7 More Wonders of the Mormon World

by | Oct. 31, 2014

Mormon Life

Gilgal Sculpture Garden


The Sphinx
Photo from roadsideamerica.com

In the heart of downtown Salt Lake City lies the mysterious and unique Gilgal Sculpture Garden--Church member Thomas Child's tribute to the scriptures and the restored gospel. 

The word "Gilgal" means "circle of sacred stones"--an appropriate name for Child's garden, which contains 12 original sculptural arrangements and over 70 stones engraved with scriptures, poems, and philosophical texts. 

Child began work on Gilgal Sculpture Garden in 1945 at age 57, when he had served as bishop of the same ward for more than 19 years. Child spent much of his time and resources working on the garden until his death in 1963. The following are explanations behind a few of Child's creations from gilgalgarden.org.

The Sphinx (photo above) represents Child's belief that the answers to life's great questions cannot be discovered with intellect, but only through faith. The sphinx is an ancient symbol of riddles and mystery. Joseph Smith's face symbolizes Child's belief that the restored priesthood reveals to mankind the answers to life's mysteries. 


Daniel II: Nebuchadnezzar's Dream
Photo from Wikipedia

In this work, Child portrays the shattered giant from the Biblical story of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Nebuchadnezzar sees a great image with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet of iron and clay. The giant is destroyed by a "stone cut out of the mountain without hands" which becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth. 

The Hebrew wise man Daniel interpreted the dream to mean that successive kingdoms, represented by the different pieces of the giant, would rule the earth until the kingdom of God was established to rule forever. Child believed God's kingdom was begun with the founding of the LDS Church. Child spent over two years working on this monument. 


The Last Chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes
Photo from roadsideamerica.com

In this monument, Child represents several verses from the last chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. It includes objects from the verse "...the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden...the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bow be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern." 

Child planted an almond tree on the mount as part of this monument. The tree grew and flourished despite Utah's cold winters. It died in 1963, the same year as Child died. 

Child created the head of an old man to represent the first verses of this chapter which he interpreted as meaning, "In spite of ourselves, we get sick, weak, and die, and are not the masters of the situation." 

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