Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Don't "go through" the Mormon Temple

In the spirit of my last post I want to re-examine some of the cultural phrases the LDS community has come to use, this time in regards to the House of the Lord.

It is a common phrase in Mormon circles to talk about "going through the temple." But I love how Truman Madsen puts it in his essay "House of Glory" which can now be found in Five Classics of Truman Madsen, that we should talk about the "temple going through us."

I love that paradigm shift. If we are simply going through the temple like it were some sort of amusement ride or rite of passage then we are missing the point entirely. Furthermore, if we are communicating to our youth that the sole goal is to "go through the temple" then again I think we are doing ourselves a great injustice. The temple is a "house of learning", "a house of glory", "a house of faith"; all of those characteristics require time and accumulate in small increases in wisdom due to long exposure to light and truth. The temple should go through us.

Another phrase Truman identifies is "temple work" about which he says, "there is a sense, of course, in which it is work; but too rarely do we speak of "temple worship," which can send us back to our work changed."

Why do we shy away from using the word "worship"? I tend to hear the word 'worship' used mainly in the negative as in 'worshipping' money or cars or other things of this world or in terms of bowing down to idols. However, while that is a apt description for peoples' behavior, using the word strictly for the negative lessens our ability to describe true or pure worship. Alternatively, I do see a point that the word "worship" is sacred, particularly to the individual who is approaching the Lord, and should be used sparily and is perhaps most appropriate in text. But in the end I do think that if we used the phrase more often it would change our outlook on the temple and what we do there.

What do you think? Are there other casual phrases or words that we as members use that we need to re-examine?


Th. said...


Speaking of temple work, "taking out" endowments comes to mind.

And I agree that we need to Mormonize the word "worship" and apply it to our actions.

David Stoker said...

"taking out" our endowments, what does that mean? ! I shutter to think that someone overhearing two mormons talk about 'taking out' their endowments think of fast food or a doggy bag.

Although truthfully it is a tricky thing to describe, it is not really an 'initiation' or 'induction' and both of those carry modern connotations of gangs or college fraternities. Perhaps something as simply as 'participation' in the 'endowment ceremony' or 'receiving' an endowment, although to my philanthropic ears that sounds like someone is receiving a charitable donation.

However I do prefer the word 'receive' compared to 'take' for many reasons- receiving implies someone must be 'receptive.' Receiving can imply someone is admitted into someone's presence, the focus being on people and relationships, so not only the reception of a thing of knowledge. I vote for 'receive.'

Julie Bradshaw said...

I also sort of cringe at the phrase "taking out" one's endowment. It makes it sound like it is something that is our right to take and remove from the temple when in reality it is something we must be worthy to receive. I think receive is the best word, and I think feeling like it's a charitable donation is actually an apt description. Our endowment is great evidence of God's love for and faith in us. The question is what we will do with such a gift.

Can't think of any other specific phraseology off the bat. I'll let you know if I do.

Mom said...

Enjoyed your comments. I, too, appreciate the difference in connotation between temple "work" and temple "worship" and greatly prefer the latter. Yesterday, the president of the Arizona Temple and his wife spoke in our Sacrament mtg. Each used "worship" several times in describing temple activity.

I think "taking out" one's endowment is a phrase more commonly heard from the older generation (like your grandparents and their contemporaries). "Receive" is not only more accurate but also reflects an attitude of humility about the great gifts being offered.

Paul said...

Rejecting the nominalization and objectification of EVERYTHING (i.e. the endowment as a 'thing' that we somehow 'acquire') we could reflect the verbiage of Acts and say we go to the temple to "be endowed."

David Stoker said...

Paul, I really like your thought and the line of thinking it inspires. I think there is room for both sets: in one sense the endowment is a 'thing,' a gift, on another level it is an act, we 'become' endowed with power and light. I can see it both ways with different nuances that gives it greater richness.