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Pacific Ponderings

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August 27, 2019
I had never heard of Children’s Day when growing up. As a child, it seemed unfair to me that a Sunday was set aside each year to honor mothers and another to honor fathers but none to honor children...
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July 23, 2019
Becoming Temple Guardians and Gardeners
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July 03, 2019
“Let us now praise famous men” (Ecclesiasticus, 44)
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July 03, 2019
Last week as I was quickly mopping the kitchen floor before some visitors arrived, I began arguing in my head, as I often have, against the familiar maxim “If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well.” Many of us grew up with this saying. It was drummed into us by well-meaning and hard-working parents and grandparents trying to instill in us a strong work ethic and to help us take pride in our work. I honor and applaud the intent behind their advice. But for those who struggle against perfectionism, this is an adage from the dark side. It can invite paralysis and procrastination.
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July 01, 2019
We sang one of my favorite patriotic songs in Church on Sunday, “America the Beautiful.” It has a charming history. It was written by Katherine Lee Bates, an English professor at Wellesley College, when she was visiting Colorado College in 1893 to teach summer school. On her journey across the country, Bates witnessed first-hand vast “amber waves” of wheat covering the Great Plains. She also admired images of futuristic gleaming white cities in the Chicago World’s Fair. But above all she was stirred by a beautiful panoramic view of America atop Pike’s Peak. The thrilling experience of being surrounded by ”purple mountain majesties” with “fruited plains” stretching far into the distance below led Bates to write “America the Beautiful,” a poem originally entitled “Pike’s Peak.”
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June 07, 2019
Social psychologists have discovered that individuals are less likely to help a victim when bystanders are present. In fact, if you are a victim, the more people around you the less likely it is that one of them will intervene. There is a diffusion of responsibility in a crowd. This is called “the bystander effect.” If you want to watch some disturbing videos, look up “bystander effect” on YouTube. The videos show actors playing victims moaning on the sidewalk in a big city and even crying out “help me” while people pass them by, sometimes for a very long time, with no one stopping to help.
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May 10, 2019
This Mother’s Day I write in praise not only of my mother, whom I can never praise enough, and of mothers in general, but of mothering.
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April 13, 2019
Tomorrow is Joseph Ah Quin’s funeral. I shall miss Uncle Joe. His beautiful voice welcomed Susan and me to Laie on the day I was announced as the new BYU–Hawaii president. I’d love to hear him sing just once more.
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April 10, 2019
I write today in praise of libraries, books, and reading. This is National Library Week. Its organizers have invited the public to “share your library story” on social media. My library story is bathed in the soft, gauzy glow of boyhood memories of the library of my youth.
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March 22, 2019
Just a week ago, I awoke to the horrific news that 49 people had been killed in two mosques in Christchurch, NZ, with more in hospital. Since then, another has died. The victims were gunned down in cold blood as they gathered to pray, by a shooter filled with rage and hatred for Muslims and immigrants. I felt sickened by the news. I wept that morning as I prayed for the victims and for a world where, as prophesied, the love of many was waxing cold.
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February 17, 2019
One of my favorite passages from the Psalms is “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Ps. 84:10). This verse often comes to my mind, unbidden, reminding me of eternal priorities.
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October 29, 2018
My father would have been 98 on Monday (22 October). It happened that I was assigned to give a message for the office devotional that day. In tribute to dad and to follow up on General Conference, I shared some thoughts from a talk I gave in Stake Priesthood Leadership meeting in 1999 called “The Church as an Auxiliary to the Family.” Here is the talk, reconstructed from old notes. Happy birthday dad! You would be pleased to know that the Prophet is emphasizing a “home-centered and Church-supported plan to learn doctrine.”
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October 09, 2018
[ With the announcement of the new meeting schedule, it is more important than ever that sacrament meeting strengthens our discipleship. I share this Pondering with the hope of deepening our sacrament worship.]
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October 04, 2018
A couple years ago I wrote the campus a pre-Conference message on hearkening. (See https://president.byuh.edu/pacificponderings/hearken.) I spoke about how we should listen to prophets with the intent to obey. Today I want to share a similar message but from the negative perspective: how not to listen to prophets.
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April 17, 2018
I recently read an article in Scientific Reports about the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (GPGP). The GPGP is an area of ocean between Hawaii and North America about three times the size of France that collects vast quantities of plastic waste. The waste is trapped in an immense oceanic “gyre” whose currents accumulate, circulate, and concentrate plastic trash.
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March 17, 2018
It’s St. Patrick’s Day—a good day not only to wear green but to act green. So I went “plogging” this morning. “Plogging” is a new craze from Sweden that combines exercise with environmentalism. Ploggers pick up trash while jogging. The word is a mash-up of “jogging” and the Swedish word for “pick up.”
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December 13, 2017
In the traditional Christian calendar, Christmas is followed by Epiphany, which falls on January 6th, twelve days after Christmas (hence, the twelve days of Christmas). Epiphany commemorates the recognition by the Wise Men that the baby is the promised Messiah, the Son of God. His birth fulfills prophecy that "the Lord Omnipotent ... , who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay" (Mosiah 3:5).
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