Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

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HiJolly
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by HiJolly » 11 Apr 2011, 12:48

Oh temples, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

Temples are a blend of occultic (masonic) and early Christian ritual worship. From Masonry we get the movement between room/kingdoms/degrees, names, grips & tokens, formal ritual, clothing and some things we no longer have, such as the 5 points of fellowship. From early Christianity we have prayer circles, washings, anointings and vicarious work for the dead.

Intermixed with these are temple teachings which are of the Western Mystery Tradition. Things such as (paraphrased) "All the teaching you have ever received(been taught) is adulterated between the Dark and the Light. It is the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture. The *only* truth you will ever get that you can truly depend on, will be from special messengers, angels if you will, sent directly from God with identifying factors which you can use to ensure their authenticity." These and others like it are absolute gems!

All of these are deeply symbolic, exclusively subjective and work on both the conscious and unconscious mind. As such, it is simply unbeatable in terms of teaching deeply true principles that cannot be comprehended at the conscious or rational level. It goes deeper than that, conveys concepts, ideas and potentialities that simply cannot be processed by the reasoning mind.

Some of this includes the payoff of keeping covenants. Which you cannot have if you do not *make* covenants in the first place. That payoff produces things such as health in the navel, marrow in the bones Proverbs 3:8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones., "power in the priesthood" and much more. These are not vaguely mystical mumbo-jumbo superstitious nonsense to those who believe and act on that belief (iow, have faith). Though when I was younger I often thought of it just in that erroneous way. We have to learn that it is not magic, but perfectly 'true' nonetheless for those who practice faith, hope & charity.

None of it bypasses the Gospel, but it all works within the Gospel in (for most people) incredibly unexpected ways. It is sad that so many people expect it to work in some magical "presto bingo" way. Their false expectations, like one who maintains a 'primary' view of Church history, gets in the way of their experiencing something beautiful, rare and ultimately, *real*.

HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

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Cadence
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by Cadence » 11 Apr 2011, 20:15

Temples encourage people to pay tithing. The church likes tithing. Hence more temples means more tithing. I believe temples are not a financial drain on the church. They are revenue producing. Bet you tithing would drop significantly if it was no longer a requirement to get a recommend. That is the cynical side of me, but I agree with Ray most leaders mistakenly believe the temple has some magical power so they want you to go participate.
Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. Thomas A. Edison

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Apr 2011, 21:56

It's cool, GB - and I wasn't offended, really.

If I want to shut off a thread, I'll just lock it and literally shut it off. There won't be any doubt. ;) :lol: Generally speaking, that's not how we operate here.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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cwald
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by cwald » 11 Apr 2011, 22:31

So, I like the comments so far, but what about my second question. You know, when I heard that story about the guy who left his family for four years to save money to take his fam to the temple, I thought, sure, this is perhaps a faith promoting story to some LDS members. But to me, it was sad and just another example of unnecessary sacrifice and unrealistic expectations the church places on the members (I put that in just for you DA :smile: ) It was not faith promoting to me in the least.

Really, we could dedicate the basement of the stake centers and do the endowment. Yes, some say the members just believe these gaudy buildings are magic. Some think it's all about tithing revenue. I don't know, if this endowment is so important and god is really going to hold folks accountable to have it by the hands of the "priesthood." It seems like he would come up with a much more efficient way to make it available to "his children." As a father, I know i would.
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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SamBee
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by SamBee » 12 Apr 2011, 04:40

Cadence wrote:Temples encourage people to pay tithing. The church likes tithing. Hence more temples means more tithing. I believe temples are not a financial drain on the church. They are revenue producing. Bet you tithing would drop significantly if it was no longer a requirement to get a recommend. That is the cynical side of me, but I agree with Ray most leaders mistakenly believe the temple has some magical power so they want you to go participate.
I think there are arguments both ways. But why do the pictures have to be prints, and why does the furniture have to look like a hotel's? I'm not the only person to comment on the hotel-ness of temple interiors...

As regards the architecture, some temples are beautiful, some are dull... I always found the SLC temple not to be one of the prettiest. Reminds me a bit of Star Wars for some reason! The old style ones, plus Logan are more my cup of word of wisdom friendly tea.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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Cadence
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by Cadence » 12 Apr 2011, 06:10

cwald wrote:So, I like the comments so far, but what about my second question. You know, when I heard that story about the guy who left his family for four years to save money to take his fam to the temple, I thought, sure, this is perhaps a faith promoting story to some LDS members. But to me, it was sad and just another example of unnecessary sacrifice and unrealistic expectations the church places on the members (I put that in just for you DA :smile: ) It was not faith promoting to me in the least.
These examples of sacrifice are troubling. To me it is really just an exercise in misused energy and resources. You notice that all these stories come from poor countries with less educated individuals. They do not have the experience or education to sort this kind of stuff out. Hence they fall victim to promises of eternal rewards for temple attendance.

You would think that a church so focused on the family would never allow such a thing. Stay with your family first and foremost. They are your responsibility more than anything else. I find it all so very troubling. That is why I have come to believe as I stated earlier temple attendance is encouraged to raise money for the church.
Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. Thomas A. Edison

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by hawkgrrrl » 12 Apr 2011, 07:20

I do think the story of sacrificing 4 years away from family to be with one's family for eternity is problematic.

But I want to defend temples for a moment here. There is something special about the Mormon focus on families being eternal. Not all Mormons really get it, for sure, but just the fact that we believe we are sealed together beyond this life changes how we feel about the routines spats of daily living, IMO. And I don't think the temple is so much "magical" as it is a place (one of the few around) for truly isolated no-Blackberry-or-kids-interrupting reflection time. Even the music (usually "As the Dew from Heaven Distilling" - whatever that even means!) is not distracting. Lastly, there is something important about making covenants. Do I think everyone who enters the temple is ready for those covenants? No, and the pressure to make them is high, which I don't think is so good. But I think there is something important about making and keeping covenants. Plus, the cool hats. OK, just kidding about that last part, but serious about the rest. And I have felt inspired in the temple, even if I haven't had any angelic visions or voices or other mental-institution-esque experiences. But I don't doubt others have.

Your results may vary. I know mine do!

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Andrew
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by Andrew » 12 Apr 2011, 07:52

Even at my most believing, I never "got" the temple endowment. I felt so let down and just kind of weird after my first time. That never really changed for me.

I can appreciate baptisms for the dead theologically, though experientially they've never done much for me, and even though I no longer buy the logic behind them (i.e., everyone needs the ordinance of baptism by the proper authority). And maybe I was just giddy to be married, but I thought the sealing ceremony was quite beautiful.

But here's what I find most problematic about our emphasis on the temple: I think that the way we talk about it is just setting people up for disappointment.

First, we talk about it in such vague terms. Nothing in the temple prep course I took prepared me to go to the temple. Nothing. I had no idea what to expect, other than making some promises and getting some new undies. We ought to be a lot more explicit about what happens and why. I'd love to have had an official explanation of the temple clothes beforehand, for instance. Or to have been told that the endowment narrative is more allegorical than historical.

Second, it is built up as a special, sacred experience in our Sunday School materials, by leaders in GC and by local leaders. For someone who comes away from their endowment feeling uncomfortable, icky, disappointed, or even simply ambivalent about the whole thing, the logical conclusion from all the temple rhetoric is that the individual is to blame for their reaction. On top of coming out of my endowment feeling uncomfortable, I also felt guilty that I didn't love it. And I felt this every subsequent time I went; I'd "fake" enjoying it, and that made me feel even guiltier for BSing people. As with any ordinance or meeting or whatever, everyone will have a different reaction. We ought to acknowledge this.

I have plenty of other issues with our temple building frenzy: it doesn't seem sustainable or supportable by the local members (or by senior couples); I don't know that our current growth rates justify our temple building pace. And of course because of my rather dim view of the endowment, I think temples are a tremendous waste of resources that could better be spent building schools or hospitals in impoverished parts of the world. I'd love us to move to a paradigm in which temporal and physical salvation was viewed as urgently as spiritual salvation. But that's just me.

doug
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by doug » 12 Apr 2011, 07:55

Ray Degraw wrote:Because the leadership and the vast majority of the membership really, truly, deeply believe in the concept and principle of the temple. Period.

There can be other sub-motivations, good and bad, but I don't think it's any more complicated in the end than that they really believe in it.
I'd like to bet that there are some statistics somewhere that show that temple attendance is the best way to guarantee retention. So while I don't doubt that there are purer motives, I think a lot of it is based on a pragmatic approach to keeping the numbers up.
Yes, but higher retention is a pure motive to any believer. Mormonism is nothing if not pragmatic, and when it is not pragmatic, it is nothing.
The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also. -- Mark Twain

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Really, why do we put so much emphasis on temples?

Post by hawkgrrrl » 12 Apr 2011, 08:16

So weird - I wrote that last comment, but it says Doug did.

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