Today is the Catholic feast day for the Virgin of Guadalupe — a nickname given to the Virgin Mary after she appeared to a farmer on a hill near Mexico City.
Back in the 1970s, I attended a Dec. 12th celebration on that hill.
It scared the devil out of me.
People were walking to the shrine on their knees, leaving bloody marks on the pavement. Vendors sold miniature hearts, livers, arms and legs to pin to the statues of "healing saints" in the shrine.
Thousands filled the plaza; hundreds stuffed themselves into the "old basilica" which — for centuries — had been sinking under its own weight.
It was a lot for a Utah boy to digest.
In the past I've written about "cool religions" and "hot religions." Mormons, Quakers and Episcopalians tend to be "cool." Catholics and Evangelicals tend to run "hot."
It boils down to passion.
Do you keep your passions on the inside or the outside?
In Mexico, on the feast day of the Virgin, the passions of people are on full display — like the colors in a Mexican mural.
I admire that. I've never been one to "let myself go." In fact, I suspect Biblical Christianity was a bit "hotter" than we think. It's been cooled down somewhat by modern translations.
When the apostles argue in the New Testament, I doubt they had mere "disagreements." I think they really got into it. And I think the prophets of old wore their passions on their sleeves — not unlike the hot-house Catholics at the Virgin's festival in Mexico.
I also think the early LDS Church had more passion and pop than we realize. We read some of those early sermons today in measured, steady tones, though I suspect many were delivered in full voice with a pulpit pound or two.
And those powerful passions still percolate just beneath the surface of most Western Mormons – what someone dubbed "the John Wayne machos." In fact, a more passionate style is already finding its way into LDS congregations.
It's like "bread on the water." Reserved and careful Mormons took their teachings to the Third World. Now members from the Third World are repaying the favor by gracing the church with vibrant artwork, thundering poems and dances that rival the whirling dervishes.
For "cool" or "hot," I think spiritual souls tend to draw from the same core.
And each year, at the celebration of the Virgin in Mexico, it's a core that gets to bubbling as hot and bright as the center of the earth itself.