I hope you have enjoyed our conversation with Steven Pynakker, evangelical host of Mormon Book Reviews. In our next conversation, Steve will tell us some of the future plans for his channel, including an episode about Mormon Doctrine in Battlestar Gallactica!
Steve: Season two, because I’m not at home. During the summer, I spend my times up in northern Florida. But season two, we’re going to start taping in October, November. I’ve already got quite a few books that I’ve already read. So, I’m going to do those reviews. I’m going to re-engage Bushman’s book because I want to do a review of his. I’m doing a lot of new books, as well. I think either the very first episode, or early on, my very first episode is going to be Mormonism and Battlestar Galactica.
Steve: I just remember it, our very first, when I did our interview, and our joint production, I had the Cylon from there and I just love [Battlestar Gallactica.] I know Battlestar Galactica. I know Mormonism. So, I think I’m going to be able to make some connections and maybe make some observations that haven’t been made before. I’m so excited
Steve Pynakker, evangelical host of MormonBook Reviews and I got together again on August 27 to celebrate his 50th video on his podcast. Steve attended his first Mormon History Association meetings in June, and he discusses his experiences at the recent meetings in Park City, Utah. Steve and Rick Bennett discussed the recent loss of Curt Bench, owner of Benchmark Books. Curt was an unheralded giant in the Mormon historian’s community, and his death marks a great loss in the community.
Steve: Rick, when you first started, what was it like, at the very beginning, approaching authors and getting guests on? Did it come relatively easy? Did it take some time for your channel to gain traction?
GT: So, one of the differences between me and you is I’ve been attending Mormon History Association. I had made a few contacts. I remember Paul Reeve and Margaret Young. Margaret’s technically not [a historian.] She’s an [English] professor at BYU, but she’s not a history scholar or anything. I picked Margaret because I thought she would say yes. I picked Paul because I thought he would say yes. I picked Curt Bench because I thought he would say, [yes.]
GT: By the way, I’m so sad. I don’t know if people know, but Curt Bench, owner of Benchmark Books, passed away about a week ago. Apparently he had an aneurysm and it was just sudden. It was awful, just totally awful. My heart goes out to the family. The funeral was a day or two ago. He is one of the unsung heroes, and one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. You just say Curt Bench’s name and a smile comes to your face, because he’s such a friendly guy. He’s friendly to everybody. I don’t know anybody that didn’t like Curt Bench. I mean, he’s just [so friendly.] If you went to his bookstore, and you’d say, “Hey, I’m looking on a book for this subject or this author.” He knew what you were talking about, and he would go right to the place, and he’d say, “I think this is what you want.” The knowledge that he had was just so vast. He’s been doing–his bookstore is 25 years old, 30 years old, something like that. Plus, he was at Deseret Book before that. The knowledge that we lost when Curt Bench died is just [immense.] I remember what was his name? Darren Parry said, “When a when a Native American elder dies, a library burns.” That’s kind of what it is to lose Curt Bench. We’ve lost, and I think he’s kind of an unsung hero. Everybody knows him, but we’ve lost a giant in Mormon History, and I’m so sad for his family.
GT: But, like I said, going back to your question, I picked Curt because I thought he would say yes. That was such a fun interview, because I knew that he had something to do with the Mark Hofmann saga, but I didn’t know what it was. Then, when I said, “Can you tell me what happened?” Curt says, “Well, after the third bombing,” No, after the second bombing, “I called Mark” and said, “Mark, you’ve got to be careful. There’s a bomber out there.”
GT: And I was like “You called?” It was just so crazy. Those first few guests that I kind of had a personal acquaintance with, I thought they would say yes. Then I started reaching out to strangers.
Curt was a staple at the meetings and is one of the most friendly, funny, and cordial professionals you’ll ever meet. The MHA also accepts all people; you don’t have to be a professional historian to attend! All you have to do is like Mormon history. Check out our conversation….
What does the future of Mormon history look like? Steve Pynakker is the evangelical host of Mormon Book Reviews. He and I sat down to talk about recent events that surprised us, as well as what the future of Mormonism might look like.
Steve: what does the future of Mormonism look like to you?
GT: I’m a historian, not a future teller.
Steve: Okay, based on history, so I, what do you think? You know the history and you know the history of religion and stuff like that. Do you have any inkling of where you think this is going? Do you think there might be some kind of turn that you wouldn’t have expected, something down the road that you didn’t see coming?
GT: I mean, it’s like my March Madness bracket. I’m terrible at picking.
Steve: Yeah, Loyola beat Illinois today.
GT: Yeah, I saw that.
Steve: That busted a lot of people’s brackets.
GT: Just the stuff that’s happened in the last five years has been a surprise to me: two hour church, now, instead of three. That’s been a surprise. What they’re doing the Salt Lake temple is horrible, if you ask me, and the Manti temple. I’m very disappointed to hear about that we’re killing our own history. Why would you do that? I think President Hinckley would be rolling in his grave to find out what we’re doing there, to take out those beautiful murals that we spent so much time and effort and money on. To me, that’s very disappointing. But I’m not the Prophet. That’s above my paygrade. The combining of elders and high priests, I would never have predicted. I remember, I walked in late to that meeting with my son, and I was like, “Did they just dissolve the High Priest’s quorum?” The guy said yes. I was like, “Wow.” So, President Nelson’s definitely got his surgeon’s knife out, and he’s cutting out what he thinks is garbage. I don’t know. I wouldn’t have predicted many of the things that President Nelson has done. I have no idea who’s following [in his footsteps]. We don’t have any other surgeons in the quorum, so, maybe it won’t change much. But, yeah, future telling us is very hard.
Look into your crystal ball and tell us what the future of Mormonism looks like. What do you predict? Check out our conversation….