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You Don't Have to Be a Mormon to Love Salt Lake City

by Camella Lobo 


Tags: Great Writing, Salt Lake City, faith, Mormons, Scott Carrier, High Desert Journal,

salt lakeThe relationship between Salt Lake City and its non-Mormon inhabitants is a curious one. Scott Carrier—whose distinctive, wavering monotone has been an NPR cornerstone for more than two decades—delivers a lovely soliloquy about the Stockholm syndrome-esque attachment he has for his hometown in the Spring ’09 issue of the High Desert Journal.

I’ve tried to leave, many times, but I always come back. Now, after living here for nearly 50 years, I’m starting to realize I need to see these mountains, the central Wasatch. Lone Peak, Twin Peaks, Mt. Olympus. I need to watch how they change shape with the light in order for my mind to stay calm. On a clear morning after a snow storm they rise up like a wave about to crash down on the city, in the summer haze they are so small and far away. Up there with tundra grass and mountain goats, limber pines on the ridge lines, walls of white granite 800 feet tall that turn the sky beyond dark blue. I need to be up there, looking back down on the city, with skis attached to my feet, in order to feel at home. 

Laced within Carrier’s beautiful descriptions of the city itself, is the fascinating narrative and sometimes problematic beliefs on which the Mormon faith is based. And true to Carrier form, there is a touch of desert-dry humor involved.

They told me they’d been baptized in the Temple, and now they were going to a different heaven than I was. They said there are three levels of heaven and they were going to the highest one, but unless I converted and got baptized the best I could hope for was the second level, which wasn’t bad, and even the lowest level was so good I would kill myself right now just to get there if I knew how good it was, or is. 

Source: High Desert Journal (full text not available online)

Image by Edgar Zuniga Jr., licensed under Creative Commons.