Wednesday, June 13, 2012


"And it came to pass that king Noah built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper."
Mosiah 11:8

My family and I recently went on a tour of the LDS Conference Center. I learn some interesting facts from our tour guide. Some of the facts she mentioned:
  • The conference center is believed to be world's largest indoor auditorium.
  • Exterior walls are 1 1/2 inch thick granite (quartzite) quarried from Little Cottonwood Canyon and ashlar granite.
  • Cherry wood and Pear wood is used throughout.
  • Took 3 years to build with 1,100 employees on-site during peak construction schedule.
  • It is 1. 5 million square feet.
  • The roof is over 4 acres.
  • There are 1600 theatrical lights.
  • The building incorporates over 50,000 miles of wire--enough to encircle the globe twice.
  • The building and grounds cover 10 acres or one city block--the same area as all of Temple Square.
  • Seating capacity is 21,333 in comparision to the Madison Square Garden which seats around 20,000
  • The total cost is not released by the church.
But the most interesting thing that the tour guide mentioned was about the "Hinckley Pulpit" which was built from the walnut tree from President Hinckley's backyard. . He gave the Conference Center's first address in April 2000, sharing a personal story about a black walnut tree he had planted near his family home nearly four decades before the tree died the previous year.

He inquired about possibly using the walnut wood for the soon-to-be-completed building's pulpit; the tree provided just enough for the pulpit's thin veneer.

VENEER: from Websters Dictionary: a superficially valuable or pleasing appearance. To face or cover an object with any material that is more desirable as a surface material that the basic material of the object. A deceptive, superficial show, a fa├žade.

This is the story that President Gordon B. Hinckley's told during the Saturday morning session of LDS general conference on April 1, 2000
  • "Well, some 36 years ago, I planted a black walnut. It was in a crowded area where it grew straight and tall to get the sunlight. A year ago, for some reason it died. But walnut is a precious furniture wood. I called Brother Ben Banks of the Seventy, who, before giving his full time to the church, was in the business of hardwood lumber. He brought his two sons ... , one a bishop and the other recently released as a bishop and who now run the business, to look at the tree. From all they could tell it was solid, good and beautiful wood. One of them suggested that it would make a pulpit for this hall. The idea excited me. The tree was cut down and then cut into two heavy logs. Then followed the long process of drying. ... , first naturally and then kiln drying. The logs were cut into boards at a sawmill in Salem, Utah. The boards were then taken to Fetzer's woodworking plant, where expert craftsmen designed and built this magnificent pulpit. ... with that wood.  The end product is beautiful. I wish all of you could examine it closely.... It represents superb workmanship, and here I am speaking to you from the tree I grew in my back yard, where my children played and also grew. It is an emotional thing for me."

Now, I was always under the impression that the pulpit was made of solid walnut.

However, Come to find out the tree was already dead in the backyard, and there wasn't enough wood to build the pulpit. There was only enough to provide a thin veneer. The pulpit appears to be made of walnut, but it is actually is not.. it is made out of cherry wood, with a veneer of walnut. That is why the fire and water damage that occured at the conference center a few weeks ago was such a concern. When there is water damage, any veneer could possible warp, or come detached and expose the true material underneath.


Anonymous said...

Another fact about this building. During constuction the only tornado in Salt Lake City recorded history directly hit this building damage happened then.

Makes me think of these verses:

23 Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face.

24 Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.

25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;

26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord. (D&C 112: 23-26)

Anonymous said...

"Now, I was always under the impression that the pulpit was made of solid walnut. "

Of course you had this impression!!! President Hinckley makes it sound like it was 100% his tree. Do you feel deceived, even a little, by President Hinckley's warm fuzzy story now that you got more information?

You know, lately I have really started to be very critical of EVERYTHING.

How do we know when we are getting the WHOLE truth even by those in which trust is given because of the calling they hold.

Why do LDS Church Leaders have to make up fairy tale versions of actual events instead of just giving all the facts telling things as they really are?

Lately, when I read or hear things from the Church or it's leaders, I have been wondering if I am getting the WHOLE truth or a carefully manipulated revision of actual things and events, made to give me "warm fuzzies" and other feelings.

Anonymous said...

From the LDS Church News website written in April 2000, looks like they were trying to fill in the details back then:

"The first time I saw the wood was when Brad had the log in the back of his pickup truck," Fetzer said. "We went out and measured it to see what board footage yield there would be, to see if it was going to be enough to cover the pulpit."

Each board was carefully marked and cataloged so the grain could be matched when the boards were joined side-by-side, but measurements of the 1-inch-thick boards came up short of the amount needed to cover the pulpit.

"We resorted to resawing the boards," Fetzer said. "They were 1-inch thick. We split the boards in half so we had two 1/2-inch thick boards that were then planed down to a quarter of an inch." The walnut was then added as a veneer to plywood, creating enough material to cover the pulpit.

Anonymous said...

I love beautiful things, though I (with a moderate sized family; not all of our children still live at home) live in a very small house (well under 1,000 square feet, which includes two floors, a very tiny upstairs qualifies as a floor)--
an old house--
but I love beautiful things, beautiful art, undisturbed nature, beautiful gardens, fine art--good craftsmanship--

So I have always accepted the high quality of things the church has done, without question--

even though my own family has not had anything that would even begin to come close to the kind of quality that most people assume is necessary--

and it hasn't bothered me--because, well, it just hasn't--

I know that many in our ward think our home is dinky--

and that we are dinky--yes, they do, and I have been in some very spacious buildings in our ward--

but I am beginning to realize now that if this is where we invest, no matter how much we love beauty (and my spouse and I have planted trees; we love trees; both of us studied botany extensively in college)--

if we don't take care of the humans around us and in the world . . . then we might miss out on everyone having beauty at some point--

I am seeing this now. I am not sure what to say; I don't feel comfortable condemning anyone; I will let Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ take care of that--

but I don't live in a glass house, even if I chose to throw stones--

anyone in the church, unless they lived in Africa or South America in poverty--would take one look at our little house and chuckle to think that we live in decadence--

but I think that Father in Heaven knows the culture that encouraged this sort of excess--

and will take that into account. I have not agreed with everything President Hinckley said when he was presiding over the church--
there were things I disagreed with (especially with regards to war, though I tried to excuse him to myself and others)--

but I will let Jesus handle him, and I pray He handles him gently--

same with President Monson, whom I've never really been very interested in, for some reason; he kind of just . . . doesn't 'occur' to me--

my business is what I do--

my business is how I live--

my business is whom I feed--

but I am not sure I would be comfortable in that building anyway; I did go in it once when we took a trip to Utah, and it was kind of overwhelming, maybe a bit much, to be honest--

but we've never been able to afford to go there for conference, and that is all right--

I am called to live my life, and I am doing my best to serve and feed where I can, and I'll let the others account for their own choices--

Anonymous said...

You are obviously humble and not easily deceived by the riches of the world. I agree with you that each of us is accountable for the choices we make. However, the problem remains that if we as voluntary members of the church see the direction of the leadership slipping into apostasy, is it only the leaders that will be held accountable or will knowing members be held accountable as well? It is one thing to let each individual be accountable for their own choices but when we as a body don't function properly, are we not all to differing extents responsible? If our leaders are put on a pedastal beyond any reproach. ( which clearly you do not seem to do) and we have concerns about the direction of the church because it doesn't align, in this case in particular, with taking care of the poor before building expensive and worldly buildings, who is left accountable? What is our individual obligation to care for the church? Do we neglect responsibility for not bringing these things to light?
I hope the Lord is merciful to all the leaders considering the time, effort, hours they devote. However, I guess I don't see it as being unmerciful to acknowledge problems in the church in an effort to keep the body whole. One clear reason the church is slipping into apostasy is our false tradition that leaders are beyond questioning or reproach. I believe that god will hold members accountable if we continue to ignore breaches in his commandments. If you have been following the Noah /Abinadi posts, this message seems to be clear. Although Noah misled the people, the people did not complain and ALL of his kingdom suffered as a result.
From an individual standpoint, chastisement is not always the most pleasant experience. Many times I resist it and have twice the repenting to do. But D and C 95:1 is reassuring. Sorry if this post seems like I am chastising you. That is not my intent. I admit I could be 100% wrong on everything I have brought up. I am merely pondering and asking questions.

Anonymous said...

well, you DO notice that I am on this unique 'blog'? :)

I question a lot. I don't take things at face value--

I just know there isn't much I can do. I have 'inoculated' my children (weird word, but it works) by teaching them not to hold up anyone as examples or . . . to celebritize anyone in 'authority'--
yes, I cringed about the birthday celebration of President Monson, and I am grateful, TRULY grateful, for the internet, where those of us who have these deep concerns can come and learn about these things and share our concern and hopefully strengthen, anonymously, each other in our resolve to cast off the darkness, so to speak.

I am not 'scolding' anyone who is bringing these things to light, and, in fact, I appreciate the fact that whoever is doing it is doing it without naming him/herself. :)
You see, I've experienced the heavy hand of authority myself. Before I learned to keep my mouth shut and even when I was trying to keep my mouth shut and knew that a leader was judging unrighteously with regards to several of my children (oppressing my children; it was all very wrong, but it's been worked out since; two of the chief persecutors had serious health problems right after that)--
I had my TR threatened (with my spouse)--
I've learned to be 'wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove'--
because I do NOT trust my 'leaders'--

but I also don't think, by the same token, that it is MY responsibility to judge them--
their behavior I might question soundly--but I leave the judgement of them to the Lord.
And, yes, I agree that being part of a corrupt culture is extremely hard; it's hard to be faithful while being immersed in spiritual mud--
I think Nibley said something about that--

so . . . if you thought you were chastizing me--*hee, hee*, be assured that I won't take it seriously--

Whoever is doing this blog has my sincere appreciation.

Now, whoever you are, have a good day--

and God bless you--

I won't say what I've done personally to help the poor; it would . . . bring attention to things I don't want to have noticed, but I feel quite convinced that the things I have privately done, even while those with much more money sing and dance around me--

have met with Father in Heaven's approval--and the approval of His Son--

I hope it will get me a few points; I will need them! :)

Anonymous said...

oh, this is the same person who keeps going on and on--

I feel SORRY for the leaders who think they are leading and will maybe have regrets later--


I mean, think about it--

will some of these people want to be in the same room with Abinadi? Or even Joseph Smith?

THAT is something disturbing to think about; makes me have sympathy and makes me look quickly to myself to make certain I won't slink around when someone points out Abinadi to me, supposing I make it to where he is?

Understand now?

And as for my being 'responsible' for the rest of the church, well, I know my limitations (don't run faster than you have strength; I was reading with one of my children just last night in Mosiah 4 about that)--

and I know I have my own stewardship, and I try to see to that--

what do I think hell is?

Realizing that you missed the boat; some of our 'good saints' might have that experience, and I won't be glad if they do--


Anonymous said...

Thank you anonymous 11:19 am. You have instructed me well. Please know again that my questions were not meant to be personally accusatory.

Toni said...

Since I cannot control what the leaders do (the control was taken out of our hands long ago, even though the D&C scriptures giving control to the people via common consent are still there), my solution is to pray for our leaders. Mighty prayer works wonders. They may not have a clue as to what they're doing, since they grew up in this society, and have spent years in the general authority mode which, sad to say, can easily foster illusions of superiority.

To me, the best prayers for our leaders are that they be what God desires, that they have intensely strong desires to know God's will, that -if necessary- they are made to be humbled to the point where they know God's will concerning how they should act in their lives and in their callings. They have a very difficult time, I'm sure. They are called into positions where they are businessmen, running many businesses for profit, when they should be preaching repentance only. They are in the public eye, and the public worships them, putting them above the scriptures and putting their words above the words of Jesus Christ. Even the greatest man could fall to vanity and pride in that environment. Even the most compassionate man could lose understanding of poverty, need, and want surrounded by the luxuries of multi-million (billion) dollar enterprises.

Toni said...

Also, I understand that, according to the D&C, the council of the twelve apostles have no more authority than a stake high council - and that the twelve are not to preach or be over any group where there is "a regularly established" stake. Their authority is to be over the branches and nonmembers, it would seem, preaching repentance and inviting to come unto Christ.

Anonymous said...

wow, Toni, you say it better than I can!!! :)

I was thinking the same thing; culture can be so, well, for lack of a better word, and not using it as a swearing word, so . . . damning. :( Culture keeps people in the dark--

and the culture of mid-1900s America has been especially blind--

so, yes, these men--

I think it's interesting that no apostle who actually fought in a war has become a prophet; that IS very interesting, but these men are very formed by the culture, a very prosperous, very secure culture--
Even though America is a big place I spent a few years many decades ago in Utah as a student, and I remember how much more 'secure' people felt there, how confident people felt of their place in the world in Utah, more so than in many places, and that is where these men, most of them, were born and lived (except for missions or in the case of the current president, the military)--and it is an isolated culture--
So, yes, indeed--I believe they will be judged based upon that, and you are so right about the prayers--sometimes you can catch a glimpse that they maybe understand that, but the adulation of the 'saints' is not good for them--
in fact, it has only been the last few decades that that has been possible, because of air travel--
I am older, and I can remember church presidents and apostles who were much less in the 'limelight' and who discouraged personal attention of any kind--
the present day ones seem kind of childlike in their response to adoration--they kind of lap it up--
So, yes--
but, having said that, I think it is important for the rest of us to keep it all in perspective and not give in to that adulation; it is very important--
I believe.
Thank you, everyone--
this has been a meaningful discussion, I believe--
coming onto independent Mormon blogs has helped me a lot; I was feeling very alone (with my spouse) about a lot of these things; I am the blog visitor, and I share my findings with my companion--and I have a child who needs to know some of these things as well, a pure-hearted young person who asks hard questions--

Anonymous said...

This whirlwind you mention is shown in this youtube video. It's a call to get members realize that all is NOT well in Zion.

Toni said...

Hardly any of the tornado is shown in that video. It's focus is actually elsewhere. Here is a video of the tornado in Salt Lake City.

Toni said...

Part of the description for this video says, "caught on tape by a news crew that was set up outside city." There are other videos. Just do a youtube search.

Anonymous said...
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