The Temple of Joseph and the Temple of Sam

Upon arrival in Billings, we decided to do initiatory work for some of Lyndee’s ancestors. She went in first while I waited in the waiting room with Todd (11), Shem (9), and Geneva (5). After the drive, I was looking forward to relaxing in the temple.

Todd had another plan.

He had been promised a cover for his iPod touch when I had purchased covers for iPhones earlier in the week. Due to the trip, the acquisition of a case had been postponed a number of times.

Todd was now frustrated.

He didn’t want to hang around the temple.

He wanted to go to…Wal-Mart.

This made me think of an Richard Bushman essay I had read in which Bushman compared the symbolic meaning of two early Illinois cities…Chicago and Nauvoo.

Chicago is the great city of American Industrial Revolution. It is also the back drop of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.”

Nauvoo was established at the height of Joseph’s communalism. While the center of Chicago’s activity was commerce, the name Nauvoo replaced the city’s earlier name of Commerce. At the heart of Nauvoo was not money and trade, but the Temple.

As I listened to my tired 11 year-old beg to go to Wal-Mart, I realized that the focus of our family is not the temple of Joseph Smith, but the temple of Sam Walton.

Now, I am not a Wal-Mart hater. I am not interested is this post becoming about the store or the company. Instead, this is about personal realization that my family, both individually and collectively, is more Chicago than Nauvoo. We are more Commerce than Nauvoo…or Beautiful.

This is why the idea of the temple as a refuge from the world is important. Not only is it a refuge from the language and immorality of the world…it is a refuge from commercialism and greed.

I am still working through the symbolism of the temple rituals. However, I think I know what I want the temple to symbolize for me and my family.

A refuge.

About Chris Henrichsen

Chris Henrichsen has moved Approaching Justice off of Patheos. Find his latest posts and the new Approaching Justice. Thanks!

  • Thomas Parkin

    !!!! Thanks.

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

    Very nice.

  • smb

    Great. (though lay off the negative on that fine first name…)

  • http://mormoninquiry.typepad.com Dave

    Point of connection: both temple and Wal-Mart feature senior citizens greeting patrons at the front door. But I think that’s as far as you can take the comparison.

  • Ben S

    Nibley-esque ;) That’s a compliment, just to be clear.

  • http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com Chris H.

    Ben, I fully take that as a compliment.

    smb, I will go easy on the name. :)

  • http://www.millennialstar.org Ben Pratt

    Chris, I know this tension too well, and like you, I know which side I want to be on with my family. Beautiful post.


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