I couldn’t understand why Elder Ballard issued a strong warning to CES religious educators in a February 2016 address. Last week my answer arrived in a leaked PowerPoint file: Robert Norman.
For those who don’t know, MormonLeaks released a PowerPoint presentation last week allegedly created for a meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in December 2015. The slides give a cursory overview of something called “Area Business Weekends,” weekends kept open on the schedule to give quorum members flexibility to meet special needs as they arose. One particular slide stood out from the rest, titled “Issues and Ideas Leading People Away from the Gospel.” In the slide, colored bubbles of various sizes were arranged along a spectrum, each bubble representing a specific area of concern. (There’s a good overview of the slide on “Dave’s Mormon Inquiry” blog, or you can listen to a more in-depth discussion at Mormon Stories.) The MormonLeaks publication of the file was later removed by a third-party site due to legal pressure from the church.
Background on Robert Norman
One common question among online discussion of the bubble slide is, “Who is Robert Norman?” John Dehlin gave some background info on Dr. Norman in his Mormon Stories podcast (starting around 39:10). Some of Dehlin’s info I can back up through online sources and some I can’t. I’m only including information I can verify below.
Dr. Norman (or Brother Norman or President Norman, depending on who you ask) started working in the Church Educational System in 1967. The BYU Religious Studies Center still has his biography posted, noting that Dr. Norman was educated at Fresno State College (bachelor’s) and BYU (master’s and doctorate). He served in “three stake presidencies and as president of the New Hampshire Manchester Mission from July 1992 to July 1995.” He was teaching at the University of Utah institute building at the time that biography was published (probably 2005). His CES career appears to have lasted well over 40 years.
Dr. Norman is well respected in the LDS community, even though he doesn’t have a big online profile. He is quoted in the current Doctrine & Covenants Seminary Manual (published 2013). He had articles in the Religious Educator, Ensign, and Meridian Magazine. He hosted a Holy Land tour. He spoke twice at BYU’s Education week (here and here), and a 1996 address he gave to the Ephraim Institute on foreordination was often aired on a Utah radio station that played devotionals and general conference addresses (most recently in 2016). In January 2015, less than a year before his appearance on that PowerPoint slide, Dr. Norman was quoted in a Deseret News article. At the time, he was a stake mission prep teacher.
Dr. Norman stopped updating his personal blog in April 2014, but it still indicates he was already moving away from mainstream teachings. In an April 2013 post, Dr. Norman explained that to prepare for salvation and living with God we need to communicate with angels (“just men made perfect”) and learn what they know. His last two posts definitely seem on the Mormon fringe. One had a noticeable doomsday bent, a republication of another person’s post talking about upcoming blood moons and inevitable ominous events that would follow. His last post provides two links to a blog more closely aligned with teachings of Denver Snuffer (another name from that PowerPoint slide). I can’t verify that Dr. Norman’s separation from the church happened the way Dehlin said, but we do know that Dr. Norman spoke at a religious conference last fall in Boise (yes, that Boise) with several other former churchmembers, including excommunicants Adrian Larsen and Denver Snuffer. Among other things, he talked about how the Book of Mormon was designed to help people come to Christ “face to face” (as in, second comforter and everyone getting their own vision of Christ stuff).
Elder Ballard’s Address to CES Teachers
On February 26, 2016 (two months after that PowerPoint was allegedly presented to the Twelve), Elder M. Russell Ballard addressed CES religious educators in “The Opportunities and Responsibilities of CES Teachers in the 21st Century.” Most people remember this talk as the one where Elder Ballard announced the church was moving towards an inoculation strategy, insisting each teacher needed to know the gospel topics essays “like the back of [their] hand.”
Initially, Elder Ballard cautioned teachers that they needed to adjust the way they teach. “As Church education moves forward in the 21st century, each of you needs to consider any changes you should make in the way you prepare to teach, how you teach, and what you teach if you are to build unwavering faith in the lives of our precious youth.” While it wasn’t the shower of adoration CES teachers typically receive in these addresses (see 2015 and 2014, for example), it didn’t seem all that unusual given the massive shift towards inoculation. After all, he was asking teachers to “pay the price to better understand our history, doctrine, and practices—better than you do now…”
Where is started to feel unusual is when Elder Ballard issued a word of caution, “Please recognize you may come to believe, like many of your students do, that you are a scriptural, doctrinal, and history expert.” He warned teachers to avoid the temptation of “overclaiming,” and keep updated on the teachings of current church leaders, church policies, and LDS scholarship. “Ensure you do not teach things that are untrue, out of date, or odd and quirky.” (Elder Ballard might have been thinking of #Bottgate on this one…)
Then Elder Ballard went deeper, into the spiritual life of each CES teacher. He repeated a warning to general authorities by President Hinckley that he’d noted earlier in the talk, “We cannot be too careful. We must watch that we do not get off [course].” He urged teachers to practice what they preach, and ensure they do what they should to keep the Holy Ghost with them. But he didn’t leave it there.
Be courageous by seeking counsel and correction from those you trust—a spouse, priesthood leaders, or supervisors. Ask them where you can improve in your personal discipleship. This is especially important for our full-time employees, those supported by sacred tithing funds of the Church. You must avoid anything that drives the Spirit away.
And kept going…
Additionally, may I suggest you hold a personal interview with yourself on occasion and review 2 Nephi 26:29–32, Alma 5:14–30, and Doctrine and Covenants 121:33–46. That will help to identify the kinds of temptations we all may face. If something needs to change in your life, then resolve to fix it.
The temptations mentioned in those scriptures? The first scripture reference is mostly about priestcraft, but also lists a host of others at the end (murder, lying, stealing, taking the name of the Lord in vain, envy, malice, contention, and whoredoms). The second scripture reference covers the famous “Have ye received His image in your countenances?” Specific temptations mentioned in that long passage include pride, envy, mocking brethren, and heaping persecutions on brethren. The third scripture reference has the famous “many are called, but few are chosen” line. What temptations are mentioned in this set of scripture?
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
Remember, Elder Ballard is talking to people working in the Church Educational System. He advocates these scriptures as describing temptations “we all may face,” including himself. (Reminds me a bit of President Uchtdorf’s “don’t inhale” admonition.)
Elder Ballard finished off with a bang.
Avoid the temptation to question the motives of your co-laborers. Instead, look deeply into your own heart and search your own desires and motives. Only then can the Savior change your heart and align your own desires and motives with His.
When I originally listened to this talk, I was exercising on a treadmill. It was at this point in the address I stepped off and asked, “Man, what happened?!” A quick online search at the time didn’t give me any insight as to why Elder Ballard might have been so harsh on CES folks. So I forgot about it, until I started re-examining major talks and church happenings in late 2015 and early 2016 after MormonLeaks released the PowerPoint.
In this address, Elder Ballard didn’t seem as concerned about CES teachers following Dr. Norman as much as CES teachers following suit. Like Dr. Norman, CES teachers automatically develop followings because they are, by design, spiritual mentors to the rising generation. Influential CES teachers leaving the church don’t even need to say anything publicly – that action alone can shake testimonies of some who’ve looked up to them for years.
If that PowerPoint slide was legitimately from the brethren, then I suspect Dr. Norman’s placement might not have been about the sheer number of people leaving the church to follow his teachings (as opposed to Denver Snuffer). It could simply have been representative of the risk when current church-sponsored spiritual leaders get sucked into fringe movements.
- Is it a mistake to tie Elder Ballard’s CES talk to Robert Norman being listed as a threat on that PowerPoint slide?
- Do you think Elder Ballard’s call to repentance was out of the ordinary? Any further thoughts on Elder Ballard warning CES teachers not to get too puffed up with themselves?
- The first part of Elder Ballard’s address was the new inoculation strategy designed to address the difficulties members have with church history, a major concern listed on the left hand side of that PowerPoint slide. Elder Ballard’s rebuke to the teachers seemed to apply more to concerns on the right hand side of that PowerPoint slide. Is it possible that the more leaders attempt to address concerns on one church threat, they run the risk of exacerbating others?
Me: this is fascinating!
I am so here for this.
This is fascinating Mary Ann.
Speaking from Britain I can say that CES employees here (who supervise locally called seminary and institute instructors, hold the monthly meetings and are usually responsible for several stakes), do seem to be regarded as the font of all knowledge when it comes to doctrine and scripture, and are frequently deferred to as being the ones who will know. The same applies to retired CES employees, and quite a few retired over the last few years. I heard a sacrament meeting talk by just such a retiree in a unit we were visiting just recently, in which he spoke in very specific terms about what was going to happen at and following the judgement, and I really wanted to know just what his sources were for that information.
Interesting possible corollary. It certainly seems a possibility. The leaked slide does make the possible “why” of Elder Ballard’s comments a bit more evident.
Interesting and I think this is entirely possible. When I taught Seminary many years ago, we were constantly reminded “Don’t be the sage on the stage, be the guide on the side.” Good advice for anyone teaching in any position at church.
Do you think Elder Ballard’s call to repentance was out of the ordinary?
He apparently made reference to the apostle Paul from the New Testament. Paul did much the same thing — he encouraged and strengthened and cautioned fellow Saints, and warned fellow Saints about dangers from without but also more especially from within the fellowship. For example, Philippians 3:18-19 came up in this morning’s seminary class. I appreciate the counsel.
Huh. I never heard of Robert Norman before this post.
I happened to read this post on my way to read “The Rexburg Response to #PantsToChurch” by Kristine A. There she made the following observation:
“… the things I see people mostly leaving the church for are (1) the church history mess left by our past leaders and (2) the way marginalized people are treated because they aren’t conforming with orthodoxy…”
As I was nodding in agreement, it occurred to me that her second point didn’t make the bubble chart above. This seems a pretty big omission. It indicates a lack of awareness among church leaders this is a problem, especially if they’ve automatically lumped the marginalized into the “Lack of righteousness” or “Lack of commitment” bubbles.
Red Black, I think it did make the bubble chart – the big red bubble: Language and Cultural Problems “-ites”
MaryAnne, your posts have been great lately. I’d never heard of Robert Norman either, but your explanation sounds really reasonable. My guess is you nailed it.
I feel really sorry for our CES instructors-damned if they think for themselves, damned if they don’t with inadequate information to meet the demands of educated young people. I’d hate to be in their shoes these days.
I’m not sure how to support them, it troubles me.
hwc, used to be CES employees here had readier access to scholarship, books, BYU studies than the general membership or so it appeared. The Institute library in London was full of those things funded with the Institute budget – I don’t know if that was just a London thing, but with the crack down in the 90s, they had to be got rid. I don’t know what materials they’re allowed now. I do feel very sorry for the local seminary and institute teachers doing the gig as a calling with only the seminary and institute manuals provided.
Ji, I don’t see Paul specifying those enemies of Christ in that Philippians scripture as coming from within the body of the Saints, though it’s definitely good advice to be aware of enemies of Christ.
Red Black – I agree with Martin that fellowshipping issues, judgment, and failing at being “one in heart” likely falls in that big red bubble. The “ites” part is a reference to 4 Nephi 1:17. Here’s the context (v.15-17):
15 And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
16 And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.
Handlewithcare and Hedgehog, I agree that CES teachers are being tasked with a heavy burden right now of being the forefront at the new inoculation effort. It’ll help as the church hands down more of this responsibility to ward leaders and teachers.
I would push back a bit against them not being asked to think for themselves – by ordering them to stay on top of current teachings and current LDS scholarship (in addition to scriptures and statements of past prophets), that requires a serious level of engagement that forces them to think and process information on their own. The hope is that as they keep the Spirit with them in their daily lives as well as in their study and preparation, they will be less likely to steer away from current leaders in spite of what they encounter. Btw, this is the exact same process they (and ward leaders) are supposed to be teaching the youth – the importance of keeping on track with personal righteousness as a source of strength to better deal with difficult issues as they encounter them in their own personal gospel study (or outside world). It won’t make the issues easier, but hopefully that closeness to the Spirit can help them figure out their own best solution for how to move on with that information.
Martin, Mary Ann – Figures I’d not fully catch the significance of the only bubble in red. I was looking at it from the oversees perspective. If I had first checked Mary Ann’s link to Dave’s Mormon Inquiry Blog I would have seen this:
“Unhappiness with Mormon Culture: One catch-all subcategory labeled “Language and cultural problems.” This may refer to the frustration some LDS outside the USA have with the American focus of Mormon culture, even overseas, or it may refer to the increasingly politicized nature of Mormon culture with the USA, marching almost in lock step with the Republican Party.”
If this is the case, church leaders are indeed aware there are problem here. Ironically an obstacle of achieving the 4 Nephi 17 “oneness” appears to be the overarching monolithic Mormon Culture.
Good catch, Mary Ann. I really think you got it!
I have a friend who is a state court judge. He says that one of the hardest things about it is that whenever you’re at work, you’re always the authority figure and everyone treats you as if you’re right all the time. He said that no matter how hard you try to stay self-aware and humble, it can’t help but get into your head, particularly after you’ve been a judge for lots of years.
I think we have a similar dynamic–worse, probably–with our church leaders. For everyone from bishop on up, church members who speak to them are very often assuming that these men are right in pretty much whatever they say about anything within their stewardship. In fact, it’s even a little stronger than that–a lot of people will assume that these men are literally speaking for God in most everything they say. And, doctrinally, there is reason for them to believe that.
Most CES teachers/BYU professor types end up as bishops (and beyond) fairly quickly. (I only know a few–but of those that I do know, every single one of them was at least in a bishopric by his late 30’s.) So there’s that going on. And then there’s the fact that, even in their day-jobs alone, they’re always an authority figure over people who are coming to them for knowledge and advice. And then throw in the fact that their day jobs have a real heavy ecclesiastical overlay–with a lot of stewardshiping going on–and you basically have a situation where these men can pretty much go through life always thinking that God is speaking through them whenever they choose to speak. (“Whether it’s by my own voice or the voice of my servants…” and all of that.)
In a certain sense, it’s kind of remarkable that we don’t have more a problem with charismatic authority figures getting ahead of themselves. Looking back, I suppose that we have Hiram Page and the early consolidation of power to thank for the fact that this isn’t more of a problem. There, the church set a precedential boundry pretty early on–the church itself is in charge, and leaders down the foodchain only get to be quasi-prophets about stuff within their stewardship. That’s the constraining principle, right?
But that’s the rub. For a bishop, his stewardship is…mostly everything. This would perhaps be a different thread (though an interesting one for those of you with keys to the wheatandtares kingdom), but think of all the stories you’ve heard about bishops giving ecclesiastical advice about stuff that was decidedly not ecclesiastical. (I know of a bishop who very pointedly told a ward member what they should do with a lawsuit they were involved in. Because, you know, stewardship.) And for a GA, it’s…well, their stewardship is almost everything. And–as an underdiscussed aspect of mormonism, I think–you get mission presidents who have perhaps the biggest stewardship umbrella of them all, with their encompassing literally every aspect of 100+ young people’s lives for an entire 3 year period. So for a guy like Robert Norman, who did almost all of these things church-wise, and who also spent his entire career counseling youth and giving them what he believed was Holy Ghost inspired advice about the mysteries of the universe and also pretty much anything else that happened in their lives…well, he spent an awful lot of time of feeling like God was telling him that he was right.
At some point, it had to be really hard to turn that off when someone above him suddenly pops up and says that, on discrete subject X, Y, or Z, he actually shouldn’t be listening to that voice inside his head that he is normally told he could attribute to a member of the Godhead.
Excellent post. Great comments. Thanks
The post and comments have been great and enlightening. I’ve seen some criticism of the slide, but I actually feel some comfort that the leadership has some idea of what is making members leave, even if the slide is problematic in many ways.
Thanks Mary Ann, I was hoping you would delve into this!
Just an aside, I opened up to my bishop recently about some concerns (I suppose they would be under the church history, policies, and cultural bubbles). Totally out of character for me, but it felt nice to be open. The conversation was different than past ones I’ve had with bishops, and I think reflective of where we’ve come at this point in the church. Growing up I suppose I deferred to the bishop as an authority figure, a counselor whose advice held weight, someone I could turn to for answers.. But this time I was expressing concerns with zero expectation of any resolution from him. And he responded in kind. More encouraging me to “stay on the boat” than anything. Because these issues don’t have simple, definitive, Seminary answers. There’s no nice conclusion to the priesthood ban or the exclusion policy that can be tied up with a pretty Mormon bow. It takes an awful lot of ongoing effort on the part of the member and I feel like the bishop is more of a cheerleader/supporter/encourager role. I don’t know what to really make of it in the context of Robert Norman. But maybe these growing pains we’re experiencing forcing us all, leaders and regular members, to become more comfortable with uncertainty and “gray areas” can eventually prevent some of the overconfidence our leaders can develop, as discussed above. But I dunno.
I had Brother Norman as an institute instructor for a few classes–undergrad and graduate level. He was an excellent instructor and great man. I really admired him and would take another class from him again in a heartbeat. When I saw his “bubble” I was in disbelief. He used to make 11 x 16 photocopies of his open scriptures when he studied them so he would have more room to write in the margins as he studied. The margins would be ‘full’ of thoughts and references. I remember he told us once about calling a RLDS leader to ask him a question about their interpretation of the Godhead and of Joseph Smith’s vision of 2 separate beings and shared with his the different doctrinal viewpoint, non-judgmentally. I also remember one class talking about the timing of the Second Coming and he expressed his opinion that the Lord would delay his Second Coming and that when he finally does come, he believed there would be few people still looking for Him. I always took that as a warning for me to not give up the faith no matter what changed amongst my fellow Saints. I saw a number of years later in the Church News a photo of Brother Norman when he was called to be a mission president and thought how lucky those missionaries would be to have a man so brilliant and kind. Even as I read about your description of his ‘fringe’ posts, I find myself wanting to know what he had to say about those topics.
I read a comment on Mormon Stories website in the comments section from a podcast listener who took issue with Dehlin’s description of Brother Norman. I didn’t listen to the podcast, so do not know what the tone was toward Brother Norman, but the listener’s criticism was quite impassioned and I can see that he had a feeling about Brother Norman’s character as I have. He accused Dehlin of making accusatory generalities about Brother Norman’s life that were not accurate. The comment-maker described Brother Norman as having resigned his membership after Book of Mormon study lead him to believe that the church had gone wayward. I do not know if this is true or not, but it did cause me to reflect on his opinion about few people still looking for the Savior when He would finally return to the Earth in His glory.
Rigel, I think I may have seen the same comment. If not that one, something similar. It’s what convinced me to be circumspect in my post about Dehlin’s comments regarding Dr. Norman. Dehlin had a very clinical tone, just like if someone were talking about a church historical figure. The intimate details Dehlin gave that I didn’t include in my post are embarrassing if true and downright slanderous if false. I completely understand that person’s impassioned response.
“it did cause me to reflect on his opinion about few people still looking for the Savior when He would finally return to the Earth in His glory.” That viewpoint is consistent with philosophies of several people at that conference of which he was a part, so I doubt he’s moved away from that belief.
Maybee, your experience is more consistent with how the brethren were addressing other issues. I think the Robert Norman thing is a much more specialized concern. I’m still working on a post talking about the general context of the slide, but one thing I’ve noticed is that idea of churchmembers individually helping each other with doubts and concerns (not just leaders helping members), which inevitably exposes more churchmembers to these gray areas.
Norman’s bio at https://rsc.byu.edu/authors/norman-robert-j continues to say he is currently teaching at the LDS Institute adjacent to the U. RSC is a BYU research organization. I guess the LDS Institute and/or BYU didn’t get the bubble chart — or failed to act on it. Oh well, I don’t always act on everything that comes from the COB either.
The only publication noted on that online bio was from 2005, so I suspect the biography was written around the same time. It also didn’t note his retirement, and I can find him listed as a “former instructor” at a 2008 fireside.
I served under Robert Norman, President Norman as I knew him, during his final year presiding over the New Hampshire Manchester Mission. That was 1994/5. It was only yesterday that I became aware of this particular MormonLeaks issue and his involvement in it. I am coping with mixed emotions. I stopped practicing Mormonism around 2001, but have never lost an acute emotional connection to my mission and to the people with whom I interacted, President Norman in particular. It was difficult to listen to the Mormon Stories podcast and hear people speak of Robert offhandedly, even as I felt they were having a pretty fair discussion. Many, perhaps even most, of us Elders who served under President Norman tended to hold him in a state of reverence (due in large part to his scriptural knowledge, and there was a rumor/anecdote of his having had a “special experience”). But he was also a good man to talk to one on one, a good coach, and a true father figure.
Mary Ann, I won’t speak directly your post’s discussion questions since I’ve been out of church activity so long. But I will vouch for President Norman’s considerable grasp of scriptural and historical knowledge and his reputation as a great scholar. That he would be singled out this way is stunning, troubling, and oddly heart-breaking for me, but I am not feeling disbelief. President Norman went as far into deep doctrines as anyone I have ever seen. And the walk from mainstream to fringe is not so far as some might wish.
I served under Robert Norman–President Norman as I knew him–back in 1994/1995 in the New Hampshire Manchester Mission. It was only yesterday that I learned of the MormonLeaks situation, and by extension, of his involvement. I’m stunned, troubled, and oddly heartbroken.
I comment here as someone who stopped practicing Mormonism around 2001. Nevertheless, as I remember it, most of us Elders tended to hold President Norman in reverence–in large part because of his scriptural knowledge. But he was also a great leader one-on-one. He was a good coach and natural father figure.
I have no trouble imagining President Norman remaining on the Brethren’s radar. He earned his reputation as a great scholar with real credentials. In recent years on Facebook, I also observed him to be politically outspoken. That may not have played well to a church hierarchy that, outwardly at least, projects devout political neutrality. Regardless, President Norman was, and I assume remains, beloved and rightly influential to many.
Jake, thanks for your comment.
I too was one of Robert Norman’s missionaries. In fact, I served as one of his assistants for 6 months. I revere him as a great scholar, spiritual leader and from what I could tell a dedicated father and husband. I’ve been very taken back by the situation of him leaving the church. I’ve heard from some close to him the basics of what transpired. The thing that has puzzled me is a doctrine that he often taught us. He would say if you stay with the majority of the (15) living apostles, you’ll never be on the wrong side of the church. Obviously he changed his mind on that.
Elder Ballard was talking about Self Proclaimed Prophets that do Podcasts. To My Knowledge, I am the only LDS Podcaster that claims to be a Prophet and an apostle of the Father and the Son, Even the Second witness of the Father. I believe he was talking about me. My iTunes Podcast is called The Kingdom of God or Nothing.
Bob Norman has been my friend for 30 years. He often taught about receiving the Second Comforter and having your calling and election made sure. I started praying seriously about receiving the Second Comforter in 2007. I had been listening to Bob since 1989 and felt to take the promise in D&C 93:1 seriously. After three years of praying, I came across Denver Snuffer’s book, The Second Comforter, Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil. I stopped going to the LDS church in the fall of 2011 after my temple recommend was taken away because of some questions I asked in Relief Society. Since my parents could not answer my scriptural questions, they reached out to Bob Norman for help (Spring 2013). We talked for a long time. Bob believed Thomas Monson was a prophet. I did not. I shared the letter I had sent to and received from Dallin Oaks with him. It was very difficult to have my #1 mentor disagree with me, and it was one of the few times I have cried through the night. The next part of the story is Bob’s story and not mine to tell. Bob resigned from the LDS church (I think it was sometime toward the end of 2015). I did not know about this for some time and was told about it by a friend. The reason Bob Norman spoke at the September 10, 2016 Doctrine of Christ Conference in Boise was not because he is part of the Denver Snuffer movement. He spoke at the conference because I asked him to.
I also knew Brother Norman in the 1980s when he taught Institute. He attended my mission farewell and insisted on participating in setting me apart, which I was ambivalent about but didn’t have the guts to refuse. The longer I knew him, the more he became a nasty, mean-spirited man who did not hesitate to insult, belittle, and demean anyone who asked questions he did not approve of. He made the Institute a far less welcoming place.
In the 1980s I read a play called “Brand” by Henrik Ibsen. The introduction included this statement about the play from George Bernard Shaw: “Brand dies a saint, having caused more intense suffering by his saintliness than the most talented sinner could possibly have done with twice his opportunities.” Bob Norman aspired to be someone of that ilk.
I am frankly delighted to know that in the twenty-first century, he came to what he would have condemned as a very bad end in the twentieth. It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person.