Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Doctor Scratch
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Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

Post by Doctor Scratch »

I am beginning to feel like a broken record: 2019 is truly turning out to be a monumental year in the world of Mopologetics. I don't know if readers caught it, but on the thread on Interpreter's subscribers, Bond James Bond wrote, in very hard-to-read white text, that:

Bond James Bond wrote:Gee got fired I hear


Whoa! If true, this is an extraordinary development. What on earth could be going on? If you look at Gee's page on BYU's website, it would seem that he's still with the MI:

SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW

John Gee is a Senior Research Fellow, and the William (Bill) Gay Research Professor at the Maxwell Institute. He is the editor of eight books, and has edited a peer-reviewed international Egyptological journal. He has published over eighty articles and one book. He has served on the board of trustees of national and international organizations.


However, a separate page tells a different story:

John Laurence Gee graduated from BYU in 1988. Later, he became a graduate student in Near Eastern studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and received his MA in Near Eastern studies in 1991. He earned his Ph.D. in Egyptology at Yale University in 1998, completing his dissertation on ancient Egyptian ritual purity.

Gee was the William "Bill" Gay Research Professor of Egyptology at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU when this was written. In this role, he is an editor for the Studies in the Book of Abraham series and a member of the editorial board of the Eastern Christian Texts series.
(emphasis added)

Huh! This would seem to employ that he is no longer the William "Bill" Gay Research Professor--a position that, one assumes, given the title, is permanently attached to the Maxwell Institute.

Is this true, though? I personally intend to wait for additional confirmation--especially of the public variety. That said, I will say that I received news of this via an "anonymous informant," who indicated that Gee has apparently been given a separate (though inferior) position in DCP's home department.

This is quite stunning. If it is true (and I must emphasize that I do not know for certain if it is or not), then it will mean that the "Mormon Studies" takeover of the MI is now complete. You have to wonder who will get to occupy the (apparently?) now-vacant William "Bill" Gay Research Professor Chair.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

Post by Bond James Bond »

How did that get into my post? Sounds like gossip I heard on Twitter. Get out of my DMs whoever you are ;)

And by "fired" I me most probably transferred to another job away from the Maxwell Institute or is in the process of being moved to another job. Probably not a "pack your ____ and get out" type of firing like those of us in the private sector get to experience.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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I'm sorry guys but I don't by this at all.

Didn't Elder Holland just recently give a thorough mud-hole stomping to the New MI for not being faithful disciple scholars? Wasn't the SeN comment section alive with speculation about a reversal of power even? In particular, Midgley seemed very confident the end was near for the new MI.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Bond James Bond wrote:And by "fired" I me most probably transferred to another job away from the Maxwell Institute or is in the process of being moved to another job. Probably not a "pack your ____ and get out" type of firing like those of us in the private sector get to experience.

Perhaps the language you're looking for is . . . "was removed."

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2109

I heard something about an attempt to reassign him to Classics, but Classics "nope'd" that. But that confuses me. If he isn't at the MI, ANE seems like the best place for him. So I don't know how accurate that is.

Whatever the case, I wish him well.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

Post by Doctor Scratch »

MsJack wrote:
Bond James Bond wrote:And by "fired" I me most probably transferred to another job away from the Maxwell Institute or is in the process of being moved to another job. Probably not a "pack your ____ and get out" type of firing like those of us in the private sector get to experience.

Perhaps the language you're looking for is . . . "was removed."

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2109

I heard something about an attempt to reassign him to Classics, but Classics "nope'd" that. But that confuses me. If he isn't at the MI, ANE seems like the best place for him. So I don't know how accurate that is.

Whatever the case, I wish him well.


MsJack: is Classics the same as ANE? I guess I am confused about the way that the departments are structured. *I* was told that Gee was indeed being given a spot in ANE (i.e., DCP's home department), but that this was effectively a "demotion," and that he would not be eligible for "Continuing Status" or whatever it's called. This is all very curious because, as you may recall, there was recently a shake-up in the BYU Classics department that involved a boycott of BYU by one of the discipline's professional organizations, due to BYU being historically intolerant towards a number of different groups of people. Of course, DCP self-censored his own blog post on the matter, and all those old-school Mopologists--Gee, Peterson, Hancock, Midgley, and so on--are hard-core critics of homosexuality. Thus, I can't help but wonder if any of that played a role in what you are describing as Gee getting '"nope'd."'
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Gadianton wrote:I'm sorry guys but I don't by this at all.

Didn't Elder Holland just recently give a thorough mud-hole stomping to the New MI for not being faithful disciple scholars? Wasn't the SeN comment section alive with speculation about a reversal of power even? In particular, Midgley seemed very confident the end was near for the new MI.


Yes: I'm very interested to hear their explanation for this (assuming it's true; it seems now that multiple people are confirming that it *is* true). This feels a bit like the old case with Dehlin, where the Brethren were divided on the matter (and, indeed, wasn't it Holland who squashed the Dehlin "hit piece"?). It may be the the Mopologists are convinced that Holland is a staunch ally, but there are other Brethren who are fed up with Sic et Non, and all the Interpreter-style crap, and who gave the MI their "real" orders. It would be funny in a way if this turned out to be a retread of 2012, with the Mopologists eventually coming out to allege that there was some "coup" that was executed by some apostate "Judas" in the MI. Who, in other words, will they blame this time? Bradford retired quite some time ago.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Doctor Scratch wrote:However, a separate page tells a different story

The BYU Religious Studies Center seems to use the same "was X at the time this was written" formula for all of its authors except those who are definitely retired.

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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Doctor Scratch wrote:MsJack: is Classics the same as ANE? I guess I am confused about the way that the departments are structured. *I* was told that Gee was indeed being given a spot in ANE (i.e., DCP's home department), but that this was effectively a "demotion," and that he would not be eligible for "Continuing Status" or whatever it's called. This is all very curious because, as you may recall, there was recently a shake-up in the BYU Classics department that involved a boycott of BYU by one of the discipline's professional organizations, due to BYU being historically intolerant towards a number of different groups of people. Of course, DCP self-censored his own blog post on the matter, and all those old-school Mopologists--Gee, Peterson, Hancock, Midgley, and so on--are hard-core critics of homosexuality. Thus, I can't help but wonder if any of that played a role in what you are describing as Gee getting '"nope'd."'

Nah, Classics and ANE (Asian and Near Eastern languages) are very different departments. They both fall under "humanities," but a lot of departments do. There is some overlap between the two for biblical studies, especially New Testament.

Given that Gee is an Egyptologist, I'm not sure what reason there would be to propose Classics as a new home. Even if he knows Greek and Latin on a secondary basis, BYU has one of the finest Classics programs in the country. They only need to hire the best from candidates who do Classics on a primary basis.

I imagine that's a bigger reason than what went down with CAMWS, though it's possible they're sensitive to any further increase of a negative profile there.

I notice BYU doesn't actually have an Egyptology major or minor; you can do a few Egyptology classes under an Ancient Near Eastern Studies major, and that's it. The other BYU Egyptologists, Rhodes and Muhlenstein, are/were in the Religion department. That could explain part of the alleged difficulty in relocating him.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Physics Guy: thank you very much for that clarification. Still, it seems that there are enough people who've caught wind of this that I'm comfortable (barring any new developments) treating this as, at minimum, highly plausible, if not 100% true.

MsJack:

Given that Gee is an Egyptologist, I'm not sure what reason there would be to propose Classics as a new home. Even if he knows Greek and Latin on a secondary basis, BYU has one of the finest Classics programs in the country. They only need to hire the best from candidates who do Classics on a primary basis.

I imagine that's a bigger reason than what went down with CAMWS, though it's possible they're sensitive to any further increase of a negative profile there.

I notice BYU doesn't actually have an Egyptology major or minor; you can do a few Egyptology classes under an Ancient Near Eastern Studies major, and that's it. The other BYU Egyptologists, Rhodes and Muhlenstein, are/were in the Religion department. That could explain part of the alleged difficulty in relocating him.


Now that I've had a bit more time to think this over, and seeing your commentary here, it occurs to me that this is *huge* in terms of the consequences it has for Book of Abraham apologetics. After Nibley, Gee was *the* point person for defending the Book of Abraham. It has simultaneously been the main source of his "renown," and the most significant albatross around his neck. Defending the Book of Abraham has arguably damaged his professional reputation, and now, the death blow has been delivered. Not only have his Mopologetic Book of Abraham issues been roundly rejected by the field of Egyptology; now, he's been given the shaft by his fellow Mormon academics!

You mentioned Kerry Muhlestein, who, of course, has seemed like the "heir apparent" for Book of Abraham apologetics (and boy, has he taken a beating over it); but Muhlestein, I'm assuming, has got a more secure potions that the alleged "adjunct" sort of position (per what I was told) that Gee is being dumped into. Muhlestein has always maintained something of a "cautious distance" from the classic-FARMS crew, though. I haven't ever known him to engage in the sort of attack-minded tactics that have defined Peterson, Midgley, Hamblin, Smith, and others. Regardless, this is a terrible blow to Book of Abraham apologetics. It seems that even the Lord's University has given up on treating the Book of Abraham like legitimate scripture.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Doctor Scratch wrote: Regardless, this is a terrible blow to Book of Abraham apologetics. It seems that even the Lord's University has given up on treating the Book of Abraham like legitimate scripture.


Defending the Book of Abraham has been a nightmare scenario for church scholars. That task would have been easier had not the original fragments been discovered and returned to the church under the light of public scrutiny. But the fragments surfaced and many hearts raced and thumped when it was realized that there simply was no legitimate way to defend Smith's translations. Theories were introduced and a broad spectrum of ideas were entertained. But in the end, nothing could vindicate Joseph Smith's claims.

I have to wonder if we will see the Facsimiles disappear in the next edition of the Book of Abraham. The Facsimiles have to go. They are a thorn in the side of the church. I think we'll see an expanded introduction of the Book of Abraham (likely taken directly from the essay) in a vain attempt to generalize the work of translation as a revelation from the Spirit rather than an actual technical translation converting one language into another.

No matter what the church does, however, the Book of Abraham will haunt it to its deathbed just like polygamy.

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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Who is John Gee? I know roughly who he is in Mormon apologetics, but I thought I read something somewhere that seemed to indicate he was also a significant Egyptologist. As I recollect that claim was written by Gee himself, but I assumed it was defensible. Since his job position is not only at BYU but in the Maxwell Institute, I presumed that Mormon-related work was a fair chunk of his career output, but I figured he also had a decent career going in mainstream Egyptology. Having published "over eighty papers", as his brief MI blurb says, sounds pretty good.

His Wikipedia entry, however, only lists 45 published papers. That's still not bad—several historic titans of science have published fewer—but of the 45 papers listed on Wikipedia almost all have such a strong Mormon focus that I can't imagine any mainstream Egyptologists caring at all about them.

The latest publication date in the Wikipedia list is 2011. Did Wikipedia stop updating Gee's pubs list then, or did Gee just stop publishing?

I'm no Egyptologist, but the few pure Egyptology articles listed by Gee on Wikipedia mostly seem to be published in somewhat obscure journals. Göttinger Miszellen, for example, is maintained by a real and serious academic institution (the University of Göttingen) but it seems to be just a series of working papers. "Miszellen" ("Miscellanies") is not a title one gives to a flagship journal.

The Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities only ever had five local chapters, four of them in Canada, and its Journal seems to have stopped publishing in 2011. Three of Gee's non-Mormon papers were published in it and he also edited the journal at some point. That editorship seems to be one of his academic distinctions. Okay, I've never edited any journal, but I'm not sure how big a distinction that one is.

So I'm wondering how much credibility Gee really has as an Egyptologist. Is he really a full-time Mormon apologist who occasionally dips back into Egyptology? If so his academic status might be more precarious than one would expect for somebody holding a named research chair.

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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Physics Guy wrote:So I'm wondering how much credibility Gee really has as an Egyptologist.


John Gee is a competent Egyptologist having a full knowledge of the discipline. Undoubtedly, he is fully qualified and has mastered Egyptology to great expectations.

The problem is Gee's apologetics in defending the Book of Abraham. That is his problem and stumbling block.

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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Physics Guy wrote:Who is John Gee? I know roughly who he is in Mormon apologetics, but I thought I read something somewhere that seemed to indicate he was also a significant Egyptologist. As I recollect that claim was written by Gee himself, but I assumed it was defensible. Since his job position is not only at BYU but in the Maxwell Institute, I presumed that Mormon-related work was a fair chunk of his career output, but I figured he also had a decent career going in mainstream Egyptology. Having published "over eighty papers", as his brief MI blurb says, sounds pretty good.


I'm not an Egyptologist either, though I've worked a lot with Egyptian and Coptic and spend a lot of time with Egyptologists, and I've seen one of Gee's articles cited often enough. My perspective on how Gee is perceived is anecdotal, but there aren't very many Egyptologists anyway (there's only a dozen or so places where you can actually study Egyptology), so Gee is known because everyone is known in a small and dwindling field. Gee is basically thought of as eccentric, but not a loon. Of course, even someone like John Darnell wears an Indiana Jones hat and dresses (and behaves) like an early 20th century colonialist when he's in Egypt, and while Gee's teacher (or whatever that was) Robert Ritner seems to be a very nice person, I'm not sure most people would want to be stuck in an elevator with him. The Egyptological standards of "loon" and "eccentric" likely deviate from the norm as it is. Nothing wrong with eccentricity, but I think it marks a fair number of people in the field as it is, so when Gee is thought of as eccentric in that field...

In any case, I think Shulem is correct here: Gee is highly competent as an Egyptologist, particularly on the philological side, and he's clearly a very intelligent person, so certain of his apologetic publications seem quite dishonest to me (see comments this thread). That is too bad.

I do wonder, Doctor Scratch, whether Gee has just lost interest in Book of Abraham apologetics and is looking for a position in BYU that wouldn't require that of him anymore. His most recent book was just an updated version of a pamphlet he wrote 20 years ago, and as you'll remember, his FAIR talk last year was less than inspiring and seemed like a surrender to boredom, if not to the critics arguments. Or maybe the funding for the chair is not secure anymore. Whatever the reason for any potential move from the New MI, Gee doesn't seem to do much apologetic work anymore anyway. If he does move, then the relevant signals will be whether he is replaced and then who replaces him.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Even one frequently cited article is something, I grant. Not everyone has that.

But isn't "competent" rather faint praise for somebody in a named research chair? I'm not expecting Gee to be an idiot or a loon but I'm wondering how much he's really contributed to Egyptology post-PhD. How likely is it that the MI regards him as dead wood?

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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Symmachus wrote:Gee is basically thought of as eccentric, but not a loon. [...] while Gee's teacher (or whatever that was) Robert Ritner seems to be a very nice person, I'm not sure most people would want to be stuck in an elevator with him.


I do not think Ritner would at all like being cited as having any association with Gee.

As has been discussed on this board at length, he asked to be removed from Gee's Ph.D. panel at Yale,* and has since published criticisms of Gee's work.


*A fact which (of course) DCP tried to use to suggest that Ritner had been removed for some unstated misdemeanour. Ritner, on learning of this, threatened to sue. The suggestions have not been repeated. Dr Scratch will have all the details.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Physics Guy wrote:Even one frequently cited article is something, I grant. Not everyone has that.

But isn't "competent" rather faint praise for somebody in a named research chair? I'm not expecting Gee to be an idiot or a loon but I'm wondering how much he's really contributed to Egyptology post-PhD. How likely is it that the MI regards him as dead wood?

In what is clearly an allusion to Gee, Robert Ritner said in the introduction to The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition

Ritner wrote:The rediscovery of the primary documents that inspired, but in no way corroborate, a canonical book of Mormon theology has resulted in more than a generation of confrontation between Egyptological scholars and Mormon traditionalists. Whereas earlier apologists had condemned Egyptologists for not translating the defectively copied hieroglyphs of the woodcuts, new translations of the actual documents were even more disturbing. Some religious Mormons have sought Egytological degrees merely to pursue the argument with scholarly status. Attempts to salvage the Book of Abraham over the years have been varied, creative, and ultimately desperate:


It then goes on to list several "creative and ultimately desperate" schools of Book of Abraham apologetics, with references to Gee and Nibley in the footnotes.

Despite his competency, you have to wonder how employable he is outside of Provo.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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My understanding is that MI is thought to be heading back towards it's mission prior to the violent removal of DCP et al. Of course my understanding is coming from DCP. I think I overheard that DCP is claiming that Apostle Jeff Holland is upset about the current MI not implementing faith promoting studies.
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Gadianton wrote:I'm sorry guys but I don't buy this at all. Didn't Elder Holland just recently give a thorough mud-hole stomping to the New MI for not being faithful disciple scholars? Wasn't the SeN comment section alive with speculation about a reversal of power even? In particular, Midgley seemed very confident the end was near for the new MI.


Exactly. This sure seems like a complete and total rebuke of all things Mopologetic by BYU and the Bretheren. There is nobody left now.

I feel a little sad for John Gee. Because he has spent his entire career focused on the silly and destructive field of Mopology, he is now largely unemployable.

Mopology is a harsh mistress. It's unfortunate that John Gee had to learn this valuable lesson too late in life.



ETA There might be a silver lining in all of this. I just found out that Olive Garden in Provo is now hiring. https://www.landyourlife.com/olive-garden-careers/
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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

Post by Shulem »

Chap wrote:I do not think Ritner would at all like being cited as having any association with Gee.

As has been discussed on this board at length, he asked to be removed from Gee's Ph.D. panel at Yale,* and has since published criticisms of Gee's work.


They don't like each other. Gee's Book of Abraham apologetics is offensive to virtually every Egyptologist on the planet. But it's a far cry from suggesting that Ritner thinks Gee is incompetent within his discipline when it comes to conventional Egyptology that has nothing to do with apologetics. Granted, no Egyptologist is perfect or walks on water but Gee is most certainly, assuredly, competent. Period.

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Re: Has John Gee Been "Booted" from the Maxwell Institute?

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Analytics wrote:Despite his competency, you have to wonder how employable he is outside of Provo.


Well, that certainly would be a problem. His Book of Abraham apologetics is not a plus on his personal resume. However, suppose he were to leave the church? If so, Gee could relocate anywhere in the world and accept employment with an organization that is willing to forgive his previous apologetic discrepancies while working for the Mormon church.

People in general love to forgive and forget. People like Cinderella stories. Who knows? Anything is possible.

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