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LDS Temples

May 8, 2012

I have read many people talk about the peace they have felt in the temple. The sublime connection to the divine.

I have read many people as well discuss the trauma they have felt in the temple. The profound disagreement they had with something they experienced within in.

Like many things in my church experience, I don’t fit either extreme. The temple was just another thing.

I guess as a caveat, I should say that I disaffected well before the age where one is endowed, so I haven’t gone through those entire parts of the temple experience. Basically, all I have to go from are the times I went for proxy baptisms.

I didn’t like going to the temple. That isn’t to say that I hated it, or that I was traumatized, but I didn’t like it. I think that temples are beautiful to be outside of, but inside, the experience is underwhelming. Things just feel so…sterile…and it’s not sterile in a bleeding-edge-tech-medical-lab environment sort of way. It’s sterile in a kind of stale, old way. Sitting in the waiting room before or after going to the baptismal font…such a boring experience.

I think it was even worse after the baptisms. As I would dry off, my skin would become particularly dry and ashy….maybe I would have had more positive experiences if I thought it were OK to bring lotion? (I wonder how much that says about the difference between black experience and white experience in the church. I mean, I know some white folks who claim that their skin gets ashy…but…)

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6 Comments
  1. dustydistaff permalink

    Heh. I think that’s more of a guy experience than a black experience–most girls I know wouldn’t think twice about bringing lotion to put on after baptisms. 🙂
    But I sympathize with the lack of reaction to temple ceremonies. My main reaction to my endowment was that the whole experience was kind of boring and goofy. On later visits the temple would make me really sad, but more because I wasn’t finding anything profound or peaceful there. Not because of anything particular about the ceremonies themselves.

  2. dustydistaff permalink

    Oh, but I agree about getting ashy. I get dry skin and I guess it’s technically ashy, but it’s not very noticeable because I’m already white and pasty-looking in the winter. It’s much easier to see on darker skin. 😦

  3. John Gustav-Wrathall permalink

    Andrew, I actually think about you and your story a lot.

    I guess should preface by saying I’m really, really grateful for the exmo blogging community. The other day I was interacting on Facebook with a couple of exmo gay guys, and they were talking about how they frequently get a kind of “buzz off” reaction from folks on the more faithful end of the spectrum of the Mormon blogging world. Some folks have a sort of “love it or leave it” mentality… And when they put it in those stark terms I realized that’s totally the opposite of how I feel. I’m actually grateful that there are people on line who are engaging with faith (with my faith) from whatever perspective. I would never, ever want to give anybody who wants to engage the message that they’re not welcome to.

    Andrew, if you lived in Minneapolis, I would SO want you in my ward. I would feel a great loss, a great sadness about not having you there.

    I don’t completely understand why some folks seem to have really profound spiritual experiences and others just don’t. And I know it’s not for lack of trying or for unworthiness or whatever other stingy-hearted excuses some believers use to explain it. I do think it has something to do with 1 Corinthians 12: 14-25. Somehow, I think God wants us to have a certain number of people in every ward who say, “Hey! Wait a second… Let’s think about this from this (different, unorthodox) perspective.” Everyone has different gifts.

    It breaks my heart if we haven’t loved each other sufficiently for folks with that “different” perspective to feel like aliens in the midst of the Saints, rather than as brothers and sisters who “get” things in a different way. Just my two cents.

    So since the exmo online community is at least some way for you to stay engaged and to stay connected, and for me to think of you as a brother, I say God bless it.

  4. dustydistaff,

    On later visits the temple would make me really sad, but more because I wasn’t finding anything profound or peaceful there. Not because of anything particular about the ceremonies themselves.

    I find this sentiment saddening just to read about it. It’s like…with everyone talking about how great the temple is, you sometimes wonder what’s what with you since you don’t get any of that.

    John,

    The other day I was interacting on Facebook with a couple of exmo gay guys, and they were talking about how they frequently get a kind of “buzz off” reaction from folks on the more faithful end of the spectrum of the Mormon blogging world. Some folks have a sort of “love it or leave it” mentality… And when they put it in those stark terms I realized that’s totally the opposite of how I feel. I’m actually grateful that there are people on line who are engaging with faith (with my faith) from whatever perspective. I would never, ever want to give anybody who wants to engage the message that they’re not welcome to.

    But isn’t that because in some ways, you’re in the same boat. i.e., when people find out you’re excommunicated, and you have no inclination to do what you would have to do to be readmitted as a member, more faithful members could easily take a similar position with you: love it or leave it.

    That being said, I guess things are a little bit different…regardless of your membership status, I don’t think anyone who’s paying even the slightest bit of attention can deny that you are on the side of “loving it.” But I guess that’s not as much the case for many ex-Mormons.

    People throw the anti-Mormon term around too much, but are you grateful for anti-Mormons (whoever can be defined as such) online who are engaging with faith from an anti- perspective?

    The body of Christ analogy is one thing, but with what we know about bodies, it has problems. I mean, there can be malfunctioning parts. Parts that once were productive can become cancerous or diseased and in need of removal. Maybe some people are too eager to start amputating, but there’s no question that there is *some line* where the body has to protect itself, even if it means separating from former elements that composed it. I think there’s a difference between looking at things from a different, unorthodox perspective and not believing it at all.

  5. John Gustav-Wrathall permalink

    Andrew – I want to be a member. I know at least some members want to act as if this is a really simple choice and I’ve made the rebellious one (as I’ve posted recently). As you clearly understand, it’s not that simple.

    Yeah…I think “anti-” is WAY too simplistic. In the interaction I was specifically referring to, I think a lot (probably most) members would definitely put the folks I was interacting with in the “anti-” category. The guys I was talking to might put themselves in that category for all I know. But the “anti-” label ignores the fact that a lot of people have good reasons to be angry, people who’ve been really hurt. And working through one’s anger is a form of “engagement.” I think I can say this from experience. I was felt very angry, hurt and betrayed for a very long time…

    There did come a point where I realized that in order to grow or advance personally, I needed to let go of the anger… There was a point where it really wasn’t helping me.

    Sometimes I’ll try to connect/engage with folks who are still in anger/hurt/betrayal mode… Sometimes it doesn’t help for me to engage, so I just drop out of the conversation.

    Everybody’s welcome as far as I’m concerned.

    As far as the body of Christ analogy goes… The one thing I KNOW for sure is it’s not my call to decide who’s in and who’s out. My job is to welcome everyone and anyone in, from the highways and byways.

    I witnessed a very interesting situation at Church, where this one brother was coming to Church and was just being SUPER obnoxious. Making really obnoxious, deliberately provocative (sometimes almost obscene) comments in priesthood meeting and Sunday School. Our elder’s quorum president didn’t try to shut him down; he just redirected. Over time, I watched how our EQ president befriended him and won his trust… It was really kind of amazing. This guy is still going to Church but he participates in a much more appropriate (if still kind of quirky) way. In fact, he was at the ward temple night I recently blogged about. I think ultimately he was hurting and lonely in some way, and rather than excluding, shutting him out, that thing that fixed things was to bring him more in.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re beyond the pale. Less than I am, technically.

  6. John Gustav-Wrathall permalink

    I should add though…

    You are using the body analogy here to refer to people’s behavior…

    I’m using the body analogy to try to understand people’s gifts.

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