You've achieved your goal. I resign.
I resign as Director of Advancement, effective immediately. You've already fired me as editor of the Mormon Studies Review.
My wife predicted that you would pull this while I was out of the country -- just as you used my absence last year to suppress Will Schryver's writing without discussion -- and, in fact, you have.
I realize now, too, that you've been plotting this for some time, and that, naïve fool that I am, I didn't even realize that I was playing chess before I had been checkmated.
There is nothing you can do to prevent this from being an absolutely spectacular propaganda triumph for those who oppose the Institute and despise me, so don't bother trying. As a matter of fact -- since the Institute leaks like a sieve -- I had already read today (on an apostate message board) that there was soon to be a shake-up in the editorial leadership of the Review. They know about it, and they're going to feast on this for years to come.
The timing of my dismissal, coming immediately after my public crucifixion over the John Dehlin debacle, guarantees that it will be read as an institutional rebuke of me and all my works. You could have waited a bit so that that conclusion would be less apparent, but, of course, you haven't. Frankly, I'm not surprised.
With my sacking now, and with what I presume to be the simultaneous dismissal of Lou Midgley and George Mitton and my other associate editors, which follows the utter marginalization of the scholars who once made up the board of directors and the complete ostracism of Jack Welch and, most recently, the re-alienation of Bill Hamblin, the process of driving away those who committed so much of their energy to the creation and building of FARMS and the Maxwell Institute continues apace.
You think it healthy. I do not.
And let's not pretend that the delay in this issue of the Review, or the slowness with which recent issues have appeared, is the justification for this move. You've never raised the matter with me before. In fact, your own actions have significantly contributed to the delay of this most recent issue. (It's substantially complete, though, and the Institute owes my associate editors the proper fees for their services. It's no fault of theirs that you're spiking this issue.)
I regard this as an utterly wrong-headed and disastrous decision, and will not pretend to support it. And not merely because it will subject me to enormous and quite undeserved public humiliation. It's a betrayal of Elder Maxwell, who explicitly approved of what we were doing. "No more uncontested slam dunks," he said. But now we're returning to the status quo ante, under which there were and will continue to be plenty of "uncontested slam dunks." It's a brazen repudiation of the mandate given to us by President Packer, who, when he spoke at the dinner during which we were officially entrusted with Elder Maxwell's name, praised two specific aspects of the Institute's work: the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative and its apologetic efforts. It's a betrayal of the promises we made to our leading donors, who explicitly asked us to do apologetics and, in some substantial recent cases, gave us major donations based on our assurance that we would continue to do so.
You place me in an extraordinarily difficult situation, as I'm supposed to be an advocate for a Maxwell Institute that, in my view, will soon no longer exist, and to maintain good relations with donors to the Institute to whom, in my opinion, we will now prove to have flatly lied. I cannot do that. I don't know what to do about the forthcoming Development Council Turkey trip that I conceived, since several of the people who are slated to participate in it are going, at least partially, because I persuaded them to do so.
I feel obliged to try to make it a good trip and to go, but it will, I think, be my last effort on behalf of the Maxwell Institute, and I won't solicit a nickel more for the Institute from any donors. Given their interests, I think their money should go elsewhere. And, though I won't be so disloyal as to solicit funds from them for anything else during the trip to Turkey, I will feel entirely free to do so thereafter. And I'll be vocal about why I no longer regard the Maxwell Institute as an appropriate recipient of their money. I will explain my resignation, and my reasons for it, in a note to members of the Development Council after the conclusion of the Turkey trip but prior to the October PLC meeting. I do not feel that I can do otherwise and maintain my integrity. I've built up a good relationship with the members of the Smith Family Foundation; good luck in maintaining that.
I agreed to give a private tour to the Holy Land -- the trip that I'm currently on -- partially in the hope of interesting a PLC donor in giving to the Maxwell Institute. We're getting along well, but I'm not going to mention the Institute to him any more. Nursing and Athletics are perfectly adequate continuing recipients of his gifts. And I think I can safely predict that, even without my saying much, you will, with my dismissal, instantly lose one very specific annual donation.
Please note that I have not resigned as editor in chief of METI. I will not let you have that so easily. I founded it. It was entirely my idea. I brought it into the Institute. You'll have to explicitly fire me from that position in order to get rid of me altogether. And I won't take it lightly when you do.
I understand that some contract issues may be affected by my resignation as Director of Advancement. I trust that we can work those out in a civil manner. Pending my dismissal from METI, I will insist that I continue to be compensated as a director in my role, which I will now have more time for, as its editor in chief. I also expect my usual fee as editor of the issue of the Mormon Studies Review that you've killed. It was finished and ready to go.
Very seriously yours,
Daniel C. Peterson
"There is nothing you can do to prevent this from being an absolutely spectacular propaganda triumph for those who oppose the Institute and despise me"
Indeed, this flame still warms my cold dead atheist heart.