Category Archives: Temples

A few reactions to the new temple film

My sweet wife Sandra and I attended the Denver temple this past week, where the new temple film has replaced the two older ones. A few careful thoughts:

  • Speaking as someone who thoroughly enjoyed the previous temple films, this one is significantly better in all respects: cinemetography, music, direction, art design, and acting.
  • I don’t recall — in 42 years of going to the temple — ever weeping during the temple presentation (at least, in response to the presentation itself). This week, I teared up several times during the presentation. I also saw certain aspects in a signficantly new light.
  • Contrary to a few grumbles elsewhere, this is not an “all white” film. Fully half of the eight actors (including Adam and especially Eve) look as though they come from Latin America, not Northern Europe (I speak as someone who served a mission in Central America and who has extended family members from Mexico and South America).
  • Eve rocks. Or, as my sweet wife Sandra put it, “Eve is the star of the film.” It calls to mind Hugh NIbley’s comment (which I’ll have to look up and quote) about Eve easily holding her own while sharing a stage with seven very powerful males.

I look forward to going back repeatedly. ..bruce..

The first sin: hiding from God?

The Anchoress is one of my favorite bloggers, because she manages to mix pointed political commentary with pointed spiritual commentary.  She takes her religion (Catholicism) very personally and very seriously, and I gain insights every time I read her thoughts.

Today, she talks a bit about Adam, Eve, and the Fall and puts forth the following observation (emphasis mine):

Their awareness of their vulnerability might have led to their excuse-making, too. Until that point they had enjoyed a blissful relationship with the Creator – there would have been no reason to fear and yet, suddenly attuned to their vulnerability, they feared enough to hem and haw and blame anyone else around, and aside from the serpent there was only each other.

Was the first sin, then, simple disobedience? That doesn’t really seem likely. Obedience, like anything else, must be learned.

Rather, I think the first sin was humanity not trusting in God but trying to guard themselves by hiding from him; humans covering themselves up both physically and metaphorically – with fig leaves and with the sloughing off of blame onto others – rather than revealing themselves and taking responsibility for their actions.

The taint of Original Sin: God has been trying to get us to trust Him, to reveal ourselves to Him and to be vulnerable (open) to Him ever since.

For those who have been through the temple, this observation carries even more weight in light of who makes the suggestion.  Food for thought; read the whole thing.  ..bruce..

GC blogging: the Rome (Italy) temple [updated w/location]

OK…I wasn’t expecting that . The only thing that could have surprised me more would have been a Beijing temple.

UPDATED: OK, since I’m getting a lot of web hits, here are some more details from this Deseret News article :

The 12th European temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be built in Rome. . . .

The Rome Italy Temple will be the first to be constructed near the worldwide headquarters for the Roman Catholic Church. It will serve church members from a variety of countries and greatly reduce travel time and expense to the Latter-day Saints living in the area, the release states. . . .

Reaction was emotional. Italy Rome Mission President Jeffrey Acerson, who has been in Rome sine July 2007, was moved by the news.

“The Saints in Italy have waited a long time,” Acerson said, his voice cracking. “We ‘re excited, we’re anxious and we’re very humbled by the decision of a prophet of the Lord to move forward with a temple in Rome.”

When he heard the news, Acerson said at first he wanted to react like Italian soccer fans, who take to the streets when their teams win.

“I felt like all the Saints here in Italy wanted to go into the streets to let everyone know a temple is coming,” he said.

The LDS Church has more than 22,000 members in Italy, where preaching first began in 1850 by then-Elder Lorenzo Snow, who later became president of the church. The first congregation of Latter-day Saints in Italy was organized in Brescia on March 20, 1966. The first Italian mission was opened in August that year, but the church didn’t have formal legal status until 1993.

Though a temple site hasn’t been announced, many Italian church members think a location on church-owned land on the northeastern side of Rome would be a perfect fit, Acerson said.

Tullio Deruvo, church spokesman in Italy, said the site many members speculate about is typical Roman countryside adorned with Mediterranean pine trees. The land is located with easy access to a freeway on the outskirts of Rome, Delruvo said.

And Rome is likely to be closer for Saints in Greece, Cyprus, Albania, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia, members who currently travel to Bern, Switzerland, for temple work. Though the Rome temple is likely to draw Church members, who coordinate temple service with vacation time, from all over Europe.

Go read the whole article.

The LDS Church newsroom has given information on the history of the LDS Church in Italy , but no real details on the temple itself.

[UPDATE] And here are some interesting thoughts on Temple Square vs. the Vatican, as well as some suggestions for the architecture and interior artwork for the Rome temple.

[UPDATE]: Here’s a Google Maps link showing the location of the temple in Rome (hat tip to Temple Study). ..bruce..

Returning the favor

For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect.

— Doctrine & Covenants 128:18

Forty-one years ago — in the spring of 1967 — my friend Andrew Bos introduced me to the LDS Church by asking me to go to Mutual with him, then to Sunday School, and then to Sacrament meeting. After a few months of that, Andrew prodded me to ask my parents if I could have the missionary discussions. To my surprise, it was my father — a Navy man since age 17 who smoked Marlboros, drank martinis, inhaled coffee, and swore, well, like a sailor — who was enthusiastic about my doing so. He said that he could think of no other church that he’d rather have me join (we were all inactive Episcopalians) and that he thought the Mormon Church was “the one church that would save Christianity” (his exact words).

Having received a powerful testimony of the reality of the Restoration during the missionary discussions and my own study and prayer, I went back to my parents some weeks later to get permission to be baptized (I was only 14). Again, it was my father who signed the slip, saying that if he could ever give up his cigarettes, liquor and coffee, he’d join the LDS Church himself. He never won that battle, though — in fact, it was his earlier failed attempt in 1967 to give up smoking that led to my own decision never to start — and he died a little over 10 years ago. But through the years he and Mom were always supportive my Church involvement, including paying for my entire mission.

Yesterday, I was able to return the favor to my dad, doing his baptismal and initiatory work in the Denver Temple. In fact, my sweet wife Sandra and I together did that work for a total of 40 of my ancestors, the majority of them within four or five generations. That work included six relatives whom I knew personally — my dad, my uncle Jimmy, Grandma and Grandpa Webster, and Grandma and Grandpa Fickes (my mom’s adoptive parents) — as well as my mom’s birth father (Grandpa Wiren), most of my great-great-grandparents along all lines, and some even further back than that.

While the temple is a sacred place for me, I am not prone to having ‘thin veil’ experiences. That was different yesterday. At the start of my initiatory session, I organized the 22 male names I had by lineage going back. For example, the six Websters were done sequentially (uncle, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, great-great-great-grandfather); I organized the other lines the same way, as far as possible. As I went through the round of initiatory work for each of these men, I felt a deep and increasing soberness at the literal nature of the authority being conferred and the blessings being unlocked; I also repeatedly felt love and gratitude from specific individuals as the work for them was done.

As importantly, I realized that by doing this work, I had opened the door for them to turn again and bring blessings into my life. Pres. Kimball famously said that when the Lord seeks to bless us or answer our prayers, He usually does so through other people. What struck me at the temple yesterday is that the “other people” aren’t limited to those of us on this side of the veil. By doing temple work, particularly for our close ancestors, we multiply those whom God can use to bless us.

There is another blessing, too. I was the only member of my family to join the LDS Church 41 years ago, and through that time I have remained the only member in my immediate family (meaning my own parents and siblings, as well as aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and all my ancestors). Through all those decades, I have felt the responsibility of being the first in all my ancestral lines to be a member of the Church and to hold the Priesthood, of having to set an example while lacking one of my own to draw upon, and I’m well aware of how often I have fallen short.

Leaving the temple last night, however, I felt a weight had been lifted. I have company, now — others in my family and family lines who have embraced the Gospel and accepted its blessings. I no longer feel like such an odd duck — at least, not for that reason — and it’s nice to know I have patriarchs in my own line who now hold the Priesthood. I have a compelling reason to go to the temple frequently — we’ve got 38 names cleared for endowments (we did my Grandma & Grampa Webster in an endowment session last night), as well as lots of subsequent sealings. And I’ve got hundreds of more names to submit once we’ve gotten these done.

And that sounds just wonderful. ..bruce..

Parallels: Catholic Mass and LDS endowment ceremony

Ben Huff over at Times and Seasons has an outstanding post drawing parallels between the LDS temple ceremony and the Catholic Mass (while also noting the key differences) in order to help those outside the LDS Church understand what goes on in the temple:

In a Catholic Mass, a congregation sits facing a priest, in a symbolic space, with an altar at the front, and participates in a standardized ceremony in which their spiritual relationships with one another and with God are symbolically represented and (re)affirmed. The priest leads the ceremony, with others assisting at various points. There are things the priest says, and responses by the congregation. The congregation stands and sits at various points, as part of this response, corresponding to whether they are praying or listening or reciting a creed or what have you. The Gospel is taught, and actively received. At the climax of the ceremony, each member of the congregation goes forward for a symbolic reunion with God, in this case represented by the priest and the Eucharist, in which God is said to be present.

The same basic format applies to the Mormon endowment. A congregation sits facing an officiator, in a symbolic space, with an altar at the front, and participates in a standardized ceremony in which their spiritual relationships with one another and with God are symbolically represented and (re)affirmed. The officiator leads the ceremony, with others assisting at various points. There are things the officiator says, and responses by the congregation. The congregation stands and sits at various points, as part of these responses. God’s plan of salvation is taught, and the teaching is actively received. At the climax of the ceremony, each member of the congregation goes forward for a symbolic reunion with God, in this case represented by entry into the Celestial Room, representing the presence of God.

Be sure to read not just the whole post, but also the comments, which are not only thoughtful but contain some links to additional analysis.

[UPDATED 01/25/08 – 1512 MST] You might also want to read this article (“Knocking Three Times on the Holy Door“) over at the excellent Temple Study blog. ..bruce..

A few observations on LDS temples

I received a very thoughtful and civil e-mail from a reader of this blog, who told of his own brief experiences investigating the LDS Church and in particular of some issues he had with the concepts of temples, temple recommends, and temple ceremonies — and how restrictive and exclusionary LDS practices and doctrine regarding the temple appeared to be. He was somewhat encouraged by my posting on “Who gets saved?” but still had additional questions. I wrote him an e-mail reply late last night; I’m going to use a slightly edited and extended version of my response for this post.

The temples detailed in the Bible (Moses’s Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, and what is generally called Herod’s Temple [New Testament era]) all had restrictions on who could enter where and when — and restrictions far more strict than the LDS Church has for its temples. Let me focus on Herod’s Temple for now.

Continue reading A few observations on LDS temples