Chris Henrichsen (top right), who passed away suddenly this morning at the age of 45, was many things. A student of political theory, a democratic socialist, and a passionate defender of the legacy of John Rawls. An old-school fan of Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and other early 1980s hardcore punk acts (especially those with roots in his home stomping grounds of Washington DC). An educator who taught on the college and the high school level in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, and Maryland. A one-time Democratic candidate for Wyoming’s single seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, a failed campaign which he described to me at one point as having both completely broken him and entirely re-made him, financially and intellectually and politically, all at once. And perhaps most of all for this audience, a devout but cantankerous Mormon, always looking to situate himself (both publicly and within his own thinking and believing) in the midst of every controversy that roiled the waters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It was these latter efforts which led him to be a inconsistent-but-always-returning mainstay of the Mormon blogging world, whether at Approaching Justice or Faith-Promoting Rumor or Times and Seasons. His history here at By Common Consent was…contentious, as Chris was never shy about fighting for what he believed to be correct, and never too embarrassed to simply walk away from a fight that he believed not be worth pursuing further. But that pugnaciousness, however visible at conferences–like the one featured above, from Kansas City in 2011–or on the blogs or over the years on social media, never characterized any discussions about his beloved wife Lyndee and their three children, Todd, Shem, and Geneva. Them he would celebrate in the most stereotypically weepy Mormon male fashion imaginable…which, perhaps, expresses the delightful paradox of Chris very well: a man of doubts and disputations and abrupt declarations, who also maintained a deeply loving domestic heart.
We are a lesser tribe for Chris’s passing. Please send your prayers and best wishes to his family, and if you have any tales of Chris’s many online adventures over the years, please share them here. Stories can be the best medicine, sometimes.