They Didn’t Eat Me! Photos from Our Mormon Adventure

December 8, 2011

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…

Family Book of Mormon

Family Book of Mormon

Remember big, heavy family Bibles, with pages at the beginning to record family information? This is like those. Except that it’s not.

Salt Lake City Temple

With Kay outside the Temple

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.
Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith, larger than life

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.)

Joseph Smith's vision

Joseph Smith's first vision: "This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

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.)

Salt Lake City Temple at night

The Salt Lake City Temple at night

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!

Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Mormon Tabernacle Choir, with orchestra and Mongo the Pipe Organ

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.

Ready to be eaten

Ready to be eaten at church

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.

Friendship

Jennie, Rob, Kay and me. We love our new friends!

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…

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

9 responses to They Didn’t Eat Me! Photos from Our Mormon Adventure

  1. I love the thought about Joseph Smith and the Christians original response to him. Sad for that time….but a good reminder for me now, to not judge people. Especially when someone may be experiencing something spiritual. God speaks in so many unique ways. I think this also speaks to our judgment about whether or not they will go to heaven. They believe in Jesus and trust him for their salvation, right? Do I agree with the path they have chosen to follow? No. But as one who has put my trust in Jesus, I cannot say that someone who trusts the same wouldn’t end up in heaven too. Not my call, won’t ever be.
    John, you and your family are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing it!

  2. Really interesting to see their Temple-it looks amazing. I can just imagine the buffet and craving for the taste of coffee! Enjoy your blogs. On subject of visions-I’m sure people have them-dreams do show us things. Once I had a whole run of dreams-all on the state of agriculture-to do with animal cruelty and chemical poisoning. Ok rather bleak and upsetting at the time but they lend to my awareness.
    Liked your comment about Smith, that was funny.

    • Nicky,
      My wife & I were trained by the Vineyard movement, where we were taught how to open our ourselves for God to speak in a variety of ways. But part of that training is learning how to tell the difference between what’s God, what’s us, and what’s garbage — and always, always secondary to Bible as the inspired word of God.
      In general, I think people take two wrong approaches to the supernatural. One is to shut it down. The other is to be totally open to it.

  3. Jon,
    I love this post. Really appreciate that you are moving past the unknown and fears with your Mormon friends!
    God has blessed my family these last couple of years with some wonderful LDS friends. We are in each other’s lives because of love, not out of a desire to try and convert each other. Several of our Christian friends don’t understand this and think we must have an ulterior motive to sway them to our belief system. I’m happy just walking with them towards Papa. He is quite capable of helping us see him clearer and clearer.
    You inspire me!
    Chad

    • Chad, I’m encouraged to learn that we’re not alone in our effort to build bridges of friendship. There’s been a lot of hurt in the past. Heck, it’s woven into their roots.

  4. What is your opinion of being “sealed for eternity” and “baptizing for the dead?”
    Scripture also says, “Jesus is the fullness of the Godhead, bodily.”
    I love your openness and grace for the persecuted.
    Jim

    • James,
      My opinion? Completely unnecessary, but mostly harmless. For example, take sealing. I believe that relationships are already eternal. There’s no rite that makes it so, or conversely, lack of rite that prevents it from being so. But I appreciate the way family relationships are woven into the theology and practice of the Mormon faith.
      Are you LDS?