Between Pulpit and Pew: The Supernatural World in Mormon History and Folklore

By W. Paul Reeve; Michael Scott Van Wagenen | Go to book overview

5
Singular Phenomena
The Evolving Mormon Interpretation of Unidentified Flying Objects

Michael Scott Van Wagenen

Suddenly there appeared a cloud which hovered over the multitude, having a singu-
lar appearance, being accompanied with a terrible noise. The bustle and noise of the
multitude was soon hushed, and a profound silence reigned in its stead, whilst every
eye looked upon this singular phenomenon with wonder and astonishment. And
behold there appeared a personage in sight that was descending through the ethereal
sky, and bending his course towards the field that contained the multitude … This
personage soon landed in the midst of the multitude. I drew near to him, to hear
from whence he came, and I soon learned that he was from some distant planet
.

FOR ALL OF ITS MODERN-DAY RESONANCE, the above narrative is not a description of a human-alien encounter from the twenty-first century. Instead, this is an 1841 article from Times and Seasons, the official newspaper of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Purported to be the visionary dream of a “believer in the scriptures,” the account placed the author in the presence of an alien being who inquired about the Christian faith practiced on Earth.

1 The author would like to thank Monica Delgado, Dr. Frank B. Salisbury, Dr. Samuel Brown, and Marlee Spendlove for their feedback on this chapter. He also expresses gratitude to the numerous individuals who courageously shared their personal experiences so this study could be completed.

The account was originally published in The Gospel Reflector, January 1, 1841, and reprinted in Times and Seasons, May 15, 1841.

-97-

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