The autumn crisp air is a welcomed change from the unbearable summer humidity and heat. Soon the sugar maple will be ready to tap. There is still enough light to read the newspaper as the sun reluctantly sinks beneath the horizon. You open up the Lake City Herald and read the headline: Prophecy From Planet Clarion Call To City: Flee That Flood. It’ll Swamp Us On Dec. 21, Outer Space Tells Suburbanite.
Yep, gotta read that one, it’s too good to pass up.
Lake City will be destroyed by a flood from Great Lake just before dawn, Dec. 21, according to a suburban housewife. Mrs. Dorothy Martin, of 847 West School Street, says the prophecy is not her own. It is the purport of many messages she has received by automatic writing, she says…The messages, according to Mrs. Martin, are sent to her by superior beings from a planet called ‘Clarion.’ These beings have been visiting the earth, she says, in what we call flying saucers. During their visits, she says, they have observed fault lines in the earth’s crust that foretoken the deluge. Mrs. Martin reports she was told the flood will spread to form an inland sea stretching from the Artic Circle to the Gulf of Mexico. At the same time, she says, a cataclysm will submerge the West Coast from Seattle, Wash., to Chile in South (When Prophecy Fails, p.30-31).
Just to clarify, this is an actual newspaper article. This really happened. In 1954 Dorothy Martin felt that she had received a prompting, a revelation, a message, (I don’t know what to call it) from another being who resided on the planet Clarion telling her about a flood that was going to come and eventually cover the earth. Crazy right?!
But reading about her story I couldn’t help but wonder if my faith sounds crazy to others.
I believe in a Prophet named Joseph Smith. I believe that he received messages from God. He never prophesied the end of the world. He never said that on such and such day the world was going to end. But he did receive messages from someone other than a mortal being that resided on planet earth. I mean, I guess how that could seem crazy to others, but it doesn’t seem crazy to me, it seems perfectly reasonable. But why? Why is she crazy and he’s not?
I also have been wondering about how we can know if something is true. What if you lived during the days of Noah and heard him predicting that the earth was going to be covered in a flood. Sure, that’s a no brainer for me know because I know how the story ends, but what if you didn’t know for sure if the flood was going to happen or if Noah just was going a bit crazy in his old age. How could you know for yourself that what Noah was saying about some flood business was really going to happen? How do we know if something is true?
For me, at lot of my beliefs were introduced to me from a young age. That, I think, makes it easier for me to open up to them. As we get older, we become a lot more picky about what we believe, we want more proof, more authority, more supporting evidence.
I believe that we can receive revelation, enlightenment, inspiration, spiritual guidance, and I believe that others can too. The tricky part is that I think we also can mistaken some of our thoughts as coming from a higher source when they are not. Another possibility is that we can be mislead by evil forces just like we can be lead by good sources.
I still believe that Joseph Smith was guided and directed by God and I think that Dorothy Martin was mislead and misguided. But after hearing her story I feel a deeper responsibility to take accountability for my beliefs, to honestly choose. I do think that at times we choose to believe in certain things for reasons other than integrity. Maybe we are tempted to believe something in exchange for acceptance, importance, and validation. But I don’t think those are the best reasons to choose your beliefs.