Saturday, January 3, 1970

Howard Salisbury-Mormon Mentor

[July 1959]

This "Call"--the very idea of it---was new to me and I did not know how to proceed. So, I decided to seek wiser counsel. My best friend in those days was Bill, an older graduate student who was a returned Mormon missionary. He didn't know what to do either and wrote to his own mentor Howard S., a college professor who had a legendary reputation for helping gifted young people. Bill received a discouraging reply:
As it stands I cannot feel that this young man has a problem, except perhaps a very serious one of casting himself into a role and seeking a supporting audience… I would urge him to trust in the normal course of events with the hand of the Lord moving in his life. I think he should not talk about these matters to others and that he should not, unless the result of a specific call from the Lord either directly or through one of his servants bring it to the attention of the brethren. This isn't the way things of this nature get their fulfillment… I must tell you that I am disturbed by his reaction to the situation up to the point of one month ago… with my experience in counseling I must admit that the "delusion of grandeur" pattern which comes up from time to time is suggested here…

Your friend needs to continue in humility, in reflection and contemplation, in an awareness of promptings, in devotion and consecration to the work of the Lord, and in perfect trust that when the time and circumstance comes around he will be called through the proper channels and will know for certain that he has the blessings of the leaders of the church and will be acting in a duty recognized by the Lord…

This is awkwardly stated…but I must send it. Let me add with emphasis that I will do anything you may think I may do that to help this young friend. If he wants me to introduce him to President Moyle or Elder Lee I will be glad to do so, or Elder Brown or Elder Romney, I will do what you suggest…
At this point Howard would not communicate with me directly. So, having learned he was chairman of the college Fine Arts Department, I sent him a tape recording of a private concert just for him.

He responded immediately and with enthusiasm. [See Comment #1]

1 comment:

  1. Howard Salisbury replied at once (Aug 9, 1959):

    Dear Brother K…
    When your tape arrived, several days ago, I listened immediately to the Verdi aria, marveled at your bounteous voice and your command of it, and gloried in its evocation of Kipnis and Pinza and Journet, and sat down at once to emote to Bill over it… This evening I decided to write to you… Brother K… you realize that the only commendation I could bring to an association with you is Bill's enthusiasm, bless his great soul. I am aware, of course, that you aren't interested in a music-critic contact (I am neither critic nor musician) because with your great gift you undoubtedly have an abundance of that in your various public offerings. The part which personal endowment plays in advancing the Kingdom of God is, of course, most interesting to me, and any part I could take in helping a member of the Church who is as gifted as you are would be most humbly and gratefully undertaken….

    Yesterday a letter came from Bill. I wouldn't be able to resist its inspiration even if I were disposed to. I will always keep that letter. Unless unbelievable th ings have happened to Bill since I saw him last, some powerful inspiration took over and made him even finer than heis, and I know him to be an exceptional man. As today has passed (Sunday) I have come around to the realization that the inspiration necessary to create that letter undoubtedly rises out of the absorption you both have had in the matter of your aspirations to serve the Lord. If you and I can work somehow a correspondence I will want you eventually to read Bill's letter. Please let me hear from you. I want to know your feelings.

    Sincerely your brother, /Howard/

    PS. What possibilities are there of our meeting?