Tuesday, December 04, 2001

The Emerald City

About half an exit up the Beltway from where I live is the Maryland Mormon Temple. (Note -- this picture doesn't do it justice. Anybody knows of a URL for a better picture, please drop me a note.) I heard someplace that it's the biggest temple in the world outside of Salt Lake City. Personally, I think it looks like a fantasy castle drawn by Kelly Freas. Others have different ideas; for a long time, "The Washington, DC Area's Favorite Graffito" was on the railroad bridge over the Beltway right next to the temple; some wag (or wags) painted "Surrender Dorothy" on the bridge. The Powers that Be would paint over it; a few weeks later it would be back. It hasn't been back in a while; I suspect the PtB put the word out that It's Not Funny Any More. They obviously were worried about somebody either falling off onto the Beltway or getting hit by a train. However, last time, the PtB painted it out with nice fresh silver paint that's almost as readable as the graffito version.

At some point, some Mormon with a sense of humor (no, that's not an oxymoron) started slipping green theater gels over the floodlights. First time I saw it, I nearly drove right off the Beltway.

Yeah, we get doorknockers. Impression I've gotten is that they may be getting out of the habit. Reason for doorknocking is to reinforce their status as Outsiders -- if folks know that you're going to preach at them, in general, they won't be very nice to you. This lets the Church say "See? Everybody hates us. We have to stick together". We've come a long way since the 1840s, when it was legal in Missouri to kill Mormons. Nowadays, if most people think about Mormons at all, they assume they're just another bunch of Protestants. To non-Mormon Christian theologians, of course, Mormons are the worst sort of heretics. Their problem; nobody else cares.

Aside -- my wife actually found a new way of getting rid of the doorknockers, (without mentioning their underwear, which isn't really very nice). Let's just say that they were ready for anything except literary criticism.

Anyway, every year they have a Festival of Lights. I've never been; I'm not enthused with the thought of a recreational traffic jam. The pictures are nice, however. Problem is that this Temple was not designed with road access in mind. It's not normally a problem; we are not inundated with huge swarms of Mormons. But at Christmas, they have the lights. Think mile-long jams. Tour busses.

One year, I encountered a tour bus that tried to take a "short cut". Think large cork, small bottle. The driver should have tried to back out; it was only a quarter mile or so. He didn't. Got stuck rather thoroughly. This year, the bridge in that direction is out. I dunno if this is good or bad.

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