Regular readers may recall that about a year and a half ago we started a dialogue group in our neighborhood that brings together Mormons and evangelicals that we call Food, Fellowship, and Faith. We get together every other month, and as the name of the group indicates we enjoy a potluck meal, build on our relationships, and discuss aspects of our respective faiths. For the month of July we did something a little different in that we included a "field trip" in this get together in the form of a tour of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple in South Jordan, Utah.
I have seen photographs of temple interiors before, and have spent some time studying the ritual, symbolism, and theology associated with them, but this was my first experience in actually touring a temple. For me the aspects that most stood out were the layout of the architecture wherein the ascension from one level to the next, each room with certain functions moving upward provided a symbolic confirmation and reminder of the Mormon idea of progression and return to Heavenly Father. Another interesting feature that struck me was the large dual mirrors in the Sealing Room, the place where "a bride and bridegroom are married not only for this life but also for eternity." The mirrors stand opposite each other in the room, and when the viewer gazes into them it produces an effect of one mirror mirroring the reflection of the other mirror in repetitious fashion that produces the illusion of infinite regress. This appears to symbolize the eternal nature of families sealed in this specific room. After the temple tour we all went to dinner, enjoyed each other's fellowship, and continued our discussion of our differing understanding of temples in traditional Christianity and Mormonism, a topic first broached in May in anticipation of the temple tour.
Some of the feedback I received during our dinner after the temple tour indicated that our dialogue get togethers are enjoyed quite a bit by all involved. This means that they appear to be successful and my hope is that the dialogues can serve as an example to be repeated elsewhere. In fact, during a recent lunch meeting with Charles Randall Paul of the Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy, who is starting chapters of the foundation within differing religious traditions for the purpose of facilitating dialogue, thought that our dialogue dinners might serve as something to be pointed to and replicated among other Latter-day Saints and evangelicals.
The good experience with the temple tour and dinner, coupled with the positive response to my guest post at the Wild Hunt Pagan blog made for a nice weekend of interreligious dialogue.