First-Time Temple Attendance

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West
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First-Time Temple Attendance

Post by West » 18 Apr 2015, 00:37

I went through the temple for my first initiatory and endowment session this week. Thank you very much for this forum and its helpful members and all the discussions and many links to supportive blog posts that talk a bit in general about the temple. All of that combined with speaking with a trusted female friend and my inactive sister about their experiences helped immensely to lessen the shock. Actually, there really wasn't any shock to speak of! However, I still felt uncomfortable during a lot of the session (mainly during the movie), but I know it was a whole lot less discomfort than if I had gone in pre-FC without any preparation at all.

(I'm not including the temple prep class as preparation whatsoever, because that was useless, which I let my stake president know during my temple recommend interview -- yes, I straight out said that the temple prep course was a useless waste of time. He agreed. He was understanding and told me that he's been trying to get the YSA bishops in our stake to make the temple prep classes more worthwhile to prepare young single adults for the temple, and after my telling him about how peers I know were really weirded out by their first time, he promised he'd push harder than ever to try to get the temple prep classes in our stake more useful. So hey, that's nice.)

Reflecting on the temple experience, I don't know how else to describe it besides saying that I felt a lot like a stranger or outsider intruding on something private. I didn't hate the experience. Actually, because I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen, I was able to relax and find the whole situation incredibly interesting if very foreign. It reminded me of attending religious ceremonies and events like weddings in the Asian countries I've been to. I was there participating, but I didn't ever really feel like an actual participant.

One of my long-time family friends who attended the session with my family who's super TBM told me after that the more I came and the more I read the Bible, the more I would love the temple. Right now, I don't see myself ever really loving the initiatory or endowment sessions. Right now, I feel like they will always be this foreign, interesting thing to look at and study from an anthropological aspect. I didn't like how women have a backseat and very minimal contribution in things. I was prepared for a lot of the wording, but it still bothered me. Trying to reconcile the Adam and Eve story with evolution was tiring in that I suppose I'm still trying to figure out what exactly I believe about that story. Overall, I had a relatively positive experience. It just wasn't spiritual.

I have a feeling I'll be attending at least a few times a year with family who will want me to come with them (and of course I expect to attend during my mission, which I think I'll welcome, as it'll give me a little time to sit quiet and think, haha). I've read through a lot of threads on this forum already about garments and temple attendance, but I thought I'd bring it up again now that it's so fresh for me at least. ;) For those of you who still do attend the temple initiatory and endowments, how do you approach it mentally? How do you reconcile how incredibly different it is in those ceremonies versus a lot of what we regularly do in the rest of the church outside of the temple? Do you have any general advice?

Anyway, I know there's been a ton of stuff about temple attendance on the forums and many blogs. Sorry for the rambling. Writing is how I sort through thoughts in every aspect of my life. And I suppose if anyone else comes to the forums looking for a viewpoint on attending the temple for the first time, here's this.
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. -Albert Einstein

And God said 'Love Your Enemy,' and I obeyed him and loved myself. -Kahlil Gibran

nibbler
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Re: First-Time Temple Attendance

Post by nibbler » 18 Apr 2015, 04:57

Sounds like you had an overall positive experience and that you approached it with a good attitude. :thumbup:

I still do temple endowments, well it's been a little over a year now (my how time flies) but I'm in no way opposed to going back. Time just has a way of getting out from under me. I've never done a proxy initiatory. Not once. I don't have anything against that either, it's just one of those things that gets almost no emphasis. You go to the temple to do baptisms and endowments, occasionally a temple worker will pull us in to do some sealings. Not once have I ever heard someone make mention of the vicarious initiatory. Maybe it's common to be asked but I've somehow always missed that opportunity.

Rambling.
West wrote:For those of you who still do attend the temple initiatory and endowments, how do you approach it mentally? How do you reconcile how incredibly different it is in those ceremonies versus a lot of what we regularly do in the rest of the church outside of the temple? Do you have any general advice?
For me it's better than what we regularly do in the rest of the church outside of the temple. Outside the temple the focus seems to be literal interpretations, the questions asked often follow literal interpretations, answers often follow literal interpretations. In the temple it's the opposite, for me at least. I'm free to find symbolic meaning. No one is asking me leading questions, I'm free to explore what symbols I want to explore and there's no real expectation that I answer a correlated question, get put on the spot to bear my testimony, etc.

It wasn't always that way. In the beginning I remember struggling with literal interpretations of the temple movie for the longest time... but how does a spirit shake a dude's hand in greeting? :lol:

As an introvert it's nice to show up somewhere where silence and a lack of social interaction is not only okay, it's encouraged! No pressure to interact or come up with small talk, I'm terrible at small talk. The limited social interaction is all on rails. Easy peasy. :P

I do agree that the temple prep course is useless. I should know, that was the last calling I held. ;) You could boil the manual down to: the temple is special, no I mean super special. You've got to be good to go inside. You'll learn the gospel inside. The temple blesses you so keep going. There's one class about symbolism you can run with but that's it. I tag-taught the class with a member of the BP, I had to be careful about what I said. For instance, I wasn't given permission to mention the LDS video about sacred clothing that showed the garments and temple robes. :crazy: You can see, my hands were a little tied. (I ended up telling all the class members about the church video on sacred clothing anyway - you've got to keep both eyes on me :twisted: ).

nibbler
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Re: First-Time Temple Attendance

Post by nibbler » 18 Apr 2015, 04:59

Apparently I really like to use emoticons. :think:

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West
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Re: First-Time Temple Attendance

Post by West » 18 Apr 2015, 09:01

nibbler wrote:For me it's better than what we regularly do in the rest of the church outside of the temple. Outside the temple the focus seems to be literal interpretations, the questions asked often follow literal interpretations, answers often follow literal interpretations. In the temple it's the opposite, for me at least. I'm free to find symbolic meaning. No one is asking me leading questions, I'm free to explore what symbols I want to explore and there's no real expectation that I answer a correlated question, get put on the spot to bear my testimony, etc.
That's a pretty cool way to look at it, thanks! I had many people before attending and during attendance tell me just to sit back and not worry so much about the details and memorizing things and even thinking about specific wording or actions and to just enjoy it and try to make it a spiritual experience for myself. I tried, and it did help, but my logical brain just doesn't shut up sometimes. Your advice, though, should appease logic brain to hopefully make the experience a little less uncomfortable the next times I go.
...but how does a spirit shake a dude's hand in greeting?
Good to know I wasn't the only one who has puzzled over that. :lol: The quiet and lack of social interaction gave freedom to my brain to pick up all the weird logical inconsistencies while wondering if many TBM saw the movie as very literal. I guess that was a big source of my discomfort; thinking that a lot of TBMs see what goes on in the temple as being more literal than symbolic, and my trying to figure out how they think that. Oh logic brain. You make things difficult/interesting sometimes.
You could boil the manual down to: the temple is special, no I mean super special. You've got to be good to go inside. You'll learn the gospel inside. The temple blesses you so keep going.
I had the super quick crash course to get me through it over a week and a half, so it was already pretty boiled down, but man, I wish the teacher had boiled it down even more and had not just read straight from the manual. Hopefully the SP follows through and reforms the classes in our stake to be more useful to people; I've heard from a lot of friends who have already gone through how much of a shock it was and how the temple prep didn't prepare them for anything. I guess sometimes their parents or other adult figures are either too worried about revealing covenanted things to properly prepare people or they just assume that if you've grown up in the Church, you already know everything you need to be prepared. But you know what they say about assuming. :lol:
nibbler wrote:Apparently I really like to use emoticons. :think:
Is cool, I use emoticons a ton outside of this forum and have to be very conscious about (not) using them in excess. :D

Thanks, nibbler!
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. -Albert Einstein

And God said 'Love Your Enemy,' and I obeyed him and loved myself. -Kahlil Gibran

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SamBee
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Re: First-Time Temple Attendance

Post by SamBee » 18 Apr 2015, 10:07

West wrote:
For those of you who still do attend the temple initiatory and endowments, how do you approach it mentally? How do you reconcile how incredibly different it is in those ceremonies versus a lot of what we regularly do in the rest of the church outside of the temple? Do you have any general advice?
Initiatory doesn't bother me (although they're always pulling men, and probably women, off it for the veil), but the Endowment is long.

I like the film. I like the celestial room, but the oaths and the rest don't do much for me. Only once have I had much of a positive sense of doing it by proxy and that was for my uncle. The rest does nothing for me really.

I love the baptistery in the temple though.

The celestial room is the carrot and the endowment process the stick IMHO!
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."

Minyan Man
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Re: First-Time Temple Attendance

Post by Minyan Man » 18 Apr 2015, 14:25

West wrote:...For those of you who still do attend the temple initiatory and endowments, how do you approach it mentally? How do you reconcile how incredibly different it is in those ceremonies versus a lot of what we regularly do in the rest of the church outside of the temple? Do you have any general advice?
I look at the temple process like I did with school. Some of the best lessons learned were done through repetition. I've always liked the story about creation, the preexistence, the purpose of this world, the role of JC. Now that I'm doing more family genealogy & temple work, I focus more on my family & how we are all connected through eternity. I don't try to complicate it more then that.

It can almost be hypnotic & relaxing. A great place to meditate.
Last edited by Minyan Man on 18 Apr 2015, 16:02, edited 1 time in total.

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: First-Time Temple Attendance

Post by hawkgrrrl » 18 Apr 2015, 14:31

(I'm not including the temple prep class as preparation whatsoever, because that was useless, which I let my stake president know during my temple recommend interview -- yes, I straight out said that the temple prep course was a useless waste of time. He agreed. He was understanding and told me that he's been trying to get the YSA bishops in our stake to make the temple prep classes more worthwhile to prepare young single adults for the temple, and after my telling him about how peers I know were really weirded out by their first time, he promised he'd push harder than ever to try to get the temple prep classes in our stake more useful. So hey, that's nice.)
slow clap.

Someone has explained that the temple is "high church" but our weekly services are "low church." If you look into those terms, it helps. High church is more ritualistic whereas low church is kind of "what you see is what you get."

I also think of the initiatory as Joseph Campbell's hero's journey. The hero sees and does things different from average people, and that is why he or she succeeds in the quest. In the case of the temple, we progress through specific levels of commitment to enter the presence of God. That's basically the same idea. Before the "quest" we are prepared through the initiatory - washed & anointed.

What's interesting about that is that it has some parallels to all temples through time (there is a water element before you enter, you may remove shoes, you usually have to do some sort of ritual washing or enter in a specific more 'clean' manner such as never turning your back on the deity, etc.). Those religious rites are also mimicked in the anointings of kings and queens through history, which were also often religious rites, and if you think about how castles are laid out, there's usually a moat for protection around the outside, but the concept of being surround by water has its parallel and origin in ancient temples where people had to wash to enter.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: First-Time Temple Attendance

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 Apr 2015, 14:54

I see the endowment as a completely symbolic interactive play that is reflective of an earlier, different time - and as an evolving thing.

It helps to remember that evolution is not a swift process at times.
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

Ann
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Re: First-Time Temple Attendance

Post by Ann » 19 Apr 2015, 01:15

West wrote:Do you have any general advice?
This is a mom talking about a beloved daughter, but I think she unwittingly gave me the temple advice I need right now. (I have a lot of trouble with the temple because I feel like I've seen the sausage being made now that I know more history. I really have trouble when I'm in older temples because I feel somewhat haunted by BY and bygone times in the church. I think the endowment doesn't flow smoothly and, of course, I have major misgivings as a woman in the temple, wise Eve of the film notwithstanding.) One day as we walked back to the car my daughter said, "There are a lot of things I would like changed, but I think you have to take the cream off the top." I've thought about that a lot. The cream is different from person to person and visit to visit, but I think if I'm willing to let things settle out, it'll be there.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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West
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Re: First-Time Temple Attendance

Post by West » 20 Apr 2015, 21:11

I've been busy with mission prep, so I haven't had a chance to come reply until now, and even tonight I've only a few minutes.

Thank you, everyone, for sharing your viewpoints. Sometimes my mind just needs to see how others think about and approach an issue before becoming more comfortable with it in my life. I have a lot of thoughts now to take with me when I got to the temple next, and that puts me so much more at ease. Thank you!
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. -Albert Einstein

And God said 'Love Your Enemy,' and I obeyed him and loved myself. -Kahlil Gibran

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