Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Disabled President

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Section 3 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.”  This provision means that the President can relinquish his duties to the Vice President when disabled for any reason and then resume his duties when capable of doing so.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained, “It will be observed that the judgmental determination of whether the President is disabled lies entirely within his own province.  He can decide when to turn over his duties to the Vice President and when to demand them back again.  Although he must advise the Speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate in each instance, there is no discretionary power in either of them to prevent the President from assigning his duties to his Vice President or resuming them again at a later date.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 759.)


                John Feerick of The Heritage Foundation further explained, “Until the Twenty-fifth Amendment was adopted, the nation confronted a number of deaths in office of Presidents and Vice Presidents as well as periods when Presidents have been disabled.  When President William Henry Harrison died in 1841, Vice President John Tyler, asserting that he was fully the President, ascended to the presidency for the rest of the term, claiming that was the proper interpretation of the clause.  The precedent he established by assumption of the presidency was followed by other Vice Presidents when Presidents died in office.  These Presidents were Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy.  The Vice Presidents who succeeded to the office were Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester A. Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry S. Truman, and Lyndon B. Johnson, respectively.

                “Although the Tyler precedent was helpful in providing for continuity and stability, it caused future Vice Presidents to hesitate in asserting any role in a case of presidential inability as opposed to the death of the President.  There was the question of whether the Vice President succeeded to the presidency for the rest of the term, even in a case of temporary inability, as well as the problem of the Vice President’s being seen as a usurper because of the constitutional silence about his role in determining whether there was an inability.  This hesitancy occurred during the eighty days when President Garfield lay dying after being shot by an assassin in 1881; in the period after President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919; and when Dwight D. Eisenhower suffered a heart attack, an attack of ileitis, and then a stroke.  To cope with any future inability, President Eisenhower and Vice President Richard M. Nixon developed an informal protocol.  Although it did not have the force of law, it gave assurance that a case of inability would be handled with due regard for stability.  It provided for the President to declare his own inability and, if unable to do so, enabled the Vice President, with appropriate consultation, to make the decision.  In either event, the Vice President serving as Acting President until the President recovered his powers and duties upon his own declaration of recovery.  This protocol was followed in turn by President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson, and by President Johnson and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.  It was a useful protocol, but many in Congress wanted a more formal long-term solution.”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 430-431.)



                When Ronald Reagan was shot, he turned the authority of the office of President over to Vice President George H. W. Bush until President Reagan was once again capable of fulfilling his duties.  Of course, this occurred in the 1980s and the Amendment was ratified in 1967.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Sacrifice

                Matthew wrote, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).  Mankind has been tried and tested since the time of Adam and Eve to see if they would put God first in their lives.   God expects us to sacrifice all that is good in our lives for something that is so much better.  In sacrificing, we consecrate our time, our talents, our possessions, and our energy.

                Sacrifice in the time of Adam and Eve and until the time of Christ was in the form of animal sacrifice (see Moses 5:5).  Animal sacrifice was an ordinance of the gospel, and the people were commanded to sacrifice the best of their herds.  The animals had to be perfect and without blemish.  The purpose of this ordinance was to remind the people of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice.  Jesus Christ was perfect in every way and offered himself as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind, including you and I (see Moses 5:5-8).

                Jesus Christ came to earth and fulfilled the prophecies foretelling His life on earth.  His mission in life was to be a Savior of all mankind, and He fulfilled His mission by giving His life on the cross.  Because Jesus Christ sacrificed His life, everyone who ever came to earth can be saved by repenting of their sins.

                The Atonement of Jesus Christ marked the end of blood sacrifice; the sacrament replaced blood sacrifice and was given to remind us of the great sacrifice of the Savior.  The bread and water remind us of the Savior’s bruised body and his blood that was shed for us.  

                Even though blood sacrifice is no longer required, we are still required to sacrifice.  In our day the Savior of the world asks us to offer a different kind of sacrifice.  “Ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood, …and your burnt offerings shall be done away.  And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 9:19-20).
When we have a broken heart and contrite spirit, we have deep sorrow for our sins, we humble ourselves, and we repent of our sins.  The Savior’s atoning sacrifice will have little effect on anyone who refuses to offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit to God.

                This means that we become a living sacrifice.  We must be willing to give everything we have to build the kingdom of God, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We are asked to give of our time to serve other people and to give of our means to build meetinghouses, temples, church schools, etc.  We must be willing to offer our daily activities as a sacrifice to God.  As prophets and apostles before us, we must say, “Thy will be done.”

                We can become worthy to live in the presence of God only through sacrifice.  God ordained that mankind should enjoy eternal life through sacrifice.  Many people who came before us offered everything they had.  Even though most of us have not made this great sacrifice, we must be willing to do so.  We may not be asked to sacrifice all things, but we may be asked to sacrifice something – such as Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac.  We should live with willingness to sacrifice all things in order to be worthy to live in the presence of the Lord.

                Those people who truly love the Lord have always been willing to make great sacrifices, but their sacrifices came in different ways.  The Mormon Pioneers sacrificed property, relationships, and even life itself to become members of the Lord’s kingdom.  Many of people have been persecuted simply for being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Many new converts give up their families to join the church.  Many other people have lost close friendships, jobs, and lives. 

                We have been promised that our sacrifices will not go unnoticed:  “And everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matthew 19:29).  As our testimonies grow stronger, we are capable to make greater sacrifices to the Lord.


                Any sacrifice we make of our time, talents, energy, money, and lives is nothing compared to a place in the kingdom of Heavenly Father.  Through our sacrifices we can gain the knowledge that we are acceptable to God (Doctrine and Covenants 97:8).

Friday, July 3, 2015

Independence Day for Children

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we teach the rising generation to love their country and to be proud of it.  We must teach our children and grandchildren to love the goodness of America and to be willing to fight for freedom and liberty.  We must teach the rising generation to love the Stars and Stripes and to show respect for our nation’s ensign.  We must teach our children and youth what Independence Day is really all about.

                Children of all ages love Independence Day, the birthday of the United States of America.  Americans throw a giant birthday party on the Fourth of July every year.  This day is Independence Day.  It is much more than baseball games, parades, fireworks, and hot dogs.  We must be prepared to answer the questions our children and grandchildren ask about Independence Day.  I found a wonderful site put together by the American Grandparents Association.   In seven patriotic talking points, this site has answers to some of the questions your posterity may ask such as the following.

                (1) What is Independence Day?  The Fourth of July is our country’s birthday.  When children ask this question, tell them what happened on July 4, 1776, when Americans declared independence from Great Britain.

                (2) Why does the flag have those stars?  Take the time to explain that the 50 stars stand for the 50 states of America and the 13 stripes stand for the 13 British colonies that declared independence from Great Britain.  Teach them to show proper respect to the flag because it stands for freedom.  Show your posterity that the flag is important to you by flying the flag and showing it respect.

                (3) What makes our country special?  The United States of America was established on the idea that every person has certain rights or freedoms.  Read the Bill of Rights with your children and grandchildren and then ask them which rights are most important to them.

                (4) What does the government do for us?  Take your posterity on a tour of their town and show them the people who are there to help them – police officers, firefighters, postal workers, sanitation crews, librarians, etc.  Explain to them that adults pay taxes to their local, state, and federal government and the money is used to build buildings, bridges, ports, schools, parks, etc. for the use of all of us.

                (5) What does the president do?  You may have a difficult time answering this question if your children know no other President than the current occupant of the White House.  You can best answer this question by telling your children that an elected President is different than a king or a queen.  A President is the leader of the nation and faces many tough situations.  George Washington was the first President and set the pattern for future Presidents.  Abraham Lincoln led the nation during the great Civil War and managed to keep the country together.

                (6) What can we do for our country?  Compare our nation to a family and explain that “Everyone has to pitch in or it doesn’t work.  As members of the U.S. `family’ – in other words, as citizens – we all have certain responsibilities, like going to school, voting, and obeying the law.  Discuss how being a good citizen also means taking care of the country, by keeping it clean, looking out for people in trouble, and staying informed about the problems that we face.  Of course, actions always have more impact than words, so set an example by dedicating some of your time to volunteering in the community….” 

                (7) What does it mean to be American?  As Americans we do not share a common culture or ethnicity, but we do “share a common idea – that people should have the freedom to live the way they want, and to work and earn money the best way they can.  These freedoms have inspired people from all over the world to come to this country and become `Americans.’  Be sure to tell your posterity about your own family and how you became Americans.

                I also discovered two cute cartoons that teach about Independence Day.  The first one is an American history lesson in cartoon with rock and roll music.   The second one is the story of the first Independence Day.  Here is a video of adults who do not know the history of Independence Day.  

                We must teach our children and grandchildren that Independence Day is more than just a holiday, more than a simple birthday party for our nation, and more than a day to watch parades and fireworks.  We must teach them that Independence Day is the day when freedom and liberty came to the world.  We must teach them to love America and its flag and all it stands for.  We can strengthen our families, communities and nation by teaching the rising generation about the goodness we know as America.

                 Some fun facts about Independence Day can be found here. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Preserving the Freedom to Speak about Marriage

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the importance of preserving our freedom to speak about traditional marriage.  The debate about marriage is far from over even though five Justices on the United States Supreme Court decided to trample on the Constitution and fundamentally change the meaning of marriage.  By a very narrow margin the Justices moved the United States into the same position as Canada; they are the only two nations in the entire world to force same-sex marriage on their citizens.

                Tony Perkins published an essay at the Daily Signal  sharing his opinion that the Court’s ruling ended “the liberal media’s charade.  Whatever scrap of journalistic impartiality existed flew out the courtroom window Friday when the press decided five justices not only invented a right to same-sex marriage but to censorship, too.  The press is no longer a guardian against censorship but a portender of it.

                Members of the lame stream press are celebrating the Court’s decision because it tried for years to stop the debate about same-sex marriage.  “Desperate to take away the voice of Christians at the public table, the left is already on the march to undermine the very freedom that gives breath to the speech it now enjoys…. [M]uch of the media have declared victory over a dispute that’s barely existed two decades.  Americans who believe in thousands of years of human history must now surrender to a 4-day-old `right’ – or shut up altogether.”

                Perkins gave as an example a newspaper in Pennsylvania declared that they would “no longer accept, nor … print, op-eds and letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage….  This is not hard:  We would not print racist, sexist or anti-Semitic letters.  To that, we add homophobic ones.  Pretty simple.”

                This type of conversation is happening at many media places; unfortunately for them, this is the one that went public.  “People were outraged and flooded the newspaper with scathing emails and phone calls.  Within hours, the editors issued an apology.  It was, John Micek, said, a `genuine attempt at fostering civil discussion.’  (Not very genuine, it seems, since ending the discussion doesn’t exactly foster one.)  Still, Micek said, `These pages … belong to the people of Central Pennsylvania.  I’m a conduit, I recognize, for them to share their views and to have the arguments that make us better as a people.  And all views are – and always will be – welcome.’  For how long, no one knows.”

                Editors at The Daily Beast are calling the four conservative Justices’ votes “treason.”  Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, appeared on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos to discuss the marriage decision, and “left-wing groups mobilized thousands of people to contact the network, demanding it ban him from future shows.  It’s a deliberate attempt to silence your voice, which we represent in Washington.”

                Reverend Franklin Graham said, “You better be ready and you better be prepared because it’s coming….  There will be persecution of Christians for our stand.”

                The media has constantly told Americans that support for same-sex marriage was strong.  They apparently said it often enough that they actually believe it.  When millions of Americans push back on the effort to silence them, the media will be shocked.  The Family Research Council launched a new movement called Project Tolerance:  Preserving Your Voice in the Public Square.  You can join the pushback at this site.    I encourage you to go there and become an ambassador for preserving freedom to speak about marriage.

                

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Thoughts on Same-Sex Marriage

                The decision of the United States Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage has been on my mind since it passed on Friday.  At first I was concerned about the worldly consequences of the decision, but I soon recognized the eternal consequences also.  Same-sex parents will condemn their children to being without family for all eternity because same-sex partners can never be sealed and their children cannot be sealed to them.

                Matt Walsh published an essay here about how gay marriage hurts him personally and listed three reasons:  (1) We apparently have a society of “moral idiots” because people are okay with the decision because same-sex marriage “doesn’t affect me.”  We should all be alert to any evil in our nation whether or not it affects us personally or financially. 

                (2) We are all affected by “State-imposed falsehoods.”  “Marriage is a certain thing with a certain nature and definition.  When the State mandates that the thing is something other than what it is, and has a purpose other than its actual purpose, you are now living under a tyranny of confusion.  The severity of that confusion depends on the degree of the falsehood….  I would still oppose this redefinition because it’s not true, and I prefer Truth…. I want our culture to have a proper understanding of reality.  Moreover, I don’t want our government to impose an improper understanding…. Marriage is the bedrock upon which all of human civilization rests.  To expand its definition into oblivion is to weaken and destabilize it….”

                (3) “Why do you think liberals care so much about [same-sex marriage]?  If it doesn’t matter, why have they dedicated years to bringing about this past Friday? … Gay marriage is not an essential or true institution, nor does it serve any real purpose in society.  There’s no practical or moral reason for the romantic lives of homosexuals to be recognized or elevated or protected in any way…. This whole gay marriage debate is about opening up the lifelong monogamous bond of matrimony to a community that often doesn’t desire a lifelong monogamous bond.  Do you understand what’s going on here?  They don’t want marriage as it currently is; they want to change it into something else….  It makes no sense.  That is, until you come to understand that liberals desire not to fortify or strengthen the family, but to dismember it.  This is purely a game of power and destruction….”

                Walsh continued his essay by explaining other destructive actions that will follow the decision.  Walsh thinks the first step “they” will take is to destroy the churches by taking away their tax exempt status if they oppose gay marriage and attack the churches legally if they refuse to perform same-sex marriages.  The second step is to attack church leaders for not performing same-sex marriages.  We already know that florists, photographers, bakers, and even T-shirt makers have been sued for refusing service to same-sex couples.  The third step is to reduce the institution of marriage to nothingness.

                Michael J. Davidson published his thoughts here, but he chose to looks at the consequences of the same-sex marriage ruling from an eternal perspective.  “It is not every day that the Supreme Court of the United States issues an opinion that has such eternal implications as we have in the Obergefell v. Hodges case.  I undertake to read the syllabus, opinion of the court and the dissents (103 pages!) thinking that I would possibly write a legal critique of what the court did, but I found that such a critique would likely be similar to those already done.  Instead, I thought about the eternal consequences of this decision and found them to be very sobering.
                “Frankly, a lot of what the Court does really is somewhat insignificant in the timeframe of the gospel, but today’s decision is different….  There are some truly important things addressed there, but for the most part we won’t look back [at them] as something that impacted the salvation of souls in the world.
                “Families, on the other hand, are eternal.  Or at least some of them are.  In this brave new world, violence is being done to individuals in a manner that will impact these individuals in the eternities. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court gives legal sanction to marriage relationships (and parental relationships) that will not and cannot endure in eternity.  With this legal recognition comes an increased level of social acceptance that will result in more individuals engaging in such relationships, and doing so in a manner that is more permanent.  In discussing these developments, we need to keep in mind not only of the sinful nature of homosexual behavior, but also of the futile nature of these relationships from an eternal perspective.”
                Davidson quoted the Proclamation of the Family, presented to the world in September 1995: “THE FAMILY is ordained of God.  Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.  Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity”  He also quoted a 2004 statement from the First Presidency:  “As a doctrinal principle, based on sacred scripture, we affirm that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.  The powers of procreation are to be exercised only between a man and a woman lawfully wedded as husband and wife.  Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of the family.”
                Davidson quoted statements from other Church leaders:  In his last General Conference address Elder L. Tom Perry spoke about standing “against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established.”             Elder Russell M. Nelson said, “Marriage between a man and woman is fundamental to the Lord’s doctrine and crucial to God’s eternal plan.  Marriage between a man and a woman is God’s pattern for a fulness of life on earth and in heaven.  God’s marriage pattern cannot be abused, misunderstood, or misconstrued….  It is not ours to change.”  (October 2013 General Conference)
                The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement after the Supreme Court announcement last Friday:  “The Court’s decision does not alter the Lord’s doctrine that marriage is a union between a man and a woman ordained by God.  While showing respect for those who think differently, the Church will continue to teach and promote marriage between a man and a woman as a central part of our doctrine and practice.”
                After these quotes, Davidson stated:  “Clearly, there is no reason to think that the doctrine of the family can or will change.  As a result, same sex marriages are not and cannot be sealed.  Nor can the relationship between homosexual parents with their adoptive children endure in eternity.  Such children cannot be `born into the covenant’ nor can they be sealed to the legal parents as if they were born into the covenant, because you can’t be sealed to parents who can’t be sealed to each other.”
                Even though the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, those marriages are made for time only and can never become eternal.  Malachi, the prophet who wrote the last book in the Old Testament, wrote explained the importance of the family about 400 years before the birth of Christ:  “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:  And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6).
                Quite frankly, same-sex marriage goes against the main purpose for which the earth itself was created – the sealing of families for eternity.  As Davidson explained, same-sex marriages and families cannot be sealed because their marriages are not recognized by God.  I know that the eternal consequences of this decision by the Supreme Court are much more important than any personal, political, or financial reasons.  I personally feel great sorrow for the many people who have been deceived as well as for their children.   I know Heavenly Father loves all of His children, but I also know that He has to obey His own rules.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What Happens Now?

                What happens now?  On Friday, June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that same-sex marriage is legal in all fifty states. The four liberal justices – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan – were joined by the swing vote of Anthony Kennedy to legalize same-sex marriage. 

                Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, which was full of statements such as the following:  “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family….  In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.  As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.”

                Four conservative justices dissented; Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel A. Alito Jr.  Chief Justice Roberts’ comments clearly stated that he considered the vote to be an unconstitutional, unprecedented `act of will, not legal judgment’ and that he considered the court to be unauthorized in trying to decide this issue.  “[T]his court is not a legislature….  Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us.  Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be.”

                The Chief Justice, joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas, continued, “Supporters of same-sex marriage have achieved considerable success persuading their fellow citizens – through the democratic process – to adopt their view.  That ends today.  Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law.  Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.”
                Roberts ended with “Just who do we think we are?”

                Justice Scalia’s dissent, joined by Justice Thomas, was the strongest when stating that the majority decision is a “threat to American democracy” and lacks “even a thin veneer of law.”  “A system of government that makes the people subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”  In a footnote Justice Scalia stated, “The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

                Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Scalia, wrote that there was no way he could agree with the majority decision because it “inverted the relationship between a person and the government” and “the majority’s decision suggested that human dignity can only come from that government.”  “He warned that what he saw as the majority opinion’s misunderstanding of liberty – which he said was really freedom from the government, rather than access to government benefits -- `will likely cause collateral damage to other aspects of our constitutional order that protect liberty.’”  He wrote of “potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.”  He suggested that the majority’s decision will not change the dignity of people who voted for laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

                Justice Alito, joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas, wrote in his dissent that the majority had apparently forgotten that the purpose of marriage was to procreate children, not simply to satisfy the desires of adults.  Even though he acknowledged that modern marriage had fallen far from the ideal of marriage, he was concerned about the majority’s “abuse of its power.”  “If a bare majority of Justices can invent a new right and impose that right on the rest of the country, the only real limit on what future majorities will be able to do is their own sense of what those with political power and cultural influence are willing to tolerate….  Even enthusiastic supporters of same-sex marriage should worry about the scope of the power that today’s majority claims.”

                At first, I was shocked – yes shocked – that the Supreme Court would make this ruling.  I realized right away that the five justices composing the majority had pushed our entire nation much further down the slippery slope of debauchery in order to please a very small percentage of its citizens.  We are now far down the slippery slope leading to the destruction of our nation because this ruling legalizes serious sin.   Homosexual thoughts and feelings are not sins, but homosexual actions are grievous sins, the same type of sins that led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Old Testament times.  (See Genesis 19:5; Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17, and Isaiah 3:9.)  It does not matter whether you or I believe it is sin because God says it is sin.  Sin is wickedness, and wickedness never leads to happiness. 

                After I overcame my shock, I began to wonder how God plans to use this ruling in dealing with His children on earth.  The ruling, of course, was no surprise to God; He knew it was coming.  What actions has He taken to counteract the decision of the majority of justices?

                God has proclaimed that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.  He put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, not Adam and Steve.  He has a plan for His children, and same-sex marriage is not part of His plan.  We each have the freedom to make choices, but we do not have the freedom to choose the consequences of our choices.  What will the consequences be for the decision to legalize same-sex marriage?  I know that only time will tell, but I expect that the consequences will not be pleasant ones.

                What does God want us to do?  How does He desire us to act as a result of this Court decision?  I was greatly comforted and strengthened by the remarks of Nancy Leigh DeMoss in this You Tube video entitled “Nancy Responds to `Same Sex Marriage’ Ruling.”  She reminded her listeners that “Heaven Rules” – not the Supreme Court.  She indicated that we have three choices in how we act or react:  (1) We should not curse the decision and become angry and hateful.  (2) We should not allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by the darkness by falling into depression or condoning the sin.  (3) We should allow our light to shine in the darkness and love the sinners while hating the sin.  We should feel compassion for them for they will suffer.

                I believe this decision will be a major sifting among Christians in general.  Those who do not consider same-sex marriage to be a problem will drop out of any church that stands firm on God’s doctrine.  I expect my church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – to stand firm on the doctrine of Christ.  I know God’s doctrine on marriage, and I know that He will hold us accountable for our actions in regard to it.  I believe the gulf between righteousness and wickedness will become wider and deeper.  I feel that God allowed this decision in order to allow His children to choose whether or not we stand on the side of God.  I stand on the side of God.  Where do you stand?

Monday, June 29, 2015

James Dewey Watson

                My oldest son probably knew about My Very Important Peron (VIP) for this week is James Dewey Watson years ago.  My son majored in molecular biology, and Watson is a molecular biologist, geneticist and zoologist.  He is best known for being co-discoverer structure of DNA in 1953 with Francis Crick.  Watson and Crick, along with Maurice Wilkins, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962.  Their award was “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.”

                Watson was born on April 6, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois; he is the only son of Jean (Mitchell) and James D. Watson, a businessman whose ancestors were colonial English immigrants to America.  His maternal grandfather was Lauchlin Mitchell who was a tailor from Glasgow, Scotland; his maternal grandmother was Lizzie Gleason whose Irish parents were from Tipperary.  He was raised Catholic who escaped from the religion because his father did not believe in God.

                Growing up on the south side of Chicago, Watson “attended public schools, including Grammar School and South Shore High School.”  Watson and his father were fascinated with watching birds and often shared this hobby; Watson even considered majoring in ornithology.  Watson enrolled at the University of Chicago on a tuition scholarship when he was only 15 years old.  Robert Hutchins, the University president, apparently heard Watson answer questions on “Quiz Kids, a popular radio show that challenged bright youngsters.”

                Watson “changed his professional ambitions from the study of ornithology to genetics” after reading Erwin Schrodinger’s What Is Life?  “In his autobiography, Avoid Boring People, Watson described the University of Chicago as an idyllic academic institution where he was instilled with the capacity for critical thought and an ethical compulsion not to suffer fools who impeded his search for truth, in contrast to his description of later experiences.  In 1947 Watson left the University of Chicago to become a graduate student at Indiana University, attracted by the presence at Bloomington of the 1946 Nobel Prize winner Hermann Joseph Muller, who in crucial papers published in 1922, 1929, and in the 1930s had laid out all the basic properties of the heredity molecule that Schrodinger presented in his 1944 book.  He received his PhD degree from Indiana University in 1950; Salvador Luria was his doctoral advisor.”

                Early in 1948, Watson began his PhD at Indiana University and did research in the laboratory of Salvador Luria, another Nobel Prize winner.  In September 1950 began a year of postdoctoral research at Copenhagen University.  He first worked with biochemist Herman Kallckar and later worked with microbial physiologist Ole Maaloe.  Watson’s intention was “to determine whether protein or DNA was the genetic material.”  He attended a meeting in Italy where Maurice Wilkins spoke about “his X-ray diffraction data for DNA.”  Following the presentation, Watson was “certain that DNA had a definite molecular structure that could be elucidated.”

                After chemist Linus Pauling in California published his model of the amino acid alpha helix in 1951 and Watson did further research, Watson wanted to “learn to perform X-ray diffraction experiments so he could work to determine the structure of DNA.”  He went to England in 1951 to do “a new postdoctoral research project.”

                In mid-March 1953 Maurice Wilkins, Watson and Crick used their own experimental data as well as much collected by Rosalind Franklin and “deduced the double helix structure of DNA.  Sir Lawrence Bragg, the director of the Cavendish Laboratory (where Watson and Crick worked), made the original announcement of the discovery at a Solvay conference on proteins in Belgium on April 8, 1953; it went unreported by the press.  Watson and Crick submitted a paper to the scientific journal Nature, which was published on April 25, 1953.  This has been described by some other biologists and Nobel laureates as the most important scientific discovery of the 20th century.  Bragg gave a talk at the Guy’s Hospital Medical School in London on Thursday, May 14, 1953, which resulted in a May 15, 1953, article by Ritchie Calder in the London newspaper News Chronicle, entitled `Why You Are You.  Nearer Secret of Life.’”

                In 1962 Watson, Crick, and Wilkins received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their research on the structure of nucleic acids.  Rosalind Franklin was not eligible for nomination because she died in 1958.  “The publication of the double helix structure of DNA can be regarded as a turning point in science:  human understanding of life was fundamentally changed and the modern era of biology began.”


                In 1968 Watson married Elizabeth Lewis, and the couple became parents of two sons, Rufus Robert Watson (born 1970) and Duncan James Watson (born 1972).  Rufus suffers from schizophrenia, and Watson desires “to encourage progress in understanding and treatment of mental illness by determining how genetics contributes to it.”  Watson is an atheist and signed the Humanist Manifesto in 2003, along with 21 other Nobel Laureates.