Monday, June 26, 2006

The LDS Temple

LDS Temple at Idaho Falls.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

My family stopped in Idaho Falls on our way to Utah and toured the grounds of the LDS Temple.

It's interesting for me to visit the temple again after all these years. I witnessed the LDS Endowment Ceremony in Idaho Falls back in 1991 during a brief stop over en route to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. I remember it as a pleasant experience, mostly. The Celestial Room has an elegant chandelier in the very center, and the walls are covered in murals depicting graceful looking people dressed in white and milling about in a paradise garden. I think the mural is meant to portray the blessed state of those who remain faithful to the LDS Gospel. The images appealed to my longing for eternal happiness, though I seem to remember not one of them looked like me. All the people in heaven were white.

I remember feeling somewhat lonely as I pondered the meaning of those murals, though I don't think I could admit it back then.

My religious convictions changed dramatically since I last visited the Idaho Falls Temple. Even so, I find Mormon temples still hold a sense of archtypal purpose and beauty. Everything about their construction and appearance is meant to reinforce LDS theology; their symmetry, orderliness, and grandeur. Even the way the temples are bathed in floodlights after nightfall speaks of the Mormon ideal of the Gospel light shining in the darkness of a wicked world. Whether you believe in Mormonism or not, LDS temples stand like icons of grace, beauty, and a longing for heavenly things.

I'm still inspired by the imagery and symbolism of the temple, but I'm also saddened by the way it tends to separate families of mixed faiths. For some, the temple is a bridge linking families into everlasting unions; but when even one family member chooses a different religion or life path, the temple becomes an insurmountable wall of division.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments about the temple. I also have very mixed feelings about it for some of the same reasons you mention. I wonder what caused the dramatic change in your religious convictions since your visit there and your mission.

new subject: What do you think about the alcohol sales ban on the reservation and the early lifting of it? thanks

sulustu said...

Who are you Mr./Ms. Anonymous? I would love to answer these questions and more if I could have the privilege of knowing your identity.

Anonymous said...

I sent an e-mail to your address. I look forward to hearing from you.
Ms. Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it seems to separate because you're looking at it with your natural eyes which only holds a limited view. In this life, yes, there may be some separation and that is one of the trials or tests of our faith. However, if a non-member parent or sibling dies and enters the spiritual realm, they'll soon discover that what they were traditionally taught to believe was wrong. There have been many instances where those loved ones who have passed on have appeared to living members in the temple and have asked to have their work done for them.

And that is the beauty of the gospel; that ALL people will have the opportunity to hear the gospel and receive the required ordinances and blessings that our Father in Heaven has for us. It may not be in this life, but it may happen AFTER they have passed on.

The Lord said: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
He that loveth father and mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 10:34−39)

So while there may be some separation and even arguments and disagreements in this life, if we can endure through it all, the temple ordinances will eventually become blessings for all of us. At least we don't have to face the bitter trials of Job, Abraham, or even the physical trials of Joseph Smith and the early saints. Some of us may be called to bear similar trials, but many of us won't. We ALL however, have our own trials to bear. We just have to have faith in the Lord and endure through them and try to view things with spiritual eyes instead of natural. But in order to do that, we must have the Spirit of God and live by it.

sulustu said...

To the second Mr. or Ms. Anonymous to leave a comment on this post, I thank you for commenting on my blog. It's good to know my words and experiences reach out to people of many faiths, even if we may disagree on some of the finer points.

Perhaps the greatest thing I gained from Mormonism was a belief in eternal families. If the temple symbolizes that, then I have to believe it remains a positive influence in my life. But I'm not sure all Mormons feel the same. Even some of the leaders tend to take a hardline approach to the temple and its covenants; how they separate the faithful from the unfaithful. It makes me infinitely sad to see how families are indeed separated in very real ways, whether it is the non-member parent who is essentially dishonored and excluded from the child's temple wedding, or the well meaning priesthood leader who once told me God would assign me to other parents if my own natural parents did not qualify for temple blessings. I went home and cried my eyes out.

Anyway, as much as I do appreciate the symbolism of eternal families embodied in the temple, I reject the way it is used as a means of social control.

Joseph Smith once said the same associations we enjoy here will be ours in eternity. If this is true, then I will seek out my family to the farthest reaches of the universe if necessary, with or without the temple ordinances. God himself would have to strike me down, because I will not be separated from the ones I love.


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