once which of his works was his best, and he replied without hesitation, “The next!” As a theatre artist, I personally understand his drive to excel, to become better at each crossroad of discovery. But I don’t believe this drive is only found in the arts; I see it everyday in the faces of Brigham Young University’s Honors students. Perhaps it was seeing this same driving passion that led former BYU President Ernest L. Wilkinson to dream about creating a program that would challenge the most “versatile and exceptional” students on campus. Fifty years ago, this dream became a reality with the establishment of the BYU Honors Program in the fall of 1960. Since that time, the Honors Program has provided wings for students who choose to soar. It has offered them a chance to grow past the common core, past their discipline requirements, past the traditional accomplishments required of BYU students—and on to fulfilling futures. They prove themselves using the highest standards offered on this divinely appointed campus. There is something in these inimitable students that cannot settle for the traditional or commonAssociate Dean Rory R. Scanlon place. Each echoes the artist’s driving charge to work for the excellence only found in “the next.” As an educator I have seen this personal drive in greater and greater numbers of young souls sent into this last dispensation, which convinces me that “the next” generation is truly here. Since 1960, the Honors roster has grown to include over 5,000 graduates who have each demonstrated a commitment to the highest standard of excellence—far surpassing the bare minimum requirements and each contributing a unique body of work to his or her discipline. The BYU Honors Program is now recognized as the point of convergence for a growing number of the most remarkable students and faculty on campus, each carrying that personal drive for “the next.”

 This special anniversary issue of Insight celebrates the history of Honors: a history made by countless students, faculty, and alumni, who have discovered and honed their drive for “the next.” Consider this your letter of invitation to share in the extraordinary experiences of these exceptional people. Celebrate our quinquagenary with us as you sample a bit of the instinct for excellence embraced through this unique program. Within these pages you will learn of our Program’s history, experience the inspirational thoughts of its citizenry, and feel of its transforming energy—that you, too, might be driven to your next best. ■



A Timeline of Honors History


Insight Special Feature: 50 Years of Honors



Starting with Ernest Wilkinson’s decision to institute a program designed to cultivate the best young brain power in the nation to today, the history of the BYU Honors Program shows the development of this unique program. Text





1960: President Wilkinson’s “plan for the cultivation of the best young brain power in the nation” is implemented—The Honors Program begins with 100 students who were selected based on their high school performance and ACT Scores. Robert K. Thomas is appointed as its first director.

1960: The early forerunner of the thesis, the University Scholar project, is offered to seniors. In addition to completing the required comprehensive oral exam, they could also spend a year researching for their project.

1965: Richard Bushman is appointed as an associate director; he institutes the Honors General Education Program.

1964: The Honors Program relocates to a new home in the J. Reuben Clark, Jr. Library.

1963: Richard D. Poll is appointed as an associate director to Thomas to help satisfy the demands of growing enrollment.

1966: A total of 45 Honors classes are offered, accommodating the 582 enrolled Honors students. These courses were similar to today’s Honors classes— interactive instruction, small enrollment, and outstanding teachers.

1967: The Honors Program brings together 66 freshmen in late summertime for social and academic activities, to prepare them for the college experience. After disappearing for 15 years, the event resurfaced as the current Late Summer Honors Program.



Insight Special Feature: 50 Years of Honors

The First 25 Years

A Bright Beginning

The impetus for an Honors Program at BYU




hy Honors? It’s plastered on pamphlets and on Powerpoints, thrust at thousands of incoming freshmen every year. Why should you join Honors? We all have different answers. How would you answer? What do you think the Dean of Honors would tell you? What about Ernest L. Wilkinson? On September 30, 1959, President Wilkinson announced “a plan for the cultivation of the best young brain power in the nation,” and the Honors Program was born, wrapped in ambitious objectives and a stern charge (Poll 1). “The program,” Wilkinson said, “is not designed to create bookish drudges” (2). Instead, he called on incoming Honors students to not only excel academically but to engage themselves in extracurricular activities. “More of the same” would not be acceptable, he said. “New departures in education and new challenges are called for” (2). The inauguration of the program did not come about without its fair share of debate, however. A committee had been evaluating the potential of such a program for eight years, since President Wilkinson’s arrival in 1951. Faculty disagreed on points from evaluation measures (like a mandatory comprehensive exam at the end of the junior year) to the program’s philosophical foundation. Was it right, they wondered, to separate “superior students” at a university devoted to a gospel that recognizes all as equal? A faculty member and historian from the time, Richard Poll, described the discus-

1968: J. Duane Dudley, a physics professor, is enlisted as an associate director in order to further the sciences component of Honors. C. Terry Warner was also appointed as an associate director.


sions as “rarely acrimonious but certainly vigorous” (2-3). Despite the vigorous debate, ten of the committee’s recommendations managed to gain the faculty’s approval in May 1959, creating an exclusive new program for one hundred admitted students. Some of those inaugural students’ privileges still make today’s Honors students’ mouths water. For example, they were permitted to waive all of their general education classes if they could design a “credible alternative.” A “flexible approach,” said Poll, was key (1). Additionally, Honors students had graduate student library privileges. (Regrettably, however, there is no mention of graduate student parking passes.) They could even forgo classes to spend their entire senior year on a University Scholar project — the forerunner of today’s Honors thesis. The administration had recognized a need and proposed a bold solution: students with an especial thirst for knowledge could qualify for the Honors Program, a new and innovative experience at BYU. Later, the exclusivity of the program was challenged, and, in August 1983, entirely abandoned. The program has been called irrelevant (bad) or elitist (worse). These concerns were not absent in its inception, either. Despite its detractors, though, the committee’s assessment was as spot-on then as it is now. “The whole student body benefits from [the Honors Program]. The intellectual and scholarly atmosphere benefits. No one loses,” they wrote (5). The Honors Program’s progression continued throughout President Wilkinson’s life. By 1966, more than 500 students were enrolled in the program, and 216 had graduated with University Honors. As the program picked up speed and grew in size, drastic changes were necessary to maintain the integrity of its curriculum. A six-course collection of general education classes was proposed to Wilkinson in 1967. Program administrators had noted with chagrin the “shortcomings of the general education of even our best students,” and they abandoned the flexibility of the pro-

1968: Associate Director C. Terry Warner implements a series of weekly forums— Agora—beginning a long tradition of lectures from eminent scholars. Agora would later merge with another lecture series, The Flea Market of Ideas.

1969: A new Honors curriculum is introduced to 850 Honors students, and the oral examination becomes a requirement for only those wanting to graduate with the Highest Honors distinction.

gram’s early requirements in favor of a more unified system (15). Later, in 1974, the general education requirements for Honors students were expanded again—this time to include courses that promoted “educational breadth” (30). The Honors Program in its early days was almost always in flux; new requirements and guidelines were being continually implemented to smooth the rougher edges of a stillyoung program. Fifteen years after its inauguration, the Honors Program took the opportunity to step back and assess itself. In 1975, a self-study was completed which found “major strengths” in the program but lamented that many students tended to “view requirements largely as obstacles” (32-33). Admirably, the self-study recommended that the Program continue to upgrade its standards, recruit “free spirits,” and promote “the idea that women students have the right and obligation to be serious, competent, scholars” (33). Whatever the Program may have been at the time, backward it was not. President Wilkinson oversaw the creation of a fledgling program that in many ways had yet to find its legs. Only a year after he passed away, though, the Honors Program over which he had presided in its infancy hosted the 1979 Western Regional Honors Council. It had grown to become one of the University’s flagship programs and extend its reach far beyond BYU’s campus. And so, students today may reasonably suspect that Ernest Wilkinson would give a prospective Honors student many of the same reasons to participate in Honors that any of us would now—fifty years later. Those seeking to be challenged and enlightened in their education, to excel in all aspects of learning, to be the nation’s “best young brain power,” will always have a home in the Honors Program. ■ Quotations from Poll’s work are cited in the text by page number only, all from the work listed below: 1. Richard D. Poll, The Honors Program at Brigham Young University 1960-1985 (Provo: Brigham Young University, 1985), 1-41.


1970: C. Terry Warner takes over the directorship and the tenth anniversay is celebrated with music, food, and verse.

“[Honors] was based on ideas, and it was very creative—a lot of critical thinking and evaluating. It set a great context for lifelong learning.”

-Deirdre Paulsen (‘68)

1970-1971: GPA requirement set at 3.3, since students living “in a world of scholarships, graduate school admissions standards, and peer and parental pressure” should be conscientious about their grades.

1970-1971: Warner reorganizes the program to strengthen students’ exposure to the liberal arts and urges the enrollment of intrinsically motivated students. A 56-page booklet is published to explain the program.



Insight Special Feature: 50 Years of Honors

“I was really interested in smaller classes, and classes that were more discussion-based. That was the thing that rang true to me.” -Stanley Benfell (‘87)

1974: The GPA requirement becomes more specific—those candidates for Honors need a 3.3, while candidates for High Honors need a 3.6, and those for Highest Honors must earn a 3.85.

1972: Enrollment in the Honors Program reaches 1,065.

1975: A self-study of the program leads the directors to encourage female students to become more serious scholars and to develop a sense of community among the students. The Honors Recommended Reading List is introduced.

1974: Intrinsic motivation and broad general education become the hallmarks of the Honors Program. Students are required to take three of their five Honors GE seminars in areas outside of their major.

(Background picture) Richard L. Bushman takes a moment to speak with students while serving as Honors Program associate director.

A Timeline of Honors History 40


1980 1978: Gary Browning is appointed as the director of the Honors Program amidst a major overhaul of the GE requirements and their Honors counterparts.

Derek Berge, Jon Berge, and VonLogan Brimhall enjoy picking up a game of basketball after a day at BYU.

1981: The Honors Thesis is introduced, replacing the University Scholar Project. The Honors Reading List also becomes a requirement.

1980: The Honors Program counts 905 students on its rolls. They are nearly equally divided by gender, and their cumulative GPA is 3.54.

Students participate in activities on campus.

1985: The program celebrates its 25th anniversary with a move into the newly restored Maeser Building. In this fitting home, the program begins to pursue the realization of Karl Maeser’s dream of life-changing education for the whole soul that integrates all areas of life.

1983: The Honors Program is forever changed when it officially becomes an open-enrollment program. With the support of the university president, the program is focused on what De Lamar Jensen, the dean of Honors education, calls the “real” IQ— integrity and quality.

A counselor encourages youth participation during an EFY activity during the summer on BYU campus.

1987: Attendance at an annual Honors Freshman Conference grows. Conference activities include watching a silent movie accompanied by a live organist in the Joseph Smith Building. The program facilitates and encourages several other cultural experiences for all Honors students.

Cousins Bev, Betsey, and Kari Berge enjoy a little down time during a holiday break at BYU.



Insight Special Feature: 50 Years of Honors

The Second 25 Years

Expanding Influence

The open program spreads the Honors influence across campus




rom 1960 to 1983, BYU students could only join the Honors Program through application at the invitation of the Program administrators. Acceptance letters arrived in the mail, and then what seemed like the next day, students fortunate enough to be selected were seated in a colloquium class with Bruce Brown or Chauncey Riddle. While this selective enrollment policy kept the Program small and personalized, it also limited its influence to only a lucky few. In 1983—in an effort to extend the benefits of the Honors experience to students throughout the BYU campus—the invitation-only tradition gave way to the current open-enrollment Honors Program. The once-exclusive program now encourages all interested students to reap the benefits of this academically challenging and spiritually stimulating program. At the time of the 1983 transition, many faculty and students worried that by expanding their numbers they might lose the community feel they had grown to love. “It was a community of scholars. . . . In the Honors Program I felt I had found my peer group,” said J. Ward Moody (‘80). There was also a concern that the small classes and direct access to excellent professors would vanish. But their worries proved unfounded—class sizes remained small, and professors still




actively mentored their students despite the steady increase in enrollment. The Honors Program was wise to ensure that it didn’t lose its signature small classes. Honors graduate and current BYU professor, Charlotte Stanford (‘93), said, “I took a class that was part of a freshman colloquium series . . . I still keep in contact with some of the people in that class.” It’s the small classes that make learning a shared experience for students and faculty alike and create the close community feeling so characteristic of Honors courses. Creating and maintaining that Honors community is still central to the Honors Program’s purpose—and especially to the purpose of its student advisory council, HSAC. Stanley Benfell (‘87), 2004 Honors Professor of the Year, described how his undergraduate involvement in Honors deepened the community feel for him. “I got involved with the Honors Student Council and in my last year I was the president . . . so I had a lot of involvement throughout the entire program, not just with classes.” Reflecting a holistic approach to the purpose of education, HSAC’s stated mission is to “forge friendships . . . and provide resources to both students and faculty as they seek to expand their Honors experience beyond the classroom.” HSAC is not alone in helping students sample the uniqueness of an Honors course experience, however. In varied and personal ways Honors professors create a community out of a group of individuals. Some learn their students’ names the first day of class and expect the students to call each other by name for the rest of the semester. Others open their homes to their students for dinner or discussions. Still others organize cultural events with their classes or plan field trips. All seek for ways to extend the Honors experience beyond the academic. Rosalyn Eves, a 2001 BYU

1993: The Honors Program holds a series of lectures on harmonizing faith and study, headlined by Neal A. Maxwell. These lectures are later published in the volume On Becoming a Disciple-Scholar.

1993: Dean Cox and Associate Dean McDonald are appointed. Using their science backgrounds, they work to extend the benefits of Honors to scienceoriented students across campus. The number of students receiving prestigious scholarships and mentorships reaches a new level.

Honors graduate and current professor said, “The students in [my Honors History of Civilization] class seemed really close to each other. I think part of this was because we had a couple of out-of-class activities.” Today the Honors Program looks very different than it did in 1960 or even in 1983. However, while the requirements and structure of the Honors Program have evolved over the past quarter of a century, the ideals, benefits, and opportunities of an Honors education have continued— and will continue—to bless the lives of participating students and faculty. The program is broad and popular—this year alone, 355 Honors classes were taught at BYU. Anyone can sign up; anyone can benefit. Honors encourages innovation, curiosity, scholarship, excellent teaching, and teacher-student relationships, and as its participants advance in their own disciplines, families, and careers, they carry with them the lasting positive effects of an Honors education. Whereas the Program once accommodated the participation of only 100 students, today over 3500 BYU students consider themselves members of the Program, and many more benefit from the unique classes, activities and events, and scholarship sponsored by the Honors Program. During his time as president of BYU, Jeffrey R. Holland gave the Honors Program confident praise when he said, “I consider [the Honors and General Education programs] the crown jewels at the very heart of the most important contributions BYU can make to the world of higher education.” It is with that endorsement that the Honors Program moves forward into the 21st century, eager to spread its positive influence deeper and wider throughout the university and the world. ■

“Never kiss your bride with your eyes closed.” Kari and VonLogan Brimhall’s wedding the day after finals at BYU.

“It was in an Honors class that I met my wife, so I can’t complain about least not while she’s around!”

1998: Daniel J. Fairbanks appointed the Associate Dean of Honors.

1996: The Great Works Program is revamped to shift to written responses rather than oral interviews.

-Victor Ludlow (‘68)

2000 1999: Thanks to an anonymous donor, the Robert K. Thomas scholarship fund is created.



Insight Special Feature: 50 Years of Honors

2000 A Closer Look

Honorable Inquiries


2000: K. Newell Dayley serves as associate dean of Honors from February to July when he was made dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication.


KATIE WHITE Photography


ou were an Honors student at BYU, correct?” “I was, but you should know that the standards were much lower back then.” I smiled. His sense of humor, it seemed, had not changed, and though the titles attorney, author, mission president and most recently, elder, had prefaced his name to me, Tad R. Callister, is still Uncle Tad. It came as no surprise to me that at Brigham Young University my uncle sought out the best opportunities for learning. For him the benefits of participating in the Honors Program were obvious. “I knew the Honors Program would give me the best BYU had to offer,” he said. “It provided the best teachers, more intimate classes, and the chance to rub shoulders with people who were bigger and brighter than I was. I knew I would be Elder Tad R. Callister and his wife, moving among the best Katheryn Saporiti Callister and in turn would be challenged by them.” My uncle came to BYU just a few years after the creation of the University Honors Program and was among the first students who participated. Since he was an accounting major, the liberal arts-focused curriculum did not necessarily speak to his area of study. “The Program did not offer any



2000: J. Scott Miller appointed associate dean of Honors in August.

Honors classes in accounting at that time, so most of the classes I took were in the humanities,” he recalled. “But it turned out that some of them were among the more memorable classes I would take in my time at BYU. They challenged me in a different way and gave me the opportunity to approach subjects I otherwise would not have.” One class in particular, an Honors philosophy class taught by Professor Chauncey C. Riddle, would stay with him for the rest of his life. “Every day Dr. Riddle would just ask us questions. By the end of the day my arms would be dripping in sweat.” He laughed, remembering his experience in Professor Riddle’s class. “But he would never let you off the hook. He would really push you to approach the matter at a deeper and deeper level. And his were really indepth questions that required in-depth answers.” “Essentially, we were discussing the ways in which you can know truth,” he said. The students were told to study and come ready to discuss five different determinative approaches: the scientific method, imagination and creation, reason, authority, and revelation. “We addressed each method and pointed out the strengths and weaknesses inherent in each. Coming from a religious background, it was interesting for me to see some of the different ways in which human beings search for truth. It forced me to look at the world outside my comfort zone before I could come to a conclusion. In the end, that is what education should do.” Subsequent class discussions would move even closer to his faith, he said. “Another time Professor Riddle asked, ‘How can man be a free agent if God has created everything about him?’ If God created man spiritually and physically, is he not then making decisions for us? Where does our autonomy lie?” For Uncle Tad this synthesis of religion and secular learning was a pivotal aspect of his education that, far from leading him to doubt his convictions, fostered a spirit of inquiry that would only strengthen his religious beliefs. More importantly, learning how to answer hard questions would prepare him for the difficult challenges he faced as he left BYU to continue his studies. “I never felt that the Honors Program gave secular concerns precedence over spiritual,” he said. “But the Honors Program—BYU—is not the world. I knew that out there


2006: Madison Sowell appointed associate director of Honors and associate dean of General Education.

Speeches of Robert K. Thomas A LOVE OF LEARNING

Robert K. Thomas (1918-1998) served the BYU community for thirty-two years as an English professor, founder and director of the Honors Program, and academic vice president. He received the distinction of becoming the first BYU Presidential Fellow. In 1961, students selected him as Professor of the Year, and in 1966 he received the Karl G. Maeser Award for Teaching Excellence. He taught American literature, the Bible as literature, and Book of Mormon religion classes. With Bruce B. Clark he co-authored the five volumes compilation Out of the Best Books, designed for study by the Relief Society sisters. He served as a bishop, stake president, and as president of the Australia Melbourne Mission. His wisdom and insight are captured in the essays of this collection, and these essays reveal Thomas’s faith, love of humankind, and passion for literature and beauty.

Dar yl Hague

would be difficult questions I would have to confront.” Fortunately for my uncle, the benefits of the Honors Program did not stop at the borders of BYU campus. The Honors Program gives students a necessary foundation of both knowledge and faith to successfully navigate the world, not just the periodicals of the Harold B. Lee Library. After completing his undergraduate degree at BYU, Uncle Tad went on to earn a Juris Doctor degree from University of California Los Angeles, and a master’s degree in tax law from New York University Law School. During this time, his faith would be challenged, but the lessons he had learned in his Honors classes helped him face those trials. “Those classes prepared me; when [the hard questions] came I had already faced many of them.” He was not, however, always the one on the receiving end of difficult questions; more often than not, my Uncle Tad was the one asking. As an author, he addressed two of the most complex subjects for Latter-day Saints and other Christians around the world—the Atonement and the Apostasy—and confronted questions that are as difficult to ask as they are to answer. “The depth at which we approached issues [as students] helped me learn to attack a problem at the root rather than glossing the surface,” he said. “It taught me how to ask questions at a deeper level.” As our conversation came to a close, he encouraged me to ask questions in and out of the classroom. “We do not know all of the answers, and we probably won’t for a very long time,” he said. “But that should not frighten us. My testimony has only increased as I have asked honest questions. Nobody has to be ashamed of asking honest questions.” His advice for me, then, is really applicable to not only Honors students, but also to all students of BYU. “You don’t have to sacrifice your testimony or spirituality in order to satisfy your intellectual pursuits,” he told me. “In reality, spirit and intellect go hand-in-hand and are together infinitely more compatible with our nature as eternal beings with the divine potential of exaltation.” Uncle Tad’s last words of advice, however, were for me alone. “When you find yourself a boy, just make sure you send him my way first.” ■

A Love of Learning: A LOVE OF LEARNING

2006: 104 students graduate with Honors. Over 2000 students have received this recognition since the inception of the Honors Program.

Speeches of

ROBERT K. THOMAS Edited by Daryl Hague

Edited by Daryl R. Hague

Available for purchase in the BYU Bookstore and online at byustudies.

Partake of the personal wit and wisdom of Robert K. Thomas, the first director of the Honors Program, in this new and stunning collection of his essays, published in March 2011 by BYU Studies. In his writing, you will see the intellect of a scholar blended with his deep faith, his love for humanity, and his passion for all things beautiful.

Featured Quotes of Robert K. Thomas: “The only knowledge I truly possess comes from the Lord. In the radiance of that knowledge, I can feel confident in my perception of reality.” “A Declaration of Dependence” “We must demonstrate that we know right from wrong. We must succeed in supplanting the darkness of ignorance and sin with the light of truth. . . . Introspection should be a valued characteristic in a true house of learning.” “A House of Learning” 2010/2011


Insight Special Feature: 50 Years of Honors

After the Fact

’60s Graduates on the Legacy of Honors


et’s face it—graduating with University Honors means more classes, more reading, and simply more work. Is it really worth it? I talked to four Honors alumni who graduated in the 1960s when the program started, and I can honestly say that what I learned changed my perspective. The Honors Program is not just about making a


EMMA CANO Photography


résumé look better, making an application more competitive, or even separating the “geniuses” from the rest. It is about education for the sake of education. An Honors education is about expanding our intellectual horizon to become better individuals, children, mothers, fathers, friends, and disciples. ■

Loraine Adams “[An Honors education] prompts learning, and it really prompts the whole object of life-long learning because you know that anyone you meet has their own story and their own experience. . . . It was not a matter of satisfying curiosity for us; it wasn’t just a matter of getting a job. The Honors Program broadened our education and our opportunities.”

Richard Smith Smith remembers that the discussions in his Honors courses were at a higher intellectual level than his regular classes, and some of those discussions have stuck with him to this day. “There were things that we did as Honors students that I [still] reflect on now.”

Jeanine Franson The Honors Program helped Jeanine become a better mother, wife, and person. Through the Program, she gained a love for learning and expanded her understanding. “Everything I do is richer and fuller, and I feel like I am a more effective person in my service, and as a mother and a wife, because of this foundation that was so wonderful. And it makes life more enjoyable.”

Gerald Lallatin “The Honors Program just saved my life; it was a real blessing. . . . My experiences in [Honors classes] opened a lot of windows and ideas. . . . Honors students will never ever again have the opportunity to have such a wide exposure to so many different ideas.” His advice is to “leap in and embrace it.”




2007: Science and Technology requirement added to the Great Works List.

2009: Gary L. Hatch appointed director of Honors and associate dean of General Education; Dean Hatch passed away unexpectedly in May 2010.

The Honors Program Today

As the Program moves through its 50th year its relevance is affirmed by the lives it has influenced. The Program’s future is as promising as the potential of its next generation of students.

2010: Rory R. Scanlon is appointed director of Honors and associate dean of General Education.



Leav 48






OLIVIA MAUDE LEE narrates her way through her family’s kitchen where her father, DARYL LEE, Honors Professor of the Year, and her mother, MARY LEE, magnify the quotidian with artisanal breadmaking and a food culture that promotes exploration, community, and learning.

ven a little bit of





walk into the kitchen to find the kitchen table covered in slender glass vials, each one filled with a different type of flour or grain—samples of what my dad uses for baking. There is hammering coming from the hallway. “Hello? Mom? Mom, are you home? What are you doing?” She’s drilling a narrow industrial metal ledge onto the bland white hallway wall. “Hey, I’m just trying this out,” she says. She nails a copper wire at either end of the ledge, then whisks past me to gather up the bottles from the table. Back in the hallway, she sets each one carefully on the ledge. Next—as if from out of nowhere—she produces a woodburning tool and starts free-handing letters on the wall above her creation. It’s a verse from Galatians 5: “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” What does that even mean? I think. Understanding the subtleties of my parents’ approach to food has been a slow process for me. The lenses of travel and change allow us to see ourselves and our families more clearly. In 2006, Dad took our family and a group of students on a Paris, France, study abroad program. The study abroad students would ask me and my four siblings, Sophie, Henry, Theo, and Cy, “What is it like to be a kid at your house?” I didn’t know how to respond: it was the only life I knew. After spending time talking to so many new people and learning about their backgrounds, I slowly learned that not everyone’s mom and dad make homemade mayonnaise or take them on bakery tours around Paris. Not all dads give their kids lectures on the importance of a well-made crust. I remember one morning in particular when Dad baked a batch of rye currant buns . . . Dad gathers me and my siblings together and we sit almost nose to nose. We are like scientists, forensic specialists—explorers discovering bread for the first time. The sound of cracking crust resounds in my ear; Dad crushes the grains between his forefinger and thumb, smells a bit of the currant bun. Breaks it open. I see syrupy, sticky, caramelized currents clinging tightly to the airy bread. I think about the way he makes them, the way he handles the dough in its early stages so gently. Next I inhale the smell of yeast. He draws our attention to the texture of the outer crust and explains the scientific process that is behind the crust’s rustic appearance. He moves on to talk about the inner dough. Only after such close inspection does he allow us to butter our bread and eat it.






“Students would ask me and my four siblings Sophie, Henry, Theo, and Cy— ‘What is it like to be a kid at your house?’ I didn’t know how to respond: it was the only life I knew.”



My Dad can’t keep his teaching out of the kitchen. And it seems that he can’t keep the kitchen out of his teaching. Every semester, Mom and Dad invite their students to our home for dinner and dessert. I remember looking forward to meeting their students and eating the delicious creations that Mom and Dad served at these “student get-togethers” or “soup parties” as we called them. This time of year brought warm soups, peaches, pumpkin, squash, and seasonal desserts. I didn’t always understand why Mom and Dad would choose to invite their students over to our house for dinner, though. In doing so, they volunteered our family to clean the house from top to bottom, run errands for Mom, scour the yard for errant soccer balls, set up chairs, fill water carafes, set the tables, fold cloth napkins, and fill baskets with Mom’s mismatched sterling silverware. I was particular about the chores I was given. I did my duties slowly. I dawdled along, taking a sudden special interest in the intricate pattern on each unique soupspoon. Mom’s fondness for beautiful things—even when those things were mismatched— showed through in her collection of old spoons. The shallow spoon embellished with “Campbell Soup” in fancy cursive on the handle was perfect for scraping the bottom of a yogurt cup. Spoons with intricate curly-cue-like embellishments provided an easy grip for frozen fingertips holding a mug of hot cocoa. Vegetable beef stew was easier for me to eat with the spoon stamped “Thunderbird Motor Inn.” I liked to eat potage using a large, lightweight spoon configured with a symmetrical bridge down the handle’s center. I stare down the boy who picks up my favorite soupspoon. Outside, Dad introduces us to his students, and my patience wanes when they begin to serve themselves. My siblings and I have been bound into a long day of temporary slavery, and we feel as though we are most worthy of the first places in line. I imagine the steaming leek soup sliding down my throat. My feet sting; they’re bare and pressed against the chilly blades of wet grass. Mom notices and chides me. “Maude, go put shoes on. It’s too cold out here for you to be barefoot. I don’t want you to get sick . . . while you’re inside fill this up please? Quickly. Thank you.” But when my turn comes to eat, finally, I relish the combination of tastes in my mouth: a straightforward vegetable potage, brie cheese, baguette, and apple juice. It seems that any event at my home is accompanied by food, and bread-making is frequently brought into the planning and preparation. Dad has his system down for baking bread: he times, watches, measures, and weighs ingredients with understanding and care. He

Daryl Lee crouches next to the wood-fired brick oven that he built in his backyard. He uses the oven to bake specialty breads and pizza.




“My dad can't keep teaching out of the kitchen. And it seems that he can’t keep the kitchen out of his teaching.”

has small sticky notes or scraps of colored paper on which to record precise baking notes. Most include a categorized layout of the process along with weights, ingredients, time-tables and titles scribbled with an inky ballpoint pen: mix, ferment, shape dough, proof, bake. He eagerly anticipates the turnout of each batch based on the changes he makes for every ball of dough. I watch my dad bake on an autumn afternoon. He is precise about the process, handling the dough gently and focusing intently on his project. A buttered rye bun with currants melts in my mouth. I mumble my satisfaction after I taste one: “These are so good.” My siblings agree. He humbly accepts our compliments and tells us he is happy we enjoy them. He describes the new ingredients he’s used this time around, whether they are a different type of grain, salt, nuts or maybe dried fruit. Then he proceeds to criticize his batch like one would criticize a piece of art. “Daryl, they look beautiful,” says Mom. He sets aside a few for neighbors. He sweeps up the flour on the floor meticulously and puts the bread peals covering the counters back in his study where his collection of them adorns the walls. When I open the fridge, his sourdough barms are literally living—they wait in the refrigerator until he is ready to make another batch. Dad served a mission in Rouen, France, where he was introduced to famed artisanal “boulangeries” that have become a critical piece of French culture. In 2000, he came across a brick oven located in a small town and stopped a local of the town, a Frenchman who was riding by on his bike, to find out more about the oven. The man detailed the process of brick-oven bread baking to him. Fascinated by the process, he arrived home from his trip that year and began to gather any knowledge on the subject of brick-oven baking that he

Mary Lee visits secondhand stores in search of colorful vintage trinkets, tins, and treasures.



could find; this marked the beginning of his building a brick oven among the trees and greenery in our backyard. Dad consistently works on his bread baking while Mom makes her desserts. She has perfected nearly every variety of pie: peach, pumpkin, apple, pecan, and my favorite: lemon meringue. Friends, neighbors, and family are usually summoned to help eat the treats she makes, and then we all relax and talk together for hours. Her creations are rarely exotic or complex; she’d rather satisfy a familiar craving. It’s a rainy, Saturday morning and Dad is out of town. Mom and I spent last night watching chick-flicks. We’re both tired and reluctant to do our chores. The trees are vivid green blurs peeking at us through the wet windows as we wander nonchalantly through each section of the New York Times on the laptop, still comfortably nestled in bed. Usually after her habitual stroll through the Home & Garden section, she watches “The Minimalist,” a feature in the Dining & Wine section. She clicks on the video: the host is making a pan-baked lemon-almond tart. The delicious-looking tart is baked before our tired eyes. “That looks so good.” I nod in agreement. “We have lemons, almond and eggs.” Mom purses her lips. “Mmm . . . something lemony sounds great. Let’s try it.” We head toward the kitchen in our pajamas, sporting heads of messy hair. The little boys are awake. They scurry energetically back and forth from the kitchen to the dining room, making their own breakfasts. I tell them they can have a taste of the tart when it’s finished, but they’re not too interested in a “pan-baked lemon-almond tart.” I watch Mom remove her colorful rings from her fingers. She washes her hands and looks out the window. The process starts: we talk and think and bake. I grate the lemon skin and crush the almonds. She tells me a funny story as she measures and stirs. Her witty narratives and playful commentary pass the time. The timer dings, and it’s finished. Mom looks at me and smirks: “Dad would say that we need to wait to let it cool off . . .” We laugh and both dig in; the tart lemon flavor makes our lips pucker and pout. Mom didn’t know how to cook when she first got married, but she and Dad learned fast. “It’s been a learning curve; it’s been a long time trying to figure out how to make mango lassies or our own tortillas or stir fry.” I don’t think Mom expected when she started making doughnuts for trick-or-treaters at Halloween that it would become a tradition for our family and neighborhood. Last year’s Halloween doughnut giveaway count was 900. Mom also lets her creative impulses lead her to dress our house in obsolete treasures, the same impulses that lead her to new combi2010/2011



Mom and Dad share their passions inside and outside of class through a universal medium— food. INSIGHT





“There’s nothing better than giving someone something to eat that makes them happy or introducing them to something new that they think about or want to eat again.” 58


nations of tastes or recipes. She says there’s “nothing better than giving someone something to eat that makes them happy or introducing them to something new that they think about or want to eat again. It’s a brilliant way to explore the world.” Mom thrives in her systems, however disorderly they may be. They bring energy and spontaneity into our world. “When you try to make everyday tasks beautiful and thoughtful, it’s almost an active gratitude for what you have. It’s a way of showing you don’t take blessings for granted.” Now that I’ve moved out, I look into my house from outside. Dad is all about practicing consistency, forming good habits, and delving into unknown cultures to learn and understand them. He loves 19th-century poetry, movies, fruit trees, and baking bread. Mom is about creating, making, building, and thinking. She loves art, writing her novel, buying vintage couches, and jewelry making, and she can never pass up an opportunity to go thrifting. I see Dad, a French professor, and Mom, an English teacher, sharing their passions inside and outside of class through a universal medium: food. The quotidian ritual of eating, whether embellished and complex or unadorned and effortless generates relationships and community in a single bite of delectable goodness. Now, when I walk past the scripture in our hallway and read “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump,” I know my parents’ attention to the little things have taught me a lifestyle where understanding and exploration of the everyday can pay back. ■



HONORING ACADEMICS ittraining: Brigham Young University Office of Information Technology offers 34 free online tutorials for computer software programs by Adobe, Microsoft, and others as well as basic computer classes. Go to http://train.

University of Utah Online Courses: Twenty-one free courses from art history to educational psychology and computer science with more being added every semester. Go to http://

American Rhetoric: One hundred free speeches from Socrates to Kennedy and Martin Luther to George Clooney. Go to http:// www.americanrhetoric. com/top100 speechesall.html Over 25,000 free speeches, lectures, podcasts, audio books, and videos. Go to http://www.learnoutloud. com

United Nations University: : Over 123 free online classes and research projects sponsored by the UN. Go to

The Web of T Learning

A revolution in education is taking place all around the world thanks to developing technologies; here are some ways you can get involved.







.hink about your choices for education before the year 1440. The invention of the printing press was over a decade away—the only books available were manuscripts that had been painstakingly copied by hand. Traveling was unpleasant. You had roughly two options if you wanted to receive an education: join the clergy or be a noble. Now think about your choices today. Public libraries contain thousands of books, ranging from the mundane to the spectacular, from the practical to the fantastic. Travel may still be unpleasant,

but it’s miraculously easy in comparison to slogging along a medieval highway. Public and private schools, universities, and other institutions of higher learning have never been so prevalent. And in recent years the Internet has revolutionized—and continues to revolutionize— our access to information. Knowledge once reserved only for rulers of nations is available in every wireless zone. In the age of the Internet, education has become more democratized than ever before. In trying to avail yourself of the marvel of the Internet, though, the sheer volume

BBC Languages: Sixteen full free language courses and quick phrases in 36 additional languages. Go to languages

MIT Open Courseware: Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s OpenCourseWare site offers 2000 free online courses. Class lectures, notes, videos, and recordings also available. Go to edu/index.htm

of data available presents a daunting frontage: how do you sort all that data? The Internet is a phenomenal resource, but only if we know where to look. As Dexter Jettster reminds Obi-Wan Kenobi, there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom (thanks to Google for telling me what that alien’s name is). Part of the education process is turning the facts and figures we learn into something of more value to us. There are sites that do a superb job of providing a robust education rather than being merely repositories of facts. They take advantage of the freedom of the Internet to reach anybody who wants to learn. Those old medieval kings and cler-

iTunes-U: Over 350,000 free lectures, texts, and videos from universities worldwide. Go to http://www. itunes-u

webcast.berkeley: Berkeley offers 44 free online webcast classes with more being added every semester. Go to http://

OpenCourseWare Consortium: Free online material contributed by 193 consortium members including Johns Hopkins, MIT, Yale, Notre Dame, and universities around the world. Available in 10 languages. Go to http://

Justice with Michael Sandel: Harvard University makes available 12 free online video episodes of their government course, Justice Harvard, and 36 supplemental readings and discussion guides. Go to http://www.

gymen would be astonished by the ease with which learning is disseminated in this age. We can virtually “sit in” on renowned professors’ lectures on history, math, economics, or any other field of interest. Courses in software training are provided for free. Surely 15th century monks would have appreciated the free language courses found online when translating ancient texts. Regardless of our interests, the Internet can be a boon for our education. Whether you want to listen to Winston Churchill’s “Thanksgiving Day” speech or a lecture on thermodynamics—education is now open. The chance to explore is yours. ■ 2010/2011 2010/11



Defending Your Text



Have you ever wondered what a thesis defense looks like? We have. One staff writer gives a minute-by-minute account of graduating senior ANDREW WALKER’S thesis defense.


:35 a.m.—We sit in cold silence outside a conference room on the third level of the Tanner building, waiting for the thesis defense committee to finish conferring over Andrew’s thesis. “I’ve done a lot of things in college,” Andrew tells me, “but this may be the scariest. Right now, I find out whether I graduate with Honors…” Having already delayed his graduation by one semester, he knows he won’t get another chance. 9:38 a.m.—As we enter the room, the three men comprising Andrew’s thesis defense committee rise from their seats and shake Andrew’s hand, congratulating him for coming so far in his project. An immense oval table fills the majority of the boardroom and several unoccupied chairs cluster at the front. Andrew seats himself in one of them. As he does so, the blackhaired thesis referee grins and offers him an explanation for the long wait in the hallway: “After discussing your thesis, we now know how we’re going to dismantle your analysis.” Everyone laughs at the comment; Andrew’s laugh is perhaps a little more nervous than the others.



9:40 a.m.—“First, we want to give you some time to talk about your thesis,” the Honor’s representative informs Andrew, offering him the floor with a meaningful inclination of the head. Andrew takes a breath and begins to summarize his research. Over the next seven or eight minutes, his committee listens attentively. The curly-haired Honors representative sitting three chairs down nods his head enthusiastically while Andrew’s thesis advisor narrows his eyebrows. 9:48 a.m.—The thesis committee peppers Andrew with questions and criticisms. Every sentence seems to begin with “What was confusing to me…” or “Don’t you think that…” In spite of the criticisms, Andrew retains his composure with a generally

Honors Thesis expressionless face. Occasionally he attempts to offer a response to their critiques but mostly he just nods his head and responds with a quick “Sure” while he jots down notes. 10:08 a.m.—“Next, I’d like to ask you to walk us through your analysis,” says Andrew’s thesis advisor. He guides the discussion with instructions like “Explain your results and significance in this table,” or with questions such as “Is that an appropriate statistical test in this situation?” Andrew usually hesitates a little in his responses and at one point he stops, looks up at his advisor, and asks, “Did I answer your question or was I going off on a tangent?” His advisor smiles and with a few words redirects Andrew to more relevant topics. 10:28 a.m.—Eventually the examination stops and the committee asks Andrew to leave the room while they make a final decision on the thesis. Outside the conference room again, Andrew

and I make little attempt at conversation. The air is tense and his smile is a little slower to appear. Finally, the door opens and we hear the voice of the Honor’s representative: “All right Andrew, you can come back in.” 10:35 a.m.—Andrew seats himself deliberately in his chair, and then looks across the table. The Honors representative looks Andrew in the face, smiles, and then simply says, “Andrew, we have voted to pass you.” At the announcement, a smile breaks across Andrew’s face. The committee concludes by explaining to Andrew that he must go back and revise several parts of his thesis, but they pass him on the condition that he make their suggested revisions. After accepting their requirements for final revisions, Andrew shakes each of their hands and leaves the room. 10:45 a.m.—“I’m glad I’ve crossed that hurdle,” Andrew tells me as we walk away. “I’ll probably finish my revisions over the weekend and then be done.” It seems as though he particularly relishes the sound of the word “done.” I ask him his plans for after graduation, and he informs me he’ll probably work as the head of marketing for a mid-sized Orem firm. As we reach the end of the hallway where we will separate, I finally ask him how he feels now that his thesis defense is done. “Great,” he tells me with a grin. “It’s good to be finished.” ■ To read more about how Andrew completed his Honors thesis go to after March 30th, 2011.




Reflection Essay Text


Beginning November 12, 2010, the Brigham Young University Museum of Art hosted “The Master’s Hand,” a collection of paintings and altarpieces by the acclaimed Danish artist, Carl Bloch. The excerpt below is from DEREK MONTGOMERY’s larger essay on Bloch’s Descent from the Cross. Of his subject Derek writes, “It is likely that none of Bloch’s paintings resonated more with him than Descent from the Cross. The painting is itself a chronicle of Bloch’s suffering after the death of his wife . . . [It] is a fitting tribute to the suffering of both a new widower and a dying artist.” Derek was awarded first place in the “Great Works Entries” category of 2010/11 Writing 150H Writing Contest.



The Savior’s Descent and a Message of Hope Text



hen I first saw [Bloch’s] piece, I saw only the darkness. Content to write the painting off as another gloomy representation of the tragedy of the Crucifixion, I nearly moved on to another painting that I thought would be more multidimensional. However, as I studied the expression of the silhouetted man in the background, I realized I had seen that expression before in my dad when he called our family together several years ago. My mom has suffered from bipolar disorder for years, but it wasn’t until I was eight years old that she tried to take her life for the first time. I remember the utter despair in my dad’s face as he told my siblings and me that Mom’s illness was worse than the doctors had thought it was. Dad’s expression of hopelessness, confusion, and worry perfectly matched the pitiful sorrow I now saw in the fourth man’s face. It was only as I concentrated on this dark hopelessness that I began to see the light in this painting. As I saw the radiance of the lantern, the Savior, and the line on the horizon, I thought about the cycling nature of my mom’s health. Even during the scar-

iest moments in the years since Mom’s diagnosis (and there have been many), as a family we knew that her health never declines perpetually; it always returns to her, even if it takes several months. In this way I have experienced dozens of times the bittersweet hope that Bloch must have felt after the death of his wife. Both of us know that when life seems pressingly dark, there is light on the horizon because of the Savior. The main message of Descent from the Cross is not suffering or darkness, though these elements are present in abundance in the work. The ultimate meaning of the work is found in the hope that it expresses. We live in a suffering-dimmed world filled with tragedies as poignant as Bloch’s loss of his wife and decline as an artist. In the middle of all this gloominess, it is easy to silently grieve and fade into a background of darkness as the fourth man does in this painting. We can instead find hope that the Light of the World will never be extinguished. As we focus not on the bleakness of mortality but on the promise of resurrection, we find hope that gives life truer, deeper meaning. ■




Myth Busters: Honors Edition Text


How much do we actually know about the Honors Program, what Jeffrey R. Holland calls the “crown jewel” of higher education at Brigham Young University? Here are a few facts to dispel the myths swirling around the Program. Myth 1:

A student must complete an extensive application process to be accepted into the Honors Program.


No application for Honors exists; any student can go to the Honors Advisement Center and fill out a form to declare their intent to graduate with Honors. However, you do need to maintain a 3.5 GPA and fulfill the Honors Program requirements to graduate with Honors (see for details).

Myth 2:

Honors classes are extremely rigorous and not worth the extra effort.


Most Honors students say their Honors classes are intense but easier than or just as rigorous as their other classes. Ryan Greenburg, an Honors student from Georgia, said:

“[T]here is definitely more work in Honors classes but it is easier because most of the work . . . [is] pertinent and interesting. I feel these classes successfully eliminate mediocrity—it is far more stressful to jump through a series of arbitrary hoops and massive memorizing of random facts than it is . . . to internalize complicated ideas and assignments and then form my own opinions and ideas about them. I absolutely love the Honors Program’s style and ambition to create a rich learning environment.”

Myth 3:

Only a few Honors classes are offered every semester, and those are extra sections for General Education classes.


2011. Many different departments from Exercise Science to Statistics to Dance offer Honors sections, which means classes are available to every student and in almost every discipline. In addition to the large number of course sections available, Honors offers a variety of unique classes whose subjects vary from figuring out how to escape from a desert island with limited resources in Honors 259, “The Daedalus Project,” to studying how film portrays mental disorders in Honors 261, “Movie Madness.”

Myth 4:

Honors is really for liberal arts majors, so even though many departments on campus offer Honors sections, only the Humanities department has declared Honors students.


Many declared Honors students come from the College of Humanities, but the graph below reflects the diversity in Honors enrollment across disciplines. ■

One hundred eleven sections of Honors classes were offered in the fall 2010 semester, and 19 colleges across campus offered Honors classes in winter

Total Honors Enrollment by College for the Past Five Years (2005-2010) Family, Home, Family, Home,and andSocial SocialSciences Sciences

Humanities Humanities Undeclared Undeclared Life Sciences Sciences Life Physical andMathematical MathematicalSciences Sciences Physical and Fine Arts Arts and Fine and Communication Communication

Management Engineering and Technology International and Area Studies Education Nursing Source: BYU Honors Program, December 2010.



Join Insight and make all your wildest dreams come true. Insight staff graphic designer, Craig Mangum, always dreamed of walking through Brigham Square carrying 70 multi-colored balloons. Thanks to Insight, this dream became a reality.

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We are now accepting applications for student writers, photographers, illustrators, and designers. Insight is an Honors magazine class (HONRS 301R sec. 1), but you don’t have to be an Honors student to enroll. For more information contact us at 2010/2011


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On March 30th, 2011, Insight is going online. Visit for Web columns and videos created by Honors students and faculty.

Insight Magazine 2011  

Insight Magazine 2011

Insight Magazine 2011  

Insight Magazine 2011