Saturday, March 12, 2005

2 + 2 = Martha Beck

For those of you who don't know, Martha Beck is Hugh Nibley's daughter who recently published a book slamming the LDS Church and accusing her (now deceased) father of ritual sexual abuse. She describes herself as "Martha Beck, PhD."
a New York Times Bestselling Author, an innovator in life design and life coaching, and a monthly columnist at O: The Oprah Magazine. Martha has coached hundreds of individuals over the past fifteen years, and recently, NPR called her 'the best-known life coach in America.' She has taught career development at the American Graduate School of International Management, performed research at Harvard Business School, and consulted to Fortune 500 corporations. The author of Finding Your Own North Star; The Joy Diet, and Expecting Adam, she lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona.

So, she's a bestselling pop-psych gaining fame and fortune in our modern cult of personality. The website for her new book describes her as
the best-selling author of The Joy Diet (2003), Finding Your Own North Star (2001), and Expecting Adam (1999). She is a monthly columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine, a renowned national and international speaker, and is the creator of the North Star Method, offering seminars, workshops, and life-coach training to assist participants in connecting with their truest selves and in leading more rewarding and joyful lives. She received her bachelor's, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University, where she won a Danforth Award as one of the university's top teaching fellows, and she has taught international business management and career development at the American Graduate School of International Management. She served as a member of the international board of Special Olympics, and travels worldwide working and speaking on behalf of people with cognitive disabilities and their loved ones. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her three teenagers; her partner of ten years, Karen Gerdes, a professor of social work, and their two dogs.
(Emphasis added). So, Martha is a best-selling, Harvard-educated "life coach", and mother of a Down-syndrome boy who has written sensitively about him (among her other books), and traveled widely to pursue her causes.

But one fact stands out.

My father has said that people find their way out the LDS Church behaviorally before they do intellectually. Martha is a lesbian. The Church teaches that homosexuality is a sin. Small wonder she has written a diatribe against the Church.

As for her accusations of sexual abuse against her father: he was one of the Church's great and prolific scholars, a stalwart defender of the faith. Small wonder that Martha, who "lost the Mormons" to "find her faith" should now impugn him -- and thereby his body of work in defense of the Church she now loathes.

Simple:

If Hugh Nibley = LDS Church
If LDS Church = "homosexuality is a sin"
If Martha Nibley = lesbian
Then Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith = "LDS Church and Hugh Nibley are bad"

In the interest of full disclosure, I knew and admired Martha's father. In addition, as an Air Force JAG, I prosecuted and defended child sex abuse cases. I had a life-changing case involving a self-professed "born-again Christian" who sexually abused his daughter for years. I have seen how there are no winners in a child sex prosecution: if the victim is believed, a family is divided; if not, she is blamed as a liar. I know that abuse allegations often arise when couples divorce. I know that victims often repress their feelings and have difficulty telling others about the abuse. Having said all that, I have no confidence in "repressed memory recovery" -- that a victim will "remember" decades-old events through hypnosis or some other medium. Thus, I am dubious about Martha's "recovered memories."

In any event, given the simple syllogism, it is no surprise that in her "divorce manifesto" (Leaving the Saints) Martha Beck should so accuse her famous father. (Likewise, though previously divorced, no surprise that she should keep her former married name rather than revert to her family name).

UPDATE (actually from a couple of weeks ago): Nibley family statements on the book and Martha.

UPDATE 2: Read book reviews here, here, and here.

7 Comments:

Blogger Garry Wilmore said...

Thanks for this insightful post. I tend to agree with your father, and would have to say I am not surprised that there was a bit more to Martha's story than met the eye. While reading this piece, I recalled that Sonia Johnson, who in recent years seems to have pretty much faded into oblivion, was likewise a media darling back in her day -- and that shortly after her wrangles with the Church resulted in her excommunication, she, in her own words, and apparently all of a sudden, "discovered" that she was a lesbian.

I also share your skepticism about being able to unearth "repressed memories" decades after the fact, particularly where they involve such a traumatic and horrifying event -- and even more so when the event in question supposedly was a regular occurrence over a period of several years. I went through quite a bit of abuse while I was growing up, and I'm sure I could go to some psychologist and learn, through whatever mind-triggering process he or she would put me through, that I was molested by someone during my childhood. But the fact is, for all the abuse I experienced, I am confident that absolutely none of it was sexual in nature, and I am grateful to have been spared this partricular horror. Simply put, that settles the whole question for me, and I feel no need to try to explore it further. In Martha's case, an additional reason for skepticism is that none of her siblings appears to have any similar memories, either of anything Dr. Nibley may have done to them, or of what he supposedly did to Martha.

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Martha Beck appears to be one lost soul. While I applaud her for writing a memoir about her disabled son and experiences at Harvard, I wonder if she is able to apply the same insignt into her own life as she thinks she has in advising others as a "life coach." I mean, let's be real here for a second, okay? Is that allowed anymore? Let's look at reality. Beck was married, had children, wrote a book about compulsive behavior and how homosexuals can change, and then goes and does the impulsive by divorcing her hubby and embracing lesbianism. Now, as only seen in today's world and by our newly devovled standards, people are standing around this woman clapping as she destroys her life by distancing herself from the very God who is still waiting for her to admit she's a broken soul in desperate need of salvation.

1:48 AM  
Blogger LeeJo said...

I am currently reading "Leaving the Saints", and find the whole shooting match an utter mess. So sad, so very sad, the whole thing. I am not a part of the LDS, and don't fully understand the Saint's faith (I am Christian), but Martha is such a very sad woman.

7:18 AM  
Blogger Barney said...

Hmm. Recent research shows "repressed memories" don't exist. Big surprise there.

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Barney: I suggest you revisit your link and read the update. The jury is still out on repressed memories.

5:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your prejudices are showing very clearly.
"I am LDS"
"LDS, or one of its major supporters can do no wrong."
"Anyone who says they do is lying"

Martha Beck's memories were not recovered, they were remembered. Get real. The fact that's she's lesbian is irrelevant. Thousands of people leave LDS who are homosexual without falsely accusing their parents of sex-abuse. Reasoning is good.

5:40 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, repressed memories are very real. The fact that you do not personally have this happen to you does not negate that it exists. As a matter of fact, as one person cannot "see or live" inside the mind or memories of another- I don't really see how it can be proven or dis-proven at all.

I was well into my late 20's before having a full-on recovery of a memory of molestation by my brother when I was very young (maybe 5-7). Prior to that, I had simply buried it & never thought of it at all. He had moved out & away & the event ended up buried in my head somewhere. I don't recall now what the catalyst was for the memory surfacing- but when it did, I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach...I never told anyone about it & I distanced myself from this brother. Eventually, he estranged himself from all of the family for his own, personal reasons (which may have included guilt about this).

As far as these people coming out as gay- I can see that you fervently wish to connect the dots somehow to their leaving the church & the accusations of sexual abuse- but there's no connection. See it as you will- but if you want to be truthful, you'll understand that the molesting of children is always done in a very secretive way- and abusers are experts at concealing & also in finding people to back their hideous behaviours afterwards. It wouldn't be the first nor last time that a man abused his power in his church/community in order to abuse a child.

8:18 PM  

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