David O. McKay's Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . . new

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  • user warning: Table './exmo_08072012/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>steve benson Oct. 2013</p>\n<p>Did a Lava-Hot Attraction Between President McKay and Secretary Middlemiss Put an Inconvenient Cork in This Inspirationally Fiery Story?</p>\n<p>In a previous thread, “Fetal Deity” recounted a harrowing episode allegedly involving divine intervention where David O. McKay, said to have been prompted by the Spirit, warned his fellow sight-seers to step away from a precarious vista at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, moments before the hanging balcony on which they were said to be standing reportedly gave way and disappeared into the mountain’s molten mouth.</p>\n<p>“Fetal Deity” (hereafter “FD”) described this reported episode as “one of the most impressive cases of prophetic inspiration that I can recall being told in my TBM childhood.“</p>\n<p>“FD” then asked a pointed question: “So what are your impressions of this anecdote? How would you explain it? Does it make you wonder if you jumped ship too soon?”</p>\n<p>(“’David O. McKay Versus the Volcano’--Do Any of You Remember This Story?,” posted by \"Fetal Deity,\" on \"Recovery from Mormonism\" discussion board, 16 November 2010)</p>\n<p>The anecdote, which “FD” both cited and sourced, is found in the account of Sister Virginia Budd (Jacobsen), published in \"Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay,” revised and enlarged, Clare Middlemiss, comp. [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1976)] pp. 52-53.</p>\n<p>It reads as follows:</p>\n<p>\"It happened in 1921, while President McKay and Elder Hugh Cannon were making a tour of the missions of the world. After a day of inspiring conference meetings in Hilo, Hawaii, a night trip to the Kilauea volcano was arranged for the visiting brethren and some of the missionaries. About nine o\'clock that evening, two carloads, about ten of us, took off for the then very active volcano.</p>\n<p>\"We stood on the rim of that fiery pit watching Pele in her satanic antics, our backs chilled by the cold winds sweeping down from snowcapped Mauna Loa, and our faces almost blistered by the heat of the molten lava. Tiring of the cold, one of the elders discovered a volcanic balcony about four feet down inside the crater where observers could watch the display without being chilled by the wind. It seemed perfectly sound, and the \'railing\' on the open side of it formed a fine protection from the intense heat, making it an excellent place to view the spectacular display.</p>\n<p>\"After first testing its safety, Brother McKay and three of the elders climbed down into the hanging balcony. As they stood there warm and comfortable, they teased the others of us more timid ones who had hesitated to take advantage of the protection they had found. For quite some time we all watched the ever-changing sight as we alternately chilled and roasted.</p>\n<p>\"After being down there in their protected spot for some time, suddenly Brother McKay said to those with him, \'Brethren, I feel impressed that we should get out of here.\'\"</p>\n<p>\"With that he assisted the elders to climb out, and then they in turn helped him up to the wind-swept rim. It seems incredible, but almost immediately the whole balcony crumbled and fell with a roar into the molten lava a hundred feet or so below.</p>\n<p>\"It is easy to visualize the feelings of those who witnessed this terrifying experience. Not a word was said . . . the whole thing was too awful, with all that word means. The only sound was the hiss and roar of Pele, the Fire Goddess of old Hawaii, screaming her disappointment.</p>\n<p>\"None of us, who were witnesses to this experience, could ever doubt the reality of \'revelation in our day!\' Some might say it was merely inspiration, but to us, it was a direct revelation given to a worthy man.\"</p>\n<p>Another version of the same reported event is found in the Mormon Church’s educational publication--“Preparing for Exaltation\" (Teacher’s Manual), Lesson 15: “Recognizing Personal Revelation,” p. 80.</p>\n<p>(published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, copyright 1996, printed in the United States of America, 
English approval: 9/95, at: <a href=\"http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&amp;locale=0&amp;sourceId=3dff767978c20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&amp;vgnextoid=5158f4b13819d110VgnVCM1000003a94610aRCRD\" title=\"http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&amp;locale=0&amp;sourceId=3dff767978c20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&amp;vgnextoid=5158f4b13819d110VgnVCM1000003a94610aRCRD\">http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&amp;locale=0&amp;sourceId=3dff767978...</a>)</p>\n<p>The LDS Church’s condensed lesson manual version of the story proceeds thusly:</p>\n<p>\"In 1921 Elders David O. McKay (who later became the ninth President of the Church) and Hugh J. Cannon visited missions around the world. While in Hawaii, they visited the Kilauea volcano, the largest active volcano in the world, with some of the missionaries. They discovered a natural balcony just inside the volcano, and Elder McKay and several of the missionaries climbed down to stand on it. On this balcony they were out of the chilly wind and had a marvelous view of the inside of the volcano. After a while, Elder McKay said, \'Brethren, I feel impressed that we should get out of here.\' Almost immediately after they climbed back to the rim, the balcony on which they had been standing crumbled and fell into the molten lava below. (See “Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay,\" comp. Clare Middlemiss, rev. ed. [1976], 51–53.)\"<br />\n_____</p>\n<p>--Just How Plausible is This Full-Throated \"David O. vs. the Volcano” Testimonial Tale?--</p>\n<p>Is the story believable, particularly the version of events presented by Clare Middlemiss, David O. McKay’s long-time, devoted secretary, and as found in her compilation of “cherished experiences” from the life of McKay?</p>\n<p>That question is a legitimate one for two reasons:</p>\n<p>1) Questions of factual accuracy surround the story itself; and</p>\n<p>2) Questions regarding Middlemiss’s compiled version of events may have been unduly influenced by her close personal relationship with McKay.<br />\n_____</p>\n<p>--Issues Regarding the Historical Accuracy of McKay\'s Version of a Volanic Encounter--</p>\n<p>RfM poster \"FD\" provides further (and recent) reason to seriously doubt the historical reliability of the McKay vs. the Volcano lore:</p>\n<p>\"Here is a small, but significant addition (and correction) to previous research on the subject.</p>\n<p>\"An Elder Roscoe C. Cox, former President of the Hawaiian Mission of the Mormon Church, related the following in the October 1949 General Conference of the church:</p>\n<p>\"\'God has been good to me and to my family, very good. I trace a lot of it back to a day on the banks of the Kilauea Volcano. A group of us spent a night there when that crater was putting on a grand show. We got down and played with the lava. We gathered up the fine strings of lava, know as Paley\'s [Pele\'s] Hair.</p>\n<p>\"\'In that group was President David O. McKay and Hugh J. Cannon. They were making a trip around the world. They had just come from China.</p>\n<p>\"\'Morning came. When they were leaving, they shook hands goodbye, with some of us who were staying on for another hour or two. President McKay had gone, possibly two rods distant; then he returned and again he took my hand and looked through me as only President McKay can look through a person, and said again: \"Good bless you, Elder Cox.\"</p>\n<p>\"\'My brothers and sisters, there was a power in those words, a power as real as THE POWER OF THAT VOLCANO ON WHOSE BRINK WE STOOD, SCARCE TWELVE FEET FROM THE MOLTEN LAVA. Yes, there was a power greater, by far, than that of the volcano and more lasting; and God has blessed me.\'</p>\n<p>\"[Note that Cox says that they stood on the \'brink\' of the volcano but nowhere in the account is there any indication of anyone having ventured down onto any ledge or balcony within the crater itself].</p>\n<p>\"(Roscoe C. Cox, from official report of the 120th Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [2 October 1949], p. 166, published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at: <a href=\"https://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1949sa#page/n165/mode/2up\" title=\"https://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1949sa#page/n165/mode/2up\">https://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1949sa#page/n165/mode/2up</a>)\";</p>\n<p>Poster \"FD\" continues:</p>\n<p>\"Cox\'s retelling of the event is significant in that it, also--along with two other retellings of the story (by McKay and Cannon) cited in Steve\'s post--contradicts the account of Sister Virginia Budd (Jacobsen) as related by Claire Middlemiss.</p>\n<p>\"Back in November of 2010 when Steve and I originally posted our research findings on RfM, I included the General Conference account given by Cox; however, I used a source which may not have been completely reliable. Along with the erroneous date which I gave in my post for the General Conference, the last paragraph with important details was missing. Also, just a few days after I posted my research, I found that the link to the questionable source was (intentionally?) broken. My original research (with the broken link) is found here: <a href=\"http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,36809,36809#msg-36809\" title=\"http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,36809,36809#msg-36809\">http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,36809,36809#msg-36809</a></p>\n<p>\"Periodically, I have looked for a reliable link to Cox\'s General Conference address and at last I have found one: an actual optical scan of the OFFICIAL General Conference report published by the Mormon church, itself. Finally, I can be at peace.\"</p>\n<p>(\"A Third Witness Contradicts Miraculous Details of McKay Volcano Visit,\" posfed by \"Fetal Deity\" on \"Recovery from Mormonism\" discussion board, 25 October 2013, emphasis added, at: <a href=\"http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,1061177,1061817#msg-1061817\" title=\"http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,1061177,1061817#msg-1061817\">http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,1061177,1061817#msg-1061817</a>)</p>\n<p>Below is additional evidence that the McKay volcano story is more fiery fiction than it is factually founded:</p>\n<p>Richard O. Cowan, professor emeritus of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University, points out what could be a major synchronization problem between David O. McKay’s (along with that of fellow sight-seer/Hugh Cannon’s) version of events at the volcano, when compared to the account provided by Virginia Budd (Jacobson )--the latter found in Middlemiss’s compilation of “cherished experiences” from the life of McKay.</p>\n<p>The lack of correlating confirmation between the two accounts arguably strikes at the heart of the “guided-by-divine-inspiration” theme of the faithful Mormon-preferred version.</p>\n<p>Recall Budd\'s description of what supposedly happened when God is said to have intervened in order to save the observing party from certain death:</p>\n<p>\"After being down there in their protected spot for some time, suddenly Brother McKay said to those with him, \'Brethren, I feel impressed that we should get out of here.’</p>\n<p>\"With that he assisted the elders to climb out, and then they in turn helped him up to the wind-swept rim. It seems incredible, but almost immediately the whole balcony crumbled and fell with a roar into the molten lava a hundred feet or so below.”</p>\n<p>Yet Cowan, in his article “An Apostle in Oceania: Elder David O. McKay’s 1921 Trip around the Pacific,” notes that neither McKay or Cannon mentioned the inspirational moment of divinely-guided escape that makes Budd’s account so moving for those who read and believe it on face value.</p>\n<p>Writes Cowan:</p>\n<p>“Cited in Middlemiss, “Cherished Experiences,” [pp.] 52–53[,] both McKay and Cannon described visiting Kilauea Volcano during the night of February 10–11 [1921], BUT NEITHER MENTIONS EITHER THE ‘BALCONY’ CRUMBLING OR THE PROMPTING [BY THE SPIRIT] TO MOVE OUT OF HARM’S WAY AT THIS CRITICAL MOMENT.”</p>\n<p>(Richard O. Cowan, “An Apostle in Oceania: Elder David O. McKay’s 1921 Trip around the Pacific,” published in “Pioneers in the Pacific,” ed. Grant Underwood (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2005) pp. 189–200, emphasis added, at <a href=\"http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/pioneers-pacific-memory-history-and-cultural-identity-among-latter-day-saints/16-apostle-oc\" title=\"http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/pioneers-pacific-memory-history-and-cultural-identity-among-latter-day-saints/16-apostle-oc\">http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/pioneers-pacific-memory-history-and-cultural...</a>)</p>\n<p>What accounts for such major discreancies in the accounts?</p>\n<p>Could, for instance, Budd have simply embellished the story, adding dramatic elements designed for inspirational effect--ones that, in fact, never took place? That certainly seems like a possibility worth considering. (And, of course, the contradictions in the various versions of the story, as graphically pointed out by RfM poster \"FD,\" constitute serious threats to the story\'s basic credibility).</p>\n<p>Then, there\'s Middlemiss’s decision to include Budd’s now-suspect and possibly-exaggerated version of events in her “Cherished Experiences” compilation? Could Middlemiss’s choice to do so have had something to do with her desire to present McKay in the best, most impressive light possible--a desire driven on Middlemiss’s part because of her close personal attachment to McKay?<br />\n_____</p>\n<p>--The McKay-Middlemiss Connection--</p>\n<p>Authors Gregory A. Prince and William Robert Wright, in their book, “David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism,” write about the long and close relationship between Middlemiss and McKay. Book reviewer Gary James Bergera, in “Sunstone Magazine,” lays out the basics of that relationship, describing Middlemiss as McKay’s “loyal personal secretary” who kept “McKay’s voluminous diaries” (she not only kept them, but actually wrote them, given that McKay did not himself keep a personal journal).</p>\n<p>Bergera notes how Middlemiss’s deep devotion to McKay leads one to wonder to what extent she wrote about McKay’s experiences through her own personal prism and not through the microscope of objective fact:</p>\n<p>“As keeper of McKay’s diaries, Middlemiss looms large in [Prince’s and Wright’s] book, her ghostly presence a constant reminder of our debt to her contribution to Prince’s reconstruction. In fact, Middlemiss as creator of McKay’s remarkable diaries causes one to wonder to what extent any introspection contained in the diaries reflects more of Middlemiss, and of her own ‘construction’ of McKay, than of McKay himself.”</p>\n<p>Bergera then enters even greater speculative territory, where he subtly suggests that Middlemiss and McKay may have had a bond, if you will, that was deeply personal--and beyond the office.</p>\n<p>Complicating that premise, however, is the fact that little of the Prince/Wright book is devoted to examining McKay’s personal life. Still, Bergera hypothesizes about the possible nature of the relationship between Middlemiss and McKay:</p>\n<p>“ . . . [E]xcept for a page or two, there is almost no mention [in the book] of McKay’s private, or intimate, life--no detailed discussion of his relationship to his wife, Emma Riggs, nor to his children. Given his consuming involvement in the Church, if I were to base my judgment on Prince’s account alone, I would conclude (perhaps incorrectly) that McKay was largely an absentee husband and father. In view of McKay’s well-known, oft-repeated dictum, ‘No success can compensate for failure in the home,’ I wonder how the McKay marriage and family operated on a daily basis. Assuming that Emma McKay acted as the primary parent and caregiver, I wonder what role(s) David O. McKay actually played in his own marriage and family.”</p>\n<p>“I also wish that more discussion had been possible of McKay’s, his wife’s, and his children’s relationship(s) to Clare Middlemiss.”</p>\n<p>Bergera goes on to observe that, following McKay’s death, the single Middlemiss never married and, in fact, spent “her final years alone as the president’s ‘de facto relict’” [defined in broad terms as a survivor who, akin in this case to a “widow” of sorts, exercised power or served her function as the keeper of McKay’s flame/legacy without necessarily being legally or officially authorized to do so).</p>\n<p>Finally, Bergera suggests (in a short, one-sentence footnote at the end of his review) that Middlemiss may have been romantically drawn to McKay, to the point of perhaps desiring him as her husband in Mormon eternity:</p>\n<p>“One wonders if Middlemiss, who never married, in life or death, was ever sealed to McKay.”</p>\n<p>Bergera ultimately leaves such questions unanswered, observing that the complication of family realities may have affected the writing of the Prince-Wright book:</p>\n<p>“Given that Prince’s co-author [Wright] is Middlemiss’s nephew and executor, perhaps a more probing discussion of the dynamics of her relationship to the McKays, and vice versa, was not feasible. After the opening to the public in September 2005 of Middlemiss’s copy of McKay’s diaries, now house--thanks to W[illia]m. Robert Wright--in the Marriott Library’s Special Collections department at the University of Utah, attempts to address these and similar questions may [now] be a little less complicated.</p>\n<p>(Gary James Bergera, “A Book of Revelations: ‘David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism“ [Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 2005, 512 pp.], book review, “Sunstone,” Issue 38, September 2005, pp. 65-67, at: <a href=\"https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/issues/138.pdf\" title=\"https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/issues/138.pdf\">https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/issues/138.pdf</a>)</p>\n<p>Another book reviewer agrees that Middlemiss’s long and loyal service to McKay could have clouded her ability to be objective about him--possibly leading Middlemiss, as I am offering here, to portray her “bosom boss” (my term of endearment) in ways that exaggerated his life experiences in an exaggeratingly-positive and -inspiring manner (perhaps via an enhanced “volcano” story)--and all due to her deep admiration and affection for him.</p>\n<p>Middlemiss certainly embarked on a devoted, deep and life-long commitment to McKay, perhaps marked by a strong inclination to embellish his stature, as the reviewer suggests:</p>\n<p>“Claire Middlemiss served as personal secretary to David O. McKay from 1935 until he died in 1970. Shortly after she started working for Elder McKay, she began keeping a diary of his daily activities that eventually ran some forty thousand typescript pages. . . .</p>\n<p>“ . . . Middlemiss[‘s] . . . vision, arguably, is not always 20/20. Her admiration for her subject is obvious, and her portrait is perhaps more flattering than one would expect from an objective chronicler.”</p>\n<p>(“Objective History? Diaries and Observations from Afar?,” book review of “David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism,” by “Shirt Wearer” Moreno Valley, California, 8 December 2008, at: <a href=\"http://www.amazon.com/review/R3L8LE07JDGOEC/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R3L8LE07JDGOEC\" title=\"http://www.amazon.com/review/R3L8LE07JDGOEC/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R3L8LE07JDGOEC\">http://www.amazon.com/review/R3L8LE07JDGOEC/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R3L8LE0...</a>)<br />\n_____</p>\n<p>--Conclusion: A Fanciful Disruption of the Eruption?--</p>\n<p>In the end, could Clare Middlemiss’s strong attachment to David O. McKay have triumphed over her attention to historical accuracy? She obviously was devoted, in life and death, to McKay. She loyally defended him, highly regarded him, worked tirelessly for him, never married after he died and compiled a book of “cherished experiences” from his life—which may have included at least one story that had been exaggerated but that she nonetheless allowed to stand.</p>\n<p>Could that have been because Clare was determined to stand by her man--especially if it involved (for faith-promotional sake) keeping him from falling into a volcano?</p>\n<hr />\n<p>imaworkinonit<br />\nIf such an event actually had occured at a tourist spot . . .<br />\nyou\'d think that it would have been mentioned in the newspaper. Even if the news didn\'t mention anything about tourists being saved by the prophet, certainly they would mention that there was a collapse at the volcano, and tourists narrowly escaped.</p>\n<p>I tried googling the date (Feb 10, 1921) and the volcano, and couldn\'t find any official news on it. But that was a long time ago, so unless old news stories make their way to the internet, that wouldn\'t turn up anything.<br />\nChristopher Michael Jensen and LDS Inc. - lawsuit. BIG ONE</p>\n<hr />\nChump<br />\nRe: David O. McKay\'s Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .<br />\nMost that hear this story believe that they were standing on some sort of wooden balcony that fell apart as soon as they got off of it...that\'s what I always thought. Both of these accounts make it clear that it was just some sort of natural ledge a few feet down from where they were originally standing.\n<p>After looking at some pictures of the volcano, I would bet that the \"balcony\" wasn\'t hanging over the \"molten lava a hundred feet or so below\". It probably wasn\'t within 100 feet of the rim of the volcano. Maybe they went to climb out and some rocks slid down. This has happened to everyone that\'s ever been hiking in rocky areas. Even then, I\'d bet that the sliding rock didn\'t fall 100 feet directly into lava, and that they wouldn\'t have been in danger even if they had stayed there.</p>\n<p>Did McKay really say, \"Brethren, I feel impressed that we should get out of here.\"? I doubt it. He probably said, \"Alright guys, I\'m cold. Let\'s get out of here.\" Some rocks slid as the missionaries climbed out, stopping several feet down the hill, and the secretary greatly exaggerated the whole thing.</p>\n<hr />\nRe: David O. McKay\'s Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .<br />\nI can\'t help it. Her name is so fitting. I laugh every time I hear her name. I think she was a true middle miss. I often wonder if her last name bothered her given her circumstances.\n<p>Christopher Michael Jensen and LDS Inc. - lawsuit. BIG ONE</p>\n<p>slipperyslope<br />\nRe: David O. McKay\'s Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .<br />\nInteresting perspective. I have only a couple of practical suggestions, having visited Kilauwea a few years ago.<br />\n1. There are records kept of the eruptions which do not occur frequently. That background info could strengthen or weaken the story.<br />\n2. Granted, conditions could have changed between 1921 and 2011. We visited as overnight guests of Kilauwea military camp situated very close to the mouth. It is hard to imagine anyone building an overhanging platform for visitors. That makes no sense. Today there is an observation building that scientists and visitors use located on a high, sturdy piece of ground.</p>\n<p>Just mho. But the lava story is much more interesting than my take.</p>\n<hr />\nsteve benson<br />\nMcKay\'s Hawaii volcano story reminds me of Smith\'s Palmyra revival story--<br />\nNoticeable lack of meaningful, independent, colloborative evidence in both cases.\n<hr />\n<p>imaworkinonit<br />\nBTW, I googled this story, and your thread here came up<br />\nnear the top of the results. So anyone innocently searching the history of this lovely faith-promoting story will now come up with another point of view.</p>\n<p>What a killjoy, Steve!</p>\n<hr />\nmomjeans<br />\nRe: David O. McKay\'s Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .<br />\nPele is \"satanic\"? Um, okay.\n<hr />\nforbiddencokedrinker<br />\nRe: David O. McKay\'s Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .<br />\nI always figured that maybe the balcony was creaking and making all kinds of noise that only an idiot would miss as a sign that something was not right. Now I guess that not even that much was true. Silly me, I should have known never to believe Mormon BS.\n<p>My favorite Mormon miraculous rescue was when Mark Twain somehow rescued Joseph Smith, while the famous author was a river boat captain on the Mississippi River. Samuel Clemons (AKA Mark Twain) was born in Nov. 1835, while Joseph Smith died on June 27, 1844, when Clemons would have only been nine years old. Guess he was the youngest riverboat captain ever.</p>\n<hr />\nenoughenoch19<br />\nRe: David O. McKay\'s Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .<br />\nMcKay didn\'t say it was an \"inspired by God\" impression. If the above story is correct, he said he felt \"impressed\" to get out of there.<br />\nEveryone has had hunches right? Having hunches doesn\'t make anyone a profit. He might have had a legitamate hunch to get out of there. That I would believe. That fact that he didn\'t say it was directly from God makes it more believable. Just sayin.......<br />\nAgain, it might all be BS.\n<hr />\n<p>steve benson<br />\nIt\'s a Mormon Cult legend that has grown well beyond its bounds . . .<br />\n. . . but not beyond its usefulness.</p>\n<p>Whether McKay simply felt hunch-driven \"impressed\" to get out of there or not doesn\'t matter to the LDS propaganda machine.</p>\n<p>What matters, in the end, is that Mormons believe the story to be yet further proof of prophet-led Mormonism\'s divinely-inspired truthfulness.</p>\n<p>Whatever.</p>\n<p>Damn the facts, full myth ahead.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Fetal Deity<br />\nThird Witness Contradicts Miraculous Details of McKay Volcano Visit<br />\nHere is a small, but significant addition (and correction) to previous research on the subject.</p>\n<p>An Elder Roscoe C. Cox, former President of the Hawaiian Mission of the Mormon Church, related the following in the October 1949 General Conference of the church:</p>\n<p>\"God has been good to me and to my family, very good. I trace a lot of it back to a day on the banks of the Kilauea Volcano. A group of us spent a night there when that crater was putting on a grand show. We got down and played with the lava. We gathered up the fine strings of lava, know as Paley\'s [Pele\'s] Hair.</p>\n<p>\"In that group was President David O. McKay and Hugh J. Cannon. They were making a trip around the world. They had just come from China.</p>\n<p>\"Morning came. When they were leaving, they shook hands goodbye, with some of us who were staying on for another hour or two. President McKay had gone, possibly two rods distant; then he returned, and again he took my hand, and looked through me, as only President McKay can look through a person, and said again: \'Good bless you, Elder Cox.\'\"</p>\n<p>\"My brothers and sisters, there was a power in those words, a power as real as THE POWER OF THAT VOLCANO ON WHOSE BRINK WE STOOD, SCARCE TWELVE FEET FROM THE MOLTEN LAVA. Yes, there was a power greater, by far, than that of the volcano and more lasting; and God has blessed me.\" [Emphasis added]</p>\n<p>[Note that Cox says that they stood on the \"brink\" of the volcano but nowhere in the account is there any indication of anyone having ventured down onto any ledge or balcony within the crater, itself.]</p>\n<p>(Cox, Roscoe C., from official report of the 120th Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [October 2, 1949], p. 166, published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), found at: <a href=\"https://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1949sa#page/n165/mode/2up\" title=\"https://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1949sa#page/n165/mode/2up\">https://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1949sa#page/n165/mode/2up</a> )</p>\n<p>Cox\'s retelling of the event is significant in that it, also--along with two other retellings of the story (by McKay and Cannon) cited in Steve\'s post--contradicts the account of Sister Virginia Budd (Jacobsen) as related by Claire Middlemiss.</p>\n<p>Back in November of 2010 when Steve and I originally posted our research findings on RfM, I included the General Conference account given by Cox; however, I used a source which may not have been completely reliable. Along with the erroneous date which I gave in my post for the General Conference, the last paragraph with important details was missing. Also, just a few days after I posted my research, I found that the link to the questionable source was (intentionally?) broken. My original research (with the broken link) is found here:</p>\n<p><a href=\"http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,36809,36809#msg-36809\" title=\"http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,36809,36809#msg-36809\">http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,36809,36809#msg-36809</a></p>\n<p>Periodically, I have looked for a reliable link to Cox\'s General Conference address, and at last I have found one: an actual optical scan of the OFFICIAL report published by the Mormon church, itself. Finally, I can be at peace.</p>\n<p>; )</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Fetal Deity<br />\nA Third Witness Contradicts Miraculous Details of McKay Volcano Visit<br />\nHere is a small, but significant addition (and correction) to previous research on the subject.</p>\n<p>An Elder Roscoe C. Cox, former President of the Hawaiian Mission of the Mormon Church, related the following in the October 1949 General Conference of the church:</p>\n<p>\"God has been good to me and to my family, very good. I trace a lot of it back to a day on the banks of the Kilauea Volcano. A group of us spent a night there when that crater was putting on a grand show. We got down and played with the lava. We gathered up the fine strings of lava, know as Paley\'s [Pele\'s] Hair.</p>\n<p>\"In that group was President David O. McKay and Hugh J. Cannon. They were making a trip around the world. They had just come from China.</p>\n<p>\"Morning came. When they were leaving, they shook hands goodbye, with some of us who were staying on for another hour or two. President McKay had gone, possibly two rods distant; then he returned, and again he took my hand, and looked through me, as only President McKay can look through a person, and said again: \'Good bless you, Elder Cox.\'\"</p>\n<p>\"My brothers and sisters, there was a power in those words, a power as real as THE POWER OF THAT VOLCANO ON WHOSE BRINK WE STOOD, SCARCE TWELVE FEET FROM THE MOLTEN LAVA. Yes, there was a power greater, by far, than that of the volcano and more lasting; and God has blessed me.\" [Emphasis added]</p>\n<p>[Note that Cox says that they stood on the \"brink\" of the volcano but nowhere in the account is there any indication of anyone having ventured down onto any ledge or balcony within the crater, itself.]</p>\n<p>(Cox, Roscoe C., from official report of the 120th Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [October 2, 1949], p. 166, published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, found at: <a href=\"https://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1949sa#page/n165/mode/2up\" title=\"https://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1949sa#page/n165/mode/2up\">https://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1949sa#page/n165/mode/2up</a> )</p>\n<p>Cox\'s retelling of the event is significant in that it, also--along with two other retellings of the story (by McKay and Cannon) cited in Steve\'s post--contradicts the account of Sister Virginia Budd (Jacobsen) as related by Claire Middlemiss.</p>\n<p>Back in November of 2010 when Steve and I originally posted our research findings on RfM, I included the General Conference account given by Cox; however, I used a source which may not have been completely reliable. Along with the erroneous date which I gave in my post for the General Conference, the last paragraph with important details was missing. Also, just a few days after I posted my research, I found that the link to the questionable source was (intentionally?) broken. My original research (with the broken link) is found here:</p>\n<p><a href=\"http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,36809,36809#msg-36809\" title=\"http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,36809,36809#msg-36809\">http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,36809,36809#msg-36809</a></p>\n<p>Periodically, I have looked for a reliable link to Cox\'s General Conference address, and at last I have found one: an actual optical scan of the OFFICIAL General Conference report published by the Mormon church, itself.</p>\n<p>Finally, I can be at peace. ; )</p>\n<hr />\n<p>steve benson<br />\nThanks, FD! I\'ve gone back and wrapped your latest important info . . .<br />\n. . . into the OP.</p>\n<p>I think it\'s finally time for the Mormon Church to call it a day and throw itself into Kilauea\'s infernal lava pit as a blood-atoning sacrifice for its sin of perpetually lying out the wazoo.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>iris<br />\nRe: It\'s a Mormon Cult legend that has grown well beyond its bounds . . .<br />\n\"Damn the facts, full myth ahead.\" good one!</p>\n<hr />\nCinnamint<br />\nRe: David O. McKay\'s Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .<br />\nWait a minute..David O. McKay claims that he was propmted to STOP SITTING ON A LEDGE IN A VOLCANO!?!?\n<p>I am still laughing!</p>\n<hr />\nbehindcurtain<br />\nRe: David O. McKay\'s Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .<br />\nI have a soft spot for David O. McKay. He seems like a great man, not just a Mormon leader. At least I did, until I found out he was against masturbation. So now my attitude may change.\n<hr />\n<p>enoughenoch19<br />\nRe: David O. McKay\'s Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .<br />\nSteve, you are absolutely right. No matter what prompts/inspires anyone, if the person is in a powerful position in TSCC, TSCC is going to spin it as directly from God.<br />\nTSCC will spin anything in their favor to make themselves look better. I think they are terrified now because they are losing members and are spinning everything that can get their mitts on. I realize that this incident with McKay happened a long time ago but it must be being talked about again or it wouldn\'t be on this board as a topic.<br />\nThe younger mishies is for sure a ploy to keep members from leaving. Send them before they go to college and find out that JS is a criminally minded child molesting asshole.<br />\nI get inspired to compose music by looking at sunsets sometimes. If I were a TBM in an uppity position, they would say that God spoke to me through the sunset. NO, that is not what happened.<br />\nTSCC\'s spin machine/propoganda is every bit as effective is was Hitler\'s. It is scary!</p>\n<hr />\n<p>enoughenoch19<br />\nRe: David O. McKay\'s Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .<br />\nThis may be a dumb question for you Steve, but I am curious. I know you completely left TSCC for many good reasons (as many of us on this board did). I just want to know if your leaving was before or after you ever went in the Temple.<br />\nI was kicked out before I ever had the punishment of the Temple. I have seen it on the internet and am glad I missed it in person. Were you inside? If so, were you creeped out by it? Or did you already know what to expect from having super Mo family members? You don\'t need to answer if you\'d rather not. It is really none of my business.</p>\n<hr />\nsteve benson<br />\nIt was after I went to the temple . . .<br />\nIn fact, one of the major, final and catalyzing moments in my decision to quit wearing the silly Mormon underwear and to eventually bolt the Cult was the stark, well-duh realization (through my own study assisted by the meticulous and compelling research of Jerald and Sandra Tanner) that Joseph Smith had blatantly ripped off the Mormon garment idea, the Mormon garment markings and the LDS garment-centric temple rituals from Freemasonry.\n<p>The evidentiary trail leading to pre-Mormon Masonry upon which Smith relied for his deceptive religious inventions made his thievery undeniably clear to me. His dependency on Masonic lore, ritual, dress and belief was so firmly traceable and observably obvious that I determined--then and there--to ditch the Mormon underwear. It became unmistakably, empirically, historically and common-sensically clear to me that a belief so fundamentally central to Mormon doctrine--namely, the supposed divinely-revealed Mormon temple ceremony and its allegedly God-designed garments--was nothing but a cheap, unimaginative rip-off by Smith of Masonic beliefs and practices of his day. It certainly was no coincidence that Smith produced his temple-ritual \"revelation\" after having become a 33-degree Mason.</p>\n<p>This clumsy theft on Smith\'s part showed me, in demonstrably convincing terms, that he was a liar, a fraud and a charlatan. Realizing that, off came the garments and away went any vestige of faith or belief in Mormonism that I may have still possessed.</p>\n<p>For me, it was a no-brainer that demanded both a logical and moral response. The overwhelming evidence was there for me to see and to collaborate--so I acted on what I saw and examined.</p>\n<p>End of story (although other unfolding chapters in my steady realization that Mormonism was, at its core, sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-intellectual, historically dishonest and impulsively authoritarian certainly assisted in my exit from its small-minded, ethically-vapid concentration camp of blind and intolerant obedience to the hucksters at the top who continue to run their deeply disingenuous operation at the expense of sincere but cowed and gullible believers).</p>\n<hr />\n<p>zarahemlatowndrunk<br />\nRe: David O. McKay\'s Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .<br />\nLet\'s just assume the whole story is true, exactly as told by the secretary...</p>\n<p>Wouldn\'t the truly inspired individuals be the ones who looked at the \"balcony\" and though going to stand on it was a bad idea to begin with?</p>\n<hr />\nbeyondashadow<br />\nVolcano . . . schmallcano !<br />\nThat\'s nothing\'!\n<p>When I was in the SL temple on my first day or two as a new missionary in 1969, I heard the story about when David O. McKay walked past an artist who was painting a picture of Jesus somewhere inside the temple ... maybe it was a stairway wall ... not important. Anyway, the artist was painting Jesus with brown eyes, and President McKay approached the artist and softly whispered, \"His eyes are blue.\"</p>\n<p>Has anyone else heard this story?</p>\n<p>(Almost makes me cry all over again ... to hear a story that made me believe that my prophet actually hangs out personally with Jesus. Of course, yes, I believed the story at the time.)</p>\n<p>(Anyone know if blue eyes are unusual for genuine Jewish messiahs?)</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Forestpal not logged in<br />\nRe: David O. McKay\'s Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .<br />\nMy close relative was a GA, who knew David O. McKay intimately. They made it very clear to us kids that none of the Apostles or anyone else had seen Jesus, inside or outside the temple, since Joseph Smith. My relative used to get upset when members would ask him, \"What is it like to walk and talk with Christ?\" McKay would never have alluded to have seen Jesus, or have claimed to know the color of his eyes. What a stupid story.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>enoughenoch19<br />\nRe: It was after I went to the temple . . .<br />\nSteve, Thanks for your response. You have such a grasp on your reasons for leaving and you are very good with expressing them. I believe you should write a book especially for people leaving TSCC or thinking about doing so like the people here on RfM.<br />\nYou have the ability to put your point across very well. You don\'t mince words but you use the correct words in the right context to really make people pay attention.<br />\nIf you haven\'t already written a book, you should. If you have written one, (forgive my ignorance) and let me know what it is called so I can get it. Thanks for being a rock on this board. We can always count on you for the truth. Keep on doing so.<br />\nI imagine you took some real hard knocks right in the face from your family. That must have been a nightmare. You came through well. Do you speak with family now?</p>\n<p>\"Recovery from Mormonism - www.exmormon.org\"</p>\n', created = 1490526129, expire = 1490612529, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '2:0ce2f2c8032d4a0eca54f12743df03bf' in /home/exmormon/public_html/d6/drupal/includes/cache.inc on line 112.

steve benson Oct. 2013

Did a Lava-Hot Attraction Between President McKay and Secretary Middlemiss Put an Inconvenient Cork in This Inspirationally Fiery Story?

In a previous thread, “Fetal Deity” recounted a harrowing episode allegedly involving divine intervention where David O. McKay, said to have been prompted by the Spirit, warned his fellow sight-seers to step away from a precarious vista at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, moments before the hanging balcony on which they were said to be standing reportedly gave way and disappeared into the mountain’s molten mouth.

“Fetal Deity” (hereafter “FD”) described this reported episode as “one of the most impressive cases of prophetic inspiration that I can recall being told in my TBM childhood.“

“FD” then asked a pointed question: “So what are your impressions of this anecdote? How would you explain it? Does it make you wonder if you jumped ship too soon?”

(“’David O. McKay Versus the Volcano’--Do Any of You Remember This Story?,” posted by "Fetal Deity," on "Recovery from Mormonism" discussion board, 16 November 2010)

The anecdote, which “FD” both cited and sourced, is found in the account of Sister Virginia Budd (Jacobsen), published in "Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay,” revised and enlarged, Clare Middlemiss, comp. [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1976)] pp. 52-53.

It reads as follows:

"It happened in 1921, while President McKay and Elder Hugh Cannon were making a tour of the missions of the world. After a day of inspiring conference meetings in Hilo, Hawaii, a night trip to the Kilauea volcano was arranged for the visiting brethren and some of the missionaries. About nine o'clock that evening, two carloads, about ten of us, took off for the then very active volcano.

"We stood on the rim of that fiery pit watching Pele in her satanic antics, our backs chilled by the cold winds sweeping down from snowcapped Mauna Loa, and our faces almost blistered by the heat of the molten lava. Tiring of the cold, one of the elders discovered a volcanic balcony about four feet down inside the crater where observers could watch the display without being chilled by the wind. It seemed perfectly sound, and the 'railing' on the open side of it formed a fine protection from the intense heat, making it an excellent place to view the spectacular display.

"After first testing its safety, Brother McKay and three of the elders climbed down into the hanging balcony. As they stood there warm and comfortable, they teased the others of us more timid ones who had hesitated to take advantage of the protection they had found. For quite some time we all watched the ever-changing sight as we alternately chilled and roasted.

"After being down there in their protected spot for some time, suddenly Brother McKay said to those with him, 'Brethren, I feel impressed that we should get out of here.'"

"With that he assisted the elders to climb out, and then they in turn helped him up to the wind-swept rim. It seems incredible, but almost immediately the whole balcony crumbled and fell with a roar into the molten lava a hundred feet or so below.

"It is easy to visualize the feelings of those who witnessed this terrifying experience. Not a word was said . . . the whole thing was too awful, with all that word means. The only sound was the hiss and roar of Pele, the Fire Goddess of old Hawaii, screaming her disappointment.

"None of us, who were witnesses to this experience, could ever doubt the reality of 'revelation in our day!' Some might say it was merely inspiration, but to us, it was a direct revelation given to a worthy man."

Another version of the same reported event is found in the Mormon Church’s educational publication--“Preparing for Exaltation" (Teacher’s Manual), Lesson 15: “Recognizing Personal Revelation,” p. 80.

(published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, copyright 1996, printed in the United States of America, 
English approval: 9/95, at: http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=3dff767978...)

The LDS Church’s condensed lesson manual version of the story proceeds thusly:

"In 1921 Elders David O. McKay (who later became the ninth President of the Church) and Hugh J. Cannon visited missions around the world. While in Hawaii, they visited the Kilauea volcano, the largest active volcano in the world, with some of the missionaries. They discovered a natural balcony just inside the volcano, and Elder McKay and several of the missionaries climbed down to stand on it. On this balcony they were out of the chilly wind and had a marvelous view of the inside of the volcano. After a while, Elder McKay said, 'Brethren, I feel impressed that we should get out of here.' Almost immediately after they climbed back to the rim, the balcony on which they had been standing crumbled and fell into the molten lava below. (See “Cherished Experiences from the Writings of President David O. McKay," comp. Clare Middlemiss, rev. ed. [1976], 51–53.)"
_____

--Just How Plausible is This Full-Throated "David O. vs. the Volcano” Testimonial Tale?--

Is the story believable, particularly the version of events presented by Clare Middlemiss, David O. McKay’s long-time, devoted secretary, and as found in her compilation of “cherished experiences” from the life of McKay?

That question is a legitimate one for two reasons:

1) Questions of factual accuracy surround the story itself; and

2) Questions regarding Middlemiss’s compiled version of events may have been unduly influenced by her close personal relationship with McKay.
_____

--Issues Regarding the Historical Accuracy of McKay's Version of a Volanic Encounter--

RfM poster "FD" provides further (and recent) reason to seriously doubt the historical reliability of the McKay vs. the Volcano lore:

"Here is a small, but significant addition (and correction) to previous research on the subject.

"An Elder Roscoe C. Cox, former President of the Hawaiian Mission of the Mormon Church, related the following in the October 1949 General Conference of the church:

"'God has been good to me and to my family, very good. I trace a lot of it back to a day on the banks of the Kilauea Volcano. A group of us spent a night there when that crater was putting on a grand show. We got down and played with the lava. We gathered up the fine strings of lava, know as Paley's [Pele's] Hair.

"'In that group was President David O. McKay and Hugh J. Cannon. They were making a trip around the world. They had just come from China.

"'Morning came. When they were leaving, they shook hands goodbye, with some of us who were staying on for another hour or two. President McKay had gone, possibly two rods distant; then he returned and again he took my hand and looked through me as only President McKay can look through a person, and said again: "Good bless you, Elder Cox."

"'My brothers and sisters, there was a power in those words, a power as real as THE POWER OF THAT VOLCANO ON WHOSE BRINK WE STOOD, SCARCE TWELVE FEET FROM THE MOLTEN LAVA. Yes, there was a power greater, by far, than that of the volcano and more lasting; and God has blessed me.'

"[Note that Cox says that they stood on the 'brink' of the volcano but nowhere in the account is there any indication of anyone having ventured down onto any ledge or balcony within the crater itself].

"(Roscoe C. Cox, from official report of the 120th Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [2 October 1949], p. 166, published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at: https://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1949sa#page/n165/mode/2up)";

Poster "FD" continues:

"Cox's retelling of the event is significant in that it, also--along with two other retellings of the story (by McKay and Cannon) cited in Steve's post--contradicts the account of Sister Virginia Budd (Jacobsen) as related by Claire Middlemiss.

"Back in November of 2010 when Steve and I originally posted our research findings on RfM, I included the General Conference account given by Cox; however, I used a source which may not have been completely reliable. Along with the erroneous date which I gave in my post for the General Conference, the last paragraph with important details was missing. Also, just a few days after I posted my research, I found that the link to the questionable source was (intentionally?) broken. My original research (with the broken link) is found here: http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,36809,36809#msg-36809

"Periodically, I have looked for a reliable link to Cox's General Conference address and at last I have found one: an actual optical scan of the OFFICIAL General Conference report published by the Mormon church, itself. Finally, I can be at peace."

("A Third Witness Contradicts Miraculous Details of McKay Volcano Visit," posfed by "Fetal Deity" on "Recovery from Mormonism" discussion board, 25 October 2013, emphasis added, at: http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,1061177,1061817#msg-1061817)

Below is additional evidence that the McKay volcano story is more fiery fiction than it is factually founded:

Richard O. Cowan, professor emeritus of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University, points out what could be a major synchronization problem between David O. McKay’s (along with that of fellow sight-seer/Hugh Cannon’s) version of events at the volcano, when compared to the account provided by Virginia Budd (Jacobson )--the latter found in Middlemiss’s compilation of “cherished experiences” from the life of McKay.

The lack of correlating confirmation between the two accounts arguably strikes at the heart of the “guided-by-divine-inspiration” theme of the faithful Mormon-preferred version.

Recall Budd's description of what supposedly happened when God is said to have intervened in order to save the observing party from certain death:

"After being down there in their protected spot for some time, suddenly Brother McKay said to those with him, 'Brethren, I feel impressed that we should get out of here.’

"With that he assisted the elders to climb out, and then they in turn helped him up to the wind-swept rim. It seems incredible, but almost immediately the whole balcony crumbled and fell with a roar into the molten lava a hundred feet or so below.”

Yet Cowan, in his article “An Apostle in Oceania: Elder David O. McKay’s 1921 Trip around the Pacific,” notes that neither McKay or Cannon mentioned the inspirational moment of divinely-guided escape that makes Budd’s account so moving for those who read and believe it on face value.

Writes Cowan:

“Cited in Middlemiss, “Cherished Experiences,” [pp.] 52–53[,] both McKay and Cannon described visiting Kilauea Volcano during the night of February 10–11 [1921], BUT NEITHER MENTIONS EITHER THE ‘BALCONY’ CRUMBLING OR THE PROMPTING [BY THE SPIRIT] TO MOVE OUT OF HARM’S WAY AT THIS CRITICAL MOMENT.”

(Richard O. Cowan, “An Apostle in Oceania: Elder David O. McKay’s 1921 Trip around the Pacific,” published in “Pioneers in the Pacific,” ed. Grant Underwood (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2005) pp. 189–200, emphasis added, at http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/pioneers-pacific-memory-history-and-cultural...)

What accounts for such major discreancies in the accounts?

Could, for instance, Budd have simply embellished the story, adding dramatic elements designed for inspirational effect--ones that, in fact, never took place? That certainly seems like a possibility worth considering. (And, of course, the contradictions in the various versions of the story, as graphically pointed out by RfM poster "FD," constitute serious threats to the story's basic credibility).

Then, there's Middlemiss’s decision to include Budd’s now-suspect and possibly-exaggerated version of events in her “Cherished Experiences” compilation? Could Middlemiss’s choice to do so have had something to do with her desire to present McKay in the best, most impressive light possible--a desire driven on Middlemiss’s part because of her close personal attachment to McKay?
_____

--The McKay-Middlemiss Connection--

Authors Gregory A. Prince and William Robert Wright, in their book, “David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism,” write about the long and close relationship between Middlemiss and McKay. Book reviewer Gary James Bergera, in “Sunstone Magazine,” lays out the basics of that relationship, describing Middlemiss as McKay’s “loyal personal secretary” who kept “McKay’s voluminous diaries” (she not only kept them, but actually wrote them, given that McKay did not himself keep a personal journal).

Bergera notes how Middlemiss’s deep devotion to McKay leads one to wonder to what extent she wrote about McKay’s experiences through her own personal prism and not through the microscope of objective fact:

“As keeper of McKay’s diaries, Middlemiss looms large in [Prince’s and Wright’s] book, her ghostly presence a constant reminder of our debt to her contribution to Prince’s reconstruction. In fact, Middlemiss as creator of McKay’s remarkable diaries causes one to wonder to what extent any introspection contained in the diaries reflects more of Middlemiss, and of her own ‘construction’ of McKay, than of McKay himself.”

Bergera then enters even greater speculative territory, where he subtly suggests that Middlemiss and McKay may have had a bond, if you will, that was deeply personal--and beyond the office.

Complicating that premise, however, is the fact that little of the Prince/Wright book is devoted to examining McKay’s personal life. Still, Bergera hypothesizes about the possible nature of the relationship between Middlemiss and McKay:

“ . . . [E]xcept for a page or two, there is almost no mention [in the book] of McKay’s private, or intimate, life--no detailed discussion of his relationship to his wife, Emma Riggs, nor to his children. Given his consuming involvement in the Church, if I were to base my judgment on Prince’s account alone, I would conclude (perhaps incorrectly) that McKay was largely an absentee husband and father. In view of McKay’s well-known, oft-repeated dictum, ‘No success can compensate for failure in the home,’ I wonder how the McKay marriage and family operated on a daily basis. Assuming that Emma McKay acted as the primary parent and caregiver, I wonder what role(s) David O. McKay actually played in his own marriage and family.”

“I also wish that more discussion had been possible of McKay’s, his wife’s, and his children’s relationship(s) to Clare Middlemiss.”

Bergera goes on to observe that, following McKay’s death, the single Middlemiss never married and, in fact, spent “her final years alone as the president’s ‘de facto relict’” [defined in broad terms as a survivor who, akin in this case to a “widow” of sorts, exercised power or served her function as the keeper of McKay’s flame/legacy without necessarily being legally or officially authorized to do so).

Finally, Bergera suggests (in a short, one-sentence footnote at the end of his review) that Middlemiss may have been romantically drawn to McKay, to the point of perhaps desiring him as her husband in Mormon eternity:

“One wonders if Middlemiss, who never married, in life or death, was ever sealed to McKay.”

Bergera ultimately leaves such questions unanswered, observing that the complication of family realities may have affected the writing of the Prince-Wright book:

“Given that Prince’s co-author [Wright] is Middlemiss’s nephew and executor, perhaps a more probing discussion of the dynamics of her relationship to the McKays, and vice versa, was not feasible. After the opening to the public in September 2005 of Middlemiss’s copy of McKay’s diaries, now house--thanks to W[illia]m. Robert Wright--in the Marriott Library’s Special Collections department at the University of Utah, attempts to address these and similar questions may [now] be a little less complicated.

(Gary James Bergera, “A Book of Revelations: ‘David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism“ [Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 2005, 512 pp.], book review, “Sunstone,” Issue 38, September 2005, pp. 65-67, at: https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/issues/138.pdf)

Another book reviewer agrees that Middlemiss’s long and loyal service to McKay could have clouded her ability to be objective about him--possibly leading Middlemiss, as I am offering here, to portray her “bosom boss” (my term of endearment) in ways that exaggerated his life experiences in an exaggeratingly-positive and -inspiring manner (perhaps via an enhanced “volcano” story)--and all due to her deep admiration and affection for him.

Middlemiss certainly embarked on a devoted, deep and life-long commitment to McKay, perhaps marked by a strong inclination to embellish his stature, as the reviewer suggests:

“Claire Middlemiss served as personal secretary to David O. McKay from 1935 until he died in 1970. Shortly after she started working for Elder McKay, she began keeping a diary of his daily activities that eventually ran some forty thousand typescript pages. . . .

“ . . . Middlemiss[‘s] . . . vision, arguably, is not always 20/20. Her admiration for her subject is obvious, and her portrait is perhaps more flattering than one would expect from an objective chronicler.”

(“Objective History? Diaries and Observations from Afar?,” book review of “David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism,” by “Shirt Wearer” Moreno Valley, California, 8 December 2008, at: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3L8LE07JDGOEC/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R3L8LE0...)
_____

--Conclusion: A Fanciful Disruption of the Eruption?--

In the end, could Clare Middlemiss’s strong attachment to David O. McKay have triumphed over her attention to historical accuracy? She obviously was devoted, in life and death, to McKay. She loyally defended him, highly regarded him, worked tirelessly for him, never married after he died and compiled a book of “cherished experiences” from his life—which may have included at least one story that had been exaggerated but that she nonetheless allowed to stand.

Could that have been because Clare was determined to stand by her man--especially if it involved (for faith-promotional sake) keeping him from falling into a volcano?


imaworkinonit
If such an event actually had occured at a tourist spot . . .
you'd think that it would have been mentioned in the newspaper. Even if the news didn't mention anything about tourists being saved by the prophet, certainly they would mention that there was a collapse at the volcano, and tourists narrowly escaped.

I tried googling the date (Feb 10, 1921) and the volcano, and couldn't find any official news on it. But that was a long time ago, so unless old news stories make their way to the internet, that wouldn't turn up anything.
Christopher Michael Jensen and LDS Inc. - lawsuit. BIG ONE


Chump
Re: David O. McKay's Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .
Most that hear this story believe that they were standing on some sort of wooden balcony that fell apart as soon as they got off of it...that's what I always thought. Both of these accounts make it clear that it was just some sort of natural ledge a few feet down from where they were originally standing.

After looking at some pictures of the volcano, I would bet that the "balcony" wasn't hanging over the "molten lava a hundred feet or so below". It probably wasn't within 100 feet of the rim of the volcano. Maybe they went to climb out and some rocks slid down. This has happened to everyone that's ever been hiking in rocky areas. Even then, I'd bet that the sliding rock didn't fall 100 feet directly into lava, and that they wouldn't have been in danger even if they had stayed there.

Did McKay really say, "Brethren, I feel impressed that we should get out of here."? I doubt it. He probably said, "Alright guys, I'm cold. Let's get out of here." Some rocks slid as the missionaries climbed out, stopping several feet down the hill, and the secretary greatly exaggerated the whole thing.


Re: David O. McKay's Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .
I can't help it. Her name is so fitting. I laugh every time I hear her name. I think she was a true middle miss. I often wonder if her last name bothered her given her circumstances.

Christopher Michael Jensen and LDS Inc. - lawsuit. BIG ONE

slipperyslope
Re: David O. McKay's Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .
Interesting perspective. I have only a couple of practical suggestions, having visited Kilauwea a few years ago.
1. There are records kept of the eruptions which do not occur frequently. That background info could strengthen or weaken the story.
2. Granted, conditions could have changed between 1921 and 2011. We visited as overnight guests of Kilauwea military camp situated very close to the mouth. It is hard to imagine anyone building an overhanging platform for visitors. That makes no sense. Today there is an observation building that scientists and visitors use located on a high, sturdy piece of ground.

Just mho. But the lava story is much more interesting than my take.


steve benson
McKay's Hawaii volcano story reminds me of Smith's Palmyra revival story--
Noticeable lack of meaningful, independent, colloborative evidence in both cases.

imaworkinonit
BTW, I googled this story, and your thread here came up
near the top of the results. So anyone innocently searching the history of this lovely faith-promoting story will now come up with another point of view.

What a killjoy, Steve!


momjeans
Re: David O. McKay's Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .
Pele is "satanic"? Um, okay.
forbiddencokedrinker
Re: David O. McKay's Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .
I always figured that maybe the balcony was creaking and making all kinds of noise that only an idiot would miss as a sign that something was not right. Now I guess that not even that much was true. Silly me, I should have known never to believe Mormon BS.

My favorite Mormon miraculous rescue was when Mark Twain somehow rescued Joseph Smith, while the famous author was a river boat captain on the Mississippi River. Samuel Clemons (AKA Mark Twain) was born in Nov. 1835, while Joseph Smith died on June 27, 1844, when Clemons would have only been nine years old. Guess he was the youngest riverboat captain ever.


enoughenoch19
Re: David O. McKay's Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .
McKay didn't say it was an "inspired by God" impression. If the above story is correct, he said he felt "impressed" to get out of there.
Everyone has had hunches right? Having hunches doesn't make anyone a profit. He might have had a legitamate hunch to get out of there. That I would believe. That fact that he didn't say it was directly from God makes it more believable. Just sayin.......
Again, it might all be BS.

steve benson
It's a Mormon Cult legend that has grown well beyond its bounds . . .
. . . but not beyond its usefulness.

Whether McKay simply felt hunch-driven "impressed" to get out of there or not doesn't matter to the LDS propaganda machine.

What matters, in the end, is that Mormons believe the story to be yet further proof of prophet-led Mormonism's divinely-inspired truthfulness.

Whatever.

Damn the facts, full myth ahead.


Fetal Deity
Third Witness Contradicts Miraculous Details of McKay Volcano Visit
Here is a small, but significant addition (and correction) to previous research on the subject.

An Elder Roscoe C. Cox, former President of the Hawaiian Mission of the Mormon Church, related the following in the October 1949 General Conference of the church:

"God has been good to me and to my family, very good. I trace a lot of it back to a day on the banks of the Kilauea Volcano. A group of us spent a night there when that crater was putting on a grand show. We got down and played with the lava. We gathered up the fine strings of lava, know as Paley's [Pele's] Hair.

"In that group was President David O. McKay and Hugh J. Cannon. They were making a trip around the world. They had just come from China.

"Morning came. When they were leaving, they shook hands goodbye, with some of us who were staying on for another hour or two. President McKay had gone, possibly two rods distant; then he returned, and again he took my hand, and looked through me, as only President McKay can look through a person, and said again: 'Good bless you, Elder Cox.'"

"My brothers and sisters, there was a power in those words, a power as real as THE POWER OF THAT VOLCANO ON WHOSE BRINK WE STOOD, SCARCE TWELVE FEET FROM THE MOLTEN LAVA. Yes, there was a power greater, by far, than that of the volcano and more lasting; and God has blessed me." [Emphasis added]

[Note that Cox says that they stood on the "brink" of the volcano but nowhere in the account is there any indication of anyone having ventured down onto any ledge or balcony within the crater, itself.]

(Cox, Roscoe C., from official report of the 120th Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [October 2, 1949], p. 166, published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), found at: https://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1949sa#page/n165/mode/2up )

Cox's retelling of the event is significant in that it, also--along with two other retellings of the story (by McKay and Cannon) cited in Steve's post--contradicts the account of Sister Virginia Budd (Jacobsen) as related by Claire Middlemiss.

Back in November of 2010 when Steve and I originally posted our research findings on RfM, I included the General Conference account given by Cox; however, I used a source which may not have been completely reliable. Along with the erroneous date which I gave in my post for the General Conference, the last paragraph with important details was missing. Also, just a few days after I posted my research, I found that the link to the questionable source was (intentionally?) broken. My original research (with the broken link) is found here:

http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,36809,36809#msg-36809

Periodically, I have looked for a reliable link to Cox's General Conference address, and at last I have found one: an actual optical scan of the OFFICIAL report published by the Mormon church, itself. Finally, I can be at peace.

; )


Fetal Deity
A Third Witness Contradicts Miraculous Details of McKay Volcano Visit
Here is a small, but significant addition (and correction) to previous research on the subject.

An Elder Roscoe C. Cox, former President of the Hawaiian Mission of the Mormon Church, related the following in the October 1949 General Conference of the church:

"God has been good to me and to my family, very good. I trace a lot of it back to a day on the banks of the Kilauea Volcano. A group of us spent a night there when that crater was putting on a grand show. We got down and played with the lava. We gathered up the fine strings of lava, know as Paley's [Pele's] Hair.

"In that group was President David O. McKay and Hugh J. Cannon. They were making a trip around the world. They had just come from China.

"Morning came. When they were leaving, they shook hands goodbye, with some of us who were staying on for another hour or two. President McKay had gone, possibly two rods distant; then he returned, and again he took my hand, and looked through me, as only President McKay can look through a person, and said again: 'Good bless you, Elder Cox.'"

"My brothers and sisters, there was a power in those words, a power as real as THE POWER OF THAT VOLCANO ON WHOSE BRINK WE STOOD, SCARCE TWELVE FEET FROM THE MOLTEN LAVA. Yes, there was a power greater, by far, than that of the volcano and more lasting; and God has blessed me." [Emphasis added]

[Note that Cox says that they stood on the "brink" of the volcano but nowhere in the account is there any indication of anyone having ventured down onto any ledge or balcony within the crater, itself.]

(Cox, Roscoe C., from official report of the 120th Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [October 2, 1949], p. 166, published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, found at: https://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1949sa#page/n165/mode/2up )

Cox's retelling of the event is significant in that it, also--along with two other retellings of the story (by McKay and Cannon) cited in Steve's post--contradicts the account of Sister Virginia Budd (Jacobsen) as related by Claire Middlemiss.

Back in November of 2010 when Steve and I originally posted our research findings on RfM, I included the General Conference account given by Cox; however, I used a source which may not have been completely reliable. Along with the erroneous date which I gave in my post for the General Conference, the last paragraph with important details was missing. Also, just a few days after I posted my research, I found that the link to the questionable source was (intentionally?) broken. My original research (with the broken link) is found here:

http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,36809,36809#msg-36809

Periodically, I have looked for a reliable link to Cox's General Conference address, and at last I have found one: an actual optical scan of the OFFICIAL General Conference report published by the Mormon church, itself.

Finally, I can be at peace. ; )


steve benson
Thanks, FD! I've gone back and wrapped your latest important info . . .
. . . into the OP.

I think it's finally time for the Mormon Church to call it a day and throw itself into Kilauea's infernal lava pit as a blood-atoning sacrifice for its sin of perpetually lying out the wazoo.


iris
Re: It's a Mormon Cult legend that has grown well beyond its bounds . . .
"Damn the facts, full myth ahead." good one!


Cinnamint
Re: David O. McKay's Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .
Wait a minute..David O. McKay claims that he was propmted to STOP SITTING ON A LEDGE IN A VOLCANO!?!?

I am still laughing!


behindcurtain
Re: David O. McKay's Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .
I have a soft spot for David O. McKay. He seems like a great man, not just a Mormon leader. At least I did, until I found out he was against masturbation. So now my attitude may change.

enoughenoch19
Re: David O. McKay's Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .
Steve, you are absolutely right. No matter what prompts/inspires anyone, if the person is in a powerful position in TSCC, TSCC is going to spin it as directly from God.
TSCC will spin anything in their favor to make themselves look better. I think they are terrified now because they are losing members and are spinning everything that can get their mitts on. I realize that this incident with McKay happened a long time ago but it must be being talked about again or it wouldn't be on this board as a topic.
The younger mishies is for sure a ploy to keep members from leaving. Send them before they go to college and find out that JS is a criminally minded child molesting asshole.
I get inspired to compose music by looking at sunsets sometimes. If I were a TBM in an uppity position, they would say that God spoke to me through the sunset. NO, that is not what happened.
TSCC's spin machine/propoganda is every bit as effective is was Hitler's. It is scary!


enoughenoch19
Re: David O. McKay's Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .
This may be a dumb question for you Steve, but I am curious. I know you completely left TSCC for many good reasons (as many of us on this board did). I just want to know if your leaving was before or after you ever went in the Temple.
I was kicked out before I ever had the punishment of the Temple. I have seen it on the internet and am glad I missed it in person. Were you inside? If so, were you creeped out by it? Or did you already know what to expect from having super Mo family members? You don't need to answer if you'd rather not. It is really none of my business.


steve benson
It was after I went to the temple . . .
In fact, one of the major, final and catalyzing moments in my decision to quit wearing the silly Mormon underwear and to eventually bolt the Cult was the stark, well-duh realization (through my own study assisted by the meticulous and compelling research of Jerald and Sandra Tanner) that Joseph Smith had blatantly ripped off the Mormon garment idea, the Mormon garment markings and the LDS garment-centric temple rituals from Freemasonry.

The evidentiary trail leading to pre-Mormon Masonry upon which Smith relied for his deceptive religious inventions made his thievery undeniably clear to me. His dependency on Masonic lore, ritual, dress and belief was so firmly traceable and observably obvious that I determined--then and there--to ditch the Mormon underwear. It became unmistakably, empirically, historically and common-sensically clear to me that a belief so fundamentally central to Mormon doctrine--namely, the supposed divinely-revealed Mormon temple ceremony and its allegedly God-designed garments--was nothing but a cheap, unimaginative rip-off by Smith of Masonic beliefs and practices of his day. It certainly was no coincidence that Smith produced his temple-ritual "revelation" after having become a 33-degree Mason.

This clumsy theft on Smith's part showed me, in demonstrably convincing terms, that he was a liar, a fraud and a charlatan. Realizing that, off came the garments and away went any vestige of faith or belief in Mormonism that I may have still possessed.

For me, it was a no-brainer that demanded both a logical and moral response. The overwhelming evidence was there for me to see and to collaborate--so I acted on what I saw and examined.

End of story (although other unfolding chapters in my steady realization that Mormonism was, at its core, sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-intellectual, historically dishonest and impulsively authoritarian certainly assisted in my exit from its small-minded, ethically-vapid concentration camp of blind and intolerant obedience to the hucksters at the top who continue to run their deeply disingenuous operation at the expense of sincere but cowed and gullible believers).


zarahemlatowndrunk
Re: David O. McKay's Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .
Let's just assume the whole story is true, exactly as told by the secretary...

Wouldn't the truly inspired individuals be the ones who looked at the "balcony" and though going to stand on it was a bad idea to begin with?


beyondashadow
Volcano . . . schmallcano !
That's nothing'!

When I was in the SL temple on my first day or two as a new missionary in 1969, I heard the story about when David O. McKay walked past an artist who was painting a picture of Jesus somewhere inside the temple ... maybe it was a stairway wall ... not important. Anyway, the artist was painting Jesus with brown eyes, and President McKay approached the artist and softly whispered, "His eyes are blue."

Has anyone else heard this story?

(Almost makes me cry all over again ... to hear a story that made me believe that my prophet actually hangs out personally with Jesus. Of course, yes, I believed the story at the time.)

(Anyone know if blue eyes are unusual for genuine Jewish messiahs?)


Forestpal not logged in
Re: David O. McKay's Faith-Promoting Volcano Tale Blows Up in His Face . . .
My close relative was a GA, who knew David O. McKay intimately. They made it very clear to us kids that none of the Apostles or anyone else had seen Jesus, inside or outside the temple, since Joseph Smith. My relative used to get upset when members would ask him, "What is it like to walk and talk with Christ?" McKay would never have alluded to have seen Jesus, or have claimed to know the color of his eyes. What a stupid story.


enoughenoch19
Re: It was after I went to the temple . . .
Steve, Thanks for your response. You have such a grasp on your reasons for leaving and you are very good with expressing them. I believe you should write a book especially for people leaving TSCC or thinking about doing so like the people here on RfM.
You have the ability to put your point across very well. You don't mince words but you use the correct words in the right context to really make people pay attention.
If you haven't already written a book, you should. If you have written one, (forgive my ignorance) and let me know what it is called so I can get it. Thanks for being a rock on this board. We can always count on you for the truth. Keep on doing so.
I imagine you took some real hard knocks right in the face from your family. That must have been a nightmare. You came through well. Do you speak with family now?

"Recovery from Mormonism - www.exmormon.org"