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Utah saints (Surrender Dorothy)

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The railroad bridge near the Washington Temple which was once spraypainted "Surrender Dorothy," a reference to the Emerald City and "The Wizard of Oz."
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OKLAHOMA CITY – It was sometime in late autumn 1975. I was quite young and my family was living in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Looking out my bedroom window I could see the spires of the Washington D.C. Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).  To me, the sight was truly magical. Something out of a fairy tale. In fact, as it was being built in 1973, some Maryland high school girls spraypainted "Surrender Dorothy" on a railroad bridge over the Beltway, most likely because the temple reminded them - and me, at the time - of the Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz, a virtual goldmine for sync-heads.

One night, however, I was going to bed and looking out the window, which faced north, with Rock Creek to my west and the inner loop of the Capital Beltway and the Mormon temple to the north in neighboring Kensington, Maryland.

What I saw is clear as day, more than 40 years later, except that it was at night. It was strangely shaped red and blue-colored lights, which were very large and very ominous. I recall worrying about a large red one being near my babysitter’s home - her name was Miss Rose - a house a block away.

Looking back, the color of one of the craft was very similar to the faked UFO Greg Brady (Barry Williams) on The Brady Bunch creates in their backyard in what I consider my favorite episode of that series - the "Out of This World" episode, which aired on Jan. 18, 1974, some 10 months before the Washington Temple was dedicated - six years after ground had been broken, nearly six years to the day, as it turned out. I noted that Brady Bunch ep in this Dust Devil Dreams post from May 2016, "Will Semjase return?"

That episode also aired some weeks prior to Philip K. Dick's spiritual "encounter," which underground cartoonist R. Crumb illustrated and wrote about here. Oh, and alt-right kingpin and con artist Alex Jones was born around the same time. A weird time, early '74 ...

But back to fall '75 ... the last thing I remember as I stared up as these compelling blue and red lights in the sky is calling for my dad to come up to my room to look at this unearthly sight outside my window. Sometime in the mid-1980’s I got the courage to ask my dad about those UFOs and he said he didn’t remember it. Very strange. I noted it in my book review, earlier this year, of Nick Redfern’s 365 Days of UFOs: A Year of Alien Encounters. (And speaking of Redfern, quite coincidentally, he has a story at Mysterious Universe today addressing an odd 1952 "crop circle" event in Arlington, Virginia, near D.C., although in all likelihood it was a fungi known as a "fairy ring," which we wrote about here.

In fall 1975 I lived on Blaine Drive in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where the red mark is on the map, just east of Rock Creek Park. The Washington Mormon Temple is directly north of that location, near the top of the map. (Google Images)


Whatever you might think about the Mormons and the founder, Joseph Smith, there is certainly an otherworldly quality to the claims Smith made when he was a young man in upstate New York in 1823 and claimed God’s angelic messenger, Moroni – who graces the top of Mormon temples, including the D.C. temple, complete with trumpet – visited him and told him about golden plates buried in a stone box near his home.

Moroni on top of the Washington Temple. Is he also beckoning forth UFOs to the D.C. area? (LDS Library)

Smith took the plates and would decipher them over time, leading him to start a religion based on angelic beings (aliens?) and alleged claims that Jesus Christ had visited the Americas after his resurrection.

In 2013, a blogger, Violetta LaBuch, writing for the Kensington Patch blog in Kensington, Maryland wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about UFO sighting reports in that area over the years, which is interesting, the blogger notes, because the NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena) moved their headquarters from D.C. to Kensington, allegedly to save money.

The article notes this sighting in the same area near the Washington Temple, but three-plus years after my experience: In 1979, a woman known only as ‘N.P.’, gave the following account: ‘My husband and I were on the Beltway ...when I saw a whirling disk that I at first took to be a revolving restaurant. As we got further around the beltway we got closer to it and eventually it was almost on top of us near the Mormon temple. It was a luminescent white with a red light in the middle and a dome shape on top. It had windows all around...and some were lit and some weren't so that at first from a distance it looked like blinking lights around the rim. It was very large and was only about 50 feet in the air above us. Quite beautiful actually. It then tilted on its axis and then sped away and was out of sight in about 3 seconds...”. 

Another UFO sighting near the Washington Temple in Kensington, Md. took place in 1996, according to this report mentioned by Patch poster LaBuch: "“We were coming up on the Mormon Temple ...when right above us there were these fast flashing lights that flashed red, blue, green, yellow, purple, just poof* poof *poof *poof *poof... whatever it was it was huge! ...It was so incredibly strange.

But the alien/Mormon connection has long been there, although the LDS church downplays the "weird" stuff.

The National UFO Center’s George Filer and his Filer’s Files report notes this week (via writer Ken Larson) that “UFO occupants” may be imparting “advanced or divine information to selected beings” on Earth. Larson highlights Joseph Smith and how his “Mormon associate” Orson Pratt described seeing a UFO near Palmyra, New York in 1820. This coincided with a visit by two “brilliant being” who told Smith that they were “divine and the Father and his Son.”

Those plates were translated into what would become The Book of Mormon, thereby birthing a worldwide religious movement. And within that movement, there are some very interesting perspective on the reality of aliens and UFOs, as Warren P. Alston's book, pictured above, notes. Another is Between Pulpit and Pew: The Supernatural World in Mormon History and Folklore by W. Paul Reeve.

Two particularly interesting things regarding Smith: He said that the area of western Missouri, essentially Harry S. Truman’s hometown of Independence, would be a new “Garden of Eden” for Mormons in the latter days. Independence is in Jackson County, near Kansas City and is located at the following coordinates: 39°4′47″N 94°24′24″W

Of course it is on the "line of weirdness" and part of my investigation, dubbed the "Stilwell Enigma," which I am writing a book on in 2018. 

Smith also (allegedly) made a controversial prophecy in 1843 known as the “White Horse Prophecy,” which has been discussed by right-wing Mormon talk-show host Glenn Beck. Recall that like Romney, Smith ran for president, too. Way back in 1844, before his death at the hands of an anti-Mormon mob in Illinois, just seven years after a pro-slavery mob murdered abolitionist newspaper publisher Elijah P. Lovejoy, also in Illinois.

In my 2016 review of Webster Griffin Tarpley’s book Just Too Weird, about politician Mitt Romney, also a well-known Mormon figure, I note Tarpley’s observations about Smith’s prophecy, which is officially denounced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to this Salon article, the "White Horse Prophecy" links both Smith and Romney. 

The White Horse Prophecy, about a future time when the U.S. Constitution  is hanging by “a thread” and there is “apocalyptic prediction of the collapse of the United States followed by a Mormon theocratic seizure of power in the United States and in the entire world …” Sounds like a time that we may be approaching, dear reader.

Now, I don't want to suggest that the LDS Church is trying to "seize power," but they are certainly in prominent positions of power and influence at the state and federal levels and while Romney failed to get elected in 2012, it is suspected that Romney would like to be the next senator Utah sends to Washington, assuming senior senator Orrin Hatch resigns or passes away.

But Trump hates Romney and earlier this week he flew to Salt Lake City aboard Air Force One with Sen. Hatch at his side. Trump wants the octogenarian to run for re-election in Utah, hoping to further thwart Romney's alleged ambitions to run for Senate. Trump went to Utah to meet with Mormon leaders and to sign a document scaling back the national monuments in southeastern Utah - Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante - while making sure skeptical Utahns, primarily Republicans who are more moderate in nature, are on board with his wacko agenda.

But Mormon voters are leery of Trump, only giving him 46 percent of the vote in 2016 (thanks, in part, to an independent who was also on the ballot). This LDS Living article notes a 2014 encounter a Mormon reporter had with Trump, with Trump telling the reporter that Christian voters were put off by Romney due to his "alien faith." Speaking of "alien," this article in The Atlantic notes the confusing nature of some LDS beliefs, including the idea that Mormons get their own planet when they die and that God lives on or near a planet called Kolob. 

Meanwhile, Trump sent his odious attack dog Steve Bannon to Alabama to engage in dog-whistle politics hoping to fire up that state's evangelical/hate base to go after Romney and highlight his Mormon "weirdness." Why? Because Bannon is stumping for mall-cruising creep and accused sexual predator Roy Moore who is running for U.S. Senate and Romney said to send Moore to the Senate would be a "stain" on the GOP and the nation. Indeed.

As Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke wrote yesterday: "We are seeing that play out in Alabama, after Bannon went to stump Tuesday night for accused child molester and, oh yeah, U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, and used the platform to lash out at prominent critics of Moore’s — most notably Mitt Romney.

“Mitt, here’s how it is, brother: The college deferments, we can debate that — but you hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam,” Bannon said. “Do not talk to me about honor and integrity.”

Mitt Romney in Oklahoma City in 2012. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)


But back to the Washington Temple (which is, ironically, encased in white Alabama marble)..In September 2016, the Angel Moroni statue, 288 feet in the air, on the highest spire of the Washington Temple, came down to Earth for a “makeover” after being bathed in D.C. Beltway automobile exhaust for 42 years, reported The Washington Post at that time. The Temple itself will close next spring for interior renovations.

Speaking of the Post, right now critics are raving about The Post, the new Steven Spielberg historical drama covering the work done by journalists at that newspaper and The New York Times to cover the release of the Pentagon Papers back in 1971. This recent Washington Post review of The Post calls it a "stirring homage to the pursuit of truth." Recall that it was the Post that took down Richard Nixon amidst the Watergate investigation that concluded in 1974 (same year the Washington Temple was completed across town) with Nixon's resignation - this, on a day when U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) resigns for allegedly sexually assaulting multiple women. 

And that's what we're doing here at Dust Devil Dreams. Using all the information we can access in order to make up our minds about this or that. 


"At the end of the rainbow, a pretty little pot of gold," sings Brian Henneman on The Bottle Rockets' 1994 song "Pot of Gold." And it seems the rainbows and colorful lights in the sky are trying to tell us something. In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy knew life would be better "somewhere over the rainbow." That spectrum of light was calling to her, just as millions of music listeners were drawn to Pink Floyd's 1973 epic album Dark Side of the Moon, which in that weird year of 1974 was a big year for Pink Floyd, who played at Wembley Stadium in England on Nov. 16th, just two days before the Washington Temple was dedicated. The first song? "a new one," bassist Roger Waters tells the Wembley audience, it's called "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," about their former bandmate Syd Barrett, something I wrote about back in March, here.

While Pink Floyd was recording the song, Richard Wright, the band's keyboardist, was stunned when an unrecognizable Barrett stumbled into their studio, as he put it to an interviewer in 1984: "He just, for some incredible reason picked the very day that we were doing a song which was about him. And we hadn't seen him, I don't think, for two years before. That's what's so incredibly... weird about this guy. And a bit disturbing, as well, I mean, particularly when you see a guy, that you don't, you couldn't recognize him. And then, for him to pick the very day we want to start putting vocals on, which is a song about him. Very strange.

And one more thing - back to Utah. It was in February 1959 that Army soldier Gerry Irwin, driving from Idaho and back to Fort Bliss, Texas, had a most puzzling encounter in the wilds near Cedar City, Utah, after seeing a strange light "crash" nearby. Irwin was never really the same after this, according to a new book from David Booher called No Reutrn: The Gerry Irwin Story, which asks, was Irwin abducted by a UFO or did he stumble upon a covert military operation in the desert? I'm currently working on a review of No Return and hope to have it posted here soon.

And in a synchromystic turn of events, I see the Cedar City area in the news this week after a "doomsday cult" leader of the Knights of the Crystal Blade, a sort of fundamentalist Mormon splinter group of crazed polygamists, was arrested.

Just too weird.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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