In the Mormon Heartland

We are in Salt Lake City, Utah today and we explored the Mormon temple square and the Capitol in the morning. Mormonism is an interesting religion with some very quaint practices, like baptism of the dead. The concept sounds very alien to me, one, because Hinduism doesn’t have any kind of baptism and two, because only the living get baptized in other religions. You can read more about the Mormons and Mormonism here. The website is very well done, even though some of the things written made me go wide-eyed in disbelief. Like the fall of Adam and Eve was not a serious sin and that the fall was necessary for humankind to exist!

Mormonism is a very young religion which was founded by Joseph Smith, when he had a vision of God in the 1820s telling him that the true bible was ‘lost’ over time and instructed him not to join any of the churches. So he found a new one! The interesting fact about Mormonism is that even though the Mormons believe in Jesus Christ as the saviour, most Christians including PG do not consider Mormons as Christians. It took me a while to understand this, but I think I do now.

The pillar with seagulls on top in the picture above has an interesting story behind it. When the pioneers (aka the early Mormons) first got to Utah, their crops were seriously threatened by a swarm of crickets. They prayed for divine intervention to save their crops and help came to them in the form of a flock of seagulls. To commemorate this ‘miracle’, the Mormons built this monument. It does take some amount of faith and credulity to believe in religious miracles, and at the cost of being blasphemous, I’ll say that I’m not the believing kinds!

I’m quite at a loss on how to describe the Tabernacle. It was originally built for Mormon conferences and now is home to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which is apparently world famous. I hadn’t even heard of it until I read the relevant Lonely Planet section.  I’ll start with the least controversial fact on the tabernacle. It has an organ with around 11,000 pipes! The tabernacle is also touted as an acoustic wonder aided by the domed roof. Apparently, even a pin drop at the pulpit can be heard all the way to the back of the building.  The missionaries who gave us the tour, first dropped a pin, then a paper clip and then a nail onto the top of a lectern. Sure enough, all of these made the appropriate sounds. However, the problem was that the sounds were too amplified. PG is convinced they had a microphone somewhere.

Only the members of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) can enter the temple. However, one of the sisters told us that it has several rooms, and multiple weddings can be conducted in a single day. A neat concept for a church that views strengthening family as one of its core values.

Going back to the concept of baptism of the dead, we visited the Family Research Centre which keeps records on some 3 billion deceased people from all over the world! The Library was founded to assist members of LDS trace their genealogy so that their ancestors who aren’t members can be baptized too. I find this more than a little disrespectful of the wishes of the dead. Anyway, I didn’t really expect to find someone in my family, but I did! Or at least someone with the same surname.

Despite my reservations expressed above, I do find the Mormons some of the nicest people I’ve met!

And finally, I’ll end with the image of a bee  to denote how much hard work I’ve been putting into traveling! 🙂 The beehive by the way, is the official emblem of Utah and represents the qualities of industry, and self-reliance greatly respected by the settlers.