“Final Report” by Mattathias Westwood

Final Report of the Foreordination Committee of the Grand Council of Heaven, presented by Gabriel, presiding committee chair, to the Executive Council of the Heavenly Parents

The following typewritten manuscript was discovered in the archives of the Heavenly City:

With the Savior and Adversary already selected, and our prior reports having recommended spirits for foreordination as prophets for all the dispensations prior to the personal ministry of the Redeemer, the purpose of this report is to suggest names to usher in the dispensation of the fullness of times in the last days of the earth. For convenience, all candidates suggested here are identified by the name by which they will be known throughout their mortal lives:

1. Mansur al-Hallaj
Mansur has distinguished himself here in the premortal existence for his total devotion to knowing the will of God, and doing it, no matter what opposition he may face or what doubts others express. Should Mansur be chosen to lead the Restoration, he will bring to the fore that absolute submission to divine will, in similitude of our Redeemer, and will help many in the last days experience unity with the divine even while in mortality, preparing them for greater joy at the day when the veil is removed and we all once again see eye to eye.

2. Hildegard of Bingen
While the Priesthood Committee has announced its preference for male prophets to open each dispensation, we still feel compelled to recommend Hildegard. Of all the spirits considered, she is most able to recognize divinity in material existence, and excels in attaining the glory of God through observation and study. The church, if restored by Hildegard, would excel in combining study and faith. Such a Restoration would glorify the Creation we are now undertaking.

3. Francesco d’Assissi
Francesco has demonstrated a profound humility and compassion, even in comparison to the other noble and great souls under consideration for this mighty burden. Should he be chosen, the Church he restores will certainly become renowned for its charity and good works. Of all those we list here, we believe that Francesco is the most likely to succeed in the task of implementing practical communal consecration. Our one concern is that his dislike of contention will make it difficult for Francesco to make the break with tradition that the Restoration will require of its initial prophet.

4. Nanak
Among spirits here, Nanak is known for his friendliness to all. He is also a natural mediator, who has resolved many disputes by seeing clearly the fundamental good driving differing parties, and helping them recognize their common goal. Should he be chosen, he will be able to separate truth and error without generating feuds or rancor among his disciples, and he will be particularly suited to drawing together the good from whatever traditions he encounters during his mortal journey. A Church led by Nanak will be both gentle to all and fierce in defense of the divine name and the oppressed people of the earth, in whom we are taught that name will be made manifest.

5. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin
As he will be born among the children of Lehi and Sariah after the arrival of the Gentile nations as a scourge among them, Juan Diego, more than any other on this list, will be among those poor and destitute who suffer under the depredations of the proud. Like Francesco, he has already developed a humility far beyond that which is possessed by most spirits, and he is especially sensitive to the guidance of Our Mother. Any Church led by him will be deeply shaped by her Presence, which we know will be essential in the last days. Also, as the restoration of Lehi’s seed to a memory of the covenant is a crucial purpose of this final dispensation, who better to lead that work than one of their own number?

6. Israel ben Eliezer
Israel shares more than a passing resemblance of character to the first noble and great soul who will be given that name. While Jacob’s gift will be to recognize heaven’s gates in the world around him, Israel Ben Eliezer will be able to recognize heaven’s gate in every human soul. Even now, in the presence of our parents, many souls despair of the possibility of ever attaining the Glory which our Father has set before us, because of the great chasm between our own appearance and Theirs, but Israel is able to see the divine spark within himself and each spirit he encounters, and has encouraged many to hope by helping them recognize those seeds within them.

7. Tenskwatawa
Like Juan Diego, Tenskwatawa will be born among the seed of Lehi and Sariah during the days of their subjugation to the Gentiles. But the nature of a Restoration brought about by him would differ dramatically from the one that could be led by Juan Diego, because of his deep devotion to personal purification. Even now, he is given to deep introspection and recognition of his own faults, and he would be a profound influence in leading his disciples to seek redemption and to purge their lives of all the influences of their great Adversary.

8. Joseph Smith, Jr.
Of all those listed here, he is the furthest from the refinement of those sacred virtues which we must all develop to become like our Parents. He is still quick to anger, and given to jesting and playfulness that many not befit this heavy calling. Yet we still must recommend him, for Joseph has within himself a profound restlessness which may be the most important virtue for the completion of this task. While others we have listed may eventually find themselves satisfied with the amount of truth they are able to share and the community they are able to establish, we are confident that Joseph will never rest. He will continue to seek, to test, to dig, until the end of the time he is given. Should others imitate this restlessness, the Restoration will surely achieve its purpose.

The following handwritten note was found at the bottom of this document:
Looks good. Try them all.

“Airplanes that Crashed: A Book of Mormon Coloring Book” by Jared Forsyth

While we did the best we could to recreate this finalist on our webpage, we lost some layout choices. We recommend downloading the original pdf for optimal viewing–or to print off and color!  

1. 

Lehi learned from God that the plane he was in was going to crash if they didn’t change the way they were flying, but the other passengers tried to kill him.
(1 Nephi 1:13-20) 

Who else was on the plane? 

So Lehi and his family took their parachutes and jumped out.
(1 Nephi 2:2-4)

2. 

 

King Noah took over from his father Zeniff, and was not a good pilot. He decided that making the cockpit comfortable was more important than keeping the plane from crashing.
(Mosiah 11:2-14) 

Who got to sit in the comfy seats?

Abinadi tried to warn the people that the plane was going to crash, but they threw him out of the plane.
(Mosiah 12:2-9)

3. 

The Jaredite pilots and copilots fought with each other a lot, and so their plane crashed.
(Ether 7-10)

Where did they start?
Who were the pilots?

After the crash, some explorers from Zeniff & Co. found the metal “black box” that recorded the Jaredites’ flight path and the reason they crashed.
(Mosiah 8:7-9)

4. 

Because Noah was such a bad pilot, Mosiah decided they should have a new airplane with one head pilot and many lower pilots that could override the pilot if the plane was going to crash. It flew for a while, but eventually it also crashed.
(Mosiah 29:17-25)

 

How did people decide where the plane went?
What’s in the cargo bay?

Then Jesus came.

5. 

When Jesus came, he set up Zion Air, which operated without money and without price. Everyone shared what they had, and everyone had enough. There was no first class section.
(4 Nephi 1:17)

After a while, people wanted money and prices again. They wanted a first class section. They didn’t want to share. They crashed the plane.
(4 Nephi 1:24-26)

6.

What airplane are you riding in? 

Where is it going? 

Who gets to be the pilot? 

Does everyone have snacks and meals?

“Three Generations of Sonder” by Chanel Earl

Jane – 1959

We rented a small basement apartment next to the University, so John could come home for lunch if he wanted to. But he often didn’t, which left us alone for ten, twelve, even sixteen hours on some days. And although we hadn’t planned on having another child while he was in school—I didn’t think I could handle a third—Linda was born the year after we moved in, small and screaming.

She was louder than our other children, but more delicate, and when I first saw her, I wondered if she had sensed that she was coming to a mother who felt as small and helpless as she looked. Life was a busy mess with three small children at home. Every day I woke up to cries from the next room. Then I fed, clothed, carried, played with, taught, cleaned, entertained, conversed with, and kept alive three small children until bedtime—when I climbed into a hole underneath my quilts and listened to John snore, waiting for morning.

Time passed. When Linda was over a year old my melancholy began to lift. My husband kept going to school, my kids kept crying and making messes, but my soul started to open up to moments of joy. The kids splashing in the bathtub or bringing me bouquets of dandelions. Classical music on the radio. Chocolate. Rain. Creating the perfect Baked Alaska.

And then—in what I expected to be a completely ordinary moment—shortly before her second birthday, during a weekday lunch hour, Linda grabbed my face between her two little hands and pulled it close to hers. She had strawberry jam on her fingers, and I wanted to pull away, but I could tell she had something important to say. She was born of me, but was more than just an extension of her mother. She was a real person, with desires and opinions of her own.

“Jam!” she screamed excitedly. Then she let go, and I wiped my smiling face, while she took a bite of her sandwich.

Linda – 1968

I don’t understand exactly why it hit me at that time. I remember thinking that my life, and the world around me were both falling apart. My parents had decided to get divorced, my uncle had just returned—injured—from Vietnam, my older siblings were pushing forcefully against every boundary, trying to find out what they could get away with.

And I—nine years old—felt like I was beginning to vanish, like I was evaporating into an atmosphere of violence and contention, slowly floating away, alone.

Then, although I neither expected nor sought to be, I was enlightened. I remember the very moment.

It was during primary. I was sitting next to the window, looking out at the parking lot, watching the wind and rain come down in sheets. It swirled around in the gutters and disappeared into large grates near the sidewalk. I was feeling sorry for myself, almost crying, and I noticed the other children laughing all around me. The teacher was telling a story.

I turned back to the window. Outside, a woman got out of her car and headed into the building. She didn’t have a jacket, just a dress that flipped around her legs with the wind. She raised her hands to protect her face and ran to the building.

I was warm and dry. And then I did start crying, to myself, as I turned back to class to listen.

Jessica – 1996

I was fifteen. Mom was driving to the grocery store. I was sitting in the passenger seat listening to “Piano Man” on the radio for the first time.

“I thought this was a happy song,” I said. “It’s called ‘Piano Man.’ I thought it was about, like, a happy man that played the piano for kids or something.”

She didn’t look at me because her eyes were on the road, but she responded by singing along with the music.

I always liked mom’s voice, even though I would have been so embarrassed if she sang like that in front of my friends. I probably should like her voice though, she was the person who sang me to sleep at night when I was a baby, not that I had any memory of it. Today she sang louder than usual, her alto fit right in with the voice on the radio, and it seemed like she had been waiting for a chance to sing this song for years. She knew it really well, and I wondered why I had never heard it before.

“He’s happy.” She said during a harmonica solo, “and he’s playing the piano for people, even if they’re not kids.”

I rolled my eyes at her, thinking she probably just liked the song because it was as old as she was. “Yeah, but they’re all sad. This song is depressing.”

I turned it down as we hit the corner of University and Fourth, next to the Walmart. Mom tapped the steering wheel as the next song came on, whatever it was. I just looked out the window at the cars—then at the people in the cars. It seemed like every car had one person in it. They were all waiting at the light, looking bored. Some of them played with their hands. One lady looked at herself in the mirror and picked at her teeth. A teenage boy was either singing or monologuing. A college student, probably only a few years older than me, crouched low over the steering wheel. She looked tired, and I wondered what kind of day she was going through.

“I’m not the center of the universe.” I thought. “All of these people have places to go and things to do and none of them have anything to do with me.”

“Family Tree” by Merrijane Rice

… I will liken thee,
O house of Israel,
like unto a tame olive tree …
Jacob 5:3

I don’t remember
how we started,
who was grafted into whom,

who first strengthened roots
and tamed bitter thoughts
to tenderness.

But I believe the Master
planted us together,
left us alone a while

not to make us desperate,
but to give time for turning
toward each other

to nourish away weakness
before we wither.
He waits at the gate,

hand poised
midway between grief
and hope.

“Orpheus Sings to Mary and Martha” by Emily Harris Adams

Lazarus is sealed up in the tomb, sleeping in the viper’s den.
And I know that you, like me, will want your God to set him free.
Lazarus is slipping down the path where I lost Eurydice again.

My Eurydice was sweet, with eyes innocent and open.
I thought to buy her freedom: offering my song and love, boundless as the sea.
Lazarus is sealed up in the tomb, sleeping in the viper’s den.

The path between life and death is rife with both Gods and men.
As traveler of that path, let me warn you: only Gods go and return safely.
Lazarus is slipping down the path where I lost Eurydice again.

Of all you have to offer, perfection is the only bid you can make and win.
And as good as you are, perfection is beyond your means to give or be.
Lazarus is sealed up in the tomb, sleeping in the viper’s den.

At the command of anyone less than a God, no tomb will open.
So, ask your God, not for a bargain, as I did with Hades and Persephone.
Lazarus is slipping down the path where I lost Eurydice again.

Ask your God to be the price, the ransom, the trade for men.
And ask for more than Lazarus. Ask for Eurydice. Ask for me.
Lazarus is sealed up in the tomb, sleeping in the viper’s den.
Lazarus is slipping down the path where I lost my Eurydice again.

“Perfection Is a Fullness” by Jeanine Bee

In the spring of 2020, all the temples were closed.

A few days later, my grandma showed up in my living room. Which wouldn’t have been so concerning had she not died twenty years ago.

At first I thought it was just me. An effect of extended isolation on my mental well-being, perhaps. But then some of my neighbors took to social media.

Does anyone have any tips for getting rid of ghosts??
You have one too?
3 at our house. They’ve taken over the basement!
Maybe garlic?
That’s vampires.
Try sprinkling peppermint oil around your house and putting a dab of clove oil behind your ears.

It soon appeared that every home in the neighborhood had at least one visiting relation. And as the days stretched on, we learned that the phenomenon was not limited to our suburb. A homeowner in Texas accidentally shot a hole through his back door when he wandered into his kitchen and found the specter of Davy Crockett rummaging through his junk drawer. And one couple in France was abruptly awakened on a Sunday morning to find Benjamin Franklin snuggled in between them like a child who’d had a nightmare.

Our new houseguests couldn’t communicate audibly, so we were left to conjecture as to their sudden arrival. The church released a statement about how, since the temples were closed, perhaps these spirits were seeking refuge in the home, another holy place. They quoted scripture—“neither can we without our dead be made perfect”—and they said that we’d been focusing on baptizing the dead, but now it was time to learn from our ancestors. Personally, I wasn’t sure what my grandma could teach me without any kind of discourse. It seemed like she just wanted to watch me go about my day, though I felt a little self-conscious, having her eyes on me all the time. I tried asking her questions, but she didn’t attempt to answer. Larissa Palmer down the street found an old Ouija board and thought that it might be a promising way to communicate with the spirits. They didn’t seem interested, though. Her own ghost rolled his eyes when she pulled out the board, finally indicating the letters that spelled out the phrase, “Put that nonsense away and find me a damn cigar.”

But it didn’t actually matter why they were here. We couldn’t get rid of them, so we adapted. A new trend appeared on social media called “ghosties,” where people would post selfies with their ghosts. Unfortunately, the ghosts didn’t appear on camera, so most of the pictures just looked like a normal selfie of you, standing in your empty bedroom, pointing at nothing.

Some people started attaching social status to the quality of their haunting. After digging through their family tree, the Millers proudly announced that the monk who regularly interrupted their family scripture study with wild gesticulating was none other than Martin Luther. And Sister Jordan, who had always faithfully done her family history work, claimed to know immediately that the woman who sat stoically in her late husband’s easy chair was Harriet Tubman. Both women seemed pleased with the company.

Of course, most of us just kept living our lives. Rebecca Cho told me that her great-aunt Deborah had taken to following her around the house, shaking her head disapprovingly as she watched Rebecca complete housework. It was a little obnoxious, sure. But Aunt Deborah also taught Rebecca some great recipes, standing over her shoulder and pointing at the spice cabinet as Rebecca cooked.

As for me, my grandma’s arrival didn’t really change my day-to-day. For the most part, she didn’t demand any attention. She often sat in the corner of the room, an adoring smile on her face as she watched my kids play together, or read over my shoulder as I worked on a writing project. I was nine when she had died, and most of my memories of her were tainted by cancer. I didn’t remember her looking so fresh, with plump cheeks that pinked up when she smiled. Sometimes she would stand by the bookcase and indicate to a book she wanted me to open, and in a quiet moment we would sit on the bed together and flip through a Romantic poetry anthology or a collection of fairy tales. I hadn’t known how much she loved reading. And one day I found her sitting at the piano, her eyes closed, her fingers poised, melting down into the keys as she tried to play a song. I sat on the bench next to her, and she looked excited, pointing to one specific book of Debussy songs. I flipped through the pages until she motioned for me to stop at an Arabesque. The book fell open easily, the spine worn on what was one of my own favorite songs to play. And as I sat at the piano, my fingers strong and willowy, my grandma closed her eyes and placed her wispy hands over mine, and together we swayed as the notes filled every empty place.

“Resurrection by Easter 2020” by Selina Forsyth

Our god has slept,
though somewhat fitfully,
for a few days. Maybe weeks.
How we long for the promised return,
preferably stronger than before.

But resurrections, we have learned, require a sacrifice.
This time it is not heart nor spirit our god demands
(we have already given these)
but lungs –
perhaps a million,
perhaps two.
The lungs of the aged, the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned –
all probably strangers –
and those who dare to care for them.

Though our god cannot offer itself for us,
as we have heard some Gods do,
it wins our devotion with this exalted vision:
a zion society
in which “every man prospers according to his genius,
and every man conquers according to his strength.”

But if the lungs that Mammon requires end up being yours or mine,
instead of our distant brother’s
(we were never his keeper anyway)
will we still say “all is well in zion, because zion prospereth”?

 

9th Annual Mormon Lit Blitz Finalists and Schedule

On Monday, we announced the long list of 24 semi-finalists in this year’s Mormon Lit Blitz.

A publication schedule of the 12 finalists is as follows:

Monday June 8: “Resurrection by Easter 2020” by Selina Forsyth
Tuesday June 9: “Perfection is a Fullness” by Jeanine Bee
Wednesday June 10: “Orpheus Sings to Mary and Martha” by Emily Harris Adams
Thursday June 11: “Family Tree” by Merrijane Rice
Friday June 12: “Three Generations of Sonder” by Chanel Earl
Saturday June 13: “Airplanes that Crashed: A Book of Mormon Coloring Book” by Jared Forsyth

Monday June 15: “Final Report” by Mattathias Westwood
Tuesday June 16: “Portal Friends” by Annaliese Lemmon
Wednesday June 17: “Part Heaven” by Madison Beckstrand
Thursday June 18: “O Nosso Cão Stromberg” by César Augusto Medina Fortes
Friday June 19: “In the Locker Room at the Temple” by Darlene Young
Saturday June 20: “Brother and Sister” by Scott Hales

We hope you’ll join us on this website to read this year’s finalists and vote on your favorites! To keep up with the Lit Blitz and other Mormon Lit Lab projects, you can also follow our Facebook page or sign up for our email list.

9th Annual Mormon Lit Blitz Long List

It’s been a busy spring for us. We’re currently working toward the release of a print and electronic anthology featuring the finalists from the first five years of the Mormon Lit Blitz. We partnered with the Confradia de Letras Mormonas to sponsor a Spanish-language Mormon literature contest. And, of course, from June 8-June 20th, we’ll publish 12 finalists in the 2020 Mormon Lit Blitz.

We are grateful for the members of the Lit Blitz community who have been consistently submitting their pieces since the first contest in 2012, and we welcome all of the new voices who submitted for the first time this year.

Every year after receiving submissions, we review every entry blindly (without author names) and rank them based on literary merit, how the piece will interact with our audience, and originality and/or experimentation. Getting down to 12 finalists is really difficult. As we thoughtfully select pieces that add to the vision of the Mormon Lit Blitz, we traditionally publish a long list of 24 or so pieces that stood out to us before whittling the list down to the 12 finalists.

This year’s long list (alphabetized by author’s last name) includes a wide range of pieces, including poetry and flash fiction, our first-ever coloring book, and even a short play:

“Crematory Services” Emily Harris Adams
“Orpheus Sings to Mary and Martha” Emily Harris Adams
“I’ve never had the pleasure” Madison Beckstrand
“Part Heaven” Madison Beckstrand
“Perfection is a Fullness” Jeanine Bee
“The Dance” Kathy Cowley
“Three Generations of Sonder” Chanel Earl
“Airplanes that Crashed: A Book of Mormon Coloring Book” Jared Forsyth
“Earthquake” Selina Forsyth
“Resurrection by Easter 2020” Selina Forsyth
“O Nosso Cao Stromberg” Cesar Fortes
“Brother and Sister” Scott Hales
“Classifieds: Used Car, High Mileage” Marianne Hales Harding
“Lucky Wounds” Eric Jepson
“Portal Friends” Annaliese Lemmon
“Drowning in the Great Salt Lake” Kristin Perkins
“Perspective” Katherine Gee Perrone
“Author and Finisher” Merrijane Rice
“Family Tree” Merrijane Rice
“Give Me Alice Springs” Jeanna Mason Stay
“Push” Jeanna Mason Stay
“Final Report” Mattathias Westwood
“Gethsemane” Darlene Young
“In the Locker Room at the Temple” Darlene Young

Congratulations to all the semi-finalists! We’ll announce the finalists here on Friday, May 29. To keep up with the Lit Blitz and other Mormon Lit Lab projects, you can also follow our Facebook page or sign up for our email list.

9th Annual Mormon Lit Blitz Call for Submissions

Since 2012, the annual Mormon Lit Blitz contest has encouraged people to use Latter-day Saint ideas, values, beliefs, or imagery in very short stories, essays, poems, or other forms of writing.

We are still accepting submissions for our Spanish-language contest, created in cooperation with the Confradia de Letres Mormonas. We are also now accepting submissions for our regular annual Mormon Lit Blitz contest.


Details: 

Submissions for the Ninth Annual Mormon Lit Blitz writing contest are due by the morning of 18 May 2020 to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com. Submitted works may be in any genre so long as they are under 1,000 words and designed to resonate in some way with an Latter-day Saint audience. Previously published material and simultaneous submissions are acceptable. Up to three submissions are allowed per author.

Finalists will be posted on the Mormon Artist magazine website (lit.mormonartist.net) in June. At the conclusion of the Lit Blitz, readers will vote for their favorite pieces, and a $100 prize will be given to the audience choice winner.

For updates about the 2020 contest, follow the Mormon Lit Blitz Facebook page.

To facilitate the judging process, we prefer to receive submissions as .doc, .docx, or .pdf attachments with the author’s name and contact information in the body of the email but not included in the attached text. Please email submissions and any questions you may have to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com.

By submitting, authors give us nonexclusive rights to publish their work electronically. As stated above, previously published work is fine if you still have the rights to the piece and if it meets the above contest requirements.

If you would like to support our efforts to create space for Mormon literary work, please consider making a monthly donation pledge on our Patreon account.