Monson and his constipated physics redux; or, how electric gravity makes hollow earthers happy

I’ve mentioned Milton W. Monson and his curious book once before on this blog, but without really explaining its impact on me.  Whatever you think of him, after reading the book, it is hard to get it out of your mind.  A look at the reactions to it by the physics boys who’ve actually read it shows that although most give it a bad review (as in bad physics and bad mathematics), they all concede that the book is unforgettable.  How could it not be?  His was the first book, that I know of, that attempted to tackle physics using algebra alone, as well as to unite the sciences.  Plus, it was really funny.

I was one of the few individuals (actually, I don’t know the precise number of individuals) who contacted the author after reading the book.  It was then that I learned that he sent out S.T.R.R.I.P. Tease bulletins to those who contacted him, free of charge.  (S.T.R.R.I.P. = Society To Restore Rationalism In Physics, or something to that effect.  Yes, he was a dirty old man.)  The S.T.R.R.I.P. Tease bulletins were further physics lessons that he had not included in his book.

Monson was/is (I don’t know if he is still alive) an atheist and dedicated an entire chapter to debunking religion, but despite that, I had to send him some emails concerning the similarities I found in modern revelations with the physics he was proposing.  Needless to say, finding a spiritual counterpart in his theory didn’t make him very happy and he tried to convince me of the errors of my ways.  I had fun corresponding with him and I think it was fun for him, too, as he was getting up there in age and most people just thought of him as “old Monson with the crazy space balls.”  (Space balls was a theory he invented to help explain physics phenomena.)

Monson was set in his irreligious ways, and accepted a great deal of mainstream science, while attempting to debunk the rest that he felt did not hold up to rational, physics scrutiny.  He either wasn’t aware of the plasma scientists and their experiments, or chose not to consider their results in his model of the Universe.  I believe that he simply didn’t know about it.  I also believe that if he had known about it, he probably would not have liked it, as the discoveries plasma scientists make tend to confirm the scriptures, and he, being an atheist, probably would not have liked that very much.  Also, as he tended to ridicule everything he felt was wrong, if plasma science was available to him, and he thought it was erroneous, it probably would have gotten a mention in his book.

Let me just say here and now to Monson, if you are still alive: I thoroughly enjoyed your book and am glad it was written, both for its witticisms and its portrayals of new concepts. And if he is not alive, then to his son and any other surviving family members: Your departed relative made an impression for the better upon at least one individual on this planet.  I hope one day someone takes up and finishes his foundational work.

Physics Is Constipated (Intellectually That Is)

That is the title of Monson’s book.  Even if the content was horrendous, the title alone would be hard to forget.  To his credit, though, it was engaging and fun.  Heck, even the front and back cover artwork and text were thought-provoking.  But it has been many years since I last read it.  So, what was my surprise when along comes an electrical theorist, Wallace Thornhill, proposing an electric gravity model in an electric universe and using words that seemingly conveyed the same types of thoughts as Monson?

Here is Thornhill’s shortened, but nevertheless interesting paper:

Electric Gravity in an Electric Universe

Gravity, Einstein and Scientific Saints

Gravity is the most familiar force. We are subject to it every day of our lives. Newton gave us his ‘law of gravity,’ which describes its effect but doesn’t explain it. “I frame no hypotheses,” he wrote.  (Thornhill, first paragraph of Electric Gravity in an Electric Universe.)

Unlike Newton, Monson actually attempted to explain gravity.  And his explanation, using only two material types,  which he called structured space and structured matter, made pretty darn good sense.  Thornhill seems to build upon this Monsonian base—has he read Monson’s book?—, including the all-important electrical connection.

Einstein wasn’t so prudent when he introduced his “postulates.”  Unfortunately, his unreal geometry doesn’t explain gravity either. The usual demonstration using heavy steel balls on a rubber sheet to represent ‘gravity wells’ relies on gravity as its own explanation!  (Thornhill, first paragraph of Electric Gravity in an Electric Universe.)

Thornhill throughout this article does the same thing Monson did: show the Einsteinian age as the death of rational physics.  Monson is a bit harsher in his denunciation of Einstein, whereas Thornhill at least gives Einstein the benefit of doubting his own words:

How has this situation arisen? In the 20th century technology perfected wireless communication and computers and got man into space, while fundamental science fell deeper into a ‘black hole’ of complication, illogicality and metaphysics. I consider the principal cause has been the usurping, since Einstein, of natural philosophy and physics by theoretical mathematicians. Meanwhile Einstein, perhaps to his credit, remained sceptical of his own work. (Thornhill, 6th paragraph of Electric Gravity in an Electric Universe, emphasis mine.)

Monson spoke of the scientific community with disdain as being made up of “scientific saints” and “scientific priests.”  In this paper, Thornhill quotes Mike Disney in his footnotes as saying:

The most unhealthy aspect of cosmology is its unspoken parallel with religion. Both deal with big but probably unanswerable questions. The rapt audience, the media exposure, the big book-sale, tempt priests and rogues, as well as the gullible, like no other subject in science.

The Aether and the Michelson-Morley Experiment

Monson was a believer in the Aether.  He rejected the concept that space was filled with nothing.  In his view, there were but two elements that made up the entire Universe: structured space and structured matter and the interaction between these two elements as they competed for the same volume of space accounted for all of the seen and unseen energy manifestations around us.  He believed in simplification as the key to the promulgation of the sciences among the masses.  The structured space was the motive element whereas the sctructured matter was basically just pushed around.  Each element was completely opposite in its qualities.  For example, one could be compressed and deformed like a hollow balloon whereas the other was a dense ball of super hard, indestructible stuff.  There was no volume of space that was not occupied by either structured space or structured matter.

Sound familiar?  When I brought to his attention Lehi’s writings of that which acts and that which is acted upon (see 2 Ne. 2: 13-14) or the Lord’s revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants about the Light of Christ filling the immensity of space (see D&C 88: 12), etc., he wasn’t too happy, but I was pleased to see that he had come to these conclusions on his own, independent of the word of God, merely by observing nature.

Monson’s major problem was the Michelson-Morley experiment, which had apparently failed to detect the aether.  His solution was a modification to that experiment that, in his estimation, would have shown that the aether does, in fact, exist.  (He believed that the experiment failed because the experimenters didn’t know what to look for.)  At any rate, as the experiment had been discredited as a failure, any newbie (such as Monson) contending that the aether was real was laughed at as a crackpot.

Thornhill in this paper brings up the same Michelson-Morley experiment, adding, though, that Dayton Miller repeated the experiment and found an aether drift! Monson, apparently, was not aware of that fact, as Miller was written out of the text books, which would have helped his case immensely.

Structure, structure, everywhere

As stated above, Monson believed the Universe was composed of structured material of two types.  Thornhill, likewise, addresses the Universe as structured, even taking the electron and breaking it down into smaller structures called subtrons.

Gravity, Electromagnetism and Inertia

Both men tie gravity, electromagnetism and inertia to the same common source: the aether.  Whereas Monson contended that the aether “deformed balloons” pushed back at structured matter to produce gravity, Thornhill explains that the minute, structural, electric dipoles align in one direction to produce gravity.  In either case, all manifestation of any type is explained from a single source.

Gravity is a Variable

Both Monson and Thornhill come to the same conclusion: gravity varies depending upon the aether environment. Monson described the aether environment in terms of compression and torsion and Thornhill describes it in terms of charge and electricity.

The speed of light and gravity

Both men also address the near instantaneous speed of gravity, no matter how far the distances, and the slowness of light.  Both Monson and Thornhill address the e=mc2 equation, including when the speed of light is put into the equation.  Neither man gets time slowing down or Alice in Wonderland Effects.  Everything remains based in reality and rationalism.  However, Monson, again, explains things using compression and torsion, while Thornhill explains it in electrical terms.  Both men, though, make sense.


Monson and Thornhill both explain mass in terms of the aether environment and not as “quantity of matter.”  As a result, this opens up the possibility that mainstream science’s expectation of fluffy, spongy or hollow bodies could turn out to be solid and dense while the expectation of solid and dense bodies could turn out to be hollow or spongy.

Thornhill, in fact, draws from recent cometary and asteroid evidence, which should have shown fluffy snowballs (the comets) but instead showed apparently dense rocks, suggesting that our models—of what type of a body ought to produce the gravitational field were are seeing—are inaccurate.  Monson, whose book was written in the 1980’s, never had this astronomical data to work from.

Electric Gravity and Hollow Planets

Electric, or aether-generated gravity opens up the very real possibility of the planets being hollow.  The current thoughts on gravity, that it requires a certain amount of matter to have a certain amount of gravity, preclude many planets from being hollow.  They must be solid in order to account for the amount of gravity detected.  So, if gravity is shown to have an electric connection, the main obstacle to hollow planets vanishes altogether.

Although Monson never intended to promote the hollow earth theory, his model could be equally applied to both solid and hollow planets, without destroying it (the model).  Likewise, Thornhill’s model is also consistent with hollow spheres or structures, both on the subatomic level and on the planetary or galactic scale.  The electric universe theorists usually do not categorically state that their model favors a hollow planets scenario, as they are marginalized by the mainstream scientists enough, as it is, but as one reads more and more of their findings, it becomes apparent that it does.

Black holes

The major break between Monson and Thornhill is their opinion of black holes.  Whereas Monson accepted that black holes do, in fact, exist, Thornhill and the other plasma scientists think it’s just a mathematical invention, an imaginary device that has no counterpart in the real world.  But, again, Monson didn’t have the plasma data to work with.  If he had, he might have discarded the notion of black holes, too.

LDS Scientists: Pay Attention

The plasma theorists and scientists are on the cutting edge.  Despite being largely ignored by the mainstream, they are forging ahead and breaking new ground.  It would be to our benefit (as an LDS community) to pay attention to their findings.  The day may come that we will have to rebuild society.  If and when that happens, a proper understanding of all physics findings will be needed to correct the errors perpetuated by the current scientific community, your non-LDS peers, otherwise we LDS will be no better off or no more enlightened than any other people on the planet, regardless of the gospel knowledge we possess.  The electrical connection may be the most important of all.

The keys to correcting the errors are the scientific anomalies, which invalidate many theories.  Often we don’t hear about these anomalies.  They are briefly reported and then swept under the rug.  Out of sight, out of mind and the current popular scientific theory remains intact.  Inform yourself about the anomalies. Bring them up, focus on them and seek to correct the errors.  A knowledge of the plasma research will help as that field of research addresses anomalies.

Next Plasma Theology article: Plasma Rods: A Theoretical Concept

Previous Plasma Theology article: The hollow earth theory, the plasma model and Mormon theology

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The Noachian Flood, Part Two: Electrically manufacturing OH

Continued from part one.

There didn’t seem to be a whole lot of interest in The Noachian Flood, Part One: The role of plasma, so I held off on writing and releasing Part Two. In fact, so much did I hold off, that I totally forgot about Part One and the promised Part Two, until I started recently to go through all the old posts, re-assigning tags, linking articles, etc. It was then that I saw, and re-read, Part One and realized that I had yet to publish Part Two. As Anthony E. Larson has now joined this blog and recently published a slew of articles on plasma theology, it may be the ideal time to return to this topic. So, without further adieu, here is Part Two. (Hey! That rhymes!)

Death of a Comet (not of a Salesman)…

A few years back, a comet called Schwassman-Wachmann 3 disintegrated as it made its routine appearance. This particular comet, also known as Comet 73P, comes by every 5.4 years and normally does not put on spectacular displays. It was discovered in 1930 and has been tracked ever since, so astronomers are fairly familiar with its normal behavior. However, when it appeared in 1995, it was so bright that astronomers thought it was a new comet. They soon realized their mistake and kept an eye on the newly brightened object, discovering in 1996 that it had broken into at least 3 pieces, the beginning of the disintegration process. In its next pass, in the year 2000, it had brightened even more and now there were more cometary fragments. Finally, in the latest pass, in the year 2006, dozens of fragments were discovered, due to Hubble’s imaging capabilities.

… and of a Theory

Current cometary theory posits that comets are gigantic chunks of dirty ice or icy dirt and that the brilliant displays they put on are nothing more than ice sublimating from the Sun’s rays.

Unbeknown to most of the population, with the advent of modern, observational, astronomic and analytic technology and its focused use on comets, as new comets have entered our solar system and have been observed and analyzed, current cometary theory has also disintegrated, much like Comet Schwassman-Wachmann 3 has. A whole lot of contradictory information has come out which invalidates these mainstream cometary theories. However, the mainstream astronomers continue with their dogma, despite the evidence to the contrary, looking for a comet, any comet, that will prove their theories correct. As usual, none of our high school or college texts are ever updated with the new contradictory information and another generation of children and young adults are taught the already invalidated theories.

What comets really are

One particular non-mainstream theory is that comets are charged (rocky) bodies moving in the weak electric field of space which can and does results in plasma discharges and plasma structures, making the coma, tail, hydrogen bubble, jets, etc. This theory is both highly accurate in its predictions and also validated more and more with each new comet that enters our system and is analyzed by our technology.

The following PDF document explains the electric comet model and how it measures up compared to all the new cometary information that is coming in, as well as compared to the standard, mainstream model.

The Electric Comet

Comet Schwassman-Wachmann 3’s “water” production was really OH production

Comet 73P’s disintegration allowed astronomers to finally get a peek at the inside of a comet and of course they expected to see lots of ice and water, which, of course, they didn’t.

At the heart of comet theory is the astronomers’ unsubstantiated claim that cometary displays are largely a result of water evaporation. In contrast, electrical theorist Wal Thornhill and his colleagues have repeatedly predicted that the required water levels in the nucleus will not be found. (See summaries here and here; facts already in hand virtually preclude abundant ices on the nuclei of most comets.)

But when astronomers view the comas of comets spectroscopically, their own preconceptions deceive them. They are not seeing water. (If it were there, it would not be visible.) What they actually see is the hydroxyl radical (OH), which they assume to be a residue of water (H2O) as it is broken down by the ultraviolet light of the Sun. This assumption is not only unwarranted, it requires a speed of “processing” by solar radiation beyond anything that can be demonstrated experimentally.

The explanation for the OH in cometary comas will be found in the energetic exchange between the electrically charged comet and the oppositely charged solar wind. The point was stated in an earlier Picture of the Day: “In the electric model, negative oxygen ions will be accelerated away from the comet in energetic jets, then combine preferentially with protons from the solar wind to form the observed OH radical and the neutral hydrogen gathered around the coma in vast concentric bubbles. The reactions simply confirm the energetic charge exchange between the nucleus and Sun.”

The fragmentation of comet nuclei provides a telling opportunity to see if the ices that standard theory expects are actually there. But the time to look is in the early stages of an explosive outburst, before charge exchange with the Sun deceives astronomers. The electric model would anticipate that, with each outburst, observatories may record a decline in the relative abundance of water, before they report an increase in water (their interpretation, due to the presence of OH). As recent missions to comets have shown, water is consistently missing from the nuclei of comets but supposedly present in the comas. If the OH is, in fact, being manufactured through reactions with the solar wind, the contradictions are resolved.

(Taken from Comet Schwassman-Wachmann 3 Disintegrates (2).)

Another quote along the same line of reasoning:

When astronomers view the comas of comets spectroscopically, what they actually see is the hydroxyl radical (OH), which they assume to be a residue of water (H2O) broken down by the ultraviolet light of the Sun (photolysis). This assumption is not only unwarranted, it requires a speed of “processing” by solar radiation beyond anything that can be demonstrated experimentally.

The mysteries find direct answers electrically—in the transaction between a negatively charged comet nucleus and the Sun. In the electric model, negative oxygen ions are accelerated away from the comet in energetic jets, then combine preferentially with protons from the solar wind to form the observed OH radical and the neutral hydrogen gathered around the coma in vast concentric bubbles. These abundances simply confirm the energetic charge exchange between the nucleus and the Sun.

The electric model thus resolves two problems for the standard theory:

  1. Cometologists have never verified that the assumed photolysis is feasible on the super-efficient scale their “explanation” requires.
  2. Neutral hydrogen is far too plentiful in the coma to be the “leftover” of the hypothesized conversion of water into OH. But if the negatively charged nucleus provides the electrons in a charge exchange with the solar wind, the dilemma is resolved and the vast hydrogen envelope is a predictable effect.

(Taken from The Electric Comet as quoted in Evidence Confirms Electric Comet Model.)

Some facts about OH (the hydroxyl radical)

Here on Earth (or rather above us, in the troposphere) OH production is largely a result of photolysis of ozone, which is the mechanism that astronomers assumed was taking place on comets. However, if comets can electrically generate OH, Earth can do the same.

Currently, tropospheric hydroxyl radical concentration is pretty low. The electric state of the planet (and all the planets we observe in the solar system) is also pretty low, making Earth production of OH chiefly by photolysis. But if the electrical state of the Earth were amplified, OH production through electrical means could vastly and quickly increase the hydroxyl radical concentration, just as it happens on comets.

OH is highly reactive, forming water and some other radical, such as an alkyl radical, a peroxy radical, etc. As a result of these reactions, hydroxyl radicals are short-lived.

The Stacked Planets Scenario

Assuming that the planets were once stacked (and will be again) and that there was a pillar or plasma tube connecting the planets at their poles, the removal of the planets to their current positions would have caused electrical disruptions up and down the “totem pole” of planets. This augmented electrical state could have electrically manufactured, like comets, a vast quantity of highly reactive OH in the atmosphere, which, upon reaction with other compounds, would have produced a torrent of water and caustic substances that would have rained down hot, “burning” water upon the inhabitants of the Earth.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. (Genesis 7: 11)

The plasma columns connecting the various planets could be thought of as the world axis, a great mountain, trees of life, or as fountains of living water. As there would be more than one “fountain of living water” (plasma column) because there were more than two planets connected, the break up of these fountains of the great deep means that the planets were scattered from their stacked positions, and, as explained above, massive OH production possibly would ensue, causing the “windows of heaven” to open.

There’s more coming in part three

Next Plasma Theology article: The Noachian Flood, Part Three: Oceans above, below and within

Previous Plasma Theology article: The Noachian Flood, Part One: The Role of Plasma

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The Signs of the Times

1,610 words

© Anthony E. Larson, 2002

 The Signs of the Times

Hoping to confound the Savior by asking him to perform an impossible miracle for a mere man, the Pharisees and the Sadducees of his day asked that “he would shew them a sign from heaven.” His answer was profound – for them and for us – especially when we consider that we live at a time in history that is equally pivotal to the days of Christ’s ministry. Hence, modern Christians, and especially Mormons, who have been given much more knowledge than the rest of the world, would do well to pay special heed to his reply to those early Jews.

“He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring.  O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16: 2, 3.)

In other words, in the Savior’s mind it should have been as easy to discern the signs of the times as it was to predict the weather. Since predicting the weather has been a popular pastime of the human race since Adam, and continues to preoccupy us even today, the Savior’s recrimination is particularly stinging.

Implied in the Savior’s response was the accusation that the very sign of the times they asked for had already been given; it stood before them in his own person, since he was the promised Messiah they awaited. In effect, he was saying that the answer was as plain as the nose on their face.

Meteorology has come a very long way since the Savior uttered those words approximately 2,000 years ago. We have dramatically improved our ability to prognosticate the weather, thanks to remarkable technological advances. Yet, sadly, the confusion and controversy that seems to abound among modern Christians, and Saints in particular, regarding the signs of our times, betrays a woeful ignorance that may equal that of the contemptible Pharisees and Sadducees.

The implication of the Savior’s reply for us is that we should be able to foresee his second coming as easily as one predicts the weather – that the answer is as plain as the nose on our face.

Yet, the Saints seem to struggle with this issue. More lamentable is the fact that most church members seem to have adopted popular views on the interpretation of prophecy held by most Christians – like those of Hal Lindsay, for example – which are most surely misguided because they lack the inspiration of latter-day prophets from Joseph Smith to the present.

When Latter-day Saints ponder the clues to the Savior’s second advent, they would do well to note that we should be more discerning of his coming than the Jews were, else we risk making a fatal error similar to theirs. We should look to the words of modern prophets for guidance in this matter, not to contemporary Christianity.

Joseph Smith gave us the clue needed to answer the question, but we have systematically ignored it because it seemed extravagant in that it flew in the face of accepted scientific dogma. During a sermon given by the Prophet in the General Conference “convened on the floor of the (Nauvoo) Temple” of April 6th, 1843, he read from Revelation and Hosea, prophecies of the last days. He then said, “The coming of the Son of Man never will be – never can be – till the judgments spoken of for this hour are poured out.” (History of the Church, Vol. 5, p. 336.) That makes clear the subject of this sermon: the second coming; it also sets forth the order of events: first the judgments or natural disasters, then the Savior appears – the same order noted in the Book of Mormon for his coming to the Nephites, which may turn out to be a prophetic model for events yet to occur in our time.

Joseph went on to quote Paul, “Ye are the children of the light, and not of the darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief in the night,” meaning that the Saints should be far more aware of and prepared for the Savior’s coming than the rest of the world. Put in the Savior’s terms, we Saints should be able to discern the signs of the times as readily as we can predict the weather.

The Prophet then went on to explain himself more precisely in an unequivocal statement as to what the signs of the second coming will be so there might be no room for confusion on our part.

“It is not the design of the Almighty to come upon the earth and crush it and grind it to powder, but he will reveal it to His servants the prophets. Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and the temple, &c.; and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance. There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, &c.  But the Son of Man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east.” (History of the Church, Vol. 5, pp. 336-7; italics added.)

This statement is highly informative as to what we might expect to see occur prior to the second coming.  Most of it is self-explanatory. However, part of it deserves further commentary.

Joseph’s reference to the “grand sign” as a planet or comet is often misconstrued to mean that the sign is not a comet or a planet. However, a careful reading of the text says otherwise. Indeed, the Prophet meant that the world’s assessment would be a correct one, that the sign would, indeed, be “a comet, a planet,” but that the Saints should see it as a “grand sign” – perhaps the same sign referred to in a revelation from the Lord that says, “And immediately there shall appear a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together.” (Doctrine & Covenants 88:93.) Joseph’s addendum that the sign would come out of the east “as the light of the morning” reinforces the idea that it will be all three: a planet that looks and behaves as a comet, yet is also a sign from the Creator.

Connected to both the Savior’s statement and that of Joseph Smith is one made by Elder LeGrand Richards in a 1951 General Conference address on the subject of the last days. “The newspapers might announce some great phenomenon in the heavens, misplacement of planets, that have caused consternation, and scientists will have their explanation to make of it, and unless they have faith in the living God, unless as Jesus said, they can read the signs of the time, they may not know anything about what is (actually) going on in the world.” (Conference Report, April, 1951, pp. 40-1; italics added.)

This statement puts a lock on it. Elder Richards specifically refers to the Savior’s statement and alludes to that made by Joseph Smith on the subject of the grand sign, then brings them together in a modern context. Though such pronouncements are admittedly rare, the latter-day prophets are on the record with unmistakably lucid statements as to what the signs of the last days, prior to the second coming, will be. It appears, from the above statements, that a planet-sized body that will look and behave like a comet will threaten us – that is, it will be brilliant, have a great tail and move on an elliptical path that will bring it dangerously close.

These declarations are particularly noteworthy given the recent scientific revelations that cometary impacts, such as that which destroyed the dinosaurs, can cause all the natural disasters listed by Joseph Smith – who directly connects them, and accurately so, to the appearance of the comet/planet/sign – earthquakes all over the world at once (“earthquakes in divers places”), a dust or soot filled atmosphere causing darkness nearly worldwide (“the sun turned into darkness”), tsunamis of epic proportions that will inundate and destroy thousands of miles of coastlines where there are large population concentrations (“the seas heaving beyond their bounds”), a spectacularly illuminated moon (“the moon to blood”) and numerous other catastrophic manifestations in the heavens and here on the earth (“signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath”). We can surmise that the effects exerted by a planet passing close by the Earth would be even more pronounced than those of a mere comet. Of course, the distance and size of the body would be the determining factors.

Once again, the inspiration and vision of latter-day prophets of God have anticipated scientific discoveries while revealing remarkable truth. Latter-day Saints should no longer be in doubt about this subject nor should they fall victim to the misleading interpretations of prophecy offered by our Christian cousins. We have our own, inspired view, given by revelation, which should allow us to predict the events of the second coming with considerable accuracy – as easily as we predict the weather.



Modern Signs

1,452 words

© Anthony E. Larson, 2003

Modern Signs

Joseph’s most profound and enlightening sermon on the signs of the last days, given on the temple grounds at Nauvoo in April, 1843, demonstrates his views of the origin and nature of those signs, as well as our ability to recognize them for what they are.

“There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds; … ” (History of the Church, 5:337.)

Of particular interest is his addition of a truly remarkable sign to the customary list – one to which Latter-day Saints should give special heed.  “… then will appear one grand sign of the coming of the Son of Man in heaven.” (Ibid.) This is clearly a reiteration of the Savior’s statement in Matthew 24 wherein he said, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven …” 

Until this last dispensation of the gospel, no other prophet or passage of scripture had added the superlative “grand sign.” Typically, all the signs are given equal weight or value; none is designated as special or more notable.  Indeed, the only other mention is found in modern revelation wherein a slightly altered version of the term is used. Speaking of the last days, the Lord declared to Joseph in December 1842, “And immediately there shall appear a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together.”  (Doctrine & Covenants 88:93.) 

Indeed, Joseph may have intended that this sermon, given a mere four months after the revelation recorded in Doctrine & Covenants, reaffirm and amplify on that revelation since Section 88 is remarkable for its catalog of latter-day signs.

On that occasion, Joseph continued his sermon by explaining what that marvelous sign might be. “What will the world do?  They will say it is a planet, a comet, &c.  But the Son of Man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east.”  (Ibid.)

It is a stunning statement, when carefully considered. The greatest or grandest of signs will be a comet or planet. Assumably, this comet or planet will be doing something well out of the ordinary to attract special attention.

Note that the Prophet is not saying the world’s assessment is incorrect, as some have supposed. Rather, he is merely noting that the worldly or scientific terminology for this eye-catching sign would be “a planet, a comet, &c.”

In light of what modern science has discovered in recent years about rogue comets and asteroids, this observation by Joseph Smith is striking. Mention of this great or grand sign is unique to this dispensation and is therefore worthy of special attention by Mormons – especially in light of what occurred in the heavens a decade ago.

In July 1994, fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy repeatedly slammed into the planet Jupiter, as forecast by astronomers. At least one of those impact sites left a pockmark on Jupiter’s face that was larger than the Earth. Estimates were that the first fragment alone struck with the force of 200,000 mega­tons of explosive power! Nineteen more followed, leaving visible impact scars around Jupiter’s southern hemisphere.

This was an unprece­dented, historic, celestial event. Nothing even remotely as spectacular has occurred in our solar system since Galileo invented the tele­scope.

From Joseph Smith’s time forward, scientists had utterly dismissed the possibility that comets or asteroids might menace the Earth. Even the prominent astronomer Carl Sagan denied the likelihood of cometary impact. As far as science was concerned, such nonsense was “impossible.”

Due to comet Shoemaker/Levy, the scientific community did a con­ceptual about-face that was as dramatic as it was sweeping. They had been treated to a celestial visual aid of cosmic pro­portions; the “impossible” had occurred before their very eyes. There was no denying catastrophic impacts any longer.

As a result, today the idea of an impact dramatically altering Earth’s ecosystem is well accepted. Cosmic collisions do occur, scientists acknowledge, as in the instance of the dinosaurs’ extinction. Moreover, if it can happen to Jupiter, it can happen to the Earth.

Almost overnight, scientists began speaking of the threat posed by Earth-crossing asteroids and comets. NASA pro­posed a program and sought funding to find and track any ob­ject that might collide with the Earth. 

A cosmic collision could result in a range of conse­quences, much like those signs listed by Joseph, from something no greater than any local disaster – as in an earthquake, flood or famine – to a worldwide event with long-term implications. The models proposed by re­searchers differ only in scale.

Even a mod­erate size impactor could ultimately lead to the death of at least one-fourth of the world’s population. A near collision by a planet passing nearby us could be as devastating or worse, depending upon the proximity of the intruder.

The extent of the damage would be determined by the size, composition, incoming ve­locity, angle and location – ocean or land, populated or un­populated – of the impactor. For example, if the Tunguska me­teorite of 1902, which exploded in the upper atmosphere without every hitting the ground, were to fall on Moscow today, the death toll would be about 9 million dead!

Especially significant is the fact that the “grand sign,” – making an impact in the case of a comet, a very close pass or near miss in the case of a planet – would cause all the signs listed by Joseph Smith in his discourse. That is, the “grand sign” would be the direct cause of the other signs listed by the Prophet, as well as by the scriptures.

Everyone on the planet would be in peril.

The location of a strike would ultimately determine the nature of the after­math; a close planetary pass would cause uniform but devastating destruction worldwide. If the impact were an ocean strike, it would generate a tsunami ranging in size from a few feet up to hundreds of feet in height, with the potential of destroying up to 100 million people worldwide. A close pass would raise prodigious ocean tides drawn up by the gravitational pull of the offending planet, with very nearly the same effect as an ocean impact. This would be “the seas heaving beyond their bounds” Joseph described.

If it were a landfall, the shock wave would cause global geological stress that would certainly gen­erate massive “earthquakes in divers places,” as would a close pass by gravitational “tugging” at the landmasses.

The ejecta from the impact or from colossal volcanic eruptions in the event of a planetary near miss would take the form of gas, dust and stones, which would be blown high into the atmosphere. The debris would fall back to earth in showers of hot stones, like so many artillery shells. Widespread rains of these hot stones would almost immedi­ately create hemisphere-wide fires and destruction.

The dust would be transported around the Earth by high-altitude winds, casting the world into near-total gloom – “the sun turned into darkness” – followed by freez­ing cold, leading to the suppression of photosynthesis for months, even years.

The gas released would eventually cause intense acid rain and destruction of the ozone layer, signs suggested elsewhere in scripture. Agriculture would collapse, resulting in famines, as suggested in prophecy, and the breakdown of global economic, social and political structures would result in “wars and rumors of wars,” among other things.

Latter-day Saints’ opinion on the subject of potential impacts, past and present, differs little from that of the gen­eral public. They see it as very unlikely. Yet, that probably should not be so, given the scriptural certainty of the last days and Joseph Smith’s enlightened statement regarding the last great sign being a comet or planet. He clearly held a view of his­tory and prophecy that included disasters emanating from the heavens, which would have devastating effects here on Earth.

When we consider the magnitude and import of seeing a comet impact Jupiter in our own time as we approach the second coming, one wonders if this astronomical visual aid might not have been God’s way of making a point, just as he gave a celestial sign to the Nephites prior to the Savior’s first coming. Have we been forewarned, just as were our Nephite cousins? Could it have been meant to awaken us from our apathetic complacency about the times we live in and the planet we live on? Should not Latter-day Saints – the “children of the light” – be the first to recognize the true import of this “sign?”

Remember, Joseph Smith placed great store in the validity of latter-day signs, especially those that can be described as planets or comets.



The Forgotten Commandment: Watch the Heavens!

4,742 words

© Anthony E. Larson, 2007

The Forgotten Commandment: Watch the Heavens!

Part I – The Commandment

Section 84 of the Doctrine & Covenants is a pivotal revelation for Latter-day Saints, or should be.

The preamble to this section says, “The Prophet designates it a revelation on priesthood.” In it, the Lord explains some of the roles of priesthood bearers, including a thorough explanation of missionary work and how it might be carried out.

 “And this revelation unto you, and commandment, is in force from this very hour upon all the world, and the gospel is unto all who have not received it.” (verse 75.)

This makes it plain that this “revelation” is not only a disclosure of information, but it also carries a “commandment.”

In the process of explaining this mandate to teach the gospel, the Lord touches on an aspect of priesthood responsibility that is entirely overlooked in the church today when he gives this added command. “Nevertheless, let the bishop go unto the city of New York, also to the city of Albany, and also to the city of Boston, and warn the people of those cities with the sound of the gospel, with a loud voice, of the desolation and utter abolishment which await them if they do reject these things. (verse 114.)

Reading carefully, we see that this directive carries two parts. The first, is to teach the gospel: “warn the people … with the sound of the gospel.” The second is to tell them “of the desolation and utter abolishment” that might befall them.

Clearly, the first directive refers to missionary work, a mandate church members have heeded and apparently fulfilled rather well, given the remarkable growth of the church in the latter half of the 20th century. But, the second reference seems quite vague. What is the “desolation” referred to? What is “utter abolishment?”

Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘desolate’ as “barren or laid waste … without inhabitants, deserted.” It also defines ‘abolish’ as “to do away with, to put an end to.”

Since the Lord applied these terms to three major American cities, a rather grim picture emerges. Without equivocation, God seems to be talking about reeking havoc in a catastrophe great enough to entirely wipe the cities of New York, Albany and Boston off the map, complete with all their inhabitants, if they do not accept the gospel.

But that is not all. To clarify and amplify, God reiterates the commandment. “And verily I say unto you, the rest of my servants, go ye forth as your circumstances shall permit, in your several callings, unto the great and notable cities and villages, reproving the world in righteousness of all their unrighteous and ungodly deeds, setting forth clearly and understandingly the desolation of abomination in the last days.” (verse 117.)

So, we learn that this mission was not exclusive to Bishop Whitney; verse 117 extends this commandment to all priesthood holders, “the rest of my servants.” We also learn that they should visit not just the three cities first named, but many others also, “the great and notable cities and villages.”

Then, the Lord repeats his charge that they teach about possible, impending destructions, “the desolation of abomination.”

This presents a problem for today’s priesthood bearers. Which of us can even begin to explain the “desolation” and “utter abolishment” the Lord referred to? What do those terms mean? What could cause such devastation?

While every general conference of the church has one or more talks about the vital importance of missionary work, where are the talks explaining or elucidating the second part of the commandment: teaching “clearly and understandingly the desolation of abomination?” More importantly, we must ask why this part of the commandment has not been acknowledged? How is it that we have focused so well and appropriately on missionary work without also teaching the other half of the equation, the promised devastation?

If we’ve not been instructed in these things or discovered them for ourselves, how are we to teach them, as we were commanded to do? How are we going to teach something we do not understand? In that case, how are we going to fulfill the Lord’s charge to teach it at all, let alone do so plainly?

As a matter of fact, any discussion of prophetic destructions has been almost completely banned from our discourse in the church. Over the last half-century, the subjects of prophecy and catastrophe in church discussion have become increasingly taboo. Where once they were central to our very character as Latter-day Saints, they have been almost completely marginalized in our day and age.

Our instruction manuals for teaching in the church almost entirely skirt around the subject of the last days and their associated destructions. The subject is almost never addressed from the pulpit, and even then it is treated in such an oblique manner as to avoid any substantive handling of the subject.

Yet, given the wording of this section, it would seem that we are under as great an obligation to teach about the impending destructions as we are to do missionary work.

So, let’s reverse this trend. Let’s more fully perform our duty as priesthood bearers. Let’s look at this once again to see if we might regain some lost ground and thereby properly fulfill this commandment from the Lord.

One might begin by asking, what is the “desolation and utter abolishment” of which the Lord spoke? What is the “desolation of abomination in the last days” that all priesthood bearers, “the rest of my servants,” are herein commanded to “set forth clearly and understandingly?”

A clue to those questions lies a little further on in that section. “For, with you saith the Lord Almighty, I will rend their kingdoms; I will not only shake the earth, but the starry heavens shall tremble.” (verse 118.)

The keywords in these verses are “rend their kingdoms,” “shake the earth” and “the starry heavens shall tremble.” Anyone schooled in the nature of planetary catastrophes that have punctuated Earth’s past and the prophetic metaphors they gave rise to will recognize what the Lord intended. These same metaphors have been used by the prophets to describe numerous episodes in Earth’s past when the entire world came to the brink of destruction-episodes such as Noah’s Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Exodus and numerous other such widespread catastrophes.

The references are subtle but unmistakable. The metaphors “desolation of abomination,” or “desolation and utter abolishment” are coded expressions for planetary catastrophes of the most devastating kind where nature goes on a rampage, where almost all the works of mankind crumble in worldwide earthquakes while oceanic super-tsunamis rush in upon continents, wiping vast areas of the globe clean of any vestige of life, all as the heavens appear to reel about as a result of our planet’s wobbling on its axis of rotation.

As if to put a lock on his meaning, God added this unmistakable declaration. “For I, the Lord, have put forth my hand to exert the powers of heaven; ye cannot see it now, yet a little while and ye shall see it, and know that I am, and that I will come and reign with my people.” (verse 119.)

It is the powers of heaven that wreck destruction and havoc on the Earth, a frequent scriptural theme.

And just to clarify, the Lord says that there is nothing unusual to see in the heavens just now, “ye cannot see it now.” But the time will come when we will all see and know what the desolation of abomination is. That is, “yet a little while and ye shall see it.”

Finally, as a warning against dismissing the importance of this knowledge and its conveyance, the Lord said, “And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received-

“Which Vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.” (verses 54 and 55)

Make no mistake. Ignoring or dismissing this aspect of our priesthood callings by failing to obey the Lord’s commandment in this regard has brought condemnation upon us all. Perhaps not coincidentally, these are the very verses President Ezra Taft Benson quoted when he counseled church members to repent of their doubt and pride, saying also that the whole church was under condemnation.

Part II – Watch the Heavens

To assure the reader that the above is not a strained interpretation of a few obscure and selected verses, we should take a moment to learn why the Lord might want his priesthood to understand the cause and nature of planetary catastrophes.

In all ancient cultures, the priestly class dominated the religious life of any culture, including the symbolic center of their religious tradition: the temple. All ancient cultures had temples wherein the priestly class administered rites and rituals of salvation, whether or not they had the true priesthood.

We learn from Abraham that this was certainly true of the Egyptians. “Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations …. Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham ….” (Abraham 1:26, 27.)

We know from archeology and research into the Egyptian religion that they not only had temples, but they performed resurrection rituals, much as we do in our temples today. Thus, as Abraham implies, they obviously sought to imitate true priesthood orders and rituals. (See Hugh Nibley’s extensive writings on this subject.)

Some temples were elaborately constructed edifices, such as the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Others were merely groups of standing stones, such as Stonehenge. In the Americas, pyramids were the temples of choice, as were the ziggurats of Mesopotamia. Native Americans in the southwestern United States constructed kivas. All these are easily identified as temples because of the rituals practiced therein.

But the temples weren’t only ritual centers. They were observatories, and their architecture abounds in astral alignments. Research has shown us that they assiduously tracked the movements of the heavenly bodies. As we have seen, they were absolutely obsessive about fixing and tracking the points where these bodies rose over the horizon, most especially the Sun during the summer and winter solstices.

A fundamental part of priestly responsibility was to watch the skies by tracking the movements of the Sun, the Earth, the Moon, the planets and the stars, which they accomplished with a variety of ingenious methods.

Most common among these ancient sky watchers was the practice of aligning stones or architecture such that the first rays of light from the Sun as it rose in the morning would fall on a well-marked spot on another stone or marker within a building. Thus, they could track the Sun’s rising on the horizon throughout the year as it varied, moving slightly more north or south each day until it reached its most extreme positions at the winter and summer solstices. This, then, was a simple but effective way of ascertaining that the Earth, not the Sun, was moving in its normal, prescribed path. Any deviation would easily be discerned.

This proclivity has long puzzled archeologists and anthropologists. Why did the ancients seem preoccupied with astronomy? Why did they track the movement of astral bodies? Why was astronomy so important to them that they practiced it and incorporated it into their most sacred shrines, their temples?

This was as true of God’s authentic prophets and priests as it was of the pretenders. We learn this from Abraham, for example. “But the records of the fathers, even the patriarchs, concerning the right of Priesthood, the Lord my God preserved in mine own hands; therefore a knowledge of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars, as they were made known unto the fathers.” (Abraham 1:31.)

This notion is further confirmed when Abraham is shown stars and planets through the Urim and Thummim. It seems to be God’s desire that the prophets have an intimate knowledge of things astronomical. But to what end, if not to watch for irregularities in the skies?

This is reflected in our modern temples, where astral symbols abound, as they also did in ancient temples. This was and is information about the Sun, the Moon and the many stars or “great lights, which were in the firmament of heaven”-the very icons we find adorning the walls of our sacred temples.

But, what does astronomy have to do with religion and priesthood? It’s really quite simple.

God always warned the world’s inhabitants of impending planetary disasters. The scriptures are replete with such accounts. Adam and Noah warned of the coming Great Flood; Abraham warned Lot to flee Sodom and Gomorrah; Moses warned the Israelites, Pharaoh and the Egyptians of the plagues that would shortly befall them; and Samuel the Lamanite warned the Nephites of the destructions to accompany the crucifixion of the Savior.

Not only that, there are an even greater multitude of warnings regarding identical destructions and devastations in the last days, before the second coming. John wrote extensively in his Revelation. Isaiah, Malachi, Zechariah, Habakkuk, Nahum, Joel and even the Savior himself told of these planet-wide catastrophes as a “desolation of abomination.” Hence, there are a multitude of past and future warnings from the prophets in our scriptures of the “desolation and utter abolishment” that awaits the world in our day, just as they occurred in the past.

 It is only natural, then, that God would charge his priesthood with the sobering task of watching the heavens to discern any change in the motions of the Earth, Sun, Moon or the planets. Alterations in any of those would likely portend trouble.

So, this is the easily discernable reason why all ancient cultures, including those led by prophets, were so invested in watching the heavens. Any deviation in the movement of the stars or planets meant almost certain disaster for Earth’s inhabitants. So, tracking them was the sure way to know at the earliest possible moment if something went awry.

A rather practical, down-to-earth approach for such an esoteric discipline as astronomy, wouldn’t you say?

Since modern astronomy denies the possibility of any deviation in the orbits of the Earth, the Sun and the other planets in our solar system, they are left with no basis for understanding the ancients’ preoccupation with the heavens. They chalk it up to superstition, and that’s where it ends.

But ancient and modern revelation, along with all the texts left behind by other ancient cultures, repeatedly and compellingly insist that the order of the heavens was altered in historic times, in spite of the insistence to the contrary by modern science.

The prophets repeatedly spoke of a change so great, so sweeping that it completely alters both the heavens and the Earth. “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. … Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth ….” (2 Peter 3:7, 13.) “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” (Revelation 21:1.)

This principle is most clearly enunciated in latter-day revelation. “And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.

“For old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth ….” Doctrine and Covenants 29: 23, 24.)

All this being true, then it only makes sense that God would want to reestablish this practice of watching the heavens among his priesthood in the latter days. And knowing this explains why the priesthood was assigned the duty of “watchmen” in the “watchtowers.” While a watchtower in a fortress or walled city might be useful in spotting an army of approaching foes, an astronomical observatory might effectively be thought of as a “watchtower” and the priesthood as “watchmen” where the possibility of planetary disorder exists.

Hence, the Lord implores his people, and especially those ordained to the priesthood to “Watch, therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matthew 24:42.)

Also, “Gird up your loins and be watchful and be sober, looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man, for he cometh in an hour you think not.” (Doctrine and Covenants 61:38.)

This, then, is a duty traditionally assigned to God’s priesthood bearers. That he would again restore this assignment to the priesthood in these latter days is perfectly natural and in harmony with the ancient pattern. That means that this is information and understanding that every latter-day priesthood holder should master, as we have been commanded, in order to fully discharge our sacred duties.

Not only can we better fulfill our callings through this study and practice, this information will further enhance our gospel understanding to a considerable degree, allowing us to better understand the scriptures, the words of the prophets and the symbolism of our temples. This is true because the symbolism that dominates the gospel actually originated in ancient astral events.

 Part III – The Reiteration

Lastly, in order to better understand the 84th Section, we must turn to the 88th Section, where the Lord reiterates in much more detail what he gave in the earlier revelation. Read this revelation with the counsel and commandment of the 84th Section in mind to bring greater clarity and meaning to the Lord’s expressions.

Let’s review Section 88 verse by verse, beginning about half way through.

“77 And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.”

God here referred to the same commandment he already gave in Section 83, as will be plainly seen as we proceed.

“78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand ….”

This is the very instruction needed to prepare a teacher to explain what the desolation of abomination is, how to watch for it and how to explain it. While we are presently doing a good job of teaching gospel principles and law, we have fallen down in the other two named categories: theory and doctrine. Otherwise, the knowledge of these planetary destructions would be common among us. Since they are not, this is prima fascia evidence of our ignorance.

And what are those things that we have failed to study and fully understand?

“79 Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass … and the judgments which are on the land ….”

 You see, it is in studying the “things both of heaven and in the earth” that we discover the changes wrought by past planetary catastrophes, because those changes are explicit in ancient history or “things which have been.” Of course, by studying “things which are,” we find a basis for comparison with the past. In so doing, we learn that our world and its heavens are vastly different than they were. Additionally, in studying “things which must shortly come to pass,” we learn that coming planetary disorder will be nearly identical to past catastrophes, giving us yet another basis for comparison and a vivid idea of what the future holds for this world when planetary disorder once again nearly destroys our planet, causing “desolation and utter abolishment.”

“80 That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.”

This is the heart of the matter. We cannot be fully prepared to “magnify the calling” we’ve been given if we have not prepared ourselves with this vital knowledge, which we now utterly lack.

“81 Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”

This is a restatement of the mission: We must “clearly and understandingly” tell them of the “desolation and utter abolishment” that awaits this world.

“84 Therefore, tarry ye, and labor diligently, that you may be perfected in your ministry ….”

Without this knowledge of planetary catastrophe, we cannot be “perfected” in our knowledge. And we cannot properly teach if our knowledge is incomplete or incorrect. Hence the Lord’s counsel to “tarry” while we “labor diligently” to learn these concepts.

 “… to go forth among the Gentiles for the last time, as many as the mouth of the Lord shall name, to bind up the law and seal up the testimony, and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come; …”

Notice here that this mission to teach of planetary catastrophe is not only necessary to teach the nonmembers or “Gentiles,” it is needful “to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment.” Thus, this mission is as much to the members of the church as it is to potential converts. This is the second part of the commandment, which we have completely overlooked.

“85 That their souls may escape the wrath of God, the desolation of abomination which awaits the wicked, both in this world and in the world to come.”

Just to clarify that both sections 84 and 88 are talking about the same things, notice that the Lord once again cites the “desolation of abomination,” while yet further defining it as the “wrath of God.”

And here’s the payoff. So that we might be certain of what he’s talking about, the Lord describes the desolation’s most prominent elements.

“87 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.”

It is these variously described, symbolic elements that are seen to comprise the effects that accompany a planetary disaster.

In Section 84, he cited another such symbolic, yet very real, element. ” I will not only shake the earth, but the starry heavens shall tremble.”

It is the comprehension of these metaphors, and the many other symbolically described elements, that are crucial to one’s understanding of the very things we’ve been commanded to teach, that is “set forth clearly and understandingly.” It is these elements of planetary catastrophe that we must master in order to teach them to others.

“88 And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.”

The Lord said the same thing with more obscure language in Section 84 when he said, “For, with you saith the Lord Almighty, I will rend their kingdoms.”

That is to say, first comes the priesthood’s warning, then comes the destruction. It’s the same pattern followed throughout world history: God calls a prophet to warn the people of impending disaster and call them to repentance. That done, the promised destructions are poured out.

For good measure, the Lord then lists many more elements of a planetary encounter.

“89 For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.

“90 And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.

“91 And all things shall be in commotion; surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people.”

Again, it is these natural phenomenon that constitute the prophesied desolation.

Next is an entirely metaphorical narrative that cannot be understood until one is thoroughly schooled in the prophetic tradition that arose from past planetary calamity. It is coded language, symbolic allusions to very real things that will be seen and heard.

“92 And angels shall fly through the midst of heaven, crying with a loud voice, sounding the trump of God, saying: Prepare ye, prepare ye, O inhabitants of the earth; for the judgment of our God is come. Behold, and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”

It is in the decoding of such metaphors or symbolic language that a corrected view of ancient planetary catastrophe becomes vital. With it, we can see what such allegorical declarations truly mean.

Now comes the “piece de resistance” of this revelation.

“93 And immediately there shall appear a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together.”

It is this “great sign” that is the cause of these overwhelming natural phenomenon that will sweep the Earth.

Some have supposed that since the word “sign” is used here that there would be some stunning, symbolic manifestation in the heavens that would signal the onset of the destructions. But, the training and education that comes with studying past planetary encounters tell us otherwise.

Joseph Smith explained in more explicit terms what that “great sign” would be.

 “There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the coming of the Son of Man in heaven.  What will the world do?  They will say it is a planet, a comet, &c.”  (History of the Church, 5:337.)

Of course, the entire world will call this sign a planet or a comet because that’s exactly what it will be-a planet-sized orb that also looks and behaves like a tremendous comet.

And just so there are no loose ends to this exposition, make note that Joseph connects this “sign” with all the same devastating natural destructions as the two revelations we’ve been considering. That can lead to only one, inescapable conclusion: The planet or comet is not only a sign, it is the very agent-the single cause-of all the natural destructions that are part of God’s desolation.


 After all this exposition, these points are worth making one last time: It is the Lord who decreed that the priesthood’s role is to be the conservators and expositors of this knowledge among church members. Not only that, they were charged with watching the heavens for deviations that might portend renewed catastrophes.

Sadly, present-day priesthood holders not only do not understand these things, they are inclined to discount and suppress them, thinking they are too fantastic or bizarre to be credible. Most elders in the church know nothing of the simplest aspects of astronomy, thinking it something entirely and completely foreign to the gospel of Christ. Yet, a survey of teachings by general authorities from Joseph Smith on forward has revealed that these subjects have been amply treated and clarified in this dispensation, to say nothing of the preponderance of evidence found in our scriptures and the other records we have from the past.

Today’s priesthood holders have no concept of such a mandate from the Lord, even though it is plainly stated in latter day revelation. Neither have they properly searched our scriptures, otherwise these things would have been self evident. Therefore, today’s priesthood holders are unable to comply with the Lord’s mandate to teach these truths “clearly and understandingly.”

Perhaps its time we stopped treating prophecy and prophetic imagery as the redheaded stepchild of the gospel. Maybe it’s time we reversed our course by taking seriously this commandment. By admitting our oversight, we can begin to correct it.

Remember God’s counsel: “And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received-

“Which Vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.” (Section 84:54, 55.)

Will we allow this to continue?