Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Salt Lake Tribune Columnist Robert Kirby Reports On His Media Tour Of The New LDS Temple In Draper, Utah; Not Offered The "Secret Handshake"

Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Kirby took a tour of the new Draper, Utah temple (pictured at left, courtesy of the DraperTemple blog) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located at 14065 Canyon Vista Drive, on Friday January 9th, 2008, and has written about the experience in his latest column. The column is seasoned with a bit of humor, but is respectful enough to bring at least a brief smile to the faces of even the starchiest of Latter-day Saints. And after all, we do have a lot to smile about. Celestial glory with exaltation is not exactly a depressing prospect; 2 Nephi 2:25 states, "Adam fell that men might be, and men are, that they might have JOY". So the Lord does give us permission to smile...once in a while.

Kirby was part of a contingent of several dozen journalists offered a special press tour by the LDS Church. The escort was none other than Elder M. Russell Ballard, one of the apostles on the Church's Quorum of the Twelve. They visited ordinance rooms, sealing rooms, and the baptismal font; only a storage room for audiovisual equipment was off limits. And the construction shows how the Church has truly become a world church, featuring granite from China, floor tiles from France, and polished hardwood from Africa. Photos of the interior available HERE. [Ed. Note: Lynn Arave from the Deseret News was also part of the tour and published a separate account HERE.]

Of course, Kirby is a former cop. And cops tend to develop a strange sense of humor to cope with the emotional ravages of the job; for example, tasering a 14-year-old boy is not a natural reaction for a cop, even if the boy clearly deserves it. So when Kirby saw the temple's baptismal font, he had to fight back a brief urge to toss in a penny and make a wish. [Ed. Note: Good thing Kirby's not from California; he might have wanted to toss in an IOU instead of a penny.]

Conspicuous by its absence is any reference to what ABC Nightline, in their recent profile about the LDS Church, called the "Secret Handshake". ABC inexplicably regurgitated that classic anti-Mormon canard in their report, saying that Church officials would not explain it to them except to reiterate that it is sacred rather than secret. The so-called "Secret Handshake" is merely just another part of the temple ceremony, primary symbolic in value just like the Sacramental emblems passed each Sunday in Sacrament Meeting. They too are symbolic, symbolizing the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, although we Mormons do not believe in transubstantiation.

But here's a clue for the media. The "Secret Handshake" has absolutely no effect unless you're also wearing the "Magic Underwear". This, of course, is yet another anti-Mormon canard describing our temple garments, which are worn after members undertake their endowments. While primarily symbolic in nature, some have testified as to their protective qualities under certain circumstances.

For historical reference on actual temple ceremonies, here is a link to the Mormon Research Ministry website describing temple ceremonies as they once were. Although MRM is an anti-Mormon apologetic website, their discourse is comparatively civil and restrained.

You can read more about LDS temples and their purposes HERE. The LDS Church will continue to conduct an open house for members of the public through March 14th, after which it will be open only to temple-worthy Latter-day Saints who possess a temple recommend. Here are the official instructions for those wishing to attend an open house:

The new Draper Utah Temple will be open for public tours from Thursday, January 15, through Saturday, March 14, 2009. All are welcome to attend including children. Tours are FREE, but a reservation is requested. Please review the information below:

Reservations: You may reserve online (10-ticket limit), call 801-240-7932 in the Salt Lake area, or call toll free 1-800-537-6181.
Dates: Thursday, January 15–Saturday, March 14, 2009 (closed Sundays)
Hours: Sunday, Closed; Monday, 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.; Tuesday–Saturday, 8:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.; additional times may be made available depending on demand.
Cost: The open house is FREE, but a reservation is requested.
Parking: Parking attendants will direct you to an available parking space when you arrive.
Dress: Church dress is encouraged.

Dedication: The actual dedication will take place in 12 separate sessions during the period Friday–Sunday, March 20–22, 2009. This will NOT be open to the general public. Dedication tickets will be issued through local priesthood leaders.

Never been to an LDS temple open house? Based upon my visit to the Jordan River Temple open house over 20 years ago, here's what you can expect:

(1). Visitors are formed into groups and then escorted. The tour lasts 90 minutes.
(2). Normally starts out with a short 10-minute film highlighting the LDS Church and the role of temples.
(3). Then you'll be escorted through the various rooms.

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