I just returned last night from a few days spent in Utah, seeing kids and a granddaughter. One of the things that seemed to resonate with me more than usual was the sheer quantity of temples. Driving north from Provo into Salt Lake City at night, soon after you round the point of the mountain you can see the Jordan River and the Oquirrh Mountain temples in the distance to the left, then looking to the right, the Draper temple comes into view, perched high on the hill. Drive a little farther, and the grandaddy of them all, the Salt Lake Temple peeks out through the downtown buildings.
The same for Utah County. It used to be that the Provo Temple was the only game in town, but with Timpangos, Payson and the gorgeous Provo City Center Temples, they are everywhere. It is impressive.
Here is some context: I grew up in Bountiful, Utah, about 15 minutes form the Salt Lake Temple. That was the only temple I saw on a regular basis, mostly at Christmastime.
When I was Primary-aged, there were a grand total of 13 temples…in the entire world. Thirteen. I distinctly remember that a small picture of every temple fit onto one sheet of paper, because that is what we used to memorize them in Primary. I knew where every temple in the world was located, and could name it from the picture.
Man, how things have changed – for the better. It is amazing to have witnessed the explosion of temples in my own lifetime. Current count of proposed or constructed temples today? 182. Memorize THAT list.
Another beautiful thing in Utah, (that people who live there probably just consider a normal fact of life) is that everywhere you look, you can see the white spires of an LDS meetinghouse. Sometimes you an see dozens without even turning your head. It is remarkable.
But what is remarkable is not that the Church constructs a lot of building, but all of those meetinghouses and temples represent people – brothers and sisters – who are trying to live the gospel. We get a taste of that here in Gilbert. The Church here is strong, there are lots of meetinghouses, and a beautiful temple, all of which represent saints doing their duty.
Too often I hear people dismiss members in these active areas as being out of touch. Phrases like “Utah Mormons” or living “Behind the Zion Curtain,” or my personal favorite, “Utards” attempt to diminish, rather than applaud the concentration of members in those areas.
With that strength, inevitably comes opposition. There is a huge anti-Mormon industry in Utah. There is a huge ex-Mormon influence there as well. That is to be expected, just as the protesters at General Conference are to be expected. There is a simple reason for this: The shadows are always darkest where the light is the brightest.
To my Utah friends and family, a quick shout-out and thank you. Thank you for your strength, and example. Thank you for living your lives in such a way that they Lord sees fit to build a zillion temples just to provide you the resources to carry out the service you provide. Nice job!
The world would be a better place if there were a white LDS steeple poking out of every neighborhood.