Posts Tagged ‘Prophecy’
Thirty years ago, I encountered a book that changed my life. It introduced to me a unique way of interpreting and understanding prophetic phrases. Passages of scripture that previously mystified me with their obscurity became clear as day and have maintained that clarity ever since. I know of no other book that has impacted my thinking about the last days quite like Anthony Larson’s first book in the Prophecy Trilogy …And the Moon Shall Turn to Blood… The Very Last Days.
As I read the book for the first time I had numerous “ah ha” moments that caused me to open the scriptures to annotate them with new insights. Even after dozens of subsequent readings, I still get that same feeling of wonder each time I read it again. At 136 pages it only takes a few hours to read. For me, the insights from pondering the ideas presented continue for days. The book has led me to a multitude of discoveries about the history of this world and our future world events.
I always wondered why some things described in the scriptures seemed like magic. I knew God was not a magician and wondered if there couldn’t be a logical explanation for such things. Although I picked up the book because of my interest in the last days, I was surprised to learn how the miracles of the Exodus may have come about and how they can explain the prophesied events of the end times. In the process I was introduced to the ideas of Immanuel Velikovsky.
Controversial Theories of History
Even after thirty years of discussing this book with others, I still find the majority of people I encounter have never heard of Immanuel Velikovsky, the author of Worlds in Collision, a best-selling book first published in 1950. The public bought millions of copies. The academic and scientific community denounced it as pseudoscience and declared war on Velikovsky. Carl Sagan ridiculed Velikovsky at a famous 1974 science conference and in his TV show Cosmos.
I think the reason Velikovsky was denounced so vociferously was because he used biblical sources to supplement his other, more accepted histories to put forth his theories. That and the fact that he claimed Venus was ejected from Jupiter in the recent past. Carl Sagan especially had a field day with that one. I won’t get into the science arguments here. Just be aware that a large part of Anthony’s book is based on the idea of close encounters between Earth, Venus and Mars.
Even though both Velikovsky and Anthony Larson present their books as theories, because the ideas are so radical, they are attacked by those who supposedly know, based on science that such things could never be. If you are married to the idea that science has all the answers then you will find this book infuriating. If you are open to the possibility that what we currently accept as fact, even laws of the universe, may in fact also be theories, then you will gain much from this book.
Last Days Foretold
How much do you think about the prophesied events of the last days? If you’re like most people, it’s probably very little to not at all. Yet I suspect that within a few years, it’s a subject that will be on everyone’s mind, perhaps night and day. Why? Even though I’m in the latter part of my time here on earth, I am confident I will see some of the cataclysmic events foretold in the scriptures fulfilled before I die. When these things start happening, the whole world will change.
Social upheaval, economic collapse, government failure, breakdown of the communication and transportation infrastructure and all kinds of other events we worry about can all be explained without any reference to unusual cosmological or geological happenings. But when you throw in earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, plagues, new comets, showers of meteorites that are not predicted and all kinds of other unforeseen events in the earth and sky, people tend to panic.
In order to understand what is about to take place, Anthony Larson takes us back to the times of the Exodus as he examines the pillar of fire and smoke with a unique explanation. Once you have accepted this basic premise of his book, all the subsequent material, as fantastic as it may seem, comes into focus. In fact, if you can agree to this key component of the theory, you are in for a whole new world of possibilities about how the world works and what will soon come to pass.
Catastrophism and Uniformitarianism
I suppose the most objectionable part of the theory to readers of a purely scientific mind is the idea that the world has not always been the same. The prevailing belief of today’s scientific community is that the same gradual, almost imperceptible changes occurring in the earth around us today are the result of eons of the same slow forces at work. The argument is that lofty peaks, deep canyons, prairies, islands and great continents were all caused by gradual uniform forces.
Catastrophism, as opposed to Gradualism, purports that geologic changes come from sudden, dramatic upheavals. This implies that when change comes, it is catastrophic in nature. Up until the time of Darwin in the mid 1800’s, catastrophism was supported by science. The geologic record supports catastrophic change. The scriptures support catastrophism (2 Pet 3:3-4). It is difficult for modern thinkers to accept because we simply have no recent evidence to support it.
The cataclysmic events of the very last days have been dismissed by many in the scientific community because of this very reason. They are consumed with the idea that “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” However, we are taught and believe that the heavens and the earth of old have changed and they will change again, probably within the very near future. The earth shall reel to and fro. There shall be a new heaven and a new earth.
Close Encounters of the Planetary Kind
The fundamental criticism from the scientific community against Velikovsky, and by extension Anthony Larson, was that its celestial mechanics were irreconcilable with Newtonian celestial mechanics, requiring planetary orbits which could not be made to conform to the laws of conservation of energy and conservation of angular momentum. In other words, there’s no way a large planet can come close to the earth before gravity pulls them apart (look up Roche Limit).
Velikovsky conceded that the behavior of the planets in his theories is not consistent with Newton’s laws of motion and universal gravitation. He proposed that electromagnetic forces could be the cause of the movement of the planets, although such forces between astronomical bodies are essentially zero as far as science can currently detect. This is another idea that will be helpful to readers of Anthony’s book in order to understand the events of the very last days.
The bottom line revelation and premise of the book is that our world in the past was visited by planets knocked out of their observed orbits. When they came close, they wrecked devastation upon the earth. I won’t give away the details in Anthony’s book. It is fascinating to read and ponder, especially if you are looking to make sense out of the many obscure phrases that the Lord uses in reference to events that are prophesied to come to pass just prior to His return.
Cataclysmic Events Prophesied
I have some favorite sections in the Doctrine and Covenants I like to read to remind me of the coming prophesied cataclysmic events we will all experience. I note they were all received early in Joseph’s years as the first prophet of this dispensation. They contain language that can make one uncomfortable, especially if you don’t like to think about upcoming end of the world stuff.
September 1830 – Section 29:8-28
|Nov 1831 – Section 133:10-74|
February 1831 – Section 43:17-35
March 1832 – Section 77:6-15
|March 1831 – Section 45:15-75||
Dec 1832 – Section 88:87-116
Verse 93 in section 88 has always intrigued me: “And immediately there shall appear a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together.” It makes reference to Matthew 24:30, where the Savior taught his disciples, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven… and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Joseph further elaborated on the Savior’s great sign. “. . . then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, etc. But the Son of Man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east.” Joseph’s interpretive statement has been hotly debated.
Signs of the Times
James Burgess recorded some additional detail as Joseph spoke: “So also is the coming of the Son of Man. The dawning of the morning makes its appearance in the east and moves along gradually. So also will the coming of the Son of Man be. It will be small at its first appearance and gradually becomes larger until every eye shall see it.” Very interesting wording, I think.
And from LeGrand Richards, 1951: “While I was president of the Southern States Mission, one of our missionaries wrote in from Florida and said, ‘President Richards, I have been reading about the signs of the coming of the Lord. When the sun darkens and the moon ceases to give its light and the stars fall from heaven, everybody will know that he is coming.” His answer:
“The newspapers might announce some great phenomenon in the heavens, misplacement of planets, that have caused this consternation, and scientists will have their explanation to make of it. Unless they have faith in the Living God, unless as Jesus said, they can read the signs of the times, they may not know anything about what is going on in the world.” In other words, it may not be such a good idea to trust what the science pundits are saying when it comes to this stuff.
The Grand Sign
I’ve thought a lot about this great sign or grand sign referred to by Jesus and the prophet Joseph and how we will perceive it when it happens. I think Joseph and LeGrand Richards nailed it. We will rely on our scientists to explain what is happening and take their word for it that it really is nothing unusual. Their explanations will be so logical that we would be foolish to doubt them. Or so they would have us believe. But those who have studied the signs of the times know better.
Joseph gave us a little insight into the timing of the grand sign. It really is one of the last things to happen before the Lord returns. He said that no one will see “the sign of the Son of Man … until after the sun shall have been darkened and the moon bathed in blood.” He also taught us that “The devil knows many signs, but does not know the sign of the Son of Man, or Jesus.”
Yet we know that “all people shall see it together.” OK, I think it’s obvious that it’s some sort of celestial manifestation. How else could everyone see it at the same time? I just can’t imagine it could be anything other than an approaching planet that looks like a comet just as Joseph said. I wonder what the world would be like if another planet came close to the earth. Could it happen?
And could the earth survive such a close encounter? If two planets came that close together, they would have a tremendous destructive force upon each other. Besides the electromagnetic interaction between the two planets, the gravitational forces would cause the tectonic plates to shift with violent movements. Volcanic activity would explode wherever the plates met. Surely the last days will be a day of burning as smoke and fire cover the earth with tremendous heat.
Think about what would happen if two large planets came close together. The rotation of the planets would change. The magnetic poles would align. The earthquake at such a movement would be tremendous. It would look like the stars were falling from the sky. The oceans would throw themselves beyond their normal bounds for miles and miles inland. Eventually they would race towards the other planet and stand up as if in a heap drawn by the magnetic embrace.
Does all this sound familiar? “The earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man … the stars shall … cast themselves down …” Or this: “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven …” And this: “The heavens shall shake and the earth shall tremble …” My favorite: “He shall command the great deep and it shall be driven back into the north countries …” These and many more scriptures are examined and explained in Anthony’s first book of his trilogy.
The Beginning of the End
It all starts with the approach of a large comet or a small planet with a tail. Of course, by the time you start hearing about all this, it will be too late. You’ve only got a few weeks or months left, depending on how soon it is discovered and announced. There is a lot that will happen before this great and dreadful day. That’s why I love prophecy. The Lord has given us so many signs.
Call me crazy for trying to marry what I know about science, astronomy and cosmology with what I believe from the scriptures about the last days. I am convinced that the Lord uses natural means to bring about his purposes. “Miracles cannot be in contravention of natural law, but are wrought through the operation of laws not universally or commonly recognized (Talmage).”
In other words, I think it’s plausible and beneficial to look for natural explanations for the signs of the last days, especially as they relate to the great and dreadful day. I’m thinking we’re going to be hearing and reading a lot more about this in the years to come. I know we’re not there yet but I for one intend to keep looking for those signs in the sky above and in the world around me.
Watch for these Signs
Anthony writes about each of these signs in his book. He does not attempt to put them in any chronological order. Note that none of these can be attributed to man. Some may attempt to ascribe them to global warming, but as we advance in the Lord’s agenda, it will become more and more obvious that there is no other explanation other than what we find in the scriptures. Yet I suppose until they actually see the Lord, some will continue to say it’s all due to natural causes.
1. Plagues, pestilences and famines, 2. Signs and wonders in heaven and earth, 3. Disasters, earthquakes and tornados, 4. Great hailstorm will destroy crops of earth, 5. Sun shall be darkened, 6. Moon shall turn to blood, 7. Earth shall reel to and fro, 8. Trumps shall sound both long and loud, 9. Great deep rolled back into north countries, 10. Great earthquake such as never before, 11. Return of the lost ten tribes, 12. Return of the City of Enoch, 13. Earth will be cleansed by fire, 14. New heaven and new earth
I don’t know about you but this stuff fascinates me. I want to know what to look for as the end of the world approaches. I am grateful the Lord has revealed it in advance. He loves us and has forewarned us. The adversary is doing all in his power to discredit the warnings, mainly through the opposition of the theories of science. Remember, scientific laws discovered by man are incomplete. There is so much we don’t understand about how God works through natural means.
The Prophecy Trilogy
I think you can tell I am excited by Anthony’s book. As I wrote in the beginning of this essay, it has made a profound difference in my life. It has changed my relationship with the Lord. It has strengthened my testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. What’s even more exciting is that this is only the first book in a trilogy of additional insights and revelations from Anthony. If you think this book is exciting, wait until you read the next two books in the Prophecy trilogy.
Besides being influenced by Velikovsky, Anthony subscribes, as do I, to the theories of the Electric Universe. Regular readers of my blog will be familiar with my references to Dave Talbott and Wal Thornhill. If you have not heard of the Saturn Myth, look it up. If you want to know how Anthony has applied it to LDS theology, continue to read the other works in the prophecy trilogy. Each of the three books are about 150 pages in length and well written.
Beyond the prophecy trilogy, Anthony has authored two additional books about the last days that again, offer a unique perspective on revelation. One is a commentary on that very book entitled The Plainest Book: Revelation. The other is entitled Parallel Histories: The Nephites and the Americans. If you want to learn more about things happening in America today, and things yet to happen in this great nation before the return of the Lord, read and ponder this wonderful book.
Summary and Conclusion
I love Anthony’s books. I have read them over and over. I have read every entry on his blog and every article he published in other sources. I have attended his seminars, both in person and over the Internet. There is no doubt that he is controversial. He is also extremely confident that what he shares is helpful, strengthening and uplifting to members of the LDS church and others. I am one who happens to agree, even though I have read plenty of well written opposing viewpoints.
I feel so strongly about what I have learned from Anthony that I have committed to write a work of fiction based on what I have learned from him, from Velikovsky and from proponents of the Electric Universe. I have spent the last several years learning to write fiction. In my opinion, it is much more difficult to write good fiction than it is to write essays like these. My personal goal this year is to write each month two essays related to the last days and two chapters of fiction.
Thanks for reading my review. You can read others on Amazon, Goodreads and on Anthony’s website. In fact, you can read the first few chapters online for free. Anthony’s books sold well when they were first published. I believe they will see a resurgence of interest in the coming years. Yes, they are strange and unusual. Yes, they are controversial, even among the LDS community. But are they worth your time to read? Yes, I enthusiastically endorse these books.
Links to Anthony Larson’s materials:
Videos – http://youtube.com/user/toeknee1943/
Website – http://mormonprophecy.com/
Blog – http://mormonprophecy.blogspot.com/
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/keystomormonprophecy
Scribd – http://www.scribd.com/anthonyelarson
I think often about the future. I suppose most people do. We wonder what things will be like next year or ten years from now. We’re probably looking for a sense of security and stability so we can move ahead with our everyday lives. We want things to be the same or better than they are now. We make plans, hope for the best and then go on to the next thing, whatever that may be.
Like many of you, I get a sense of where people are by what they post on Facebook. I have lots of friends who posted predictions of doom and dread if their guy didn’t get elected. Now that the election is over, they’re either silent or their predictions have become more gloomy. I can only imagine the silent ones are waiting for the many terrible things they predicted to start happening.
I’m not trying to be disrespectful of those who foretold awful things. After all, they’re my friends for a reason. We were classmates long ago, were work associates, attended church together or met online through common interests. I’m grateful that most of my family members are cautious like me. We read what others are saying and then encourage each other in our plans for living.
Seeking Stability in Life
I spent fifty hours this past week in formal classroom training, preparing to become certified in a work-related skill. I am very grateful my employer paid the cost of the training. It’s not cheap. That says two things to me. One, my employer believes I’m worth the investment, but second and more important, my employer believes his business will continue and will need my services.
It takes a lot of faith to be a small business employing hundreds of people in today’s uncertain economy. You depend on your customers to keep buying your products and services. You depend on your suppliers to come through when you need them. You depend on your employees to do what needs to be done to deliver the goods or services that make your business succeed.
In short, you trust that the business world will remain the same or get better going forward. You depend on certain conditions being stable in order to carry out your business plan. Stability is the name of the game in making plans and being successful. We like and seek after stable people and stable companies in our lives because we can depend on them. We want our world to be solid.
A World of Uncertainty
And yet we live in a world of uncertainty. We are reminded of this every day when surprises come up that cause us to stop and think. Don’t get me wrong. Surprises can be good. We like surprises like an unexpected refund check, a bonus for doing a good job or when a new friend tells you about an opportunity that would be just right to advance your mutual interests.
We don’t like surprises that cause us to have to scale back our daily operations or cancel plans for expansion. Perhaps an anticipated demand for our products or services does not materialize. Maybe new legislation causes us to incur unanticipated expenses to meet regulatory compliance. The cost of goods rises because the raw material becomes scarce. All are outside our control.
I guess that’s why people seek power to control their environment because they want to have that stability. That’s why we invest so heavily in our elections, both monetarily and emotionally. We want our guy to get elected because he will help maintain or improve conditions for us. But isn’t that the wrong way to go about seeking control over our lives, by investing in someone else?
Things Beyond our Control
Ultimately, we have very little control over things. We can’t control the weather. We can’t control natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanos or wildfire. There are those who say the late hurricane that hit the New Jersey area just before the election was caused by human-induced climate change. They also say it shows how much we need big government.
Of course there are those who say it was a warning from God, just like they have said all the natural disasters we have experienced or read about lately are warnings from God. It seems like any natural disaster can be turned to promote your own view of things, whether you believe we need to band together to reverse climate change or band together to prepare for terrible times.
I think that’s where all this doom and gloom talk is coming from among some of my friends. Like me, they believe that awful things beyond our control are going to happen as we get closer to the end of world as predicted in the Bible. But I guess your reaction to the recent election depends on what you consider awful. A comet or meteor coming close to the earth is awful.
White Horse Prophecy
I’m not worried that my guy didn’t get elected. I’m a little sad for him and his family. He has invested so much over the past six years of his time, money and energy. It must be disappointing. But he’ll bounce back. He’s a good man. That’s why I voted for him. But I am concerned about some of my friends who now bemoan the end of the world is closer because he wasn’t elected.
I can’t go with that as a legitimate cause and effect thing. There are some who say Romney was supposed to win because of the “White Horse Prophecy” and that the Elders of Israel will be the only ones to save the constitution when it will hang by a thread. If you’re Mormon like me I’m sure you’re familiar with these ideas. They have been a hot topic of online discussion lately.
Saying that Romney was destined to win seems a bit much to me. Also claiming that America has sealed its fate because he was rejected is just plain wrong. That’s putting too much faith in a man who championed a different path to prosperity that we all seek. Mitt Romney is a good man who espouses principles I believe in but his rejection is not a harbinger of the end of the world.
The End of the World
Back to the idea of what is really awful, and specifically an oncoming comet or meteor. When Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 hit Jupiter in July 1994, we got a firsthand look at a comet smashing into a relatively close-by planet. We all watched with fascination, went “ooh” and “ahh,” and then went about our lives. It was just too far way to think it could possibly happen here at home.
We have the same reaction when we read about earthquakes or hurricanes that happen in some other part of the world. We think, “How awful for those people who experienced the devastation but it doesn’t affect me so all is well.” We follow the news for a while but see that for most people, life goes on. They survive. We are jaded to the idea that something worse could happen.
But what if next week astronomers announced that they have discovered a new comet or planet coming towards the earth? How would we respond? In fact, don’t we invest a lot of money in our scientific community just so they can watch the heavens for us and warn us of impending doom? Whether you know it or not, we do pay scientists to keep a lookout for large celestial objects.
Watch out for Comets
Why do we do this? Has it happened before? Has a planet or comet ever threatened the earth in our past? We are fascinated with disaster movies like 2012, Armageddon, Deep Impact or the old classic which I hope will be remade someday, When Worlds Collide. We love to joke about the end of the world coming on Dec 21st this year to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar.
If you’re a Mormon, you are especially susceptible to stuff like this because the end of the world is a part of our theology. We have been taught and believe that terrible calamities will come upon us as we get closer to the end times. Many of us believe we are living in those times now, in spite of the fact that each succeeding generation has been taught this since the church began in 1830.
We rely on those same scientists who teach us about our past to also watch for threats to our world and assure us that all is well. We look to them for the stability and security we seek. How comforting it is to know that the earth has never been threatened by another planet. Everyone knows that comets don’t come too close. They only pass by and make beautiful sunsets, right?
Signs of the Times
If you’ve read any of my past essays you know how fascinated I am by the signs of the times as foretold in the scriptures and by recent prophets. I have long enjoyed reading and studying the books of Gerald Lund (The Coming of the Lord), Duane Crowther (Prophecy – Key to the Future), David Ridges (65 Signs of the Times) and Anthony Larson (The Prophecy Trilogy).
I have focused more in my studies on the cataclysmic events that will occur in the great and dreadful day when the Lord makes his appearance. Yet those things will all happen suddenly, within a few weeks or months. Stars will fall from the sky, the sun will be darkened, the moon will turn to blood and the sea will heave itself beyond its bounds with terrible earthquakes.
But there are so many other preliminary signs that we can watch for before the great and terrible day arrives. For example, did you know that all nations of the earth, including America, are destined to fail before the Lord returns? Are the times of the Gentiles now coming to an end? Many people seem to think so, or so I read on the blogs and Facebook posts of my friends.
The Collapse of America
Internal wars will cause the collapse of the government of the United States. Quoting Brigham Young who was apparently quoting Joseph Smith, “Mobs will increase until the whole government becomes a mob, and eventually it will be state against state, city against city, neighborhood against neighborhood…” Hmmm…are states that want to secede a beginning?
“A terrible revolution will take place in the land of America, such as has never been seen before; for the land will literally be left without a supreme government, and every species of wickedness will run rampant.” No, that’s not Glen Beck, that’s Joseph Smith. He said the government would be utterly overthrown and wasted; specifically that Congress shall be broken up as a government.
I’ve written previously about this subject and got a lot of comments. I feel even stronger about this now. Wilford Woodruff said, “The American nation will be broken in pieces like a potter’s vessel…” Orson Pratt said, “State will be divided against state, city against city, town against town, and the whole country will be in terror and confusion; mobocracy will prevail…”
Times of the Gentiles
The big question is, “Will this occur in our day or is this years and years into the future?” I don’t know. I hope I don’t live to see the destruction of America but I know it is prophesied by the Savior in Third Nephi chapters 20 and 21. We just studied those as a church a few weeks ago. If the “remnant of Jacob” goes through America, he will “tear in pieces” (3 Ne 20:16 & 21:12).
I’m not trying to be fatalistic or pessimistic. I believe in this great nation, but it is not as great as it once was. The days of America’s greatness may be past. Are the days of the Gentiles over? Will we ever see America rise to its former state again? There are many millions who believe we are a great people but that we are on the wrong path, one that may now be irreversible. I agree.
There’s a lot happening in Israel in the last few days. It has defended itself against Syria and Gaza and as expected, is portrayed as the aggressor in the media. It always seems to be so. To me, one of the very last signs that the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled is when the Gentiles turn en masse against Jerusalem. I’m watching the events unfolding in Israel with great interest.
Come unto Christ
In spite of what I’ve just reviewed – internal wars, collapse of America, the remnant of Jacob tearing in pieces (Micah 5:8) – I am still optimistic. I am satisfied that the Lord continues to work with his people. He is calling to you and to me to come unto Him. He reaches out to us each day, quietly whispering to our souls to complete our preparations to be in His presence.
I go about my work trusting that the Lord will provide and he does. I try to treat other people with kindness, knowing that the Lord wants me to follow His example in this area. I patiently wait upon the Lord, asking each day if I am ready to meet Him. I am not and I know it. The Lord tries our souls, burning into our very being the idea that He is the source of our hope and peace.
I rejoice in these days, even though I know they are days of sadness for many in America. The coming of the Lord draws ever closer. I watch the signs with earnest anticipation. I invite you to watch with me. Be aware of the signs. Study them. Know what is prophesied. The Lord will be our rock in these difficult times. He will provide stability and security. He has promised peace.
Is there such a thing as orthodoxy in Mormonism? And who has the right to proclaim what is orthodox in our religion that should or should not be believed? I understand and accept that the men I sustain as leaders in the LDS Church have the right to determine and enforce what should be taught in the classrooms and declared from the pulpits of that worldwide institution.
But many things I attribute to Mormonism the religion, are not taught today in the LDS Church. Does that mean the Mormon religion and the LDS Church are two different things? Consider the recent General Conference address from Elder Donald Hallstrom, “Converted to His Gospel through His Church.” He is obviously declaring the Gospel is not the same as the church.
The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation, the doctrines that teach how we can be saved and live forever in a state of happiness, redeemed from death and hell. On the other hand, the church is the institution organized and established by the Lord through Joseph Smith in 1830 that has undergone a tremendous number of changes over the years.
Religion and Church
Although it embraces both, in my mind, our religion is something altogether different from the gospel and from the church. I suppose that’s dangerous ground. If you think about it, I’m saying what I believe to be truth is not limited to what the LDS Church declares to be truth today. That is indeed dangerous ground. It invites speculation that the Church limits us in some way.
At one time we taught that we embrace all truth. Yet some things we taught as truth in the early days of the church are no longer found in our official curriculum. I’m not talking about plural marriage, blood atonement or restricting the priesthood. I’m talking about things like the reality of evil spirits, catastrophes of the last days and the literalness of D&C 93:1.
I feel a debt of gratitude to three men whose views have changed my life. Although they do not want or care for the attention, I would like to acknowledge them, their ideas and their work. Each has worked tirelessly to bring their beliefs to light and I for one have benefited from their work. They illustrate the idea that something from the early days of our religion has been lost.
Jan Graf – Reality of evil spirits
I first met Jan at a time in my life when I was troubled by many things that would not go away. There is no other way to explain it concisely. Because of his ideas and explanations of things, I was able to make them go away. It’s that simple. What he teaches about how to remove distress is nothing new or different. It is simply the application of the principle of forgiveness.
But what is unique, unorthodox and controversial about Jan’s skill in helping people find peace are his beliefs about what causes stress in our lives. It is the idea that evil spirits are real, can be found in the world around us and are very active in afflicting and tormenting us. That is a very common belief in the early days of Mormonism but hardly ever taught in the church today.
I was so excited about the amazing results in my life from what he taught that Carol and I went to St. George to interview him and talk about writing a book. Because what he does is so easily misunderstood, he asked that I not pursue my project. Out of respect I dropped the idea but continue to refer people to him I know could benefit from his stress-reduction technique.
Anthony Larson – Latter-day catastrophes
A long time ago I ran across a book that got me genuinely excited about how the last days are going to unfold. It was not told from a social, political or even religious perspective but from a cosmological view that could only be described as unorthodox. Anthony Larson explained for me how the signs and prophecies of the scriptures are descriptions of natural events.
What he explained in his trilogy of prophecy books was not thought to be so unusual in the early days of Mormonism. We were at one time considered an Adventist church, preparing intently for the forthcoming return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even though his books are based on scripture and statements of early Mormon leaders, today they are considered unorthodox.
I have written many essays about his beliefs and interpretations of scripture. I have attended his seminars, read each of his books multiple times and had many dialogs and conversations about how he interprets myths of the past. I’m in the process of writing a fictional account based on the now unorthodox but one-time common beliefs of this visionary, prophetic man.
Denver Snuffer – The Second Comforter
I was recently introduced to the writings of Denver Snuffer, a man who claims to have received the Second Comforter and was asked by the Lord to write about it. That’s an amazing claim and obviously very unorthodox in our modern LDS church. He has generated a lot of controversy. Some have called him apostate or dangerous and said he should be excommunicated.
I have almost finished reading Denver’s eight published books. I have written previously that I would withhold judgment until I finished them all but I think I have made up my mind. Denver’s advice that we read his books in order has merit. I read them in reverse order. That may have been a mistake, but I survived because I read most of the “alternative views” previously.
I have decided I like Denver, or that I can at least accept and trust what he has written. Just as I have with Jan Graf’s and Anthony Larson’s writings, I have pondered and prayed about what I have learned. I am not dismayed or taken aback by his latest book as some others have been although I confess an initial misunderstanding of how he defines the sealing power.
I suppose I need to change my bio on Twitter, Google Plus and here on my blog. Because of my acceptance of the beliefs of the three men I have described, I guess I can no longer claim to be an orthodox Mormon. What’s more, I am discovering I am unusual in my church because I have long believed and taught that we can seek and should strive to have “spiritual experiences.”
After years of sharing some of my sacred experiences online, engaging in dialog about the reality of personal revelation, I have come to the conclusion there are many within our church that do not experience communication from the spirit world like I thought everybody did. That sounds weird, doesn’t it? “Spooky,” an embarrassing unorthodox belief, some would say.
Perhaps that is why there are two conflicting cultures within the LDS church today. On the one hand we are encouraged to share our testimonies, which are supposed to be based on personal sacred events. On the other hand, the subtle message is being communicated that we must keep our spiritual experiences to ourselves, because they are “too sacred” to share.
Orthodoxy seems to be all about what is appropriate and acceptable as the norm. As I wrote at the beginning of this essay, I accept and sustain the right of the leaders of this church to direct what is preached from the pulpit and what is taught in the classroom. The church is a place of order. It is a magnificent, effective organization that does tremendous good.
The meetinghouses, the temples, the missionary force, the humanitarian effort, the welfare system, the lay ministry, the willingness of the members to sacrifice and serve each other all attest to the goodness of this organization. But there is something more to our religion than just the church and our activity within it. There is something intense and personal.
That something today is unorthodoxy. It is our individual efforts to commune with God. It is our testimonies, our spiritual experiences, our determination to study, understand and internalize what we believe. It is developing our ability to hear and respond to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. It is our participation in the ordinances and adherence to the covenants we make.
In short, it is being different from the world and even from many within the church who are not willing to pay the price of obedience and sacrifice that inevitably bring the promised blessings. The church is not the same as the gospel and the church is not everything there is to our religion. There is so much more to Mormonism but you have to be willing to be unorthodox to see it.
“It’s obvious he still doesn’t understand celestial mechanics,” said her companion, who didn’t even bother to whisper. My daughter Cynthia turned around and glared at them. I ignored the whisperers and continued with my presentation.
“It’s time for scientists of the world, starting in this conference, to acknowledge there are other forces at work in the heavens besides gravity. Electromagnetism as a source of energy is billions of times more powerful than gravity. The planets are charged bodies.”
“So now you’re an expert on unified field theory. Get off the podium, Volynsky. Just because you knew Einstein doesn’t make you a scientist.” I recognized the other Harvard delegate as Harrison Stafford, who had been criticizing my work for years.
“As I was saying before I was interrupted, the historical record is clear. Earth has suffered natural catastrophes on a global scale both before and early in recorded history. The evidence for these catastrophes can be found in the recent geological record.”
“And you’ve been proven wrong over and over again. Give it up Manny. You’re a deluded crackpot. When are you going to accept the obvious?” I had known Harrison to be combative in his writing, but never rude like this in a public forum.
I turned to the moderator of the panel. “Mr. Goldstone, will you please ask members of the audience to be respectful? I was invited to present my research to an intelligent company of distinguished scientists. Is this a demonstration of the scientific method in action?”
Although it appeared Mr. Goldstone was amused by the outburst, he turned to the audience and obliged my request. “If there is time, we will have a question and answer session at the conclusion of the scheduled presentations. Please refrain from making comments until you are recognized.”
After a short pause he turned back to me and said, “You may continue Mr. Volynsky.”
I glared at Harrison. “I know only a few of you have read my works. Yet some of you have made public rebuttals. I understand some of my claims may seem a little, uh, unusual…”
“You mean crazy,” said Harrison.
“Doctor Stafford,” Goldstone started but Harrison waved him off.
“Time will bear out my claims. New evidence will come forth proving that the planets have not always been stable in the orbits we see today. The day will come when it will be common knowledge that Venus was once a comet on a collision course with earth.”
I tried to cut my lecture short but there was so much I wanted the people to hear. If only they would listen with an open mind. The fidgeting and coughs were becoming more frequent so I concluded with what I wanted them to remember more than anything else.
“Theories – that’s all we have. We weren’t there so we don’t know. We draw our conclusions from the same record – the geology of this earth and the records of the ancient people of this world. Don’t reject the ancient records because they don’t coincide with what we see around us now. The heavens once looked different than they do today.”
I sat down to a smattering of applause, anticipating the question and answer session to begin right away. I was disappointed to hear Dr. Goldstone announce that in the interest of time, the questions would have to be held until all presentations had been made.
Leaning over, I whispered to Cynthia, “Well, how did I do?”
“You were wonderful Daddy. You always are.”
“I can’t believe Harrison was so rude.”
“I don’t think he has read any of your books.”
We waited through three more presentations that afternoon. With each successive speaker it became clearer that this conference was not at all what I had been told. What I thought was going to be a vindication of my work was turning into a forum for attacking my theories.
The last speaker sat down and Mr Goldstone announced that there would be an hour break for dinner. This was preposterous. Half the audience would leave. How was I ever going to convince the scientific community what my years of research had revealed?
We found an open table at the hotel restaurant nearby. It was crowded and noisy. I almost had to shout so Cynthia could hear. It was so nice to have her here with me. I wish her mother were still alive to enjoy this trip to the West Coast. How I missed her.
“Cynthia, I think you’re right.”
“The biggest problem we have is that the most influential people in the field won’t read my books. If they did then we could at least have an intelligent conversation.”
Cynthia nodded in agreement. “From what I can tell, they have only read what Harrison has written. It’s obvious that he didn’t read more than a few pages, if any before writing that nasty review in his Science News Letter.”
How I appreciated that Cynthia had kept up with the controversy. I could always count on her. She didn’t dismiss me like so many others. She worked hard for her PhD, but never stopped believing in my work no matter what some of her colleagues said.
“Why won’t they take the time to read the sources? It’s all there in the books.”
“Turf wars, daddy. If you’re right then they’re all crazy. They can’t handle that.”
“I know I can never convince Harrison. His mind is made up. But no scientist should rely solely on what others have said without considering the evidence firsthand. That’s irresponsible.”
“No, it’s called keeping your job. Harrison is very powerful. If he tells them to ignore your books then they better not admit to anyone that they have looked at them.”
“So I’m a heretic. OK, I can accept that. But at least give me a fair hearing.”
Cynthia sighed. “You know I love you daddy, but I still can’t believe how naïve you are after all these years. People aren’t interested in the truth. They want things to remain the same.”
“But that’s the problem. Things change. Things have changed in the past and I’ve tried to give people the evidence. Things are going to change again. History repeats itself.”
“You know that and I know that, but you’re going to have to consider the possibility that your ideas are too radical for the scientists of our day. They will never accept your theories.”
“I can never believe that. I’ve got to keep trying. I know I’m right.”
Cynthia smiled at me. “That’s what I love about you. You never give up.”
“Let’s get back to the conference center. It’s time for the Q and A to begin.”
Copyright (c) Tim Malone, 2011
About a thousand other people and I enjoyed an evening with Richard Bushman last night. He spoke about Joseph and Emma for about 40 minutes and then entertained questions from the audience for another 40 minutes. While his insights on Joseph and Emma were interesting, I found the questions more fascinating, because they reflected a lot of the issues I blog about.
For those who don’t know, Richard Bushman is the author of Rough Stone Rolling, the 2005 biography of Joseph Smith that has become the definitive account of the prophet’s life as told from the viewpoint of a faithful historian. I took advantage of the opportunity to have him autograph my copy and was not the only one in the audience who waited in line to do so.
Open and honest discussion
It was wonderful to see so many people interested in learning more about this great man and the beginnings of the Mormon Church. Every time he finished answering a question a dozen more hands shot up. We could have been there for several more hours. I think that goes to show you how much we as a people appreciate someone who has studied the prophet’s life in such detail.
There were many questions that focused on the process of translating, the Urim and Thummim, the seer stone in the hat, polygamy, the three witnesses and the eight witnesses, Oliver Cowdery, the martyrdom, succession, Book of Abraham translation, Mountain Meadows massacre and folk magic. He welcomed every question and encouraged us to ask even the most difficult ones.
A well-qualified historian
One of the most refreshing comments I heard was his expression of appreciation to the church, specifically to the church historian’s office, Marlin K. Jensen and Richard E. Turley for the recent publication of Massacre at Mountain Meadows. He then said that he hoped that the church would do the same with the issue of polygamy, treating it openly and with historical accuracy.
Burt what impressed me most about the evening was the obvious fact that Richard Bushman is a highly respected historian who probably understands the beginnings of Mormonism as well as or better than anyone else. Besides being the co-general editor of the Joseph Smith Papers, he chairs the board of directors of the Mormon Scholars Foundation. He knows early church history.
Serving faithfully in the church
And yet, Richard Bushman has served as a bishop, a stake president, a patriarch and is currently a sealer in the Los Angeles temple. I would say that he is a faithful, believing Latter-day Saint, in spite of everything he knows about early church history. I bring this up specifically to make a point about a common response to my essays and how I can still believe when I know this stuff.
I recently had someone ask me how I was able to do what I do – serve faithfully in the church – in spite of all that I know about, as he called it, “the more disturbing facts of the origins of Mormonism.” I think maybe he might want to redirect that question to someone like Richard Bushman who knows so much more than I do and yet has been a faithful believer all his life.
Believing in spite of knowing
This individual asked, “How do you reconcile your belief and what the church teaches, with the history of things like the origins of the temple ceremony, polygamy, first vision contradictions, development of the story of the restoration of the priesthood, and other issues?” I answered him privately in an email but have been pondering this whole idea of believing in spite of knowing.
Frankly, it perplexes me. I think I have expressed this same sentiment several times in previous essays every time it comes up. What is so hard about studying and understanding our very early church history, warts and all, and then continuing to believe that Joseph Smith was an instrument in the hands of God to bring about the restoration of the gospel and his church in the latter days?
Shocked by our history
Are we supposed to be shocked, dismayed and overwhelmed with doubt every time we discover some new fact about the early days of the church? For example, last night we were reminded that beer and wine were used by the early saints, and sometimes even whiskey. Today, we would be shocked if we learned that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles drank a glass of wine.
Yet in volume IV, page 120 of the History of the Church on the date of April 17 1840 we read, “This day the Twelve blessed and drank a bottle of wine at Penworthan, made by Mother Moon forty years before.” Things were different back then, weren’t they? The Word of Wisdom had been received in 1833 but was not binding upon the saints as a commandment like it is today.
History not being hidden
When Fanny Alger was brought up by Brother Bushman last night as an example of an early failed attempt by Joseph to obey the law of plural marriage, I’ll bet there were a few people in the audience who did not know that Joseph had married this sixteen year old girl in 1833. The revelation on celestial marriage had been received in 1831 but Joseph was hesitant to obey.
For some reason, the idea that Joseph participated in plural marriage is supposed to be shocking to us. This continues to be one of the most common tactics of our critics – to try to shock us with facts that are supposedly being hidden from us by our modern church leaders. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are always being encouraged to study our history and learn the facts.
Selling the Book of Mormon Copyright
Another example that our critics like to throw at us is the failed attempt to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon in Canada. Until recently, the only source for this event was the memory of David Whitmer who was not present when Joseph sent the brethren on their mission. Joseph never said that it must have been a false revelation as Whitmer claimed he said upon their return.
We’re then supposed to conclude that if we can’t trust a revelation from Joseph then how are we supposed to know what is revelation from God. I’m not an apologist but I’m grateful that there are people who dig into these things to get the facts and present them for our review. Of course, the same facts can be presented in favorable or unfavorable light, depending on where you go.
Consider carefully the source
For example, you can read the story of the copyright mission to Canada on MormonThink as supposed evidence that even Joseph Smith didn’t know when revelations were from God and when they were from the devil. Yet you can read the same account in greater clarity and detail from a more trustworthy and reliable source like FAIR and come away strengthened in faith.
We could go on and on with hundreds of things that are supposed to be shocking to us modern believers of the faith because they seem so out of character with what we’ve been taught about Joseph or other leaders of the early LDS church. If we are bothered by something, then we need to do our homework and get all the facts as part of the process of confirming truth for ourselves.
Get the facts straight
If I were concerned upon reading that Joseph Smith was supposed to have said that even he didn’t know when a prophecy came from the Lord or that he is supposed to have said that a revelation he received must have come from the devil, as David Whitmer said he did, then I would want to read more about this and would be very careful about the source that I study.
Because if I believed that Joseph really said this, then that might lead me to conclude that if even prophets have a hard time understanding revelation, how can I really be expected to understand or know the truth of revelations that come to me, especially revelation that I think is telling me that the church itself is true? Do you see how important it is to get the facts of certain matters?
The Joseph Smith Papers
Of course Joseph never said that he must have received a false revelation. In fact, according to more recent information discovered, the brethren who went on the mission to Canada in an attempt to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon felt that they were successful on their mission and that the Lord was pleased with their efforts. The promised sale was conditional.
I’m grateful for brethren like Richard Bushman, who are helping to bring us the Joseph Smith papers. In volume 1 of the Manuscript Revelation Books, we have the full copy of the mission to Canada revelation. It can be read there. The criticism that Joseph later claimed that the revelation had not come from God is in all likelihood the product of a false memory by David Whitmer.
We can believe the prophet
As I wrote in a previous essay, I believe it is our lifelong pursuit to understand revelation and to come to know how the Lord communicates with each of us. We can rely on the promises of the Lord to lead us, guide us and walk beside us because we have the gift of the Holy Ghost. I hope we cherish this gift and live worthy of the constant companionship of this promised revelator.
Joseph Smith knew when the Lord was inspiring him and so did most of the brethren who were with him at the time when he received revelation. We can trust that the Lord will help us to have the assurances we need to believe in the mission of the prophet Joseph Smith. Someday, we will meet Brother Joseph and if we still have questions about his life we can ask them to him directly.
“I don’t like travelling,” said Jason as he rolled up his blankets. “You have to pack so much food and water and all those changes of clothes, especially for a long journey.” He wanted to complain some more but the look on his mother’s face stopped him short. Instead he asked, “How long will we be gone this time?”
“Jason, come here. Sit on the couch next to me.” After he had done so, his mother continued. “Do you remember when father told us about this journey a few months ago?” Jason nodded his head and his mother continued. “The famine has become worse since that time. We may never be coming back to our home.”
“What?” exclaimed Jason, “Not coming back? How can this be?” This was the only home he had ever known. He felt safe here and loved living in the palace with his cousins. Yes, he had gone on some travels with father, but only to the next kingdom to trade spices for sheepskins. “Where will our journey take us?”
Mother paused a long time before responding. She stood up and had her back to him and it looked like she had tears in her eyes. “None of us are really certain, Jason. We will follow the trade routes as far as we have ever gone before and then…” she trailed off. “We will follow the directions in the sacred scrolls.”
Although Jason was only nine years old, he had heard his parents read from the sacred scrolls many times. He had even snuck them out and tried to read them a few times himself. But they were hard to understand. They seemed mysterious, and were written in a cryptic kind of language that spoke of marvelous treasures.
“So we’re going to find the long-lost treasures of the scrolls!” Jason was very excited now and finished his packing as quickly as possible. Mother was relieved and helped him tie everything into the bundles that would go on the backs of the horses. They were lucky to have them. Some of the people were walking on foot.
Being a prince was no easy job. He had to act so dignified around the palace. But now that they were on a journey, he could ride and talk with his cousins and their friends without having to worry. They had fun as they chased the animals and took little side trips to see things they had seen previously on these trails.
Sometimes they would walk to let the horses rest. There were several families all travelling together. They needed to stay close for safety once they got past all the friendly kingdoms they had been through before. At last they came to the end of the known realms and were entering into lands that were full of many surprises.
One day, they woke up and found outside their tents a very curious round ball unlike anything they had ever seen before. It was made out of metal and had a couple of pointers that showed the direction they should take on their journey. Father said it was a gift from those who had gone before. He read it in the scrolls.
They could only carry so much food and had to rely on the men to hunt and find food to eat. Sometimes writing would appear on the round ball that told them where to go to find food. The writing seemed to show up just when they were getting most hungry and tired from their travels. Somebody was guiding them.
The writing told them to go towards the mountains they had seen for many days in the distance. It started to get cold as they began to climb the mountains. Jason was glad that they had packed the sheepskin blankets to keep them warm at night. He looked up at the stars and wondered why they looked different than before.
One morning there was a strong earthquake. Nobody was hurt but it scared the animals and the little children. Jason was not afraid. He heard the men talking around the campfire the night before that they were getting closer. “Closer to what?” he wondered. Mother looked worried and talked quietly to his father.
They had been going south for so long that the sun did not come out during the day any more. After the earthquake, it seemed to Jason that he could see strange things in the sky. It was getting darker and darker each day, but when the clouds parted he saw stars going by quickly. Stars aren’t supposed to move like that.
There were more earthquakes, but still they kept on climbing the mountains. Some of the men wanted to turn back, but Jason’s father would read to them out of the scrolls and they would agree to go on. Finally they came to a spot that was not so cold and had some shelter from the wind that was close to the highest peak.
“Here we wait,” announced Jason’s father. “Wait for what?” Jason wondered. Even though his father was a king, Jason could see that some of the people were not happy with where the king had brought them. Although a few mountain goats and a nearby stream provided food and water, this seemed like no place to live.
“We won’t be here long,” Jason’s father told mother. “Tomorrow you will see why.” And he was right. The noise started before dawn. It was a vibrating noise, long and low, as if it were coming from deep down inside the planet. They could not only hear the noise, but could feel it too. It got louder and longer and deeper.
Then they saw it! There in the sky above them was what looked like the moon, only it wasn’t a moon, it was another planet. Now it made sense to Jason why it looked like the stars had been rushing by. They had been moving faster and faster until they caught up with the planet and overtook it. It was now right below them.
Of course, to Jason, it looked like it was above them. Astonished, he watched as his father went out a little ways from the camp and raised his long staff in the air that he always carried with him. Lightning jumped from the staff towards the top of the nearby mountain that then caused something wonderful to happen.
It seemed like the whole top of the mountain opened up. Something started to flow between the mountain and the planet up above. The same thing happened from the other planet and the two energy flows met and merged. The noise was deafening but Jason’s attention was riveted on what was happening to his father.
He was rising up in the air, going faster and faster until he was out of sight. Jason turned to mother but she didn’t seem frightened at all. “It was all in the scrolls,” she explained. Your father is going to the other world to tell them we are here. They have been expecting us. We will be able to follow him a little later.”
At last Jason understood what the scrolls meant. The long-lost treasure was the world above them. They had been broken off from this world so long ago that nobody believed the scrolls anymore. They talked about the many things they would find in the world above. Jason could hardly wait until he could go there.
They had come home. No wonder his father said they weren’t going to stay there in the tops of the mountains. They were all going to go to the new world. He looked up in amazement as the beauty of the world above. It looked like most of it was water, which he had only seen in books. Mother said it was called earth.
I’ve seen dust storms in Denver before, but there’s something different about this one. I can’t put my finger on it. It seems so…I don’t know…red. And why is there so much dust in the air anyway? It’s not all that windy right now. It looks like the dust is falling from somewhere high up in the sky. It’s not being picked up off the ground and blown around by the wind. But that’s impossible. Dust doesn’t just fall from the sky like that, especially not in the winter. What could it be…? Mesmerized, Mitch Johnson continued to watch the red dust fall as he drove towards the Denver International airport.
“And planes don’t fall from the sky like that either,” he said aloud.
Mitch’s attention was diverted from his thoughts about the weird weather when he heard what he thought was a car backfiring. He looked up and saw a plane dropping much too fast for a safe landing. He was driving to the airport to catch a flight to Washington D.C. to attend a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. He had recently been awarded a prize for his work on the effects of planetary gravity on comets and was an invited guest to present a paper on the subject. It was quite an honor for such a young astrophysicist from the University of Colorado. Well, 34 seemed young to him.
It looked like the jet engines were surging and then flaming out. He heard the popping sound of the surges a few seconds after he saw the flames. But what really caught Mitch’s eye was the strange blue glow around the nose and engines of the aircraft. “What the hell is that?” he asked aloud. It was now apparent that the plane was in serious trouble. The likelihood that the crew would be able to land the jet dead stick on final approach was looking very slim.
Mitch quickly pulled over, grabbed his iPhone out of his shirt pocket and began shooting video of the aircraft. Just as he started recording, the engines popped once again and then miraculously restarted. And not a moment too soon, as the plane was less than 1,000 feet above the ground. He continued to record the landing, hoping to catch another sighting of the strange electrical glow on the leading edges of the plane, but it was not repeated. In an amazing demonstration of deliberate control, the pilot kept the nose up as the engines came back up to speed just in time to prevent a certain crash landing.
The jet finally slammed down roughly, a ways past the normal touchdown area, bounced noticeably and careened down the runway. Denver runways are very long, but it was obvious that this plane wasn’t going to be able to stop in time. It burst into the field past the end of the runway and ended up in a small ravine a few yards short of a roadway. Incredibly, there was no fire. Mitch had been on a flight from Las Vegas to Burbank that had overshot the runway back in 2000. He could just imagine the horror the passengers and crew must be going through right now.
He put his iPhone back in his pocket and raced to the end of the runway which was less than a mile away from where he had stopped. Even though there were many vehicles headed in that direction, Mitch was able to drive to within a dozen yards of the jet. He was one of the first to arrive on the scene. Most of the passengers had already escaped down the emergency slides and were milling around. He was surprised when one of them ran up to his truck as he stopped, clutching tightly at a leather briefcase.
“Can you get me to the terminal right away?” asked an old man with wild and frantic eyes. “I’ve got to catch a flight to Washington D.C. and I don’t have time to wait around for the emergency crews.”
Mitch stared at the old man slack jawed, but only for a second. “What are you, crazy? We’ve got to see if anybody’s hurt and help them!”
The old man looked around and said, “Look, nobody’s hurt. The pilot did an amazing job and got us down safely. We all got off the plane okay and now I need to catch my flight. Will you take me or not? I don’t have time to wait for a shuttle bus.”
Now Mitch was certain that the old man was crazy. He got out of his truck and began making his way toward the plane to find a member of the flight crew. The old man was right in step behind him but Mitch didn’t stop. He ran quickly down the little ravine and approached a uniformed crew member. “Is everyone alright?” he asked when he came to a man who appeared to be the captain. Surprised, the officer whirled around and looked closely at Mitch, tying to ascertain if he was a passenger.
“I saw the landing from where I was stopped along Airport Boulevard. In fact, I got the whole thing on video. Are you okay?” Mitch repeated.
It finally registered with the captain that Mitch was neither a passenger nor rescue crew. His eyes left Mitch’s face and resumed looking around at the passengers. He was trying to determine for himself the answer to Mitch’s question. “I don’t know yet,” he said. “I’ll be shocked if nobody is seriously hurt but so far everyone seems to be off the plane and uninjured.”
“What happened?” Mitch shouted after the captain, who had turned to find the rest of his crew. He had to run after him and repeat the question.
“It’s this damned red dust,” yelled the captain. “Look around. You can see how thick it is. It got sucked into our engines and caused them to flame out. We lost them on the way in at 30,000 feet and barely got them going just in time to land. It’s a miracle. If you got that landing on video I’d like to see it. I didn’t think we were going to make it.”
The old man suddenly jumped between them and grabbed the captain’s arm. “Look,” he said, “my name is Manny Volynski. Here’s my card. I was on that plane but now I’m leaving. I don’t have time to wait for the rescue crew.” And with that, he turned and hurried up to the road on a trot toward the terminal.
The captain stared at the card for a second, looked up and stared at Manny, who was already out of earshot and then spun back to Mitch. With desperation in his voice, he asked “Will you go after him? He can’t leave until the authorities get here.” Wanting to protest but seeing that it would be helpful to the overwhelmed captain, Mitch went back to his truck without a word to get the crazy old guy and bring him back.
He sped up the road and pulled in front of the old man cutting him off. Jerking open the door, he jumped out and confronted him. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“Look, Mitch. I just got off a plane that almost crashed because it sucked up dust from your comet that is now falling all over the Western United States. We were lucky just to get out of California let alone make it all the way here to Denver. I’m going to Washington D.C. to try one more time to convince your buddies that this thing is much more dangerous than you’ve been telling people. Now are you coming with me?”
Mitch let go of Manny’s arm and stepped back with a look of shock in his expression. “How the hell do you know me and what do you mean by ‘my comet’?”
“Come on! It’s named after you since you discovered it. You’ve been all over the news telling people how wonderful it is that we will have such a close encounter with your great comet. Don’t you realize by now that this dust is from your comet? I tried to tell you about this a long time ago but you never listen to guys like me.”
It finally dawned on Mitch that he knew this old man. He was the guy that kept showing up at astronomical conferences claiming that the earth was going to be visited by a planet in the near future. Even worse, he argued that a rendezvous with this planet would bring catastrophic changes to the world and disaster for people everywhere.
Seeing that Mitch recognized him, Manny continued. “I told you that this would happen. I even tried to tell you what’s going to happen next, but you had me thrown out of the last conference. Do you believe me now?”
“Believe what, old man?” Mitch snapped back. I only believe that you’re crazy. I promised the captain that I would get you back to the plane. Now get in!”
The desperation was evident in Manny’s eyes as he almost shouted, “You of all people should believe me. You know comets and have published papers on the effects of planetary gravity on comets. This comet is so large that when it passed by Saturn, it was pulled slightly closer to the sun. It went behind the sun at a steeper angle and is now coming a lot closer to earth than you have told the media. In fact, it’s coming tail first. We’re starting to pass through the tail and you know it. This dust is from your comet!”
Mitch did some quick mental calculations and began to put things together. He had been too distracted by his preparations for the trip back East and hadn’t gone to the observatory last night. Manny could be right. He hadn’t seen the trajectory of the comet as it came from behind the sun. Perhaps this dust really was from the comet. He forgot all about the captain and the plane. Now he only wanted to get back to his observatory.
“Get in,” he said to Manny. “I need to get back to the university.”
“Haven’t you been listening to me?” replied Manny. “It’s too late for that. You don’t need to make any more observations. The evidence is all around us now. We need to get to your conference and convince all the other astrophysicists what is really going on. They’ll listen to you and the governments of the world will listen to them.”
Although he wasn’t convinced at all, Mitch realized that they still had time to catch the flight, and he didn’t want to argue with him anymore. Manny got in and they drove towards the parking garage, arriving just in time to catch a shuttle to Concourse B where the United Airlines flight to Washington DC should have been boarding. The gate was strangely vacant and passengers were crowded around the counters. They had been in such a hurry that they hadn’t noticed that no planes were boarding or taking off.
“What’s going on?” Mitch asked a traveler at the back of the crowd.
“All flights have been delayed by the dust storm. A plane from California barely made it in. Some others weren’t so lucky. Take a look at the news on the monitors.”
This was not good. How could this be happening? Mitch thought to himself. Just yesterday it had been his face up on those monitors telling the world that this comet was no cause for alarm and that we should be in for some spectacularly beautiful sunsets. Astronomers a century ago caused great panic when they announced that comets contain poisonous cyanogen gas and that earth would pass through the tail of Haley’s comet. People panicked, nothing happened and astronomers learned not to share some things.
Not at all certain that he wouldn’t be recognized, and not wanting to explain himself, Mitch ducked into a lounge area to think. Yes, he knew that this comet was different. For one thing it was bigger than any comet he had ever seen. It was almost the size of a small planet. In fact, nobody had been able to get good measurements because of the way it was approaching the sun. They were hoping to make those observations today, but he had to catch the flight to the conference. No, this was just not good at all.
“I tried to tell you, but you just wouldn’t listen.” It was Manny again. Mitch had forgotten about him with all the excitement of the cancelled flights and the news of the dust storm displayed on the airport monitors. Manny sat down next to him at the bar. “That’s not a comet. It’s a planet and it’s going to cause a whole lot more destruction before it gets to where it’s going. You can warn the people and help them prepare.”
“Prepare for what?” Mitch exclaimed. “Manny, you’re not a scientist. You are not an astronomer. You know nothing about the world we live in. We spend our lives making observations and making sense of the things that fly around out there in space. You spend your days digging old myths out of books and manuscripts that contain nothing but folk tales. There’s no precedent for all your conjecture and theory. Your ideas of an ancient polar configuration of planets could not possibly be correct.”
It didn’t look like the falling dust was going to let up soon and Manny had wanted to talk to Mitch for a long time. This had turned out to be quite fortuitous that Mitch just happened to show up when the plane went off the end of the runway. Although Manny’s wife had died years earlier, he had tried to stay close to his daughter in California. He was very proud of her. She was a research scientist and worked at the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory. But she didn’t go in much for his theories either.
Manny was much calmer now. He sensed an opportunity to finally make his case to someone who had the background to understand what he had researched, discovered and written about over the years. He threw out an easy question. “If I can tell you what’s going to happen next and then what’s going to happen after that, will you at least consider that there may be something to these myths and theories that can help us?”
Mitch sighed. “Go ahead old man. It doesn’t look like we’re going anywhere right away. I think I already heard enough of your ideas at the last conference but I’ll listen just this one time. Hopefully they’ll let us board the plane soon. What have you got to say? If this dust doesn’t let up in five minutes, I’m going back to Boulder.”
Manny pulled a picture of his daughter out of the old worn leather briefcase that he always carried with him. It contained his charts and diagrams that he used to explain his ideas to anyone who would listen. The flight attendant told him to leave it behind when they jumped down the emergency slide but he took it anyway. “Do you see this picture of my daughter, Cynthia? She’s just like you – a scientist. She’s a seismologist – graduated from Cal Tech. She doesn’t believe me either, but she’s about to get a lot more data to study over the next few weeks than she has had in her 27 short years of life.”
As a scientist, Mitch didn’t believe in love at first sight, but there was something in those intelligent blue eyes that stared back at him from the photo. He was surprised at how deeply he felt emotions stirring within him at the sight of the beautiful girl. He had suppressed any kind of romantic feelings over the years as he dedicated himself to his work. Wait a minute…this was just a silly picture. What was he thinking?
Manny continued, “As the planet gets closer to earth, this dust we’re experiencing will be mixed with ash. Besides bringing jets down out of the sky, the dust will mix with the water supplies of the earth and cause them to be polluted. It will kill fish and will be a real problem to major metropolitan areas that will soon be without water. The ash will cause much sickness and death to anyone who is exposed to it. They must stay indoors.
“After a little while this dust is going to turn to hail sized pebbles. That will make some racket when it comes down. It will knock out power and communications systems all over the world. It will also take out most of our satellites. Think about how that will affect our way of life. Then we’ll pass though some sheets of petroleum-based material that will mix with the pebble-sized hail and catch fire as it falls through the atmosphere. Spontaneous fires will erupt all over the world, burning forests and cities alike. This is not unprecedented by the way. It was the cause of the Peshtigo fires of 1871.
“The falling debris will get larger and larger until it comes down like artillery shells. It will last for days and will wipe out the crops of the earth, burning them all up. About this time the earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic activity will begin in earnest. Nobody has ever felt earthquakes like the ones that are going to be caused when the planet comes close enough that the gravitational pull rips the tectonic plates apart with a force that is indescribable. Our planet will be covered in clouds and smoke and ash that get thicker and hotter by the hour making it more and more difficult to breathe.”
“Stop!” shouted Mitch angrily. “I’ve heard enough of your doomsday prophecies. This is just a comet coming by. It’s not going to cause the end of the world and you can’t go around telling people this kind of stuff. It will cause pandemonium and mass panic. Where did you come up with all this crap? Oh wait, don’t tell me. You read it in some ancient manuscript that you believe tells the story of what really happened sometime in our past. Well, I don’t believe it and you have no evidence for all this nonsense.”
“I didn’t say it would cause the end of the world,” Manny replied. It will just cause a whole lot of destruction. The planet is not going to hit us. It is going to come up alongside us and overtake us in the same orbit around the sun. Eventually it will come so close that the magnetic poles of the two planets will align. Because the oncoming planet is larger than the earth, they will rotate at a much slower speed. When that happens, you had better hope that you are not living anywhere north of a large body of water.”
“I know I’m going to regret this, but dare I ask why?” Mitch questioned.
Manny was almost gleeful as he finished his description of the events of the coming weeks and months. “You know that right now, the centrifugal force of the earth causes a large bulge of water at the equator. When the earth slows down, where is that water going to go? Back to the poles, of course! Boy I would love to see that view from space when it happens. Think of all the water in the Gulf of Mexico. Anybody who lives in the states around the Mississippi river is going to be wiped out by onrushing water. And the same goes for the Northern California coast and the Northeastern seaboard.”
“Are you through? Mitch asked incredulously as he stood up to leave.
“No, but that’s enough for now. I wouldn’t want to overwhelm you,” said Manny. Just concentrate on what I said first about this dust turning to pebbles and the possibility of fire from the sky. You can read about all the rest of the stuff in my books. It’s all there. It’s just too bad that you haven’t read them. You could help save people.”
Mitch was sorry that he had agreed to listen to Manny. He felt like he should say something to make it clear that he never wanted see this old man again but just then a news report on the airport monitor caught his eye. Everyone was crowding around to see the live video feed of an incredible scene coming from Seattle. It looked like heavy hail was falling; only it wasn’t hail. It was sand and pebbles falling in sheets like rain. But the most shocking thing was that some of it was coming down with fire. Yes, it was fire from the sky, something he and his colleagues had said many times could never happen.
Within a few moments it was gone, but not before several fires had broken out in the city. Looking away from the TV and out the windows of the airport, Mitch could see that the red dust had finally stopped falling. Flights would soon be boarding and leaving.
“That’s just a sample of what we’re in for,” said Manny, at his side again. “The dust and hail will be back and will be more widespread with each passing hour. We’ve got a small window before travel becomes impossible. I’m going to that conference to try to make a difference. It would sure help if you could introduce me and let me present evidence from the historical record. It’s all right here,” he said as he patted his briefcase.
Mitch took a long look at Manny although he was still skeptical. He said nothing as they got in line to board the plane. He was thinking. It would be career suicide to associate himself with Manny Volynski. He could play it safe, walk away right now, and go back to his telescope at the university. In light of the events of the day, his colleagues would understand if he wasn’t at the conference. But if what Manny said was true, then what would it matter? A career is nothing compared to saving humanity.
“Come on, Mr. Volynski. I want to look at those documents in your briefcase. Let’s go save the world and that beautiful daughter of yours.”
“I didn’t think you noticed,” smiled Manny, as they boarded the plane.
Copyright (c) Tim Malone 2009 – Painting of meteoroids (c) iStockphoto
In a highly unusual move for me, I’m going to endorse a movie based on a trailer. It has already been panned by the critics as over the top, but I like what I’m seeing in the trailer and look forward to seeing it. I don’t go in for the 2012 timeframe, but there are a lot of interesting scenes in the movie that correspond to what I believe about events that will come to pass in the very last days. Enjoy!
Update: The trailer has been removed.