I had never attended an LDS Temple Open House before, though there have been many such openings over the past two decades of ministry to Mormons. But it happened in the Lord’s providence that I was able to tour the new Manhattan LDS Temple today. This is one of the most unique temples in the world, as space is at a premium in Manhattan, so the temple really exists “inside” a pre-existing building. It takes up the first, fifth, and sixth floors, with a ward chapel taking up the second and third floors. This is a small temple, with a small capacity. In comparison with the pictures I have seen of the celestial rooms in the older, larger LDS temples, the celestial room here is hardly larger, floor space wise, than a couple of hotel rooms. The baptistry, though still built upon the back of the statues of oxen, is simply tiny. I did note the network connections in the floor for use by the recorders doing the baptisms. It was fascinating to listen to the descriptions of the temple operations by the guides, especially when you know how the temple actually functions. I likewise found it interesting that when the guide was asked about the function of the altar in the sealing room, he denied it had any special use. I later asked him about it in personal conversation, having informed him that I had read Talmage’s book on temples, and had done a number of debates in Salt Lake City. He indicated that it was just not the appropriate time to get into the nature of the endowment.
One thing is for sure: the temple struck me as oddly out of “time.” That is, it looks so 19th century America, like a piece of history plopped down inside of Manhattan. It was truly odd.
Hopefully I can give a fuller description on the Dividing Line next Tuesday.