Mormon is, let alone a Mormon Mention, allow me to explain: My name is Susan and I'm a Mormon (you've seen the commercials, right?). As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon or LDS Church), I'm naturally concerned with how my religion is portrayed in the media. Because this blog is about books, every time I see a reference to Mormonism in a book written by someone who is not a member of my church, I highlight it here. Then, I offer my opinion—my insider's view—of what the author is saying. It's my chance to correct misconceptions, expound on principles of the Gospel, and even to laugh at my (sometimes) crazy Mormon culture.
If these kinds of posts offend you, please feel free to skip them. If not, read on:
In Sara Zarr's YA novel, How to Save a Life, a pregnant 18-year-old woman is traveling on a train from Nebraska to Colorado. She meets a man, with whom she has a conversation, in which this exchange takes place:
[Mandy]: "Are there going to be Mexican wedding cookies? ... I thought since they were called that, they'd be served at a Mexican wedding."
[Alex]: "More like a Mormon wedding" (19-20).
- It should be mentioned that although Sara Zarr is not LDS, she does live in Utah, which presumably gives her a fairly good handle on many things Mormon. Just sayin'.
Although Zarr doesn't go into any detail about Mormon weddings, I thought it would be an interesting subject for this post. You've no doubt seen a Mormon temple somewhere in your travels. You may have even wondered what goes on inside them (I assure you it's not human sacrifices—we do those in the meetinghouses*). Since the temple is all about making sacred covenants, this is where LDS couples are married. We believe that the bonds we form on Earth do not end when we die, but are, in fact, eternal. Thus, there is no better place for a marriage ceremony to take place than inside a holy temple.
In order to enter the temple at all, individuals must be "worthy" to do so, meaning they've been interviewed by their local ecclesiastical leaders and found to be keeping the commandments, abiding by the tenets of the LDS Church, and trying their best to live lives that are honest and true. If both the prospective bride and groom are found to be worthy, then they're allowed to be married in the temple. Because not everyone can enter the temple, not all of the couple's friends and family members can witness the marriage ceremony. Sometimes, couples with a lot of non-LDS friends and family may exchange rings outside the temple so that everyone can feel a part of the ceremony. Couples who are not ready to enter the temple may be married in civil ceremonies that often take place at an LDS meetinghouse with a bishop (leader of a ward, or congregation). After a year, if the couple is deemed ready, they can be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity.
Wedding receptions, on the other hand, do not take place inside the temple. They can be held in meetinghouses, reception halls, backyards or wherever a couple chooses. They are as individual as the people who plan them. They are also where friends and family members of all faiths can come to celebrate the marriage.
In case you're curious, here's the temple in which I was married:
It's located in Lake Oswego, Oregon, which is near Portland. It's a beautiful building, inside and out.
*I was totally kidding about human sacrifice.
**To see photos of temples around the world and learn more about their purpose, please visit temples.lds.org.
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