Brand new book, Let’s Talk about Temples and Ritual by Jennifer Lane available now

02.17.2023 | The Maxwell Institute

Jennifer Lane’s new book, Let’s Talk about Temples and Ritual, was released in February 2023.  It is part of the Deseret Book, Let’s Talk about . . . series.  This exploration of the meaning of temples follows her earlier work in Finding Christ in the Covenant Path: Ancient Insights for the Modern World, which also drew on her academic study to help clarify the ancient meaning of temple covenants and ordinances and to make them relevant for our lives today.

How long have you been working on this book?

There are several answers to that question.  The simple one is that I was asked to write it in Fall 2021 and finished the final line edits to the publication proofs a year later. On another level, I have been researching and studying this topic, learning about the ancient world and ancient temples, since I was an undergraduate and I continued thinking about worship and ritual through my graduate studies and professional research.

What academic insights have been most helpful for you?

Early on I began working on the ancient meaning of covenant and saw how that created a family relationship that made redemption possible.  Those connections run through the scriptures. In addition to those scriptural insights, my research during my graduate work in the history of Christianity focused on piety and pilgrimage.  As I studied important thinkers about embodiment and ritual such as Pierre Bourdieu and Catherine Bell, I could see that they were describing a way of knowing through practice, lived religion, that tied back to the biblical Hebrew sense of knowing as a relationship and way of being within a covenant relationship. I have written on this elsewhere with more academic details, but the core concepts help me explain how learning through ritual is different than learning through a lecture or reading.

How do you feel about your book being released at the same time there have been changes to the presentation of the endowment?

This has been such a great joy for me.  The central point of my book is that the covenants and ordinances of the temple are how we more fully come unto Christ.  This is the doctrine that I tried to weave into my scripture courses as I taught for close to 25 years first at BYU then BYU–Hawai’i.  It was always implicit in the ordinances, but it took a lot of background to make connections.  So, to now see the doctrine of Christ so clearly taught all the way through, to have what was implicit become explicit, is one of the great joys of my life.  

What are additional points that you cover in the book that might still be helpful for people who can see that connection more clearly?

I am hopeful that in combining points of historical and scriptural background into the ancient temple and the restoration of temples in our day, that people can appreciate more fully the blessings of worshiping in the temple.  I also bring in insights from my own study and teaching that I hope may help people who have questions about topics that might be a source of concern, such as the relationship between Freemasonry practices and modern-day temple rituals, the significance of the temple garments, and why the administration of ordinances has changed over time.

How has your personal life been changed through your studies?

It is hard for me to separate what I have learned spiritually and what I have learned academically.  The key to having them connected for me goes back to practice, embodied knowledge.  As I’ve tried to live out the insights I’ve gained through my studies I am different.  That is a large part of the book as well. I bring personal accounts into the book about what I have learned about the temple through my own temple worship and service as an ordinance worker.  The good news of the gospel is that we can be changed by Jesus Christ and I have found that to be true, over and over again. Redemption is a process of spiritual healing and growing closer to God in taking on the divine nature. My writing summarizes what I have learned intellectually, but most importantly it is confessional.  It is my witness of the redeeming power of Christ that is available through the covenants and ordinances of the temple.