Sunday, December 30, 2007

Spiritual Experiences--A Hugh Nibley Experience

Many years ago I was walking across the BYU campus as I approached the Eyring Science Center I saw a young attractive teenage girl crying. She was angelic in her features with rosy cheeks and light colored hair. I contemplated walking by but the Spirit told me to stop and see what was the matter. She was very distraught and explained that she had just lost a debate contest that was being held there. She repeated that she just didn't know how she could lose since she was so prepared. She told me she was a sophomore in high school and she was sixteen. I asked her about herself to get her mind off of losing.

She identified herself as Martha Nibley, the daughter of Mormon scholar Hugh Nibley. I knew Dr. Nibley having seen him around the religion department at BYU. In fact I was just started a course from him. She told me of her hours of preparation and how she should have gotten further in the competition. She couldn't understand how she had done so poorly and couldn't understand why. I discuss her preparation which she described as being very extensive and thorough even showing me her note cards. I suggested that she shouldn't take it so personal that judging people in a contest was very subjective and that next time she would do better.

A couple of weeks later I was talking to Dr. Nibley after his class and said I met your daughter the other day. I was going to talk to him about his daughter but conversations with Dr. Nibley were one-sided. He talked and everyone listened. He said you are that nice young man she told me about, come with me. He led me to his office which was about eight feet high crammed with books from floor to the ceiling. There I sat in a chair while he carried on a conversation with himself as he conducted his research and wrote speaking in about five different languages. He turned to me and said you know I died on the table during an operation and that you go to a place where they offer you spiritual food if you eat you have to stay there. He talked about Egyptian funerary practices involving Osiris and the afterlife and repeated that he was offered something to eat and if he ate it he would have had to stay there. Then he said something profound, he told me that there were two kinds of people those who built the kingdom and those who made the money that built the kingdom or a combination of the two. He emphasized that when we died we take with us our personality. Our personality is made up of our knowledge and our love or our need to be loved. He had me follow him down heart attack hill as he walked his bicycle to the bottom. He actually like to make fun of himself occasionally laughing. He told me he was color blind and pointed at his shoes, one blue and green tennis shoe saying his wife had to help him or he would put on mismatched one. I sat in his office after class about three times listening to him and keeping him companion. I guess you could say it was a type of apprenticeship as I always fancied myself a scholar. I even took Biblical Hebrew from Keith Meservy and Greek from Margaret Allred Potter later Toscano as well as Italian and Spanish. After a couple of weeks I stopped going with him since it was kind of boring listening to someone talk to themselves especially since I couldn't read whatever set him off in his research and writing. I also didn't know what he was saying as he would lapse into German or French. I ended up later taking German for Graduates from Murray Smith but at the time it was mostly babbel. I also decided to switch from Ancient Scripture to Church History which I found more interesting. The saying about our personalities I have always remembered. Hugh Nibley was an interesting fellow.

1 comment:

Clifford said...

I was blessed enough to take one of his final classes.

I have never found him to be boring. Challenging, yes, boring,never.

Would that all the Lord's people were Hugh Nibleys!