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, March 31, 2014

President, Pope, and Prophet

                Barack Obama stopped in Rome to visit with Pope Frances at the Vatican last Thursday.  Since his own influence is slowly declining, Mr. Obama apparently sought the visit in order to have some of the popularity and coolness of the Pope rub off on him.  Only time will tell if the visit helps him.  The New York Times reported that the two powerful men “skirted social issues” particularly the ones that cause tension between them such as religious liberty and right to life.  Instead, they visited for about an hour about “income inequality, the conflict raging in Syria, the persecution of Christians around the world and the elusiveness of global peace.”

                There is another man in the world, one who is even more powerful than the Pope and Mr. Obama together; he is the prophet of God.   Thomas S. Monson is the current prophet of the Lord on the earth today, and he acts and speaks in the name of God.  He does not get a lot of press, but he is also “cool” and “popular” with those who follow his counsel.  President Monson will most likely be speaking four different times in the upcoming General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, April 5-6, 2014.  You can listen to him speak at this site.  Meanwhile, consider some statements made by President Monson as quoted in Church News for the week of December 29, 2013. 

                “Though exaltation is a personal matter, and while individuals are saved not as a group but indeed as individuals, yet one cannot live in a vacuum.  Membership in the Church calls forth a determination to serve.  A position of responsibility may not be of recognized importance, nor may the reward be broadly known. Service, to be acceptable to the Savior, must come from willing minds, ready hands, and pledged hearts.

                “Occasionally discouragement may darken our pathway; frustration may be a constant companion.  In our ears there may sound the sophistry of Satan as he whispers, `You cannot save the world; your small efforts are meaningless.  You haven’t time to be concerned for others.’  Trusting in the Lord, let us turn our heads from such falsehoods and make certain our feet are firmly planted in the path of service and our hearts and souls dedicated to follow the example of the Lord.  In moments when the light of resolution dims and when the heart grows faint, we can take comfort from His promise:  `Be not weary in well-doing.  … Out of small things proceedeth that which is great’ (Doctrine and Covenants 4:33)” (See “The Path to Peace,” Ensign, May 1994, p. 62.”)  

                “There are thousands upon thousands, yes, millions upon millions of spirit children of our Heavenly Father who have lived here, who have never heard of the word `Christ,’ who have died, who have gone back to the spirit world in their state of progression and have been taught the gospel; and now they are waiting the day when you and I will do the research which is necessary to clear the way, that we might likewise go into the house of God and perform that work for them, that they, themselves, cannot perform. Are we willing to accept that challenge?  My brothers and sisters, I testify that the Lord will bless you as you do accept and respond to that challenge.”  (Delivered at the dedication of the Los Angeles Temple Genealogical Library, June 20, 1964)

                “Why are so many willing to give so much in order to receive the blessings of the temple?  Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings.  There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure.  They understand that the saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort.”  (See “The Holy Temple – A Beacon to the World,” Ensign, May 2011, p. 92.) 

               At a recent General Conference President Monson spoke about obedience.  “Throughout the ages, men and women have sought for knowledge and understanding concerning this mortal existence and their place and purpose in it, as well as for the way to peace and happiness.  Such a search is undertaken by each of us.
                “This knowledge and understanding are available to all mankind.  They are contained in truths which are eternal….
                “Some would ask, `Where is such truth to be found, and how are we to recognize it?’  In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, in May of 1833, the Lord declared:

                “`Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.  …
                “`The Spirit of truth is of God.  …
                “`And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments.              
                “`He that keepeth [God’s] commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things’ (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24, 26-28). …

                “There is no need for you or for me, in this enlightened age when the fulness of the gospel has been restored, to sail uncharted seas or to travel unmarked roads in search of truth.  A loving Heavenly Father has plotted our course and provided an unfailing guide – even obedience.  A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God.

                “We learn obedience throughout our lives.  Beginning when we are very young, those responsible for our care set forth guidelines and rules to ensure our safety.  Life would be simpler for all of us if we would obey such rules completely.  …

                “There are rules and laws to help ensure our physical safety.  Likewise, the Lord has provided guidelines and commandments to help ensure our spiritual safety so that we might successfully navigate this often-treacherous mortal existence and return eventually to our Heavenly Father.

                “Centuries ago, to a generation steeped in the tradition of animal sacrifice, Samuel boldly declared, `To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams’ (1 Samuel 15:22).  In this dispensation, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that He requires `the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days’ (Doctrine and Covenants 64:34).

                “All prophets, ancient and modern, have known that obedience is essential to our salvation.  …

                “Obedience is a hallmark of prophets; it has provided strength and knowledge to them throughout the ages.  It is essential for us to realize that we, as well, are entitled to this source of strength and knowledge.  It is readily available to each of us today as we obey God’s commandments.”  (“Obedience Brings Blessings,” Ensign, May 2013). 

                President Monson is the prophet of God for all the world at this time.  He, as well as all those who listen to him and follow his counsel, is more concerned about what happens in the next world than what happens here.  He knows that we are each put here on earth for a few years to gain bodies and to learn obedience.  He knows that the riches of eternity are available to all who are obedient to the commandments of God, and he desires all to gain those riches.  I encourage you to listen to President Monson and his associates as they speak to us during this General Conference.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Right to Keep and Bear Arms

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:  “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  This Amendment gives the American people the right to own and carry guns without inference from the government.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained, “… In the early history of the country the state militia was made up of private citizens, who usually furnished their own arms.  Thus, during the Revolutionary War, the Minutemen could be assembled on very short notice and arrayed into a formidable military force because each man had his own weapons.

                “Today the state militia is that body of citizens which, under law, can be called up by the governor or Congress to protect the rights and security of the people, or enforce the law.

                “Many Americans do not even realize that they belong to the militia of their state.  They confuse their state militia with the National Guard, which is a specialized reserve corps in each state trained at federal expense for immediate service.

                “Under Title 10, section 31 of the U.S. Code, the militia of each state includes `all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and under 45 years of age who are or have [made] a declaration of intent to become citizens.

                “If the Equal Rights Amendment had been adopted, this provision would also include all females between those ages.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 694.)

                Nelson Lund at The Heritage Foundation explained further, “Modern debates about the meaning of the Second Amendment have focused on whether it protects a right of individuals to keep and bear arms or, instead, a right of the states to maintain militia organizations like the National Guard.  This question, however, was apparently never even discussed for a long time after the Bill of Rights was framed.  The early discussions took the basic meaning of the amendment largely for granted and focused instead on whether it actually added anything significant to the original Constitution.  The debate has shifted primarily because of subsequent developments in the Constitution and in constitutional law.

                “The Founding generation mistrusted standing armies.  Many Americans believed, on the basis of English history and their colonial experience, that central governments are prone to use armies to oppress the people.  One way to reduce that danger would be to permit the government to raise armies (consisting of full-time paid troops) only when needed to fight foreign adversaries.  For other purposes, such as responding to sudden invasions or similar emergencies, the government might be restricted to using a militia, consisting of ordinary civilians who supply their own weapons and receive a bit of part-time, unpaid military training.”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 318-319.)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Son of God

                My husband and I went to see the new movie “Son of God” last week.  I noticed a few doctrinal differences but thought the movie stayed close to the Biblical account.  I appreciate the opportunity to see this movie; although I did not actually learn anything new, I gained great insight.  I was very touched by the relationship of Mary and her Son.  As a mother, I felt great empathy for her and marveled at her ability to believe in her Son even as He was suffering.  I encourage you to see the movie.

                I had a difficult time clearing my mind of the scenes depicting the events leading up to and including the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  The scenes hung in my mind long enough to be a great reminder during sacrament service the following Sunday.  I actually had an easy time keeping my mind on the Savior during the services.

                President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke about the Savior:  “Of all the children born into this world, none other has come with so rich a birthright as Jesus for He was the Only Begotten of the Eternal Father in the flesh.

                “Of all men who have walked the earth, no other has lived so perfect a life as this the man of miracles, who testified that He is `the way, the truth, and the life.’ (John 14:6.)

                “Of all the victories in human history, none is so great, none so universal in its effect, none so everlasting in its consequences as the victory of the crucified Lord, who came forth in the Resurrection that first Easter morning.

                “I have seen statues and paintings of the great men and women of history, many hundreds of them.  But great and important as are all of these heroes of the past, none can compare with the victory of the lonely, pain-wracked figure on Calvary’s cross who triumphed over death and brought the gift of eternal life to all mankind….

                “In dying, He brought about the redemption of mankind.  None can fully comprehend the extent and wonder and majesty of that sacrifice in our behalf.  Suffice it to say, He became our Redeemer.

                “His body was dressed and placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea.  The tomb was sealed, and the guards were set.  But no force beneath the heavens could now hold back the power of the Son of God.  It was as if His Almighty Father could stand no more.  The earth trembled.  The guards fled.  The stone was moved.  The Lord of heaven and earth arose from the bier, shook off the burial clothes, and stepped forth to become the first fruits of them that slept.  The empty tomb bore testimony of this greatest of all miracles.  With the appearance of the rise Lord first to Mary and then to many others, even to upwards of five hundred, came the undeniable testimony of His everlasting power over life and death.”  (See “The Son of God,” Ensign, December 1992.)

                Seeing the movie “Son of God” helped me in my preparation to celebrate Christ’s victory over death and sin.  The visuals presented in the movie take the words of the scriptures and prophets to greater depths.  I love our Savior, Jesus Christ, and am so very grateful that He loved us enough to live and die as He did that all of us might live again.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Eat Healthy Food

                We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by studying and learning about the effects of food on our health.  Common sense tells us that healthy food helps our bodies to be healthier.  Is it possible that the food we eat is causing some of the diseases that are popping up?  I think it is possible.

                I have always tried to prepare healthy foods for my family and always included the proper food groups in all their meals.  The four food groups were changed to a pyramid; then the pyramid was changed enough times that I no longer know what is recommended.  When my husband was diagnosed with diabetes several years ago, we changed our diet drastically to cut the number of carbohydrates.  Then he contracted an auto-immune disease, and I began looking for ways to change his diet even further. 

                I heard about the new “fad” of juicing but did not pay much attention to it – even when members of my family began juicing.  In fact, I did not consider juicing at all until several different people mentioned it to me during a period of just a few days.  Several of them recommended some videos about juicing and eating whole foods, and I watched the videos.  I began to wonder if juicing might solve some of my husband’s health issues and help me lose some weight. 

                I spent several months researching juicers and watched family members use their users.  I knew that juicing had to be easy or I would not do it for very long.  I also knew that I would not deal well with a mess or excessive clean up time.  I finally made my decision and purchased a juicer about ten days ago.  I started making juice for myself and am now drinking it twice a day.  At first, my husband refused to have anything to do with it.  After a few days I gave him a small amount to taste.  He drank it but complained about its look and taste.  He has never liked vegetables – calling them “rabbit food,” but I continue to feed them to him as many times each day as possible.  I put vegetables in his breakfast omelet as well as a salad for dinner.  He did not like the idea of drinking more of them.  One day he told me not to make any juice for him – so I did not.  When I poured the drink into my cup, he wanted to some. 

                My husband has not yet mentioned anything good happening to his body since we started drinking juice.  I have noticed that the juice fills me up more than the foods I ate previously.  I have also noticed a great decrease in my desire for bread.

                Since I am so very interested in healthy food, I paid particular attention when I heard a doctor explain how a change in diet helped her manage her daughter’s autism.  I quickly wrote down the web site – - for Dr. Katherine Reid, Ph.D. so I could learn more.  From her web site I linked to an article by Maria Grusauskas where I found the following information. 

                Dr. Reid is a biochemist.  When Brooke, her three-year-old daughter, was diagnosed with “moderate” autism, she began researching everything she could about the developmental disorder.  Some of the characteristics of the disorder are “communication and social impairments, seizure-like behavior, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound” – all of which Brooke suffered from. 

                According to Dr. Reid, “Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder, which means that there are so many different areas of the brain that it hits, and how it manifests itself in each child is different.”

                Dr. Reid said, “It was difficult to integrate her into any mainstream setting.  Even like going to a park, because you just didn’t know if this seizure-like behavior was going to flare up and it was really hard to explain.”  Three years later, Brooke is doing well in mainstream kindergarten.

                What made the difference?  Dr. Reid credits diet with the change.  Knowing that the food we eat has “profound effects on our brains,” Dr. Reid analyzed the food she was giving to Brooke and eventually removed all monosodium glutamate (MSG) from her diet. 

                The changes began by adding nutritional supplements such as magnesium, Vitamin D3, Omega 3 fish oil, and B-Complex vitamins.  With these additions, Dr. Reid “observed eye contact coming back, and minor improvements, but still autistic, still special needs, not functioning very well in the mainstream environment.”

                The next step was to follow a practice among parents of autistic children:  remove all gluten and casein, a milk protein added to many foods.  Again there were slight improvements.

                Dr. Reid read in a blog that she needed to be careful with MSG and found it in many foods.  “I was shocked.  It’s all over the place in our foods, and it’s not being labeled as monosodium glutamate; it’s being labeled as almost healthy things, as natural flavors, for instance.  So you can have a food labeled 100% organic, all natural, no MSG added and still, that food item contains a significant amount of MSG.”

                Ms. Grusauskas explained that it is “the `free glutamate’ in MSG, produced when gluten, casein and other proteins are processed, that are slipping into almost every processed food out there, including juices, flavored teas, and even toothpaste.  It appears in `natural foods’ as protein powders, yeast extract, hydrolyzed proteins, extracted proteins and other forms, and it’s added not as a preservative, says Reid, but to make us think that food tastes better.”

                Dr. Reid stated, “It actually doesn’t have any taste in and of itself, but it’s a chemical that’s causing a brain reaction that’s making us think it tastes good.  It’s binding to the glutamate receptor, and it’s exciting our neurons.”

                Since the autistic brain is “already hyper-stimulated,” the MSG wreaks “havoc”.  “Once we became aware of the marketing gimmick going on here and the disguise, and removing it really ended up removing a lot of processed foods, she was a new kid.”

                Dr. Reid feeds Brooke a diet “made up of primarily fruits, vegetables, organic meats, and raw nuts and seeds.”  The change in Brooke’s diet “reduced the noise, the light was no longer an issue, any room sound hat was going on didn’t bother her, and she was able to absorb like a sponge.”

                Ms. Grusauskas finds it “interesting” that “pharmaceutical drugs currently in clinical trial for treating autism and other brain disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease, block the glutamate receptors in the brain.”

                My nephew has a son who is autistic so I know a little of the stress in such families.  John is now an adult and living in a group home.  I do not know if he is considered “moderate” or “severe,” but knowing him and his struggles has made me acutely aware of autism.  Since he was diagnosed approximately twenty years ago, I have wondered much about autism.  One of the things I have questioned is why so many more children seem to get it now.  Dr. Reid’s experience presents other questions, such as can we help John by changing his diet even though he is now an adult? 

                Statistics about the prevalence of autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control are as follow:   1) About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); 2) ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups; 3) ASD is almost 5 times more common among boy (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189); 4) Studies in Asia, Europe, and Nor America have identified individuals with ASD with an average prevalence of about 1%.  A study in South Korea reported a prevalence of 2.6%; 5) About 1 in 6 children in the United States had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism.

                News articles today report that Dr. Reid’s research and experience may answer one or more of my questions:  The prevalence of autism could be caused by what we are feeding ourselves and our children.  Now I wonder how many other diseases are being caused by the food we eat.  It is so much easier – and usually cheaper - to buy processed foods than to purchase fresh produce and prepare our own food.  We must lessen or stop the use of processed foods and feed our families more healthy food – fruits, vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, organic meat, etc.  I know that all of us can be healthier and thus stronger by eating healthy food; when we are healthy and strong, we can strengthen our families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Freedom of Religion

                Freedom of Religion is one of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; it is also included in the laws of other nations.  Most Americans are aware of the guarantee, but many do not understand what it means or why freedom of religion is important.  Freedom of religion is now being threatened on many sides but especially by the current American leaders.

       has numerous articles about freedom of religion.  One such article is entitled “What Religious Freedom Means.”  The article is very interesting and helpful in defining religious freedom.  I learned some things about freedom of religion from it; I particularly appreciate the following statement.

                “Studies do suggest that most Americans grasp the basic concept.  For the average citizen, religious freedom is the right enjoyed by many in the free world to believe the things about God and about moral truth that they choose to believe, as well as the right to honor those beliefs in worship, if they want to.  Intuitively, this makes sense.  It would not be right for someone to be coerced in matters of religious belief or morality, or prohibited from worshipping according to their conscience.

                “But while these private and inward activities are vital parts of religious freedom, they do not encompass the whole of it.  Religious freedom is actually much broader and deeper than this description suggests.  More fundamentally, religious freedom – akin to `freedom of conscience’ – is the human right to think and believe and also to express and act upon what one deeply believes according to the dictates of his or her moral conscience.  This freedom applies to those who adhere to religious beliefs and those who do not.

                “The full picture of religious freedom reveals a deep liberty that goes much further than the right to believe as one chooses and that extends well beyond the right to private devotion in one’s place of worship or home.  Indeed, religious freedom is not merely interior and private, to be enjoyed internally in our minds and in the privacy of personal life.  It also incorporates the right to act according to one’s moral beliefs and convictions.  And more than the freedom to worship privately, it is the right to live one’s faith freely and in public.

                “Beliefs lead to actions, and freedom to believe, without the ability to act on that belief within the bounds of law, is no freedom at all.  Most will agree that moral and religious beliefs don’t mean much if they don’t influence the way we live.  In other words, we expect religious beliefs to influence the way that people behave, how they raise families and how they treat others  And indeed, religious freedom protects the right of individuals to act in line with their religious beliefs and moral convictions.  Religious freedom does not merely enable us to contemplate our convictions; it enables us to execute them.

                “Because of this, religion cannot be confined to the sphere of private life.  Certainly religious freedom protects the rights of individuals to observe their religion within the walls of private spaces.  But religious and moral speech is also protected in the free air of the public domain.  Whether in the town hall, in the newspaper column, on the Internet or elsewhere in the public sphere, people with moral convictions are entitled by their religious freedom to share those convictions, to reason and persuade, and to advocate their vision for society.”

                Freedom of religion guarantees our freedom of conscience and our private beliefs; it also guarantees our right to discuss and act upon our beliefs openly.  Like our other freedoms, our religious freedom ends where another person’s starts.  We have the right to discuss our religious beliefs, but other people have the right to decline hearing them.

                Religious freedom was right in the forefront of the thoughts of millions of Americans this week as the Justices at the U.S.Supreme Court   heard arguments on Tuesday for and against a controversial Obamacare rule.  Lawyers for Hobby Lobby (owned by the Green family) and Conestoga Wood Specialties (owned by the Hahn family) argued that a provision in Obamacare would force them to cover abortion-inducing drugs in the employee health plans of their employees.  Members of these two families object to this demand based on their constitutionally protected religious beliefs.  The health care mandate would force religious employers to act against their religious “beliefs or pay fines as high as $100 per employee per day.”

                Adele Keim, a lawyer with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, witnessed the court proceedings as part of the legal team of Hobby Lobby and spoke about the two cases later at The Heritage Foundation.  “The clients were front and center, and the sincerity of their religious beliefs.  To them, the mandate is tantamount to providing abortions.”

                Greg Scott, spokesman for Alliance Defending Freedom that represents Conestoga Wood, added, “We agree bosses shouldn’t be involved in women’s health care decisions – so stop using the government to get them involved.”

                The two cases presented to the Supreme Court have been widely mischaracterized to be limiting the freedom of women to buy birth control.  This is untrue.  The cases are challenging the government’s right and power to force Americans – individuals or groups of individuals called corporations – to violate their religious beliefs.  The Green family and the Hahn family are willing to provide birth control to their employees, but they are fighting against being forced to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.  They are willing to pay for sixteen out of twenty forms of mandated drugs.  The Justices at the Supreme Court will most likely issue their decision before June.

                The Obama administration believes Americans have religious freedom in our homes and in our churches; however, once Americans enter public life – in their businesses, etc. – we lose our religious freedom.  For me and for many Americans, religion is front and center in our lives every hour of every day of every week.  Because freedom of religion is so very important to us, we all need to fight to retain it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Alaskan Earthquake

                Alaska is currently commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 earthquake  that struck at 5:36 p.m. on Good Friday, March 27, 1964.  It was a “mega thrust earthquake” that lasted for nearly three minutes.  It caused ground fissures, collapsing structures, and tsunamis across south-central Alaska; it also caused approximately 139 deaths.  It was the “most powerful recorded earthquake in U.S. and North American history, and the second most powerful ever measured by seismograph” and had “a moment magnitude of 9.2, making it the second largest earthquake in recorded history – the largest being the 1960 Valdivia earthquake in Chile.  It is known by various names:  1964 Alaskan Earthquake, the Great Alaskan Earthquake, the Portage Earthquake, and the Good Friday Earthquake.”

                Most of the soil in Anchorage and Alaska tends to liquefy during earthquakes, but this liquefaction mainly caused problems along the coasts where the liquid mud could spill into the ocean.  Several communities suffered much damage to property as well as landslides.  “Anchorage sustained great destruction or damage to many inadequately earthquake engineered houses, buildings, and infrastructure (paved streets, sidewalks, water and sewer mains, electrical systems, and other man-made equipment), particularly in the several landslide zones along Knik Arm.  Two hundred miles southwest, some areas near Kodiak were permanently raised by 30 feet (9.1 m).  Southeast of Anchorage, areas around the head of Turnagain Arm near Girdwood and Portage dropped as much as 8 feet (2.4 m), requiring reconstruction and fill to raise the Seward Highway above the new high tide mark.

                “In Prince William Sound, Port Valdez suffered a massive underwater landslide, resulting in the deaths of 30 people between the collapse of the Valdez City harbor and docks and inside the ship that was docked there at the time.  Nearby, a 27-foot (8.2 m) tsunami destroyed the village of Chenega, killing 23 of the 68 people who lived there; survivors out-ran the wave, climbing to high ground.  Post-quake tsunamis severely affected Whittier, Seward, Kodiak, and other Alaskan communities, as well as people and property in British Columbia, Oregon, and California.  Tsunamis also caused damage in Hawaii and Japan.  Evidence of motion directly related to the earthquake was reported from all over the earth.”

                There were about 139 people who died as a result of the earthquake and its after effects although only 15 died from the earthquake itself.  The resulting tsunami took 106 lives in Alaska, 5 in Oregon, and 13 in California.  Property damage from the earthquake has been estimated to be approximately $311 million or $2.28 billion in today’s dollars.

                The epicenter of the earthquake was 75 miles (120 km) southeast of Anchorage.  The tsunami did not hit Anchorage, but the downtown area of the city suffered heavy damage from the quake.  The Turnagain neighborhood suffered severe damage.  It is located on the sandy bluffs overlooking the “Bootlegger Cove” near Cook Inlet.  The clay soil in this area became liquefied, similar to melting Jell-O, and destroyed 75 houses; at least two houses slid toward the water.  One family lost two children in this area:  one child was lost when the ground opened up and closed again and the other was taken by the mudslide.  The area that was destroyed is now Earthquake Park.

                The Government Hill also suffered a landslide; this landslide caused the Government Hill School to break into two jagged, broken pieces.  Downtown Anchorage lost many acres of buildings and city blocks when the land overlooking the Ship Creek valley (near where the Alaska Railroad yards are located) slid down the hill.  There was moderate damage in most other areas of the city.  One person was killed when the 60-foot tall concrete control tower at the Anchorage International Airport collapsed.

                Girdwood and Portage are located about 30 and 40 miles (60 km) southeast of central Anchorage on the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet.  Both communities were destroyed; Portage was abandoned but Girdwood was moved away from the water and is home of Alyeska Ski Resort.  About twenty miles of the Seward Highway sank below the high water mark.  The highway and several bridges were raised and rebuilt in 1964-66.

                The seismic activity of the earthquake, tsunamis and/or fires heavily damaged most of the coastal towns located in the Prince William Sound or on the Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak Island.  The ports of Seward, Whittier and Kodiak were heavily damaged.  Valdez, not totally destroyed, moved to higher ground three years after the earthquake; it is now located about four miles west of its original site.  Native villages, including Chenega and Afognak, were destroyed or damaged.

                Prince Rupert, British Columbia, located south of the Alaska Panhandle, was hit by a 4.5 foot wave about three hours after the earthquake.  This tsunami then hit Tofino on Vancouver Island and went up a fjord to hit Port Albern – not once but twice; the water washed away 55 homes and damaged 375 more.  Other Canadian downs receiving damage were Hot Springs Cove, Zeballos, and Amai. 

                The tsunami also hit the Oregon and California coasts as well as other towns along the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.  Boats were damaged in Los Angeles and tide gauges in Freeport, Texas, recorded waves similar to seismic surface waves.

                Thousands of aftershocks continued for approximately three weeks after the huge quake with eleven recorded on the first day with a magnitude greater than 6.2.  There were nine more aftershocks over the next three weeks.

                My family did not move to Alaska until 1973.  By that time most of the damage had been repaired and the only signs of the monster quake were Earthquake Park in Anchorage and water surrounding parts of buildings where Portage once stood.  I have many friends who were here during the earthquake who share their experiences with me.  It was by all reports a terrible experience!

                Alaska continues to experience many earthquakes.  In fact, we may experience four out of every five earthquakes in the nation!  Most of the buildings erected since 1964 have been built to earthquake standards.  Some of the original owners of land in the Turnagain area of Anchorage have petitioned the city for their property in order to rebuild in the area.  Many people who are purchasing already-built homes or building new homes have the soil in the area tested.  My home is located closer to the mountain on land filled with rocks.  I am hoping that my land will not liquefy in an earthquake, but I do have earthquake insurance - grandfathered in since it is impossible to purchase now. 

                The mudslides in Washington have made me realize more fully what it must have been like for the people here.  I cannot even imagine seeing a loved one simply disappear in a hole in the ground or washed away in a great wall of water.  I do not know how anyone could fully recover from such an experience, and my heart goes out to all who lost loved ones or experienced trauma.  Even though I did not share the experience or lose loved ones, I am very much a part of the community as we commemorate this devastating event.  Many of us are remembering the 1964 Good Friday earthquake by re-evaluating our personal preparations to survive the next big one.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fairness and Equality

                Do you understand why we hear so much about fairness and equality these days?  It seems that every time Barack Obama opens his mouth he is spouting something or other about one or both of these words!

                Rabbi Daniel Lapin, American Alliance of Jews and Christians, was a guest on the Glenn Beck Program last week.  While speaking with Stu Burguiere, guest host, Rabbi Lapin explained that these two words are often used by those “seeking to increase tyranny and totalitarianism….  For those seeking to increase tyranny and totalitarianism, fairness and equality is a great thing to work people up about, because you essentially get a population – particularly a docile population – to agree to almost anything in the name of equality and fairness.”  The Rabbi further explained that freedom is being eroded by those using these two words.

                Think about it.  How did Barack Obama get elected the first time?  He had no experience as a leader; he had not served even one full term in the U.S. Senate.  Yet he was elected.  How was he elected to a second term with his terrible record?  Why did people vote for him?  Mitt Romney said it exactly right.  Mr. Obama was re-elected because he promised to be Santa Clause and give people what they wanted.   He was elected because he promised the “have nots” that the wealth of the “haves” would be redistributed to them in the name of “fairness and equality.”  Every speech he has presented, every executive order he has written, every news conference he has given – every time he speaks or takes any official action he does it in the name of “fairness and equality.”

                Mr. Obama is not the only one using “fairness and equality” – sometimes known as “social justice” – to get elected.  All Democrats use one or more of these terms whenever they open their mouths.  We need to understand – and remember – that anyone who spouts “fairness and equality” or “social justice” is seeking to increase tyranny and totalitarianism and vote for their opponent!  If we are to protect our liberty from further erosion and maybe restore some of our freedoms, we must learn to recognize the enemies of our Republic.  Tyranny and totalitarianism have no place in our democratic Republic.  The U.S. Constitution was written and ratified to safeguard all Americans – and all people – from tyranny and totalitarianism.  The progressives who use these terms are simply working towards moving our government closer to socialism and communism.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Scott Walker

                Scott Walker is a hero to me, and he is my choice for the next President of the United States.  Walker is a Republican; he first ran for a political office when he was 22 years old and is the current Governor of Wisconsin.  Since he was sworn into office on January 3, 2011, he has made a tremendous difference in Wisconsin.

                Soon after being sworn into office, Walker introduced a plan to repair the state budget by modifying collective bargaining rights for most of the state employees; his plan cut more than $1 billion from the state’s biennial education budget and $500 million from the state’s biennial Medicaid budget.  As you probably remember, there were big protests at the state capitol building and a recall effort for the governor.    In June 2012, Walker faced off again with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in a recall election – and defeated him for a second time.  Walker received more than 53% of the vote – a larger margin than the first election - and is the first and only governor in the United States to win a gubernatorial recall election.

                Last week Walker made an announcement that “should have caused a political earthquake” according Rush Limbaugh; however, the news was not widely reported.  The news should have been shouted from the roof tops because Governor Walker found the way to solve the problems in our national economy.  Governor Walker’s announcement claimed that unemployment in his state had dropped so far that he could cut income and property taxes and returns the state budget surplus to the taxpayers – the people who earned the money in the first place.

                Limbaugh claimed that the situation in Wisconsin is a lesson for conservatives around the nation:  conservative principles can work.  “For us as conservatives, Wisconsin and Governor Walker, everything that we want to happen happened here.  We want somebody who believes in conservatism and can articulate it, who gets elected on that basis and then implements it.
                “Everything that we are demanding as voters, everything that you demand as tea party members are demanding, Scott Walker did!”

                Not only did he do it, but he did it with great opposition by “the strongest union protests in the country this century.”  The media was all over the story while the union members were protesting by the thousands; now they refuse to report Governor Walker’s successes.  I encourage you to listen to Limbaugh’s explanation of what happened in Wisconsin.  

                In spite of all of his successes, Governor Walker is still facing protests.  An atheist group requested that he remove a Bible verse from his official Facebook and Twitter accounts.  All the Governor put on his accounts on March 16 was Philippians 4:13; he did not actually include the verse:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Governor Walker refuses to remove the post; his press secretary said:  “The verse was part of a devotional he read that morning, which inspired him, and he chose to share it.”  He uses his social media accounts to “engage with Wisconsinites” on both public policy matters and to let his constituents know better “who he is.”  Governor Walker refused to back down, and the atheists backed down this time.  

                We need a leader that can take on the public unions and beat them.  We need a leader that will defend freedom of religion – and our other freedoms.  Governor Walker has shown that he is not afraid of protesters and will stand on his principles.  Our nation is in dire need of a leader like Governor Scott Walker!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Petition the Government

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “Congress shall make no law respecting … the right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  This provision of the Constitution guarantees that the people can petition their government without worrying about the government causing problems for them.

                W. Cleon Skousen wrote:  “In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson denounced in the strongest possible terms the refusal of the king to give respectful consideration to the petitions of the people.  He wrote:
                “`In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms:  our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury….’

                “Of course, governments throughout the ages have resented petitions for the simple reason that they usually itemize the sins of government and the dereliction of administration by government offices.  Nevertheless, this is the safety valve by which governments survive.  Unless administrators are sensitive to the grievances of the people, the hostility of rebellious forces can reach a boiling temperature.  King George III learned this too late.  So did Louis XVI of France.  Constant communications between the government and its people is fundamental to an efficient administration.”  (See The Making of America – The substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 689-690.)

                Skousen further explained “the five ways to petition the government for a `redress of grievances’”:  1) formal petition, 2) personal letter, 3) personal contact, 4) paid lobbyist, and 5) public demonstration.

                David Bernstein of The Heritage Foundation explained:  “The right to petition only guarantees that citizens can communicate with the sovereign through petitions.  It does not guarantee that the sovereign will respond in any particular way, or indeed, at all.  Parliament and colonial legislatures nevertheless felt obligated to respond to every petition, because those bodies had judicial as well as legislative functions.  In the American constitutional scheme, judicial power rests solely in the judicial branch, and the judiciary is the only branch of government that is always obligated to consider and respond to petitions submitted to it….

                “Congress initially took petitions very seriously, following the tradition of its colonial forebears….
                “The right to petition, along with the right to peaceable assembly, became less important as modern democratic politics gradually replaced petitioning and public protests as the primary means for constituents to express their views to their representatives.  Today, Congress treats most petitions in a pro forma way.  A Representative may present a petition on behalf of a private party to the Clerk of the House, who enters it in the Journal.

                “Although the right to petition is somewhat anachronistic in modern times and has largely been subsumed in the right to freedom of speech, it continues to have some independent weight….”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 317-318.)

Saturday, March 22, 2014


                We see and hear of miracles every single day, but we may not recognize them as miracles.  We may not see the parting of the Red Sea, the feeding of 5,000 people with just a few loaves of bread and a few fishes, or be swallowed by a whale and spit out on dry ground.  We usually see small miracles, but large miracles really do happen.

                “God blesses with major miracles only according to need, and then to fit the time.  But the quieter, subtler actions of the Holy Ghost that affect only one person, or, a few, are common in every dispensation.  Saints of all ages have been blessed with special experiences with the Spirit – and those are indeed miracles – such as healings, prophecies, answered prayers, spiritual insights, changes in lives, dreams.  As Moroni said over fifteen hundred years ago, `I will show unto you a God of miracles ....  And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not many miracles?  And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles.
                “And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being?  And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles’ (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mormon 9:11, 18-19).

                “Most miracles today occur privately, and are kept privately within the heart, or within the family, or are shared only with a few close friends who will understand.  But sometimes, appropriately, they are shared as expressions of gratitude and faith in fast and testimony meeting.”  (See Jay Parry, “Miracles Today,” Liahona, July 1978.)   

                The Bible Dictionary tells us that miracles “are an important element in the work of Jesus Christ….  Christianity is founded on the greatest miracle of all miracles, the resurrection of our Lord.  If that be admitted, other miracles cease to be improbable.  Miracles should not be regarded as deviations from the ordinary course of nature so much as manifestations of divine or spiritual power.  Some lower law was in each case superseded by the action of a higher….”

                The ancient American prophet Mormon asked an important question:  “Has the day of miracles ceased?” (Moroni 7:35)….  Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased, wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain” (Moroni 7:38).

                In address to students at Brigham Young University in 2001, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about miracles.  “A miracle has been defined as `a beneficial event brought about through divine power that mortals do not understand and of themselves cannot duplicate’ (in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. [1992], 2:908).  The idea that events are brought about through divine power is rejected by most irreligious people and even by some who are religious.  All of us have known people who have what Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once called `the anti-miracle mind-set.’  (See “Not My Will, But Thine” [1988], 25.)  This rejection of miracles in the last days was prophesied.  The prophet Nephi foretold that the Gentiles would `put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain’ 
(2 Nephi 26:20).  He also prophesied that churches would be built up in which persons would teach with their learning, deny the power of God, and tell the people that if someone should `say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles’ (2 Nephi 28:6).  (See “Miracles,” Ensign, June 2001.) 

                Several thousand years ago a miracle occurred when Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the Red Sea on dry ground.  People, who believe in miracles and believe in God’s power to perform miracles, believe in the Exodus miracles, for this was one of many miracles occurring at that time.  Scientists, archeologists, etc. are finding hard evidence of the exodus from Egypt.  I found this video to be very interesting and encourage you to watch it.  

                The great Christian author C.S. Lewis wrote about miracles in his book titled Miracles.   “Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature.”  In another spot he wrote, “In Science we have been reading only the notes to a poem; in Christianity we find the poem itself.”  Yet another quote comes from his book:  “Nothing can seem extraordinary until you have discovered what is ordinary.  Belief in miracles, far from depending on an ignorance of the laws of nature, is only possible in so far as those lows are known.”

                I believe in miracles.  In fact, I have seen miracles, many miracles, in my life.  I know a young woman who had a baseball-size tumor taken out of her brain and is able to carry on her duties as wife and mother.  I have personally been confined to a remote cabin with heavy overcast skies that prevented our flying home; I have seen an opening suddenly appear in those heavy clouds, an opening that was just large enough for us to fly through and continue our journey home above the clouds.  In a few days or weeks I will experience once again the annual miracle of life appearing after a long, dark and cold winter.  Yes, I believe in miracles and encourage you to open your eyes and see the miracles occurring all around you!