LDS Here I ComeJust Kidding. I've been fascinated my Mormonism for a long time. Probably because of all the secrecy surrounding it, and some of the very odd beliefs they hold (even the ones they'll admit to are pretty out there). So when a new Mormon temple opened in my very own Sacramento, I had to take the opportunity to see the inside before it was dedicated and forever closed to the general public.
I couldn't believe what an enormous operation this was. First, you had to get tickets well in advance (though they were free). Then, when you get there, they've got more security guards/guides than all the sporting events, museums and national monuments I've been to combined.
We start the tour in a separate building much like the recreation/office area of any mainstream chruch. We are shown a short video describing the significance of the temple and then are told that while there are lots of very nice places to sit in the temple...we will not be sitting. While it was not stated, I got the clear impression that I'd better not even try it.
Then we are led over to the temple where we have to don little white booties to protect the carpets. And then we enter. I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting, but what I saw wasn't it. There is not one large central meeting place like you have in a cathedral or large church. It was basically lots of small rooms, each with a specific purpose. The first room we entered was the baptismal room, impressive only for the small baptismal pool sitting atop a massive white marble statue of twelve life-size oxen. From there, we were taken to a changing room, where temple visitors would change out of their Sunday best and into their white temple garmentsbasically a typical locker room. From there we entered what looked like a small movie theater without a screen. The walls were painted with a large mural of the surrounding California landscape. This was apparently a teaching room (like, Sunday school, though the temple is closed on Sundays). We then entered one of the sealing rooms. This is where spouses are sealed to each other and children are sealed to their parents. With the exception of the locker room, this had to be the most unremarkable of the rooms. Literally no bigger than a small bedroom, it consisted of a place to kneel in the center, some chairs around the edge and two large mirrors on opposite walls. From there, we entered another small movie theater-like room, though this one was decorated in white everything. At the front was a small lecturn behind which the wall was completley covered with a thick white stage-type curtain (no word on what was behind the curtain). And finally, we entered the Celestial room. This is supposed the represent the Mormon's vision of heaven on earth. Before entering we were told of it's most holy nature and instructed not to speak when inside. What struck me about the Celestial Room was it's rather unremarkableness. Granted, it was elegantly appointed. Bright white walls and ceilings, gold inlay, a gorgeous crystal chandelier and very nice furniture. I think the furniture was the oddest part of the room. While everything was very elegant, I thought this must be what the lobby of the White House looks like or any number of mansion parlors. While the tour guide told us this room was reserved for meditation, the furniture was arranged in little grouping as if to encourgage chit chat.
And that's it. I suspect there was more to the temple we were not shown. From the baptismal room, it was clear there was another floor below the main level which we didn't see and I'm still curious as to what was behind that curtain.
One last curious note is the security surrouding the place. The very large plot of land seemed to be surrounded by barbed wire fencing visible on the drive up to the temple, though not from the temple itself. And during the tour, there were guides at every corner ensuring you didn't take a misstep into the wrong doorway.
Whatever goes on in there, it was well worth the visit.