Monthly Archives: July 2009

Oquirrh Mountain Temple

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to take my family to the open house for the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, which is just a few minutes from my house. It is a beautiful structure and we had a great experience touring the building. Here are a few photos of the new temple, courtesy of the Deseret News and the LDS Church News.


The new temple is situated on the West bench in the Salt Lake Valley in South Jordan. This picture shows the Oquirrh Mountains in the background (for which the temple was named). It also shows two LDS chapels near the temple. Church buildings which are that close to one another are not uncommon in this area, which is the heartland of the Mormon Church.


This picture shows the Oquirrh Mountain Temple with the Draper temple (dedicated earlier this year) in the background. Utah now has 13 temples, including six within a 30-minute drive from my home in Riverton.


The lower level of the temple features a baptismal font where church members are baptized on behalf of their deceased ancestors. Mormons believe  that those ancestors in the world of spirits can then choose whether to accept that ordinance performed in their behalf. The sculptures of the oxen represent the 12 tribes of Israel.


This grand staircase inside the new temple shows the superb design and workmanship of the edifice.


This is an instruction room where church members learn more about God’s plan of salvation and make promises / covenants with Him to keep His laws.


The Celestial Room (above) symbolically represents entering the presence of God. It is an awe-inspiring room where church members strive to draw closer to Jesus Christ.


Sealing Rooms, like this one inside the new temple,  are rooms where couples can be married / sealed to one another for eternity. Robin and I were sealed in a room like this one in the Salt Lake Temple 12 years ago.

I recently read a blog from a Unitarian Pastor who toured the temple and indicated his surprise at the intimacy of the rooms in the temple. (Few of the rooms have a capacity greater than about 50 people.) Instead of a grand space for worship, like in a cathedral, Mormon temples feature smaller rooms that focus on individual meditation and worship. The blogger discussed the idea of sacred spaces in our lives. For Mormons, like myself, temples represent a place of refuge from our hectic lives, a place to evaluate one’s relationship to God and make plans for improvement. Temples offer a place for peace and serenity in an inspiring setting. What are the sacred places in your life?

(The temple open house continues until Saturday, August 1. After that, it will be closed to the general public. I highly recommend a tour. Reservations can be made by visiting


Posted by on July 23, 2009 in Spirituality


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Remembering the Dead

Michael Jackson. Farrah Fawcet. Ed McMahon. Billy Mays. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reminded that celebrities die just like the rest of us.

This year, I have visited eight different cemeteries in the course of my calling as a counselor in the bishopric and as I have sought to honor my own relatives who have passed away. I have been to five funerals/viewings in the past seven months, including three where I sang. I’ve even recently done some banking business with a mortuary in Salt Lake City. So naturally, I have been thinking about the meaning of cemeteries and grave markers. I’ve also been pondering a bit on how I want to be remembered.

Earlier this week at a viewing of a friend’s mother, I saw this quote at a cemetery. I jotted it down because I liked what it said:

“This is a cemetery. Lives are commemorated. Deaths are recorded. Families are reunited. Memories are made tangible and love is undisguised. This is a cemetery. Communities accord respect. Families bestow reverence. Historians seek information and our heritage is thereby enriched. Testimonies of devotion, pride and remembrance are cast in bronze to pay warm tribute to the accomplishments and to the life – not the death of a loved one. A cemetery is a homeland for memorials that are a sustaining source of comfort to the living. A cemetery is a history of people – a perpetual record of yesterday, a sanctuary of peace and quiet today. This cemetery exists because every life is worth loving and remembering always.”

Over Memorial Day Weekend, we took the kids to the Salt Lake Cemetery to visit the graves of some of the prominent leaders in the LDS Church. It turned out to be a bit of a scavenger hunt and we found over half of the gravesites of the 15 deceased church presidents. Here are a few pictures of their graves:

Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of LDS Church

Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of LDS Church

Howard W. Hunter, 14th President of the LDS Church

Howard W. Hunter, 14th President of the LDS Church

Spencer W. Kimball, 12 President of LDS Church

Spencer W. Kimball, 12 President of LDS Church

Harold B. Lee, 11th President of LDS Church

Harold B. Lee, 11th President of LDS Church

Joseph Fielding Smith, 10th President of LDS Church

Joseph Fielding Smith, 10th President of LDS Church

David O. Mckay, 9th President of LDS Church

David O. Mckay, 9th President of LDS Church

Wilford Woodruff, 4th President of LDS Church

Wilford Woodruff, 4th President of LDS Church

It’s interesting to think of how our loved ones would summarize our lives in a few short words carved into stone or cast into bronze. What would you want your epitaph to say? What are your thoughts on how to remember and honor the dead?

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Posted by on July 8, 2009 in Spirituality


Pessimism or Optimism?

My cousin recently blogged about how she is extremely optimistic and pessimistic at the same time about world events. She specifically discussed the recent election protests in Iran and the possibility of change coming to that country. She said she feels hopeful and fearful at the same time. My cousin and I both grew up when the Iron Curtain seemed impenetrable, when the Soviet Union was the evil empire full of our enemies. And then change came to their country, almost overnight. So it will be fascinating to see what happens in Iran…

Like my cousin, I also feel tremendous pessimism and optimism about the world and its future. For example, I am unsure what to believe about our American economy and system of government. On one hand, I want very much for President Obama to succeed and to see our nation prosper economically. I want to see positive changes to our health care system. At the same time, I am quite concerned about government intervention and the massive expansion we’ve been witnessing. As one commentator put it recently, Obama wants us to believe that the recent enormous government spending and intrusion into the free markets was necessary to save our system. Perhaps the truth is that the recession was the excuse President Obama needed to transform our government/economy into a much more European-like system, where government entitlements are widespread and where the government controls much more of the free markets, making them much less free, and consequently, less efficient.

(Some would suggest that a similar situation occurred when George W. Bush used 9-11 as an excuse to invade Iraq and remove Saddam from power, something Bush really wanted to do anyway but needed an excuse to do it, even though no direct link between 9-11 and Iraq ever existed.)

Anyway, the strange thing about this mix of fear and hope is that they can somehow co-exist in us. I fear a lot of things: Will I die young like my father? Will I get diabetes, heart disease and cancer like many of my relatives? How could I ever recover if I lost one of my children? How could I go on if my sweet wife were taken from me? I don’t like to dwell on these thoughts too much since they just make me expend energy unnecessarily by pondering “what if” scenarios.

A part of me fears the world that my children will have to face with its increasing moral degeneracy; at the same time, I look forward to the future with great anticipation. There are so many great things are ahead of us; new technologies, new ideas, new works of art and entertainment. Some people see the world as getting worse and worse every day. I choose to see it as continually improving in many ways. Certainly, more and more are choosing unrighteous paths and sin is becoming increasingly acceptable. But many are also deepening their devotion to Jesus Christ and his teachings and living better lives than ever before.

So, are you pessimistic or optimistic? Which is better: a healthy pessimism that grounds you in reality and keeps you from being disillusioned or optimism that makes you see the world through rose-colored glasses, but also could be setting you up for eventual disappointment?

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Posted by on July 1, 2009 in Politics / Economy