pam

God protects His temples

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I loved this article regarding the flooding in Houston.  While everything around it is flooded, the temple is spared.

http://blog.chron.com/mormonvoice/2016/04/mormon-temple-spared-during-houston-flood/

Many Houstonians were awakened in the wee hours of April 18, 2016 to  a severe thunderstorm. This storm made it impossible to sleep and came complete with booming thunder, blinding lightening, fast wind and fat raindrops hitting like marbles dropped on rooftops and against windows.

When I looked out my second-story window at three a.m, I noticed my flooded street with water over the curb and half way up my front yard. Later when I heard on the news that we had received 15 inches of rain in less than 24 hours, I wasn’t surprised. Yet what did surprise me was seeing the many photos on Facebook and Instagram of the Houston LDS temple.

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Some background on its construction:  Rumor has it...

Whenever anything is built in the Houston area, it is required or recommended that any structures be built 1.5 ft above the 100 yr flood plain.  Most jurisdictions also have flood displacement measures that must be implemented.  This means that if you build up a building pad, some pond or pit must be dug that equals the amount of water displaced by the pad.

The original design of the Houston Temple was made to be the minimum 1.5' above the 100 yr flood plain.  But knowing that floods can be a fickle thing, the temple was to be raised somewhat higher.  If I understand correctly, it was the Church's own Project Manager that required it.  It was raised so high, in fact, that the usual basement for the baptismal font is actually above grade.  But that may have been to avoid buoyancy with such a shallow water table.

The higher finished floor elevation meant that the building pad had to be built up.  Normally a 2:1 slope is standard for the sides.  But to maintain aesthetics, it was flattened to a 5:1 slope or flatter.  This amounted to a LOT more soil and a lot more flood mitigation.  So, there is a lot of thought put into building temples -- and a lot of money.  These are very high quality buildings.*

The recent flooding was touted as a 500 year event.  But the reported 15 inches in less than 24 hours sounds quite a bit higher than a 500 year event.

It was this foresight at the time of construction that allowed the temple to remain unharmed during this event.

 

*Another rumor:

During construction only a few LDS were on the construction team.  The HVAC engineer was one of them.  During the course of construction he developed a favorable relationship with many of the other construction leads.  The local Baptist Church was quite vocal about protesting the building of a Mormon Temple.  The general contractor was a staunch baptist.  As the building was completing, this engineer spoke with the GC and asked how he felt about building a Mormon Temple.

He spoke of how in ancient times there were apprenticeships and journeymen and masters.  To be a master you had to present a masterpiece of the highest quality to be judged by other masters.  In today's world, people always want to cut costs.  Quality suffers.  

"I've never had a chance to show anyone how good I really am or to make something to the best of my ability.  I'm grateful for one thing about you Mormons.  You don't skimp when it comes to building your temples."  He concluded with a tear in his eye,"This is my masterpiece."

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This is cool, but it's not entirely true that God always protects his temples. For example, the Tongan temple burned to the ground a few years ago.

It is a Mormon myth, in my opinion, that temples fall under 'magical' protection. Hugh Nibley said Mormons are too likely to see their temples as a 'fetish', in the anthropological definition of 'an object regarded with awe as being the embodiment or habitation of a potent spirit or as having magical potency.' 

Edited by tesuji

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1 hour ago, Carborendum said:

The recent flooding was touted as a 500 year event.  But the reported 15 inches in less than 24 hours sounds quite a bit higher than a 500 year event.

Is it just me, or do we hear phrases like "this year's rain is a [100|200|500] year event for Houston" about every three years?

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Yeah, from where I'm standing, no.  Meridian Idaho and Ft. Collins temple sites have both been vandalized recently, a few have been damaged intentionally or from weather, not to mention what happened to the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples back in the day. 

That said, during the Prop8 backlash, I saw a cool video of a bunch of  LDS bruisers (I forget if they were Hawaiian or Tongan) patrolling a temple and yelling at people trying to vandalize the wall around the temple.  They seemed to be having a great time yelling at people for writing hate-filled things in the name of opposing hatred.  That's how God protects His temples.  

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2 hours ago, tesuji said:

This is cool, but it's not entirely true that God always protects his temples. For example, the Tongan temple burned to the ground a few years ago.

It is a Mormon myth, in my opinion, that temples fall under 'magical' protection. Hugh Nibley said Mormons are too likely to see their temples as a 'fetish', in the anthropological definition of 'an object regarded with awe as being the embodiment or habitation of a potent spirit or as having magical potency.' 

Yeah I don't think there was anything said that spoke of protecting all of them.  But you can certainly see a hand that the Lord has in sparing some of these from the natural disasters as the examples in the article indicated.

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27 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

 

That said, during the Prop8 backlash, I saw a cool video of a bunch of  LDS bruisers (I forget if they were Hawaiian or Tongan) patrolling a temple and yelling at people trying to vandalize the wall around the temple.  They seemed to be having a great time yelling at people for writing hate-filled things in the name of opposing hatred.  That's how God protects His temples.  

If memory serves me that was around the Los Angeles temple.

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8 minutes ago, pam said:

Yeah I don't think there was anything said that spoke of protecting all of them.  But you an certainly see a hand that the Lord has in sparing some of these from the natural disasters as the examples in the article indicated.

I think your purpose was to share the joy at how the Houston temple was spared the flooding. I don't want to detract from that intent.

However, I just think it's dangerous to put faith in myths, because they are a sandy foundation. If the myth turns out to be false, then misplaced faith can be shaken. And, hey, I could be wrong and God usually does protect his temples.

I also saw another apparent myth recently that concerned me. I attended Sunday testimony meeting at a native American tribe. They talked a lot about being descendants of Lehi and got strength from that. I am not sure, however, that many Mormon scholars would say it's certain that a tribe in Utah was definitely descended from Lehi. So if that turns out to be false, I'm afraid their faith may be shaken, if it was founded on a myth.

But, I'm overreacting to the title of your post, I agree

 

Edited by tesuji

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7 minutes ago, pam said:

But you can certainly see a hand that the Lord has in sparing some of these from the natural disasters as the examples in the article indicated.

I think He's just protecting the Houston one because He's impressed that we built a temple in the closest thing to Outer Darkness that we could find.

(Chicago and DC were practice runs.)

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1 hour ago, NightSG said:

I think He's just protecting the Houston one because He's impressed that we built a temple in the closest thing to Outer Darkness that we could find.

(Chicago and DC were practice runs.)

I can vouch for the suburbs at least, that I know good people there

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1 hour ago, tesuji said:

However, I just think it's dangerous to put faith in myths, because they are a sandy foundation. If the myth turns out to be false, then misplaced faith can be shaken. And, hey, I could be wrong and God usually does protect his temples.

I agree 100%. Such "faith-promoting rumors" can often do more harm than good when they are founded on speculation or false claims. But I also agree that they may well be true in many cases. I appreciate such stories, but I take them with, well, if not a grain of salt, at least a heaping helping of pious skepticism.

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6 hours ago, tesuji said:

This is cool, but it's not entirely true that God always protects his temples. For example, the Tongan temple burned to the ground a few years ago.

I wasn't Tonga. It was Samoa, as I recall. My parents-in-law served in Tonga, and had that Temple burned, it would have, pardon the verbiage, burned itself deeply into my mind.

Yes, here's the first 'graf of the Deseret News article from Thursday, July 10, 2003:

Quote

APIA, Samoa — The Apia Samoa Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was destroyed by fire on Wednesday evening.

Lehi

Edited by LeSellers

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3 minutes ago, LeSellers said:

I wasn't Tonga. It was Samoa, as I recall. My parents-in-law served in Tonga, and had that Temple burned, it would have, pardon the verbiage, burned itself deeply into my mind.

Lehi

Oh!  I see what you did!

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Whatever, guys.  Next you'll be telling me that the Honolulu temple wasn't a major military target that the Japanese bombers would have destroyed on December 7 if only it hadn't completely disappeared from its normal location . . .

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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6 hours ago, tesuji said:

This is cool, but it's not entirely true that God always protects his temples. For example, the Tongan temple burned to the ground a few years ago.

It is a Mormon myth, in my opinion, that temples fall under 'magical' protection. Hugh Nibley said Mormons are too likely to see their temples as a 'fetish', in the anthropological definition of 'an object regarded with awe as being the embodiment or habitation of a potent spirit or as having magical potency.' 

I'm glad you said that.  Many people in Houston found it "amusing" or "curious".  But I wasn't getting the impression that anyone thought it was supernatural protection.  Like I said, someone had foresight enough to realize that floods are fickle.  And temples are always built with the highest quality in mind.  Maybe it was the Lord who inspired that PM to decide it needed to be raised.  But more than that?

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3 hours ago, tesuji said:

I attended Sunday testimony meeting at a native American tribe. They talked a lot about being descendants of Lehi and got strength from that. I am not sure, however, that many Mormon scholars would say it's certain that a tribe in Utah was definitely descended from Lehi.

Language is often a good marker for descent. Most tribes in Utah share a linguistic connection, their languages being from the Uto-Aztec family. Brother Brian Stubbs has shown that these languages have a great deal in common with Hebrew. So, while it ain't guaranteed, it's a fair bet they are, indeed, descended from Lehi (the original, or course, not me — been accused of being older than dirt but that's mild exaggeration).

Lehi

Edited by LeSellers

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5 hours ago, NightSG said:

Is it just me, or do we hear phrases like "this year's rain is a [100|200|500] year event for Houston" about every three years?

It's just you.  And there is a bit of a terminology issue here.

We've had several 100 year events in the past 20 years.  In fact, last year, it is said that we had three 100 year events in as many weeks.  That was a lot of water.  My garage flooded.  But the gas plant I designed was fine.  The client was very pleased.

We haven't had any 200 year or larger events in the past... many years as far as I'm aware of.  This was the first 500 year event I've heard of anywhere I've lived.  So, you'd have to go pretty far back to find another 500 year event.

A WORD ON TERMINOLOGY:

When we say it is a 100 year event, we need to separate the storm vs the flood.  A 100 year storm does not necessarily mean we're having a 100 year flood -- though it often does.  But the calculation for each is the same methodology.  

A 100 year event means that in any given year, we have a 1% chance of meeting or exceeding that level.  Extrapolate that to various other numbers and you'll see how it is certainly possible to have several 100 year events in a few years.

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1 hour ago, Carborendum said:

A 100 year event means that in any given year, we have a 1% chance of meeting or exceeding that level.  Extrapolate that to various other numbers and you'll see how it is certainly possible to have several 100 year events in a few years.

Possible, yes.  I could draw the same card ten times in a row, too.  However, I'd then closely examine the deck, my shuffling method, and any other possible factors rather than just saying "sure, it could happen."

When very improbable things happen over and over again, it's time to reexamine the premises on which you base your probability estimates.

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3 minutes ago, NightSG said:

Possible, yes.  I could draw the same card ten times in a row, too.  However, I'd then closely examine the deck, my shuffling method, and any other possible factors rather than just saying "sure, it could happen."

When very improbable things happen over and over again, it's time to reexamine the premises on which you base your probability estimates.

I thought the same thing.  But the statistical equations used are fairly tried and true.  And three or four outliers are not enough to change such a statistic.  If, however, the data showed that we met or exceeded at least once every year for 20 years, then that would be more than an outlier.

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6 hours ago, NightSG said:

How many 500 year periods do we have accurate daily rainfall totals for?

I think you're still under the impression that the 100 year flood only comes around once every 100 years.  Well, that is a problem with the misleading nomenclature.  A 100 year flood will most probably occur more than once very 100 years.  It will probably occur more than three times in 100 years.  It has a more than insignificant chance of being exceeded more than 6 times in 100 years.

But to answer the question, it's not the flood data exactly.  We have geologic data indicating differing flood elevations in history.  We also extrapolate from the data that we have on less severe storms and find the "region of intersection".  They also have to take into account what weather conditions would have to be present to create such a flood event.  Then they figure how often such conditions occur.  Then they go through some statistical equations that I slept through to determine a number to put into the table.

Remember 98% of all statistics are made up on the spot. :D

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1 hour ago, Carborendum said:

Remember 98% of all statistics are made up on the spot. :D

Wrong, my son.

It's 68.7%

I know because I did it.

Lehi

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21 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

Yeah, from where I'm standing, no.  Meridian Idaho and Ft. Collins temple sites have both been vandalized recently, a few have been damaged intentionally or from weather, not to mention what happened to the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples back in the day. 

That said, during the Prop8 backlash, I saw a cool video of a bunch of  LDS bruisers (I forget if they were Hawaiian or Tongan) patrolling a temple and yelling at people trying to vandalize the wall around the temple.  They seemed to be having a great time yelling at people for writing hate-filled things in the name of opposing hatred.  That's how God protects His temples.  

I am convinced that the faith to move mountains starts with saints with shovels and wheel barrels.

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2 hours ago, Carborendum said:

But to answer the question, it's not the flood data exactly.  We have geologic data indicating differing flood elevations in history.

But does geologic data provide the level of detail needed to identify short-term flooding events like this?  I know it's pretty easy to pick out a time when an area was flooded for a full season from the fossil record, but I'm not so sure one could easily nail down a flood that doesn't produce certain types of changes, like killing off grasses for a season, leaving fish on a hilltop, etc.

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1 hour ago, NightSG said:

But does geologic data provide the level of detail needed to identify short-term flooding events like this?  I know it's pretty easy to pick out a time when an area was flooded for a full season from the fossil record, but I'm not so sure one could easily nail down a flood that doesn't produce certain types of changes, like killing off grasses for a season, leaving fish on a hilltop, etc.

Even a single season of high water can leave a mark on the soil strata for hundreds of years.  I'm sure there is a threshold of time required for flooding, but I just don't know that level of detail of the science.

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