Category Archives: The Last Days

Some insight into the phrase “desolation of abomination”

John Gee, over at his excellent and always provocative blog Forn Spǫll Fira, gives some insight into the Savior’s use of Daniel’s phrase, “desolation of abomination” based on its historical use within Maccabees, specifically that

This description from Maccabees supplies an understanding of what Jesus was predicting for the future of Christianity before his death.

Go read it. It’s his work; I’m not going to copy it wholesale here.  ..bruce..

Why you should have beer in your food storage


1. Beer

“Buy a lot of it,” says Trey Click, a magazine publisher who rode out last year’s Hurricane Ike in Galveston, Texas. “It’s one of the only things you can use for money in the aftermath.” Need your neighbor to help you clear trees out of your yard? A case of Bud is a better motivator than a $20 bill when all the stores are boarded up.

I doubt that most of us would stock beer in our emergency preparedness supplies, particularly those who still have teenagers at home (it’s just asking for trouble), not to mention the actual ethical dilemma of handing out beer to our neighbors. Still, the issue that Click brings up is a good one: what can you barter with in the aftermath of a major disaster when money isn’t of much immediate value? I’m not sure canned soda (particularly if there’s no power) has quite the same caché. Maybe those large boxes of candy bars you get at Costco? Thoughts?

Here’s my own contribution to “unusual survival staples”: make sure that many of your critical battery-operated devices use C cell batteries. Sandra and I were living four miles from the epicenter, on the Santa Cruz side of the mountains, when the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake hit and so were in the thick of things; also, the main highway (Hwy 17) from San Jose was closed for six weeks due to landslides. Within 24 hours or so, all the local stores were completely out of AAA, AA, and D cell batteries, but they had piles of C cell batteries (in the case of the Soquel Safeway store, it was literally a pile on the floor, and quite a large one).  ..bruce..

Future(s) of the LDS Church

The last two posts have dealt with the future (in America) of Evangelism in particular and Christianity in general. Ardis Parshall’s comments on the former post raise the question of the extent to which these same factors impact the LDS Church. I’d like to poke at that a bit, mostly to explore ways in which the future of the LDS Church might be different from what faithful members typically envision.

Let me start by addressing the standard bifurcation between those who believe the LDS Church is what it claims to be  — the Church of Jesus Christ, restored by God Himself, the “only true and living church” — and those who do not. Those in the latter camp can and do envision all sorts of futures for the LDS Church, and they do so quite reasonably, since their premise is that it is simply a man-made organization (or, in some Evangelical circles, the Church of Satan) and so can suffer all the varied fates of any such organization.

For believing or faithful Latter-day Saints, however, the LDS Church is God’s kingdom restored to the earth, never to be taken from the earth again between now and the Second Coming of Christ. It is, in the words of Daniel’s vision as echoed in the D&C, “the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth” (though that passage actually refers to the Gospel, not the Church, as that stone). As such, our vision of the Church’s future tends to be largely more of the same — more wards, more stakes, more missionaries, more missions, more members, and maybe even a few more scriptures — with a brief period of last-days catastrophes, during which we live off our food storage (you do have your food storage, don’t you?), have a much shorter meeting block, and generally encourage and help each other while the rest of the world goes to pieces. Somehow in all this, our homes and our chapels (especially our stake centers) will be places of refuge for ourselves and our nice non-LDS neighbors.

But what if that standard picture is wrong or misleading? What if the course of the Church between now and the coming of the Savior turns out be quite different from what we usually presume? We often cite the books of Helaman through 4th Nephi in the Book of Mormon as providing a type and shadow of events surrounding the Second Coming and the Millennium, but in so doing, we ignore the fact that the Church of God goes from being dominant in both Nephite and Lamanite regions to almost (but not quite) vanishing completely just prior to the great destruction that accompanies the Savior’s death. In fact, one of the first things the Savior does when He appears to the Lehites at Bountiful is to re-establish the Church, reordain its leaders, and re-institute baptism, including for those existing leaders.

Orson Scott Card played with some of these themes in his Folk of the Fringe stories (all written in the 1980s), in which a limited nuclear exchange disrupts American (and American LDS) civilization. The stories are worth reading to see what Card does with this setting, particularly with what is in effect a rejection by God of the LDS Church in America.

Another favorite in this vein is a little short story called “Entry” by Stephen Scott, found in the book LDSF: Science Fiction by and for Mormons (Scott and Vickie Smith, eds., Millennial Productions, 1982). The story is only 3 pages long, and if I could contact either the author or the editors and get permission, I’d post the whole thing here. In brief, the story simply looks over the shoulder of the President of the Church at some future date as he is bringing his journal up to date for the week gone by. But in so doing, we learn about all the things that have changed in the Church (and in the world), such as:

  • the calling of full-time bishops
  • a reference to “Apostle Kantor’s ‘mixed’ marriage” (no further explanation is given)
  • the “new rulings on euthanasia”
  • the radical interpretation of the Word of Wisdom as part of the drive against world hunger
  • the death of the Prophet’s wives [yes, plural] in the California earthquake a few years ealier
  • taping his eulogy for Apostle Yoshimoto
  • site selections for new temples near Buenos Aires
  • his son serving a mission in Zimbabwe
  • his daughter attending BYU-Rome
  • the First Presidency meeting with the “Council of Twenty”
  • reference to six missions “behind the so-called Iron Curtain”
  • the new Church Headquarters, apparently located in Mexico (“across from the Hotel Baja”)
  • the reinstitution of the United Order in some areas
  • in giving a talk broadcast Church-wide, having to use translators “for those who did not speak Spanish”
  • opening of missions in Tibet, Madagascar, and Ceylon
  • a new hymn book
  • a four-hour private meeting with the Pope
  • a reference to “Apostle Hussein”

Again, this was published in 1982, before there were missions in Russia, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar (we’re still waiting on Tibet and Ceylon), before there were temples in Buenos Aires (or even in Mexico, for that matter, though there was one in Sao Paolo, Brazil), or even a new hymn book. 🙂 What I like about the story is the constant yet understated (and largely unexplained) introduction of things that we might not expect in a future Church, yet things that could well happen.

For example, if the Church continues to grow significantly, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Council of Twelve expand into the Council of Twenty; I suspect the Twelve are pretty much overwhelmed as it is now. Likewise, given the relative growth of the Church in Latin America vs. the US and Canada, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Church leadership and organization move south in another 30-50 years, possibly sooner in the event of some catastrophic upheaval (social, economic, political, or even physical) in the United States.

So what are your thoughts for possible futures of the Church?  ..bruce..

Utah prophet predicts nuclear holocaust

No, no, it’s not an over-the-pulpit First Presidency letter that you somehow missed or yet another rumored fast & testimony meeting talk. The prophet in this case is Leland Freeborn of Parowan, Utah, as reported by the LA Times:

Reporting from Parowan, Utah — Our trip to the Parowan Prophet began with a letter to the St. George Spectrum. It was set among missives proposing that oil companies bail out Detroit automakers, that county inmates be forced to winter in tents, that lawyers be barred from public office. A rough crowd.

This particular letter to the editor in the St. George, Utah, newspaper carried the headline ” ‘Prophet’ shares grim forecast,” and it was signed by one Leland Freeborn of Parowan, who wrote that he was known to many as the Parowan Prophet.

After establishing his bona fides as an international talk radio guest and proprietor of a survivalist website that has “passed more than 100,000 hits,” Freeborn wrote:

“I think that you should hear what my opinion about the Obama election is: that he will not be the next president. I said on my home page in August that if he lost to expect to see the ‘riots’ that 2 Peter 2:13 tells us about. He didn’t lose. But the story is not finished yet. I still think they may begin the riots before Christmas 2008, as I said.”

These riots, according to his prophecy, will encourage the “old, hard-line Soviet guard” to seize the moment and rain down nukes on the United States, killing at least 100 million of us.

“Prepare now,” Freeborn’s letter concluded. “We are downwind from Las Vegas. I hope you can survive.”

Here’s Freeborn’s letter, along with several others that make for interesting reading as well. Ah, those wacky Southern Utahns! Hat tip to the Drudge Report.  ..bruce..

Another perspective on the continuing crisis

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

— Sara Teasdale

[cross posted from And Still I Persist]

[full size (3008×2000) original photograph]

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

[crossposted from And Still I Persist]

Jerry Pournelle over at his blog has linked to the Rudyard Kipling classic. Written nearly 90 years ago, it is remarkably apt right now, as our financial system threatens to melt down over human greed and stupidity:

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four—
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man—
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:—
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Amen and amen. (Here’s a though: correlate this poem with the Book of Mormon.)  ..bruce w..

P.S. “Copybook headings”: classic proverbs and wise quotes printed at the top of each page of blank school booklets (copybooks) used for essays and handwriting practice.

Post-Rapture “friends and family” notification service

No, really.

Courtesy of Dave Barry (yes, that Dave Barry) comes this link to a website that promises — for a fee — to send e-mails and do electronic delivery of documents to a list of people once the Rapture occurs:

You’ve Been Left Behind gives you one last opportunity to reach your lost family and friends For Christ. Imagine being in the presence of the Lord and hearing all of heaven rejoice over the salvation of your loved ones. It is our prayer that this site makes it happen.

We have set up a system to send documents by the email, to the addresses you provide, 6 days after the “Rapture” of the Church. This occurs when 3 of our 5 team members scattered around the U.S fail to log in over a 3 day period. Another 3 days are given to fail safe any false triggering of the system.

We give you 150mb of encrypted storage that can be sent to 12 possible email addresses, in Box #1. You up load any documents and choose which documents go to who. You can edit these documents at any time and change the addresses they will be sent to as needed. Box #1 is for personal private information such as “passwords” and letters to be sent to your closest lost relatives and friends.

We give you another 100mb. of unencrypted storage that can be sent to up to 50 email addresses, in Box #2. You can edit the documents and the addresses any time. Box #2 is for more generic documents to lost family & friends.

The cost is $40 for the first year. Re-subscription will be reduced as the number of subscribers increases. Tell your friends about You’ve Been left behind.

First off, let me be clear: I’m not mocking this site. In fact, it strikes me as a logical step given a firm belief in a pre-tribulation Rapture — at least as long as you believe that those ‘left behind’ still have a shot at repentance. And if you do, it seems to me that the fact of the Rapture itself — not to mention the tribulation that would follow it — would probably do a whole lot more to cause folks to repent than getting a post-Rapture e-mail from someone who was taken. But if I earnestly believed in a pre-tribulation Rapture and post-Rapture repentance, I might well look into this. (Besides, the site itself seems to indicate that this can also be used to give key information to those left behind, e.g., accounts, passwords, and so on.)

I have no proof one way or the other whether this site is serious or a joke; a ‘whois’ investigation turned up little information other than that the domain was registered via Only time will tell.

Of course, the LDS view is different. We believe in an post-tribulation Rapture (though we seldom call it by that name) that will occur at Christ’s coming. We also believe that those caught up to meet Christ at his coming will then come back down to earth — still mortal — and start the long task of cleaning up the mess we’ve made of things down here.

faith-promoting story — Any story that makes you feel glad you’re a Mormon, even if you can’t bring yourself to believe it.

— Orson Scott Card, Saintspeak: A Mormon Dictionary (Orion Books, 1981)

Of course, the question is — is there some equivalent notification system for Latter-day Saints? A “don’t tell anyone, but I’ve got to attend a meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman” system? The problem with that is that not only do Mormons have a hard time keeping secrets in the first place, we tend to make up more than actually exist (“faith promoting rumors”).

Beyond that, the Church itself is so well wired and organized that it already has the infrastructure to get out any notification worldwide in a matter of hours. Besides, the meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman will probably be broadcast via satellite.

Other suggestions or comments? ..bruce..