Eugene England

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Eugene England
Eugene England.jpg
Born George Eugene England, Jr.
(1933-07-22)July 22, 1933
Logan, Utah
Died August 17, 2001(2001-08-17) (aged 68)
Occupation Professor (Brigham Young University)
Author, poet and essayist
Co-founder: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (1966); the Association of Mormon Letters (1976)
Nationality American
Alma mater Stanford University

George Eugene England, Jr. (July 22, 1933 – August 17, 2001), usually credited as Eugene England, was a Mormon writer, teacher, and scholar. He founded Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the oldest independent journal in Mormon Studies, with G. Wesley Johnson in 1966 and cofounded the Association for Mormon Letters in 1976. He is also widely known in the LDS Church for his many essays about Mormon culture and thought. From 1977-1998, England taught Mormon Literature at Brigham Young University.[1] England described the ideal modern Mormon scholar as "critical and innovative as his gifts from God require but conscious of and loyal to his own unique heritage and nurturing community and thus able to exercise those gifts without harm to others or himself."[2]

Biography[edit]

England was born July 22, 1933 in Logan, Utah to George Eugene England and Dora Rose Hartvigsen England. He grew up in Downey, Idaho, where his father owned a wheat farm. At age 20, he married the former Charlotte Hawkins, with whom he was soon called to serve an LDS mission to Samoa.

After serving as a captain in the U.S. Air Force, England entered graduate school at Stanford University, where he was both influenced by the 60s-era campus movement and the LDS Church as an active member and a leader in his student ward. While at Stanford, England met Wesley Johnson and together the two men conceived of and announced the formation of an academic journal on Mormon culture, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.

Leaving Stanford, England taught at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, while completing work on his Ph.D., awarded in 1974. But he was forced to leave when some of his students expressed interest in Mormonism and their parents complained. He then taught at the University of Utah's LDS Institute of Religion for two years, before receiving a professorship at Brigham Young University.

At BYU, England was able to teach classes in Mormon literature and in 1976 he helped found the Association for Mormon Letters in order to raise the visibility of the study of Mormon literature. He also explored religious themes in important literary works. During his years at BYU England was at his most prolific, writing books of essays such as "Dialogues with Myself" and "Why the Church Is as True as the Gospel," poetry, a biography and numerous articles. In 1981 England received a letter from Apostle Bruce R. McConkie chastising him for publicly advocating the view that God's eternal progression includes learning new truths.[3] According to historian Claudia Bushman, "the McConkie-England disagreement revealed the division between theological conservatives and liberals within the believing camp and, in a larger sense, the tensions between authoritarian control versus free expression."[4]

In the last decade of his life, England felt increasingly under fire for his work, which led him to retire from BYU in 1998.[citation needed] He was then offered the position of writer in residence at Utah Valley State College in Orem, Utah. There he started the Center for the Study of Mormon Culture, as part of the college's religious studies program. Before England could fully develop the Center, he suffered a debilitating case of brain cancer. Despite an operation that removed two golf-ball sized cysts and a portion of a tumor, he died on August 17, 2001.[5]

Among other positions held in the LDS Church at various times England served as both a bishop and as a stake president.

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