The Electric Universe – Fact or Fiction?

A new image from the far side of Mercury was released by NASA today. It was taken by the Messenger probe that flew by last week before it begins an orbit of Mercury in a few years. It has been sending back a wealth of data about the planet that was not previously known. This image was one of the first of the far side.

Scientists are puzzling over this strange spider shape formed by a set of radiating troughs at the center of Mercury’s huge Caloris impact basin. The troughs might be stretch marks formed when the ground here expanded, but their relationship to the crater near the center is uncertain. In other words, the experts have no clue what could have caused this spider-like formation.

I was especially excited to see this image today and I’ll bet Dave Talbott was too. To me, it confirms a theory about the electric universe that modern science has completely rejected. This picture looks exactly like what happens when an electric arc is discharged on a planetary scale. Equally exciting is the electric arc blistering and cratering that is evident in the photo. I know, any astrophysicist will tell me that my interpretation of the photo is completely erroneous.

Now what has all this got to do with LDS theology? I’ll just share one tantalizing tidbit of information in a drawing that Joseph Smith shared with Philo Dibble. The Prophet said that in the drawing the sphere marked “A” represented the earth, and that the Ten Tribes were on the sphere marked “B”. He did not state the purpose for sphere “C”, but others have thought it to be the location of the City of Enoch.

Strange stuff, huh? I’ll bet you’ve never seen this drawing or read it’s explanation before. Now what happens when large planetary bodies come in close contact with one another? An electric discharge of course – an arcing of electric plasma between the two planets, which leaves marks exactly like those seen in the photo of the far side of Mercury not seen before today. Exciting!

Again, why is this important to you and me? In the last days we know that the Lord will return. Upon his return, there will be a great sign in heaven that all will see. The prophet Joseph said that sign will be a star or a comet. We know that the City of Enoch is prophesied to return as well as the Ten Tribes ‘from the North’. Who knows, perhaps the return of the Lord will be accompanied by the return of one or more planetary bodies that all on the Earth will see.

I know, this is all very strange and very unimportant for our salvation. We need to be focusing on preparing ourselves spiritually for the coming of the Lord. But to me, it’s nice to theorize about the meaning of some of the scriptures and prophecies that give us clues as to the what will happen when he comes. No, it’s more than nice. The Lord commanded us in section 61 to be watchful and sober, looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man. (v38)

If, like me, you find this fascinating and would like to learn more, I invite you to visit Anthony Larson’s website, Mormon Prophecy where he has a wealth of material about this and many other fascinating explanations for prophesied events of the last days.

Has the prophecy in Joel 2:31 been fulfilled?

In October 2001, just after the destruction of the world trade centers and the tragedy of the loss of all the lives of those who perished there, President Hinckley said this in his opening address of General Conference:

“The era in which we live is the fulness of times spoken of in the scriptures, when God has brought together all of the elements of previous dispensations. From the day that He and His Beloved Son manifested themselves to the boy Joseph, there has been a tremendous cascade of enlightenment poured out upon the world. The hearts of men have turned to their fathers in fulfillment of the words of Malachi. The vision of Joel has been fulfilled wherein he declared:

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call” (Joel 2:28–32).

I have no doubt that President Hinckley was right when he said that the vision of Joel had been fulfilled. I’m sure this point has been brought up and debated on the LDS mailing lists but there weren’t as many LDS Blogs back then. As we were discussing some of the prophesied signs of the last days, a friend recently reminded me that President Hinckley specifically said that this prophecy was fulfilled. I had to think twice, especially about the part about the moon into blood.

Does the burning of the World Trade Center towers qualify as ‘blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke’? How about the burning oil fields of Kuwait from the first gulf war? Do those qualify? Is it possible that Joel saw either or both of these events in his vision? Are these events the only occurrences of the prophecy being fulfilled or are there others for which we should continue to look? I’m especially interested in determining for myself how this fulfils the prophecy of the moon into blood.

In fact, it is my personal opinion that we have not yet seen the fulfillment of the part about the moon into blood. Why? Because each occurrence of the moon looking red so far has been a localized event. I would expect that when we do see the moon appear as if it is blood red it will be something that can and will be seen from any vantage point on the earth. What if the moon were to become incandescent because it has no way to dissipate heat. Is that a crazy thought?

Maybe not. It has been proposed by Velikovsky, Dave Talbott and Anthony Larson. But then their stuff has all been debunked as bogus science, hasn’t it? If you have Anthony Larson’s book, “And the Moon Shall Turn to Blood,” read his comments on page 68. It sure seems plausible to me, but then I’m not a scientist or astrophysicist to be able to say that such a thing could never happen. I’m just a common, ordinary member of the church trying to understand this prophecy.

What do you think? Has the prophecy in Joel 2:31 been fulfilled?

If I could only get through those Isaiah chapters!

Growing up in the church I often heard members say that they did not understand Isaiah. I’m not sure if they were just repeating what they had heard others say or if they really felt this way. In fact, I recall a gospel doctrine instructor who started a lesson on Isaiah by expressing that same sentiment. He said that even after reading the manual that he was still not sure if he understood what he had studied that week. It did not evoke a lot of confidence in what he was about to teach.

In my scripture study I have come to the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi. I am not a professional gospel scholar. We have them in the church you know. We pay our CES instructors to study the scriptures so they can explain them to us. Of course that doesn’t happen in California where I live. We don’t have released time seminary here but we do have full-time institute directors for the three local colleges and university. A good bishop once told me, “Don’t be too impressed by their knowledge of the scriptures. They get paid to study and teach the gospel all day.”

Nevertheless, I am impressed by the many good commentaries and lessons provided by well prepared institute and seminary teachers who work diligently to understand and to teach the meanings of the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon. It is the preparation of those CES employees who have helped me as I grew up to never really absorb that general attitude of so many in the church when they express that they just can’t understand those Isaiah chapters. I am fascinated by the prophecies of Isaiah. It fires my imagination as I read and ponder them.

I’m sure you’ve heard the story of the soldier who was carrying a serviceman’s copy of the Book of Mormon in his vest pocket when he was shot in the chest but not wounded. What had saved his life was that the bullet had been stopped by the paperback copy of the Book of Mormon in his pocket. Upon close inspection it was discovered that the bullet had been stopped precisely in the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi. He said, “You see, even a bullet can’t get through those chapters.” I am certain that this is a purely apocryphal story but it is entertaining nonetheless.

Nephi said that Isaiah’s words are plain to be understood by those who are filled with the spirit of prophecy. The Savior commanded us to study the words of Isaiah as they are of great worth. Nephi taught that he read the words of Isaiah to his brothers in order to more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer. The writings of Isaiah contain some of the most beautiful language describing the atonement of the Savior. This is found in Isaiah 53:

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” What descriptive words.

The point of this post is that I believe many have been done a disservice in the church by some teachers who have believed this erroneous perception that the Isaiah chapters of the Book of Mormon are hard to understand. Sure it takes a little bit of extra effort to look things up and to read background commentaries of others but it has been my experience that it is well worth it. Isaiah truly knew the Lord and by reading and understanding his words we can know him too.

What do you think? Why do so many in the church repeat this saying that Isaiah is hard to understand?

Are Mormons Zionists?

I guess it all depends on what you mean by Zionist. If you define Zionism as an international political movement that supports a homeland for the Jewish People in the Land of Israel, then you will have to ask each individual member their opinion. The church does not take sides. Personally, I’m all for the state of Israel having a right to exist. Other Mormons do not feel this way.

Consider this oft-quoted statement from President Howard W. Hunter on the subject: “We do not need to apologize nor mitigate any of the prophecies concerning the Holy Land. We believe them and declare them to be true. But this does not give us justification to dogmatically pronounce that others of our Father’s children are not children of promise. … Both the Jews and the Arabs are children of our Father. They are both children of promise, and as a church we do not take sides. We have love for and an interest in each.” (Devotional speech BYU 1979)

The future of Israel

I have written previously about the future history of Israel and why Mormons are so interested in the events in that Jewish state. “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes.” (Tenth Article of Faith). But is the literal gathering of Israel defined as a gathering of the Jews to the Holy Land or a gathering of the Saints to the Stakes of Zion? Is a ‘literal gathering’ to be interpreted as a political establishment of the state of Israel?

Members of the church have long anticipated a return of the Jews to Palestine as part of Israel’s gathering. The Prophet Joseph Smith sent Orson Hyde, an apostle, to Jerusalem, where in October 1841 he dedicated the land and prayed “for the gathering together of Judah’s scattered remnants” (HC 4:456). Some members of the Church are confused as to how this prayer is to be understood. Is this evidence that we are in support of Israel’s right to exist as a nation?

Differences of opinion

Even modern apostles have expressed differences of opinion on if Zionism is the same as the ‘literal gathering’ of Israel. Elder LeGrand Richards identified Zionism and the State of Israel as the expected “return,” the physical prelude to the spiritual “gathering.” Others, such as Elder Bruce R. McConkie, wrote that the Zionist ingathering was not that “of which the scriptures speak…. It does not fulfill the ancient promises.” He saw it as a “gathering of the unconverted” but “nonetheless part of the divine plan” (Millennial Messiah, Salt Lake City, 1982, p. 229).

To read several in-depth articles from an official church source that considers the subject, read the May 1972 Ensign which is all about Israel and the Holy Land. In there you will find this: “Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ have been to the Holy Land and have dedicated that country for the return of the Jews; and we believe that in the due time of the Lord they shall be in the favor of God again. And let no Latter-day Saint be guilty of taking any part in any crusade against these people.” (President Heber J Grant, General Conference, April 1921)


What do you think? Is Zionism officially recognized and endorsed by the church or is support for Zionism strictly a personal matter to be left up to the individual members?

What kind of warnings do we prefer?

There are occasions when I feel especially appreciative of the unique perspectives of life that come from being a Mormon. Let’s face it, we see life differently than most people of the world. We have the advantage of an understanding of the purpose of life that is very different. There are times when we can see the hand of the Lord in events that leave others perplexed.

So many in the world are bothered as they read the daily news accounts of trouble and anxiety and fear. Those who write headlines and stories that capitalize on fears and worries know this well. It is gripping to read how we are just a moment away from financial disaster and ruin that could turn into anarchy and despair, isn’t it? Those who write this way are experts at this style.

It seems there is not a day that goes by that we are not warned of the awful approaching doom of global warming, of the stock market crash and resulting anarchy that will surely follow. We are treated to headlines that proclaim the breakdown of society, the discontent and angst that seem to be afflicting and tormenting everyone, especially the youth. It all seems so tragic, doesn’t it? And it’s all threatened to happen any day now with much worse stuff to follow.

I prefer the quiet reassuring words of the scriptures; the simple, sweet and enduring writings of prophets and apostles. They do not shout out with headlines of doom and gloom, death and destruction, or do they? The warnings of the prophets and apostles are subdued, quiet and yet constant and steady. They are full of patience and longsuffering because so many do not listen or give heed. And yet they are no less dire in their predictions of the events of the last days.

One of those warnings from the Lord can be found right in the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants, “And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days.” (v4) “Wherefore, fear and tremble, O ye people, for what I have decreed…shall be fulfilled.” (v7) How do we feel when we read warnings like this?

“And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth.” (v13) “Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth…” What calamity? Skip to Section 45: “…they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land.” (v31) Well, there’s one.

“And there shall be earthquakes also in divers places, and many desolations…” (v. 33) “And it shall come to pass that he that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man.” (v39) “And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath.” (v40).

“And they shall behold blood, and fire, and vapors of smoke. And before the day of the Lord shall come, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall be turned into blood, and the stars fall from heaven.” (v41-42) “And in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them.” (v 26) “And the love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound.” (v27) “…the heavens and the earth shall pass away.” (v22)

I offer my opinion that the Lord, through his prophets has caused to be written warnings and dire predictions that far exceed anything the fearmongers of today’s headlines could ever write. The verses I have just quoted are great examples. There are many more that are more dire in their prophetic tone about flies and maggots and hailstones of fire (meteorites). Need I go on?

No, I think I’ve made my point. The Lord has been warning us for many years, over and over again. The verses in sections 1 and 45 were given in 1831. That’s a long time ago. When will they be fulfilled? Well obviously we have seen and are seeing some of them fulfilled. How well do we recognize them for what they are? The conditions of unrest, anxiety, angst, doom, gloom and despair were foretold by the Lord. The very content of headlines are a fulfillment of prophecy.

I hope this post has not been too discouraging. It is not intended to be so. I simply wanted to point out that the tendency of the news media to find the worst and the most distressing things in the world and bring them to our front door, our televisions and our computer screens is one of the conditions foretold for our day. We should not be surprised by how desperate it all seems.

The Lord did not intend for us to live desperate lives of anxiety and fear. That’s what I meant when I started this post about having a unique perspective as a Mormon. It’s not as if we are also not alarmed by what is happening in the world. It’s just that it does not or should not have the same effect on us that the writers of the headlines and news stories perhaps intended. Our response should be the quiet determination to remain faithful as we watch and wait on the Lord.

“Pray always, that ye may not faint, until I come. Behold and lo, I will come quickly…” (88:126) “Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour.” (133:11) “And immediately there shall appear a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together.” (88:93) “…and immediately after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after it is rolled up, and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled.” (88:95)

What do you think? Are the headlines of today a fulfillment of prophecy or is it just the way things are? I’ve been reading the news for many years. It just seems to be getting more obvious to me. Will the doom and gloom get worse? Will the talented and able fearmongers continue to improve in their craft? I think we can count on it. But I prefer to heed the warnings of the Lord and respond the way the prophets have asked – with faith, preparation and watchfulness.

Latter-day Commentary and Planet LDS

Thanks to John Hesch of KZION Radio who just added my Latter-day Commentary blog to the Planet LDS aggregator. I’m looking forward to more comments and feedback. That’s why I write – to connect with other bloggers and blog readers interested in similar topics. I hope I have something unique and worthwhile that will cause you to want to come back occasionally.

I recently added a new widget to my blog. It is called Feedjit. The widget shows people who enter and leave my site, where they came from and how they left. There was nothing to install and nothing to register. It was simple and easy to add. The cool thing about it is that it provides a quick and easy way to see which of my posts have become most popular.

Frankly, I’m surprised at what shows up most often at the top of the list. For example, the most popular entry for today is still my post on “Article VI: Faith. Politics. America.” It was just something I threw up there after I viewed the trailer for the movie and found it interesting. It was also one of first posts where I embedded video. Go figure. Why not go directly to their site?

The next most popular post is “Mothers Who Know and What Women Know.” I wrote that back in November when I was somewhat puzzled by all the hullabaloo about Sister Beck’s talk (Mothers who know) and the resulting ‘opposition’ web site (What Women Know). I think I’m seeing a pattern here. The most popular posts seem to be about potentially controversial issues.

My post with a new take on “The great and abominable church‘ also shows up high on the list. I had never considered this institution as the target of 1 Nephi 14:9-10 before. Another one that keeps popping up to the top is “Boy Scouts, gays and the LDS Church.” Every day a bunch of people come from a Google search to read that one even though it is really old news.

Donny Osmond on Eternal Marriage” still gets lots of traffic. It was written as an ‘atta boy’ for Donny’s frank and forthright comments about marriage on Oprah back in November. Maybe it’s the headline I choose: “Can a liberal Democrat be a good Mormon?” still draws a lot of attention. And then there’s one of my favorites: “Elder Ballard and my list of the four F’s“. Good stuff.

That should be enough of an introduction to new readers of Latter-day Commentary. Thanks for stopping by and allowing me to introduce myself. I usually post once a day. I think you’ll find the topics interesting. Comments are welcome. See you around.

Eschatology – The study of what?

I’m amazed at the interest and response of so many to the YouTube video (beware of the immature, rude and profane comments) about the TU24 asteroid due to pass by the earth in a few days (Jan 29 2008). The best response is from Phil Plait, the author of the Bad Astronomy blog. Phil has a vested interest in all the hullabaloo. He quit his job as an astronomer to capitalize on the interest on the subject with his upcoming book “Death From the Skies.” I’m looking forward to reading his book when it comes out.

I learned a new word the other day – eschatology. It means the study of the last days, and in particular, the events leading up to the prophesied end of the world. I like the qualified definition of the word in Wikipedia. The author of the article clarifies that the word can be more correctly translated as ‘the end of an age’. I think that many people who have not thought about it do not realize that the second coming of the Savior is not the end of the world. The end of the world is after the millennium, which is ushered in by the Savior’s advent.

“For not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig-tree.” (D&C 88:87) “…I will rend their kingdoms; I will not only shake the earth, but the starry heavens will tremble. For I, the Lord, have put forth my hand to exert the powers of heaven…” (D&C 84:118-119)

I am of the opinion that we are going to be hearing and reading a lot more in the days to come about the events of the last days. We are going to see the disbelievers mocking those who see the hand of God in the signs that will start to appear with greater frequency in the heavens. The Lord has foretold it and we should not be surprised by either the signs or the response of people who mock those who believe in the signs (see Matthew 24). Those signs include earthquakes, famines, disease, plagues, pestilences, unrest, wars, disasters and the elements in commotion.

Why should we study and understand the prophesied events of the last days? When people around the world are in distress and agitation over these things we can be at peace as we rely on our knowledge and testimony that all these things are foreknown and foretold. We do not need to be surprised or overly concerned. We can go about our business in faith and patience as we wait upon the Lord, knowing that these things will help prepare the hearts of the faithful.

Perhaps a rereading of Elder Oaks’ General Conference talk of April 2004 is in order. It is entitled, “Preparation for the Second Coming.” What do you think? Can the commotion about this asteroid be considered one of the signs of the times?