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Pacific Ponderings

A Lament for Lost Trees & Hope for a Greener World

By John Tanner June 05, 2020
While I was in quarantine, I received an email from a dear friend grieving the loss of trees in our front parking lot. I share her sense of loss. This Pondering is a reflection on a difficult decision, which ironically required felling trees to make a greener campus. At the end, I draw a gospel message.

Memorial Sunday

By John Tanner May 26, 2020
Susan and I are still under quarantine, so we could not celebrate Memorial Day weekend in Hawaii as we often do by visiting the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in the Punchbowl. Nor could we visit the graves of relatives buried in Utah, as did our children. Yet we celebrated another sort of Memorial Day nonetheless. We celebrated a Memorial Sunday as we do each week when we partake of the sacrament.

Building Roads of the Loving Heart

By John Tanner May 08, 2020
My grandfather also taught school here in Samoa in his early missions. We have pictures of him with several groups of proud students in the 1890s, only a few years after Tusitala told the chiefs that educating their people and helping them improve their talents would bless “generations yet unborn.”

This is still true. Education is a road provided by loving hearts that leads to opportunity for those who receive it and for generations yet unborn.

Becoming Temple Guardians and Gardeners

By John Tanner May 05, 2020
In June, the Oakland Temple was rededicated. This was my temple in graduate school. Not only did I attend it, but I also worked there as a groundskeeper and later as a night a watchman. My work protecting the Oakland temple and making its grounds look beautiful has caused me to reflect often over the years on how guarding and grooming a temple might apply to how we should take care of our bodily temples.

“We Are All Jews”

By John Tanner May 05, 2020
In January 1945, American Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds, who was in charge of about a thousand American prisoners at a German POW camp, was told to have all Jewish prisoners report in front of their barracks in the morning. Instead, Master Sergeant Edmonds ordered all the prisoners to stand together in front of their barracks. When the German officer saw them, he said to Edmonds “They cannot all be Jews.” Edmonds responded “We are all Jews.” The German officer took out his pistol and threatened to shoot Edmonds. The Master Sergeant said, “If you shoot me, you will have to shoot all of us, and after the war you will be tried for war crimes.” The German officer turned around and left. About 200 Jewish American prisoners were spared.

That Same Sociality

By John Tanner May 01, 2020
“And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory.” (D&C 130:2)

I don’t like the phrase “social distancing.” I much prefer the phrase “physical distancing,” which is in fact more descriptive of the actual constraints required to slow the spread of COVID-19. During this time of massive lockdowns, quarantines, and self-isolation, we do not need social distancing. In fact, we need social contact more than ever. We need social proximity, not social distance.

Aloha in a Time of COVID-19

By John Tanner April 23, 2020
Over the past couple weeks, the title of a novel by the Columbian Nobel Prize-winning author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, has often come to mind: Love in a Time of Cholera. We live in a time of COVID-19. How do we share aloha during a pandemic that requires us to practice social distancing? Social distancing is critical to our community’s health. Along with frequent hand-washing, it is one of the most effective ways to avoid becoming infected from the coronavirus.

How Long, O Lord, How Long

By John Tanner April 03, 2020
One of the hardest things about living through the current pandemic is not knowing when it will end. We yearn to know how long the crisis will last. We want to know when and if life will return to normal, meaning the way it was before the coronavirus swept the earth. Hence we find ourselves echoing the cry of prophets through the ages: “How long, O Lord, how long?”

Life Without the Sacrament: Like a Sky Without Stars

By John Tanner March 30, 2020
“Look at the stars! Look, look up at the skies!"[1]

To Be With and Strengthen Them

By John Tanner March 24, 2020
“A teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them.” D&C 20:53