Canada Press Reporter Looks at Mormons and Olympics
EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA -- In a spectacular 3-page spread in the
middle of our weekly commentary section, the Sunday issue of the
Edmonton Journal carries a report by CP (Canadian Press) reporter
Gary Mason, who I believe is from Vancouver. He starts and ends with
somewhat tongue-in-cheeks forecasts that the biggest problems the
games will have is a lack of taxis. As the Edmonton Journal is a
Southam chain paper, presumably this same article appeared in major
metropolitan papers across the whole country.
Mason is very impressed with the venue, the spectacular scenery, and a
city filled with helpful, friendly people -- always willing to help
out a stranger. He found out that many homeless people come here from
L.A. because Mormons are more generous.
He mentioned that the volunteers were being well-trained, and
missionaries were told, for once, no to proselytize. but the LDS
nature of the town is bound to come through, and if the "Mo-lympics"
are a success, it can't help but reflect positively on the Church.
The highlight of Mason's trip was a visit to the weekly broadcast of the
Spoken Word, including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, whose recordings
had been a favourite of his mother's, especially around Christmas,
and when the Choir suddenly started into "Joy to the World," the
reporter was taken back to comforting memories of childhood
Christmases. He also toured welfare square, calls the new conference
centre "jaw-droppingly" immense. and intermingles with the
missionaries, searching out Canadian elders being assigned overseas.
His hosts were a married couple from Canada and it turns out that the
author and the wife attended the same university (probably, from
clues he gives, Waterloo Lutheran University, now known as Sir
Wilfrid Laurier University.
Mason interviews one Elder Arcus, from Fort St.John, BC, who was bound
for Romania. Two of his lunchmates are going to Russia: St.
Petersburg and Vladivostok. He's amazed at how global the missionary
He spent a lot of time at Welfare Square, truly impressed with the
charitable activities of the Church, some of which he enumerated. The
biggest destination is the U.S., the 2nd biggest is Russia, and the
3rd India. At the time he was there he watched 55 bundles of 45 kg
clothing bundles which were being prepared to be sent to Afghanistan.
Statistic after statistic rolls forth: 190,000 quilts since Kosovo,
crocheted dolls for leper patients in Africa, and soon and so on..
He also felt, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, to reassure his fellow
journalists that he was able to get a drink. In Utah one needs to
purchase an inexpensive "membership" in an establishment, and he
found this a bit baffling but in other respects actually more
liberal than many other states. The one problem with this system is
that each membership is only good for one bar. However, the first bar
he encountered, which had been recommended to him, was the Goat's
Clean-cut, nice people, combing charity and industriousness, but
somehow managing not to lose wealth in the process.
"Unlike almost every big city in the U.S., you can walk down any
street here at midnight without feeling the least bit concerned about
your safety. In that sense, it feels like a Canadian city."
Infrastructure development, such as LRT (light rain transit as we
would call it in Calgary, where it's been in operation for more than
20 years), public spaces, and of course the unique challenge of
security which overshadows these games.
Summary: 3 whole pages occupying about half the entire section.
Fantastic montage of pictures as an illustration, and very favourable
impression. A mark on the wall for the Public Affairs folks!
From the divine to the dives
Edmonton AB Canada Journal (CP) 27Jan02 S1
By Gary Mason