They Shall Go Into the Caves of the Earth


MeteorBombardmentThey felt the first impact before they heard anything.

“Cynthia, Get down,” David said, “This is it.”

He crouched behind the seats on the podium, reached up and pulled Cynthia close. She wrapped her arms around him, buried her face in his chest. He held her tight.

The first meteorite fragment crashed onto the grounds outside the still-packed auditorium. David could see it scored a direct hit on one of the television broadcast vans. The uplink had already been severed about twenty minutes before, evidence of satellite destruction some 24,000 miles out. He figured the speed of these things must have been about 75,000 mph when they hit the atmosphere, where they broke into thousands of smaller fragments.

The lights flickered but held for the moment.

“Oh no,” Cynthia said. Where’s dad?

“He’s over there behind the front row of chairs,” David said.

Cynthia lifted her head to look just as another fragment came down, only this time it hit the building. It crashed through one of the large east windows. Most of the remaining audience had already moved toward the center of the building, away from the windows.

Several women screamed. The fragments of glass and window structure flew into the crowd, propelled with the intensity of an explosion. The meteorite fragment slammed into the floor of the auditorium at about a 45 degree angle, digging a hole the size of a soccer ball.

The lights in the auditorium went out at the same time. Another fragment must have hit a transformer on the campus. The street lights were still on and the TV broadcast van had burst into flames. The eerie glow of red and orange came through the now empty window frame, highlighting a scene of terror and confusion.

“David, some of those people are hurt,” Cynthia said.

“I know, but we can’t move just yet. Keep your head down.”

David reached back and put his hand behind Cynthia’s head, pulling her face back into his chest. He felt her trembling. He wished they had something more for protection.

“There’s more?”

“After they break up in the atmosphere, these things come down in swarms of dozens, sometime hundreds of pieces at a time.”

He looked toward the window at the end of the hall, the one over the main entrance, just in time to see another meteorite hit. This one was angled more from the southeast. It appeared to be larger than the first one to enter the building. An unusual blue glow accompanied the shock.

Not only did this fragment decimate the window as it entered the building, it also blew out a chunk of the surrounding structure. Glass, rock from the building and the meteorite, now shattered by the impact, sprayed the crowd with devastating precision.

David watched in horror as dozens of people were hit by the flying debris. The chairs behind which they hid were simply no protection. Pieces of rock and glass ripped through them as if they weren’t there. There was no way even he could comprehend the enormous power of something travelling at the atmospheric drag reduced speed of 30,000 miles per hour.

Cynthia screamed, along with just about everyone else in the auditorium. The sound of the crashing glass and rock almost drowned them out. Pushed by the force of the blast, David rolled backward off the end of the podium, Cynthia still in his arms. The curtain behind the podium came partially down with them and under them as they fell the five or six feet to the floor. David winced at the impact, grateful for the falling curtain.

Like bullets from a machine gun, pieces of rock and glass ripped into the remaining curtain above their heads, right where they had been crouching just a split second before. The rest of the curtain fell on top of them. David didn’t dare move.

In the dark, the moans and groans of the injured agonized David’s ears. How he wanted to get up and help them. These were his colleagues, his friends. But Cynthia needed him more. She had landed on top of him, the curtain covering them both. David felt her body shake as she cried and sobbed.

“Oh, David, will it never stop?”

David did not have time to reply. Another meteorite fragment hit the building, again from the east. Although he could not see it, David could tell this piece was bigger than the others. His ears rang from the deafening sound of the impact. It must have hit at least one more window, or maybe it was so explosive it blew out all the remaining windows.

Glass and rock rained down on them. The curtain had bunched up in such a way they could only feel the largest pieces as they fell after hitting the wall above them. They were well protected in the small space between the podium and the wall where they had fallen.

Just as suddenly as it had started, it was over. Sirens wailed from police and fire trucks all over the city. The sounds seemed surreal and unrealistic to David. His ears still rang from the many explosions. He felt something wet on his leg and wondered what it was.

“Cynthia, are you all right?”

“Yes, I think so.” Her voice shook, but David was happy to hear it.

“We’ve got to find dad,” she said and began the struggle to untangle themselves from the curtain. Pieces of rock and glass were mixed in with dust and, something wet and…fleshy.

“I’m glad I can’t see what this wet stuff is,” Cynthia said.

“Cynthia, don’t get your hopes up. Before the lights went out I saw some awful things out on the floor.” David finally got enough of the curtain off them that they could stand up.

“Don’t say anything. Don’t say anything. Just help me find dad.”

“OK, take my hand and don’t touch anything. Do you still have your shoes on?

“Yes.”

“I’ll go first. Be careful where you step.”

Making their way to the side of the podium was difficult with the curtain bunched up. On the way, they ran into Stan Johnson – literally. He also had fallen behind the podium and was spared from the onslaught of glass, rock and body pieces.

“David, is that you?”

“Yes, and Cynthia.”

“Are you two alright?”

“We seem to be,” David said. “How about you?”

“If I hadn’t fallen into the curtain I would probably be dead.”

“I think we were lucky,” Cynthia said. “Will you help me find my dad?”

“I was talking to him before the first meteorite hit,” Stan said. “He had just walked down off the podium and was talking to someone in the front row.”

“Dad,” Cynthia shouted.

“Professor Volinsky,” David joined in. “Where are you?”

Moans, groans and calls for help emanated throughout the auditorium. It was still dark with only the light from the fires outside to guide them. Even the street lights were out. David could make out the shapes of others wandering around looking for loved ones. Who would have thought such destruction could take place inside such a large facility?
The trio rounded the front corner of the podium, still calling for Manny.

“Don’t look, Cynthia,” David said, still leading the way. He stepped over a dead body.

“I can’t see anything anyway,” Cynthia said. “I’ve got too much dust in my eyes.”

David pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and turned to Cynthia.

“No, don’t. Not now,” Cynthia said. “I’m OK. I’ve got to find dad first.”

“Here. Take it,” David said, pressing the handkerchief into her other hand.

“Doctor Volinsky,” Stan called out again.

“I’m right here. Don’t shout.” Manny’s voice sounded muffled.

“Oh, dad,” Cynthia cried. “Keep talking. We can’t see you.”

“That’s because the lights are out.” His voice seemed to come from their feet.

The three of them bent down. David reached out with his hands but felt nothing.

“Under here,” Manny said. He knocked on the wood of the front of the podium.

“How did you get behind there?” Stan said.

“I have no idea. One minute I was talking to Professor Hansteen about Birkeland’s Currents and the next thing I knew, we were both under here.

“Must have been the same blast that knocked us into the curtains,” David said.

“Don’t move. I’ll see if I can find an opening,” Cynthia said.

“Careful. Watch out for glass,” Stan said.

“I’ve got David’s handkerchief.”

“If you’ll just go a little to your right, I think there’s a broken panel.”

“Here it is,” Cynthia said. “David, help me move it out of the way.”

It took all three of them, tugging and pulling, to finally get the wedged panel unstuck. Once removed, Manny and professor Hansteen scrambled out. They all stood.

“Oh, Dad,” Cynthia embraced her father. “I’m so glad you’re alright.”

In the absence of light, David and Stan patted Manny and professor Hansteen in greeting.

A pair of small emergency lights on either side of the hall flickered on.

Cynthia put her hand to her face and stifled a scream.

“Oh, my God,” Stan cried out.

The scene of death and horror before them was incomprehensible. There had been thousands of people in the auditorium for the presentation. Very few had left in the twenty minutes it took from the end of the transmission until the first meteorite fragment arrived.

Most of the chairs, and people, had been pushed toward the west side of the hall by the force of the blasts. The blood ran in rivulets through the dust from a pile of bodies in one of the corners. David estimated several hundred dead at first sight. Those who were not killed were wandering around aimlessly, some with severe lacerations and others with hardly a scratch.

A man with a huge gash on his forehead was trying to punch numbers into a cell phone he held in the hand of his obviously broken arm. A woman pushed a chair in front of her as she dragged a broken leg behind her. She seemed determined to get to the blocked back exit.

Stan ran to her and tried to help but she fought him off, dazed and determined to get to where she thought there was safety. He finally convinced her to sit on the chair and wait for help.

“There won’t be any help,” David said when Stan came back.

“What do you mean,” Cynthia said.

“There are way too many scenes like this all over the city. Think of the movie theaters, the restaurants and pizza parlors. What about the malls, the people at the baseball game, in the hotels, the homeless on the streets, the tourists and the private homes?

“He’s right,” Stan said. “There’s nothing we can do for all these people. “Even if we could get all the injured into the cars and limos, we’d find the hospitals swamped.”

“Besides,” David said, “I doubt we could get through. Too many roads are surely destroyed with bridges down and chunks taken out of the street.”

Cynthia turned to her father. “Isn’t there anything we can do?”

“All we can do to see if the central emergency command is operational, “Manny said. “We can let them know of all the people here who need help.”

“It will probably be the military that gets the assignment,” David added.

“This is only the first wave of destruction,” Manny continued. “There’s more on the way. When the planet gets closer, the electromagnetic discharge will dig up huge chunks of earth.”

“Oh, Dad,” Cynthia put her hand on her Manny’s arm. “I’m so sorry I never listened.”

“Electric discharge machining will excavate the earth’s surface in places, ejecting material into the atmosphere. It then falls back as dust, sand, gravel, and finally boulders.”

“How much time do we have?” Cynthia asked.

“It should all be over in seventy-two hours,” Manny answered.

“Seventy-two hours,” Cynthia repeated. “Where can we go to be safe?”

“To the subways, along with everyone else who thinks of it,” David said.

Cynthia looked to David, then back to Manny, who had a faraway look in his eyes.

“And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.”

Copyright Tim Malone 2014 – A work in progress – Red Sky

Bringing On the Apocalypse


CoronalMassEjectionI was invited to join a panel of fellow authors who enjoy writing about the catastrophes of the last days. Randy Lindsay is the author of a recent work of LDS fiction entitled The Gathering. I must be candid and tell you up front I have not yet read it. I have a copy and have perused it. I intend to read it within the next month or two. The book was published by Cedar Fort in January and is available from Amazon or your favorite bookseller. Reviews on Goodreads are favorable.

Promoting Discussion of the Last Days

The idea behind the panel is obviously to promote discussion of the last days, the apocalypse, the end-times or whatever you want to call them. The bottom line of course is Randy and Cedar Fort want to sell copies of the book, as does any author and publishing house. Inasmuch as I also have been working on a novel on the subject, I agreed to participate on the panel. I’m honored but feel a little unqualified because my own book has not even been completed yet, let alone published.

Fiction Based on Prophecy

In any event, I took a few minutes to ponder and answer the first question presented to the panel. Randy proposes to present a new question each week. It’s a good idea. If you’re interested in this subject, you might want to pop over to Randy’s blog and add your two cents. Just remember, it’s a work of fiction, even though he’s asking us to comment on the premise or doctrine behind it.  In my response to Randy when invited to join, I wrote the following rather pessimistic stuff:

“I’ve got to tell you from years of gauging interest of the Saints in end-of-the-world type stuff, it’s woefully disheartening. To be frank, most LDS folks don’t want to think about it, don’t believe it will happen in their lifetime and are terribly uneducated on the signs of the times or especially what will happen when the Savior returns.

“To most, it is all very generic: ‘Oh, there’s going to be some destruction and the wicked will be killed, but then the Savior will come and all will be well.’ They either do not understand or believe what they read in our own scriptures, especially the books of Revelation, Joel, Daniel and other key sources.”

Recent Publications on The Last Days

I admit my assessment may have been a little harsh. There are those, like my High Priest Group Leader, who is extremely interested in the Last Days. He recently taught us on the subject using the book, 65 Signs of Times Leading Up to the Second Coming by David J. Ridges. The book is more than a checklist. I highly recommend it. Another LDS author I like who writes about this subject is Hoyt W. Brewster. His book is Behold, I Come Quickly: The Last Days and Beyond.

Earlier Publications on The Last Days

Of course we can’t forget some favorites from times past: Prophecy: Key to the Future by Duane S. Crowther and The Coming of the Lord by Gerald Lund. I would be remiss if I did not include the Prophecy Trilogy from my friend Anthony Larson: 1) And the Moon Shall Turn to Blood, 2) And the Earth Shall Reel To and Fro, 3) And There Shall Be a New Heaven and a New Earth. My novel, Red Sky is based on the opening scenario presented in Anthony’s first book.

The First Question to the Panel

Randy asked, “Which situation or event that is currently happening do you think most easily could result in the apocalypse?” And the response I posted over there:

My Definition of the Apocalypse

First, let’s agree on the definition of apocalypse. I’ll offer mine by expressing what it is not. The apocalypse is NOT the end of the world. Yes, it is a period of great destruction and catastrophe with billions of people killed by the natural events prophesied, but the world survives. And so do a lot of people. It is these natural events, including the close approach of another celestial body which Anthony has already described in his comments above that brings on the apocalypse.

We Cannot Bring On the Apocalypse

Second, the apocalypse is not something we can control or avoid. The Lord has warned us and warned us over and over again in so many different scriptures it is already on its way. The arm of the Lord is a phrase that has great significance. It refers to something happening in the heavens that the world will see. The Lord has told us he is returning with the armies of heaven, and with the City of Enoch, a piece of this earth that was physically removed and taken up into heaven.

We Can Observe Signs of the Times

We read terrible things in the news that are significant to LDS theology and say to ourselves, “Ah, hah. Another sign of the times,” and indeed we are usually correct. Wars and rumors of wars, economic turmoil, man’s loss of natural affection for his brethren demonstrated by deeds of atrocity, nations coming to an end, rampant wickedness, corruption, immorality and the list goes on and on. I have one thing to say about all these: “Man, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.”

You Ain’t Seen Nuthin’ Yet

Obviously, Anthony and I are in agreement as this reflects what he has already stated. Even when we talk about hundreds of thousands killed by earthquakes and tsunamis, the size of these catastrophes are nothing compared to what will happen when a “great mountain burning with fire [is] cast into the sea,” or “there [falls] a great star from heaven,” or the sun moon and stars are smitten so that the sun is darkened and the moon glows red as blood with heat. Catastrophic!

Watch For Signs in the Sun

In my mind, the event that is currently happening is the sun is not following the normal pattern scientists are used to seeing for many centuries of observation. The eleven-year cycle seems to be a little out of whack. Watch the signs in the sun. Coronal mass ejections from sunspots are the thing we really need to be watching. One massive CME can produce an EMP that could wipe out power grids and communication systems all across the globe. Stay tuned to SpaceWeather.com.

You can read more about my work of fiction based on the close approach of a large celestial body under the Red Sky tab here on my blog.

Conversation with an Indian


EnosPraying“Halt, who goes there?”

I stopped cold in my tracks.

The voice spoke again, this time with a bit more gruffness, “Identify yourself, or I will let loose this arrow that is ready to fly into your heart.”

“My…”

“Speak up,” the voice commanded.

“My name is Tim,” I almost shouted.

“What a strange name. What are you doing here, Tim?”

An old man showed himself. He had been hiding behind the tree just ahead to my right. He seemed to be dressed like an Indian, with long white braided hair.

There was something different about the markings of his clothing. I couldn’t quite place it. If I didn’t know better I’d say those markings were Hebrew.

“I’m lost. I’m sorry. Did I frighten you?”

“Ha! You could not frighten a mighty hunter. But you did frighten the deer I was stalking. What was that strange noise you were making?”

“Huh? Oh, you mean the whistling. We do that when we are fright…”

“Yes, I can see you are still trembling. This…whistling…will not increase your courage. You must face your fears squarely, like a man. Like a mighty hunter.”

He had taken the arrow out of the bow, put it in his quiver. He wrapped the bow around his body in a fluid motion. I imagined he had done it thousands of times before.

The Indian walked closer toward me, stopped within an arm’s distance. He crossed his arms, stood proud and erect. He had broad shoulders and was at least a head taller than me.

He looked me over, as if curious to see who dared walk through his forest. He pushed back my hoodie and ran his fingers over my glasses.

“Glasses,” I said. “To help me see better.”

“You are weak,” the Indian said. It was a statement of surprise, but not contempt. “You do not answer my question.”

“Huh?” I said. “Oh, like I said, I’m lost. I’m looking for a way out of this place.” I began to look around as if that would help him see I meant it.

“I have never seen one of your kind in this part of the forest before.” He completed a circle around me, taking in the belt on my blue jeans and my sneakers. “How did you get here?”

“I read your story a few moments ago. Then I knelt down to pray. The next thing I knew I was walking here in the forest looking for a way out.”

“My story…?”

“Yeah…You know. Enos the mighty hunter. Everyone knows your story. You go into the woods to hunt beasts. But instead you get to thinking about what your dad Jacob taught all those years so you…”

“Stop. How do you know my name and that of my father?”

“Oh, come on. Everyone knows your name. You’re Enos, Jacob is your father, mighty preacher of righteousness. Your grandfather was Lehi who crossed the ocean and brought you to this land. I live here too.”

Enos knelt down on one knee and bowed his head. I couldn’t help but follow his example. I watched him closely. He seemed to be praying, but to himself. For a moment I thought I saw tears forming in the corners of his eyes.

I didn’t want to seem rude so I closed my eyes while he finished his prayer. I could tell he was done because I felt him staring at me, but he still knelt.

“So, the promise was fulfilled. But you’re not…”

“A Hebrew or a Nephite like you?”

“You don’t even look like a Lamanite. What are you?”

“I’m an American. I think you guys called us Gentiles.”

“Ah. I see, Tim. You are indeed a Gentile. I can see it now. Nephi told us about you.”

We both rose, He extended his hand as if to shake, I tried to grab it, but he reached past my hand and grabbed my wrist. He held my arm for a long time and looked deep into my eyes.

I felt something pass between us, some sort of energy. It was a positive feeling. There was something special in the arm grasp. It was as if he was greeting a brother. He broke the grip.

“You have great courage to come here, after all, my Gentile friend.”

“Why’s that?”

“This is the spirit world. There must be some doorway nearby or you have some gift. I have been hunting in this forest for many generations. You are the first Gentile I have seen.”

“I’m in the spirit world? Wow. Does that mean I’m dead?”

Enos looked at me closely, squinting. Perhaps his eyes were as poor as his ears.

“No, you are not dead. But I can see you nonetheless. You must be a man of great faith or have some spiritual gift otherwise I could not see you.”

I smiled.

“Do you know what this means?” Enos said.

“Uh, I’m dreaming in my sleep?”

Enos looked at me with sternness. I felt like he wanted to reprimand me.

“No. It means the end of time is approaching. God has shown me your day. He told me the Gentiles would inhabit this land.”

“He told me someday I would meet a Gentile. If you are a Gentile then tell me a little about your world. I want to learn.”

He sat down crossed-legged in front of me. I followed suit.

“Uh, where do I start?”

“Tell me of the record where you learned my name.”

“We call it the Book of Mormon.”

“I do not know this Mormon, but tell me more.”

“Well, Mormon lived after you…a long time after you. He took all the sacred records of Nephi and the other prophets into one place then made a long book from all the little books.”

Enos look at me strangely. “You have seen this book. Someone read it to you?”

“No, we have thousands, even millions of copies of this book printed on paper.”

“I do not know paper. My father told me the Egyptians used something they called papyrus to record their records. He said Nephi had seen them. But I have only these metal plates on which I write the history of my people.”

“That’s right,” I said. “The Gold plates. That’s what Mormon used to put together the history of your people. Then his son hid it in the hill Cumorah until Joseph Smith got them.”

“Curious. I am glad to know our history is so well known. God is truly faithful. He promised me our people would not be forgotten.” Enos looked sad for a moment.

“Tell me. What happened to our people – the Nephites?”

“All destroyed in one huge battle. Even Mormon was hunted down and killed. You guys had a terrible hatred for each other.”

Enos bristled. “They will not listen to reason. They are a stubborn people. I myself had to kill many of my own brethren because they tried to destroy our village. We have moved much.”

“Well, we have your record. It is all over the world. It makes it easier because we have machines that automatically copy them over and over onto the paper or papyrus as you call it.”

“And the Messiah? He came and visited my people as was prophesied?”

“Yes, that’s one of the best parts of the book. He taught his gospel, commanded us to have faith in him, to repent and baptize one another. Having faith is the hard part for me.”

“Yes, I can see it affects your confidence. You must practice like Enos.” He stood. “I prayed all my life to have this gift. You must do the same. It is a most important part of life.”

“Are you leaving?” I said.

“I must go and tell the others that a Gentile has been seen in the forest. It is one of the signs we have been waiting for. I am glad you asked God to help you have faith. It must have opened the door so you could come into this far part of the spirit world. Nobody comes here.”

“Why is that,” I asked.

“This is where the dark spirits stay. They do not like the light. It is also the part closest to your world. You must pray harder to move past the dark area. It is not good to stay here long.”

Once again he extended his hand. This time I grasped his wrist as we had done before.

“Goodbye Tim. I am glad to have met you. You have much to learn but I can see you have found how to access the spirit world. You must be careful from now on.”

“Thank you, Enos. I hope to see you again.”

“That all depends on you and your faith. Pray for the gift. Pray all day long if you have to. God will speak to you. He has spoken to me many times. I will await you in the light.”

And with that he disappeared. Slipped behind the same tree I suppose but I didn’t see him go. I thought for a moment, felt sleep come over me, closed my eyes and awoke in my own bed.

A Conversation You Don’t Want to Have


SamAndRalph“I can’t see you, but I can feel your presence,” I said.

“That’s the way it was meant to be, “he said. “Besides, it gives me the advantage. But you already know that.”

“What do you want? Why are you here?”

“My job is to keep you from doing anything good. That’s all you need to know. Whatever it takes, I have the power to do it. You know I’m not here alone. Others are nearby ready to help. I only have to call out and they’re here before you can imagine it. I have as many as I need – specialists of all kinds to do the job. You get an idea, and I call them over to suck it out of you. You must be an important one. Or maybe I am. I’ve never had this kind of power before. Must be that promotion he promised if I took care of my last assignment quick like that.”

“Why is it I can feel your presence and talk with you this way?” I said. I’m fairly certain I already knew the answers but I wanted to get the basics out of the way. I know I’m dealing with a liar but I’ve had enough experience I know he must answer me, no matter what the question.

“I’ve been kind of wondering that myself. All I can figure is you’ve been given some sort of gift,” he said “I don’t think it’s particularly fair, but it’s not going to make any difference, I can promise you that.”

“What’s you name.”

“You can call me whatever you want. I’ve been called lots of things over the years.”

“So you’ve obviously done this before.”

“You can say that.”

“I know you have to answer me, so tell me how many times you’ve done this before.”

“It all depends on what we’re talking about. Do you mean have a conversation or go all the way and put someone in the loony bin?” There was something sadistic in the way he said it, as if he was remembering something with particular delight.

“Let’s start with the basics, “I said. “How many times have you had a conversation where the other person could hear and record you?”

“You’re the first.”

“I’m not the first you talked to…” I said.

“No, but you’re the first who doesn’t seem to be afraid of me.”

“Oh, but I am afraid. I have great fear and respect for what you can do. I know who you are and what you can do. Don’t put yourself down. I know your power. You put me in the hospital twice, in case you don’t remember.”

“I sensed a smile and a rubbing of the hands together if he had any. “I had some help back then. It was my first time. You almost had us.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, come on, do I have to explain everything to you?”

“From what I understand, yes, you do have to answer every question I put to you. I’ve been told that’s a rule.” I said.

“Fine. Johnson kept your son and his friend busy. It wasn’t hard. A little weed will do wonders.”

“So it was you I saw when I was waking up.”

“If you say so. It was my job to watch you and keep you away if you moved.”

“I’m going to call you Sam.”

“Call me whatever you want.” He seemed a little annoyed.

“Want to know why?”

“No.”

“It must be part of the gift. I can always tell when you’re lying,” I said.

“Whatever.”

“You remind me of that cartoon character, Sam Sheepdog, from when I was a kid. It was his job to watch the sheep and keep the wolf away. Ralph E. Wolf was always plotting a way to get at the sheep. He came up with all kinds of plans. That’s what made it funny each time.”

“You’re beginning to annoy me,” Sam said.

“You should be flattered,” I said.

“Why is that?”

“Sam was actually the smart one. He had it all figured out. In spite of his eyes covered with red hair, he knew exactly where the wolf was. He always had a plan on how to keep him away from the sheep. Remember that. Sam was the smart one.”

I sensed Sam mulling this over.

“OK, whatever. Like I say, you can call me Sam if it makes you feel better. But it’s not going to help. Nobody’s ever been able to talk to me like this before without me scaring the crap out if them. Don’t I scare you?”

“Oh, you scared me alright. Remember, the hospital.”

He brightened up. Yeah, you were a mess. You’d think you didn’t know anything about devils. Twice in one week. The boss was especially proud.”

“But you were just doing your job, weren’t you Sam? You say you’ve done this many times before.”

“I didn’t say.”

“Well, give. I want to know.”

“I don’t keep exact records. Let’s just say a couple thousand.” He was gloating, that was obvious.

“You must be pretty good, then.”

“One of the best. I don’t need much help. I’ve done this so many times I’ve got it down to a science. I specialize in drugs.”

“But not the hard stuff,” I said.

“Weed works better. It keeps the guy going, sometimes for a lifetime, but he never really accomplishes anything. What more could you ask for? He wastes his whole life and doesn’t even know it.” I could almost see a big smile cross his face.

“And your victims never notice that they’re slowly losing their edge – their desire to accomplish anything in life, their ability to remember things, their creative talents…”

“They don’t care. All they know is they feel good. Hey, that’s what drugs are all about. I told you I was an expert.”

“So why was I able to see you back then but can only sense your presence now?

“Hypnopompic Hallucination.”

“Hypno-what?”

“Just look it up.”

“You wanted to be in there, didn’t you? You wanted to be getting high too. I could tell by the way you looked over there.”

“Whatever. What do you want?”

“I just want to tell you thank you.”

“Excuse me?”

“Yeah, I mean it. I’m still in pain. The migraines and the anxiety are there but over time, they’ll go away. You know they will.”

“Yeah, so what.”

“You’ve been sent to me.”

“Say what?”

“Since you can’t lie, if you’re going to insist on hanging around, I’m going to use you. You been assigned to me, which means you can’t leave until either you defeat me or I defeat you. It’s a fight to the finish. I’m going to use you. You’re going to tell me things you don’t want to.” Now I felt like rubbing my hands together. “You know my gift helps me know when you’re lying. I think someone made a major mistake. They sent me one of the smartest and best. How does it make you feel knowing you’re going to be used?”

“Well, good luck. I can lie all I want,” Sam said. “That’s still mine. I can lead you on wild goose chases that completely waste your time. If you want to chance it, then more power to you. I don’t know what you think you can get out of this, but I can tell you I’m deadly serious. I will not give up until you’re dead, crazy or have been totally incapacitated. Even then, I’ll keep you out of commission. You’ll be no good to anybody.”

“Fine – it’s good to have it out in the open. We know where each other stands. You want to drive me crazy and I want to use you to get tactical information that’s going to help in this last great battle. You’re going to be sorry you decided to accept this assignment. Oh, sorry. I forgot. You have no power to choose, do you? You go where you’re told and do or die, isn’t that true?”

“You’re a jerk.”

“And you’re damned to hell. Don’t ever forget it.”

Update (Thur 11-7-13): I sent Sam to the light where he was met by a loving family member ready to teach him the gospel. Sam will no longer be visiting with us. He says the light is too bright here.

Visualizing the Day of the Lord


MeteorsHittingCityHave you ever thought about what we will see, feel and experience when the physical events of the Lord’s return begin to unfold? What will your life be like on that day when the catastrophic destructions that have been prophesied start to happen? Will your day be different? Will there be anything unfamiliar in the skies? Will the weather be strange, perhaps a little rare and unusual?

Prophets Have Seen the Day

I know many prophets have thought deeply about this. In fact, they have done more than think about it. They have prayed about it and asked the Lord to show them what it would be like. The revelations have come. They have recorded them and shared them with us. Most were a result of asking specific questions. One of the questions I have asked is “Will it happen all at once?”

Signs Precede His Return

The answer is no. While the Day of the Lord can be pinpointed to an actual day when the world sees the Lord return, there is much that will happen first. The Lord has given us many warnings that contain clues. We call them signs. He has told us to watch for the signs. We talk about the signs. We teach each other the signs. We discuss them. We write about them. We read them.

Destructions Accompany His Return

Some of the questions I have asked and prayed about are “How will these destructions take place? What will cause these destructions? Why must there be destructions anyway?” I am not the only one who has asked these questions. In fact, the method or catalyst of the destructions that will come upon us in the last days has been known for thousands upon thousands of years.

Everyone will Be Affected

What if you don’t believe in a) God, b) The Lord, c) religion d) prophecy or anything of a spiritual nature that you can’t see, feel or touch with your natural body? What if you don’t care about these prophecies, feel that they are a waste of time and have no desire to understand them? That’s OK. I suspect when the day of the Lord arrives, you’ll want to learn about them quick.

Exact Day is Unknown

We are living in a day when so many of the pre-cursor signs have happened or are happening that more and more people are “jumping the gun,” so to speak, in assuming that the big day is about to burst upon us. Remember what the scriptures say: Nobody knows that exact day, not even the angels in heaven. Only our Father in Heaven knows the exact day of Christ’s return.

Understand the Signs

There are many reasons we know the great and terrible day of destruction is getting closer each day but there are many things that must happen first. The Lord loves His children and has given us distinct signs to watch for. There have been multiple books published on the subject. One of my favorites is 65 Signs of the Times Leading Up to the Second Coming by David J. Ridges.

The Sequence is Unclear

I’ve been told it’s not wise to try to put any of these signs in order or precedence. We have been advised to simply study, know and understand the signs of the times. Anybody who tries to put them in any particular order seems to get into trouble, meaning others will vehemently disagree with them. I suppose that is inevitable, since the Lord didn’t specify an exact sequence either.

Signs in Heaven and on Earth

In my book, I focus on the cosmological signs and the events of nature that go along with them. For example, the sun will be darkened, the moon will become as blood. Diseases, plagues and pestilences will sweep the earth. There will be famines, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis and other natural disasters. Signs and wonders on earth and in the heavens, the rainbow withdrawn.

All Nature Will be in Commotion

In particular, I focus on the great sign of the coming of the Son of Man, the return of the great hailstorms that will destroy the crops of the earth, the great earthquake such as never before, the burning that is prophesied to accompany His return, and the elements that will be in commotion. I have always wondered what it would be like to live through these terrible disasters of nature.

The Whole World Will See

What could possibly cause the earth to reel to and fro like a drunken man? What could cause the mountains to melt with fervent heat? How will we feel when these storms, tempests, whirlwinds with their thunderings, lightnings and sounds of the trumpets come upon all people? It’s evident that the whole world will experience these last great events. They won’t be localized or confined.

Wormwood and John the Revelator

What did John the Revelator mean when he talked about a third part of the sea becoming blood, the third part of the creatures of the sea dying and a third part of the ships destroyed? Why? What is this great star that falls from heaven, burning as a lamp that falls upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters? Why is it called Wormwood? What does that mean?

Hail of Brimstone not Ice

Are the great hailstones that fall made of ice? If so, how can they be mingled with brimstone and with fire and with blood? Others have written about the deteriorating social conditions through which we are now passing. Who can doubt the wickedness and abominations that are beginning to sweep the land? I believe the prophecies that the governments will be overthrown and wasted.

We Don’t Need Specific Details

I know it’s easy to simply say, “The coming of the Lord will cause all of these things.” Details, my friends, I want details. The Lord uses natural causes and obeys natural laws even if we don’t fully understand them. For example, I have to ask “Why will it be a day of burning?” Well, yes, from the brightness of his glory, but is there something else that might accompany his return?

Return of City of Enoch

Don’t the scriptures say that the Lord will come down with the inhabitants of the City of Enoch? Hmmm…how is He going to do that unless the part of the planet on which they reside, which was taken up when they left, returns with them? In other words, isn’t it possible or probable he will be accompanied by the return of the remnants of the planet with those who left with Enoch?

Return of Lost Ten Tribes

And what about the lost Ten Tribes – won’t they return first? You know, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” I know I’m stretching it here since so few – read hardly anybody – believes that the Ten Tribes were taken from this earth. The prevailing theory is that they are simply mixed in with all the people of the earth or – gasp – hiding under the ice somewhere.

The Sound of Great Trumps

And what causes the great sound of the trumps? There are lots of them. I know, it’s the angels, but couldn’t there be a natural explanation like the oscillations of two very large celestial bodies when they come close together. Uh, oh, the scientist in me just kicked in – that goes against all the laws of nature – two planets can’t get that close together without one of them disintegrating.

Thunderbolts of the Gods

We have so many historical and scriptural evidences of great thunderbolts or lightnings that flash from the heavens. And we’re not talking from the local clouds. We’re talking about the kind of electrostatic discharge that occurs when two large celestial bodies come in close contact. Oh, wait, scientists don’t believe such a thing could happen. It’s never happened before, has it?

Highway in the Great Deep

What is this highway that shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep? Where will it go? How high will it go? Of what will it be composed? Is it possible that this great highway could connect two planets? Is it possible that these planets were connected at one time in the past? If the speed of the earth’s rotation slows, what will happen to all the water at the equators? Where will it go?

Great Sign of the Lord

What exactly is the great sign of the Lord that He told us about and Joseph described in more detail? Will the world see the sign coming for some time before it arrives? Could it look like a planet or a comet or both as it comes close to the earth, on an intersecting course? I’ve always wondered about this curious statement of the Lord. How will the world react when they see it?

The Lord Will Reveal The Details

Well, that’s enough conjecture for a while. The Lord has said unless we ask questions, we get no answers. I can tell you that I have asked these and many more questions. I think I’ve got some answers, at least enough to satisfy a part of my curiosity. I have more to ask the Lord, but He has made it clear I am not quite ready for the additional detail he will reveal until I am prepared.

That’s the Background for my Novel

I’ve been studying this for about thirty years. I remain fascinated and am anxious to learn more. I pray about it most every night. Sometimes, I make it a matter of fasting and temple pondering. I can tell you that as I have written some of the chapters, the words just flowed as if I was taking dictation. Maybe the book is just for me, but perhaps it’s good enough to make it to publishing.

We Can See The Day of the Lord

I would like to see the day of the Lord. I am convinced many prophets have seen it. We have a record of their visions in the scriptures. We also have the records of ancient civilizations that experienced similar visits of planets and the destruction they caused. That is the basis for my novel – what will happen to the inhabitants of the earth if a planet came alongside to meet us?

Sample Chapters Available to Read

I’ll conclude with this book jacket synopsis from the novel. If you are interested, you can read some of the rough drafts on the “Red Dust – LDS Fiction” tab. I hope to soon register a domain name, do some serious work on applying the edits from the feedback I already have and finish this book project that has been on my mind for so many years, even if it’s only to say it’s done.

Book Jacket Synopsis for Red Sky

The sky is falling…literally. Four scientists race against time to reassure the world as it encounters a rogue planet. Astronomer David Mitchell is the face of the government. He must provide play-by-play advance notice of what to expect next. But how can anyone predict what will happen when two planets come together? It’s never happened before. Or has it?

Manny Volynsky is on a mission to tell the world the truth about this rogue planet. He’ll stop at nothing to get to the scientific conference where he’ll have a worldwide audience. There is can share answers about the red dust that has started to fall. But Manny is a nutcase history professor who has no credibility in the scientific world. Will they listen to his stories of the ancient myths?

Death from the skies is impossible. Everyone knows that, especially David who has taught it repeatedly over the years, using scientific evidence to prove it. When fire begins to accompany the red dust, the conflict between science and myth is blurred. Manny’s predictions of future events have come true. David must decide if he will give Manny a voice to warn the people.

Visions of Glory and the Last Days


VisionsOfGloryNote 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.”

Ten Parables by Denver Snuffer


Denver Snuffer is becoming less of an enigma to me. I still don’t know him but I like him, based solely on his writings. I think his little book, Ten Parables, tipped my thinking to his favor. I’ve now read six of his eight books and am working on the seventh – Eighteen Verses. I have saved the best for last – Nephi’s Isaiah.

I have Denver’s permission to derive my own interpretations of his parables. I offer them here as a way of solidifying what I have read and pondered. He writes in his preface that parables “teach truths by using symbols and analogies.” They are “intentionally susceptible to different interpretations and layers of meaning.”

The book was a fun and easy read. I completed it during a lunch hour at work. It is only 107 pages. Some of the parables were obvious as soon as I read them. Some seemed a little obtuse, requiring a bit of pondering. “They have been carefully composed. The words are deliberate.” I hope my interpretations do them justice.

This is another in an ongoing series of essays on the books of Denver Snuffer. I have previously reviewed Passing the Heavenly Gift and The Second Comforter. Comments are welcome. Obviously you will have had to have read the book. I look forward to reading what you think of the parables.

1. A Busy Young Man

This one is very short. I wondered why he placed it first in his book. I suppose it represents Denver when he was a young attorney. He worked many long years to learn of the Master, while doing the Lord’s work. First the rope for seven years, then the net for seven more. Perhaps it represents Denver’s callings in the church.

2. Wise Men

This one is obviously about the General Authorities of the church. I love the symbol of the fruit tree. It could be so many things, but mostly I thought it was a good representation of members of the church. The symbolism of the telescope is also profound. It represents the ability to see things far off, available to all.

“They became men … with the most cunning and cautious minds. For many years they added no wisdom to the kingdom … They only spoke of … the great lessons of the past.” Then again, the parable could be referring to the religious leaders of the past since there is an obvious reference to either Galileo or Copernicus.

3. Triangularity

This is obviously about temple worship. It contains one of Denver’s common themes throughout his books that the ordinances of the temples are mere symbols and not the real thing. You may also conclude that it is about the study of God or more precisely, the Godhead. I love the many references to orthodoxy and creeds.

Then again, it can also be construed as a much generalized view of the history of man, his beliefs about God and his religious worship practices. The part about wars and schisms leads me to think that. There is reference to the restoration and again, the introduction of orthodoxy and the idea of speaking directly to and with God.

The ending is wonderful. It is so applicable to the church today whether we realize it or not. We do indeed look upon anyone who claims to have an “unusual” story of spiritual communion with God to be heterodox. I suspect it is because of the fear of being deceived that this has been inadvertently promoted by those who lead us.

4. The Horses of Shiloh

This is a wonderful parable about the Savior. I like the implications of the lines, “He was hard for any man to ride, and many feared to approach him. Only the most brave attempted it. Only a few were able to ride him.” Obviously this is referring to the process of coming unto Christ and gaining an audience with Him.

The churches of the world have made an image of the Savior that is nothing like who he truly is. The ending: “In Shiloh there was a neglected statue, in a forgotten back alley, of a rearing horse covered with scars whose disproportionate and unruly form was thought to a symbol of everything vile and unwanted in a horse.”

Sadly, in the end, nobody would ever know what the horse really looked like. I wonder if this is meant to imply that our depictions of the Savior in art today are not at all what he was really like. I suspect this is the intent. Most pictures of the Savior depict him as almost feminine, not the battle-scarred warrior that he was.

5. The Weathered Tree

At first I thought this was going to be a camping story. I was delighted it turned out to be the story of a wise tree that stood alone on a cliff, gnarled and scarred, but who had a commanding view of all that surrounded her. The two forests that grew below her are a good contrast between the foolish and the wise who look to her.

6. Five Men From God

The five men from God are Sampson, John the Baptist, Jesus, Joseph and Hyrum. These are the witnesses who were sent to warn and bless mankind. But they were all rejected. God was therefore justified in leaving man to fend for himself, with no warning of impending danger. Man will be unprepared when the last day arrives.

7. Hope and Tarwater

This has become my favorite. I expected something more or different at the end but was pleased that the same theme played out all along. It was a sustained effort. It is analogous to life and the way we travel through it. One young man finds the woods to be a dangerous place. His journey through it reflects wariness and uneasiness.

The other young man found the woods to be a place of beauty and serenity. He was at peace with his surroundings and derived much enjoyment and pleasure from his journey. Although the two men became aware of each other towards the end, they did not meet. They each related their journey to others when they arrived home.

I could write an entire essay about the analogy and the symbolism in this parable. But the end result for me was the way the two young men related their tale at the end and how it confirmed to others their impressions of the forest. They brought with them their perceptions of how things were in the woods, and they were right.

8. Brakhill’s Greatest Citizen

This one is told so well I thought there really was a town of Brakhill, Wyoming and a real children’s author named Olyvie Canfield. I can imagine Denver wrote this for one of his daughters. I got the distinct impression that the building built by the story’s other leading citizen – Ira Wilkas – represented the City Creek Center.

I’m still pondering this one. I wonder if anyone else has come up with who might be represented by Olyvie Canfield. I suppose Ira Wilkas represented the Church. Is it possible that Olyvie might have been a symbol for Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon? This has probably been discussed on LDS group blogs but I missed it.

9. The Great Competition

This one is about the plan of salvation, told from a very long-range view, including the great battle at the end of the world between the forces of good and evil. Denver has drawn some profound implications of what happens at that great event because those who chose not to come to compete were invited to the great feast at the end.

The focus is on loyalty. Who would remain true to the king in spite of the seeming unfairness of the competition designed to cause a great division among the people? I would love to share this one in a Sacrament talk or Sunday school lesson, but of course, you and I know that one cannot quote from unorthodox sources in church.

10. The Missing Virtue

I’ve read this one a couple of times since the initial reading. When I first read it I knew right away that it was about Denver. I think he had referenced somewhere else in his books his experience with failure to help someone in need. I suspect this was highly personal and significant to Denver. I’m grateful he shared it with us.

One the one hand you could focus on how much he was affected by having failed to provide something for the beggar earlier in his life. Eighteen years is a long time to wait to feel that you have made up for an earlier failure. Thankfully, he found the opportunity again, took advantage of it and was greatly blessed as a result.

I did not see any judgment of his fellow priesthood brethren in this parable. He only related the facts. He told it the way it was. I too have seen this many times. But I have also seen the goodness of my brethren in similar situations. There are many who go out of their way to help those in need. I love my fellow brethren.

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