Recently the LDS Church announced the seismic improvements and removal of the beautiful murals in the Salt Lake Temple. Steve Pynakker is the evangelical host of Mormon Book Reviews and he asked me what I thought about the announcement. To say I’m disappointed in the removal of these pioneer-era murals in an understatement.
Steve: It was interesting, too, one of the things that I witnessed was this massive reconstructing of the temple where they’re doing all this refurbishing, and I’m looking and it just seems like, as an outsider, based on what I’m seeing, and some of the photographs people are taking, they’re actually taking off some of the symbols that were on there. It seems like it’s kind of a whitewashing.
GT: On the outside?
GT: Oh, maybe you’ve been paying more attention than I have? I hope not.
Steve: Yeah, somebody pointed out that one of the symbols that was originally carved in there was taken out, they took a picture of that. It just seems like they’re really radically changing the Salt Lake temple. What are they trying to do, modernize it for the 21st century?
GT: I know, to some degree, they were trying to make it more earthquake proof. I have no problem with that. But I’m appalled that we’re getting rid of the beautiful murals that are inside. They have a model, you can see, hopefully. They’re redoing the whole Temple Square. But there used to be a model of the Salt Lake temple where you could see scale versions of those murals and to have those removed is a travesty, in my opinion. President Nelson wants to make it efficient. There’s more of this world than everything needs to be efficient and to lose the history and the symbols for the sake of efficiency, I think is bad, terrible.
Steve: I just remember when we were on that very first phone call, the news flashed right when it happened, and you were not a happy camper.
GT: No. I’ve tried to be pretty low key about it. But yeah, I’m extremely bothered by it.
Steve: Well, and just as the historian…
GT: The one thing that I will say, Manti, they wanted to they want to do the same thing to the Manti temple, because Manti is a pioneer temple as well. The thing that bothers me about Salt Lake, they did this without any input from the people and then when they said “We’re going to do the same thing to Manti,” the people in Manti were like, “No.” They’ve already done this to the Logan Temple, and they’ve done it at the St. George Temple. It’s like, no, those were pioneer era temples. They need to be pioneer era temples. I’m so grateful for President Hinckley for rebuilding the Nauvoo Temple, but in my mind, I wish that they would they would have [restored it like it was originally built.] The exterior looks the same, but the interior is completely different. In the original Nauvoo Temple, they had two ballrooms, essentially. They danced. They literally held dances in the temple, and now they’ve replaced it with endowments stuff and that’s great, that’s fine. But, the original Nauvoo Temple also had a weathervane on top of it, and instead of an upright Moroni, it was a flying angel with a trumpet, like in [the Book of] Revelation. It would turn with the wind. I wish we had the flying angel on the Nauvoo Temple. President Hinckley said, “Well, I like the standing one better.” And he’s paying the money. So he [gets] to do his choice, but I wish that we had restored the Nauvoo Temple, the way it was originally built.
Check out our conversation….