Eugene England was at the center of Mormon intellectual life from the early 1960s until his death 20 years ago. As the founder of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, a popular professor at Brigham Young University, and a widely respected essayist, England was one of the most influential — and controversial — figures in the modern church.
He lived in the crosshairs between religious tradition and reform, tackling issues of race, feminism, orthodoxy and the nature of God. He was a devout and believing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who sustained leaders even as they sometimes chastised him and eventually forced him out of the school he loved.
On this week’s show, Latter-day Saint scholar Terryl Givens talks about his newly released biography, “Stretching the Heavens: The Life of Eugene England and the Crisis of Modern Mormonism.” He also explores England’s influential essays (his preferred literary medium), his frequent feuds with church higher-ups (including the late apostle Bruce R. McConkie), his ultimate ouster from BYU (in an era well before apostle Jeffrey R. Holland’s recent speech at the faith’s flagship school), and his lasting imprint on intellectual pursuits in Mormonism.
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