BCC Press Announces Scott Abbott’s Dwelling in the Promised Land as a Stranger

It is not by design—but it is certainly a happy accident—that BCC Press is releasing Scott Abbott’s Dwelling in the Promised Land as a Stranger at a time when Brigham Young University is in the news for a number of controversial things. It has always been challenging for the Church’s flagship institution of higher education to balance the competing demands of its mission to provide its students with both an excellent university education and a distinctive religious experience. There are a lot of places where these two things come into conflict, and in its history, BYU has managed to find most of them.

Scott Abbott played an important role during another period of great tension between BYU’s religious and educational missions. Scott was the president of BYU’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors during the 1990s, when academic freedom was a really big deal. This is when Cecilia Konchar Farr and David Knowlton were fired after their third-year reviews, Gail Houston was denied tenure, and Steven Epperson became the first faculty member dismissed under the (then) new ecclesiastical endorsement policy.

In 1997, largely through Scott’s efforts, the national AAUP censured BYU for its handling of academic freedom issues. A year later, he was denied promotion to full professor because, as a senior administrator wrote, “we believe that your zeal to change policy at BYU has driven you to actions and statements that have taken you beyond the bounds of propriety for a citizen of this University.” In 1999, Abbott left BYU for UVSC, where he remains a professor today.

Dwelling in the Promised Land as a Stranger includes essays and documents that Scott wrote during his time at BYU. It includes his classic essay, on faith and academic freedom at BYU, “One Lord, One Faith, Two Universities.”It also includes previously unpublished correspondence with BYU administrators appealing his denial of promotion, reviews and essays about Mormon culture, and, his presentation about BYU to the AAUP Conference on Religious Institutions and Academic Freedom. As a special treat, the volume is illustrated with 32 gorgeous woodcut images by Royden Card, one of the Mormon world’s best and most well-known artists.

And we are not even done with special treats. BCC Press is also proud to announce that, in celebration of our newest release, we are also releasing, free of charge, the first-ever Ebook version of The Giant Joshua, Maurine Whipple’s classic 1941 novel about the colonization of St. George. This ebook is completely free and can be downloaded directly from our website. Enjoy this one–it’s on us. And while you are at it, enjoy the free sample below from Scott Abbott’s Dwelling in the Promised Land as a Stranger, which includes the full table of contents and the essay “One Lord, One Faith, Two Universities: Tensions between ‘Religion’ and ‘Thought’ at BYU.”


  1. Scott Abbott says:

    What an honor to have my book join so many other fine books published by BCC Press. This post announcing the book suggests that I was largely responsible for the AAUP censure of the BYU administration. As I write in the book, the academic freedom work that led to that censure was shared by members of our BYU AAUP Chapter, with Sam Rushforth as co-president of the chapter and members from the sciences, social sciences, and humanities involved.

  2. Really excited about this!

  3. One of the fine writers in our culture. If you haven’t read IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME you’re missing something wonderful.

  4. A small proofreading note: it’s Stephen Robinson (not Robison) — ref pp. 53-54.

  5. Scott Abbott says:

    thanks gillsyk…there will be others. thank you for reading the book. i was traveling in what is now Serbia and met a man who, when he heard my name, said: Scott Abbott…I read your book! So you’re the one, I answered. No, there’s two of us he said, the town librarian and … and then went silent when he realized that that didn’t help much. it feels really good to know that you and others are reading. and back to the immediately embarrassing mistake with Robinson…when i initially reviewed Givens’ book on Gene England I spelled Givens 4 different ways in the post… i comfort myself by finding such errors in famous books. just noted a mistake on the first page of Lacan’s essay on the mirror stage in his book Ecrits. they don’t excuse my sloppiness, but console me nonetheless

  6. Scott, your book arrived from Amazon today, and I can’t wait to read it. I did my undergraduate work at BYU before getting a J.D. degree at Georgetown. While in law school, I attended the Arlington Ward where Chic Bradford was bishop and Mary, his wife, was editor-in-chief of Dialogue. They became dear friends.

    My freshman year at BYU—1971, the final year of Earnest Wilkinson’s tenure as president—overlapped, I believe, your time as an undergraduate and masters student at the university. As you probably know, there were a few students at that time, along with a handful of faculty members (a small handful, actually), who felt quite strongly about academic freedom regarding both intellectual and religious matters. But if any of us had acted on those feelings publicly, like you and some of your colleagues did, we would have been summarily shown the door. What you did took great courage and made a difference, though at times, perhaps, it hasn’t seemed that way to you.

    Thank you.

  7. Scott Abbott says:

    Eric, thank you for those kind words. The essay with Steven Epperson, chapter 2 of the book, includes a visit to what I think was the Arlington Ward. Was Earnest Wilkinson still doing pushups on stage in 1971…I can’t quite remember. In 1967 when I started at BYU, he would drop down after delivering a demand that we not walk on campus grass (“Keep Your Bod Off The Sod!!!”) and do a 100 quick pushups.


  1. […] this morning, By Common Consent Press announced publication of this book of collected essays, most of which were published while I was […]

  2. […] Dwelling in the Promised Land as a Stranger is a document of my experiences at a university I loved and gradually came to mourn. I refer […]

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