Definition of grandiosity:
"showy, ostentatious, pretentious....all refer to conspicuous outward display, either designed to attract attention or likely to do so."
That is the word The Reverend thinks is the most fitting in describing Temple Square, Salt Lake City.
Hierarchial, organized religion, in my opinion, is primarily a business. All businesses must promote their goods or services. Temple Square, dead center in Salt Lake City, is a showy, ostentatious, pretentious and grandiose advertising display for the business of the Latter Day Saints. All perfectly fine in America where religious freedom is guaranteed.
The Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the Tabernacle, and, most importantly, The Temple, are, indeed, breathtakingly ornate and massive buildings that are awe inspiring. That is their purpose.
Dozens of young volunteer "missionaries", mostly young women, are eager to answer any visitor's questions or direct a tour of the Square. I asked questions.
Today, upon reflection, I think my time spent at the Visitor Center (some portions of the "sacred" buildings cannot be visited, others require "missionary" tour guide accompaniment), was the most helpful. In the multiple floor Visitor Center can be seen huge, colorful wall murals, (and I mean huge), depicting biblical prophets and, of course, Jesus, couched in settings of familiar biblical stories. Audio kiosks are in front of each mural to provide context. Joseph Smith, the Mormon founder, is treated in these murals as any other biblical prophet.
It is on the upper floor where an 11 foot Jesus statue is found. The statue is in the center of a domed ceiling theater, muraled top to bottom with a rendering of the universe. Two "missionaries" were giving testimonials as they stood next to the statue.
On the lower level, among other things, is found a large circular display of Bibles and Books of Mormon printed in many of the languages of the world.
After thoughtful consideration.....
The Latter Day Saints, as witnessed during Mitt Romney's primary campaign, are regarded by many "mainstream" Christian groups as a strange, pseudo-Christian cult. There are two primary reasons for this. The LDS Church regards the writings of Joseph Smith as authoritative, as equal to any other biblical book. Evangelical Christians also reject the LDS' doctrine of the "gospel".
Mainstream and evangelical Christianity's "gospel" is defined as the life, death, and resurrection of the god-man Jesus, in an act of substitutionary atonement for the sins of all mankind. To believe this "gospel" equates into personal salvation from future eternal torment at the hands of a pure and angry god.
As defined by one young female Mormon "missionary" I spoke with, the LDS Church's definition of the biblical, and extra-biblical, "gospel" consists of all the doctrines and ordinances of the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
The three slogans of the Protestant Reformation were, "The Bible alone, faith alone, grace alone." Protestant evangelicals see Mormonism as a compromise, or a rejection altogether, of these historical norms.
The very reason the Visitor Center, in my opinion, is overdosed with huge Jesus murals, an 11 foot "testimonial" Jesus statue, Joseph Smith murals alongside Moses and Isaiah, and dozens of translations of the Bible alongside dozens of translations of the Book of Mormon, is to blunt and counter the suspicions of many Christians who don't think Mormonism is truly Christian. All of this blurs the lines for non-discriminating or gullible visitors. All of this reinforces the faith of the already faithful with impressive, massive, and meant-to-intimidate-and-inspire, historical buildings.
It's all a reverse-engineered advertising campaign housed in historic, yet ostentatious and grandiose buildings, for the purpose of stimulating new business customers while encouraging existing ones.
Stopped in at the Republican Party Office on Temple Street. Yeah, I did. I talked for a few minutes to a very congenial and knowledgable young woman. She attributed this week's primary smashing of the 6 term GOP House representative, Chris Conner, to a well run campaign by the young NuWave multi-level marketing-honcho-turned-politician, Jason Chavettz. That and the "amnesty" thing.
She explained that this was going to be a difficult year for her party in Utah. She surprised me by saying that it was the far right folks, you know, the ones I call "wingnuts", who cause the largest problem for the Republican Party. The young GOP'er spoke of the many "screecher"(my word) phone calls she fielded.....consisting of over-the-top complaints about immigration and all the usual cultural issues.
But the most informative answer this young GOP politico gave me was to my question about Utah and the presidential election. She said that beating Obama this year, yes, even in Utah, was going to be "tough".
There's more to tell.....it will have to wait until I get back.
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