Three Messages

Like many of the Saints, I find that the temple has a variety of messages. Some are gender-related. For example, there’s the exterior stone structure. The high granite walls rise for seven floors. Their smooth surface is unbroken except by a single door through which both men and women pass, presenting alike their recommends and then entering the House of God.

Then there’s the offices. The three offices assigned to the presidency are grouped together in a single hallway off the main hallway. This gives them access to the staff in the Recorder’s work area, which is something of a nerve center for the temple. Each office is quite roomy and features beautiful dark wood paneling, a couch, and a large desk with a high-backed executive’s chair. There’s also a bathroom, obviously intended for just these men.

The matron’s office is across the main hall, off a secondary hallway giving her access to the Nursery. Her office has wallpaper, a couch, and a nice writing desk of the type traditionally associated with women. The offices assigned to the matron’s assistants are about 75 feet away, in opposite directions from each other, outside and down another main hallway. The walls are painted a stark white. Each office is about half the size of the janitor’s closet at the end of the hallway.

So there’s a second message here, too, but in drywall, paneling, and paint rather than stone. And although I have a certain morbid curiosity about the gender-relationships of the person who designed the interior, I don’t really want to look too closely at the message it conveys. It’s certainly not the fault of the current occupants.

Finally, there’s a third message, this time in the organization of the folks who work in the temple. Unless you have served there, you will probably be surprised at how much of the hour-by-hour operation is run by women. Discretion prevents further explanation, but it seems to simply be the best way to “git ‘er done.” And nobody, male or female, really thinks much of it as they work together in their assigned tasks. It’s just the way it is.

I think I have seen this pattern elsewhere. We all live together under the stone-solid promise of passages such as Gal 3:27-28:

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

There are, however, events, activities, and situations that seem unlikely to meet the inclusivity of Galatians. Sometimes I sense that those involved feel a little like they’re trapped in a “layout” they didn’t design. At some level, they’d rather it were different if they could just figure out how to make it so without gutting the place.

But there’s also real joy in serving together. There are men who can somehow “season” the traditional with enough love, laughter, and common sense that it’s a pleasure to be part of their efforts. And there are women who routinely exercise initiative with their own spiritual, emotional, and intellectual contributions, matching the best formal leadership from less formal positions. It’s one of life’s great pleasures to be around them when they stand together to “git ‘er done.”

In the end, it’s like we have a structure without quite all ideas we need in order to make the interior match the exterior. It’s like knowing the end state, and not knowing precisely how to get there. But it’s a good experience to come out of the “offices” and deal as best we can with what we have while we wait and work in Christian hope for the better state that will eventually unite us all.

P.S. I know this is quite a break from our usual nerdified atmosphere. Those of you who feel faint should click here.

  • Mark IV

    Hi, Mogget the cable guy,

    In the end, it’s like we have a structure without quite all ideas we need in order to make the interior match the exterior. It’s like knowing the end state, and not knowing precisely how to get there. But it’s a good experience to come out of the “offices” and deal as best we can with what we have while we wait and work in Christian hope for the better state that will eventually unite us all.

    Very well said, and thank you. The church really does sometimes give us just the raw material, and we are left to build Zion according to our best efforts and inspiration. And the way women and men work together in the church and in the temple can often be inspiring. Sometimes it is funny, too. I was serving in the iniatory part of the temple once as a patron. The man who was officiating (temple worker A) was interrupted by a breathless temple worker B, and the following conversation took place:

    B: You need to come up to the veil right now.

    A: Well, president X told me I wasn’t needed at the veil, and that I should stay here in the iniatory.

    B: Your wife told me to tell you to come to the veil.

    A: The Boss has spoken.

    He left me sitting there for about twenty minutes until he got back.

    Now I have another reason to like FPR. Where else can I find erudite and enlightening discussions about the scriptures, mingled with philosophies of the blue collar comedy tour?

  • Mark IV

    It’s one of life’s great pleasures to be around them when they stand together to “git ‘er done.”

    Yes, I have experienced this as well, and I know precisely what you mean. That is the gospel at its best.

    It is also one of life’s pleasures to read your posts, Mogget. I guess you can tell I really liked what you wrote here.

  • Mogget

    Oh man, ain’t that the way it really goes! I just laughed so hard that the real Mogget hopped off the desk and got under the bed.

    And I read somewhere yesterday that Mark Twain found the definitive biblical injunction against polygamy in Mt 6:24, “no man can serve two masters.”

    I’m glad you enjoy our quiet, dusty, little den. I blog for my own reasons, but your appreciation definitely adds to my pleasure.

    But a question…why did you label me “Mogget the cable guy?” There are actually reasons that might be appropriate, but I can’t imagine that you know them…?

  • Mark IV

    Mogget,

    “Git ‘er done” is the tag line of Larry the cable guy, whose potty mouth and off-color humor is a staple on the blue collar comedy tour.

    I am almost, but not quite, ashamed to admit that I often laugh at his performance.

  • Mogget

    Ah….light dawns. I don’t have a TV and didn’t get the initial reference to the “blue collor comedy tour,” either. I am, at heart, a terrible nerd.

    I hope everyone has a nice shrink to help them through the cognitive dissonance that’ll probably ensue from reading this post…

    On edit: Not that I totally eschew the off-color humor. “Durkha, Durkha, Mohammed, Jihad,” anyone?

  • http://www.smallsimple.blogspot.com Eric Nielson

    Perhaps I still look through the glass darkly. I doubt I would ever have these thoughts. I would probably have seen an executive/laborer difference before considering a gender one. THe bishop has an office, the EQP does not. The RS has the most comfortable room in the building.

    Sorry. I’m still trying to sort it all out.

  • http://www.onebadpig.com FaithHopeLove

    Tangent: Unfortunately, listening to a single comedy session of Larry the Cable Guy was enough to make even me uncomfortable (and I’m from the South!) but Bill Engvall is a genuine treat. (His catchphrase is “Here’s your sign” – implying that stupid people should carry a sign so we’d know who they were.)
    /tangent

    The reason the women’s room are so small (half the size of the janitor’s room?) is because they are so much more efficient at organizing than men are – they just don’t need as much room. I treat my personal space like the maxim “Nature abhors a vacuum” – so I fill up as much space as possible with clutter. Clutter that I might desperately need within easy reach! Someday! Don’t make me file it! (You can imagine my wife’s frustrations.)

  • http://www.onebadpig.com FaithHopeLove

    P.S. Mogget: Haven’t seen the movie yet (but want to) but I recall this gem from one of the songs, paraphrased for obvious reasons:

    “Rodeos!”
    “Heck, yeah!”

    “Bed Bath and Beyond!”
    “uh, heck, yeah.”

    Sportmanship! Books!

    (If I missed your reference, my apologies.)

  • Kevin Barney

    Nice thoughts, Mogget. I like the “git ‘er done” ethic of Mormonism, and found when I was in local Church leadership positions that, as a practical matter, that often meant turning to the RS in situations that tradition might otherwise have pointed to “the priesthood.”

  • Mogget

    Hi Eric,

    an executive/laborer difference

    I think that’s exactly what I’m seeing as well. The question I wonder about is this: in what sense are the assistants to the matron any less “executive” than their husbands?

    As for the offices in a chapel, I agree that the distinction is functional. I have heard that the reason the RS room is the nicest room is because each RS once had its own building but the church took those away. Might be an FPR, though.

    FHL, you are on the mark but the only lyrics (using the term loosely) that I recall are from the refrain. And as you have wisely refrained from quoting the refrain, so will I.

  • http://ethesis.blogspot.com/ Stephen M (Ethesis)

    It is good to remember the impact of things we aren’t thinking about.

    Have to say that the comments to this were fascinating ;)


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