Fiction Friday: Novelines from the Book

mormoni

I stood in awesome wonder as I beheld who I recognized as the Prophet Joseph as a boy, on the Hill Cumorah. He was conversing with an angel. I started to walk towards them. The angel looked my way, but the boy did not seem to hear me.

As I drew nearer, I saw that the apparition was not an angel but a goat. It was beyond this scene that I saw a path through a grove of trees, leading down into a dark abyss, & I knew that was from whence this creature had come.

I rushed to the boy, trying to tell him that this being was not of God but a demon, wanting to touch him, but unable to, screaming for him to see what I saw.

Ronald Reagan watched us enter the foyer, his eyes with that twinkle of merriment, almost as if he were laughing at us. David had always said Reagan had been such a charismatic President because of his acting ability, though many of his University colleagues had debated whether the Old Gipper had ever had any acting ability.

When Sister Schafer bragged that her husband was a direct descendant of Brigham Young,” David muttered, “Who isn’t?”

Brother Schafer had re-emerged, holding 2 large stones. They were the clearest rocks I had ever seen & looked almost like breast implants, so it was funny to see him balancing one in each hand.

Brother Schafer placed his palms on the stones, & his whole body was filled with light. He was like Brigham Young, his son, like Joseph Smith–everything was going in reverse chronological order.

It was strange, for I could still hear all around me, all that was going on in that room, the 2 worlds colliding—one of sight, in the past & one of sound, in the present.

The spell was broken as Brother Schafer ended what had turned out to be a séance of sorts, conjuring up visions of visions. Had I gone back in time, only to be unable to change the history that had been made before my eyes?

The lights came on, and with a shiver, I realized no one had seen what I had seen, for I had been alone there in the forest. The very people who believed in Joseph Smith’s teachings had brought him back from the dead, only for God (or had it been the devil tricking me?), to tell me that he had been mistaken, to show me that after all, he had been just a boy with an imagination out of this world.

Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

For Sister Schafer,
her son was the second coming
of Joseph Smith,
the prophet who was,
according to them,
second in line to Christ.
For it was Tony who rediscovered
the Urim & Thummim–
the seer stones the Prophet Joseph used
to translate the golden plates–
those plates that were taken back by the angel Moroni,
lest any archaeologist might discover them.
They were the Interpreters,
glowing in the dark like cat eyes,
even as Tony was a cat-eye–
a tool with hands
& a tool with a voice,
whose genes were being replicated
inside the womb of a woman
whose conception was far from immaculate.

They prayed with bowed heads,
folded arms,
& closed eyes–
as if they were getting ready to be assassinated.
Such was how they presented themselves to the Mormon God–
a God who became more mysterious
the more I was told of Him.

There were “Amens” all around,
“Pay Lay Ale” was uttered thrice,
& a minty mist imbued the air.
It made my breath cold,
for a vapor pass my lips–
as if a spirit was escaping
My dying body.
The dampness–
like the verdant earth after the rain,
& the chanting in tongues–
not a foreign language,
but something guttural,
made my pulse quicken,
yet I felt paralyzed.
The floor beneath me shifted,
like plate tectonics.
My world wasn’t turned upside down
but shaken,
&, like a baby,
I was never the same again.

David held my hand,
& I was transported.
My heart was not troubled,
& neither was it afraid.
From 4 walls to a woodland,
the ceiling opened up & disappeared,
& sunlight streamed through the treetops;
birds were singing sweetly in the breeze.
I was not beside myself
but outside myself,
& it was a good place to be.

Family Home Evening–
the Monday installment of the Mormon life–
consisted of prayer,
to open the lines of communication with God,
for it was not His job to initiate contact;
of singing,
to praise this God who gave us his First, Last, & Only;
of a talk or lesson,
to further His global agenda
of building temples & spreading the Book of Mormon;
& to go over family business & family schedules.
It was all about “the family”–
like some kind of Anglo Mafia.

Fiction Friday: Novelines from the Book

The vapor from my breath in the chill air was like a ghost, haunting the space between us.

When I met Mrs. Hobson, I saw in her the kind of mother I had never known yet yearned for deep inside. She was ordinary in an extraordinary way.

When Elders Roberts & Johnson were transferred out, our friendship with the missionaries ceased. Dinner appointments were no more.

Sister Wiley was the elders’ new “missionary mom,” even as Mother became the mother to us she had never been.

It was a curious feeling, knowing we had interrupted something we could not have possibly understood, for the people involved were all wrong.

The elders called themselves “The Stripling Warriors,” we were “The People of Ammon.” “The Crusaders for Christ” was but one voice in the wilderness.

Sister Wiley was the celestial body which the elders of the Green Haven & Pensacola wards revolved around—a thin, aging Ursula Andress.

Sister Wiley was the Mormon Mrs. Robinson, & under her tutelage, confused elders had become confused no more.

I murmured that I was going to tell the Bishop, even though I knew he would never believe me, for I feared he loved her, too.

I knew it not then, but beyond the scope of my understanding, there were things going on that would undo me & the life I was beginning to know.

To Pleasantville…and Back

A few days ago, I watched “Pleasantville” for the first time.  My husband thought I’d like it because most of it was in black-and-white, and was set during the time period, which, according to a BuzzFeed quiz, I belong in.

Yes, I love “I Love Lucy” (I rewatch the series every few years and am a “liker” of the Facebook fan page, “A Daily Dose of ‘I Love Lucy’; when I was younger, I always said if I ever had fraternal twins, I would name them Lucy and Ricky), I wear red lipstick (Mary Kay’s Downtown Brown, which looks red on me), saddle oxfords were my favorite shoes as a little girl, and the only pair of pants I own is the one pair I have to wear for work (dresses and skirts always outside of work); even my wedding dress (or suit) looked more like something my grandmother would have worn to the Justice of the Peace, and my wedding hat and veil (reminiscent of Jackie O)

was an original from the sixties–an Etsy find.  My grandmother’s copper Jell-O molds (which I’ve spotted in old movies–always a thrill) adorn my kitchen wall; I even work at a retro-style diner.

When I got an unexpected check in the mail, the first words that came to mind weren’t “Hot damn!”, but rather, “Hot dog!”  Yes, I watch lots of old movies (95% of the movies I own pre-date 1965, though I no longer buy movies, now that I have a DV-R).  ABBA is the most recent band I like.

I am what you would call a square, with rounded, perhaps lacy edges.

When I was eighteen, I saw a commercial with a placid woman standing in front of a lighthouse, advertising a free Book of Mormon.  The commercial appealed to me, and so I ordered a book online.  I had a choice between having the book sent to me via USPS, or I could have two Mormon missionaries deliver it to me personally.  I chose the latter (pun intended).

I chose that option because I wanted to see what Mormons look like.  Of course, the first thing that came to mind was polygamy.  I think it was more curiosity than anything that prompted me to order the book, and what a life-changing whim that turned out to be.

I ended up becoming baptized, though when the missionaries mentioned tithing, and how it was required to be a member in good standing, I, remembering what my parents said about being beware of any church that asks for money, fell away.

Nine months or so passed, and I met a boy (at a political group at University) whose name was familiar from high school, though we’d never met.  He sort of dated/socialized me back into the Church, and by the time we broke up, I was fully converted.  I hadn’t fallen in love with him, but I’d fallen in love with the Church.  The Mormon lifestyle is like a throwback to the Fifties–I felt like I’d finally found the Church that I was made for.

Living in the South, I’d churched around quite a bit.  (Being a “Jesus Freak” was big in the eighties and early nineties, though I never referred to myself as one.  Just not my personality to wear my religion on my sleeve).  Pensacola, Florida, is like a Christianity smorgasbord–if you’re a Christian, there is a church for you somewhere here.  Never before had I felt so welcomed.  It felt good, and it felt right, and it was, for me, at that time.

The Church was a wonderful experience, till I went to Utah, and lost my testimony in Joseph Smith.  The father of the boy I had dated had admonished me not to go, and, to the best of my recollection, he’d told me if I went, they’d lose me, and they did.  I can never regret going, though, for because of my leaving, I am the person I am today.

I went through a period of bitterness towards the Church, and then I found my way back as not an ex-Mormon (which has an negative connotation), but as a former Mormon.  My Mormon friends, whom I’d avoided for so long, did not judge me, or stop being my friend (they are still some of my closest friends), even though they know I will never come back.

So, to segue back to my opening, I watched “Pleasantville”–a film which I believe some parts are open to interpretation (sort of like the Bible).  The townspeople who live a moral lifestyle are shown as being bland and colorless, while the ones who engage in sin become vibrant and full of life.  I don’t look back and see my life as a Mormon that way.  Being a member of the Church did not stifle my creativity, but enhance it.  Granted, some of the stuff I write now, they would not approve of, but my experience as a Mormon helped me tap into a spiritual wellspring (and bring me closer to God) that no other Church had ever been able to do.

The boy Reese Witherspoon has sex with sees a rose in color for the first time because he fell in love, but Reese doesn’t see color after their trysts because she doesn’t feel the same–she doesn’t see color until she reads a classic book for pleasure.  Tobey Maguire becomes colorized when he saves his mother from being molested by a group of young boys (after the man she is having an affair with, who supposedly loves her and she him, paints a nude picture of her on his malt/soda shoppe’s window).  Jeff Daniels doesn’t see color until he begins to pursue his passion of painting, and the woman who plays Tobey and Reese’s mother doesn’t turn colorful (or see in color) until she pleasures herself sexually/has an affair with Jeff Daniels (one of the points of the film I had a problem with–I’d have preferred her to become colorized when she and her husband had rediscovered each other on a deeper level).  Though Reese putting aside her whorish ways was a positive note to end on, Don Knotts (who will always live on as Barney Fife) using the Lord’s name in vain, was a sour one to begin with.

I know there is much, much more to the movie than what I’ve discussed, but those particular parts of the film I related to.

Though I don’t agree with everything the movie says (or tries to say), I do think it’s worth watching at least once.  A great film it isn’t (in my opinion), but it makes you think, which is more than most movies accomplish.

I do agree that a false nostalgia exists, even for those who never lived during that time.  (Just as one can romanticize the Amish lifestyle, though they would never want to live it.)  Though I love so many things about that era, I belong in this present time.  I love the technology and medical advances that exist now, and all the opportunities for women to have fulfilling careers.  I’m glad it isn’t just chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.  I love more things that exist now, but didn’t then, than I could possibly enumerate.

“Pleasantville” is a state of mind, not of place and time.  Tobey and Reese seeing “the man behind the curtain”, so to speak, ripped off the beautiful façade that television presented.  I love “Leave it to Beaver”, knowing that things weren’t exactly like that, but rather a representation of all the good things that were.