In Spite of All the Folly of Man Can Do

[Letter contributed by a reader]

BYU, Provo

November 7, 1969

Dear Sister _________,

What a delight to get a letter that is lucid, literate, a joy to the eye and balm to the spirit! In one thing we can take comfort: all that is happening today, within the church and without, comes exactly as prophesied. And part of the story is that the work goes on, in spite of all that the folly of man can do to undermine it – the Lord can do his own work; he always has and always will, and it is for us to go along, bungling and forgiving every foot of the way. Your quotations from the “Urantia Papers” read as if they have been taken right out of the sermons of Brigham Young. I would like very much to go through those writings, adding pertinent bits from them to what I call my “stamp collection.” I call it that because it is so colorful: all Jewish sources, for example, are written in red ball-pen, all early Christian in blue, Syriac and Mandean-Manichaean in green, Egyptian in Orange, Coptic in ordinary pencil, et cetera. Subjects are topically arranged under 40-odd headings. That way, in short order I can run down what the Greeks or Persians or Early Fathers had to say on any one of those subjects. The surprising thing is how beautifully they all fit together. That is why I don’t think the Urantia Papers would be very upsetting, but be right at home among the rest. What color should they come under? New World customs and traditions (I have specialized in the Hopi) get a gold ball-pen; that might be the right one. At any rate, I feel that my “stamp collection” can hardly be complete without them, from what you have said. I shall start making inquiries about them. Meanwhile, thanks for the tip, and that beautiful letter!

Yours with a will,

Hugh Nibley

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About Hugh Nibley

Hugh Nibley, 1910-2005, was simultaneously the LDS Church's greatest intellectual defender from attack from the outside and Mormon culture's strongest critic from the inside. This blog is composed mainly from Nibley's unpublished writings, letters, interviews and conversations, with occasional posts from associates who had personal interactions with him.
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4 Responses to In Spite of All the Folly of Man Can Do

  1. Joy Bischoff says:

    Chris,

    Yes, I do believe you are right and it is the theology. In the Urantia papers, Michael/Christ is discussed and this fits in with B.Y’s Adam/God theory. I find it sad that so many modern LDS members grossly underestimate the brilliance and depth of President Young’s religious understandings. My research into Egyptology and ancient rabbinical writings have convinced me that the issue lies in not understanding titles. An adding upon of titles, as with priesthood offices, is an eternal principle. Our Father-in-Heaven was First Man (Adam) and the Savior was also First Man as the Second Adam that Paul wrote of as He was the first-fruits of the resurrection. The five titles of Pharaohs was very telling. The gospel is so gorgeous.

  2. Chris Smith says:

    Fascinating that Nibley was interested in the Urantia Papers, and bizarre that he compared them to the sermons of Brigham Young. I guess he’s thinking more the theology of the Papers than the style. I suppose they do fit fairly well with Young’s extraterrestrial-embodied-God-and-angels theology.

  3. Joy Bischoff says:

    My favorite thing about Brother Nibley was his courage. He refused to be boxed in with narrow vision and looked truth square in the eye, no matter where he found it and what the consequences were in the academic world.

  4. Ron Madson says:

    Urantia! Did Hugh eventually read the Urantia? I have and find it profound—especially the seven hundred pages dealing with the entire life of Jesus in great detail. Fun to see that Hugh was introduced to it also.

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