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Friday, July 6, 2012

Mormon World Records 1

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Mention the last name Skousen in front of a mormon and there's a good chance they'll know one. There is W. Cleon Skousen, prolific mormon theologian and notable anti-communist (The Naked Communist); there is Joel Skousen, "survival retreat" and "fallout shelter" design and construction expert; there is Mark Skousen, American economist, investment analyst, newsletter editor, and author of more than 25 non-fiction books; there is Royal Skousen, BYU professor of Linguistics and English and the leading expert on the textual history of the Book of Mormon; and finally, there is Paul Skousen, author of the The Skousen Book of Mormon World Records and Other Amazing Firsts, Facts, and Feats. Wait, what?!

Yes, Paul Skousen, son of W. Cleon Skousen, wrote a book of mormon records (not to be confused with the records the Book of Mormon came from. I'm not starting the rumor that Paul, not Joseph Smith, authored the Book of Mormon). Anyway, the book, published in 2004, is a treasure trove of mormon trivia. Here is the first of what I hope to be many mormon world record installations on MMM.

Q: When and where was the largest LDS toilet flush?
A: The largest LDS toilet flush (although City Creek Center probably broke the record) occurred on January 22, 1984 (a Sunday?!) in Salt Lake City. Public utility workers were struggling to repair a broken water main when suddenly a tremendous rushing noise could be heard as air was sucked into the open pipe leading into the city system. The rushing noise lasted 2-3 minutes. Workers knew the vacuum represented a very high demand for water perfectly timed with breaks people were taking during halftime television advertising of the Super Bowl. The workers estimated that some 10,000 toilets had been simultaneously flushed.

Q: Who is mormonism's, and possibly the world's, greatest linguist?
A: John Henry Jorgensen was fluent in 15 languages when the book was written (American Sign Language, Arabic, Arabic Sign Language, Eastern and Western Armenian, English, French, Georgian, Italian, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, Syrian and Turkish). At the time of his graduation from BYU, he was learning an additional five languages (Japanese, Ukranian, Mongolian, Persian and Czech) and planned to learn an additional five.

Update: According to this 2005 article, John spoke 18 languages fluently, and another 10 conversationally. And guess what ... at the time the article was written he was already learning language No. 29 – “Furbish” – the official language of Hasbro’s Furby doll. It took John a month to learn Furbish, which he says wasn’t as hard as Arabic or Japanese.

Q: Who is the most fanatic BYU football fan? (besides my wife's cousin, who runs CougarBoard)
A: In 1984, Gary Jensen of Sandy, Utah, put a life-size poster of Robbie Bosco on his front door, transplanted into his backyard the actual piece of turf on which Jim McMahon completed the pass that set a new NCAA total yardage record, and renamed his son Gifford McMahon Jensen.

Feel-Good World Record
Q: Who, in 1986, became the smallest congregation in the church to receive the largest number of church magazines?
A: A break-even point of 600 subscriptions was all that stood between the 50 families of the Reykjavik, Iceland, branch and the revenue to print a version of the church magazines in their native language. The branch members got busy selling door-to-door, and in two months they'd sold more than 650 subscriptions in addition to their own 50. As the magazines were shipped, they became the smallest congregation in the church to receive the largest number of church magazines.

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