This week, I have been listening to Julie Rowe’s first two interviews on the Mills Crenshaw radio show, so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Julie Rowe, for those of you don’t know her, is a Mormon woman from Tucson who had a near-death experience in 2004. As part of that experience, she says she met a guardian angel, John, who let her read from the Book of Life, leading to a series of visions about the Earth’s past, present, and future. In other words, she claims to have seen the End of Days. It’s going to start soon. Specifically, it’s going to start on September 28. And this prophecy has been a boon for the good folks at Emergency Essentials, let me tell you, who are doing a brisk business of late.
I had never heard of Mills Crenshaw prior to listening to these interviews on Youtube. He’s apparently a Utah conservative radio talk show host of some renown. Listening to his interview with Rowe, the word I would use to describe him is ‘credulous.’ (Also ‘unhurried’; the two interviews each lasted two hours, and there are four more hours worth on Youtube). He accepts her visions uncritically. And why wouldn’t he? Everything she says fits with a certain conservative Mormon world-view.
Rowe has gotten a lot of notoriety because of her Last Days prophecies, but listening to her radio interviews, those prophesies are in fact a very small part of her message. Mostly, she talks about seeing, well, the characters and narratives of the Bible and Book of Mormon. She describes encounters with Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses. She sees the construction of the Ark and the Tower of Babel. While she’s at it, she name-drops Columbus and George Washington. Every one of these personages is described with a kind of fan-girl enthusiasm. Adam is ‘so great.’ It’s like that for everyone; they’re all great men, all powerful leaders. We never hear a physical description of anyone, until she gushes about Jesus’ beautiful blue eyes. A middle-eastern semitic Jew with blue eyes? But she’s insistent on the point, and Mills Crenshaw never once expresses the tiniest skepticism.
Finally, though, we do get to our day, now, and that’s where her message moves from LDS-cultural conservative to full-on wingnut. She insists that the 2008 election was stolen. So was 2012. We have a wicked and designing man, intent on destroying America, in the White House. And it’s likely the next election will bring someone even more evil. And that’s where we’re going to see foreign troops invading America unopposed. And we’ll all have to gather. To Missouri, presumably, though Independence and Jackson County are already pretty heavily populated.
The heavens will let loose and the powers of darkness will rage. There will be natural disasters on a massive scale unlike anything the earth has experienced before.
Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, plagues, droughts, famines, pestilence and all manner of disasters will be upon the earth in such a deep and broadened scale that mankind cannot even imagine what it will be like.The world as we know it will cease to exist.
She describes international catastrophes as well. She has seen a nuclear weapon launched from Syria. And Iran. And the destruction of the Dome of the Rock. No wonder folks are stocking up on water, buying foodstuffs, survival gear, gold, and of course, guns.
Look, my tone’s probably given away my lack of enthusiasm for Julie Rowe and her message. One difficulty is that she doesn’t really talk about any of these catastrophes in any detail. Her narrative is interrupted by this frequent coyness: ‘I’ve seen that, but I’ve been instructed not to tell people much detail.’ I couldn’t help but notice that the details she’s unable to provide tend to coincide with testable facts. To give just one example, she insists that President Obama rigged the election of 2008. Well, all right, how exactly did he rig it? What specifically was done? Her inevitable reply ‘I do know that. I’ve seen it in a vision. But I’ve been forbidden to share it.’
Here’s the thing. If, say, Mills Crenshaw were to say ‘I think Barack Obama stole the election in 2008,’ well fine. We could ask what his evidence is, we could research that evidence, we could fact-check his assertions. But that’s not possible with Julie Rowe, of course, because it’s not her idea, not her opinion, not a conclusion she reasoned her way to; it came to her in a vision. This is important because, the notion that a national election was stolen recently is exactly the kind of opinion that we experienced political science types tend to call ‘wackadoodle.’
There simply aren’t any facts to support that particular conclusion. So, you know, we basically know she’s wrong on that one. As for all the rest of it, we do have one testable hypothesis. She claims that seriously bad things are going to happen in the world beginning September 28. That’s eleven days from now. Of course, it’s always possible that, coincidentally, a tsunami or something might hit in a week and a half. Boy, won’t skeptics like me look stupid then!
But I’ll chance it.
Sadly, there really are only two possible ways of understanding Julie Rowe, both of them unkind and uncharitable. She might be a charlatan, a fraud. Or she might be sincerely deluded. She might just be nuts. On that point, we have no real basis for judgment; we don’t have enough evidence to support either theory.
I suppose it’s also possible that she’s right. If so, we’ll find out soon enough.