Encountering Snuffer and ‘The Second Comforter’

The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the VeilThe Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil by Denver Carlos Snuffer Jr.

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ve been in the room with people who could say with a straight face they have seen the resurrected Jesus Christ. The age of visions, or at least of people claiming them, never ended. It continues, often underground or at a grass roots level. Within Mormonism, a book of some note on this subject is Denver Snuffer’s The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil.

Though Mr. Snuffer has since been excommunicated, he wrote this book while still a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In terms of its agenda, The Second Comforter is as much a call for people to join the restored Church as it is an instruction manual for obtaining a visitation from Jesus Christ. Still, the book’s main selling point is this: Snuffer lays out a path which leads from mere hope in God to literally embracing Him and feeling the nail prints in His resurrected body.

In public addresses, Snuffer often showers listeners with all sorts of historical/theological minutia of a scholarly nature. In this book, Snuffer keeps things fairly user-friendly, focusing on The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ and temple worship as essentials. One of the things The Book of Mormon does exceedingly well is depict visions and visitations from the Lord. On the downside, both The Book of Mormon and Snuffer’s book engage in relentless restatement of a fairly straightforward gospel. Perhaps this belaboring approach is a byproduct of Snuffer’s training as a lawyer.

In any case, it’s hard to imagine someone missing the point of this book. Also important, Snuffer seems to genuinely believe in this vision-seeking process. Though I have my misgivings about the man and his message, I can state the following from extensive personal experience. In The Second Comforter, Snuffer only teaches and promises what has been routinely taught and promised in mainstream Mormon Sunday Schools, priesthood meetings, and exclusive missionary gatherings for decades.

This was not an enjoyable read for me; let’s just say the dutiful prose doesn’t flow. But it was a worthwhile read. Though The Second Comforter wants for some judicious editing, it makes its point. Believers of The Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s visions have a clear call to seek out personal encounters with the divine. And for non-Mormons wanting to understand how a quirky 19th Century New England movement became a global religion, Denver speaks directly to why. Devout Mormons claim to have the ear of the Almighty. Denver Snuffer remains a prominent thought leader within Mormonism. In this foundational book, he describes the richest experience Mormonism claims to offer mortals: receiving a personal visitation from Jesus Christ.

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Foundation and Closed Priesthood

foundation-asimov-bible

There are books that itch inside your mind and say, “It’s time! Read me again.” For me Isaac Asimov’s Foundation is one of them. So I recently gave it a second read. I’m in awe of its depth of thought and its continued, if not increased, relevance today. I highly recommend this book.

I do not suggest Foundation as a light and fun read. You must show up. You must give it your full attention. You will be rewarded.

Perhaps the ingredient in Foundation which I find most interesting is the notion of science as a closed priesthood. Quite literally, scientists as a group who derive power and authority from their vocation, but who remain highly exclusive, mysterious, and suspect to non-scientists. Their work takes on the air of magic–attractive to some and fearful to others–by virtue of being well-guarded, specialized, and difficult for laymen to comprehend.

In his book Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science, Carl Sagan has these cautionary words to say about closed priesthood:

“The best way to avoid abuses is for the populace in general to be scientifically literate, to understand the implications of such investigations. In exchange for freedom of inquiry, scientists are obliged to explain their work. If science is considered a closed priesthood, too difficult and arcane for the average person to understand, the dangers of abuse are greater. But if science is a topic of general interest and concern – if both its delights and its social consequences are discussed regularly and competently in the schools, the press, and at the dinner table – we have greatly improved our prospects for learning how the world really is and for improving both it and us.”

I’ll leave you to think about this issue. But I suggest the topic is both fascinating and critically deserving of our consideration. One of the best ways to consider science as a closed priesthood, for good and ill, is to read Asimov’s masterwork.

To read an earlier review I wrote of Foundation, visit Goodreads.