BCC Zeitcast 33

Season 2 Album Artwork Last Zeitcast before we take a mid-season break. This time Amri and Ronan discuss temples as airport beacons, brother-husbands, and the identity of those who inherit the second degree in the celestial kingdom. Plus a certain Canadian returns to the Zeitcast and muses on the eternal fate and premortal valiance of J. Stapley, esq.



  1. /shakes head and wanders off in a daze/

  2. You know what I just realized? when I got married (which is supposed to move me up in glories) I actually got booted out of the celestial running entirely because he’s not a member.

    Too bad. I throw great parties.

    also, great editing and Skype phone ringing Ronan.

  3. One need only look at a map of Los Angeles–there’s the temple up on Santa Monica Boulevard, about 10 miles due north of LAX, and there’s LAX with its runways running generally East-West–to know that the temple in no way could serve as any kind of beacon for landings at that airport.

    Next some idiot is going to say that pilots flying up the Hudson are using the Moroni on the Manhattan Temple to know when to make the right turn towards LaGuardia. Only problems: it’s completely invisible in the midst of all the taller buildings around it, and it’s about two miles south of the turn.

  4. Mark B., though I’m no fan of hokey LDS legends, the LA temple is clearly visible off the starboard side of the airplane during the standard instrument approach to any of LAX’s 4 runways. It’s possible, though unlikely, that it could be used as a reference point to visually check the altitude of the aircraft at the midway point on the glidescope.

    I think there are two other factors that mean we can’t completely discredit this urban legend: 1) The temple is much more clearly in the path of the standard approach to Santa Monica airport and the story may have confused the two, and 2) for about 20 years (50s to 70s) the temple may have been one of the only prominent landmarks within 15 miles of LAX since none of the tall buildings in Century City or Wilshire west of the 405 existed during that period.

  5. Why do people try so hard to find some possible way for some part of this tale to be even partially true for some temple? It is a story that has been circulating via email for at least 15 years in my own experience. If there was ever any kernel of truth at the center of it, it has been stretched so far as to have exactly zero value. It’s embarrassing because it makes our people look so gullible and foolish, seeking for inspiration in the maudlin and fantastic rather than in the gospel; and *if* it is being told as a recent personal experience by the area authority 70 whose name has become attached to it in its latest round, it’s shameful.

  6. But I guess it has its place, if only in a podcast where three bloggers settle all questions of who inherits what celestial estate, and why. With that in mind, attempts to rationalize the bizarro guided-by-a-statue (when did we become such idolators?) story makes perfect sense.

  7. I think it’s worth pointing out that the Zeitcast was pretty snarky about Bryce bringing up this story, but if you read his post at Temple Study he was simply bringing up the issue to try to see if there is any truth at all. Seems like a worthwhile discussion to me — why not try to get at the truth of this legend? Bryce was not buying into the legend — why the snarkiness? I’m not a pilot, but I agree with Ronan and Amri and all of the commenters who have said it sounds implausible given all of the urban instruments on big planes out there.

    It is worth pointing out that I have flown in several small planes, and pilots on small planes DO look for geographical points of reference, and a temple like the one in Oakland or LA (or the DC temple) would certainly be visible from the sky. These temples have probably been used for navigation thousands of times by small plane pilots.

  8. Geoff,
    No snark was intended in Bryce’s direction at all. I’m sorry that we gave that impression. It was rather obvious to me that he was simply reporting the legend.
    In the midst of this, the London example is in print in the words of a Seventy who ought to know, so I’m not willing to write it off entirely, although I think the legend has probably spiralled out of control by now.

  9. Since I’m with Ardis on this one, I’m reluctant to ask more questions–lest 650 believe that I give this nonsense any credence. (There are, after all, instruments in the cockpit that give infinitely better indication as to the plane’s altitude relative to the proper glidepath than a building 10 miles distant–and have been for most of the time since the LA Temple was built.)

    Maybe we could waste some of Pres. Uchtdorf’s time with questions about this! He’s a pilot. He ought to know.

    On the other hand, it’s possible that the traffic helicopter pilots use the temples as markers–a friend in DC said the local traffic reporters regularly mentioned the temple there when discussing traffic jams on the Beltway.

    Maybe if we’d turn off all the lights the traffic jams would clear up!

  10. OK, Ronan. Btw, enjoyed the Zeitcast! You both have great broadcast voices. We Yanks are suckers for British accents.

  11. No snark was intended toward Bryce by me, either.

  12. But let me tell you a real and sort of related story that you can appropriate for talks and metaphors good and bad as you wish:

    My grandfather served a mission during WWII in western New York. At the time, Americans were afraid of being bombed (London style) by Germans, I guess, and engaged in blackouts at night. But the government asked that the statue of the Angel Moroni on the Hill Cumorah be lit at night so that enemy planes would bomb it instead of neighboring cities. And the Church said “sure.” And the missionaries got to go up and light it every night.

    The end.

  13. If you can document blackouts in any American cities during the 2nd World War, ESO, I may start thinking about believing that story. (A good start would be to read about the losses of U.S. shipping to submarines, who could see the silhouettes of the ships against the lights of south Florida cities–and the success the authorities had in getting them to turn the lights off.)

    And then, if you could kindly point out what German bombers had the range to fly from an airfield in, say, Brittany, across the Atlantic, 200 miles inland to Rochester or another 75 miles to Buffalo, and then return to base, I’ll start believing even more of the story.

    Or, if you could tell me the number of aircraft carriers in the Kriegsmarine in the 2nd World War, then I’m almost to the point of being one of the Monkees.

    (Of course, you’d better help me to understand what capital ships the Germans managed to get out of the North Sea after mid 1941–when the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen sortied.)

  14. I’m not vouching for the story in 12, but blackouts were ubiquitous across the country in the war years, regardless of the actual magnitude of the threat. It was only three or four years ago that the last of the blackout paint was removed from the grand arched windows of the New York Public Library Reading Room. For an account of the reaction in a smaller city much farther inland, check here.

  15. From the text of the article, it appears that any blackouts in Dayton were just drills–but that there wasn’t a long-term blackout as there was in London:

    Less than a week later, several city officials, including Speice, traveled to Cincinnati to witness a blackout drill that used Victory sirens as a means to alert the public of an air raid. By the time Speice had returned, he had reversed his stand, stating that the blackout had clearly shown the necessity for adequate warning devices.


    When they arrived, three of the sirens were to have been placed on 50-foot towers in time for a sectional blackout that was scheduled for May 27, 1943.

    There is no question that there was a lot of talk and some efforts at preparation for attack, but when it quickly became obvious that neither the Germans nor the Japanese (did I forget the Italians?) had the means to attack the U.S. mainland, the enthusiasm died down. I’ve written elsewhere of the soldiers camped in Centinela Park in Los Angeles in late 1941/early 1942, who actually bivouacked in the LDS church across the street when the weather was bad. They were there as part of early efforts to protect against a feared Japanese attack. After Midway (June 1942) there were no realistic fears of such attack.

  16. Ditto what #14 said (including disclaimer about not vouching for #12). My grandfather’s job during the war was going around policing compliance with blackouts in San Francisco. I’ve also toured various bunkers and other fortifications in San Francisco that date to WWII. Obviously, none was ever needed. But the defenses are real.

  17. Blackouts I can accept but the lighting of a monument in an obscure corner of New York state to confuse the Luftwaffe is the hokiest load of rubbish I have heard for a long time.

  18. Quit being snarky toward Bryce, Ronan!

  19. It’s the accent, MCQ.

  20. Re: 17. I believe that the technical term in your language, Ronan, is “codswallop”.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    On the three levels of the CK, people might like this post.

    On ministering angels, I love the Grondahl cartoon that shows a married couple dining at a posh restaurant in the hereafter, and floating next to their table in a waiter’s outfit is a handsome guy who says “Hello, my name is Chad and I’ll be your ministering angel this evening.”

  22. I found an October 1992 article published in the Deseret News that noted that “[s]ituated on 32 acres near the flight route of the nearby London Gatwick Airport, the [London] temple long has been a reference point for pilots.” Laminate it, paste a magnet on the back, and slap it on the fridge.

  23. Left Field says:

    Another version of the London Temple story appeared recently on Nauvoo.
    In this version, the temple either wasn’t allowed to have a statue of Moroni, or they had to remove it so that it wouldn’t interfere with air traffic.

  24. Oh! I heart BCC but BCC does not heart me.

    I have only heard the story from my Grandpa, and I suppose he could be lying, but why would he?

    Thanks to those of you who have spoken out about blackouts. I am sure many of us who have experienced paranoia in post 9/11 flying (like not allowing mothers to bring breast milk on board or letting toddlers bring sippy cups of water) will recognize that our fears are not always rational. Just as those toddlers are not actually carrying explosives in their sippy cups, air raids in the US seem absurd to us now.

    Palmyra is right in between two cities, Rochester and Syracuse which, although they now seem minor, were industrial centers of the time. Rochester was the 23rd largest city in the country, but had a very skilled workforce and led in technology. The point was that the light shining in Palmyra would lure the bombers they feared AWAY from those cities. Here is a very unofficial source, but a nice personal memory of war era Rochester, touching on both points (technology vital to the war effort and blackouts). This timeline of Rochester indicates that blackouts started here in 1941 (the Cobbs Hill Reservoir mentioned is one block from my house and today would be considered inconsequential). This is from a Rochester newspaper in 1942 and indicates actual rules for the blackouts.

    The Moroni statue went up in 1934..

    So–when I said “government” in the story, that is what I meant. But perhaps you were thinking Roosevelt, and I am happy to think it could have been a local mayor or city council without rendering the story “rubbish.” And I was mistaken to have said “every night” because in reading up on the blackouts, I can see they were occasional, not daily. And like I said above–I agree that the idea of German bombers in western NY is comical, but it appears that they were genuinely feared. And I am not saying that lighting the statue was a brilliant idea–again, it sounds very funny–but apparently it was requested. Maybe it was the townspeople of Palmyra’s (historically anti-Mormon) hope against hope that it would get bombed. Hope that is good enough for you Mark B. and Ronan.

  25. Nothing short of a time machine and personal verification would be good enough for me, ESO.

  26. My personal belief is that ministering angels will be used for air traffic control in the next life.

  27. My mom had blackouts in Alexander City, Alabama when she was a child during WW2. Alexander City, Alabama probably had some textile mills, but was otherwise no industrial giant. Mom told me she thought the Germans were going to come and burn Alex City the way the Yankees had burned Atlanta in Gone With the Wind, a movie they had been let out of school to go see because it was so important, when it opened in the 30s. She had seen it many times by the time of the blackouts, and it was a big part of her mental landscape, including her main reference on war.

    She did also go down to the train station to look at the German POWs being transported by train to some camp somewhere in the area. She said they looked so sad and haunted and afraid that she felt terrible for them. I wonder where the camp was, and how the prisoners were treated there.

  28. They may have been transported to Opelika, one of the major POW camps in Alabama.

  29. Justin–I was so hoping for some back-up from you. Woe is me.

  30. I am sorry to disappoint you, ESO. I don’t have any relevant information here.

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