Once I brought up the issue of Mormon literature, asking for recommendations and opinions about fiction written by and for the LDS audience. (The thread rapidly turned into another throw-down about R-rated movies, but that’s neither here nor there.) I haven’t been able to do much fiction reading since then, but I still like to keep up on what’s available via the Deseret Book catalogue, as much as I gripe about it, if only to know what I’m missing. (Hey, Sam and Charly’s son is all grown up and serving a mission!) The latest catalogue made one thing pretty clear to me: Mormon authors have caught the Left Behind wave.
First, there is Chris Stewart’s The Great and Terrible, Vol. I: Prologue–The Brothers, “the first novel in a new series [which will] take us from the beginning of time to the final hours of the last days, revealing the greatest secret of all: the children of God can defeat the adversary, for we have fought him before.” I assume “The Brothers” of the title are Lucifer and Jesus? Or perhaps not. Slightly less ambitious in breadth, but no doubt able to go into more detail for all that, is Wendie L. Edward’s Millennial Glory, Vol. III: Apocalypse–The Unveiling (which follows up on Millennial Glory, Vols. I and II: Hidden Light and Wars of Light), an “exciting ride through Revelations and prophec[ies] of the last days, all brought to life through the colorful stories of the Rogers’ family.” Finally, braving eschewing the use of multiple colons, Jessica Draper and Richard D. Draper bring us Seventh Seal: “A trio of gigantic earthquakes devastates cities all over the world. Conflicts between Latter-day Saints and other major groups have reached their breaking points since the Mormons moved their headquarters from Salt Lake City to Independence, Missouri. Now one of the Twelve Apostles is missing. The signs are everywhere.” According to the catalogue, there is a sequel, Rising Storm (“Economies are failing and chaos is spreading throughout the world…”), but I couldn’t find it on the Deseret Book website. Professor Draper has written a couple of books on prophecies of the Last Days, so it’s not like he hasn’t done his homework.
When I was 15, I believe, our family of eleven left Spokane, WA, and made a massive three-week journey across the country in a mobile home, stopping at all sorts of church historical sites along the way. I was particularly captivated by Adam-ondi-Ahman–I mean, there is was, this great big field, where the great gathering would take place! (My mom took a rock from the field as a memento, and left it on our doorstep; it remained there for years.) My father told me rumors that the church had already installed sophisticated water and electric lines beneath the field, kind of an anticipatory infrastructure for the thousands of celestial persons and numerous mortal others which would soon gather there. (This was in 1984, I think.) That night, as the mobile home lumbered on to Kirtland, I had an idea: What if some transient hippie happened to be camping out in the woods nearby at the exact moment the great host arrived? What if he watched it all transpire, then stumbled off and died of shock in a local hospital, but not before revealing all he’d seen, thus starting a chain reaction of fear, panic, and reprisals against the church? Meanwhile, a devious Syrian general (codenamed “Magog”) was in negotiation with the Soviet Union to invade the Middle East through Turkey and crush Israel once and for all…
By the time we got home, I had the whole thing outlined; pages of the stuff. Featured a sword fight between the archangel Michael and, I believe, Cain, as well as a great scene where the Christ in all His glory descends upon the Mount of Olives, splitting it in two and creating a huge chasm into which fell dozens of tanks (which burst into flame when Jesus touched the ground) and as well as hundreds of screaming communist soldiers. Never did anything with it, though, and I eventually threw it out. If only the Left Behind folks had come along a couple of decades earlier, I might have known there was money to be made in eschatalogical fantasy, and wouldn’t have tossed my future prosperity away so lightly. Oh well.