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Pacific Ponderings

By John Tanner March 16, 2020
During the 2008 recession, the Church imposed a hiring freeze on BYU. As Academic Vice President, I had to enforce the freeze. It was tough, but we came out better for the experience. I encouraged the campus to embrace a personal formula that I had evolved over the years: Crisis + Wit = Opportunity. I encourage all of us to do the same here, whether faculty, staff, admin. But I would modify the motto: Crisis + Inspiration = Opportunity. Use wisdom, wit, creativity, and inspiration to turn the current crisis into opportunities to not only survive the crisis but to learn from it.
By John Tanner March 06, 2020
President Nelson has reminded us that we are not “Mormons” but members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I want to call attention to a word in his counsel that has received too little attention: member. This simple term has become so familiar that we forget that it began as, and still is, a metaphor—a metaphor that bears deep and rich doctrinal significance.
By John Tanner March 02, 2020
“For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest . . . extraction of that living intellect that bred them. . . . as good almost kill a man as kill a good book.” (John Milton, Areopagitica)
By David Bybee February 21, 2020
We can, if we so choose, access the power that stops the corrosive forces of this worldly environment from affecting the things that matter most, our families.
By John Tanner February 10, 2020
In one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies, A Man For All Seasons, Sir Thomas More explains what it means to take an oath. Imprisoned by Henry VIII for refusing to take an oath swearing to the Act of Succession, More is visited by his daughter, Meg, who urges him to say the words of the oath but think otherwise in his heart. After all, she argues, “God more regards the thoughts of the heart than the words of the mouth.” More counters:
By John Tanner 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.
By John Tanner 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.”
By John Tanner 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.
By John Tanner 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.
By John Tanner 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!