D. Michael Quinn Passing

Former LDS Assistant Historian and BYU faculty member D. Michael Quinn died last evening. He was an important and prolific writer whose contributions were not always welcome in the community he served. When I first read his work I thought him a heretic, writing agenda-driven and unreliable assortments of anti-Mormon tripe. His writing drove me to find and read the primary sources rather than the “faithful histories” I relied on as an LDS convert. The more I became acquainted with the primary sources, the more I realized Michael’s conclusions were not only reasonable, but in many ways more truthful than the LDS orthodox “faithful histories.”

His writing resulted in his excommunication from the LDS church. But even before my own excommunication, I didn’t hold that against him. Like me he never doubted the authenticity of the restoration or the Divine calling of Joseph Smith. He was just more willing to pursue a truthful telling of the restoration than was willing to submit to church dictates, when they conflicted.

His writing drove me to acquire a new library of Mormon historical sources and to research more deeply into the life, ministry, and teachings of Joseph Smith, as well as what happened to the faith following Joseph’s death. Michael was and always will be a watershed figure in Mormon history. I am indebted to and grateful for his important life’s work.

I did not agree with all of his conclusions. We shared dinner one evening and discussed our differences on the issue of plural marriage. He was engaging, interesting, and open to examining ideas that challenged his own. I doubt he could have produced as much important material if he were not open to other’s ideas.

He cannot be replaced. He will be missed.