I myself had only interacted with him once, at a young single adult conference in the fall of 2005. Yet despite this limited real-life interaction, I feel his loss a bit more personally than if he were just some random speaker that I once heard. I am currently a doctoral student in religion at the Catholic University of America, and some of the events that led me here have to do directly with Madsen's life and writings.
The earliest event that began my interest in theology and religious studies was listening to David Paulsen's "Joseph Smith and the Problem of Evil," a BYU forum address on Sept. 21, 1999. It was the first talk that helped me discover not only that Joseph Smith was a prophet, which I already knew through the ministrations of the Holy Spirit, but also the theology he taught was inexhaustibly profound. The problem of evil remains to this day in my mind a major intellectual stumbling block for all three of the monotheistic religions. Yet the doctrines taught by Joseph Smith reduce to nothing this considerable problem at the core of Judeo-Christian-Islamic theology.