Lots-o-religion, Temple Lot Style

Turns out there is more to see in Independence, Missouri than just the Harry S. Truman library. Just walking from the coffee shop on the main drag, I must have seen a dozen or so churches. First Presbyterian. First Baptist. First this and that. There are at least three strains of Mormonism here as well which makes sense since this is the place (no, not that place) that Joseph Smith once declared to be the original location of the Garden of Eden. It’s hot here and it’s not the heat so much as the humidity. Great place for a nudist colony.

Now according to current Mormon doctrine and the two young women missionaries at the Mormon visitor center (one of whom cried while bearing her testimony) this is also the place where all the Saints will gather to await Jesus’ second coming once everything goes to hell in a handbasket. From here, they’ll build a temple on the famed lot. Only problem now? That land is owned by a different, competing splinter sect of Joseph Smith’s original religion, called the Church of Christ. Across the street is the beautiful 30M modernist, spiral of a temple owned by the Community of Christ, another sect until recently known at the Reorganized Latter Day Saints. I took  a tour of the temple. Yeah, unlike the Mormons, they’ll let Gentiles in. Peace seems to be the emphasis here (no battalion museums). The main rectory was quite beautiful, like a modernist version of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake with a wonderful shell-like view overhead. I wonder what the acoustics are like. Anthropologically speaking, it would be interesting to learn more about how these two strains of Mormonism have adapted into two very distinct religions with a shared past. I learned a little bit. From what I could see, it looks like the Community of Christ might be a more liberal faith. They have three women serving amongst their twelve apostles. They also have a man from Africa. Maybe the Mormons, too, will eventually have a black man amongst their twelve, though they’ve just given the priesthood to men of color in 1978 and women? Well, fuggethaboutit. They also have a book called the Doctrine and Covenants, although theirs contains about thirty more prophecies than the one the Mormons have.



Keys to the Kingdom


Toured the museum in the temple. They have the original door of liberty jail as well as a key from the jail. Hmmm… the Mormons also have a key on display at the official Liberty Jail site, a reconstruction complete with mannequins, but the keys didn’t look similar at all. Maybe the Mormon key is also a reconstruction. I know they’re big on keys, though, so I’m sure many of the faithful will be disappointed to hear that. As an interfaith inquiry, I propose they take the key from the visitor’s center and try it in the door. If the key don’t fit, you must acquit… or at least quit displaying it as an actual key. Deal?

One thought on “Lots-o-religion, Temple Lot Style

  1. Evan Eskelson

    As a kid in Florida, mother sent me to vacation bible school at The Church of Christ. Her comments at the time was that she could not find anything too derogatory about them. I remember we sang lots of songs, but they did not have a piano or organ, apparently believing that music was best without accompaniment. I also attended the Lutheran version the following summer, but it was too steeped in religious dogma, so my vacation bible school days soon ended. Contrary to popular opinion, the way to heaven is neither straight nor narrow, with unlimited pathways avaiable to us. Comforting? I’m unsure….


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