Princely Entertainments in Boston this weekend

More than entertainment, actually. Greg Prince, author of (most recently) David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism will give talks on Saturday and Sunday evening. Greg is a wonderful speaker and lots of fun to talk to–you’ll be kicking yourself for years if you miss a chance to meet him and ask him questions. Details below the fold. You can also feel free to contact me with questions–myfirstandlastname at yahoo.

The first event will be held on Saturday, Nov 15 at 7:30 PM at Barbara Taylor’s home: 165 Beacon St. #42 in Somerville, MA. Please RSVP for this event by Wed, Nov 12 to saige3tb at yahoo.

“The Line of Authority of ‘Little Miss Clare’: Clare Middlemiss as David O. McKay’s Chief of Staff.”

Shortly after David O. McKay joined the First Presidency in 1935, Clare Middlemiss became his private secretary. Upon his assumption of the presidency in 1951, and much to the dismay of some of his male colleagues, he retained her as his secretary. The move, of having a female secretary to a church president, was unprecedented in the history of the Church. But Middlemiss transcended the traditional role of secretary, effectively serving as chief of staff. As McKay’s health declined, Middlemiss became his gatekeeper, controlling access to him and thus wielding enormous power. At times, she denied access even to senior apostles and members of the First Presidency. The remarkable career of Clare Middlemiss, arguably the most powerful woman in the history of the Church, makes for a fascinating case study of extra-hierarchical power.

The second event will be held in the Longfellow Park chapel at 6:00 PM. This event is primarily directed to the University and LP wards, but all are invited.

“Reaching for Revelation: Civil Rights, Blacks, Priesthood and David O. McKay.”

A widespread but inaccurate assumption in the Church is that no president until Spencer Kimball challenged the ban on ordination of blacks. In fact, David O. McKay was troubled by the ban as early as 1921, when he encountered it face-to-face while on an around-the-world tour. Upon assuming the presidency in 1951, he became increasingly concerned about the ban and its practical effects on spreading the gospel to all nations. A 1954 tour to South Africa heightened his concerns and led to his first known initiative to seek the revelation that eventually reversed the policy. Although he never received the revelation that he sought, he plowed the ground and planted the seed that Spencer Kimball harvested in 1978. Nonetheless, as progressive as McKay was in attempting to reverse the ban, he was a product of his own times on the issue of civil rights, which he opposed throughout his life. By juxtaposing his thoughts and actions on these related topics, one is able to gain insights into the process of revelation within the Latter-day Saint tradition, and to understand that revelation is, indeed, process rather than event.


  1. Is it true that you guys are going to party like it’s 1999?

    An complete write-up on Monday would be nice.

  2. You make me wish I was already in Boston.

  3. Yeah, Ben–come to Zion, come to Zion!

  4. Oooh, I’d love to hear a recap after it’s over.

  5. Can someone going please ask Prince why he omitted the vision Middlemiss recorded of McKay seeing Christ in a dream with words around his head from the biography in the chapter on revelation early on. It has always seemed like such an odd lacunae from what otherwise is an absolutely amazing biography.

    Let me know

  6. Process rather than event. I love it.

  7. I adore Greg Prince! You lucky Bostonians!

  8. I take it that the second event is on Sunday? I’m adding this at, so I’d like some clarification if at all possible.

  9. Kent, yes, it’s on Sunday. Thanks for putting it up!

  10. I read the book and was disturbed that many of the brethren had racists attitudes back then. There was one account of a GA protesting to Pres. Wilkinson about blacks at BYU and saying “if my daughter marries one of those darkies, I’ll hold you responsible.” (approximate quotation). I know they were men of their time, but to me it seems like someone so open to revelation would have been set straight on something as basic as racism.

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