I thought I knew all the early Mormons well. Somehow I missed the story of John Tanner. If you've missed it too then check out the trailer embedded above. (11/30/13 Update: The video is available on the Church's website for feature films. See below for the purchase information.)
A trailer for the film is available on YouTube (embedded above). The movie is only twenty minutes long. It is available for purchase from Deseret Book as well as Mormon Media in addition to the Church's online store.
Treasure in Heaven: The John Tanner Story is included on the new Doctrine & Covenants Visual and Church History Resource DVDs. I received the DVD set for Christmas. I had not seen Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration so I popped the DVD in and watched it. I noticed the John Tanner video as another inclusion. The next available night I watched that too. I was unprepared for the effect it would have on me. I don't think I currently have the faith to do what he did or live the type of life he did. This is humbling.
John Tanner's story is incredible. If not for T.C. Christensen, a descendant of Tanner as well as a filmmaker, we might all still be largely ignorant of him. Tanner's posterity include such luminaries as N. Eldon Tanner, Marion D. Hanks, Hugh B. Brown and James E. Faust.
He single-handedly saved the Kirtland Temple from foreclosure. He experienced a miraculous healing when death seemed assured. He didn't just will the Church his immense wealth after death. He gave it all to the Church while he lived even though he had numerous children to provide for.
N. Eldon Tanner spoke of him in an address. Historian Leonard J. Arrington wrote "The John Tanner Family" and curriculum materials detail his sacrifices for his faith.
The movie begins with the quote, "He gave the Church two fortunes—his wealth and a family that has built the kingdom ever since."
John Tanner built his treasure in Heaven. That is probably why we have all known so little about him until now. This small movie establishes his faith, his sacrifices and his ability to live the law of consecration, a celestial law. He didn't seek the honor of men while he lived. Until now he probably didn't have it.
Something tells me that John Tanner wouldn't have it any other way.