Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 9 - Salt Lake City

I’ve got to be honest: Salt Lake City was not what I expected. As Ken mentioned over dinner, most of us had our minds made up about the city before even getting here. Some didn’t see it worthy of a whole day of our trip. I think one of the biggest misconceptions about Salt Lake City is that it’s an ultra-religious epicenter, LDS headquarters, and nothing more.

In fact, it’s much more.

Our drive from the Grand Canyon up to Salt Lake City took 5 hours more than planned (due in part to a truck that tipped over with horses inside that had to be rescued) so we didn’t pull in to SLC until about 11:30. We effectively missed church, but rushed to get a bit of shower time before our appointment with a local news reporter at 1:00. Alas, there was breaking news and since we were just a “fluff story” we didn’t get any airtime. But we did have a delicious lunch at Tony Caputo’s Market and “Mom and Dad” (Andi and Ken) treated us to the world’s #1 chocolate at Carlucci’s next door. Yummmmm.

After some quality time at the local urban mall, it was off to Temple Square for us. It so happened that tours were being given of the complex…..very interesting. Our tour guides looked slightly drugged, rather slap-happy, and instead of answering our questions, which were rather basic in nature, shoved brochures at us. Of course, most of the tour guides we’ve run across were somewhat glossed over—I think it’s just part of the job; but I just didn’t get a good vibe from my experience in the numerous visitor centers and at Temple Square in general.

Directly following our tour of LDS Headquarters, we showed up at a theatre across town to see OutRage, one of the headliners of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender) Film Festival. This was the first time I had ever the acronym LGBT or had seen it referenced in print. I feel like I’m a pretty aware citizen, so, “Surely,” I thought, “this must be a small subculture I've never heard of because it's so off-the-wall.” I was not at all expecting a packed theatre—practically no open seats on either the first floor or balcony.

Even though this was a totally new environment for me, I felt more comfortable sitting in the theatre with the gay community than I did in the temple. Alternative sexual orientations are not something I’m very familiar with, and even though I don't personally agree with the gay nor lesbian lifestyle, there is an element of honesty about the whole thing that I can respect—everything’s out in the open—as opposed to the temple where certain topics were shrouded in a cloak of mystery.

We’ve experienced several religious/spiritual situations since embarking on the trip; I’ve been surprised to see the quantity and diversity of belief systems within our borders. I’ve learned that several people can each call themselves Christian but may have very little in common when it comes to what they actually believe and practice. In the last week we’ve attended a Pentecostal-like “awareness center” service, we interviewed a rather evangelical representative from Alien Resistance, we listened to the faith-infused life stories of our Navajo host family, and we toured the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City.

You probably wouldn’t have noticed by my behavior, but my inward reaction to each situation has ranged from volatile objection to skepticism to bewilderment to overwhelming agreement and inspiration (this list of reactions is not respective to the experiences listed above, but you may be able to guess from my previous blogs which reaction goes with which experience).

All in all, the Salt Lake City atmosphere was somewhat relaxed and enjoyable. I don’t think I would ever move there, seeing as it’s out in the middle of nowhere, but I might visit from time to time.

P.S. – I’m a little bit behind on my blog….we are just now pulling out of Las Vegas. But I figure that as long as I get my blog up within a day or two, I’m doing okay. Plus, it gives me a few hours to think about my experiences and process my emotional responses before writing about them!

P.P.S. – Please leave me some comments so that I know what you’re liking or disliking about my blog content, writing style, website format, or anything else! Even though online blogs aren’t supposed to be geared towards a specific audience, I don’t write just for my own benefit. My goal is to communicate what I’m learning and feeling, in hopes that my experiences might inspire readers and start a dialogue on these important topics. But I need your feedback! In case you’re unaware….you can leave a comment (anonymously or by identifying yourself by first and/or last name, screen name, etc.) by clicking “comments” at the bottom of each article. Clicking this will prompt a little pop-up box where you can read other people’s comments and scroll down to leave your own.

Thanks to those of you who have followed my blogs for the past three years and four continents….I appreciate your continued support, feedback, and prayers (if you’re the praying kind) J

5 comments:

  1. hey...i know i've said this a thousand times, but the LDS church teaches missionaries & 'tour guides' to be just as you described; illusive and dodgy. even most mainstream mormons are like this. they're afraid that if everyone knew what they believed, they would be labeled 'crazy,' which they are. HA.

    -you know who.

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  2. I do know who! :)

    Thanks for always being so honest!

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  3. I think your entries are wonderful, Shirah. I'm glad you provided this perspective on SLC. Sounds like it was a rather serendipitous day for the group.

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  4. I love how honest you are with what you don't know Shirah, it makes you so accessible. I'm surprised you've never heard of LGBT before, because it's a huge, international kinda thing that's kind everwhere; but I'm really happy to see that you never try and gloss over things that are new to you.

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  5. Thanks Garrett!
    Tu me manques, cher ami! :)
    You know, we're going to be in Boston on July 2, 3, & 4...wannnnnna come hang out with us?! I would LOVE to see you! S'il te plaît :)

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