We moved to Utah when I was young, so yeah, I claim it. But I’ve always felt like an outsider encompassed in a strange but unique universe.
Utah has gorgeous scenery, from the tips of the Wasatch peaks to the carved sandstone walls in Canyonlands, and within this incredible landscape stand hundreds of wards and temples for a religion I was not a member of.
Childhood was hard, because the Latter-day Saints way of life was prominent in my coming of age, and yet I never gave up my non-religious beliefs. Although it was hard at times, I eventually accepted and even began to defend the Mormon religion.
Many strange things about the beliefs, morals and practices of Mormons get tossed around in conversation. I don’t have room to go into detail, but let’s just these discussions made my imagination run amok, which has always heightened my curiosity about them.
So, you can imagine my excitement when I heard they were going to renovate the Ogden Temple and hold an open house. The day reservations opened, I got on the schedule. Finally, I was going to see into one of their most sacred and revered structures.
The tour began with a short video about love, fidelity, honesty and loyal devotion. Then it was time.
I walked across the garden corridor, from the Tabernacle to the temple, and a burst of excitement went through me: “Oh jeeze, I’m about to see into their secret world.” My imagination was much more vivid when I was younger, but I still had some pretty elaborate ideas about the secret things that happen in “The Temple.”
As I approached the entrance, a woman knelt down to put booties over my shoes. Properly attired, I took four more steps and passed through the threshold of Sunset Gold granite.
We were shuffled into an enclosed staircase like cattle, and my feeling of secrecy intensified as we made our way down a few stories. When I stepped through the beautifully carved three-inch thick African mahogany door, my eyes lit-up from the long vertical stained glass windows.
We entered a room filled with pews and a large glass window. My initial thought was morbid. I thought it looked a a gallery for an execution, like I had seen in the movies, with the large window for witnesses to watch. But not even close. It was where guests sit to watch baptisms, which I thought extravagant and strange.
My morbid thought changed quickly as I caught sight of the 12 full-sized, intricately carved Tiberius Gold marble bulls holding the baptismal bowl on their backs. I was impressed with the baptismal room, like, Wa-wa-whooa! The stories of the cows were true. I hear the ones in the Salt Lake City temple are made of gold.
Moving with the line of spectators in fairly uniform order, I began to notice that every room looked beautifully the same. Slight difference here and there, but relatively identical. Each had chairs or couches with pale paisley upholstery, wood-carved cabinets with a countertop of Absolute Black Granite and incredibly soft, squishy white carpet.
It was all a little too Stepford-ish for me. When a woman in our group called for someone ahead of her, she got looked at by other visitors with distaste and she was even reprimanded by the tour guides. Her being “shshushed” made me revisit the kind of treatment I got when I was younger, because I have always been just a visitor who didn’t want to conform or be obedient.
“The Temple” had been so secretive, private and built up in my mind over the years, seeing it didn’t give me the satisfaction I expected, although the rooms for all the hush-hush things you hear happen at temples were way more extravagant than I had imagined. I envisioned darker upholstery and more color, probably because that is what most churches look like, not uncomfortably sterile and untouchable.
But I got to scratch going to an LDS Temple from my bucket list, and I am satisfied that I won’t be wondering what they look like inside anymore, because I know they all look the same.