Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I just had dinner with Terryl Givens

[Commence gushing.]

I just got back from dinner with Terryl and Fiona Givens. Terryl is the author of a number of books on Mormonism and a professor of literature at the University of Richmond. His wife, Fiona, is as outgoing and gregarious as he is meek and humble. Both are extremely warm, open, and thoughtful.

My roommate figured we should try to have dinner with him, and another friend put the plan into action by emailing him, and he immediately and graciously accepted. We met at a Cheesecake Factory outside Richmond and ate and talked for close to two hours. Besides just being ecstatic at getting to meet a Mormon hero of mine (I fell in love immediately upon reading his Lightning out of Heaven BYU devotional), it was also amazing to get to know two really good, down-to-earth people.

Highlights included: Fiona's descriptions of how, even in the midst of concentrating intensely on a book, Terryl is willing to drop everything when one of their kids needs something; their deep commitment to Christ and his gospel; Fiona's memory of Terryl reading her his recent book When Souls Had Wings (she's his first and last reader) when she had just had eye surgery and the spiritual impressions of the importance of the book's treatment of the pre-mortal existence; and Terryl's description of the important space that the burgeoning field of Mormon studies is creating for serious, independent, and faithful thinking about the LDS church.

In short: I highly recommend meeting him/listening to his thoughts on stuff/reading his books. Great guy and a great family.

p.s. For a similar discussion, see his interview on Mormon Stories.