Anne Frank and Now Gandhi?

Okay.  I’ve tried to avoid potentially sensitive topics in my blog as I don’t wish to appear biased or mean-spirited.  (Don’t exactly know who my readership is.)  However, a third (that I am aware of) such incident has recently come to light and now it’s time to comment.  I am aware that it’s appeared in national reporting and that this may not be news to you, but I’ve decided to put my two cents in.

It has come to light in the past few weeks that Simon Wiesenthal, Anne Frank, and Mohandas Gandhi have all been baptised posthumously by the LDS Church in the last decade or so.  And I’m sure the list of well-known (and obscure) deceased people who have no interest in this baptism (and all the possibilities it promises) and who would find it offensive and inappropriate doesn’t stop there.

In past blog postings, I’ve touched on the subject of proxy baptisms lightly.  Remember the guy who threw his back out due to performing too many baptisms?  Well, this time many folks are fed up and irate that the LDS Church would disregard others’ faiths and beliefs and baptise people–and famous ones at that–anyway.  Rather insensitive, wouldn’t you say?

I suppose a brief word about the ordinance of posthumous baptism might be useful.  One of the main ordinances of the Mormon church is posthumous baptism done by proxy on the deceased person’s behalf.  If you’re a member of the LDS Church in good standing, this may be a calling that is assigned to you by your local bishop or stake president.  It’s also known as temple work.  In each LDS temple there is a baptismal font, large enough for total immersion, as adult baptism is practiced in all cases.  (Infants and children get church sanctioned blessings.)  The design of this font is that of a large oval tub often held upon the backs of many oxen.  (One can also be baptised in lakes or rivers.)

Baptismal font
The Mormons believe people will rise again and families can be reunited in heaven IF all members are baptised and accept the teachings of the church.  As a non-Mormon, if you’re baptized after death, you somehow  have the opportunity to accept (or reject) the Mormon faith in heaven–even many years after your demise.  In other words, you get a final chance.  I suppose, back in the early 1800s when this religion first appeared and the mortality rate was higher, posthumous baptism was appealing.  It gathered in relatives who departed this life prior to the founding of Mormonism.  Families were often decimated by illness and the Civil War ripped the fabric of society apart 30 years after Joseph Smith started this religion.  In an age of religious fervor of many kinds, the concept of being reunited with loved ones after death would have been comforting.  However, it’s 2012 and to continue to put names forth to temple workers for proxy baptism who aren’t even remotely related to Mormons, is unsettling, to say the least.
One reason there has been a lot of press on this, besides the shocking nature of the incidents, is that we have a Mormon presidential candidate.  Many folks out in Utah–a lot of them LDS–are red-faced and publicly wonder why Romney doesn’t come out and call on his church to monitor itself better and make sure this practice stops.  It’s one thing if a Mormon family requests a proxy baptism; it’s another if temple workers are baptising indiscriminately.  Apparently, Simon Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor and documentor of Nazi war crimes was baptised in a temple in the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean island nation.  I’m thinking the temple worker didn’t even know the name or who Wiesenthal was; it was just another name.  I couldn’t see this happening in the temple in Germany!
So, the question lingers, how many of our deceased relatives have been baptised by proxy and we don’t know it?   
Published in: on February 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Relighting the Fire Within: Remembering the 2002 Olympics

This past two weeks or so folks out in Utah have been reminiscing about the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.  Television and newspaper stories have flooded our world and last weekend there was a big to-do in Salt Lake City to mark the wonderful memories that linger from the Games.  The Olympics were a pretty special time for Utahns and most people agree that the Games were one of the best, notably made successful by generous volunteerism on the part of the locals.  And remember, this was just 6 months after 9/11.

Last weekend, there was a special Stars on Ice program that featured medalists and other competitors who skated 10 years ago at the Games.  Sarah Hughes, the gold medalist, now 26, was part of the show as were the Canadian pairs team,  Jamie Salé and David Pelletier, who were part of that judging nightmare with the Russian team.  I saw clips from the event on the TV news, but Daughter Lara and her husband, Bob, got tickets and spent most of the afternoon and evening downtown enjoying the events and reconnecting with old friends from the Olympic glory days.

Preceeding the Stars on Ice program was a reunion event for all the team members who worked for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.  Since Bob was Director of the Look of the Games, Lara and he attended, of course, and renewed old friendships (while Ethan and I had a quiet evening at home).  If you’ve been following the news, you probably know Mitt Romney took a break from official campaigning for the presidency to attend the event, too.  Mitt was in the top spot to bring the 2002 Games to be and so, in effect was Bob’s “boss.”  Lara told me that Secret Service was everywhere that night–in full force–but she managed to get her photo taken with Mitt (Bob was the photographer).  It’s already on Facebook!

One for the photo albums: Lara and Mitt

So, what’s happening at the Syracuse Museum to tag onto the 10th anniversary of the Olympics?  The Islander was happy to have an article regarding the Olympics and this is what I sent to them for publication:

Even though Syracuse didn’t host any of the athletic events of the XIX Olympic Winter Games, many local residents have generously shared their personal treasures and mementoes—many one-of-a-kind—with the Syracuse Museum and Cultural Center to put on display.  Current Syracuse residents who either worked for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee [SLOC] or who were volunteers for the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games that followed later in March of 2002 have dug through closets and drawers or denuded the walls of their homes, generously loaning precious keepsakes to the museum.  This affords everyone the chance to stop by the museum and have a look at items rarely seen or that are quite unique.

As the Olympic Flame Relay did wind its way out to Antelope Island, what better way to celebrate that than to have an actual Olympic torch on display?  Along with the torch are the official relay gloves and hat worn by local resident Robert Finley as he ran his stretch of the relay in West Virginia.  Finley, who worked for SLOC in the capacity of Director of the Look of the Games, and his Creative Department were responsible for all of the visuals that made the Salt Lake Games look different from other winter Olympic Games.  This included the building wraps in downtown Salt Lake City, shepherding the cauldron design, uniform design, banners, signage, and just about anything else that unified the “visual impact” of the games.  Other unique items from his personal collection include the medal all qualifying athletes received as they advanced towards final competitions, a medal presented to all Paralympians for participating, competition a bib from the biathlon (cross-country skiing/target shooting race) event, a lantern carried by the Children of Light in the Opening Ceremonies, a replica presentation model of the cauldron, and even a triangle of glass from the actual cauldron.  After the games, when the cauldron was shortened and reinstalled at Rice-Eccles Stadium, some of the extra glass panels were presented to team members.

Trumpet banner and Children of Light lantern from Opening Ceremonies

Another Syracuse resident, Diane Palmer, worked as a volunteer during both the Olympic Games and the Paralympics and has loaned her Paralympic volunteer jacket, Roots beret, collectors’ pins, and even an Ice Princess costume that was part of the Opening Ceremonies of the Paralympic Games.  Dedicated volunteers like Diane are what helped make the Salt Lake Olympic Games so memorable and successful. 

Olympic flag and jacket

A one of a kind item is the glittery costume from Diane’s collection and the ski bib from Bob’s:

Ice Princess costume and framed orange ski event bib

To this day, people around the world apparently hold fond memories of their experience at the 2002 Winter Games, whether they were participating as an athlete, a volunteer, or a visitor taking in the events.  That, and already having the infrastructure in place, is why there is a ground-swell of support to organize an exploratory committee to research the feasibility of bidding on a future winter Olympiad—perhaps the 2022 Games.

Published in: on February 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Marking Valentine’s Day

Well, Valentine’s Day has come and gone for another year.  The day–also my birthday–was spent doing normal activities.  Thanks to all who sent birthday greetings on Facebook and the old-fashioned way, the US mail!  It seems the older one gets, the less exciting birthdays are, and I’m not necessarily blaming it on my age.  I think the charm of birthdays is more fully embraced by the younger set.  Can you remember the days when you happily bragged that you were almost 8?  At what age do we anticipate growing up and start staying 39 and holding? 

Anyway, to match the “theme” proposed by the new staff at the Islander for last week’s issue: hearts and romance, I wrote a history article promoting the museum on romantic.  I don’t think the early pioneers had much use for romantic things as we know them, and this is the article that emerged and was printed.  Talk about making $1.00 out of 10 cents! 

I hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day.

Looking for Love in the Desert…

By Sue Warren


The onslaught of pink and red hearts, frilly Valentines, the promise of roses, love poems, candy, or jewelry is already upon us.  It can only mean one thing:  Valentine’s Day and all its romance and loving wishes is just around the corner.  Valentine, an early Christian was martyred on February 14th, the same day an ancient Roman love lottery took place annually, and so, once raised to sainthood, St. Valentine somehow transitioned to being the patron saint of lovers everywhere.

The holiday has been observed in some form for more than a few centuries, and beginning in the Victorian Era and straight into 2012 both men and women have celebrated this romantic day in high style, spending a lot of money on trinkets to show their affection. 

But, what was happening in the late 1800s in the pioneer west where life was more hardscrabble and certainly few homesteaders had the time, money, or energy to celebrate a day devoted to love?  More than likely, February the 14th was yet just one more day in a seemingly endless winter.  Farm life paused for no one or no special day.  The cows might still have to be milked, firewood chopped, laundry washed, meals cooked, sick children worried over.  There is no hard evidence at the Syracuse Museum that the early residents of Syracuse and the surrounding towns sent Valentine’s cards, planned romantic candlelit meals—gosh, every meal was eaten by candle light or gas lamp.  The big cities on the east coast were one world, but out here during that time, roses were unavailable, especially in winter, there were no fine, white tablecloth restaurants, and costly chocolate candy was not an option, especially when money was tight and necessary staples had to be purchased for the family’s survival. 

So does this mean there was never any attempt at romance or pretty, frilly things?  There is one clue at the Syracuse Museum that lets us peek into the world of the average person of that time period: hand-made lace items and delicate crochet creations.  Somehow, pioneer women transformed simple cotton threads into gossamer hats, doilies, dress collars, and clothing embellishments.  It’s not difficult to envision rough, chapped hands with a crochet hook forming a cap or tatting with bobbins and a pillow to make lace. There are many examples of fine lacework and crocheting on display throughout the museum cases that offer silent testimony to the skill and craft of the pioneer woman.  She may have faced long, hard days helping her husband and children carve out a life in the fields, but at some point—perhaps after dinner or on a stormy day—she made time to allow her feminine side to surface as she lovingly made these precious items. 

One thing on display that speaks volumes is just a simple camisole.  Skilled fingers from many decades ago added a lacy crochet edge along the neck and shoulder area.  Surely, a wife wanted to look appealing to her husband and perhaps this led to a romantic interlude. 

Camisole with lovely crochet work at museum.

Hearts?  Candy?  Flowers in the winter in 1885 in Utah?  Probably not.  But efforts were made to soften the edges of a hard life with few interludes to celebrate romance.  This romance may not have been what we would embrace, but there was love within families and communities that shone through not on just one special day in February, but all the year round.

Plan on a February visit to the Syracuse Museum and Cultural Center to see these delicate creations and see what other “romantic” artifacts you can spot tucked among all the treasures.  The museum’s hours are Tuesday-Thursday from 2-5pm and by appointment (801-825-3633) and is located on 1700 South (Antelope Drive) just before 2000 West, Syracuse, UT.

Published in: on February 15, 2012 at 4:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Utah-Washington Tragedy

Since Sunday, the news out here has been flooded with the updates on the Powell family tragedy, of which I’m sure you’re all aware.  I didn’t really want to comment on it here, but it has been so all-consuming that one can’t ignore it and I wasn’t really in the mood to settle on a mundane topic or try to be humorous about the trivialities of life out here.  This is just not the week.  In fact, one editorial suggested that to use the word “tragedy” somehow trivialized the most evil nature of the whole picture; and it was pure evil.

We’re all sad and devastated about this event and as the frantic 911 tapes are played, as of this morning, personal frustration has set in for me, and I’m sure for others.  I realize the 911 dispatchers are well-trained (and save lives) and have an established protocol to follow when calls come in, but it’s painful to hear the male dispatcher’s voice asking what seem to be unimportant questions–in light of the situation–of the social worker who made the first call: What is his [Josh Powell] race?  How tall is he?  Weight?  And so on for an agonizing 10 minutes until the house explodes in a ball of flame.  Apparently she could hear the children crying from being attacked just before the match was struck.  I can’t imagine what mental anguish she is now going through.  I also wonder what that dispatcher is replaying in his mind.

I feel so bad for the Cox family, as they lost their daughter, Susan, and the boys lost their mother, a little over two years ago.  The custody battle, the arrest of Josh Powell’s father on child porn and voyeurism charges, and the several searches for Susan’s body in the mine shafts of the west desert have played out in the news.  Few people bought Josh’s story of a midnight winter blizzard camping trip to a remote camp ground in western Utah.  He has few supporters here and even some of his family members (notably his mother and one sister) had cut ties with him at the start of this chain of events. 

A sociopath?  Probably.  A murderer?  For sure.  Terrified that the boys were getting old enough to remember events of that night and start talking?  This had already happened.  Forced to finally take a polygraph test?  Yes.  The net was tightening and if he couldn’t have the boys, no one could. 

Pure evil.

Published in: on February 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm  Leave a Comment