Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vampires, Crosses, and LDS Temples

If any of you are familiar with the "Dresden" series by Jim Butcher you'll know his take on vampires and crosses. It isn't the cross itself that keeps these evil creatures at bay, it is our faith in the symbol. So you could flash a cross the size of a skyscraper, and if you don't really believe in what that cross stands for, it won't do anything to protect you. By the same token, any religious symbol can protect you, as long as you have faith in it. It could be cross, a star of David, or a plastic St. Christopher medallion.

I have a strange way of connecting things that seem completely unrelated, but try to stick with me here when I tell you this is how I, as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) feel about the "Big Love" episode that aired this last Sunday and showed parts of our temple ceremony.

I didn't watch it, but I heard about it. I know hundreds, even thousands, watched as something that is sacred to me was exposed to simple curiosity. Curiosity is a human trait and maybe I can't really blame people for watching. People have probably wondered for years what goes on inside our temple walls, and now they know.

And I can't help but think, now that they do know all the secrets, that maybe they're just a little disappointed. No doubt the whole thing came across as kinda silly. To be honest with you, the first time I went through I had to stifle a giggle or two. Yeah, that's what we do. We wear some unusual clothing, do a few funny handshakes and promise to devote our lives to God. You could basically get the same idea at a Bat Mizpha.  

Ultimately, I can't say this episode of Big Love really bothers me that much. You see, like the cross in the Dresden Series, the symbol is useless unless you believe in it.  It's my faith that gives the temple ceremony meaning and power.  My belief that it makes it significant and transcends the...oddness and makes it something that brings joy to my life.  Simple curiosity won't even come close to doing that.

Anyone can watch the temple ceremony, but they'll never understand it. This is by design. The symbols are actually protective.  Until you approach these symbols with sincere faith you can't possibly know what they reveal. 

When I go to the temple I feel a sweet spirit that comforts me.  I feel it in me and it radiates from me.  I feel closer to God--and somehow I doubt if anyone who watched "Big Love" Sunday night felt that.