If you’re a tourist visiting Mexico, then chances are you’ve got at least a couple of old churches and cathedrals on your itinery. And no doubt you’ll pop into a few more that you happen past. But there is a church that is less frequented by tourists than others. Actually it is a temple, but to this non believer, they’re all the same. Churches, cathedrals, temples.
Non believer I might be (although others would use different adjectives, satanic being one of the milder ones), but I still like to pop inside a church or two now and again. They tend to be the grandest buildings in the neighbourhood. And the church I mentioned, the one that recieves so few visitors….well, it happens to be one of the grandest pieces of architecture of them all. In a modern way, anyway.
It’s the Church of JC and the Latter Day Saints main temple, in the north of the city, well out of the way of any stray, lost gringo. I had to make a special trip to get there, and consult a map to work out its exact whereabouts. It is, apparently, the biggest Mormon temple outside of the US, built in the mid 70’s and inspired heavily by Mayan and Aztec architectural influences.
They even have a visitor centre, which is sadly apart from the main temple which you cannot enter. As far as I know. But the visitor centre is worth popping into. Amidst displays of ‘family life’ a central theme of the church, there are a few nice statues and plenty of paintings of , as is usually the case with any religion, extreme violence, blood, guts and gore. Peace, after all, comes only after you kill all your enemies. We got it. They’re perfectly friendly and pleasant inside the visitor centre too, even if I did end up having a dual conversation with the lady who showed me round. One spoken, one kept diplomatically silent within my head.
Are you a member?
No, I’m not. (Because I’m not crazy, lady, that’s why)
If you’d like to wait for a few moments, I’ll give you the full guided tour in English!
I’m sorry, but I only have a few minutes, because I’ve got a class to go to. (Your mad brainwashing strategies wouldn’t work on me anyway lady, so forget about it)
Here’s a couple of booklets to give you some more information, and there’s the web address on the back….www.mormon.org
Ok, thanks very much! (Emergency toilet paper, huh. And what’s up with the web address….had someone already grabbed http://www.moron.org?)
And here are a selection of our bibles, traslated into lots of languages. What is your language? German?
No, English. (And the booklets are sufficient thanks – I can normally afford loo roll. But why am I getting mistaken for a German so much lately? That’s twice in a month. Have I subconsciously incorporated a bit of a goosestep into my walk? Have my waves for hello and goodbye gone all a little bit Zeig Heil?? )
Of course, I’m being unduly unkind. That’s just my way. It’s impossible to be a person who doesn’t believe in any of the organized religions currently on offer, and to not think those who do believe aren’t just a bit crazy. I mean – talking snakes, a god who is genocidal one moment, running around burying dinosaur bones as a prank the next. And don’t even get me started on the zombie part of the story. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find the history of religion fascinating, and that I can’t see the value of religion in society. Unlike the UK, where religion has become a past time (as in it belongs in the past) Mexico has some very glued together communities, and the bond is the church. And many people enjoy the lifestyle and peace of mind that they get from their religion. I’ve got no problem with that.
And besides, for as long as Scientology exists, there’s no branch of Christianity which will even threaten to be the craziest cult on the planet. Not even Pat Robertson and his cronies. To balance my unfairness, I will say that everyone in the LDS church were very polite, friendly, and dare I go so far as to say quite charming. It’s worth a visit, and the temple itself is a very impressive piece of architecture. I have photos….click here to see them.
And one last thing. A caveat. My brand of agnosticism rules out nothing. I freely acknowledge that anyone, supporting any religion, could be right. And I could be wrong. So don’t be offended! And don’t try and give me any ‘I told you so!’ nonsense in the afterlife! 🙂