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.

Monday, October 12, 2015

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

                I decided to make Joshua Reuben Clark, Jr. – or J. Reuben Clark, Jr. as he was generally known – my VIP for this week after a long discussion of leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with my son over the weekend.  President Clark was a brilliant man who served at the highest levels of both the Church and the nation.  He was a counselor in the First Presidency of the Church during my childhood and most of my youth.  I heard his name often and even listened to him speak. 

                The boy who would become President Clark was born on September 1, 1871, in Grantsville, Utah, a small farming community located in Tooele Valley, and was named Joshua after his father.  Young Clark was the first of ten children born to his parents, Joshua R. and Mary Louisa Woolley Clark.  His grandfather was a minister in the Church of the Brethren.  His father was a trapper and freighter who met the Mormons in Utah, attended a Sunday meeting, and was baptized a month later.  Soon after he was baptized he was hired to teach school in Grantsville and moved there from Salt Lake City.  Not long after moving to Grantsville, Joshua met Mary Louisa Woolley, a young woman who was born on the plains as her parents traveled with the Mormon Pioneers.

                Education and culture were very important to members of the LDS Church in the pioneer days and still are today.  Even though Joshua could do hard physical labor, he was also very “a knowledgeable, culturally-oriented man.”  He was more than willing to “sleep in a hay loft in order to afford to see a Shakespearean play and would make great sacrifices to afford to buy a good book.  The small library in the Clark home was made up of history books, classics, an encyclopedia, the Bible, plus other religious works of the LDS Church.”

                Young Clark did not have much opportunity for education in his youth because the family needed his help on the farm and lack of resource, and he was home schooled by his mother.  About the time young Clark was ten years old, his father began teaching at a private school and was able to teach his son.  Young Clark missed school in order to help the family, but his father said that his son would “rather miss his meals than to miss a day from school.”  He completed the highest grade offered at the Grantsville school and then repeated it two more times.

                In spite of the fact that his family was financially challenged, young Clark “was able to take music lessons and to play with various bands.  He played the piccolo and then the flute.”  As a youth young Clark “participated in dramatic productions” and “displayed a talent for public speaking, comedy, and humor.  He also participated in other activities of children and youth such as “sledding in the winter and swimming in the summer.”

                In 1890 when young Clark was 19 years old, he went to Salt Lake City to attend the Latter-day Saints’ University.  He lived with his aunt and earned extremely high grades.  James E. Talmage, a LDS scholar and scientist, was the principle at the University and hired Clark as the assistant curator and later as curator for the Deseret Museum.  The position was considered to be a “mission” and thus Clark served his mission while attending college.  Talmage was charged with creating a new college for the Church and took Clark with him as his chemistry lab assistant and clerk; Clark was still working at the museum.  Clark finished “six years of advanced schooling in four” with two of those years meeting high school requirements.  Talmage encouraged Clark to attend an eastern university and called him “the greatest mind ever to leave Utah.”

                Clark entered the University of Utah in 1894 and lived so frugally that he was able to send money to his father who was serving as a missionary and the mission president in the Northern States Mission.  Talmage became president of the University of Utah, and Clark “graduated in 1898 as valedictorian of his graduating class, still serving as clerk to Talmage and on the faculty of the university.

                In 1894 Clark met Luacine “Lute” Annetta Savage, the youngest daughter of Charles Roscoe Savage of Salt Lake City.  Lute taught kindergarten and worked in her father’s store during the four years she dated Clark.  They were married on September 14, 1898, in a Salt Lake Temple ceremony performed by Elder Talmage, the first such marriage he performed.  The couple was feted at a modest reception; this was Lute’s choice even though her family was prosperous.  Clark left a few days after the wedding for Heber, Utah, where he started his career as a teacher and principal at the new Heber City High School; he went to find housing before Lute followed.  Five children blessed their union.

                Clark taught part of the next year at Latter-day Saints’ University, resigning in February to teach at Salt Lake Business College headed by Joseph Nelson.  Clark went to Cedar City, Utah, in the fall of 1900 to be the principal of the Branch Normal School.  In 1901 he was an instructor in Commercial Law, Principal of the Shorthand Department, and Secretary of the Faculty at Salt Lake Business College.  Clark assumed most of the duties of as head of Salt Lake Business College when Nelson became cashier of the Utah National Bank.  Nelson offered to pay for law school for Clark that year, and Clark applied to Columbia University and was accepted; he received his entire education in law at Columbia. 

                In the beginning of his second year at Columbia, Clark was elected to a position on the editorial board of the Columbia Law Review.  By the end of his second year, he was admitted to the New York bar.  He received his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1906.  In 1905 Clark “worked with James Brown Scott on the 772-page book Cases on Quasi Contracts, and Scott recommended him as Assistant Solicitor of the Department of State;” Clark was appointed to the position on September 5, 1906.  Thus, he began his career with the federal government. 

                Clark was Assistant Solicitor and then Solicitor in the State Department and “was often confronted with critical issues of international consequence.”  During the Mexican Revolution, Clark made “crucial decisions and recommended courses of action to the secretary of state and Howard Taft.  Of particular concern to Clark was the plight of the Latter-day Saints who lived in Mexican colonies, who were often caught in the middle of the conflict and whose presence in Mexico was resented by the revolutionaries.”

                Resigning from the State Department in 1913, Clark returned to his law practice.  The Japanese government was “one of his first major clients” seeking help to “combat anti-Japanese discrimination in California.  Clark was offered but declined an offer to become Tokyo’s permanent counsel.  Clark was commissioned as a major in the Judge Advocate General Officer Reserve Corps (Army) when the United States entered World War I.  He also worked in the Attorney General’s office as well as helped to create the regulations for the Selective Service.  The federal government called Clark back into service in 1925 where he used his previous experience in Mexico to help alleviate tensions with Mexico.  A treaty in 1924 avoided war with Mexico.  Clark held other government positions:  Special Counsel for the United States before the American-British Claim Arbitration, Agent for the United States on the US-Mexico General and Special Claims commissions, and personal legal adviser to the US Ambassador to Mexico.

                “In 1928, as Under Secretary of State to Secretary of State Frank Kellogg in the Calvin Coolidge Administration, Clark wrote the `Clark Memorandum on the Monroe Doctrine’, which repudiated the idea that the United States could arbitrarily use military force in Latin America.  The Memorandum was a 238-page treatise exploring every nuance of America’s philosophy of Western Hemispherical guardianship.  The `Clark Memorandum’ was published as an official State Department document and partially reprinted in textbooks for years.

                “When Dwight Morrow resigned as ambassador to serve in the US Senate, Clark was recommended as his replacement.  Herbert Hoover appointed Clark as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to Mexico on October 3, 1930.  The Mexican ambassadorship was a key post in US foreign relations and earned him instant prestige."  Clark served as US ambassador to Mexico from 1930-1933.  Franklin D. Roosevelt summoned Clark to the White House and asked him to be a delegate to the Pan-American Conference at Montevideo, Uruguay.  Roosevelt “tapped” him again in 1933 to serve on the newly formed Foreign Bondholders Protective Council. 

                Clark was also filling major position in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In June 1925 he appointed to the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association board; in April 1933 he was called as Second Counselor to President Heber J. Grant.  The position was vacant for over a year until Clark could resign as ambassador and “resolve necessary government matters.”  Clark was sustained as second counselor to President Grant on April 6, 1933, even though he had never served as bishop, stake president, or in Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  President Clark was able to relieve President Grant of many of his administrative duties.

                With encourage from President Grant, President Clark continued to “take advantage of business and governmental opportunities whenever possible.”  FDR again asked President Clark to serve his nation in October 1933 as the Great Depression ravaged the economies of the world.  That same year President Clark lobbied for some changes in the Church welfare policy and to “adopt many of the innovative techniques instituted by Harold B. Lee in the Salt Lake Pioneer Stake.” 

                President Anthony W. Ivins, first counselor to President Grant, died in September 1934, and President Clark “was ordained an apostle and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for purposes of seniority.”  He was then set apart as President Grant’s first counselor with David O. McKay as second counselor. 

                President Grant presented a new “Church Security” program in 1935; it was renamed the “Welfare Plan” in 1938.  This new plan “encouraged industry and personal responsibility and enabled the members to turn to the church instead of relying on the `demoralizing system’ of government dependence.  The Welfare Plan would centralize the church’s efforts and grow to include a `Beautification Program,’ church farms, Deseret Industries, and a Bishop’s Central Storehouse.”

                President Clark explained the goal of church welfare to stake presidents in a special meeting held on October 2, 1936:  “The real long term objective of the Welfare Plan is the building of character in the members of the Church, givers and receivers, rescuing all that is finest deep down inside of them, and bring to flower and fruitage the latent richness of the spirit which after all is the mission and purpose and reason for being of this Church.”  His counsel is still “the guiding principle of LDS Church welfare.”

                After the death of President Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith was ordained as the President of the Church and kept President Clark and President McKay as his first and second counselors, respectively.  Upon the death of President Smith, David O. McKay was ordained as the President of the Church.  He chose Stephen L. Richards to be his first counselor, and J. Reuben Clark, Jr. to be his second counselor.  President Clark made his famous statement at that time:  “In the service of the Lord, it is not where you serve but how.  In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one takes the place to which one is duly called, which place one neither seeks nor declines.”  After the death of President Richards in 1951, President Clark was made first counselor to President McKay and remained in that position until his death.  He was “involved with most of the administrative innovations of the church while he was in the First Presidency.”

                President Clark died on October 6, 1961, at his residence in Salt Lake City, at the age of 90 years.  He was a counselor in the First Presidency for more than 28 years, longer than any other man who has not been President of the Church.  He was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Impact of Illegal Immigration on America

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the impact of illegal immigration on America.  According to Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, there are approximately “400,000 children” born each year “to those who are unlawfully in the United States” or “10 percent of all births.”  Anyone with elementary math can figure out that “this number is likely to continue” because there are “more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the country today.

                “These children automatically receive many of the same rights and privileges as United States citizens despite their parents’ illegal status.  Birthright citizenship bestows on these individuals billions of dollars in federal benefits each year in the form of Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, refundable tax credits, nutrition and housing assistance, and eventually work authorization.  Of course, taxpayers foot the bill.

                “Birthright citizenship also rewards illegal immigrant 
parents.  It all but guarantees that they will never be deported.  And the parents indirectly reap the government benefits going to their children.”
                You can read the rest of the article by Representative Smith here.  I agree with Mr. Smith that the debate over birthright citizenship must continue.  We must have an immigration system that puts the interests of America and Americans before foreign nationals.  We need a Congress that will look at Amendment 14 seriously and realize “Congress never intended to treat all persons born on American soil as citizens.”

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Marriage for Eternity

                The Family:  A Proclamation to the World” published by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1995 proclaims that “marriage between a man and woman is ordained of God.”  Marriage has been a law of the gospel since the beginning of life on earth.  Heavenly Father performed the first wedding on earth. The marriage of Adam and Eve was performed before they partook of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; therefore, it was an eternal marriage because it took place before death came into the world.

                Adam and Eve taught eternal marriage to their children and grandchildren; however, some of the people became wicked and did not have eternal marriages performed.  Eventually the authority to perform marriages for eternal was taken from the earth; it was not restored until after the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

                Marriage is not only a social custom or legal agreement between two people who desire to live together.  To members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, marriage is something much more important.  We believe that “marriage is the most sacred relationship that can exist between a man and a woman.”  We believe that marriage can be eternal and that our eternal exaltation depends on how well we live this law.  We believe that this “sacred relationship affects our happiness now as well as in the eternities.”  We know that the law of eternal marriage is part of Heavenly Father’s plan for the happiness of His children.  We know that Heavenly Father instituted the law of eternal marriage to help us become like Him.  We must live this law in order to have spirit children as He does.

                We can read about the law of eternal marriage in modern revelation.  “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees.  And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; and if he does not, he cannot obtain it” (Doctrine and Covenants 131:1-3).

                To obey the law of eternal marriage all marriages should be performed in the proper place by one holding the proper authority.  “If a man marry a wife by … the new and everlasting covenant… by him who is anointed … it … shall be of full force when they are out of the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:19).  The House of the Lord or temple is the proper place for an eternal marriage; one holding the holy Melchizedek Priesthood and the proper authority performs marriages there.

                In the temple the bride and groom kneel at the sacred altars surrounded by family and friends as well as two special witnesses of their own choosing.  There they make sacred covenants with each other and with God with their marriage being witnessed by angels.  Acting under the direction of God, the promises blessings to the couple and then instructs them in how to obtain those blessings.  He also reminds them that they must be obedient to the commandments of God in order to receive the blessings. One of the blessings of eternal marriage is the opportunity to live together as families – as parents and children eternally.

                Any marriage performed by any other authority or in any other place is for this life only.  The phrase “unto death do us part” literally means that the marriage will end at the time either marriage partner dies.  The marriage is over and neither partner has claim upon the other or any children that may bless the marriage.

                There are numerous blessings that come from an eternal marriage, and the blessings are our in this life as well as the life to come.  Blessings of an eternal marriage that come during this life include (1) Knowledge that our marriage will last forever if we do the necessary work for a happy, successful marriage.  (2) Knowledge that our children will be ours for eternity if we live to obtain that blessing.  This knowledge causes parents to teach and train their children more diligently, show greater patience, and be more loving – and these behaviors can make our homes happier.

                Eternal blessings that come from marrying in the right place and by the proper authority include:  (1) Living forever in the presence of Heavenly Father in the Celestial Kingdom; (2) Exaltation and a fulness of joy, and (3) Opportunity at a future time to become the parents of spirit children.

Friday, October 9, 2015


                We can strengthen our children, families, communities, and nations by teaching proper principles about marriage.  We should teach them that marriage between a man and woman is ordained of God and sacred.  We should teach them by word and example how to have a happy marriage.

                Maurine Proctor published an open letter to her daughter to share her thoughts and feelings as her daughter was about to marry.  Her article is titled “To Our Daughter about to Marry: 7 Ways to Happiness.” In her article she shares her thoughts on how her daughter can find happiness in marriage.

                Sister Proctor’s first way is to go to the temple and “kneel across the altar.”  “The altar in the temple at which you will kneel is profoundly significant.  It is an altar that symbolizes the great, atoning sacrifice of our Savior.  Why would the Lord have us sealed across this altar?  This is the great secret.”  She then answers her question.
                The second way to married happiness is to “create holy habits.”  “Couples create a culture together.  It is their own new world that they create….
                “From this moment onward, you will be the greatest influence in each other’s life.  Decide to become devoted disciples of Jesus Christ together.  Pray together morning and night…. Build into your very system this unshakeable habit of talking to the Lord together.
                “This comes with some really practical advice….”  Sister Proctor then shares some great advice.

                Sister Proctor’s third piece of advice is to “never underestimate your power for good in his life.”  “Though each of us are grand, eternal spirits, lit by God Himself, here on earth we are fragile, our view of ourselves constantly evolving.  We may rise and fall according to the reflection we see of ourselves in each other’s eyes.  You will have the greatest influence on how your new husband comes to see himself….”

                Counsel number four is to “be each other’s safe harbor.”  “Oh, the inexpressible comfort of having a safe harbor on earth, a place where in all your vulnerabilities and plainness and heartache there is shelter form the storm.  Sometimes those storms are outside and life is just too tough.  Sometimes those storms are inside and you keenly wish you were more….”

                Sister Proctor’s fifth piece of advice is to “be wise in dealing with differences.”  “When two people come together, it is more like two universes coming together with galaxies and whirling worlds, stars that have arisen and then sunk to darkness.  Each of you is huge, a collection of memories and things forgotten that still press upon your consciousness, and, what’s more, pre-mortal existences that you can’t remember but have shaped who you are.
                “Now you are seeking to become a union of one – which means you are bringing all of this enormity that is yourselves together.  In this, your planets may collide….”

                Advice number six is “watch for opportunities to serve each other.”  “You get to develop an eye for how to serve somebody else – namely that person you are pledged to love.  Watch for those opportunities because they come every day….”

                Sister Proctor’s final counsel is to “believe that things work out.”  “Some people think that as you get mature, you become less hopeful.  In reality, optimism is the gift of the spiritually mature.  It is because they have come to see how very much they can rely on the Lord to carry them.  They know that He is completely trustworthy….”

                We can teach the rising generation that marriage is a journey and not a destination.  We can teach them to stay on the train of marriage and experience the beautiful vistas together as well as help each other through the low points of the journey.  We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by teaching proper principles about marriage to the rising generation.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Freedom to Fly the Stars and Stripes

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that the Stars and Stripes are being challenged in numerous places in our nation.  Schools may deny citizens the right to fly the United States flag more frequently than any other organization, but home owners associations are close behind.  It appears that many people live in the United States but do not want to see our national colors flying.

                Fox13 News reported the latest episode involving Chestnut Place, a condominium community in Murray, Utah, located near Salt Lake City.  A week or so ago, there were no regulations or restrictions on residents of the community who desired to fly the Stars and Stripes, and many the patriotic residents did.  At the last board meeting, “two members of the board and a resident” stated they were “tired of looking at the flag.”

                A warning went out to the community residents telling them to take down their flags.  Residents that refused to give up their freedom to fly the Stars and Stripes were fined $75 and given a notice.  The notice states:  “All exterior decorations must be removed within 10 days following the holiday….  Please remove your flag from the common area (Utah Community Association Act. 57-a-219).”

                Residents were shocked, but the president of the HOA refused to back down.  Home owners planned to address the situation at the next home HOA meeting, and they filled the room.  The meeting was cancelled at the last minute, and no board members were present.  Home owners are now calling for a special meeting to vote for new board members.

                “Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country.”  I started typing that statement more than 50 years ago whenever I needed to test a typewriter.  I believe I got the statement from my husband’s mother, whom I dearly loved.  This statement is even truer today than it was in the 1960s when I learned it. 

                Our nation really does need good men and women to come to its aid, and a good place to start is by defending our right to fly the flag of our nation from our homes, vehicles, businesses, or wherever we so choose.  Any person who does not like to see the red, white and blue flag flying – or is offended by it – is free to leave our nation on a one-way ticket.  I will not be intimidated.  I will fly my flag whenever I choose to do so from my property!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Divine Communication

                My studies of the Book of Mormon – Another Witness of Jesus Christ have been very interesting this week.  I have particularly been fascinated by the story of Nephi building a ship and how the Lord directed him in completing the task.  The story is found in 1 Nephi chapters 17-18.

                The family of Lehi left Jerusalem and traveled in the wilderness for eight years until they reached a land located by the sea.  They called the place Bountiful because of its “much fruit” and “wild honey” (v. 5).  They pitched their tents along the seashore and rested from their journey.  After “many days” the Lord called to Nephi and told him to go “into the mountain”.  Nephi was obedient and went (v. 7).  When he was on the mountain, the Lord told him to “construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters”(v. 8). Verse 9 tells us that Nephi’s only question was about finding ore to make tools.  The Lord told him where to go, and Nephi made the necessary tools (vv. 10-11).  He also built the first fire since leaving Jerusalem (v. 12).  He had some problems motivating his brothers to help build the ship, but the problems were solved with help from the Lord (vv. 53-55). 

                The ship was not constructed “after the manner men” but according to directions from the Lord.  “And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.
                “And it came to pass that after I had finished the ship, according to the word of the Lord, my brethren beheld that it was good, and that the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine; wherefore, they did humble themselves again before the Lord” (18:3-4).

                When the ship was finally finished, Lehi and his family loaded supplies on it and set sail.  They arrived safely at the land promised by the Lord.  I find the story itself very interesting, but I am intrigued by the communication process between the Lord and Nephi.  It is obvious from the story that the Lord did not give Nephi all the directions to build a ship at one time.  The Lord told Nephi to go to the mountain.  Once he arrived there, the Lord told him to build a ship.  In answer to Nephi’s question about building tools, the Lord told him where to go to find ore.  The Lord helped Nephi to settle the problems with his brothers and then gave Nephi additional instructions as needed to build the ship.

                I am particularly interested in their communication because I watched two videos about divine communication as part of this lesson.  I learned a lot about inspiration and revelation and how it comes.  I always wondered about the difference between inspiration and revelation, but I now know that inspiration is a different type of revelation rather than something completely different.

                President James E. Faust compared divine communication to receiving a radio signal coming to his crystal set.  The receiver must be attuned exactly right or it will receive only scratchy static instead of the radio signal.  “So it is with inspiration.  We must attune ourselves to the inspiration from God and tune out the scratchy static.  We have to work at being tuned in.” 

                President Faust also compared divine communication to cellular phones.  Cell phone are wonderful until we find ourselves in a “dead spot” such as “a tunnel or a canyon” where we cannot receive the signal.  “So it is with divine communication.  The still, small voice, though still and small, is very powerful.  It `whispereth through and pierceth all things’ (Doctrine and Covenants 85:6).  But like my old crystal set, the message may be there but we fail to pick it up.  Perhaps something in our lives prevents us from hearing the message because we are `past feeling.’  (See 1 Nephi 17:45.)  We often put ourselves in spiritual dead spots – places and situations that block out divine messages.  Some of these dead spots include anger, pornography, transgression, selfishness, and other situations that offend the Spirit.”  

                I have experienced “dead spots” in my life, and I do not like them.  I am learning to recognize when the Spirit is present and when it is not.  When I do not feel the Spirit, I begin to investigate the reason for its absence; I much prefer having the presence of the Holy Ghost.

                Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained some differences between inspiration and revelation.  “Revelations are conveyed in a variety of ways, including, for example, dreams, visions, conversations with heavenly messengers, and inspiration.  Some revelations are received immediately and intensely; some are recognized gradually and subtly.” 

                Elder Bednar described two different sources of light to illustrate two basic patterns of revelation.  “A light turned on in a dark room is like receiving a message from God quickly, completely, and all at once.  Many of us have experienced this pattern of revelation as we have been given answers to sincere prayers or been provided with needed direction or protection, according to God’s will and timing… this pattern of revelation tends to be more rare than common.
                “The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God `line upon line, precept upon precept’     (2 Nephi 28:30).  Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation.  Such communications from Heavenly Father gradually and gently `distill upon [our souls] as the dews from heaven’ (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45).  This pattern of revelation tends to be more common.”

                I have received inspiration and revelation in numerous ways.  For example, I was having a very difficult time being out of contact with my oldest son while he was serving a mission in Arizona.  I was murmuring and complaining about not being able to see him for two years.   I murmured, “Mothers can visit their sons in the army and even in prison, but I cannot see my son in the mission field.”  The Spirit whispered to me, “Where would you rather have him?”  I of course said on a mission.  The Spirit whispered again, “Then I need to have his complete attention.  This is the reason for the rule.” 

                I no longer murmured or complained about not seeing my son, but the Lord recognized how much I missed him and compensated me.  From time to time I would have a dream about my son that allowed me to share what he was doing.  In one dream I saw my son riding his bicycle and suddenly flying through the air.  I of course thought the worst and spent the entire day waiting for a telephone call from his mission president.  Several weeks later, my son “remembered” that he had not told me about a bicycle accident and shared how he had been riding along on his bicycle and did not see a board lying across the sidewalk.  He hit it and went flying through the air, spilling the contents of his backpack but not hurting himself.

                I have received direct revelation such as when the Lord confirmed the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and when He told me that I “needed” to go get my son from the mission field.  I have received much information in dreams from time to time.  Most of the revelations I receive come a little at a time, an idea here and an idea there, until I have a complete picture of what I am to do.  I am very grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost and His presence with me so much of the time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Taking Notes

                I thought I would share what I learned this week in my Life Skills class.  My instructor introduced a system of taking notes called the Cornell Note-taking System.  For me it is an entirely new way of taking notes, but the system has been around since 1950.  It was created by Walter Pauk, an education professor at Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York.  The system shows how to take good notes, organize them, and review them to retain more information.  It uses a process of five “Rs” for getting notes down on paper, organizing the material, and retaining the information.

                The first step in preparing to take notes is to divide the paper into three parts.  The first division line is drawn across the page approximately two inches or about five or six lines from the bottom of the page.  A second line is drawn down the page making two columns; the column on the left should be two and a half inches wide.  These lines should be dark.

                The second step of preparation is to document the notes by writing the name of the course, the date, and the topic of the lecture at the top of each page.  Now the paper is ready for note taking.

                Record:  During a lecture, we use the large note-taking column on the right of the page to record our notes.  I abbreviate words and use symbols whenever possible as well as a combination of shorthand used in high school more than 50 years ago and speed writing learned in a college class a few years later.  We should not concern ourselves about writing full sentences but record only meaningful facts, ideas, and concepts.  This includes important dates, people and places, formulas, references, anything written on the board, and any information that is repeated.  We can separate the various ideas and topics by skipping a line between them. 

                Reduce:  As soon as possible after class – 10 minutes if possible but not more than 24 hours - we should review our notes to pull out the main ideas and key points such as places, dates and names of people and to write them in the cue area or narrow column on the left.  This recall column contains the most important information from the lecture and should receive the most study time.  One way to “clarify meanings, reveal relationships, establish continuity, and strengthen memory” is to write questions.  These questions create a “perfect stage” for studying for exams at a later time.  We should use as few words as possible.

                Recite:  To accomplish this task, we cover the notes in the right column and use the questions and key words in the left column to recite the information in the right column.  We should not recite the information word for word but should have the general idea.  If we cannot recite the information, we should go back and study it until we can.

                Reflect:  We use the summary area at the bottom of the page to write our reflections.  A good way to reflect is to ask questions, such as “What’s the significance of these facts?  What principles are they based on?  How can I apply them?  How do they fit in with what I already know?  What’s beyond them?”  We may even add information from a text to define terms or to find causes and effects.  We should write a brief summary of the entire lecture. 

                Review:  Reviewing our previous notes at least once per week is the final R.  This task should take approximately ten minutes.  Reviewing our notes several times per week would help us retain more information for use in the course as well as in the final exam.

                This note-taking system was a little confusing for me at first and even worse for some of my classmates.  I found that researching the system a little more for this post added much to my understanding of what to write in my notes and how to reduce them.  I also learned a lot more about how to reflect and what to write in my summaries.  I believe this type of note taking can help students of any age and at any level of their education.  I wish I had known about it earlier in my life.