Apologies of the Apologists

Apologist: a defender of the faith, from the Greek word apologia, meaning speaking in defense. I would think that an apologist would be skilled in all matters of written and oral rhetoric, but in particular that they would be good at apologies. As it turns out, this isn’t really the case.

I emailed a number of prominent LDS apologists with the following scenario, to test their skills at apology:

You’ve run over your neighbor’s cat, Limited Geography Theory. Your neighbor works for Lighthouse Ministries. How do you apologize to your rabid antimormon neighbors about killing Limited Geography Theory? If it changes your answer, I’m also thinking about changing the cat’s name to Zelph.

I put this question to Kevin Barney, Blake Ostler, Scott Gordon, Lou Midgley, Jeff Lindsay and Dan Peterson. Below are their answers, presented without modification. The reader should note that I misspelled “Midgley” in my initial email to Lou.

Kevin Barney:

Gee, I’m sorry I ran over and ended up killing Limited Geography Theory. But she was pretty old, and I suspect that you’re glad she’s gone. The death of Limited Geography Theory was probably a mercy from your perspective, was it not? I’m sure God has a place in heaven reserved for her.

Blake Ostler:

I suggest that put the dead cat on the porch and state very clearly that it is just as alive as the the works of Lighthouse Ministries are an actual representation of what Mormonism really is even tho it looks like nothing but a carcas.

Scott Gordon:

I’ve got some good news and some bad news. First the good news. The Limited Geography Theory is dead….

Lou Midgley:

I must apologize, perhaps because I am known here and there as an apologist, or for even worse things, if there is anything worse, for not responding earlier to your amusing note. As you may sense, I have grown older but not calmer, even though I experience parts that I had counted on that no longer work. I was out of town when you message arrived. When I read it, I intended to respond. But I had a huge batch of items that needed to be deleted. But, alas, I now have a moment to catch up on things.

I have one little item to complain about (or about which to complain)–the spelling of my surname (see below). The standard way of spelling my name is Midgley. However, there are, I have discovered, at least 19 variations. How could that be. Then and there, when a kid was named, those Midgleys just said the name and the clerk wrote what he thought he heard. And the Midgleys were very often unable to read and so they could not spell the name. Hence we get Myddgelay and so forth.

The name Midgley is actually a place name meaning “broad, open field.”The village from which the surname is derived is in Calderdale–that is, above the Calder River near Halifax and Bradford in West Ridding Yorkshire. The village is very old. One can find it listed in William the Conqueror’s Doomsday Book just after 1066 when it consisted of perhaps ten cottages. It now has perhaps fifteen. This village is located on the steep ridge above Luddenden Foot, which is directly on the Calder River. Midgley is situated on open land on the old Roman Turnpike.

When my wife and I visited the place and learned all kinds of interesting things about it. My wife found much of this amusing. For example, we were told that the Midgleys in the area tended to be opinionated. And they were once more Calvinist than Calvin, but still also highly independent–that is, unchurched.

The feudal system never quite reached this area. The land was in 1066 communal property. So there are now two very large private farms in that area–Dean Field Farm and Booth Farm, both of which are owned by Midgleys. We have visited these farms and in their homes.

The first LDS Midgleys joined the Church not more than 10K from the village from which they took their surname. (Originally, if one was from that village, one would be known as de [of] Midgley.) I have been able to locate Mormon Midgley families in England, Australia and New Zealand (where they are also Maori–well part Maori like every other Maori these days).

Now for something more or less serious. We are behind, for reasons that I will not go into, with the second issue of the FARMS Review for 2007. (I trust that you are familiar with this publishing venture. You should be.) We are, however, close to having it printed. We are even now working away on the first issue for 2008. Be that as it may, I urge you to remember to have a look at FR 19/2 (2007), when it is printed and then also immediately posted on the Maxwell Institute webpage. Yes, you had better remember to do that. To forget, rather than remember, is to call down a cursing. I am serious. To remember is to place oneself in a position to be blessed, but to forget is to ask for a cursing. Have a look at FR 19/2 and see what I mean.

Neither Dan Peterson nor Jeff Lindsay replied to my email. I can only assume that they were incapacitated or trapped under something heavy.


  1. Steve,
    C’mon! Everyone here knows you wrote that Midggdlelay response yourself.

  2. That was awesome. Midgley rocks.

  3. Brad, that’s Myddgelay.

  4. I am sure Dan’s response got caught in your spam filter. Pls check.

  5. Unless Prof. Peterson is selling levitra or replica watches, I think he hasn’t replied.

  6. I loved Scotty dog’s response.

  7. Steve, can you please privately e-mail me a silly question so I can rant about your wife stealing the milk strippings?

  8. ED, no need to roast such Marsh-mallows.

  9. Blake Ostler’s is my favorite. I bow in awe, Steve.

  10. Midgley’s response is seriously the funniest damned thing I’ve read in weeks. Hillarious!

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    Dan Peterson is out of the country and not reachable at the present time.

  12. Don’t apologize for him, Kevin!!

  13. Yeah, Kevin. You sound like his answering service.

  14. As someone who sat in Midgely’s class as an undergrad some years ago, I bear solemn witness to the verity of his response. Brought back memories of holding my pen ready to take notes on something relevant, often in vain.

  15. Eric Russell says:

    I guess that after you’ve rudely interrupted George Smith having fondue with the Tanners, running over a little cat just isn’t a big deal.

  16. Steve Evans says:


  17. SC Taysom says:

    My guess is that Dan’s response is too personal to share.

  18. It’s a good thing Lou Midgley was busy getting the FR to the printer. Just think how long his non-response would have been if he’d only had the time.

  19. I ? Lou.

  20. Umm. That question mark was a “heart”, but I suppose the question works equally as well.

  21. A photo taken shortly after Professor Midgley ran over Limited Geography: LGT


  23. Steve Evans says:

    Brad, nice use of a highly obscure acronym!

  24. Obscure, yes; but spot on accurate (Laughing So Hard I Peed A Little).

  25. BTW, what was in the water today? I haven’t laughed this hard over multiple posts for . . .

  26. I wish I could threadjack here and ask if there’s any official doctrine on what happens to pets that die. If anyone can point me to some relevant posts elsewhere, that’d be great.

    And I apologize deeply for going somewhat off-topic. Love the name of the cat in the OP, though. =) (had to look up the reference)

  27. FHL, your apologies, while appreciated, presume that this thread actually has a topic (well, if there is one, I’m not going to say what it is…).

  28. Ask, FHL, and ye shall receive.

  29. When I read ‘incapacitated’, my brain read ‘decapitated.’ I wasn’t quite sure what to think… besides what’s worse… losing one’s head or being trapped under something heavy.

  30. Does anyone know if Jeff Lindsay ever appear here?

  31. *appeared here on the board?