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About Terryl L. Givens

Terryl Givens did graduate work at Cornell University in Intellectual History and at UNC Chapel Hill where he received his PhD in Comparative Literature. He holds the James A. Bostwick chair of English, and is Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond, where he teaches courses in 19th century studies and the Bible’s influence on Western literature. Author of several books, his writing has been praised by the New York Times as “provocative reading,” and includes, most recently, When Souls had Wings, a history of the idea of premortal life in Western thought, and a biography (with Matthew Grow) of Parley Pratt. The God Who Weeps (with Fiona Givens) was released in October. He is currently at work on a two-volume history of Mormon thought for Oxford University Press.

Letter to a Doubter

I understand that some doubts have arisen in your mind. I don’t know for sure what they are, but I imagine I have heard them before. Probably I have entertained some of them in my own mind. And perhaps I still harbor some of them myself. I am not going to respond to them in the ways that you may have anticipated. Oh, I will say a few things about why many doubts felt by the previously faithful and faith-filled are ill-founded and misplaced: the result of poor teaching, naïve assumptions, cultural pressures, and outright false doctrines. But my main purpose in writing this letter is not to resolve the uncertainties and perplexities in your mind. I want, rather, to endow them with the dignity and seriousness they deserve. And even to celebrate them. That may sound perverse, but I hope to show you it is not. Continue reading