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November 6, 2020 11:58 am
.1 examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective viewpoint when Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism research ministry since 1979 Mormonism research ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism. What is the story behind the so-called miracle of the seagulls welcome to this edition of viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry and with me today is Eric Johnson. My colleague at MRM in 1913 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints erected a monument that is come to be known as the Siegel monument on Temple Square. There is a plaque that is on this monument that attributes a miracle to some seagulls that came and devoured a number of crickets that many Latter Day Saints at the time felt was going to destroy their crops to the point where they may even starve to death.
What does that plaque say on that monument.
Eric, the Mormon pioneers planted crops in the spring of 1848 after suffering great hunger during their first winter in the Salt Lake Valley as a crops ripened hordes of devouring crickets descended upon them from the foothills east of the valley, the saints fought with them with clubs, fire and water as a despaired of saving the next winners food their prayers for deliverance from almost sure starvation were answered when thousands of seagulls came to feed on the crickets. The Siegel monument commemorates this modern day miracle. The Siegel is now the Utah state bird, a similar commemoration is given in the book the story of the Latter Day Saints. This is written by two Mormon historians James B. Allen and Glenn M.
Leonard and on page 250.
It has a picture of a portion of that monument showing a couple one of them. The man kneeling down and seagulls above them flying above them.
It says is a caption in 1848 seagulls saved enough crops from invading hordes of crickets that the Saints were able to survive the winter.
The saints soon began to see this as a sign of divine intervention in their behalf. In the Siegel story has been immortalized in music, drama, sculpture and painting as the great Mormon miracle, though I meant to say that most Latter Day Saints. If you were to ask them about this story would be able to tell you exactly what were going to be talking about here, and they probably would not refrain from referring to it as a modern-day miracle.
Would you agree exactly. I mean it's it's that part I think of Mormon folklore you think about the three neophytes in all the stories that people have of that other stories like this that have grown over time and I think were going to find out that there really wasn't a miracle when it comes to the to the Siegel story will were going to be looking at the book saints.
No un-hollowed hand.
This is the second volume that was produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the year 2020.
And like the first addition as we've mentioned before, when we did our review of the first edition. It's not a history book, as I like a history book. It's more of a narrative style. It's not very in depth.
It doesn't give a lot of documentation it does have endnotes but it talks about this story of the crickets on page 100. What is it say at the bottom of page 100 are on May 27, 1848. However, swarms of wingless crickets descended on the valley from the mountains and swept across the Young's yard at an alarming speed. The crickets were large and black with armor like shells and long antenna they consume the Young's being patch and peas in a matter of minutes. Harriet and Lorenzo tried to beat the crickets back with handfuls of brush, but there were too many that we should make it a point here to clarify that as you heard us talking about Harriet and Lorenzo Young. This is not speaking of Brigham Young, Harriet and Lorenzo young but notice these crickets come down from the mountains and start devouring the crops of this family. It goes on page 101 to say that the insects soon spread far and wide, feeding ravenously on the saints crops, leaving dry stocks were corn or wheat used to be the things did everything they could think of to stop the crickets.
They smash them. They burn them. They tried hitting pots and pans together, hoping the noise would drive them away. They dug deep trenches and try to drown them or block their paths. They prayed for help. Nothing seemed to work. It goes on to say is the destruction continued Pres. John Smith assessed the damage the frost and crickets had wiped out whole fields of crops and now more saints were thinking seriously about leaving the valley when it mentions the frost on page 100.
It talks specifically about this frost that started in March and continued on into May.
So there was a late for Russell between the frost in these invading crickets. You can see why the success of the saints in the Salt Lake Valley looked a bit tenuous at this time to say, even as it does here on page 101 that there were many saints who were seriously thinking about leaving the valley that they are really just arrived in just a year before they goes on and says one of his counselors urged him to write to bring them immediately. Tell him not to bring the people here, the counselor said.
For if he does, they will all starve to death. John was silent for a few moments, deep in thought.
The Lord, let us here. He said at last, and he has not led us here to start now. The story stops there. And then there's another story intersected and then it continues again on page 103 it says in early June. Crickets were still devouring crops in the Salt Lake Valley many saints fasted and prayed for deliverance, but others were beginning to wonder if they should quit their work load up their wagons and abandon the settlement quote I have stopped building my mill. One man informed John Smith. There will be no grain to grind." We're not going to be broken up. John said firmly. Go ahead with your mill and if you do so you shall be blessed, and it shall be an endless source of joy and profit to you.
It goes on page 104 say that the saints continued to talk about moving to California so obviously Eric. This was a pretty serious devastation that they are talking about moving on from the Salt Lake Valley going on into California.
Probably around the San Francisco Bay area as it mentions but then it says one Sabbath day, Charles. Speaking of Charles Rich called the saints together for meeting the skies overhead were clear and blue get a solemn mood hung over the crowd in nearby fields. The crickets clung tenaciously to stocks of wheat and corn eating away the crops. Charles climbed atop an open wagon and raised his voice quote.
We do not want you to part with your wagons and teams. He said for. We might need them." It continues and says, as Charles spoke, the crowd heard a shrill noise coming from the sky.
Looking up, they saw a small flock of seagulls from the great Salt Lake flying over the valley. A few minutes later a larger flock swooped down and lighted on the saints fields and gardens. At first the birds appear to be consuming the rest of the crops finishing the devastation begun by the frost and crickets, but as a saints look more closely.
They saw that the goals were feasting on the crickets disgorging what they could not digest and then returning to eat some more quote the Siegel's have come in large flocks from the lake and sweep the crickets as they go." John Smith reported to Brigham on June 9.
It seems the hand of the Lord is in our favor. There were more crickets in the Siegel's could eat but the birds The insects under control.
The saints all the Siegel's as an angel sent from God, and they thank the Lord for answering their prayers in time to save their damage fields and replant their crops but here's where I think we're allowed to raise the question. Is this really a modern-day miracle because in the It says the crickets are still quite numerous and busy eating. I have to remember this started on May 27, 1848. On June 9.
John Smith reports to Brigham Young about these crickets showing up. So we have a good week, possibly even longer, almost 2 weeks since this is started and then it says the crickets are still quite numerous and busy eating. John observed two weeks later that's two weeks after June 9 between the goals, our efforts in the growth of our crops, we shall raise much grain in spite of them. The harvest would not be as large as they had hoped, but no one in the Valley would starve.
And then there's this sentence Eric and the company. John had sent to California in November had returned with almost 200 head of cattle, various fruits and seed grains so it sounds to me that between what was left over, and what had arrived when this company came with 200 head of cattle, various fruits and some seed grains. The chance of the saints.
Starving was probably much slimmer. I would say than what most latter-day Saints would probably first imagine. Whenever you bring up this story of the miracle of the Siegel's.
In other words, it doesn't really sound like quite the miracle that many Mormons have led on to believe. First of all, if you were to say that seagulls didn't like crickets in the here they are eating crickets sound like a miracle, but the fact is, Siegel Z, crickets and the Siegel seem to be not too very far away over the Salt Lake.
Why would that seem like a huge miracle that the Siegel's would come over and start gorging themselves on these insects. It sounds like it would be quite a natural phenomenon.
One of the things that we noticed when we read the story in the second volume of saints is that the word miracle is never used that we do have this idea that the people were praying they thank the Lord for answering their prayers, but of the word miracle is not used. I find it to be interesting. I also find it interesting that we don't see a lot of mention of this miracle by the early pioneers in their journals. It seemed to be not that big of a deal at the time it becomes a bigger deal. Later on in.
Isn't that kind of how legends begin.
They start way after the fact and then details are added to the story that probably work details in the original account and I think that's what we have here.
So when you have people talking about this miracle of the Siegel's. I can understand why a latter-day St. would see this as important because to them it vindicates them in the fact that here. These people sacrifice to get to the Salt Lake Valley and yet God intervened to make sure that they survived. Not only that winter, but to survive to this very day so I can see how it can be very faith promoting to a modern latter-day St. have to ask yourself in light of what we read and especially as you brought out Eric use the word miracle when recounting this story in no un-hollowed hand, the new Morgan history book. Unlike in this history book that I cited that was an older history book by James Allen and Glenn M.
Leonard, the story of Latter Day Saints. There they use the word miracle on the plaque of the monument uses the word miracle. But it seems like in this book saints.
No un-hollowed hand. I think the scholars who put this book together probably saw this isn't quite the miracle. Most latter-day Saints think it is. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information is research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website www.mrm.org you can request a free newsletter is research. We hope you join us again as we look at another viewpoint is