Interesting post on AML Tuesday, which you can read in the AML archives 
at
http://www.xmission.com/pub/lists/aml-list/archive/v01.n839

I know that Steven and a couple others are John Pratt fans. I find his 
writings to be extreme left-field stuff (except for his puzzles, which 
are pretty cool, and remind me of Microsoft interview questions -- 
interviewing at Microsoft can actually be a lot of fun). His musings 
remind me of the "Jupiter-is-the-terrestrial-kingdom" doctrine I heard 
being whispered about in my mission. Now, I don't know Eric Samuelsen or 
what his religious/social views are, but we apparently share a viewpoint 
on John Pratt. The difference is that his viewpoint is based on direct 
experience with a Pratt seance^h^h^h^h^h^h meeting, rather than just 
looking through his web site, which is how I formed my opinions. Anyway, 
in case anyone cares.

Stephen


Date: Tue, 24 Sep 2002 09:57:21 -0600
From: "Eric R. Samuelsen" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Subject: [AML] Feeding Your Inner Gnostic

I know when the world will end.  I know the date of the day of judgment, 
the specific moment in which the seventh seal will be opened, leading to 
the Second Coming, the binding of Satan, and the Millennium.  In fact, 
it happened already.  Sept 22, 2002 is the day of days, the beginning of 
the end.  The Enoch Calender makes it clear.  I know this, because I was 
there, one of the 144 lucky souls who heard, and saw, and partook of the 
sublime ritual of the Feast of Trumpets.

At least, I think so.  It's all very confusing.

Okay, what I'm about to tell you about really happened.  I may not have 
understood it all; in fact, I'm pretty sure I missed a lot.  But I 
swear, I'm not making anything up.  This post is part theatre review, 
though what I saw isn't theatre, and it's part book review, though I 
haven't read the book, and it's very large parts cultural study.

So Friday night, I get a call from my sister-in-law--wife's sister--and 
it turns out she has an extra ticket to this thing, because her husband, 
my brother-in-law, suddenly can't go, and so, what did I think, did I 
wanna go?  My wife didn't, but hey, there was a dinner involved, with 
carrot cake, followed by a lecture, I was told, on the Enoch Calender, 
which I've never heard of.  It sounded potentially fun and possibly very 
strange, and so I went, met L, my sister-in-law, at this rec center in 
Orem.  Turns out it was very important that I go, not just because L had 
forked out fifteen bucks for the ticket her husband now would not be 
able to use, but also because there had to be exactly 144 people at this 
thing.  They were counting.

Seems there's this guy, a computer geek/calender expert guy named John 
Pratt.  Very pleasant, genial fellow, looked maybe 55-60.  We're all 
there in the room and we're told we're there to participate in the 
Hebrew Feast of Trumpets, only the Hebrew Feast of Trumpets was actually 
a couple weeks ago, this is the Feast of Trumpets according to the Enoch 
calender.  This is a calender found in the Book of Enoch, not the 
truncated version we get in Moses in the P of GP, but the apocryphal 
work Hugh Nibley got us all excited about twenty five years or so ago. 
Now, I'm gonna try and explain Pratt's beliefs, but I feel like I'm 
describing a movie to you that I actually showed up an hour late for, 
and left after watching it for fifteen minutes.  Most of the people in 
the room (the other 143) have clearly been followers of Pratt for years, 
while I've heard one brief presentation, plus spent a couple hours on 
his website.

Basically, the stars form a giant celestial calender.  God does things 
according to a very specific chronology, which can be ascertained by 
carefully watching patterns in the sky.  A key to understanding all this 
can be found in the Book of Enoch, in the calender described therein.  
And the most important dates in the history of the world have all 
coincided with holy days in the Enoch calender, usually, I gather, on 
the holy day of a holy year.

There is, of course, a word for the practice of looking at the stars and 
figuring out the future.  That word is astrology.  Pratt acknowledges 
this on his website, but points out that ancient practices have their 
roots in ancient truths.

So, based on this stuff, it turns out the First Vision actually took 
place on 26 March, 1820, which is nifty because there are weather 
records that suggest that was the only nice day in the Spring of that 
year.  And it also turns out that 22 Sept. 2002 is a big day, the Feast 
of Trumpets day in the Year, Feast of Trumpets.  Unless I'm going deaf, 
or crazy, Pratt said directly that 22 Sept (yesterday, that is) was the 
day, der tag, the day the seventh seal was opened, though he did point 
out that we might not notice much change immediately, and that we still 
had ten years to repent.

We then got to see a play.  It wasn't a play; it was a mimetic 
representation of divine events, which according to our latest Victor 
Turner driven understanding of such things means it was actually a 
ritual.  It certainly looked like a ritual.  Program went as follows:

1) Pratt's wife sang 'Yo Ho, that I were an Angel."
2) Seven young guys wearing white shirts, slacks and robes came out, and 
each blew a trumpet, or pretended to.  They were Peter, the angel Uriel, 
sounding the trump for the Celestial resurrection, Moses, the angel 
Raguel, sounding the trump for the Terrestrial resurrection, Abel, the 
angel Sariel, sounding the trump for the Telestial, Enoch, the angel 
Raphael, trump sounding for the resurrection of the Sons of Perdition 
(that dude got all the thankless tasks), Joseph Smith, the angel 
Phanuel, sounding trump for the Gospel being sent to all, Noah, Gabriel, 
tooting for the destruction of the wicked, and Adam, Mike, sounding 
taps.  I gotta say, BTW, I dig the names.  Raguel--an absolutely divine 
pasta sauce.  And Phanuel, on the premise, I guess, that we're all 
Mormons and hence members of the Joseph Smith phanuel club.
3) We all got to listen to a recording of Handel's The Trumpet's Shall 
Sound.
4) Angels came back and pronounced individual blessings on us.
5) Satan showed up.  Young dude dressed in tan slacks, a dark colored 
shirt and tie, and a black robe, basically what I wear to teach Gospel 
Doctrine, only without the black robe.  Anyway, he showed up and mocked 
'em all for awhile (insert your own joke here), and then they took out a 
key and a chain and locked him symbolically up and cast him out, hauled 
him off.
6) We heard a recording of the Hallelujah chorus.
7) We all performed the Hallelujah shout.  This is performed by shouting 
Hallelujah three times, and . . . well, I can't tell you what else.  
Suffice it to say that at least some of the people accompanied the shout 
with an action.  All I can say is that as an endowed member of the 
Church, I found the action inappropriate in this context.
8) Closing prayer, and book sales.

Yes, there's a book.  It's called Divine Calenders: Astronomical 
Witnesses of Sacred Events.  It was on sale for twenty five bucks, so I 
didn't get it.  There's also a website: www.johnpratt.com   I checked it 
out, and read a few of the articles contained therein.

A few comments.

This isn't theatre, it's a ritual.  And I thought it was pretty creepy.  
I got a strong feeling this whole thing is veering into a cult type 
thing.

I read some of the articles.  Pratt cultivates an air of superior 
knowledge, and of esoteric knowledge, which, if you mastered it, would 
make you, well, smarter, more in-the-know than other folks. Would it 
make you somehow special, extra holy, extra spiritual? I'm sure he would 
disavow any such intention.

I think one of the reasons these kinds of things flourish in Mormonism 
is that we all have a need to feed our inner gnostic.  But when you read 
Pratt carefully, you can see the special pleading, the quick dismissal 
of inconvenient facts, the wresting of evidence, the questionable 
assumptions assumed to be factual.  To the degree that I'm still a 
scholar, it's pretty horrid scholarship.

They're all real nice folks, I'm afraid.  Whole room full of pleasant 
LDS folks.  I sort of felt right at home, and also weirded out.  My 
sister-in-law is really into this, and that worries me; like, they've 
canceled their life insurance, because, hey, if the Second Coming is 
really in ten years, what's the point?  Satan was ritually bound on 
Friday, but this morning, I checked out CNN.com, and I don't see much 
sign of it; no peace in the Middle East, violence abounds, Dubya's still 
President.

I undoubtedly misunderstood quite a bit.  Anyone here ever heard of this 
guy?  But one final comment: the Media depicts Mormons as very white 
bread, bland, conservative, buttoned down, more than a little corporate. 
 If only they knew the deep and all abiding weirdness that lurks under 
the surface of much of Mormon culture.

Eric Samuelsen


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