Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Temple Square, Salt Lake City Utah

(T post)
Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City is totally surrounded by large heavy ironed fences.  Though the grounds are "opened" to the public for tours, you may not enter on your own.  You must be part of a tour group and be escorted at all times.
This is the site that most think of when they think of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but this is not the Tabernacle, this is The Salt Lake City Temple which is in the center of the 10 acres square.  This is the largest of the 140 temples.  You do not get to tour even with your escort inside this building.  In fact, not all Mormons are permitted to enter this building.  It is considered very sacred and one must have a temple recommend to enter it's premises.  The requirements, as I understand them are to be baptized and request a recommend one year later.  You are then interviewed by a Bishop and the Stake President to determine your "worthiness".  There are different types/levels of recommends; but from my research it seems generally a recommend is good for a period of two years provided all conditions are still meant.
A little better view, it's not easy to get a good picture.  The sealing of spouses, and children to parents takes place in the Temple.  Sealing is an additional ceremony joining couples which means they are married, even after death vs a civil marriage which is til death to us part.  It's possible to be sealed to multiple spouses, even if a divorce has taken place.  So, while the official church stance is that they do not support plural marriages in this day and age; some argue that to be incorrect.  Not all Mormons practice sealing, therefore without being sealed and or having a recommend, not all Mormons can enter the Temple.
This is the beginning of Mormon Tabernacle Choir practice, the main reason for our signing up for the tour.  We were very disappointed.  We were permitted only a very short stay to hear the choir.  The Tabernacle is open to all; but at no point are you permitted to look or tour on your own.  It's frankly, a rather uncomfortable feeling.  There are so many guides and helpers, and other volunteers there you feel they are watching your every move.
The grounds are beautiful, with flower beds everywhere, water falls and sculptures.  DD and I sat down on a bench to check time, review the map and determine when and where we might want to eat.  In those few brief minutes we were interrupted 3-4 times by 3-4 different "watchers".  Did I mention, uncomfortable.
Inside The Assembly Hall, the 3rd area in the square is a large display of religious paintings.  They are floor to ceiling as you can see and are quite impressive.

I've forgotten how large this sculpture is, but believe it's about 3 x life size.  It's surrounded by circle seating.  During our tour (assume this is standard), everyone had to sit while some preaching went on.  I don't know if they actually tell their tour guides to convert people, but it certainly seemed that was the primary goal.
This was probably my favorite of the many outdoor sculpture depicting a family and handcart.  It a memorial to the hardy Mormons who walked pulling and pushing their belongings 1,350 miles from Iowa City to Salt Lake in 1850.  Nearly 3,000 completed the journey, though 250 died in route.  Many of the 1,350 were British Converts.

We signed up to hear the choir practice while staying in Park City, at Marriott's Summit Watch.  They provide transportation from the resort to Temple Square and back for a reasonable fee.  The tour was not at all what we thought we were signing up for, and therefore we were very disappointed.   Had we known the nature of tour, we probably would not have gone.  Still, being prepared with the right expectations, can make a difference in your level of enjoyment in any activity.  So, if you go; be better prepared and know you're not going to get to hear much of the choir and or learn much about the choir...that it's primarily to tell you how wonderful being a Mormon is.  The tour description really didn't convey that.

I would not recommend doing this with small children.  I believe it was about a 6 hour field trip from the resort, and best geared towards adults wearing good walking shoes.  The other item worth noting is everywhere you go, even to eat is church related with Mormon murals on the walls....really over loaded if you're comfortable with your own religious choice.   You're pretty restricted how far you can venture there in downtown Salt Lake, in order to get back in time to hear the choir, even for a short while before the bus ride back to the resort.
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  1. Interesting....

  2. It was interesting, and uncomfortable all at the same time. I did learn things though I didn't know before.

  3. Years and years ago, I was there at the square. Of course, we didn't get to go inside or do much, but I remember the buildings being so impressive. Thanks for the peek in that you gave us, Sandy. xoA

  4. How interesting and it does indeed sound a little uncomfortable, that would turn me off completely. The more I read about different religions the more I back away slowly but the nearer I get to God so it's a good thing. I don't need a religion to tell me how to love God:)as you say it's a personal thing. Great Post, thanks.
    So many British, I'm not over surprised we have our share of zealots.
    maggie at expat brazil

  5. I've never heard of the sealing concept, but that is quite intriguing. I've wondered plenty of times how this "worked"- thanks for the enlightening post.


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