50 years ago today - May 22, 1974-Wednesday

[Leonard Arrington]
I recognize also that there is not full agreement among Latter-day Saint leaders as to items that ought to be included in our books. Not long ago I was in a study group, made up of important Church leaders (but no General Authorities were present) in which there was a dispute over the wisdom of telling seminary students that Brigham Young once chewed tobacco. One person contended that the story of his victory over the habit was faith promoting, and besides the fact of his use of tobacco is so well known that the student will find it out sooner or later and he will have more confidence in the material presented if this is told to him in advance. Another person disagreed completely and said that students will use this knowledge as an excuse for their own sins. There are arguments on both sides of this and other questions. Whatever we do will not be accepted completely by everybody but we do seek for credibility and for general confidence.

To say this another way, I recognize that some of our history cannot and should not be told. Judgment and discretion should be exercised. I recognize also that our history needs to be told honestly so that our people will have confidence in reading it-we must allow for the human equation. I regret the widespread tendency of our fine members and their youth to read books like No Man Knows My History, Nightfall at Nauvoo, and 26th Wife under the assumption that they are getting the real lowdown on our history and that our own works do not carry conviction as being the real story.

[Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018]

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