These episodes launch a three-part series on Hugh Nibley (1910–2005), a towering figure in twentieth-century Mormonism who every Latter-day Saint deserves to know better. Most often viewed as an intellectual, scholar of the ancient world, teacher, and defender of the faith, Nibley is also one of Mormonism’s most vocal and incisive social critics, a beloved figure by Mormons of all temperaments who was also able challenge many of the culture’s foibles–the attitudes, assumptions, and habits that keep individuals and the wider church from embodying the ideals of Zion. We are thrilled in these episodes to present him and frame his life, work, and critiques for a new generation who have perhaps heard of him but may not have been aware of his work and influence–or his personality, quirks, and other qualities that make him so endearing.
In Part I presented here, Nibley biographers Boyd Petersen, a son-in-law, and Alex Nibley, a son, present an overview of his life, focusing on the experiences and people who helped shape his interests, spiritual core, and attitudes.
Episode 184 discusses the origins of his love for literature and languages, the influence of his maternal grandmother and a near-death-experience that most directly affected his faith and mystical temperament, the roots of his strong environmental sensibility, his distrust of wealth, and his clear-eyed views about church leaders as both good and fallible. The section of his experiences in World War II presents a very personal entry into the intimacy, fortunes, and horrors of war, and how these events and what he witnessed affected the rest of his life.
Episode 185 focuses on Hugh’s career and family life (unique, interesting!), including a discussion of the accusations made very late in his life by one of his daughter’s, Martha, that Hugh had molested her in a ritualistic manner when she was very young.
Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life, by Boyd Jay Peterson
Sergeant Nibley, Ph.D.: Memories of an Unlikely Screaming Eagle, by Alex Nibley
“Truth is Stranger than Folklore: Hugh Nibley–The Man and the Legend, by Boyd Jay Petersen
Interview with Boyd Jay Petersen at A Thoughtful Faith podcast. About Boyd’s own life and faith journey, but it contains some Hugh Nibley stories and observations as well.