No Yaks, No Camels: How Can We Compete?

I was feeling pretty good about the beautiful and reverent Christmas Eve Devotional that we held Saturday afternoon in my town of Appleton. Fabulous music, short spiritual readings, a refreshing and uplifting program. Nicely done – another great event and something to be proud of. And then I had to wreck it all by going to Dave’s Mormon Inquiry and reading his sensible post, “It’s Beginning to Feel A Lot Like Smithmas.” Nothing wrong with the post, but unfortunately for me he included a link to the Crystal Cathedral’s Glory of Christmas pageant.

How mortal I am, so quickly falling prey to envy and other vices as I read the descriptions of the event and watched the video trailer. Even greed kicked in as I realized that our ward budget problems were not being addressed by offering our devotional as a free service, in contrast to the substantial but surprisingly affordable ticket prices for the many performances at the Palace.

As I contemplated the opportunities to step up our production, I felt a sense of frustration and even anger as I faced the reality imposed by the numerous rules and regulations we Latter-day Saints have to face regarding the use of our buildings, and especially the use of the chapel. To understand my frustration, just look at the description of our competitor’s service:

In 1980 the Crystal Cathedral was dedicated. In 1981 the beautiful living nativity, The Glory of Christmas premiered inside the first all-glass church.

The Cathedral seats 2,736 for church services–2,508 when holding the enormous Glory of Christmas set.

Installing the production set takes a month of preparation-including lighting load-in, angel track installation and rigging, as well as set construction.

Eight angels fly throughout both productions. Some fly as high as 80-feet and can travel as fast as 25 miles per hour.

The Cathedral’s pipe organ has 287 ranks of pipes, 16,000 individual, 549 horizontal trumpet pipes in the East and West Balconies and 5,000 additional pipes in the South Balcony division, making it the largest collection of such pipes in the world.

More than 300 volunteers dedicate over 160 hours each to The Glory of Christmas as both cast members and volunteer ushers.

Animals play an integral role in the production’s recreation of the ancient land. In The Glory of Christmas you will see three adult camels and a baby, six horses, a yak, a llama, a baby water buffalo and many sheep and goats.

And then I recalled some of the First Presidency Bulletins I have seen over the years. Wasn’t there one forbidding the use of camels in the chapel? And if memory serves me correctly, didn’t the Church’s Physical Facilities Department issue an onerous edict around 1995 that came down harshly on the use of goats and especially yaks for non-essential purposes in our buildings?

It’s bad enough that we can’t offer polka masses out here in the nation’s leading polka state, but the limitations on yaks and camels puts a heavy burden on our human backs instead. We have competition like the Crystal Palace, and even right here in town we have at least one local church that uses multiple live animals in their Christmas pageant. How can we compete?

I began contemplating some work-arounds based on a possible loophole regarding llamas – could they be made to look like camels? Could small ones look like goats and sheep? Plans for a glorious service unfolded in my mind, with visions of llamas and flying angels, but these hopes were suddenly dashed when I recalled the 1993 bulletin from the Church’s insurance agency: due to liability issues, the maximum flight velocity for suspended angels in local units was a mere 5 miles an hour and suspension heights could not exceed 15 feet. Forget the animal problem: lame angels is the real show-stopper here.

Well, at least we’ve got the Hill Cumorah Pageant out in New York, but for local purposes, we’ll just have to keep hoping for the day when camels and yaks can march proudly through our services.

(Actually, I think it’s great that someone can put on a major spectacle for Christmas. Looks like an amazing program. Have any of you seen it?)


Author: Jeff Lindsay

7 thoughts on “No Yaks, No Camels: How Can We Compete?

  1. I’ve seen it. Twice. Maybe even three times. It’s spectacular and enjoyable, with very high “production values,” but it’s also a bit expensive and somewhat too glitzy and schmaltzy for my personal taste.

    But then — true confessions time — I also tend not to be overly thrilled with outdoor LDS pageants, either. They just don’t grab me, emotionally, most of the time.

    I would recommend it to anybody inclined to go. Many people absolutely love it, including members of my extended family.

  2. Check out the Mormon Tab productions for Christmas. They are wonderful and are set on a grand scale in the huge conference center. If you don’t get BYUTV, you should.

  3. Funny that you think it is a competition.
    Come, believe in our God. We have the whole truth without the spectacle.

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