Matters of Conscience
Conversations with Sterling M. McMurrin on Philosophy, Education, and Religion
Sterling M. McMurrin and L. Jackson Newell
“Religion should bring consecration to life and direction to human endeavor, inspire men and women with faith in themselves, dedicate them to high moral purpose, preserve their natural piety in the presence of success, and give them the strength to live through their failures with nobility and face with high courage their supreme tragedies.”
“I do love the Mormon Church. People sometimes find that hard to believe. Here I am, a person who doesn’t fully approve of much the church does, and strongly disapproves of some things, and who thinks that a fair number of its fundamental teachings are sheer nonsense. It’s hard for them to believe that I can have good will toward the church, but I do. My ancestors chose the church. I was born in it and reared in it. It’s just part of my make-up.”
“I don’t think of churches as being true or false. Churches are good or bad or better or worse, but not true or false. Being a Mormon is simply being part of a family, and even the stray sheep in the family can love it and defend it … While I readily confess to being a heretic–one who doesn’t believe–I frankly resent being called an apostate–one who turns against the church. I am critical of the church, but I’m for it, not against it.”
L. Jackson Newell, Professor of Higher Education and former dean of Liberal Education at the University of Utah, is currently president of Deep Springs College in California. He is a celebrated teacher and widely published author on the philosophy and history of higher education. His honors include the Joseph Katz Award for distinguished leadership in American higher education and selection as the State of Utah’s first CASE Professor of the Year. He is a Presidential Teaching Scholar at the University of Utah. With his wife, Linda, he served as editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought from 1982-1987.