Bedlamites contest winner: Heather’s entry

Here is Heather Harper’s winning entry in the Monsters & Mormons Bedlamites contest.


Claim: A group of men, chosen by Satan and made immortal to do
his work on Earth, attack and/or seduce the unwary.

Status: FALSE

Example (collected from the internet): “Holy cow, you guys, the
Bedlamites are REAL!  My roommate’s cousin was visiting and shared
this warning from her Stake President. Last weekend, he was driving
by Yosemite National Park when his tire blew out. While he was trying
to fix it, three men stopped and asked if he needed help. When he
said “yes,” they laughed at him. Then one took out a gun and shot a
hole in one of the other tires. He protested and another took his
tire iron and smashed in his headlights! They were really getting
nasty; they even started hitting him! Thank God he was wearing his
garments. When his clothes got ripped the holy glow from his garments
burned their hands and they dropped their weapons and ran. They MUST
have been Bedlamites! So everyone remember, always be on your guard

Origins: The so-called “Silver Plates,” revealed by Latter-Day Saint
“prophetess” Dinah Kirkham in 1843 include the story of a city called
Bedlam. According to the story, Bedlam was a wicked city on par with
Sodom and Gomorrah from the Bible and, like them, was destroyed for
it. The only “sin” specifically mentioned is that of “un-charity.”
Though what precisely is meant by that is unclear, popular belief has
been that the Bedlamites lived the Law of the Jungle, going so far as
to murder the sick and elderly.

A series of suspicious events and sightings in Utah in the 1850’s,
coupled with a disputable reading of Elisa 11:7, have given rise to
the folk belief that there is a group of men who, like the Three
Nephites, have had their lives supernaturally extended. The
difference is that the Three Nephites are supposed to have had their
lives extended by God in order to bring souls to him, whereas the
Bedlamites are survivors of the destruction of Bedlam whose lives have
been extended by Satan to sow fear and pain and in general do evil.
In the usual fashion of folklore, no one credible can be found who
claims to have actually encountered the Bedlamites. It’s almost
always someone’s father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.
Also, given the nature of these encounters, it is difficult to assign
supernatural origins to what is most likely plain old human nature.
The temptation to blame events like the Mountain Meadows Massacre on
“the Devil” must be strong, but which is more likely: a posse of
anti-angels or a gang of human thugs?

Heather “silver plates sound hard to keep clean” Harper

Last Updated:
13 April 2011



Bedlamites contest winner: Adam’s entry

Here is Adam K. K. Figueira’s winning entry in the Monsters & Mormons Bedlamites contest.

For months now, reports have been circulating online of the discovery of a document attributed to Emma Smith discussing certain passages from the Book of Lehi, which of course was written on the 116 manuscript pages infamously lost by Martin Harris. In the letter, Sister Smith mentions a conversation she had with her husband, the Prophet Joseph, regarding the work that he was translating. Apparently she was intrigued by Joseph’s description of certain happenings shortly after the arrival of Lehi’s family in the Promised Land, and referred to these events in her document, which is most likely a journal entry as it seems to have no specific intended recipient.

The story in question is of one Beidl, described in the ancient record as a short, dark, exceedingly round being who entered the camp of the Lehites on an evening. After attracting Laman’s attention, Beidl led a small party back to his home, which was in a “great hole in the rocks” located “a long distance” inland of the camp. Beidl had seemingly been cut off from his people somehow, but his strange language made it impossible for the children of Lehi to understand exactly how.

According to Emma’s report, the Book of Lehi ends by mentioning the marriage of Beidl to one of Laman’s daughters, and Emma speculates that the union with this strange personage may have been the beginning of the curse which plagued the Lamanites ever after.

After finishing her summary of the scriptural account, Emma mentions that during their conversation on the topic, Joseph told her of a vision in which he saw the history of Beidl and Laman. He described Beidl as a “grotesque person with an unusually large nose,” and told of a split among the children of Beidl and Laman, in which the majority stayed with the newly formed group thereafter known as Lamanites, while the remainder, who had inherited Beidl’s unfortunate facial characteristics, went their own way back to the great hole and were referred to generally as Beidlamites.

But all this is old. The exciting new news has only come in the last few hours.

Latter-day Saint archaeologist Moab Young has discovered what he describes as a “Beidl-like” skeleton in the region of Neuquén, Argentina, near the site of the unlisted El Sauce crater. El Sauce, a 20 km wide hole in the ground of unknown age, has been generally thought to be an impact crater, but a lack of convincing evidence for this theory has kept it off the official Earth Impact Database list.

Young’s theory is that El Sauce is, in fact, the “great hole in the rocks” mentioned by Emma Smith and that far from being impact related, the crater is the collapsed entrance to the subterranean home world of Beidl and his mole-man ancestors. The close proximity of the Beidlamites hole to the original Lehite camp suggests that the original landing site may have been much further south than generally thought.

NOTE: Adam has also created a magazine-style version of the story complete with images.

Monsters & Mormons: Bedlamites contest winners

Many thanks to all who entered the Bedlamites contest. Theric and I have each selected a winner. Congratulations to Heather  Harper and Adam K. K. Figueira! You each win an electronic copy of the Monsters & Mormons anthology as well as fame, honor and glory. In fact, we’ve written awards citations for you. But first two notes:

1. This won’t be the only Monsters & Mormons contest. There will be more chances to win as the publication date draws near.

2. Many thanks to our other entrants. We will be featuring your entries here at AMV in the coming weeks. And to quote Th:

I must say that the overall quality of submissions made this the most fun I’ve had today. (Of course, I’ve also been stuck at a car dealership all day over a steering recall. The competition isn’t fierce. But don’t let that subtract from my enthusiasm.)

A Snopes entry? Brilliant idea! The Book of Asherah? Give me more! Little green Bedlamites of Mars? Why not?

Thank you so much, everyone who contributed. I have so many of you tied for second place that I can hardly bear it.

Wm adds: Yes, thank you. Of course, me being the cruel, cruel man that I am — I can bear it. So I’m holding the line at our two winners. Sorry. More chances to win later.

Th.’s Award Citation for Adam:

This story felt so much like a real news article I kept googling some of its elements to see if at least this part were real. The story came together with the right mix of deadpan journalistic earnestness and ennui that I think there’s a solid chance you could pull this hoax off and make people believe it for a while. The way he casually brings in Book of Mormon-geography theory and other elements serve to ground his new tale in already existing crazy and the whole thing comes together in way that feels both blandly real and exotically aesthetic. Which is a long-winded way of saying I like it a lot.

Wm’s Award Citation for Heather:

Nothing quite captures the tone of internet discourse like Snopes — informed, authoritative, footnoted, drily witty, often irreverent or condescending, and sometimes goofy. And Heather packs those qualities in there with her amusing yet almost truthy enough to be real fake Snopes entry. Heather won me over not only with her notion of Bedlamites as a reverse Three Nephites, but by getting the details just so — the fake URLs, the silver plates, the references. Besides what could be more hilariously delightful than debunking something that isn’t real in the first place?

The winning entires will be posted in the coming days. Monsters & Mormons is still in the editing phase. More updates as progress warrants.

Monsters & Mormons: Bedlamites contest!

4/13/2011 Update: We have decided to let you have two weekends to work on your submissions — the new deadline for the contest is 10 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 18, 2011.


Like many of you, we were quite taken with Elder Holland’s use of the word “bedlamites” in the Sunday afternoon session of conference. It was an affectionately appropriate term applied to children, one that acknowledges the realities of wrestling with child energies in the daily praxis of Mormonism and nods to the fondness in LDS discourse of the use of the suffix ‘-ites’. It also, of course, evoked all sorts of intriguing ideas for those of us who have Monsters & Mormons on the brain. In fact, Graham Bradley tweeted: “@motleyvision You have to do an M&M volume 2 now, and I CALL DIBS ON THE BEDLAMITES

Sorry, no plans for volume 2 as of yet. But here’s a chance to win an electronic copy of the Monsters & Mormons anthology. It’s the Bedlamites contest!

Yes, we know that it’s a real, albeit Anglophilic and somewhat archaic word that means the inmates of a lunatic asylum. But what if it wasn’t? What if it was an actual group of somethings/somebodies in Mormon history (of any dispensation)? What somethings? Which somebodies? Well, that’s up to you. But here’s the thing — we don’t want stories. We want fake documentation. It could be a section of scripture, mission statement, strategic plan, ballad, scholarly footnote, article abstract, wikipedia article, OED-style definition and usage/citation history, Bible Dictionary listing, Encyclopedia of Mormonism entry, journal entry, letter, etc. Anything that gives us a glimpse of a hidden or alternate history of the mysterious and/or long-forgotten Bedlamites.

The rules are:

  1. No short (or short short) stories. As mentioned, we want you to explore other forms of discourse here.
  2. There needs to be some Mormon connection, even if it’s only a tertiary one.
  3. Your entry should be 500 words or less, and it should be submitted by 10 p.m. CDT on Friday, April 15.
  4. Your entry should follow the tone of this blog — irreverent, odd, witty, obscure, satirical, highbrow, lowbrow, etc. are all okay. Mean or mocking is not.

There will be two winners — one selected by Wm; one by Th. Each winner will receive an e-edition of the Monsters & Mormons anthology when it is published in October of this year.

We also want our contributors to the anthology to be able to participate in the fun should they feel so inclined. Should one of them win, we will randomly select one of the other entries to give the e-book to.

We will be accepting submission only through this Google form. We will publish the winners and probably a few other favorites here on A Motley Vision, but will also make public and post a link to the Google spreadsheet that the form feeds so that we can all enjoy all of the entries. If you aren’t interested in sharing your entry, this isn’t the contest for you. Now on to the bedlam-making!

Welcome to the Monsters & Mormons Bedlamites contest form. Enter your submission of a section of scripture, mission statement, strategic plan, ballad, scholarly footnote, article abstract, wikipedia article, OED-style definition and usage history, Bible dictionary listing, Encyclopedia of Mormonism entry, journal entry, etc. The only rules are:
1. No short (or short short) stories.
2. There needs to be some Mormon connection, even if it’s only a tertiary one.
There will be two winners — one selected by Wm; one by Th. Each winner will receive an e-edition of the Monsters & Mormons anthology.
Please note that all submissions will be made public when the contest closes at 10 p.m. CDT on Friday, April 15. It’s a good idea to compose your entry elsewhere and then copy and paste in to th

Status Report – Portuguese-language Mormon Short Story Contest

More than 3 months ago I announced here the first Portuguese-language Mormon short story contest. Now the period for making submissions has closed, and already the contest has exceeded expectations.

Continue reading “Status Report – Portuguese-language Mormon Short Story Contest”

Portuguese-language Mormon Short Story Contest

I’m apparently just doing announcements today (which is why I’m breaking the rule and doing two posts in a day), so here is one that I’ve been working on — the Portuguese-language Parley P. Pratt Mormon Short Story Contest (link is to a Portuguese-language website). Below is the text in English of the contest announcement:

Continue reading “Portuguese-language Mormon Short Story Contest”

Book of Mormon fiction contest, AML annual meeting

AMV bloggers and friends are taking part in two interesting Mormon literature events this week, and I invite all our readers to participate as well.

LDS Publisher contest

Voting recently opened in LDS Publisher’s Book of Mormon Story Contest. The contest features young adult fiction stories with a Book of Mormon setting by both published and unpublished authors. Theric Jepson and I both submitted entries as did AMV reader/commenter David J. West. A few other AMV readers may also have participated (if so, let us know in the comments). And no, we aren’t going to tell which stories are ours — that’s against the rules.

Now, you may be asking yourself: do I really want to wade through 26 pieces of fiction (16 if you just read and vote for the published authors)? Probably not, but you should anyway — some stories are better than others, but all of them are interesting in how the engage with the Book of Mormon.

AML Annual Meeting

The Association for Mormon Letters will hold its annual meeting this Saturday, Feb. 27, at Utah Valley University Library in Orem. The theme of the program is “”˜One Eternal Round’: Mormon Literature Past, Present, and Future” and AMVers Tyler Chadwick, Harlow Clark, Patricia Karamesines and Katherine Morris will all be presenting. So will other folks whose names should be familiar to our readers — in particular: Lisa Tait, Ardis Parshall, Gideon Burton, Angela Hallstrom, Lee Allred and James Goldberg. If you are within driving distance, you should go — not only because of the interesting presentations and excellent company, but also because the meeting will feature a rare screening of the 1931 film “Corianton: A Story of Unholy Love.”