Curt Bench and Brent Metcalfe
SUNDAY | JULY 11, 2021 | 7:30-9:00 pm MDT
Explore how two intelligent people look at the same set of divisive historical facts, arrive at very different conclusions, yet remain good friends.
Your home via Zoom. Next month we will also meet in person and retain Zoom for our out-of-towners.
Thanks to Jana Spangler hosting us via Zoom. Below is some helpful info for being part of a Zoom convo. I will also note below the Zoom address so that you can connect. If you are not on my email list then either join at the bottom of this site’s home page or text or call me at 801-695-5036.
Two bright scholars grow up in and study the same history of the same church, developing a relationship with Mark Hoffmann during the same period yet come to very different conclusions regarding the existence of God and if there really was a restoration of Christ’s church. Yet Curt and Brent have remained friends through all that deception, chaos, death, and difference to this day. We will explore why and how they kept their mixed faith friendship through questions that I have prepared for them as well as questions from participants. If you’ve ever been crosswise with friends or family over religion or politics, you will find this exchange instructive. Just remember, this isn’t about the Netflix documentary they appeared in, Murder Among the Mormons, but about navigating differences in tense and deceptive times. Although I do highly recommend you watch the documentary.
ABOUT CURT AND BRENT
Curt Bench has been a Mormon bookseller for 47 years, starting with Deseret Books Co. (spending his last three years there heading the Fine and Rare Books Dept.) and then starting his own store, Benchmark Books, in 1987. While at Deseret Book he dealt with Mark Hofmann, buying and selling many documents that turned out to be forgeries. In addition to selling Mormon books, documents, and other collectibles, Curt has published books such as the unabridged edition of Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball and the recent enlarged edition of the Wilford Woodruff Journals. He has written several articles and columns on LDS books, among them “Fifty Important Mormon Books” published in Sunstone magazine. He has an essay in the newly published Why I Stay 2: the Challenges of Discipleship for Contemporary Latter-day Saints. He also wrote the historical introductions to The Parallel Book of Mormon and The Parallel Doctrine and Covenants. Most recently, his essay was included in the second volume of “Why I Stay,” which I’m sure you can get at his bookstore, if not Amazon. Curt served on the Board of Directors of the Utah Westerners and also on the editorial board of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought for several years. He is married to the very tolerant Pat Gaffney Bench and together they are the parents of four bright children who have always thought for themselves.
Brent Metcalfe contributed to and edited New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology and is coeditor with Dan Vogel of American Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of Mormon. He has published essays in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Sunstone, The John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, and elsewhere. He has delivered numerous presentations in several academic venues.
He is also an award-winning content lead in the video game industry who is credited in more than 60 console and PC titles. He is currently retired and lives with his wife Erin in Arkansas.
Curt and Brent are decades-long friends who, despite their occasional disagreements, agree on one fundamental core value: Brent is much funnier than Curt… hahaha…
EXPLORE BEFORE WE MEET:
One can get lost down the rabbit hole of lengthy and sometimes acerbic Mormon Stories interviews, but the one with Brent Metcalfe in 2014 was exceptionally good. So good I listened to all 6 plus hours, twice. It’s where I fell in love with Brent, while still believing with and loving my friend Curt. I can thank Jane, my wife, for putting me on to Brent’s interview. You can find that here.
I’ve known Curt for a number of years and can’t say enough good about him or his sense of humor. If God is as funny and faithful as Curt, then heaven will be worth the hell of getting there. Unlike Brent who didn’t have any recommendations for books, (just video games) Curt gave me a list of ones that just might help you stay an active believing-in-your-own-way member of the Latter-Day Saint faith. Only three of them have some direct bearing on the topic at hand though:
- Bridges: Ministering to Those Who Question by David B. Ostler, pub. by Greg Kofford Books
- When Mormons Doubt: a Way to Save Relationships and Seek a Quality Life by Jon Ogden
- Navigating Mormon Faith Crisis: A Simple Developmental Map by Thomas McConkie, pub. by Mormon Stages.
These three authors (as have most of the others Curt recommends) presented at Faith Again and I can attest to their wise and good hearts.
I imagine you can get these or the other books that Curt recommends at his bookstore, Benchmark Books. And, of course, Amazon.
Here are the others Curt recommended:
- Why I Stay, two volumes, ed. by Robert A. Rees, pub. by Signature Books
- Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt, Patrick Mason, pub. by Deseret Book.
- The Crucible of Doubt: Reflections on the Quest for Faith by Terryl & Fiona Givens, pub. by Deseret Book.
- A Thoughtful Faith: Essays on Belief by Mormon Scholars, ed. by Philip Barlow, pub. by Canon Press (out of print)
- History and Faith: Reflections of a Mormon Historian by Richard D. Poll, pub. by Signature Books. (out of print
- A Reason for Faith: Navigating LDS Doctrine & Church History, ed. by Laura Harris Hales, pub. by the Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book.
- This is My Doctrine: The Development of Mormon Theology by Charles R. Harrell, pub. by Greg Kofford Books. (Not like any of the above, but is the best one volume book on how Mormon doctrines & theology developed and changed over time—a very important resource)
Finally, I’ll suggest one of my Consider posts that has, among other resources, a TED talk that I think in many ways demonstrates the essence of friendship despite difference.
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