Moon men and the mormons
from the newsgroup alt.religion.mormon:
This is the exact (though not complete) text of an article in “The Young Woman’s Journal”, an LDS magazine of the 1890s. The article is dated “Feb 6, 1892”.
I present it without comment, but you might safely predict my feelings, as an ex-mormon, towards this article, and its implications.
“Nearly all the great discoveries of men in the last half century have, in one way or another, either directly or indirectly, contributed to prove Joseph Smith to be a Prophet.
As far back as 1837, I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do – that they live generally to near the age of a 1000 years.
He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style.
In my Patriarchal blessing, given by the father of Joseph the Prophet, in Kirtland, 1837, I was told that I should preach the gospel before I was 21 years of age; that I should preach the gospel to the inhabitants upon the islands of the sea, and – to the inhabitants of the moon, even the planet you can now behold with your eyes.
The first two promises have been fulfilled, and the latter may be verified.
From the verification of two promises we may reasonably expect the third to be fulfilled also.”
“The inspiration of God caused men to hunt for a new continent until Columbus discovered it. Men have lost millions of dollars and hundreds of lives to find a country beyond the north pole; and they will yet find that country – a warm, fruitful country, inhabited by the ten tribes of Israel, a country divided by a river, on one side of which lives the half tribe of Manasseh, which is more numerous than all the others. So said the Prophet. At the same time he described the shape of the earth at the poles as being a rounded elongation, and drew a diagram of it in this form: “
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and a reply:
1. Huntington himself did not hear Joseph Smith talk of moonmen, rather his 1881 journal entry quotes one Philo Dibble who did claim to hear JS say these things. “So at best the moonmen statement is a sensational, late, thirdhand reminiscence” (Van Hale, p. 14). There is no clear evidence linking Joseph Smith himself to the moonmen belief. But…
2. It can be established that Joseph Smith’s brother, Hyrum Smith, and Brigham Young did believe that the moon was inhabited (as well as the sun). Further, a number of individuals did receive patriarchal blessings saying they would be missionaries on the moon. Brigham Young said
“Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening called the moon? …when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the ignorant of their fellows. So it is in regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain,” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p. 271).
3. Actually, belief in moonmen was a common view held by many people late in the 19th century. There were serious books and newspaper accounts written on the subject. The astronomer William Herschel, who discovered the planet Uranus stated his belief in moonmen in 1780. German astronomer Gruithuisen announced in 1822 his discovery of a large lunar city. Richard Locke, a reporter for the New York Sun, in 1835 issued 6 purported summaries of John Herschel’s (son of William) work with a new large telescope in Africa. Locke regaled the public with stories of lunar forests (38 species of trees), plants, lakes. Then herds of new animals, and in his last article winged flying moonmen who worshiped in a magnificent golden temple. These stories were admitted to be a hoax, but many people believed and belief in intelligent moon life continued for many years.