How the other half lives...
Our field trip to a Mormon temple- part 1
If you have ever been in the Bay Area, you will recognize the other side of the building pictured above. Among the buildings that sit atop the hills that hem the cities of the East Bay into their pocket next to the sea, the most familiar is this space ship-looking building. It is, of course, the Mormon temple for the area. And as I have stated from having passed the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City and having heard the stories of people who have toured these imposing structures, they are like the Vatican if redone by Disney.
I have known Mormons all my life. In all of my honors classes at my public high school in California, Mormons were well represented. (And Mexican Americans were not, even though they constituted 60% of the student body, but that is the subject of another griping post entirely.) The Mormon kids were almost always blondes and very light complected; they were often the best students and athletes. They were almost pitied by others since the Mormon church in Hollister was right next door to the high school, and it was known that they had to go to their Mormon religion classes before regular classes started.
Fast forward to my renegade Lefebvrist seminary years: on the plane going to Buenos Aires that I took in order to become a crypto-fascist integrist seminarian, most of my travelling companions were bubbly, all-American Mormon missionaries ready to spread the Gospel of Joseph Smith in the Southern Cone. One of the first structures I saw in Argentina was the Mormon temple for Buenos Aires. It was right off the airport. How convenient...
Anyway, there were actually a few freakish incidents involving Mormons during my time in South America. Everywhere I went, the only Americans I would see were Mormons. Mormons riding bikes in the suburbs of the Capital. Mormons in front of the National Shrine in Lujan. I nearly got a group of fellow SSPX seminarians into a fist fight with a group of blonde Mormon kids right next to the obelisk on the Avenida 9 de Julio. And I saw Mormons on dirt roads in the countryside outside of Cordoba...
But that is worlds away now. Finally having a bit more time on my hands to do frivolous things, I finally decided to visit the people I have tormented so much on their own territory. And I decided to take AG with me so that I would control myself and play nice.
First of all, I have to say if you are ever in the Bay Area and are tired of snapping photos of the Golden Gate Bridge for the millionth time, this temple is well worth the visit. Pray particularily for a clear day because the view from it is gorgeous. The grounds are well kept, the fountain is beautiful, and the structure itself is, well... something to see.
After touring the grounds on top of the Oakland hills, we finally decided, with some forboding, to enter into the visitors center for some informative attempts to learn Mormon doctrine. We skipped the part where the statue of Jesus "talks" to you. (Again, the Vatican if done by Disney.) We went over to the reproductions of Christian religious art and the model sized replica of the city of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. (Which was kinda cool.)
Next, we went to the large doll house looking structure where an interactive video presentation was given of Mormon children answering such questions like, "who is God?" and "what happens after we die?" All very cute to be sure.
Next, we saw an "original" copy of the Book of Mormon, all the way back from 1830. I'll give it a two and a half out of five stars.
Next, we went into a little room where we were presented with photos of the Mormon hierarchy: a bunch of smiling white men in nice suits. (I think I whispered to AG: "Our hierarchy are much snazzier dressers.") In another interactive video presentation, each one explained a part of Mormon history and doctrine and swore that they were completely sincere and could be trusted to be telling the truth. ("I'm white, middle class, and have nice teeth. And I kinda look like your Uncle Bill. So what I am saying is true...")
But what they said, well, that really got my goat...
But for that you will have to wait for part two. This post is too long as it is.