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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge

                    Grace Anna Goodhue was born on January 3, 1879, in Burlington, Vermont.  She was the only child born to her parents, Andrew Issaclar Goodhue, a mechanical engineer and steamboat inspector, and Lemira Barrett Goodhue.  She was of English ancestry, and she belonged to the Congregationalist Church.

                    Even though Grace was an only child and the center of her parents' attention, she was not spoiled due to her cheerful and sunny nature.  Andrew Goodhue was injured in an accident when Grace was about four years old, and she was sent to live with the Yale family for about a year.  June Yale, the older daughter, was teaching at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts.  Grace became so interested in the deaf that she desired to teach them when she became an adult; she had a great, life-long interest in the deaf.

                    Grace graduated from Burlington High School in 1897 and began her studies at the University of Vermont in 1898.  She became a member of the glee club and was one of the founders of the Beta chapter of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.  Grace lived with the Yale family in Northampton after her graduation in 1902 in order to teach classes at the Clarke School for the Deaf.  She was a lip reading instructor and taught both the lower and intermediate classes.

                    Grace was described as being about 5 feet 5 inches tall, with black hair, gray-green eyes, a winning smile, and a cheerful disposition.  She was in good physical health and enjoyed hiking and horseback riding. She was an avid sports fan, particularly baseball, and learned to throw a baseball better than most men she knew.  She dressed stylishly and wore bright, vibrant colors, particularly red. 
                    One day in the spring of 1905, Grace was watering flowers in the school yard and happened to look up at the open window of Robert N. Weir's boardinghouse.  She caught a glimpse of Calvin Coolidge, who was shaving while standing in front of a mirror in nothing but his long underwear and a hat.  When she burst out laughing at such a sight, he heard the noise and turned to look at her.  This was their first meeting, but they quickly became attracted to each other after a more formal introduction.

                    Calvin and Grace had a whirlwind courtship after their first meeting in the spring of 1905.  They became engaged in the summer when Coolidge declared, "I am going to be married to you" and Grace readily accepted.  Grace's mother objected to the engagement and tried to postpone the wedding.  On the other hand, Calvin's father, Colonel John Coolidge, was smitten with Grace.

Calvin was 33 years old, and Grace was 26 years old at the time of their marriage on October 4, 1905, at the home of the bride's parents in Burlington.  (This house is now owned by the Chaplain College and is known as the Coolidge House.)  The Reverend Edward A. Hungerford officiated at the small wedding attended by fifteen guests.  The newlyweds left for a two-week honeymoon to Montreal, Canada, but they came home a week early at the suggestion of Calvin and settled in Northampton.

Calvin never reconciled with his mother-in-law who later insisted that Grace was the reason for his political success.  According to historians, Grace should receive a full share of credit for her husband's rise in politics.  Whereas Calvin was a quiet, shy, and silent man, Grace was charming, friendly, and vivacious as well as being bright, intelligent, tactful, warm and witty.  She was a hard worker and kept up appearances; she also took part in town activities and was active in her church.  They shared a love of family, a quiet but strong faith, and an impish sense of humor.  They also shared an interest in how Grace dressed.  She liked to be well-dressed and preferred bright colors; he liked to see her in pretty clothes so much that he purchased them for her.  Grace had the ability to understand her husband and did not push her own ideas or become active in politics.  She never learned to drive a car because Calvin did not want her to do so.  Because her husband was so controlling, she developed a sense of resignation during their marriage.  She had great charisma and could have been a great leader except she was held back by her own passive nature as well as her controlling husband.

Calvin and Grace were parents of two boys, both of whom were named after their father, John Calvin Coolidge.   John (1906-2000) (a railroad and print company executive) and Calvin, Jr. (1908-1924) (died at age sixteen of blood poisoning from a blister on his toe).  When Calvin rose to the office of Governor, the family maintained their duplex while he rented a room in Boston for $1.50 and came home on weekends.

Grace was reared a Democrat but adopted the party of her husband.  She was "just" a homemaker (but poor cook) until she was thrust into the limelight when her husband was nominated for the office of Vice President in 1921.  She quickly went from her routine as a housewife to the most popular woman in the Washington society. 

After the death of President Warren G. Harding and Calvin's succession to the office of President, she planned an unpretentious but dignified social life - just as her husband desired.  She was a popular hostess, and in 1931 she was voted as one of America's twelve greatest women then living.  Calvin and Grace were particularly devoted to each other; however, he chose to never discuss state matters with her.  In fact, she didn't know that he had decided to not seek re-election in 1928 until he made his announcement to the press.

Calvin paid the following tribute to Grace in his autobiography:  "For almost a quarter of a century she has borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces."

The Coolidges bought "The Beeches," a large house with spacious grounds in Northampton, in order to have privacy after they left the White House in 1929.  There Calvin died on January 5, 1933.  After her husband's death, Grace continued working on behalf of the deaf.  She was active in the Red Cross, civil defense, and scrap drives during World War II.  She continued to avoid publicity until her death on July 8, 1957, at age 78.  (Her son, John, believed that she died before midnight on July 7, the anniversary of the death of her younger son, Calvin, Jr.)  She is buried next to her husband in Plymouth, Vermont.

Facts for this blog came from here and here.  More information on Calvin Coolidge can be obtained herehere, or here.  


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rise of Secularity

                    I was immediately attracted to a Reuters news article dated Tuesday, January 31, 2012, and written by Peter Henderson and Kristina Cooke about "Mormonism."  The article was about a "religious studies class" held some time last year at Utah State University in Logan, Utah.  The students were concerned about what was happening in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and were asking "hard questions."  Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the First Quorum of Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was present to answer their questions.

                    One question was, "Did the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know that members are `leaving in droves?'"  Elder Jenson replied that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were very aware of the situation and very concerned about it.  He described the situation as being "a time of challenge, but it isn't apocalyptic."  This problem seems to be among the older members of the "rising generation" - high school students and young, college-age adults.

With the increase in defections in the Church, President Thomas S. Monson and his associates in the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have launched a new program in an attempt to stop the losses.  The new campaign is called "The Rescue" and includes new materials being sent to Bishops and other leaders to help teach our rising generation about "some of the more sensitive aspects of church doctrine." 

There are several topics in Church history that are difficult for youth and some adults to understand.  Some of these sensitive topics include plural marriages, blacks and the priesthood, the massacre in Mountain Meadows, and homosexuality.  I will be interested in seeing the package of materials coming out of Church headquarters.

                    Not long after seeing the above referenced article, I listened to a discussion on GBTV between Rabbi Daniel Lapin and Glenn Beck about "Baal" and the rise of secular fundamentalism.  Rabbi Lapin explained that the worship of Baal or secular fundamentalism is just as much alive today as it was three thousand years ago and does not require the idols spoken of in the Bible.  The worship of Baal always demeans women as does the hook-up culture in our day.

Rabbi Lapin said, "Think of it as spiritual gravity.  It is that which tugs our better natures downwards - to everything that is a yielding to bodily appetites, a yielding to darkness, a yielding to hopelessness and pessimism, a yielding to a sense of shortage and misery.  All of these things that are so easily capable of overwhelming us as human beings as we struggle to remain encouraged and bright and filled with faith.  That is the tension that exists within our hearts."

                    To illustrate this problem with spiritual gravity and the fact that it takes hard work to elevate ourselves, Rabbi Lapin used the analogy of a building.  It takes much more energy to move upward in a building than it does to move downward.  The most desirable location in a building is the penthouse, and the least desirable is the basement.  If we were to walk up twenty floors to the penthouse, we would have to exert much energy - but the view would be wonderful.  The penthouse would be warm with lots of sunshine and clean smells.  If we chose to go down the stairs to the dark, dirty, and scary dungeon-like basement, it would be much easier walking.  In fact, if there was a laundry shoot or a slide, the journey to the basement would take little or no energy.  There would be no expansive view from the basement.

                    The rise of secularism began when atheists insisted that prayer and other references to God be taken out of the schools.  It continued with the appearance of the birth-control pill that made the holy relationship between man and woman into a misuse of God-given powers to procreate.  It grew further with the free love generation of the 1960s and continues to grow today.

                    Secular fundamentalism or the worship of science is one of the main reasons why youth and young adults are questioning their religions and losing their faith.  They are being taught secularism in their classes in high school and college. 

                    Our youth and young adults must be rescued as soon as possible and preferably before they leave their churches.  Secularization will bring only heartache and pain into their lives instead of the peace and joy found in the Church of Jesus Christ. We must rescue our rising generations.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Greatness of Calvin Coolidge

                    Calvin Coolidge was great because he lived conservative principles and used them in his leadership positions.  He was known for his honesty and integrity.  Coolidge earned the respect of Americans, and he had a reputation for wisdom as well as for common sense and dry wit.  He was not known for his oratory skills, rarely made public statements and seldom wasted a word.

While serving as Governor of Massachusetts in 1919, Coolidge settled a Boston police strike and came to national prominence.  About seventy-five percent of the city's police officers went on strike, and hoodlums roamed Boston streets for two nights, smashing windows and looting stores.  Coolidge ordered out the state guard and brought order to Boston.  Nineteen leaders of the police union were fired, and Coolidge made his famous statement:  "There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime" (George H. Mayer in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 1030-1034).

Coolidge was serving as Vice President with President Warren G. Harding and became President on August 3, 1923, upon the death of President Harding.  Coolidge entered the White House about the same time that the Teapot Dome and other scandals of the Harding Administration became public knowledge.  His own honesty was not questioned, and he gave no support to those who were guilty, even forcing the Attorney General to resign.

The United States enjoyed prosperity and the Roaring 20's during the Coolidge Administration.  He believed that Americans were in the business of business and supported American businesses both at home and abroad. He stood for economy and a simple way of life.  "I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people."  Under his directions, there were high tariffs on imports in order to help American manufacturers, and Congress reduced income taxes, resulting in increased revenue from taxes.  The nation was able to reduce its national debt by about a billion dollars per year and immigration was restricted during his administration.

Coolidge declined to run for a second full term as President, which surprised the nation.  He wrote in his autobiography, "The chances of having wise and faithful public service are increased by a change in the presidential office after a moderate length of time."  His typical response for comments on leaving office:  "Goodbye, I have had a very enjoyable time in Washington."

Coolidge was distressed by the stock market crash of 1929 and the depression that followed it.  He at first felt guilty about leaving office, thinking that he could have stopped it.  Then he realized that the depression would have happened regardless of which party was in office.  As the depression deepened during the fall and winter of 1932, Coolidge became increasingly unhappy.  On January 5, 1933, he died of a heart attack in his bedroom. 

President Coolidge left many wonderful quotes, most of which are applicable to our day.  His quotes are about business, taxes, patriotism, faith in God, attributes of character, the importance of work, etc.   Some of them are as follow.

 "…After all, the chief business of the American people is business.  They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world.  I am strongly of the opinion that the great majority of people will always find these are the moving impulses of our life.  But it is only those who do not understand our people, who believe that our national life is entirely absorbed by material motives.  We make no concealment of the fact that we want wealth, but there are many other things that we want much more.  We want peace and honor, and that charity which is so strong an element of all civilization.  The chief ideal of the American people is idealism."

"All growth depends upon activity.  There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work."

"Wealth comes from industry and from the hard experience of human toil.  To dissipate it in waste and extravagance is disloyalty to humanity."

"This country would not be a land of opportunity, America could not be America, if the people were shackled with government monopolies."

"The people cannot look to legislation generally for success.  Industry, thrift, character, are not conferred by act or resolve.  Government cannot relieve from toil.  It can provide no substitute for the rewards of service.  It can, of course, care for the defective and recognize distinguished merit.  The normal [people] must care for themselves.  Self-government means self-support."

"When a man begins to feel that he is the only one who can lead in this republic, he is guilty of treason to the spirit of our institutions."

"Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery."

"The government of the United States is a device for maintaining in perpetuity the rights of the people, with the ultimate extinction of all privileged classes."

"We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once."

"Duty is not collective; it is personal."

"Industry, thrift and self-control are not sought because they create wealth, but because they create character."

"Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong."

"Civilization and profit go hand in hand."

"Ultimately property rights and personal rights are the same thing."

"Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshipped."

"There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no one independence quite so important, as living within your means."

"The right thing to do never requires any subterfuge, it is always simple and direct."

"We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power.  We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen."

"It takes a great man to be a good listener."

"Don't you know that four-fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?"

"Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.  It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of fact within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgments requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity."

"Any reward that is worth having only comes to the industrious.  The success which is made in any walk of life is measured almost exactly by the amount of hard work that is put into it."

"Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil.  Our great hope lies in developing what is good."

"It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones."

"To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race."

"Patriotism is easy to understand in America; it means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country."

"The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten."

"They criticize me for harping on the obvious; if all the folks in the United States would do the few simple things they know they ought to do, most of our big problems would take care of themselves."

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

"The only way I know to drive out evil from the country is by the constructive method of filling it with good."

"It is hard to see how a great man can be an atheist.  Without the sustaining influence of faith in a divine power we could have little faith in ourselves.  We need to feel that behind us is intelligence and love.  Doubters do not achieve; skeptics do not contribute; cynics do not create.  Faith is the great motive power, and no man realizes his full possibilities unless he has the deep conviction that life is eternally important, and that his work, well done, is a part of an unending plan."

"The government of a country never gets ahead of the religion of a country.  There is no way by which we can substitute the authority of law for the virtue of man.  Of course we endeavor to restrain the vicious, and furnish a fair degree of security and protection by legislation and police control, but the real reform which society in these days is seeking will come as a result of our religious convictions, or they will not come at all.  Peace, justice, humanity, charity - these cannot be legislated into being.  They are the result of divine grace."

"Our government rests upon religion.  It is from that source that we derive our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberality, and for the rights of mankind.  Unless the people believe in these principles they cannot believe in our government.  There are only two main theories of government in our world.  One rests on righteousness and the other on force.  One appeals to reason, and the other appeals to the sword.  One is exemplified in the republic, the other is represented by despotism."

Other quotes by Calvin Coolidge can be found here or here.  

Facts about the life of Calvin Coolidge can be found here.  Facts about the Roaring Twenties can be found here

Sunday, February 26, 2012

No Tribute for Safe Passage

                    The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.9.6:  "[No] Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another."  This constitutional clause says that the owners of ships - vessels - can proceed from one port to any other port without having to pay tribute to any port between them.

                    W. Cleon Skousen explained this clause as follows:  "Like the Barbary Pirates, a number of states would not allow vessels to pass their shores without coming into port for clearance and the payment of tribute.  This provision was designed to guarantee freedom of the coastal seas."  (See The Making of America - The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 484.)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Power of Personal Prayer

Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers.  There is real power in communicating our wants and needs to God.  The story of Daniel in the lions' den bears testimony that regular and sincere personal prayer brings blessings from God.

                    Daniel was a young man of Jerusalem who depended on the Lord to guide him.  When his country was invaded, he was among those taken captive by the Babylonian conquerors.  The kings of Babylon gained confidence in Daniel because of his great wisdom, and he continued to be in favor among the Persians when they conquered Babylon.  Darius, the Persian king who ruled over Babylon, gave Daniel a prominent position in the kingdom's government.
                    The Persian princes resented having Daniel, a Hebrew captive, rule over them; therefore, they worked out a plan to remove Daniel.  Knowing that Daniel prayed faithfully, they wrote a rule that for 30 days anyone making a request to anyone but the king should be cast into a den of lions.  They took it to King Darius and tricked him into signing the decree and making it an unchangeable law.
                    Daniel knew about the new law, but he trusted the Lord and continued to pray as he had done before.  The princes then ran to the king, saying, "Daniel … regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition [to his God] three times a day" (Daniel 6:13).
                    When Darius saw that he had been tricked, he tried to save Daniel.  But the law was unchangeable, so Daniel was thrown into a den of lions.  The king spent the night fasting.   Early the next morning the king went to the den of lions and called out, "O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?"  (Daniel 6:20).
                    Daniel replied, "My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me" (Daniel 6:22).
                    Daniel was released immediately.  Then King Darius made a law that all the people should respect the God of Daniel.  Darius declared:  "He is the living God.  … He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth" (Daniel 6:26-27).

                    Prayer was so important to Daniel that he continued to pray, even though he could have been killed, and he was blessed for doing so.  Daniel's experience is one of many in the scriptures.  These stories show us that God will deliver us from our bondages if we keep His commandments - one of which is to pray often.

                    The Savior gave us a true pattern of prayer as well as clear instructions of how to pray when He taught the Lord's Prayer.
                    Matthew 6:9:  "After this manner therefore pray ye:  Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name."  (The Savior showed us that we should address all our prayers to Heavenly Father.  He also taught us to show reverence for Heavenly Father when He said "hallowed [holy] be thy name.")
                    Matthew 6:10:  "Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."  (The Savior demonstrated His willingness to accept Heavenly Father's will.)
                    Matthew 6:11:  "Give us this day our daily bread."  (The Savior taught us that we should pray daily for blessings we need, not for luxuries.  Our Heavenly Father, who knows our needs, will bless us according.)
                    Matthew 6:12:  "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."  (We should always pray with a repentant attitude.  We must forgive others to be able to receive forgiveness ourselves.)
                    Matthew 6:13:  "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen."  (In the Joseph Smith Translation of this verse, the Savior says, "Suffer [allow] us not to be led into temptation."  Heavenly Father does not tempt us to sin, but He does help us avoid falling into sin.)

                    When Jesus Christ visited the Nephites on the American continent, He told them to always ask for guidance and help to avoid falling into sin: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him.
                    "And as I have prayed among you even so shall ye pray in my church, among my people who do repent and are baptized in my name.  Behold I am the light; I have set an example for you.
                    "And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto his disciples, he turned again unto the multitude and said unto them:
                    "Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat."  (See Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 18:15-18.)

We should also express gratitude when we pray and show our gratitude through the way we live. 
Our attitude determines our gratitude.  Do we consider the opportunity to pray as a burden or as a privilege?  Do we express gratitude for things that we are truly grateful for or do we simply repeat the same things that others have said?

A Book of Mormon prophet named Moroni taught, "And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such" (Moroni 7:9).   When we pray "with real intent of heart," we are sincere in thanking Heavenly Father for our blessings as well as asking him to bless ourselves and others.  We would be wise to evaluate our personal prayers by silently asking ourselves, "Do I pray with real intent?"

                    People often feel that they are so sinful that they are unworthy to pray or that Heavenly Father doesn't want to hear from them.  I am comforted by the words of Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:  "[God] is your Father; pray to him.  If your life is in disarray and you feel uncomfortable and unworthy to pray because you are not clean, don't worry.  He already knows about all of that.  He is waiting for you to kneel in humility and take the first few steps.  Pray for strength.  Pray for others to be led to support you and guide you and lift you.  Pray that the love of the Savior will pour into your heart.  Pray that the miracle of the Atonement will bring forgiveness because you are willing to change.  I know that those prayers will be answered, for God loves you.  His Son gave his life for you.  I know they will help you."  (See Ensign, Nov. 1988, 77.)

                    Another Book of Mormon prophet named Nephi gave the following counsel:  "And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that you ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing.  For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.
"But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any
thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul."  (See 2 Nephi 32:8-9.)

                    Nephi said that it is Satan that makes us feel unworthy to pray to Heavenly Father.  Satan is miserable, and he wants all of us to be miserable with him.  He understands that prayer will move us further from him and closer to Heavenly Father.

                    Amulek, a missionary in the Book of Mormon, taught that it was important to pray over temporal matters as well as spiritual matters:    "Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.
                    "Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.
                    "Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.
                    "Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.
                    "Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
                    "Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
                    "But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.
                    "Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you."  (See Alma 34:20-27.)

                    The words "cry unto the Lord" refer to our prayers to Heavenly Father.  Amulek taught that we should pray about all the areas of our lives.  After we ask Heavenly Father to bless us, we should then do all in our power to bring those blessings into our lives.
I know that Heavenly Father always hears our prayers - even about small things and even if we feel unworthy.

Heavenly Father answers our prayers as shown in the following story about a girl named Stacey who accepted a request to baby-sit for a family she did not know.  She was comfortable with the situation while she was caring for the children, but she grew uneasy when the children had gone to sleep and she was basically alone in the house.  The creaks of an unfamiliar house and the sound of fighting neighbors made her too frightened to sleep.  When she remembered her experience later, she said:
                    "The thought came to my mind that my father, who was a fireman, might still be awake and that I could call him on his private line at the station.  Within seconds my father was on the phone speaking to me with a comforting voice.  He suggested that I lie down on the couch and try to rest.  I fought his counsel, telling him over and over again that I was too afraid to ever rest in that environment.
                    "My father calmed my fears with a promise that he would stay on the line and not hang up.  I did lie down and rest.  However, I awoke with a bolt of fear several times during the following two hours, each time calling, `Dad, are you there?'  And every time my father was there, still holding on the line, never leaving me alone."
                    "I continue to find that life can be scary and uncertain.  …  The lesson in faith and trust [my father] taught me on that night years ago still comforts me.  Now, when I need comfort and reassurance, I pray to my Heavenly Father, `Father, are you there?'  And I am comforted, knowing that he loves me and is still on the line, aware of my situation and `a very present help in trouble' (Ps. 46:1)."  (See Stacey Child Weeks, "Dad, Are You There?" Ensign, June 1996, 53.)

                    Stacey's communication with her earthly father is very much like that which we can have with our Heavenly Father.  He is always there and ready to help.  When we are all alone with no one to call, we can always pray and be assured that God hears our pleas!

Elder Richard G. Scott taught, "Talk to your Father in Heaven.  He hears every prayer and answers it in His way.  When we explain a problem and a proposed solution, sometimes He answers yes, sometimes no.  Often He withholds an answer, not for lack of concern, but because He loves us - perfectly.  He wants us to apply truths He has given us.  For us to grow, we need to trust our ability to make correct decisions.  We need to do what we feel is right.  In time, He will answer.  He will not fail us."  (See Ensign, Nov. 1989, 31.)

Heavenly Father has answered many of my prayers.  Sometimes the answer is "yes," sometimes the answer is "no," and sometimes the answer is "not yet."  Sometimes I am not sure what the answer is except the sure knowledge that my Heavenly Father loves me.  The language of prayer is individual because God answers our prayers in a way personal to each of us. 

My husband and I recently made a trip to Utah to help his sister who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  I wanted to include a visit with two daughters in another part of the country, but I never received a "yes" answer.  I was disappointed that I could not visit all of my children that live out of Alaska in one trip, but I knew that the Lord knew the situation much better than I did.  I put my trust in Him and bought the tickets.  As it turned out, my sister-in-law needed us to be in Utah for the entire length of time as the business we were doing was completed one day previous to our return to Alaska.  Because I was able to tap into the knowledge of God, my husband and I were able to successfully serve his sister in the ways that she needed.

                    President Spencer W. Kimball said, "God does notice us, and he watches over us.  But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs."  (See "Small Acts of Service," Ensign, Dec. 1974, 5.)

                    We must be willing to do more than ask Heavenly Father to bless others because He often answers prayers in behalf of others by inspiring us to serve.  When we feel a prompting to help someone, we should be willing to follow it.  I felt strongly that my husband and I needed to go to Utah to help his sister even though I didn't have any idea what she needed us to do.  I know that we were a blessing in her life whether or not she was asking for one.     I am very grateful that I have established a regular pattern of personal prayer, and I encourage you to do the same.  There is great power in personal prayer!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Relief Society

                    Families are strengthened when the adult female members of the family are active in Relief Society.  Attendance at Relief Society helps women to know and understand their duties and responsibilities in strengthening homes and families.  Relief Society is an organization for women that was inspired by God and was organized after the pattern of the priesthood.

                    Nearly seventeen years ago at the annual general Relief Society meeting, President Gordon B. Hinckley told the sisters, "You are the guardians of the hearth," and then he introduced "The Family:  A Proclamation to the World."

                    President Hinckley continued, "You are the bearers of the children.  You are they who nurture them and establish within them the habits of their lives.  No other work reaches so close to divinity as does the nurturing of the sons and daughters of God."

                    This proclamation has been reinforcing since 1995 the principle that our most important duties are centered in strengthening families and homes.  It doesn't matter what other circumstances we have, our responsibility is to strengthen homes and families.  I remember being in that Relief Society meeting and hearing the proclamation for the very first time.  I was amazed at the width and the breadth of the information contained in it.  I was grateful to belong to a church that was - and is - led by Apostles and Prophets under the direction of Jesus Christ.

                    Sister Barbara Thompson, now the second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency was in the tabernacle for the historic event.  She remembers, "That was a great occasion.  I felt the significance of the message.  I also found myself thinking, `This is a great guide for parents.  It is also a big responsibility for parents.'  I thought for a moment that it really didn't pertain too much to me since I wasn't married and didn't have any children.  But almost as quickly I thought, `But it does pertain to me.  I am a member of a family.  I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a niece, and a granddaughter.  I do have responsibilities - and blessings - because I am a member of a family.  Even if I were the only living member of my family, I am still a member of God's family, and I have a responsibility to help strengthen other families.'"

                    Yes, we are each responsible to strengthen homes and families, but we are not alone in our efforts.  Sister Thompson reminds each of us, "The greatest help we will have in strengthening families is to know and follow the doctrines of Christ and rely on Him to help us."

                    Relief Society sisters have been instrumental in strengthening homes and families for many years.  Sister Bathsheba W. Smith served as the fourth Relief Society general president [from 1901 to 1910], and she saw the need then to strengthen families.  She established mother education lessons for Relief Society sisters and included in those lessons counsel on marriage, prenatal care, and child rearing.

                    In fact, we can see that those lessons supported the teachings of President Joseph F. Smith about the Relief Society helping women in their roles at home:  "Wherever there is ignorance or at least a lack of understanding in regard to the family, duties of the family, with regard to obligations that should exist and that do rightfully exist between husband and wife and between parents and children, there this organization [Relief Society] exists or is near at hand, and by the natural endowments and inspiration that belongs to the organization they are prepared and ready to impart instruction with reference to those important duties."

                    I remember attending mother education lessons as a mother of very young children and gaining much knowledge and hearing much wisdom from other mothers who had more experience than I did.  I am grateful for those lessons and the great assistance they gave to me in strengthening my home and teaching my children.

                    I have a great testimony of the Relief Society and the important role it plays in our lives.  I am also very grateful for this great organization and the way it has strengthened me and my family for many years.  My mother and grandmothers were members of Relief Society as are my sisters and daughters; I am hopeful that my granddaughters and great-granddaughters will continue this great heritage.  I know it is an inspired program to help women strengthen home and families.  I am grateful that our Heavenly Father loves all of His daughters so much that He gave us our own organization to bless our lives and to strengthen others.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Balanced Center

                    The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is why our government must maintain a balanced center.  The Founders understood well that the government of their new nation needed to be firmly in the center of the political spectrum, neither moving to the left and tyranny nor to the right and anarchy.

                    James Madison described the duties of the central and state governments:  "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.  Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite….  The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State."

                    W. Cleon Skousen explained why the Founders wanted to keep the "American eagle" sitting firmly in the center of the political spectrum.  He said that the "fixing of the American eagle in the center of the spectrum was designed to maintain this political equilibrium between the people in the state and the federal government.  The idea was to keep the power base close to the people.  The emphasis was on strong local self-government.  The states would be responsible for internal affairs and the federal government would confine itself to those areas which could not be fairly or effectively handled by the individual states." 

                    Skousen included a wonderful picture with the "American eagle" in the center of the Founders' "yardstick" marked with tyranny on one end and anarchy on the other.  He explained that other men advocated for a separation of the functions of government into three departments - legislative, executive, and judicial, but the Founders were the first to build a government that might be considered to be a three-headed eagle, with each head representing a department.  Here he included another great picture of an eagle with three heads - one head facing left, one head facing forward, and one head facing right.

                    Skousen explained that the central head represents the legislative branch and has two eyes representing the fact that the House of Representatives and the Senate must work together and see eye-to-eye.  A second head represents the executive branch and its authority centered in a single, strong President.  The third head represents the judicial branch with the responsibility to guard the Constitution and interpret its principles.

                    "The genius of this three-headed eagle was not only the separation of powers but the fact that all three heads operated through a single neck.  By this means the Founders carefully integrated these three departments so that each one was coordinated with the others and could not perform independently of them.  It was an ingeniously structured pattern of political power which might be described as `coordination without consolidation.'"

                    Skousen continued with his description of the Founders' new government by using the symbol of an eagle.  He indicated that the eagle's two wings are to be used together in order to keep the eagle flying straight.  One wing "might be referred to as the problem-solving wing or the wing of compassion.  Those who function through this dimension of the system are sensitive to the unfulfilled needs of the people.  They dream of elaborate plans to solve these problems."

                    The second wing "has the responsibility of conserving the nation's resources and the people's freedom.  Its function is to analyze the programs of wing #1 with two questions.  First, can we afford it?  Secondly, what will it do to the rights and individual freedom of the people."

                    I think that you can agree with me that the American eagle is no longer flying straight.  The head representing the executive branch has grown too heavy with usurped responsibilities, such as the President issuing Executive Orders, making "recess" appointments when Congress is not in recess, and even refusing to answer a subpoena to appear in a court hearing in Georgia over his eligibility to appear on the state's ballot.  Our current President has actually asked the Legislature to give him more authority!  The Legislature is not functioning properly as shown in their failure to pass a budget for over 1000 days; the two Houses are definitely not working together or seeing "eye-to-eye" as they argue over everything and complete few issues of the peoples' business, becoming the least effective legislature in history.  The Judiciary continues to legislate from the bench instead of just guarding and protecting the Constitution.  The compassionate wing has pulled some of the feathers out of the conservation wing and caused our nation to go deeply into debt as well as destroy some freedoms of the people.  Our American eagle is definitely not flying straight!

The Founders clearly outlined the responsibilities and powers of each part of the government when they framed the Constitution; if the government was working properly the American eagle would be flying straight and strong.  It is way past time to move the balance of power in the government back to the center.  We need to elect more representatives who are constitutionalists and will obey the law of the land.  The most important thing we can do is retire the current occupant of the Oval Office and replace him with a constitution-loving American!

Many of the ideas and quotes for this article are from Skousen's The Five Thousand Year Leap - 28 Great Ideas That Changed the World, pp. 22-24.  Do you own a copy of this book yet?  I recommend that you obtain one as soon as possible and that you study it until you thoroughly understand it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Florence Kling Harding

                    First Lady Florence Harding was born Florence Mabel Kling on August 15, 1860, in Marion, Ohio, and given the nickname of Flossie.  Her parents were Amos King (June 15, 1833) and Louisa Mabel Hanford Bouton (September 2, 1835-June 23, 1893).  Her father married a second time in July 1907 to Caroline Beatty Denman (1858-1925).  She was the oldest of three children; her brothers were Clifford Bouton (October 13, 1861-July 11, 1937) and Vetallis Hanford (November 7, 1866-July 1, 1938).

                    Florence'sancestry was German, French, and English.  Her French Huguenot ancestors migrated to England in order to escape religious persecution.  Her maternal English ancestors came from the Hanford clan and were among the colonial founders of Canaan, Connecticut.  Her grandmother Elizabeth Vetallis was probably a Catholic from southern France.  Some residents from Marion, Ohio, claimed in 1920 that her paternal grandfather was Jewish and originated from Wurttemberg, Germany; his people were German in origin, but there is no documentation about their religion.  

                    Amos Kling owned a hardware store, banker, and local investor as well as owning and developing real estate.  There was claim that he was the "richest man in a small town," and Florence "grew up in a setting of wealth, position, and privilege."  One of those privileges was a music course at the Cincinnati Conservatory that completed her education.  She was very much like her "strong-will father in temperament" and became self-reliance, a rarity for girls at that time.  

                    Florence was pregnant when she eloped at age 19 with Henry "Pete" Atherton DeWolfe in 1880, her childhood friend and neighbor.  There is apparently no official record or legal marriage license for the couple; therefore, they might have just had a common law marriage.  At any rate, DeWolfe was a spendthrift and heavy drinker, and the couple separated soon after the birth of their son, Marshall Eugene DeWolfe (also known as Marshall Eugene Kling) in 1880.  There is apparently a record that she obtained a divorce in 1886 and resumed her maiden name.

                    Florence returned to Marion with her infant son, but she refused to live with her parents.  She rented rooms and earned her money by giving piano lessons to children in the neighborhood.  She eventually allowed her parents to raise her son.

                    Warren G. Harding was the publisher of the Daily Star, the only newspaper in MarionWarren and Florence began courting soon after they met in 1890 and were soon engaged.  Florence's father did not approve of the match; he accosted Warren in the street, called him names, and threatened his life if he did not leave Florence alone.

Warren was 25 and Florence was 30 when they married on July 8, 1891 in his home in Marion, Ohio, a house designed and built by WarrenWarren called his wife "Duchess," and Florence called her husband "Wur'n" as she pronounced it.  They did not have any children together, but Marshall, Florence's son, lived with them sometimes.  He worshipped his stepfather and wanted to follow in his steps in the newspaper business.  

The marriage was not a happy one because Harding neglected his wife; he sought refuge from her strong personality with his friends and with other women.  The marriage was apparently a success as a business because Florence used her "dominating personality" and "great ambitions for her husband" (George H. Mayer, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 9, p. 58) to make him successful. 

Florence used her "martial demeanor" and "managerial skills" to make his newspaper a financial success.  She took over and ran the Star's circulation department for 14 years and made sure that the paper was efficiently distributed and subscriptions were paid.  She also worked hard to help him become politically successful, and the newspaper prospered as his political success increased.  She was a tireless worker for his election after he was nominated for President in 1920.  She said once, "I have only one real hobby - my husband."  Norman Thomas, one of her newsboys, recalled that "Mrs. Harding in those days ran the show.  Her husband was the front; it was she who was the real driving power in the success …."  

Mrs. Harding had never been to the White House prior to the election of her husband.  After meeting with President-elect and Mrs. Harding to discuss the social customs and the value of ceremony in the White House, former President Taft wrote to his wife Helen that the new First Lady was "a nice woman" and would "readily adapt herself."  This proved to be very true because Mrs. Harding hosted elegant garden parties and readily mixed with guests as the First Lady. She opened the mansion and the grounds again as they had been closed due to President Wilson's long illness.  She energetically performed her duties as First Lady even though she suffered from a chronic kidney ailment.  The Hardings had a crowded social calendar, but Mrs. Harding still found time to host garden parties regularly for veterans.  Even though the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution made liquor illegal, President and Mrs. Harding had fun poker parties in the White House library.

Florence was outspoken with her political views, particularly against the League of Nations and for women's suffrage.  She was very involved in her husband's life and possibly helped to write his inaugural speech because she mouthed some of the words and passages.  She reportedly said to her husband upon their arrival at the White House, "Well, Warren Harding, I got you the Presidency.  Now what are you going to do?"

The Harding campaign had taken place from the front porch of their home; therefore, Florence was able to carve out a dual public role as traditional housekeeper and modern activist.  After the election, she "continued to strike a duality as a modernist and traditionalist. She was one of the earliest First Ladies to feel that the citizenry were her constituency and her role entailed more than hostess in the White House.  `I feel that there is a great duty and responsibility which I must live up to,' she explained."

Florence Harding was "`particularly anxious… to help the women of the country to understand their government…  I want representative women to meet their Chief Executive and to understand the policies of the present administration.'  She invited not only women's political groups but also women federal workers, girls graduating from high school, college girls, and even African-American girls from local Dunbar High School.  She broke an unwritten social code and invited divorced women to social events.  While she did not publicly address the issue of birth control, she refused to condemn the movement for it when pressed by a reporter. Believing firmly in the necessity of physical exercise for women, she hosted a women's tennis exhibition game on the White House courts.  To the Camp Fire Girls, she wrote:  `The part that women play in the world has been greatly changed … It has broadened and enlarged and we will all be wise to recognize that a larger consideration for the health and physical advancement of the girls will better fit them for the role they must assume.'  Her message to the Girl Scouts was almost militaristic:  `Let us, as in the past, persist in overcoming all obstacles.  No matter what the sacrifice may be we must proceed with the great upbuilding work….'" 

Mrs. Harding was interested in astrology and visited Madam Marcia, a noted clairvoyant in Washington in early 1920 - while Warren was a still long shot to win the election.  The Madam predicted that Warren would be elected President and that he would die suddenly while in office.

Florence enjoyed traveling with her husband.  She was with him when he made his nationwide "Voyage of Understanding" during the summer of 1923.  She was by his side when he suddenly became sick and died in San Francisco, California, on August 2, 1923.  His death came before the major scandals in his administration became known by the public.  She showed "astonishing fortitude" as she accompanied the body of her husband on the long train ride back to Washington as well as enduring the state funeral at the Capitol and the last service and burial at Marion.  She also destroyed many documents in an effort to protect the image of her husband.

Mrs. Harding planned to remain in Washington, D.C. to make a new life for herself there as well as to travel in Europe;  however, her kidney ailment flared up again.  Her friend and former Surgeon General, Dr. Charles E. Sawyer, insisted that she go back to Marion for treatment and recovery.  She died in Marion of renal failure on November 21, 1924, less than sixteen months after the death of her husband, and was buried next to him.  "The Harding Memorial in Marion, Ohio, is considered by many historians to be the most beautiful of Presidential Tombsin the United States." 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Truth Strengthens Freedom

                    We are currently in the midst of the 2012 election and often hear one politician call another one a liar.  How are we to know if anyone is actually lying?  What difference does it make if any or all of our politicians lie to us?  Does it matter if we know what is true?

                    Jesus Christ taught, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).  How can knowing the truth make us free?  It may be helpful to ask the opposite question - how can untruths or half-truths bring us into captivity?

                    I recently purchased a book by Andy Andrews entitled How Do You Kill 11 Million People? - Why the Truth Matters More Than You Think.  It is a quick read - maybe 15 minutes - with less than 80 pages to the book, but it packs a world of information.

                    In a nation that is very divided - Republicans versus Democrats, the Romney camp versus the Gingrich camp, the haves and the have nots, the racial divide - is it possible to find common ground with each other even though we disagree on some subjects?  We all want a better nation where our posterity will be safe, secure, and prosperous.  Can we work together to obtain this future?

Andrews asked himself similar questions and then answered them in this book.  In his study of history, he "uncovered an odd paradox that exists in our minds about time gone by.  It is a difference most people don't discern between history and the past.  Simply stated, the past is what is real and true, while history is merely what someone recorded" (7).  When we realize that "history" was usually written by the conquerors, we can better understand how information could be spun to mean something completely different than what actually happened.  Is it important to know the truth of the past?  Does the truth even matter?  The information in How Do You Kill 11 Million People? answers this question very well.

"How do you kill eleven million people?
"Eleven million.  The number is so large when the word people is attached to it that it becomes almost impossible to take seriously.
"`Why eleven million?' you ask.  `What is the significance of that number?'
"It is true:  there is no singular significance in that number.  And the actual number is 11,283,000 - the number of people recorded who were killed by Adolf Hitler between the years 1933 and 1945.  Incidentally, that particular figure only represents institutionalized killing.  It does not include the 5,200,000 German civilians and military war dead.  Neither does it include the
28,736,000 Europeans killed during World War II as a result of Hitler's aggressive governmental policies" (13-15).

                    Andrews then listed the numbers killed by other governments during the past 100 years:  3,000,000 Cambodians between 1975 and 1979; 61,911,000 people in the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1987; 2,000,000 in Turkey during World War I;
3,000,000 in North Korea, and more than a million each in Mexico, Pakistan, and the Baltic States.

                    Andrews decided to concentrate on the "eleven million human beings exterminated by the Nazi regime" because "one particular part of the story remains quietly hidden…" (16).   He considered the actual method of killing to be unimportant because we know the tools that were used to commit mass murder.  We also understand that some people do really crazy and evil things.  "History has provided ample documentation of the damage done to societies by megalomaniacal psychopaths or sociopaths."  Then he asked the really important question:  Why did 11,000,000 people "allow themselves to be killed"? (19). 
                    "The answer is breathtakingly simple.  And it is a method still being used by some elected leaders to achieve various goals today.  How do you kill eleven million people?  Lie to them" (20).

                    Andrew quoted Hitler as telling his inner circle:  "How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.  Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it."  He also quoted Hitler's autobiography entitled Mien Kampf where he wrote:  "The great masses of the people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than a small one."

                    The German people saw what was happening.  They even heard the Jews crying out from the trains.  They chose to ignore the truth of the situation and believe the lies told by the government officials.  Millions of people died because of their choice.

                    Can the atrocities of Nazi Germany and the other killing governments happen here in the United States?  Yes, it can.  Will it happen?  That depends on the people of our nation and the choices we make.  Are we going to continue to listen to the lies that politicians tell us or are we going to demand the truth?  The truth will set us free only if we know it and act upon our knowledge.  We must become involved in the political process.  We must educate ourselves, listen to the words of the politicians, compare their words to their actions, look at their history, and vote responsibly.

                    For a good example of how our leaders are being less than truthful to us, check out this article.