How may one be sure that one has stepped foot past the treshold of a Mormon domicile? There are several tell-tale signs--Cheerios and Froot Loops scattered on the carpet of younger people, immaculate Pottery-Barn model home-looking decor for older folks, for example--but there is one item that every Mormon household appears to be bound by the sacred norms of their tribe to display: there must be a fancy, framed portrait of a temple hanging prominently in plain view.
Ask your Mormon host about it and he'll humbly explain that he worked in that temple once in the 90's, or that's where his grandmother does all of his family history work for him, or that's where he and his wife would like to go visit "when things settle down." Ask him where he got it and he'll proudly tell you that it was a bargain for only $600 at Deseret Book. He'll tell you all about how he found it right next to that stack of thick new books by the Apostles that were on sale for two dollars. Don't ask to see where those are in his house, though. Consistent experience states that such queries tend to create awkward tension.
Some Mormon homes do have books in them, however; clear evidence that conspicuous consumption takes a back seat to spiritual nourishment in this culture. One young Latter-day Saint reported that he intends to procure a copy of Henry David Thoreau's Walden, a classic work promoting simplicity in all aspects of living that figured prominently in the first address of their recent General Conference. "Yeah," said Tad Bryerson of South Wasatch Heights, "I saw this really cool edition on Amazon. It's a deluxe leather-bound copy with golden-gilt pages and it comes with a free digital clock from Sharper Image. Score!"
Research indicates that the primary use of these temple-related visual aids in Mormon homes is to motivate children to make going there themselves a long term goal. Mormon communities strive to steer their young in this direction, towards the ultimate end of being married there--a raucous event not unlike a festival concert, but with better makeup and tailored suits--after which, the married couple will continue to respect their heritage by...purchasing their own portrait of a temple for their home. Unless a parent buys it for them.