Note added 6-11-13: Greg Smith has published a much more complete review on the FAIR website. And I thought I was being a little harsh in my review here. Well, it’s good to have multiple sources to make comparisons. I hope I made it clear that I got a lot of good from the book even though I had problems with it, which I delineate below. Let the spirit be your guide.
I had not intended to write this review, but could not resist because the impression to share was so strong. I had intended to review chapter three of Passing the Heavenly Gift, but that can wait. I finished Proof of Heaven a week ago and did not feel the desire to review it as I do with this book. Proof of Heaven can stand on its own, already reviewed by many people. Visions of Glory has also been reviewed in several places, but the negative reviews are too dismissive for me.
I’m not going to say my review is negative, and I am going to recommend you read it, but I’m going to offer a few words of warning. There’s just something strange about this book that I can’t put my finger on at the moment. Maybe by the time I finish the review it will be clearer. The negative reviews on Amazon and elsewhere declare that Spencer was deceived. I’m not going to go that far. I believe Spencer was sincere when he described what he said he saw.
Visions of Glory combines two of my favorite topics – Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and the Last Days. Like several of the reviewers, I was fascinated with the first third of the book as he describes what he learned in his first two NDEs. I had little problem with what he offered and found myself nodding my head in agreement with some of his descriptions. The spirit burned in my heart as I recognized and understood that Spencer had shared some wonderful truths with us.
LDS Blogging on Last Days
I don’t doubt that Spencer did indeed experience the NDE’s as he described them. But I am just blown away by the detail in the last two thirds of the book in his third NDE. Cedar Fort’s wording on the cover that this is “one man’s astonishing account of the last days” causes me to immediately think, “Well, that’s just his interpretation.” And indeed, that’s the first warning I’m going to offer. These are just one man’s views of the Last Days. Mine are certainly different.
With John’s recent passing, Spencer, not his real name, has contributed more to John’s blog, now maintained by others. You can get a better feel for Spencer there by reading his contributions as he answers questions put to him by readers. It kind of reminds me of the early days of Denver’s blog in which he was much more interactive with his readers. Having a popular blog in the LDS community can be burdensome because so many readers are at different levels of understanding.
In any event, after reading Spencer’s book (it really is his even though John wrote it), you can interact directly with him on the Unblog. Although I found Spencer’s description of some of the events of the last days to be fascinating, my focus has been different. What I would like to ask about, he would not be able to answer. I am more interested in how the widespread destruction is caused and how to interpret the events from the Books of Revelation, Daniel, Joel and others.
Invasion of America
Those who have read essays from my early years of blogging know my interest in the books of Anthony Larson, known as the Prophecy Trilogy. In there, you’ll find a description of the pillar of fire, for example, that is radically different from what Spencer describes in his book. You’ll also find much more reference to the cosmological causes of the great destruction that is to take place before the coming of the Lord, which are barely mentioned in passing by Spencer.
Now, I hate to go “out there” but I want to make a point that there are multiple claims of how the great destruction is going to come about. Spencer notes that there are many nuclear explosions, most caused by internal radicals, not by the foreign invaders. I read that part to my wife. She said it sounds like someone watched “Jericho” or “Revolution” and had a bad dream. I must admit I have never read anyone else talking about floods in Salt Lake as one of the signs of the last days.
Are you familiar with Denise Mendenhall, daughter of LDS author Doug Mendenhall? She lives without a veil. She gave a talk at Confetti Books in Feb of 2012. I have a recording of the event. In it she relates how the Lord told her to share that he is going to cause a huge EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) to hit the earth which will wipe out all technology based on the use of electricity and electronics, which is just about every means of modern communication and transportation.
Civilization will be Destroyed
Here’s my point. We’ve got Spencer claiming there will be a huge earthquake that will destroy most of the West Coast, cause massive flooding in Utah and precede an invasion by a large body of foreigners who take over the country. I’m not sure I understood the explanation for the flooding but I thought Spencer was describing the return of Lake Bonneville. He related that everything south of Point of the Mountain was under water as far as the eye could see. Strange.
So in addition to the huge earthquake, which is prophesied in the scriptures, without the floods, we’ve got Denise sharing that there will be a huge EMP and Anthony Larson pointing out that the great destruction of the last days will be caused by Earth’s close encounter with another celestial body. Spencer writes in his book that the earth passes by a huge planet on the journey back to God’s presence but that it has absolutely no effect on the earth or the inhabitants.
Although Spencer and Denise both claim that their visions of the end times are from the Lord, I’m going to go with what I have long held that the destruction of the last days, including the massive earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic activity, are caused by the return of the Ten Tribes, who Joseph said were taken from the earth. This is in direct contradiction with what Spencer claims in his book – that they are living in deep caverns long hidden under the ice.
Celestial Mechanics and Time Travel
This is all conjecture and fun to think about but back to the point of this review. I offered one warning about Spencer’s book at the beginning. Here’s another: How is it possible that God could tell three different people, one of them a prophet, that the destruction of the last days will be caused by three different things: a massive earthquake, an EMP and a planet coming up alongside the earth? Could they all be correct? Well, actually I suppose they could be.
Imagine for a minute that you put aside what science teaches about celestial mechanics. Let’s assume that somehow a large planetary body could come close to the earth. Let’s further assume you accept the alternative theories of cosmology known as the Electric Universe in which plasma and electricity have greater influence than gravity, then yes, I suppose an EMP could accompany the earthquakes and other prophesied destructions found in the scriptures in rich abundance.
My apologies if my ramblings don’t make sense. I have tried to provide links to previous essays that might help if you haven’t been a regular reader of my blog. In Visions of Glory Spencer is clear that he has little to no background in technology. He marvels at the things he encounters as he becomes a translated being. I suppose his description of the portals will be the most difficult for scientifically minded people to accept. After all, he’s talking about time travel at that point.
All the Hot Mormon Topics
A few questions I am still pondering: Why such detail about the destruction in and around Salt Lake and little to none of the rest of the world? Why did they have to go to Cardston first before they went to Missouri? Why is the appearance of the Lord in the Conference Center to a select few not mentioned anywhere in prophesied events of the last days? Is the invasion of America by a foreign military a part of the events foretold in the scriptures? Why didn’t the plague kill more?
Is the book an exciting read? Yes, I couldn’t put it down. You’ll encounter plagues, earthquakes, floods, foreign invasion, changes in weather (kind of like Global Warming without the politics), changes in constellations as the earth travels through space, the return of the Ten Tribes, the long walk to Missouri, the building of the New Jerusalem, the gathering of the elect by the 144,000 and much more. But as some reviewers have written, it reads like a piece of good LDS fiction.
That is probably unkind. I don’t know Spencer. From everything I’ve read he is a kind soul. I would not have the courage to share what he has shared specifically because I know so many people would be inclined to mock. I have read the glowing reviews of others who said this is the most life-changing book they have ever read. Others have written that the Holy Ghost testified to them it is true. I’m not going to go that far. Perhaps I simply was not ready to receive it as such.
Inspiration for LDS Fiction
Some of my readers may know I am writing a trilogy of fiction based on the works of Immanuel Velikovsky and the Electric Universe cosmological views of Wal Thornhill and David Talbott. I have taken the opening chapter of Anthony Larson’s book, And the Moon Shall be Turned to Blood and have expanded it into what I hope will be an interesting and exciting story about how events could possibly happen in the very last days just prior to the return of the Lord.
My first book ends with the return of the broken off piece of earth containing the Ten Tribes. In fact, that’s the whole premise of the first book – that a planet will come close to the earth, cause huge widespread destruction and eventually position itself just above the magnetic North pole. In my second book I plan to write about life on Earth after the destruction of civilization and how we pick up the pieces. I confess I planned to write about the walk to Missouri to build up Zion.
As I read through the last two thirds of Spencer’s book I made mental notes about how I could expand this scene or that scene and incorporate it into my book. If I ever publish the first and find the anticipated satisfaction in its reception for which I hope, I’ll write about the return of the City of Enoch and again, the destructions that accompany yet another piece of Earth coming home. In my third book, I will write about what happens when the Lord does finally return.
One Man’s View
Most people don’t think about this stuff. None of us really has any material clue about how this is all going to come down, especially the timing and sequence of events. I like reading books like Visions of Glory because it gives me food for thought about how future events could possibly happen. Do I consider it a work of fiction? I’m not sure. Did the Holy Ghost reveal to me that what Spencer claimed he saw really will happen that way? I confess, no, I can’t say that.
I reiterate the point that Cedar Fort makes on the cover – this is one man’s view of things. He claims he was shown this in vision. At one point he made some reference that this may all be symbolic. At other times he was emphatic that he knew he was going to participate in these events at some future point in his life. I don’t know any translated beings but if you know Spencer in real life, maybe you should stick close to him to see if he is changed someday.
Please don’t be upset with my review if you feel I am mocking sacred things. I’m not. I have been a long-time reader of John’s blog. I have deep reverence and respect for those who have spiritual gifts that I don’t have. I suppose I am too caught up in making a living and relying on technology to do it. I spend every day working with routers, switches and wireless access points, servers, fiber-optic Internet connections and all kinds of things to keep the electrons flowing.
Technology for a Zion People
That’s why when I read in Spencer’s book how communications were cut off and yet there were some pockets of cities with electricity, I had to wonder why he claimed there would be no Internet. Wouldn’t that be one of the first things society would want restored once they had electricity? Even if it were just a small network in the local city not connected to the outside world, I am positive any civil authority would want that re-established as soon as possible.
He also mentions that the church had communications systems intact. OK, how did they do that? He never describes the fate of satellites, yet I believe in one case he noted the foreign invaders had some sort of GPS. The church relies heavily on the Internet and satellites to communicate with stakes all over the world. I realize that later on Spencer implies that they could keep in touch via their white seer stones but this is in the beginning, right after the big earthquake.
Spencer’s book is not about technology. It’s about becoming a Zion people. That’s why it fits in so well with John’s focus on the Unblog. It takes so many of the beliefs unique to Mormonism to levels that I confess I had never dreamed. Why would the Lord reveal such detail to Spencer that he hasn’t revealed to the prophets? Or if he has, why have they chosen not to discuss it, share it and teach us about it? Spencer doesn’t claim to be a prophet, but he sure shares amazing detail.
Fiction based on Dreams?
Final warning: John relates that as Spencer shared his visions he was impressed to tell Spencer about similar visions from other members of the church in our early history. Spencer claims he had never heard of them. Yet as I read Spencer’s visions I immediately called them to mind. Am I unique in that I knew of these things when a man with three advanced degrees had never heard of them? One could make an argument that the book was written from these previous visions.
The other visions and dreams are included in the appendix. The whole idea of going to Cardston first is based on a letter from Sols Caurdisto who toured the temple before it opened in 1921. The destruction of the cities of the East Coast that Spencer related the Angel showed him could have come directly from John Taylor’s 1877 dream, also included in the appendix. The 1884 dream of the plagues and Charles Evans dream of schools in New Jerusalem appear in Spencer’s narrative.
My conclusion: This is a fantastic book, a very enjoyable read. I recommend you read it. Don’t let my worldly skepticism deter you from gleaning wonderful truths shared about how the spirit world around us operates. But when it comes to how the events of the last days are going to go down, make sure you compare what you discover with what you already know from scripture. Then ask yourself as I did, “Has the Lord ever revealed such specific detail to anyone else?”
Note: Since I mentioned my book, you may be interested in reading a few chapters. It is tentatively entitled “Red Sky.”
Filed under: Blogging, Doctrine, Fiction, Last Days, Mormon culture, Personal Revelation | Tagged: Anthony Larson, Book Review, Electic Universe, John Pontius, Last Days, LDS Blogging, LDS fiction, Near Death Experiences, Unblog My Soul, Visions of Glory | 111 Comments »