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Gutting Pioneer Temple History (Part 7 of 8)


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?

Steve:  Yeah.

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….

The Salt Lake Temple is undergoing major renovations.

 

 

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Different Types of Freemasonry (Part 4 of 7)

There are many types of masonry.  Freemasonry has broken up into several different organizations.  In our next conversation with Clair Barrus, he will tell us a little bit about these different organizations and how they differ from each other.

Clair:  So it’s a little bit complicated. So the foundational masonry is Craft or Blue Lodge Masonry, that’s the first three degrees. These other things that branch out from that are not above it. This is considered top: Master Mason. There’s three degrees and you end up Master Mason.

There’s York Rite and there’s Scottish Rite masonry. In America, different degrees would kind of get imported over from Europe where masonry was more established and would independently get started up here and there. Then as time went on, people would say, we better organize this group of degrees, and we better organize that group of degrees. So you have a building of what they called York Rite, cried even though there was another York Rite in England, but there’s an Americanized York Rite, and that’s primarily what I talk about. There’s a Scottish Rite that was more popular over there, but that was also here. They all tell similar stories. They all talk about temple. Masonry is all about temple, either temple grounds, or in the temple, itself. It can be different temples, but it’s all about temples.  In York Rite, you have the foundational three degrees, the first three degrees of Craft or Blue Lodge Masonry, it’s called. And then you have a set of degrees called Royal Arch Masonry, another set of degrees called Cryptic Rite Masonry, and another set of degrees called Knights Templar Masonry. So that’s the York Rite, and each of those sets of degrees have interesting things. I think in particular, Royal Arch Masonry and Cryptic Rite Masonry have interesting parallels with Joseph Smith, and may have been influential.

Clair:  So, can I tell you about Cryptic Rite Masonry?

GT:  Yeah.

Clair:  So Cryptic Rite Masonry comes from the word crypt. The rituals and the myth of Cryptic Rite Masonry has to do with Enoch, the prophet Enoch and mount Moriah, which later is where Solomon’s Temple would be built.

Clair:  Now let’s fast forward to Royal Arch Masonry, which is really the story of masonry in about 600 BC.   [This is] about the time that the temple gets destroyed. There are temple ruins. Some people come, going through the temple rubble, masons find a stone lid, which is the lid that Enoch had created, which is the entrance to the cryptic temple. They open up that stone lid, they descend down into there, and there they find the Ark of the Covenant. There are actually nine chambers in this underground temple, and the Ark of the Covenant. So there’s a missing piece of the story. We don’t know how the ark got in there, but it does. This ought to sound familiar to Indiana Jones fans.

GT:  Yes, I was just going to say [that.]

Check out our conversation….

Clair Barrus introduces several different types of masonry.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Clair!

408:  Is Book of Mormon anti-Masonic? (Barrus)

407:  Oliver Cowdery’s Rod of Revelation (Barrus)

406:  Masonic Connections in Oliver Cowdery’s Family (Barrus)

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Mormon-Mason Similarities/Differences (Part 3 of 3)

Many people know that there are similarities between Mormon temple ceremonies and Masonic ceremonies.  What are the similarities and differences?  Cheryl Bruno will answer these questions.

GT:  I just had a conversation with somebody, and he says, “Do you know why they made these changes in 1990?”   I know there was some big differences there. It sounds like there are different beliefs in that.  My response was, “Well, it was due to The Godmakers,[1] and that the church has tried to kind of sever some of the Masonic elements to make it more different.  Is that is that a fair characterization?

Cheryl:  I have a little different view and I am a believing Mormon, so that’s where I’m coming from. But I feel that the changes that they make in the temple ceremony make them more meaningful for people today.  Symbolism is really important to me and sometimes I think it’s a real shame that some of those symbols are lost, but when it no longer means the same thing to people that are going through the temple, it needs to be removed. One of these [symbols] is women veiling their faces.  That used to have a very different meaning to women than it does today. Today, it’s very oppressive. So it needs to be taken out of the ceremony, because it’s seen by women now as being oppressive. That’s not what the symbol was meant to convey, so it’s appropriate to change things so that the ritual now conveys something that it’s meant to convey. Because society has changed, and because people change, we need to also keep up with that in our [ceremonies].

GT:  That’s interesting that you mentioned that. Tell me if this is a true statement. I believe in Joseph Smith’s day, in order to be a Mason, you had to be a man, you could not be a woman. So I’ve heard that when Joseph introduced the endowment ceremony, and he allowed women to participate, that that made a lot of Masons angry because women weren’t supposed to be part of this. Is that true?

Cheryl:  No, and I wonder where that comes from, because I’ve tried to track down where that idea is coming from. First of all, there were women Masons in Joseph Smith’s time.

GT:  Oh, really?

Cheryl:  There were and we believe that some of the women in Nauvoo actually were part of, maybe the Heroines of Jericho. There’s a little bit of evidence there, which will be in my book, but I don’t think it had a lot to do with anything. But the Grand Lodge of Illinois had a lot of different problems with things that Joseph Smith was doing or that Masons were doing in Nauvoo. They come out with it quite clearly. “We’re having a problem with this or we’re having a problem with that,” and never was it ever said contemporaneously, that they had a problem with women being brought into ritual.

[1] The Godmakers was a movie put together by former Mormon Ed Decker that tried to make temple endowment ceremonies look strange.  It was very popular among evangelicals and anti-Mormons in the late 1980s. Jerald Tanner, a critic of Mormonism, was equally critical of the movie as an exaggeration of Mormon temple ceremonies.

Check out our conversation….

What are the Masonic-Mormon similarities and differences with LDS temple ceremonies?