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Beyond the Pale - A 'pale' is a fencepost. The English Pale was a boundary in Ireland marking out the part of Ireland under direct English rule circa 1450 (which included Dublin and environs). Those that lived 'beyond the pale', outside of English rule, were considered out of control and uncivilised. You decide...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Salt Lake City - The Book of Mormon and Other Good Reads

In David Cameron's words - "the middle of nowhere"

U-U-U-U-U-U-UTAH SAINTS

A few years ago a couple of our best friends, Finn and Killian, moved from the cut and thrust of crazy London to the bubble and squeak of sleepy Salt Lake City. This has allowed us the pleasure of visiting SLC on more than one occasion (F and K are magnificent hosts).


You can’t talk about SLC without talking about the Mormon church, not to be confused with the Moonies. They are also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (LDS), not to be confused with LSD. Personally, I’m fascinated by them, a movement that had all the origins of a cult/sect has become a major American religion with millions of international followers. How did Joseph Smith do it? Should I consider doing it myself? Is there money is this? I’d get Sundays off, right?

Here are a few quirky facts about Mormons – they are not allowed to drink alcohol or coffee because their body is a temple, they have special Mormon underwear (because their bodies are shaped like a Temple?!), women are not supposed to show their shoulders in public, facial hair on young men is disrespectful, oh and they used to be pro polygamy.

If you find yourself in SLC and want to find out more about ‘the church’ head to the visitors center in Temple Square (not to be confused with Dublin’s Temple Bar, vvvvery different types of places). Move around the center and take in the history of the religion. For those of you that are curious, it all kicked off in 1800s New York when a man (formerly denounced as a fraudster) called Joseph Smith said an angel came to him and told him to dig up some gold plates (the angel gave him special glasses to read the plates, which I thought was a nice touch). He transcribed the story from the plates on to a manuscript which became the Book of Mormon. But what is actually in the Book? I dunno, I’m not a Mormon...gospel teachings? be good, etc? Marry loads of women? Who knows!

I found while walking around the center, aside from learning about the LDS crew from reading plaques on the wall, real live Mormons would pop out from behind walls and ask me how I was doing. A conversation would then ensue which felt a little bit like I was being canvassed to get on board with “the saints”. In fairness to them they seem a happy, friendly bunch. However, when I got to the part of the center that depicts Jesus’s time in America (I wonder did he fly with Virgin?), I thought perhaps it was time to go.

Oh, last word on the Mormons, all the young men (maybe the women too, I can’t keep track) do a two year stint abroad on a “mission” to convert people to the church. They do it on their own dime, they are only allowed ring home twice on Christmas day and Mothers day, you do it in pairs and you have to stay with your companion 24 hours a day, you can’t come closer than an arms length to the opposite sex, you’re not allowed watch films or TV, a typical day will be two hours reading scripture and eight to nine hours knocking on doors. Wow!

Mitt Romney, if any one wondered, did his Mormon mission in France. I bet all that knocking on doors with the straight talking Frenchies sorted him out for a life in politics, eh. 

Ok, enough with my Mormonic obsession, back to Salt Lake City. It’s a very very beautiful spot, the mountains protectively hug the city. Our friends have a picture perfect life there with a cute house in suburbia and big 4 wheel drives to get them to the drive thru coffeehouse/bank/dry cleaners (nobody gets out of their cars during the big freezes). On a July day Finn took me on a hike through the hills, it was gorgeous, people get on planes to come to Utah to do this. In the Summer the sun blazes and the sound and smells of friends gathering for barbeques fills the air. In the Winter the skiers descend for what the country has christened “the greatest snow on earth” (for non-Americans that’s a take on the Superbowl slogan ‘the greatest show on earth’).

Killian and Dom in Park City (More Park, Less City)

Myself, Dom, and my bro-in-law Adam descended on Killian and Finn recently to experience said snow.... Holy von FRIGGIN’ moly, the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Skiiers more like, it was like skiing in heaven on a fluffy cloud of awesomeness...ripping it up and shredding it out (I don’t know what that means) then we hit the spruce run to burn a fatty (I don’t know what that means either, something people say about fat skis apparently, I just thought it sounded funny!).

Skis? Yes, Poles? Yes, Board? Yes, People?  erm, No!

Seriously, I genuinely think it is probably the best place in the entire world to ski. In the Summertime, hike those mountains. If you’re into movies, go to the Sundance Film Festival (the celebs are out in style). If you’re into music, the best bands in the world play Utah (we saw U2 play there). If you want to go into the ginormous Mormon Tabernacle, convert, go in, ring me after and tell me everything.

Salt Lake City – ski, sun, sects, whatever you’re into, they’ve got it and they’ve got it in spades.  Go!

(As a last note, I just remembered something Killian was, dare I say, very proud of...Salt Lake City is home to the first ever Kentucky Fried Chicken. Yes, in Utah, not Kentucky, I don’t know why, in fact I’ve never been to a KFC in Kentucky or otherwise. Maybe I should go to Kentucky...)

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2 comments:

  1. I visited Park City once many years ago and it was glorious -- this makes me want to go again, only next time I'll try to meet more Mormons.
    ... also-- I would have thought 'burn a fatty' meant you smoked a joint in the woods before hitting the powder. :)

    - Kerrie

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  2. Great to have you all out here. Regarding the KFC thing, I wouldn't say proud, more of a bemusement at the irony of KFC really being UFC.

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