Sunday, September 5, 2021

October 2021 New Temple Announcement Predictions

Now that General Conference is only four weeks away, I thought I'd list some temple announcement predictions. We had a lot of temples announced last conference so that probably means we will only have a few this conference, but it could instead mean that we will have a lot of temples announced. It will be interesting to see what happens.

I've grouped my temple announcement predictions geographically and have generally chosen 3 cities for a region, but for some I chose more. I give more weight to a first temple in a country or state. Here are my predictions:


Asia: 

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Jakarta Indonesia

Kaohsiung City, Taiwan (Taichung City could also work)

Busan, Korea

Osaka, Japan

Puerto Princesa, Philippines


Australia / Pacific:

Christchurch, New Zealand

Tasmania, Australia

Marshall Islands


Africa:

Antananarivo, Madagascar

Kampala, Uganda

Kananga / Mbuji Mayi, Democratic Republic of the Congo


Europe:

Edinburgh, Scotland (or Glasgow)

Tirana, Albania

Barcelona, Spain


South America (not Brazil):

Punta Arenas, Chile / Rio Grande,  Argentina (southern tip of the continent)

La Paz, Bolivia

Maracaibo, Venezuela


Brazil:

Teresina, Brazil

Palmas, Brazil

Cuiba, Brazil


North America (not US):

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Durango, Mexico

Kingston, Jamaica


United States (not Utah):

Tacoma, Washington

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Flagstaff, Arizona

Austin, Texas

Bakersfield, California


Utah:

Heber City

Price

Spanish Fork / Springville


Those are my picks for new temple locations. I'm hoping for a lot of temple announcements, but even a single temple will bless many lives. Please comment with your lists of possible temple locations. There is also usually a lively discussion about possible temple locations on the Growth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website so you can go there for more predictions. This conference's list should arrive any day on that blog.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Manti Utah Temple Preservation and New Ephraim Utah Temple

 In case you haven't heard, President Russel M. Nelson announced today that the Manti Utah Temple will be preserved including keeping murals and that a new temple will be built in nearby Ephraim Utah so anyone that cannot handle the stairs in Manti can have an accessible temple within about 8 minutes of Manti. The Ephraim Temple will also provide additional ordinance rooms and a second font for the area. This is great. It allows for the wonderful pioneer craftsmanship and pioneer mural and 1940s murals to be preserved while at the same time providing an option for temple worthy members with various disabilities, or even just arthritis, to have a temple close by without having to drive an hour plus. 

This is a great compromise and it impresses me that our prophet, President Nelson, is someone who can come up with a solution (gutting the temple) and then will still listen to legitimate concerns of others and ponder and pray for a solution that can meet everyone's concerns and needs. In this case, building a temple in Ephraim meets the need of the disabled and provides for future growth while preserving the Manti Utah Temple preserves the art, history, and heritage while also honoring pioneers and later artisans and allowing their consecrated efforts to continue to inspire and teach future generations. President Nelson similarly helped to diffuse a contentious situation when The Church moved the Tooele Valley Utah Temple from Erda to Tooele (now renamed the Deseret Peak Utah Temple). This alleviated the concerns of neighbors who didn't want the development while still providing the temple without the exorbitant cost of running all the utilities to the temple without a community to share the cost. 

We could all learn to follow the example of President Nelson who has taken to heart Jesus Christ's teaching "Blessed are the peacemakers" and who truly cares for the concerns and opinions of others. He has clearly worked to strip himself of pride and to love and care for everyone, not just those who agree with every decision he makes. It must have been hard to reconsider long thought out plans for both of these temples when new concerns were brought forward. Most people would stubbornly dig their heels in and insist that they were right and that they had already decided. President Nelson took the harder way and rethought and reworked decisions to see if there was an even better way that could be found. You can see this kind of open thinking throughout other decisions in his presidency and it is probably one reason why revelation is such a prominent theme of his presidency. If we will only listen to revelation when it conforms to what we want, then God who knows much better than us, will not reveal those things we won't accept.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Symbolic Placement of Sealing Rooms

Laie Hawaii Temple Sealing Room Located Directly Over the Creation Room

Temples built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints come in various floorplans. Some floor plans are laid out for efficiency. Others are laid out symbolically. I'd like to talk about how locations of sealing rooms can be symbolic.

Sealing rooms are used to perform sealings of husbands and wives in eternal marriage and to seal children to parents.

Many temples have sealing rooms off of the celestial room. In the earliest ones you would actually have to cross through the celestial room to get to the sealing rooms which required the wedding guests to dress in white. This is symbolic of sealing being a higher ordinance than the endowment and of sealing being a requirement to enter the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. For example, the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple has one sealing room attached to the celestial room at the same level as the room. They sometimes let couples wait in this sealing room while waiting for their sealing.

In many temples the sealing rooms off the celestial room are several steps above the celestial room. This occurs in the St George Utah Temple, Salt Lake Temple, Mesa Arizona Temple, etc. In the Salt Lake Temple one of the sealing rooms has a whole staircase up to one of the rooms.

In the Portland Oregon Temple there is a staircase that goes up to a mezzanine level in the celestial room. There is a door in this area that leads to sealing rooms. This is very symbolic of sealings being a requirement for entering the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.

Other temples have different symbolic placement of the sealing rooms. In the Laie Hawaii Temple and Cardston Alberta Temple the endowment uses progressive rooms. You start in the creation room, move to the garden room, then the world room, then the terrestrial room and finally enter the celestial room. The creation, garden, world, and terrestrial rooms are each on a different side of the celestial room with each a little higher. The sealing rooms are then off of the celestial room. Because of the room layout and because the creation room is the lowest endowment room, the sealing rooms fit directly above the creation room which becomes very symbolic of the sealing as the ordinance that creates eternal families and it is also symbolic of the fact that God created man and woman and did not want them to remain alone so he instituted marriage to join men and women. It also symbolizes that marriage is required by God before men and women are authorized to use their biological powers to create children.

The Manti Utah Temple (until it is gutted and murals are removed and rooms rearranged in the upcoming remodel) (Great news, they are no longer gutting the Manti Temple, and Ephraim, Utah also gets a temple!) and the Salt Lake Temple (before the murals were recently removed and rooms rearranged in the current remodel) both had sealing rooms off the celestial room that were actually above the garden rooms. This could be seen as symbolic of the marriage of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and that we like Adam and Eve need to work together as couples in righteousness.

The very high capacity temples such as the Ogden Utah, Provo Utah, and Jordan River Utah Temples usually don't have symbolic placement of sealing rooms. In these temples the sealing rooms are on the floor below the endowment rooms and celestial room. There are some exceptions. In the Washington D.C. Temple the sealing rooms are on a the floor above the endowment rooms and celestial room. The celestial room ceiling extends through the sealing room floor with the celestial room ceiling at the same level as the sealing room sealings. This emphasizes that sealings allow us to enter the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. This is also how the 1980s remodeled Logan Utah Temple, the Oakland California Temple, Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple, and many others have their sealing rooms located.

Even the small temples that President Hinckley had built have symbolic placement of sealing rooms. In these temples the sealing room(s) are generally located next to the celestial room and are the highest rooms. I've noticed that as you walk back to the dressing rooms from the celestial room or sealing rooms the hallway is slightly inclined as a ramp because these rooms are slightly elevated. It is only a step or two higher, but it is meant to convey a higher ordinance.

I feel that great sacred temple architecture uses everything including placement of rooms to reinforce the teachings of the temple and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am glad sealing rooms have been symbolically placed in many temples to heighten the teachings about eternal marriage and families and our covenants. Please feel free to comment if you have any other insights.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Salt Lake Temple Sealing Room Angel Moroni Stained Glass

 

Salt Lake Temple Sealing Room

One of the original sealing rooms in the Salt Lake Temple has a stained window of the Joseph Smith getting the golden plates that he would translate into The Book of Mormon as the Angel Moroni talks with him. This is a beautiful stained glass, but it has always seemed odd for this particular stained glass window to be in a sealing room as it would appear to have nothing to do with marriage or family. As I read the first volume of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints new official history, Saints, I realized that this stained glass window actually has some significant meaning related to sealings.

When Joseph Smith went to get the plates from the hill he tried to pull the plates out but was unable to. The angel appeared and told Joseph that this was because he had not kept the commandments. He then instructed Joseph and then Joseph asked when he could have the plates. Moroni replied "The twenty-second day of September next, if you bring the right person with you." Then Joseph asked "Who is the right person?" and Moroni replies "Your oldest brother". This is significant for sealing rooms because Alvin was Joseph's oldest brother and he dies before the next September and Joseph cannot get the plates at that time. Joseph's family doesn't understand what happened to Alvin's soul since he died before the church was restored, but years later Joseph Smith has a vision where he sees Alvin in the Celestial Kingdom and is told that anyone who died without being able to join the church who would have accepted the gospel if given the chance were saved in the Celestial Kingdom of God. Later revelations would show that proxy ordinances such as baptisms for the dead and sealings for the dead (of husband and wife and of children to parents) is a part of the process that allows those who died to be able to enter God's kingdom. So this stained glass can remind us of Alvin and those who we are doing proxy sealings for. It can also remind us of the good influence that a family member such as a son or a brother can have in that apparently Alvin would have had a good enough influence on Joseph that he would have gotten the plates earlier had Alvin survived.

After Alvin's death, Joseph continued to be instructed by Moroni. Eventually the angel told Joseph Smith to bring someone with him the next year when he went to get the plates. Joseph asked, "Who is the right person?" and Moroni said "You will know". Joseph used a seer stone and asked the Lord who the right person was and he was shown that it was Emma Hale who he had been dating and wanted to marry. In the following year Joseph Smith married Emma and she came with him when he successfully obtained the plates and would help him stay on track for the rest of his life. I think this example is a wonderfully fitting reason for the sealing room to show Joseph obtaining the plates. He needed a wife who would help him be better so he could achieve his potential and only with her good influence was he able to become worthy to obtain the plates. It also reminds us that women have been and are immensely important in the work of God and can be a great influence for good. It reminds us that husbands and wives should work together in righteousness.

I hope sealers in this sealing room in the Salt Lake Temple tell some of these stories to patrons who are using this sealing room so they understand some of the deeper meanings of the room. Like Joseph Smith, we need to have strong families to strengthen us - siblings, spouse, etc. We should take our sealings seriously and strive to help our families grow in righteousness.

If you have any comments or insights about this stained glass window, please comment.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Quatrefoils in Latter-day Saint Temples

Quatrefoils in the St George Utah Temple

Today I'd like to write about quatrefoils in Latter-day Saint Temples. A quatrefoil is a symbol made from 4 semicircles which forms a clover shape. The first use of these symbols in a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in the St George Utah Temple, pictured above. These alternate with stars along the top of the wall in various rooms. The columns are also shaped as quatrefoils if you were to cut one open and look down on it. The symbol is usually associated with Christianity where it has adorned many cathedrals such as Notre Dame in Paris, but it exists in other cultures as well.

Barbed quatrefoils in San Antonio Temple (left)
 and Concepcion Chile Temple (right)

Sometimes the semicircles are attached to a square which makes a barbed quatrefoil which is sort of like a heraldic rose with thorns.  As far as I can tell, the first Latter-day Saint temple featuring barbed quatrefoils is the San Antonio Texas Temple where it is used as a ceiling molding, pictured above. 

Quatrefoils can be symbolic. I don't think any temple architects have intended the following symbolism, but I find the following traditional symbolism interesting.

1. In Christianity, the four leaves of the quatrefoil have been associated with the writers of the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In a temple setting I suppose the symbol could be interpreted as a reminder of the gospel. Since quatrefoils are often used as windows, it can also symbolize the light that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings into your life.

2. According to Wikipedia "In ancient Mesoamerica, the quatrefoil is frequently used in Olmec and Mayan monuments depicting the opening of the cosmic central axis at the crossroads of the four cardinal directions, representing the passageway between the celestial and the underworld" This seems fitting for a temple that acts as a tie between this world, the celestial kingdom, and the dead (underworld). Both the living and the dead are connected with heaven through the temple. 

3. The barbed quatrefoil can be seen as a rose with thorns, a symbol of opposition, blessings amidst trials, beauty, love, the crown of thorns Jesus wore, etc.

4. A barbed quatrefoil is also a square with 4 semi circles attached. A simple quatrefoil is made with a semi circle on each side of a square causing the square to disappear. Either way, these are essentially fancy versions of circles and squares combined which I have written about previously. The circle is a traditional symbol of heaven while the square is a symbol of the earth. So the quatrefoil can be read to mean heaven and earth are combined, or heaven encompassing the earthly, or of union. Each interpretation is an appropriate temple symbol.

5. The four sides of a normal quatrefoil or the four barbs of a barbed quatrefoil can be interpreted as the four quarters of the earth (I read online that it is sometimes used this way in Native American symbolism), so the symbols can be read as a symbol of the gathering of Israel from the four quarters of the Earth.

6. Wikipedia mentioned that there are some uses of the quatrefoil in ancient Mesoamerica associated with water (rain, etc.) This symbol could be taken as a symbol of blessings raining down, baptism, washing, etc. I find this interpretation the most far fetched, but it can work in a temple setting.

While I don't think the temple architects have planned these quatrefoil symbols in temples with the above symbolic interpretations in mind, I do think these can inspire us when we see them in the temple. We can read the symbol as a reminder that through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, temples act as a crossroads providing a connection for us with heaven and a connection for the dead to receive the ordinances for them to connect with heaven. The temples aid in the gathering on both sides of the veil. While participating in the temple, heaven an earth are connected and we can be changed from natural, earthly people into righteous, heavenly people. The temple also teaches us about opposition and union and it unlocks blessings that can shower down from heaven. Whether the symbol is intended to represent these teachings, It is great if it does.

Barbed quatrefoil symbols in the Tijuana Mexico Temple and site

The Tijuana Mexico Temple makes abundant use of the barbed quatrefoil symbol as shown above. It is found in windows, ceiling ornaments, site fountains, landscaping, tower grille work, carpets, ancillary building parapets, etc. I think it is beautifully done and architecturally ties the temple together. If these can remind us of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the work for the living and the dead connecting us to heaven, and other temple themes, then that is wonderful.

Temple renderings showing quatrefoils. Left to right: Puebla Mexico Temple,
San Pedro Sula Honduras Temple, Salta Argentina Temple, and McAllen Texas Temple.

I've noticed that several new temple renderings feature quatrefoils and barbed quatrefoils in their renderings (see above). I think this is part of the effort to make temples look like fine religious architecture in an area. In these cases, it is a Spanish mission style that fits Mexico, Honduras, Argentina, and Texas where these temples are planned. I don't think the symbols were chosen with the symbolism I've discussed in mind, but I think it strengthens the temple themes in the architecture, so I love that the symbols are being used. Plus I love how the symbol looks even if it isn't meant to symbolize anything.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about this symbol in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Quatrefoils in the Provo City Center Temple (left two) and Taylorsville Utah Temple (right two)

Since I wrote this post someone commented that the Provo City Center Temple has quatrefoils. I went and looked and sure enough, they are on the gables at the ridge of the roof and in the ceiling rooms (second picture). I looked and also found that the Taylorsville Utah Temple rendering shows multiple quatrefoils on the exterior rendering as shown in the two pictures on the right.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

April 2021 General Conference Temple Announcement Predictions

 I love announcements about new temples that come at most General Conferences in recent years. I like to read several blogs that predict where new temples may go, such as http://ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com/ and I love reading readers' comments predicting temple locations. I thought I'd share my list of temple announcement predictions. For the purposes of this list I have chosen 2 temples per continent. One temple pick is a likely temple and 1 temple that is less likely but could be chosen due to remoteness or other criteria - basically temples like the surprise temples we have seen announced in the recent years. Continents also include islands nearby, so Australia and New Zealand and the Pacific Islands are considered together. My list is also skewed to what I would like to see and what I know, so I recognize it is a very biased list. Oh, and I added a separate Utah category. Here are my predictions.

Africa: Madagascar, less likely Canary Islands. Both are islands and would greatly reduce travel times. Madagascar is also highly possible with 2 stakes and multiple districts on the island alone.

Asia: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, less likely Jakarta, Indonesia. Mongolia has several stakes and is remote and will get a temple closer to much of China and Russia. Indonesia is remote, but has several stakes and districts. 

Australia and Oceana: Christchurch, New Zealand, less likely Tasmania, Australia. Christchurch is on a different island than the other two New Zealand temples and has 2 stakes and a district. Of course Wellington has more stakes and might be more likely, but it is on the island with temples so I picked this one. Tasmania is a separate island from Australia, so having a temple there would help ease travel burdens on the saints.

Europe: Scotland, less likely Tirana, Albania. Scotland has multiple stakes and several hour travel times to the Preston England Temple. Plus, with the Scottish not appreciating Brexit, there is a chance Scotland will leave the UK in coming years so there could be an international border. Albania is just up the coast from Greece, so it is almost a New Testament country, which is cool. It has a stake and district and would get the temple much closer to many in far eastern Europe and the Middle East.

South America: Iquitos, Peru, less likely Punta Arenas, Chile. South America was hard to decide on as so many temples are already being built or already built and I am not an expert. Iquitos gets further into the continent while being in a location with many members. Punta Arenas is at the southern tip of South America and would greatly ease travel burdens.

North America: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, less likely La Paz, Mexico. Colorado is overdue for a third temple. La Paz is on the southern tip of Baja California so it has really long travel distances, even if you were to get on a ferry.

Utah: Price. I don't have a less likely pick, but I think Heber City is also a strong possibility soon. I live in Utah, so I realize that the temples are usually crowded and new temples could easily be announced in Utah. I personally think they will wait a while before announcing new ones, but they keep announcing them anyways, so maybe these will get announced too. Price has a university extension (what used to be the College of Eastern Utah) and I think college towns should get temples so young adults can establish patterns of temple attendance, plus it has the membership to justify a temple and is remote enough and has dangerous travel in the winter. Heber City also has a lot of members and dangerous travel in the winter.

Those are my picks for new temple announcements. Hopefully I'm right on all of them. Please feel free to comment on temple predictions you have.


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Changes Announced to the Salt Lake Temple and Manti Temple

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced several changes to the Salt Lake Temple and Manti Utah Temple this last week. Here are my thoughts. 

Ending live acted endowment:

I will miss this. I only rarely went to these temples, but it was always neat when I did to have live actors and I feel it helps you realize certain aspects of the endowment ceremony that can be missed in a film presentation. At the same time, this makes sense in order to accommodate many languages. I wish they could have kept at least a session a day or even a week with live actors, but it is what it is.

The Salt Lake Temple Changes:

1. The loss of the murals in the Salt Lake Temple Creation Room, Garden Room, and World Room: This is a huge loss. The murals are all over 100 years old. The press release said they wanted to keep these, but were unable to save them. There are many reasons for this, but probably the main reason is that the work to strengthen the temple to withstand earthquakes was damaging the murals enough that it was easier to simply remove the. I wish that the church would commission artists to repaint these rooms to either match the style or in a new style as was done in Nauvoo and Manti in the past. I would be overjoyed if the church leaders changed their mind and announced this, but I realize that is very unlikely. The cost of repainting these murals, although significant, would be a very small portion of the cost of this project and I think worth it. So, I am disappointed, but I will have to live with it. I am happy that they won't be putting in a 1980s interior like they did with Logan, so at least there is that.

2. Moving the baptistry from the historic temple and into the annex and adding a second font:
I am fine with this. When you are underground it is difficult to tell where you are, so moving the font makes a lot of sense. Adding a second font also makes sense and really should have been done a long while ago as the baptistry is a major bottleneck in temples. Architecturally I love the baptistry rendering. I only have 2 small issues. First, I wish the font was still raised above the floor like the historic font. In fact I wish the new baptistry was a faithful reproduction of the original font room, or at least one of the two baptistries was. But the rendering we have looks great and is probably more accessible. The second issue I have is that the rendering shows a railing system with glass walls. This looks great, but it reminds me that this is not how the pioneers built it. I would rather have a 1890s style picket railing, even if it obscured the font a little. But both of these are minor architectural items. Otherwise, I love what they are doing. 

3. Adding 2 endowment rooms: 

It makes a lot of sense to use the space where the font is for new endowment rooms and I like the renderings. I just wish that this didn't trigger the mural removal in other rooms. I wish they had added 2 rooms for single room presentation of the endowment, and used the other rooms for a progressive endowment. I think both could have run side by side. But the church leaders studied this and came to a different conclusion, so we will have to live with it. The new rooms look great. 

4. Removing the cafeteria: I have no problem with this. Most temples now just have a small break room with a microwave and refrigerator for workers to use on their breaks. 

5. Updated Terrestrial Room (now Veil Room):
I like the rendering a lot. The new veil layout works well. I like the pews, although the temple never had pews, so it would have been more historical to use opera seats. Really the only issue I have is that there used to be a plaster vase with flowers/fruit above the art glass window above the veil. It looks like this is being removed. I wish they would put it back in, even if they moved it to a different wall, which I guess is possible. 

6. Updated Celestial Room: 

I love the rendering of the celestial room. This matches the old black and white photos and adds beautiful colors that were lost in the 1960s remodel. Also, sconces on columns have returned, historic wallpaper has returned, etc. I like that the furniture looks much more period appropriate. I also love the additional art glass below the arched window at the veil. It matches and is an improvement. I did notice that the statue of a woman and children above the art glass window has been removed. This statue was supposed to be an Angel of Peace and is original to the temple, but it puzzled people who thought it was the virgin Mary, or a greek goddess, so I understand why it was removed. I hope this becomes a museum piece. I really hope they keep the cherub/cupid on the staircase to a sealing room and don't remove it. I think it is more recognizable as a symbol of love. 

7. Additional Sealing Rooms:
I like that they are adding more sealing rooms so couples aren't rushed through their wedding day. I also love the rendering, particularly the carved (or possibly cast plaster) fruit and flowers in the ceiling beams. These nicely match those in the celestial room.

The Manti Utah Temple Changes:
The planned loss of the murals makes me very sad. The world room murals in this temple are in my opinion the latter-day saint equivalent to the Sistene Chapel in Catholicism in that they are the finest and grandest art in our church and they also tell a scriptural time lapse. I don't understand why these would be removed when this temple is remote and doesn't need additional capacity and it would probably be better to build a temple in Richfield or Price if additional capacity is ever required. The only reason why they are doing this that I can think of is that this temple is too hard to seismically retrofit without removing them and so I will have to defer to that judgement. It is a shame though, especially because after the Logan Utah Temple was gutted, the Manti Utah Temple was restored due to President Spencer W. Kimball and others expressing regret that they had destroyed the pioneer craftsmanship and murals in the Logan Utah Temple. Now it seems like we have forgotten that regret and are planning to destroy temple murals again. I wish that these could be preserved or carefully scanned and repainted or high resolution printed and returned to the walls of this temple. But I am not in control and the First Presidency are ultimately the ones with all the facts and the inspiration to make this decision. Still, it hurts to lose these. I am optimistic that the remodeled rooms will be done period appropriate and that we won't end up with what happened in the Logan Utah Temple where the interior looks like the 1980s and really clashes with the exterior.

*Update: The church announced that Manti will not have murals destroyed and it will be preserved. So I'm no longer sad about that.

Those are my thoughts. We will have to support the decision of church leaders unless some miracle causes them to find a way to save the Manti murals and they decide to repaint the Salt Lake murals.