It is no surprise that your article received the negative responses that it did, Dan. Thanks for your poised and informative response and for steering a straight course, as you always do.
Also noticed the Church architects tried to give a nod to Brasília, Brazil's architecture, a city which was chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the temple's design that reflects that of the city.
I was amazed that you got backlash!
I know people have their own prejudices but thought they would be smarter than to tell on themselves by saying it out loud in print--and would have just kept their thoughts to themselves.Guess I was wrong.Hope the temple is lovely and speaks to the hearts of those in the land and area where it will stand.
I have always valued Dr. Peterson’s insights into a world I have never been able to visit. His insights into the culture have always been enlightening. My first entrance into the Arabian peninsula was 1,000 and one Arabian Nights. This hardly makes me any kind of authority. I, for one will be looking with interest at the rendition that the Church planners will come up with.
All I can say is “Hang on to your hats”. The changes that we Westerners, accustomed to aUtah centric Church, will certainly be surprising and for some, shattering.
I agree do much with the author. May I cite another example of the Church blending temple designs with the local area. The clean geometric design of the Manhattan Temple blends beautifully with the buildings in Lincoln Center across the street.
When I was a child of mere 5 years old, I dreamed of designing a temple for the Lord. I spent years studying architecture for this very reason. In fact it was the only reason I chose architecture as my major. Life has since chosen to take me down different paths. With this in mind however, architectural design has always taken elements from the local communities. This is regardless of the structure being designed. This is true of our church buildings and especially our temples. Among the various temples already mentioned, I would like to add the colonial design of the Philadelphia Pennsylvania temple, and the elements of Roman design outwardly expressed in the Rome Italy temple and surrounding grounds. In fact The Church is outwardly open about how they had borrowed elements from the surrounding area when designing the Rome temple. The Church and its Architects have always worked to design our temples so that they compliment the communities in which they will be built. They have always worked to have the temple quietly blend in while subtly standing out at the same time. I for one am truly excited to see the amazing design that will come for this truly historic temple.
Amen to all Dr Peterson said. It amazes me that some folks can be insular and close minded in the Church which is so deeply founded upon love of truth and beauty from all sources. Didn’t we memorize the 13th article of faith to inoculate against such sillyness? Looking up to the beautiful art of a mosque’s ceiling has made me feel I was in a temple annex and grateful to hear prayers of my brothers by other mothers wafting heavenward.
Having lived in the Middle East for several years, I agree with the author. The architecture I saw was stunningly beautiful. To me it would be a slap in the face of the host country to refuse to incorporate any Mid-Eastern designs. It would be like saying you have nothing of value, only our designs are right. There are many good people in the Middle East. Unfortunately, we only hear about the radical part. We (as a church) have the same thing happen to us, when we are confused with the fundamentalists.My life has been so much richer for my Middle-East experiences. I am thrilled that my friends will now have access to a temple. When we lived there, it was an 8 hour flight to Zurich, then travel time to Bern. This is such a blessing for all. Even though they can't do it openly, there are Muslims who are seeking the truth. I met a few. I very, very carefully answered their questions. This temple will be a light to those who see it.
I haven't seen as many examples of Islamic architecture as you have, but after living in the Middle East for 11 years and having visited Turkey often and toured Spain, I am in absolute agreement with you. Islamic architecture is my favorite of everything I've seen in the world.
I think that all the temples carry local themes, with beautiful results. Just a few others come to mind: Paris, France; Rome, Italy. I hope they do incorporate some similar, "local" themes for the Dubai temple, as well.
BTW, I enjoyed the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit you may have brought to the Los Angeles Temple Visitor's Center many years ago.
I agree! It's interesting to me that you should receive "push back". I had the opportunity ~20 years ago to visit Muscat, Oman as part of a world religions course. The hospitality we received there impressed me. We were given a tour by Muslim petroleum engineers who broke their fast with us with dates on the shores of the gulf of Oman and a power point presentation on Islam in our hotel. I believe Muhammad was inspired by the light of Christ... How much easier will it be for a people who we already have so much in common with to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ because of the foundation they already have?!
"Middle Eastern architecture and design is rich with tools that can meld wonderfully with LDS theological concepts in geometry, Arabic text, and iconography expressed in stone, wood, and inlay. "I agree 100%. Part of the fun of going to different temples around the world is looking at the symbols chosen for that particular piece of architecture and learning about them.The circle in a square, the Rome oval, the stars of San Diego (as best I recall), the olive leaf, the lotus, etc.Blending locale with LDS symbolism is a wonderful thing.
Having lived in the Middle East for over 22 years, having traveled through the Islamic world and with an MA from BYU in Middle Eastern negotiations, I would say that Daniel Peterson has nailed this. Because there are elements of a faith that we may not agree with does not and should not discount that the people of the Islamic world are our brothers and sisters and come from a rich culture full of the roots of our mathematics, language, architecture and philosophy. We were stunned to hear of the temple announcement! The Saints in the stakes there locally will be blessed beyond measure by the ordinances and covenants entered into there. And the temple they walk into will, I'm certain, reflect the beauty and creativity of the culture and the people that surround it.
This article by Daniel C. Peterson and his friend, Jamal Qureshi, is fascinating and insightful. The premiss of incorporating Middle Eastern designs in the new Dubai Temple is congruent with what the Church has done in cultures elsewhere and hopeful. It is disappointing to hear of the closed mindedness of some. An exciting time to be alive!
All excellent points, Dr. Peterson. I am sure your suggestions are highly appropriate and look forward to this astonishing, revelatory design. We really need to grow up as a people regarding our foolish, inappropriate prejudices.
Thanks for keeping a good sense of humour whilst bombarded with zingers from the ignorant. May North American Saints recall that the Eternal Gospel is universal and not to be limited by any certain culture. I think evidence of divine inspiration is manifest in every land, including in forms such as architecture.
The Church's architects also may want to visit the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. Built in the 6th century, I found it to be a masterpiece Christian church using Arab mathematics and design.
Perhaps some of the negative push back has come from a perception that the author is trying to dictate the design of the new Dubai Temple rather than trusting those who are in charge of that work. The architects for the Salt Lake Temple traveled to Europe to study the great cathedrals that were constructed there and a few small elements are obvious to those who have studied those buildings in their art classes that some things were included from those trips and reviews. I find it interesting that President Hinckley received inspiration about how to build the Hong Kong and Manhattan Temples in limited space, as well as the concept for the smaller Temples that are now very common to all of us. He dictated that the Vernal Temple have two spires and that they needed to be higher than the existing next door Stake House's spire.The First Presidency must approve any new designs and if they are inspired to make suggestions they will certainly do so. It isn't a first-draft-is-automatically-accepted process. That was true with Salt Lake.
Many details in the Kirtland Temple as far as finishes were found in contemporary manuals, yet the Lord showed Joseph the design for that structure. (I found it interesting there has been no discussion about who made the decision that the rebuilt Nauvoo Temple would have the standing rather than the recumbent Angel Moroni. It was President Hinckley.) I am excited to hear about a Temple in Dubai, especially being built by gracious invitation of the UAE government, as well as the concept that has been largely ignored that the Temple in Shanghi will be for local Chinese members only, and require appointments, as approved by their government.. That's as earth-shattering in concept as when the Temples in Germany were built behind the Iron Curtain and I personally think they will be as effective in showing their government that Latter-Day Saints are good citizens.Just remember, these buildings are the Lord's Houses and He will provide input for what He wants to have built. Of that I am certain. Thanks for the thoughtful article as it has caused me to reflect on these issues about Temple building and design.
Another example - the Tucson Temple dome design features a dome inspired by the local 1920s-era Pima County Courthouse.
I agree with you. I lived in Turkey for two years and was amazed at the beauty of mosques, turbes, etc. that were built that did not use the actual replicas of people, animals, etc, but only used Arabic words from the Koran, some of which were made to look like ships, mosques, or many other things. While I personally would not like to see actual Arabic words from the Koran on a temple, the style of such things could really be beautiful on a temple.
Great thoughts and comments. Over the last 2000 years there has been a very ugly tendency of Christians to take arrogant, dismissive and frequently destructive approaches to not only other beliefs but other cultures. It is wonderful that we belong to a Church that truly sees itself as a worldwide church, a Church that can welcome and not feel threatened by the beauty and artistry of other cultures.
LOVED your article! It’s fascinating! Such a RICH intellectual culture and such beauty to draw upon!! We are being elevated!
Ultimately, I believe, the planning of a temple anywhere in the world will be directed by the Lord as it will be his House. Could it be that the entire process from architectural renderings to the sound of the front door closing will be carefully determined by professionals whose ideas have been inspired by learning, observation, and prayer. Perhaps we ought not to be as concerned of outward appearance, as compared with what will go on inside. Holiness to The Lord.
Well said, Bro. Peterson, thank you. Chaplain (Colonel-Ret) Lawrence M. Barry
The Abu Dhabi stake center is a fine example of architecture which blends with the city. Dedicated in 2013 and built on land donated by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabai, the stake center is an excellent example of the Church's commitment to honoring the culture of the cities and countries it serves. Thank you, Jamal. We attended a ward with you, your mother and family many years ago and think of you all often.
Dan, your patience with people's ignorance is exemplary. This temple will be extraordinary. I miss stopping by to chat.
Seriously, some people are just plain ignorant of the contributions the Islamic world has made with regards to art, architecture and science to name but a few areas. Let’s focus on the beauty here, the potential is enormous.
The first temple on Islamic soil is an incredible step in spreading the gospel to areas where so many of Heavenly Father’s children do not even know who he is, or their relationship to Him. We have to (and undoubtedly will) get this right.
Can’t wait to see the result!
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