Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 Season's Greetlings

Posted: 23 Dec 2014
Updated: 27 Dec 14

Merry Christmas; Happy New Year!
Birgitta and Eugene (Zhenya) Kovalenko

Friday, December 19, 2014

Searching for the ARTIFACT, Part 2

Posted: Friday, 19 Dec 2014
Updated: Wednesday, 7 Jan 15

Where is it?
On November 10, I wrote to son Nick:
I want to discuss a history "task" with you. It could involve your unbeliever brother Michael and his superior documentary detection skills.  Here is a blog about the idea . Check out the hyperlinks, too.
On December 16, I contacted Stan Larson, retired curator of the U of U Special Collections Library, to discuss his recent article in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought about the LDS Church's newly disclosed documents regarding the original version of Joseph Smith's hand-written account of the First Vision. When I mentioned my own search for the 25 July 1965 ARTIFACT, he urged me to complete the search and have it added to the U of U special collections library.

Later that same day December 16, Nick wrote in reply to my note of Nov 10:
OK so we've talked about this.
I will be interested in, and it should speak for itself, the disposition of the original document [ARTIFACT] if it still exists, and whether or not it was involved in any way in the process of changing church policy toward blacks.
It could've found its way up the chain and used or shredded, or could've been shredded by Ferren (does he have memoirs or a collection of papers?) Either way, despite the First Presidenc(ies) seemingly being devoid of authentic revelation and inspiration, and making what could simply have been another prudent political call, the change of mind (but not necessarily the heart) still, by definition of how it all works, involved divine calculations, probability plans & influences.
And i'd still like to know whose words those are [in the revelation].
I'm getting new insight on possible explanations for who might have come through you from reading lorna byrne (irish). Perhaps we should pay her a visit? Are her ubiquitous guardian angels what we are calling spirit guides? She says GAs [guardian angels] never incarnate so perhaps they're different; perhaps we have both dedicated to each of us?!
It seems like the spirit guide is your plan manager and the GA is your protector and source of emotion. Hmmm. I'm ordering her books because she's a modest, straight-forward person who I'm willing to support through patronage. I think you'll like what she says.

On December 17, I spoke to Tom Kimball of Signature Books in Salt Lake City.
Tom informed me that one of Spencer W. Kimball's sons had his diaries, which were probably given to the Church, but which he probably had a copy. Great lead!
24 Dec 14. In discussing this project with son Nick we are now concentrating on contacting family members of Ferren L. Christensen and Spencer W. Kimball for potential access to their respective diaries for certain dates. Also, those of David O. McKay in the U of Utah special collections archives. This will take time, given the holidays....

Friday, December 5, 2014

Searching for the ARTIFACT, Part 1

Where is it?

Posted: Friday, 5 Dec 14
Updated: Monday, 15 Dec 14

Dear readers, please join my quest! If you have suggestions or helpful information, kindly send me an email at eugene.n@kovalenkos.com. 

For those who worry that this search for an original document (ARTIFACT) is an exercise in vanity or narcissism (as some do), please understand that I acknowledge that this may be so. You are therefore invited to ignore this search. :) It may simply be a fool's errand.

For those who can consider this search seriously, please examine the previous blog post. Since (JKC), my old stake president mentioned in the previous post, has not yet reappeared in my dreams or my imagination, I feel pressed to continue the search as best I can.

7 Dec 14.  I talked to my oldest son yesterday (6 Dec), who expressed concern about this search, not because he dismissed the ARTIFACT's origin, but because he thought that if it was in fact produced by a divine source (as I believe it was), then it would be protected.  I acknowledge his concern and conclusion here, yet at the same time feel responsible to follow promptings, such as pursuing this search and letting consequential evidence speak for itself. This is the attitude of scientific inquiry, which became my chosen profession, beginning in late spring 1956. (It also reminds me of one of my favorite Mormon hymns: "Do what is right, let the consequence follow....")

9 Dec 14.  In another conversation with my above-mentioned son this morning, he assured me that should I pass on before this search is finished, he would continue it, himself, since he is uniquely equipped to understand its implications and was witness to much of the process that produced the ARTIFACT. This was comforting to hear.

Strategy for the search:

1. Contact LDS Church archivists who have access to the personal and church records of church presidents David O. McKay and/or Spencer W. Kimball.
2. Suggest examination of correspondence between Ferren L. Christensen and David O. McKay.between fall 1968 and before McKay's death in 1970.
3. Suggest examination of correspondence or personal journal notes of conversations between David O. McKay and Spencer W. Kimball after fall 1968.
4. Be alert to any mention in their records of the priesthood ban regarding members of the Negro race. The ARTIFACT may have been a topic of discussion and/or debate.

Later in the day I wrote to a biographer acquaintance who is familiar with LDS archival sources: 
Can you refer me to current LDS Church archivists who would have access to the personal and institutional records of David O. McKay and/or Spencer W. Kimball?
He replied an hour or so later:
The McKay diaries are not accessible at LDS Archives, but a second set is available to the public at the Marriott Library, U of U.  I am not aware of anyone who can give access to the Kimball papers.
This reply was unexpected, since I had actually thought I'd get the name of someone in the LDS Archives. So, my next step is to contact an archivist whom I know at the Marriott Library.

10 Dec 14. Today I spoke to the Curator of Special Collections at the University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library. She asked me to forward my exchange with the biographer [above] and to ask my questions in an email. Here is my reply:
Below is a reply from [GAP], per your request. I am not confident that the Marriott set is as complete as the LDS set. I have only one piece of evidence to back this up, which is a hand-written poem of mine titled "Nathan's Cry" written to McKay and dated 26 Oct '65. I had hand-delivered it personally to Clare Middlemiss at McKay's church office on that date. LDS church historian Glenn Rowe found it in August 2005 among McKay's personal papers (don't know which ones) and scanned it for me [see attachment].

My questions for you:

1. Diaries: Can I inspect McKay's diaries in your library on-line for two periods? 

            a) Summer (probably late July) 1957, when McKay was at his summer home in Laguna Beach, CA. (In those days Laguna Beach Ward Bishop Ferren L. Christensen was the custodian of McKay's Laguna Beach home and personally introduced me to McKay at the local ward.)

            b) Second half of 1968 thru 1970…

2. Correspondence:

            a) Is there any correspondence with/from Newport Beach Stake President Ferren L. Christensen during the 1968-70 period?

            b) Is there any correspondence or notes about/from/to Spencer W. Kimball during this latter ('68-'70) period?

3. LDS archivists: Do you know anyone at the LDS archives that I could contact? Glenn Rowe is no longer reachable.
11 Dec 14. Just called the Curator at U of U Special Collections to follow up.  Yes, she got my email and is "working on it."

Meanwhile, last night (Wednesday) I got a robust (to say the least!) anonymous response meant for those who may think this search is foolish. After getting over the initial shock, I thought it was humorous. Here is part of that response:

"…I don’t give a rats f**king ass if it’s popular or safe... (ROTFLMAO!) I’ve experienced several legitimate, authentic, extraordinary, independently-unique and profound spiritual events that you, if you presume to love and/or be interested in that which is God/Allah and/or the divine process, should want to know about, as well is why, when and how they occurred. And you should be interested in how you might experience extraordinary and authentically divinely-enlightening direct contact with the mind-expanding divine realm yourself. Can you be honest with yourself? Regardless of what your beliefs are and what church you may belong to, isn’t such a thing worth considering and ultimately experiencing?  What could be more important?"
Wow!!! What, indeed, could be more important?!!

In any case, for now I am concentrating this search on finding the ARTIFACT itself. Not copies of it. And not on the experience of producing it or what it says or what it may or may not mean. I'm simply looking for the original single piece of paper with type-written words on it. Those words were typed on ordinary bond paper by a Smith-Corona portable typewriter, which had its own print characteristics. And, if the ARTIFACT has survived anywhere in the LDS archives, it would be interesting to know whether and when anyone in the system ever read or discussed it. For those interested in its origin, here is a link to my blog regarding the beginning of the story. The following three blog posts (in chronological order) flesh out the story of the ARTIFACT's creation.

11 Dec 14, 4:15 PM.  Have just left word for Tom Kimball of Signature Books in Salt Lake City to see if he has info regarding access to the diaries and papers of Spencer W. Kimball....

13 Dec 14. ENK editorial note. There are three relevant back-story items that keep coming to mind, all of which precede the comments above. I might as well download them here: 1) letter from Howard Salisbury, dated 5 May 1965; 2) poem Commitment, dated 17 May '65; 3) poem Birthright, dated 18 May '65.

Item 1 marks the beginning of my experiencing love in ways I'd never before known. Items 2 and 3 followed a decision to imagine an experiment that would allow me to reconcile a growing cognitive dissonance between my scientific training and my emotional experience and upbringing. These marked the beginnings of a major mid-life crisis.

14 Dec 14. "Anonymous" has corrected me in quoting him (above), which I will rectify. He also comments on the contents of the ARTIFACT, pointing out its (or his) difficulties. 

I remind him and interested others that my current search is focused strictly on locating the original document and any attendant discussion of it among LDS authorities and NOT on interpreting or critiquing it. I will gladly take up those issues in a separate blog thread, but not this one.  

15 Dec 14. "Anonymous" acknowledges, "Correction is correct, :) ....Yes, I appreciate the focus on simply locating the artifact and documenting the history of its existence."

To be continued in Part 2....

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dream of John K. Carmack + strange task

Event: Saturday, 1 Nov 14
Updated: Monday, 17 Nov 14

This may seem strange, if not truly crazy, to most readers. My apologies...

John K. Carmack
On November 1, 2014, I dreamed for the first time of John K. Carmack. In the dream I ask him to do a legal task for me, but he says I can't afford him. Nevertheless, he then begins working on something on his own time (presumably on my task?), wrestling energetically with large, thin metallic sheets that he has brought together to build some kind of assembly. 
      [CREEI score: ?++?--//+++/+++  Anticipatory]

Eugene N. Kovalenko: Brother John, we've known each other since fall 1975 after I returned to the LDS Church that summer, when you were my stake president in Los Angeles. I remember that we had many lively, stimulating conversations face-to-face in your law office and by letters over many months thereafter. The last time we met was in late December 2011, in your Perpetual Educational Fund executive director's office in Salt Lake City. You had been an LDS general authority involved with missionary work for some years between those two assignments.

I actually don't know if you can help with the project I have in mind, but because you have come into my dreams at this time, I take that seriously and want to spell it out here.

John K. Carmack:  I don't know if I can be of any help, brother Eugene, but I'm willing to hear about your project.

ENK: The project task is to locate an original document. Assuming it still exists, it is a single 8-1/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper containing typewritten text. There were no other identifying marks on it the the last time I saw it, which was in the fall of 1968. At that time I personally hand-delivered the document, folded in thirds and contained in a plain unmarked envelope, to Newport Beach Stake President Ferren L. Christensen. The document was created in the early morning of July 25, 1965 in San Diego, California. The last time I saw it was during a special re-hearing (at my request) before the Newport Beach stake high council in the fall of 1968.

JKC: So, you want me to locate the document?

ENK: That would be lovely, John. But no, I'm not actually asking that. Rather, I am asking for advice on how to locate it, if it still exists, since you clearly know the mechanics of how the LDS Church system works.

JKC: What other information can you give me?

ENK: When I gave the envelope containing the document to Ferren L. Christensen in his legal, ecclesiastical role as stake president, I said to him, "President, I'm delivering this document into your hands. Whatever you do with it is now up to you. My job up to this time has been to survive long enough to get it into your hands."

JKC: Why should Pres. Christensen consider it important enough to give it his attention?

ENK: Its text message would have been self-explanatory. But, since he and I were long-time friends and he knew a great deal of my recent personal history, I'm confident he gave it serious personal attention.

JKC: And what was the text message?

ENK: I'd rather not say at this point. The substance of the text is not the important issue to me just now. However it's existence and location is.

JKC: Can you give me any more information that would motivate me to continue from here?

ENK: I hope so. Pres. Christensen could have done one of three things with it: 1. ignore it. 2. destroy it. 3. give it to a higher ecclesiastical authority. Can you think of any other options?

JKC: Not at the moment. What do you think is the most likely option?

ENK: Number 3.

JKC: And who would you think that would be?

ENK: President David O. McKay.

JKC: Why not someone at a lower level?

ENK: Because Christensen and McKay were close friends and because Christensen had introduced me to Pres. McKay years earlier (1957) when Christensen was bishop of the Laguna Beach Ward.

Also, years later, when I returned to the LDS Church in 1975, Pres. Christensen allowed me to choose the time, place and person for the baptism. I chose the tenth anniversary of the creation date of that document and to have my 17-year-old LDS priest son Nick perform the ordinance in the Pacific Ocean below the cliffs in Laguna Beach where I'd been served the official LDS Church notification (on Mother's Day!) by two unknown high councilmen that I'd been excommunicated (in absentia) on 2 April 1966. 

Days before that baptism ordinance happened, I faced a hostile high council, who actively questioned my veracity. Pres. Christensen allowed me to have my son Nick with me as witness, which was unusual. At one point during the high council inquiry, when it looked like they were going to deny me re-entry, Pres. Christensen rebuked them saying, "Brethren! This man has had irrefutable experience. You cannot require him to deny that which he knows to be true!" Because of that rebuke, the high council members unanimously, albeit reluctantly, raised their hands to accept me.

JKC: Interesting story, but I'm not sure what it has to do with your task about locating the document.

ENK: You can't see a connection?

JKC: Not yet.

ENK: Hmm. Perhaps you can see a connection to another date, which was 8 June 1978?

JKC: An important historical date, of course, but what does it have to do with the document?

ENK: It may not actually have anything to do with it, but I think it does. That's why I'm pursuing this query. If we can locate it, there may be additional information with it or about it that might support my belief about its significance.

JKC: Where do you suggest we look?

ENK: Either President McKay's personal and/or ecclesiastical papers or President Kimball's personal and/or ecclesiastical papers.

JKC: Please explain why.

Sunday, 9 Nov 14

ENK: I think it most likely to be in Pres. McKay's personal papers, which would be the same papers in which in 2005 a Church archivist, Glenn Rowe, found my hand-written poem "Nathan's Cry". This poem was written on 26 Sep 65 and hand-delivered to Clare Middlemiss, McKay's private secretary.The now-retired archivist was kind enough to scan that poem and email it to me as an attachment. I have tried to contact Rowe recently, but he does not answer his phone and the Church information system does not have him referenced in their data base that I can find...

JKC: That's a fair place to look, I grant you. Why Pres. Kimball's papers?

ENK: That may be even more likely only because it was he who announced the change in Church policy in 1978, despite the previous policy, which was defended by other Church authorities. 

This brings to mind a letter I wrote to Pres. Kimball in November of 1975. He may have recognized my name since he had been my mother's stake president in southern Arizona decades (1920s) earlier. In any case I felt my issue had been heard by him when I learned about a 1976 October general conference address of his entitled "Our Personal Liahona"

JKC: What was your letter about?

ENK: I'm almost positive I sent you a copy of it, since you were my stake president at the time. It had to do with a statement I heard while attending an elders quorum meeting one Sunday that month. (Remember, I'd only returned to the Church a few months earlier.) My letter complained of having heard "the most dangerous statement that can be made in the Church". It was not that the statement was made that upset me, as I explained in the letter, but that no other man in the room was willing to challenge it. The 'dangerous' statement was made by the Elders Quorum president to those in attendance. He said, "When it comes to matters of ultimate authority, the Prophet's conscience supersedes our own." My immediate reaction was a loud, "NO!!! ABSOLUTELY NOT!"

JCK: That was a pretty heavy reaction, brother.

ENK: Yes it was, I confess. And on reflection I could have responded in a benevolent, rather than a reactionary way--in a spirit of Christ's love and understanding. But I didn't. As it was, I simply offended, if not also frightened them. The room became quiet and the meeting was essentially over. No one had anything to say to me after that. That is what motivated me to write to Pres. Kimball and, I'm sure, copy you.

JCK: So, what is your point here?

ENK: It was a plea for clarity regarding ultimate authority in terms of a higher spiritual law: the primacy of individual conscience. 

I would not be surprised that Pres. Kimball and Pres. McKay had years earlier (1968) had a serious conversation about the document in question in those terms. But Pres. McKay was not strong or vigorous enough in those days to present it to the Quorum of the Twelve, let alone to the First Presidency.

JKC: That's a heap of speculation, brother. I know of no way to verify such a conversation other than a careful and thorough reading of the journals of each man.

ENK: Do you really think that if such a conversation had occurred and been recorded in either man's personal journal, that the Church would be willing to disclose it?

JKC: Good question. I'd like to say yes, but I'm not confident about that.

ENK: And THAT's my point, brother John!! By and large, the LDS Church authorities, unfortunately, are more concerned with declaiming truth than searching for it and are too proud to admit that.

Finding that document and any evidence of its having been seriously discussed might bring new light and knowledge to this issue.

JKC: Eugene, your challenge has substance. Let me give it some more thought and I'll get back to you.

ENK: Thank you, brother. Perhaps one day soon, the policy of the Church will include embracing difficult questions, including dissent, rather than fearing them. 

Monday, 17 Nov 2014

In the meantime, I've had other conversations about this, one of which (Margaret Blair Young) has suggested contacting Greg Prince for a name in the Church archivists department. This I will do. One of my youngest sons, a good friend of Greg thinks that is a good idea. Yet another friend is worried that my real purpose in this search is one of "vanity". Because of who this friend is, I must be clear about this in my own mind. So, I'll have more to say about it later...

To be continued...