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Pacific Ponderings

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December 30, 2019
The name January is derived from the Roman god Janus. Janus is the god of doorways, gates, and thresholds; and, by extension, of beginnings, endings, and transitions. Janus was depicted with two faces, one looking forward and one looking backward.
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December 23, 2019
The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) alters a familiar verse in Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus. Instead of “there was no room for them in the inn,” the JST reads, “there was none to give room for them in the inns.”
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December 02, 2019
One of the most poignant moments in world literature occurs in the Divine Comedy at the end of Book 2, Purgatory, when Dante’s beloved guide Virgil must leave him.
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November 25, 2019
This Thanksgiving season, my thoughts turn back in gratitude to Thanksgiving 100 years ago, on November 27, 1919. On that Thanksgiving Day, President Heber J. Grant dedicated the Hawaiian Temple, thus linking forever our lovely temple here in Laie with the Thanksgiving holiday.
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November 22, 2019
Veterans Day was formerly known as Armistice Day. It commemorated the day when the “Guns of August,” which had thundered death for four years during the Great War, finally fell silent. This occurred on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.
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October 31, 2019
The headnote to D&C 138 informs us that President Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the dead “was unanimously accepted” by the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, and Church Patriarch on October 31, 1918—Halloween!
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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
Dear Ohana,
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July 03, 2019
The Voices of Lovely Laie
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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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