Friday, November 20, 2009

AstroGnostic: Trapped Here on this Alien World-UPDATED!!!

NOTE: Scroll to bottom of post for important update.

Well, here we are- it's
Twilight time again. The Gnostic vampire-superhero phenomenon is about to descend on multiplexes all across the planet, enrapturing tween girls in ways not seen since the glory days of N'Sync and the Backstreet Boys. And most significantly for our purposes, Twilight creator Stephanie Meyer is a Mormon- a member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints- and the Twilight books are widely seen as Mormon allegories.

Amie Charney (a Christian blogger) detailed the links, darkly warning that those dastardly Mormons "believe in deification – you can become a god or goddess through their various rituals and practices," preach a doctrine "called “eternal progression...where it is a core belief for even a god or goddess to learn (progress) for eternity," that Mormon is "all about the family" (horrors!) and worst of all, "a man and a woman make covenants to God and to each other and are sealed as husband and wife for time and all eternity."

Wait- I'm missing the exact problem here.

What may really be bugging Ms. Charney is that Utah- Mormon ground zero- is an oasis of health and wealth in an increasingly sick and poor America. Utah is the second healthiest state in the nation, and the entire Bible Belt dominates the bottom of the list. The Bible Belt states also lead the country in poverty, murder, teenaged pregnancy, and divorce, among innumerable other ills.†

Someone once said, "By their fruits shall ye know them." Hmmm, that ring a bell with anyone? Not to pick on my Bible Belt cousins, but simply a suggestion to the Amie Charney's of the world that perhaps those Mormons aren't quite as dastardly as their foes would have us believe.

Mormonism also has its fair share of academic admirers, including esteemed Yale professor Harold Bloom, who considers it a bonafide American Gnosticism.* Speaking of which, there was an excellent article in the old Gnosis magazine that details Joseph Smith's Hermetic influences as well. And for better or worse (depending on your political affiliation), the most influential political personality in America right now is himself a Mormon.

All of that is all fine and good (if not confusing), but outside the Secret Sun mandate. No, what fascinates me is that Mormonism has produced more than its fair share of authors, particularly of the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Not surprising for a religion that many people accuse of being science fiction. Meyer is at the top of the list, followed by Orson Scott Card, Battlestar Galactica creator Glen A. Larson, and animator Don Bluth and many, many others. Sci-fi seems to be a particular passion of Mormons.

One of those Mormon authors is Zenna Henderson, who wrote explicitly AstroGnostic fiction in her "People" series of novels, which many see as Mormon allegory as well. In the stories, the People are aliens who leave their dying homeworld and escape to Earth. They try to integrate with the local population but receive the usual Earthling response given to higher beings- they were slaughtered. Fleeing, the People settle in a remote corner of the Southwest where they suppress their superior abilities and their memories of their homeworld.

Reader Morgan turned me on to all of this. I had never heard of Henderson or the People before. But I'm certain that Alexander Key did, since the whole story reminds me of the Witch Mountain stories. And I'm willing to bet that Battlestar Galactica is filled with parallels itself. It turns out that the People stories do have quite a following:
One interesting aspect about the People stories is the strong degree to which very different groups of people identify with it: Christians (including such different camps as Evangelicals, Catholics and Latter-day Saints), GLBT, Wiccans, and Jews have all recommended Henderson's People stories. The stories, with their exclusivity and isolation from the broader culture combined with extreme inclusivity and compassion for one's own tribe, have struck a chord with many people who feel pulled by two different worlds.

The People was made into a TV movie in 1972. The first thing I did as soon as Morgan mentioned it was look it up on YouTube and the second thing I did was order a VHS copy of it online. Next con I attend I'll be picking up the DVD if it's been bootlegged. The scene above tells the People's AstroGnostic creation myth in pictures, reminiscent again of Witch Mountain, but also of The Man Who Fell to Earth, another AstroGnostic classic. An outside schoolteacher (played by Kim Darby, who we'll get to in a moment) forces the children to recover their memories of their alien world, like the Gnostic Sophia herself.

Of course, Darby must then show up in the Ten Thirteen Universe, which she does quite dutifully as Kathy Lee Tencate, the Gnostic martyr who plays the role of Hecate (coming from the Greek root word for "a hundred") in the X-Files Eleusinian drama. Tencate teaches Mulder about the "walk-ins"- the core spiritual aspect of the Mythology- who protect endangered children by transforming their spirits into starlight (speaking of light- check out some of the other clips on YouTube- I love the way the Sun is shot in films from that era).

As if the awesome scale hadn't fully tipped over, none other than AAT enthusiast Bill Shatner shows up in The People. So now we've linked the walk-ins and the Nine and the Anunaki and all the rest of it into the mix. Which brings us back to the whole modern matrix of high weirdness running rampant in our culture and politics. Here we must wade through the increasingly murky waters of the Conspiracy Memestream, where you can find gold nuggets of truth as easily as catch a dose of mental malaria. Caution is advised...

That being said, I sincerely hope that every Secret Sun reader get a chance to read William Bramley's The Gods of Eden. Not that I necessarily endorse all of Bramley's opinions (the late Jim Keith argued pretty convincingly that the book is a Scientology text in disguise), but because it has a fascinating spin on world history and has been hugely influential, certainly in conspiranoia circles (Bill Cooper and David Icke are obvious admirers and Jim Marrs' Rule by Secrecy is a virtual rewrite of it). But it was Bramley's spin on the Joseph Smith revelation narrative that captured my attention. Bramley argues that it was exactly the kind of extraterrestrial intervention we discussed in the recent Dave Davies post:
Some critics dispute the accuracy of Joseph Smith’s stories, pointing out that Smith did not record his first vision on paper until nineteen years after it had happened. Under the circumstances at the time, this delay is understandable when we consider Joseph’s youth and minimal education. To the degree Smith’s accounts are accurate, they are worth looking at. Did he have a true religious vision as his followers believe, or was he, as others suggest, a victim of UFO tampering?

... Joseph appears to have been looking at a recorded image projected through the window into his room. The clue to this lies in Joseph’s words that Moroni had repeated the second message “without the least variation.” This suggests a recorded message...When Moroni returned for a third time that same night, Smith,
“heard him rehearse or repeat over again . .. the same things—as before....” (Joseph Smith 2:48-49).

Other Mormon writings also tend to support the likelihood that Joseph Smith had had a UFO encounter. The Mormon doctrines revealed by Smith state that there are many inhabited planets in the universe. This was quite a daring idea for an uneducated man of the nineteenth century. Smith added that God inhabits a human flesh-and-bones body (see, e.g., Doctrines and Covenants 130:22) and that God lives near a star called Kolob (see Abraham 3:1-3). In other words, God is a humanlike extraterrestrial living on another planet.

The dates extrapolated from the Book of Mormon for the arrival of the Palestinians to America are especially interesting because they coincide with the dates that historians have assigned to the emergence of the ancient civilizations of Mexico and Central America.
Now, again- massive caveats here. But there is this fascinating history of these kinds of encounters, just as flying saucer sightings have been recorded since writing began. And Bramley hits on a very important point- how this pyramid building craze died down in the eastern hemisphere only to reappear in the western one not long after. This brings us to the Graham Hancock/Robert Bauval milieu as well. All grist for a future mill.

In essence, though, Mormonism is telling the same basic story all the major religions are. Gods and angels in space, direct intervention in human affairs in antiquity, wrath, return, etc. The Gnostics did too- in a way- but throughout history Gnostics were slaughtered for the belief that mankind is not native to this world and was trapped here through an arcane series of cosmic machinations. That this world is a prison ruled by an insane "blind idiot god" and a mysterious race of demigods called the Archons (or Cylons, or Igigi, if you prefer) keep us trapped here.

Ancient Gnostics didn't quite understand the mechanics of it all (their literature is extremely confusing, at least to me), they only knew they wanted to get the hell out. For my money, Gnosticism doesn't make a tremendous amount of sense until you plug Intervention Theory into the equation. Then it all falls into place like a million puzzle pieces right before your eyes. In this light, Gnosticism isn't so much a creed than a methodology- and the details of the cosmology change as new knowledge is attained.

Well, I got hit by sync after synch after posting this article (which is usually a sign that there's blood in the semiotic waters). But the most stunning one was turning the page on a book I had on my nightstand titled The Gnostics by Jacques La Carriere and being smacked in the face with this:
The fundamental difference that separates the Gnostics from their contemporaries is that, for them, their native `soil' is not the earth, but that lost heaven which they keep vividly alive in their memories: they are the autochthons of another world.

Hence their feeling of having fallen onto our earth like inhabitants from a distant planet, of having strayed into the wrong galaxy, and their longing to regain their true cosmic homeland, the luminous hyper-world that shimmers beyond the great nocturnal barrier. Their uprooting is not merely geographical but planetary. And to treat them as aliens in the political or civic sense - which is what happened - could be nothing but an absurd misunderstanding, like giving a Martian a temporary residence visa.

For the Gnostics, all men were in the same condition, although they were the only ones who knew it, and the human community as a whole is implicated in this universal exile, this galactic diversion that has caused us to be dumped on the mud of planet earth.

The Gnostics must have felt this exile even more acutely in that they themselves constituted marginal communities, strangers or ‘foreigners' in the narrow sense of the term, in the heart of a whole humanity of foreigners. ...Here there was an historical humus which justified the Gnostic feeling of exile, of being a planetary foreigner: `I am in the world but not of the world' is the most basic Gnostic formula.

So the problem is simple, and one begins to understand how the Gnostics saw it: man, then, is a lifelong exile on a planet which is a prison for all mankind; he lives in a body which is a prison for the soul; he is the autochthon of a lost and invisible world.
Damn. Add this all up and you're left staring at history's first flying saucer cult. What put of all these ideas in their heads in the first place is another matter, but it's not as if we don't have liturgies from other ancient traditions showing us encounters with strange godmen in flying disks, right?

Sure, it could all be a mythology. In fact, let's just say that it is for now. But boy, it sure is fascinating to see echoes of it (at the very least) emanating from what is a rock-ribbed, diehard conservative institution. Or how popular these themes of superior beings stranded in a primitive or hostile world are when packaged as entertainment. Like, oh, say, Twilight. Certainly somewhat less so is Titan AE, or Battlestar Galactica or Enders's Game, but fascinating nonetheless.

BONUS FACTOID: Joseph Smith was born in Sharon, VT, obviously settled from folks from my hometown since there's a Randolph and a Braintree right up Interstate 89.

†According to a recent survey, the Bible Belt is a mirror image of the Muslim world, when it comes to religious conviction (and paranoia, certainly).

*Bloom writes: "The God of Joseph Smith is a daring revival of the God of some of the Kabbalists and Gnostics, prophetic sages who, like Smith himself, asserted that they had returned to the true religion....Mormonism is a purely American Gnosis, for which Joseph Smith was and is a far more crucial figure than Jesus could be. Smith is not just 'a' prophet, another prophet, but he is the essential prophet of these latter days, leading into the end time, whenever it comes."


  1. Banned Mormon Cartoon

    Some may call the video/cartoon shallow, but curse blacks, lol. I was just talking about how I always thought it was "cool" how they made Lucifer and Jesus brothers, lol.

    Sounds to me like someone took an old religion and got himself a new cult. To each their own I guess.

    I have some Mormon relatives that live on a ranch in VA and they are super nice people, so mean no offense but I just gotta laugh at this shit. But I like you alien spin on it, you never know. Could be that or maybe some true cloudy visions misinterpreted?

  2. Awesome post Christopher! I can't help but think that all of these stories and myths pointing to AAT or intervention contain some truth or even speak to our future. In the second clip of "The People" where the lady was talking about how they had to remember ancient knowledge and act quickly to save their planet, seems very aligned with what I sense is happening at the moment here on earth.

  3. I remember The People TV movie, it really did sink in and work in my subconscious then. Of course, I think Joseph Smith was eating LOTS of entheogens, AKA a Close Encounter. Do entheogens allow access to an Akashic memory?

    The best conspiracy theory I've heard about Mormons was that Brigham Young was a Jesuit infiltrator who's goal was to sidetrack the young church away from any Gnostic truth and focus it on the usual ideas of ritual purity, etc.!

    Cheers, Michael

  4. This reminds me of the first season X-Files episode "Gender Bender," with the quasi-Amish community. As the title indicates, unclassifiable. A conspiracy episode unwittingly disguised as a shapeshifter episode? In any case, highly underrated, and very moody.

    While flying home from Vancouver... on the monitor of the passenger in front of me, I happened to catch a commercial for an entertainment show feature story about New Moon . Happened to be listening to the final scene from Strauss' Salome at the time. Yeah, not unusual for me, but a weird connection nonetheless.

    On YouTube, I also stumbled upon a video of the Dance of the Seven Veils, with a very unusual looking object slowly rising in the background a little after 5:00. Not like any moon I've ever seen. Suffice to say that its rough-hewn, yet symmetrical, appearance seems highly AATish.


  5. **an increasingly sick and poor (and stupid) America**
    "By their fruits shall ye know them." Hmmm, that ring a bell with anyone? Not to pick on my Bible Belt cousins...

    Here's a theory that resonates for me.resonates

  6. QO- I've seen that before. Ironically, it makes Mormonism seem pretty awesome. And very Scientologisty. And a bit Eternal-ie. Which is the usual blowback from Fundie propaganda. But like I said- look at the statistics.

    Superjudge- You may well be right, my friend.

    Michael- I'm starting to wonder if I saw it too. It's certainly bouncing around my skull.

    Jason- I was going to write about that, but the post would be massively huge. That's one of my favorite all-time eps. And that Seven Veil staging is really powerful.

    Anony- There's plenty of blame- and credit- to go around. My point is that whatever they're doing down there- the statistics say it isn't working.

  7. I think that a lot of Joseph Smith's unacknowledged influence was from Kabbalah, which makes a lot of sense when you consider how he said he was merely "reviving" traditions from Judaism.

    Check out the Adam-God theory; it's clearly a combination of the old Adam Kadmon doctrine with AAT!

    In Mormonism, the Adam–God theory (also called the Adam–God doctrine) was a doctrine taught by Brigham Young and other early leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) involving the status of Adam as a god prior to his appearance in the Garden of Eden....

    According to Young, the Biblical Adam is identified with the Biblical archangel Michael; he had been resurrected and achieved godhood on another planet. Young said that Adam brought Eve, one of his wives, with him to the Earth, and the both of them became mortal by eating the fruit of the Garden of Eden. Most controversial are Young's statements that Adam was "our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do", and that "Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the Garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven."

    What clearly comes through here is that the Mormon leadership were not dumb fanatics, but very shrewd mystagogues. What they seemed to be doing, much as L. Ron Hubbard later did, was to covertly inject these occult ideas into their unsuspecting converts.

  8. As a Mormon, I never did get all the cries of "gnosticism" issuing from the Evangelical camp at Mormonism. The way they'd always say it, it was apparently meant to be some sort of insult.

    Then I looked up what it was, and basically, it boiled down to escape from a crappy existence via the acquiring of knowledge.

    And I'm kinda like - OK... and this is a bad thing, how exactly?

    I could never quit Mormonism. It's just too much of a trip. Life without would pale by comparison.

  9. I think where Mormonism succeeded where earlier Gnostic movements failed is by missionary work and an emphasis on family values. The Gnostics tended to be a bit too literal-minded about the 'negation of creation' business. The Gnostics often lapsed into a kind of nihilism, and didn't live in an era where the concept of "changing the world" had much currency amongst the masses of people. In the end they might have just been a bit too countercultural.

    There's a lot of things I don't go for in Mormonism certainly, but I do very much admire their work ethic (the last vestige of the old Protestant work ethic in many ways) and their emphasis on forming rock-solid social bonds. But that is the result of a feeling of solidarity in the face of siege that remains in the culture from its inception. Many groups in similar situations tended to consume themselves.

  10. One could say that Mormonism is even anti-Gnostic, as it puts such an emphasis on the divinity of real material flesh and blood. This is why I take it as being much more in line with Jewish mysticism, which likewise see a fundamental goodness in creation.

  11. @ Seth R, "I could never quit Mormonism. It's just too much of a trip. Life without would pale by comparison. " that's kinda what I think about polygamy , but I am really afraid of what people would think withing my "family circle". Not that I have experienced it yet, but the thought reminds me of what you said above about Mormonism. If you could draw the parallel.

  12. Chris, I've been waiting for the right post to show you this:

    Its the music video to Black-Eyed Peas latest song 'Meet me Halfway' Its very symbolic with what I think is elements of gnosticism. I also came across the album cover which I found matrix-y, including the title:

    The E.N.D stands for Energy Never Dies. (Hmm)


  13. Off topic, but of interest:

    Liveleak: Meteor turns night into day

    May add some fuel to the fire for your previous "war in the skies" ideas...

  14. One flew into the Moon's Nest2:14 PM, November 20, 2009

    & :joe Bloggsaid: Great post, Sir

    Not wishing to cry, "wolves-in-sheeps-clothing!" too few times, I hope you at least find this entertaining - not saying I'ma beeleeva or nuffin', but I luv a good yarn... or is that..?..: A great pull over the jumpers wool :)

    Extraterrestrial Life Official Disclosure Imminent

  15. Chris,
    here's a little gift seeing as it is so difficult to get out when you've got kiddies to tend to...(ref: nov 16)
    (actually good quality - and won't stay up long)
    2012 p1
    2012 p2

    I'll be clear that I don't condone or endorse viewing productions without paying so
    you should at least be sure to rent it at the local vid store once the DVD is out!
    (and within that action is the argument for downloading... "would never have seen it or rented it (spent my $ on it) if I hadn't downloaded it first!")

    and this is one woman's interesting exploration of some Gnostic concepts found while researching 'the Enneagram'...
    The Gnostic Circle


  16. When you finally watch it...
    keep in mind the quick reference to the 2012 London Olympics (cancelled in the movie) which gives us a Summer 2012 date ...

    Just in time for the next Venus Transit - which has been linked to such historical disasters as the 1883 Krakatoa eruption. Some major historical disaster usually follows it within 24 months for as far back as we can trace.

    and my personal take on the Enneagram and the "Gnostic Circle"...
    1428571 (and the magnificence of 3,6,9)
    Atomic electron configuration table

    But then again, I tend to believe ALL major ancient "religious" works are simply the repositories of encoded higher scientific information. The knowledge of the day preserved in stories for aeons.


  17. Nice post, and I say one of my favorite comics creators is a Mormon, Mike Allred, author of Madman. You'll see all these themes continuously crop up in almost all his work.

  18. Gnosticism = proto-existentialist philosophy. Probably. It's a good fit anyway.

    But for your theory Chris:

    '"In the name of the first great alien Life from the worlds of light, the sublime that stands above all works": this is the standard opening of Mandaean compositions, and "alien" is a constant attribute of the "Life" that by its nature is alien to this world and under certain conditions alien within it.'

    - The Gnostic Religion, Hans Jonas, p. 49

    The problem is that the term "world" had far more cosmic, truly universal implications, they say, than just this little blue planet.

  19. Interesting stuff Chris,
    I live in Mormon country and so I'm fairly familiar, but I forget how interesting this stuff is that's America's own home grown religion. Very nice work with these connections.

    I'd also like to point out a new blog that is basically the *Synchro Morning News". It keeps tabs on what's going on in sync--collectively.
    Check it out if you got a moment. (I think one could make suggestions to the comments section of the one post for things that are missing.)
    take it easy.

  20. I just find it refreshing to encounter a discussion of Mormonism's weird points where everyone isn't obviously expecting me to feel bad about it.

    I mean, isn't half the point of religion supposed to be precisely that it IS NOT normal?

  21. Looking at some background information about The People, it appears that Francis Ford Coppola was an executive producer. It has slowly become clear to me that Coppola would be worth examining in a synchromystic context. Some starting points:

    Uncle of Nick Cage

    Mentor to George Lucas

    References to his work in X-Files, most notably The Conversation (among other Nixon-era cultural artifacts)

    Heavy usage of Catholic symbolism

    The generally strange atmosphere of many of Coppola's major movies. How films about the Earth can have an even more "alien" atmosphere than his protege's space opera series must mean something.

    A Halloween viewing of his re-imagining of Dracula, made me think more seriously about Coppola's potential connections with with synchromysticcism, AAT, and so on. Quite an interesting cast (Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, and Keanu Reeves, for starters). The eyes on Dracula's helmet are particularly striking, as is the HR Giger-like appearance of the carriage driver who takes Harker to Dracula's castle. Bram Stoker's Dracula was also the last major SFX film not to use CGI, which makes it even more convincing. In contrast, the werewolves in the New Moon previews look so fake. With the big budgets thrown at SFX movies today, you'd think they could squeeze in some good analog effects. CGI just gives rise to too many contrivances, in my opinion.


  22. Eleleth- In light of Valentinian Gnosticism, certainly. But there is a wide variety of Gnostic thought. What I think Bloom and others are referring to is the idea of mankind evolving into gods and ruling their own planets- the soul's destiny is not to live and die here.

    Quark- Phew- you had me going there for a second!

    Grey- Interesting video-Are there any Mormon links to the BEP?

    Justin- VERY interesting. Those are meteors? Hmmm....

    One Flewie- I've been hearing about that. I may post on that next week.

    Strangie- Cheers- I have an interesting 2012 sync coming up for next week...

    Orgonie- Yeah- I have to get my hands on his Golden Plates comics.

    Justin- Oh, you're right on. But I don't assume that the Gnostics had any kind of definitive cosmological knowledge as to whether there were other spheres around other stars or whether if the earth itself was a sphere. I assume that the Gnostics were following a kind of psychic urge, that may or may not have been based on some kind of lost revelation. I always see their literature in that metaphorical, metaphysical kind of realm, because that's how they understood the world. They weren't astrophysicians. What I am doing here is looking at the parallels of the metaphysical language of the Gnostics and its correspondence in AAT. I've always seen Gnosticism as a work in progress, anyway. It's really a generic term describing a religious counterculture that by definition was constantly revising itself. Certainly there's an enormous chasm between Basilides and the Barbelognostics. You can hardly see them as part of the same continuum. You see what I mean?

    Ishmael- That looks great! I'll add it to the new improved blog roll when it goes up!

    Seth R- I don't think you should feel bad about Mormonism. Like I said, you can't argue with its success. Certainly Mormons are healthier, wealthier and better educated on average than other Christian groups, at least since the old mainline was systematically destroyed by the globalists.

    Jason- Great stuff, cheers. Note also that the Coppola fortune is in wineries now.

  23. Chris,

    Just chiming in to let you know that I really appreciate the work you do here on this blog. I'm usually just a silent observer, but you should know that your work is very insightful, and presented in a very level-headed manner that is lacking in other places dealing with these subjects.

    BTW,...Are you familiar with the work of Manly P. Hall? I would assume that you are. But if you get the chance (and if you haven't already) you ought to grab the torrent of his complete lecture series. There's something like 200 different lectures covering topics like mythology, mysticism, occult anatomy, etc. It's very much in line with the subject matter you deal with here. And it's so incredibly enlightening. I've become addicted to listening to them every chance I get.

  24. Anony- No, I hadn't heard of that lecture series being recorded- thanks for the heads up!

  25. Christopher Knowles@ LOL, I was being dead serious, but is is something I am "saving" for the latter part of my life (polygamy).

    @ Orgone Gnosis, Mike Allred is a Mormon? hu, I just picked up a few trades of Madman this week. I really enjoy his work. Hmmm you got me thinking cause IMO X-Statix/X-Force is one of the greatest works of fiction I have ever laid my eyes on. If you haven't read it you should. It is so ahead of it's time [Andy Warhol, ahead of it's time]. He even tried to bring Princess Diana back in it as "Dead Girl" but the media freaked out and he had to change the character.

    X-Statix Wiki, just mull over some of that.

    I tried to meet him at the comic con this year ,but didn't see him.

  26. Quark,

    Yes he certainly is Mormon and yes I have read a bit of the X-Statix series and was always impressed with it. Very helpful to have Pete Milligan on that as writer, he was one of those great vertigo writers as I recall (after glancing at the wiki, thanks).

    Reads much like an extension of his Madman/Atomics/Red Rocket Seven materials, only the pacing is more severe and honed due to Pete's writing, which made it extremely exciting...and Kirby-esque.

    Madman was what got me through the 90's when all that glossy fanboy garbage started coming out.

  27. Chris, appparently those are meant to be meteors, yes. Damn bright as hell ones though...
    I'm open to possibilities there.

    As for the gnostics? A broad spectrum counter-cultural movement hardly homegenous and coherent in many ways in belief and practice, constantly reshaping itself? Check. What was said of them by an irate early church father I believe? Something like, "Every hour of every day they invent something new."

  28. Chris, I grew up Mormon and dropped out 44 years ago. I have noticed its influence on popular culture, but did not know Zenna Henderson was LDS, although The People seemed somehow familiar to me when I read it.

    Mormonism started in typical cult fashion with a charismatic leader taking his followers out of normal society, building his own. He also changed the sexual morés by introducing polygamy. Those are all bellwethers of cults. The difference with the Mormons is when cult leaders die or are killed usually the cult either dies with them or struggles along until it withers away. Mormons got a second charismatic leader: Brigham Young, who was definitely a nation builder, replacing the religious mystic, Joseph Smith. Young kept the religious trappings, but built Salt Lake City and surrounding territory into a center of commerce for the growing western United States.

    As I age I admire Mormons more and more for their positive qualities but could never rejoin them. I don't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, but a fantasist who came up with a great story of a visit from God and an angel, and created the Book of Mormon. He was the ancestor of the science fiction and fantasy writers who have come from the Latter-day Saints faith.

  29. Hey Chris, off topic, but I wondered if you read this story:

    The idea of governments and corporations using Facebook for social profiling gives me chills.

  30. The word "cult" is so inflammatory and misleading that I honestly don't think it has any further useful purpose in conversation.

    My experience is that the word usually ends up simply meaning - "that religion I don't like."

  31. El Postie- What you're describing with Smith and Young sounds exactly like what happened with Jesus and then Paul- the real founder of Christianity. I could never be LDS myself, but certainly admire their good qualities as you say.

    Mr Panda- That is EFFED UP. I quit Facebook a while back and this article confirms my then-nebulous suspicions.

    Seth R- I agree- the terminology is completely subjective.

  32. The highly charismatic origins of Mormonism are somewhat ironic, because the present-day organization is about as un-charismatic as you can get.

    Just sit through one of our semi-annual conferences where our leadership addresses the entire membership sometime.

    I guarantee you, any illusions that Mormonism is still a charismatic operation will be dead and buried withing two hours.

    Kind of makes me miss the more wild beginnings sometimes.

  33. The Independent: The Etruscan Roots of The Twilight Saga

    "Closely connected with Greek and Roman mythology was the Etruscan pantheon, which also had its dark side. The Etruscans had several gods, goddesses and demons associated with death, the underworld, the night and resurrection. Some of the gods and goddesses included Artume, Vetis, Mania and Tvath. Etruscan demons of death include the Charontes, Tuchulcha (a grotesque demon from the underworld with donkey's ears and snakes for hair and hands) and Vanth (a herald of death with eyes on her wings).

    Given the rich Etruscan mythology with many figures associated with death and the underworld, it's fitting that Volterra – an important Etruscan centre, known as Velathri to the Etruscans – is the setting for the new Twilight film. Volterra was a settlement since neolithic times and was then colonised by the Etruscan Velathri during the 8th century BC, while the city wall was built in the fourth century BC. It became one of the 12 important Etruscan city states but in the third century BC came under Roman control. An impressive Augustan-era amphitheatre, some fourth century AD baths as well as an Etruscan acropolis, are some of the important heritage sites in Volterra.

  34. Same can be said for Freemasonry or the Catholic Church or any power base, Seth. Once you join the mainstream it's all about numbers.

  35. Happen to see the byline on that article, Justin?

  36. Ha! Bija Knowles. Missed that one. Here is follow-up on that super-bright meteor vid I linked to before:

    The Independent: Meteor turns midnight into daylight sky - Video

  37. Note that the meteor siting was reported over Utah, commented on by a Seth Jarvis, director of the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City. A synch to Joseph Smith and the Seth of some previous comments here.

  38. I also noticed the meteor came down at Dugway Proving Ground, right off of route 174...

  39. Spooky...

    If you want more on my profile, my name should be linked to a blog where I contribute. I've got a profile there.

  40. @Christopher Knowles

    nicknamed Area 52, what a Convenient Coincidence for a meteor to drop there.

    If you haven't read it check out Andre Heath's article,
    UFO HUNTERS First Response, Dark Presence, Silencers & Area 52 UPDATED UFO Dogfights (Hostile Presence)