This was in response to a discussion on the temple film, temple changes, garment changes, and what portions of the endowment Mormons are supposed to take as though it were representing literal history.
I feel kind of sad. I never got to see the movie, just the stage version.
I left so long ago that nobody had thought up yet the wonderful idea that the most sacred and holy ritual of their religion should be an audio-visual presentation. I mean, those were great minds at work, really in touch with God and holiness and so on.
I remember when I heard from my TBM [True Believing Mormon] family members that the Endowment ceremony was now going to be presented on film, and that the temple - the House of the Lord - was going to be equipped with movie screens - I laughed out loud. I really thought they were putting me on!
That was just before the Oakland temple opened, as I remember, and I was living in the area at the time, and so I took the tour before the dedication, just to see for myself. I couldn't believe it. Sure enough! Here is this house of worship, with the screens and the projection booths - everything but the popcorn machine!
Really, friends! I was out already. I had already figured out that it was nonsense. But those of you who were still in it - didn't that make you just a little bit suspicious, that this outfit was really being run by Madison Avenue PR types, and not by any representatives of the Big Guy In The Sky?
I should have known from my first time through the temple, when I got married to my TBM high school sweetheart. It was so solemn, so impressive. I mean, this was the actual ceremony that God had instituted in the Temple of Solomon, and revealed to Joseph Smith in the latter days! But what's this Protestant minister doing there? Was he in Solomon's temple?
In the Celestial room that day an old friend of the family, faithful TBM, came up to shake my hand, and asked me what I thought about it - wasn't it wonderful? Of course, I said yes. And then he said, "Oh, in the old days it was frightening! All this talk about ripping out your tongue and gushing your bowels out on the ground! It's much nicer now!" I remember thinking, but if this is the "correct, pure, unadulterated" endowment as established thousands of years ago by God, how could it have changed?
But in those days I didn't pursue that kind of non-faith-promoting question.
I learned later that in the version of the endowment ceremony my old friend was referring to, the patrons were also required to take an oath of vengeance against the United States, to avenge the blood of the Prophet Joseph Smith. (This came out in the Senate hearings to decide whether Reed Smoot should be seated as the Senator from Utah.) That could not very well have been in Solomon's version, nor in the version revealed by God to Joseph Smith.
I think that the changes in the endowment ceremony over the years (and the "garment of the holy priesthood") are among the most obvious evidences that the church is false. If the ceremony was restored to Joseph Smith in its original purity, and he cleansed it of the corruptions introduced by the Masons by restoring the plain and simple things, then how can it be right to remove so many of the features of the ceremony?