Kay developed an online friendship with a Mormon couple, and last month we traveled to Salt Lake City to meet them. Here are some photos from our trip…
Remember big, heavy family Bibles, with pages at the beginning to record family information? This is like those. Except that it’s not.
Temples play an important role in the Mormon faith. Among their “ordinances” (what we would call “sacraments”), some can be performed only in temples, including:
- Sealing: Binding a married couple to each other for eternity.
- Baptism on behalf of the dead: That they, too, might be saved.
Yeah, Joseph Smith is a pretty big deal. And those Mormons have excellent moviemakers. We saw a movie about Smith, in a theater that plays nothing but that movie. Kay & I watched as they portrayed Joseph Smith as hungry for spiritual truth, yet unsatisfied with “turn or burn” type teaching and evangelism. I can relate.
Then, when Joseph Smith started experiencing visions, he was dismissed with a cursory statement: “The things in the Bible don’t happen anymore.” Kay & I looked at each other and shared the thought that if Christians had responded to him differently, he might not have been rejected, he might have been better grounded, and we might not have Mormons today. (This thought, of course, made little sense to our Mormon friends.)
It all started with this vision. If you’ve ever heard anyone (other than C.S. Lewis) try to give a rationalist explanation of the Trinity, you’ve probably concluded that Christians are confusing at best, and confused at worst. Is it any wonder that this boy inferred that God the Father is a separate being from Christ the Son?
(Side note: The words are a direct quote of Mark 9:7 / Luke 9:35. And large chunks of the Book of Mormon are copied straight from Isaiah, often word-for-word from the King James Version.)
The Temple is pretty awesome at night, especially from The Roof, one of the best buffets we’ve ever experienced. The only thing they were missing was coffee to go with their great desserts. I didn’t want caffeine, I just wanted the taste! Really!
We really weren’t expecting to get to hear the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir. But they do a live TV performance, every Sunday morning, for free! It was utterly gorgeous, and they sang some of my favorite hymns. Believe me, I worshiped.
Chatting online before our trip, I shared my deepest fear of visiting a Mormon church service: that I would be cooked, and eaten. Our friends obliged by providing me with an apple when we first met! I saved it until Sunday morning. So here I am, ready for my fate.
Our new friends opened their home to us, sharing their lives and family. Hospitality like that is a rare treat.
I learned a lot about the Mormon faith on this trip. But for me, the best was forming a new friendship. There’s been a lot of bad blood between Mormons and mainstream Christians. Suspicion of “the other” still continues, as we’ve seen in the Republican presidential race. But maybe our small example can make a difference.
Do you have any questions about this trip, and the things I learned and experienced? Ask away in the comments…