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.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Esther and Netanyahu

                The story contained in the book of Esther in the Old Testament is beautiful, and it is also a great teaching tool.  The book contains only ten chapters and covers just over ten pages; it is one of two books named for women in the Old Testament.

                The story begins in Shushan with an explanation about a king named Ahasuerus and his displeasure with Queen Vashti’s refusal to be paraded in front of a bunch of visiting princes.  Ahasuerus was angry with Vashti’s disobedience to him – her husband as well as the king - and sought counsel from his wise men.  The wise men convinced the king that the ladies of Persia and Media would hear what happened in the palace and would follow Vashti’s example in being disobedient to their own husbands.  Vashti must be disciplined, and a new queen must be chosen.

                Mordecai was a Benjamite, the descendant of Jews “carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah” by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.  Hadassah – or Esther – was the daughter of Mordecai’s uncle and was orphaned.  She “was fair and beautiful,” and Mordecai took her into his home to rear as his own daughter.

                Mordecai heard what Vashti had done and knew Ahasuerus was seeking a new queen.  He convinced Esther to apply for the position but to keep her Jewish ancestry secret.  Many maidens wanted to become queen, and they all were required to go through twelve months of purification and preparation before they were brought before the king.  Each maiden was given whatever she desired to take with her to the king’s house.  Esther “required nothing” but “obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her.” 

                King Ahasuerus “loved Esther above all the women and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.”  Even though she became queen, Esther had to obey the law of the land.  She could not enter the presence of the king unless he invited her to do so. 

                Meanwhile, Mordecai “sat in the king’s gate” to watch over Esther.  While he was there, he overheard two men plotting to kill the king.  Mordecai sent word to Esther; she warned the king, and the two men were hanged.

                After these things took place, the king promoted a man named Haman to a position next to the king himself “above all the other princes” in the kingdom and commanded that all men bow to Haman.  Mordecai would not bow to Haman; some of the king’s servants questioned Mordecai and discovered that he was a Jew.  This information was given to Haman, and he went to the king.  He convinced Ahasuerus to send out a proclamation that all Jews in the kingdom were to be killed on a certain day.

                Mordecai sent word to Esther telling her to go before the king to save the lives of her people.  Among other things he said, “…who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  Esther fully understood the danger she would be in, and sent this answer to Mordecai:

                “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day:  I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law:  and if I perish, I perish.” (4:15-16)

                After the three days of fasting, “Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house.”  When the king saw her standing there, he “held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand.  So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the scepter.”  The king asked Esther what she wanted, and she invited the king and Haman to a banquet in Esther’s apartment.

                The king and Haman came to the banquet, and the king asked Esther again to tell him what she wanted.  She asked the king and Haman to come to another banquet the next day.  Haman was proud to be the only man besides the king to be invited to eat with the queen, not just once but twice, but he became very angry when he saw Mordecai.  He told his wife and friends how he felt, and they suggested he build a gallows fifty cubits high and ask the king to hang Mordecai for disobeying the king’s command.

                Unknown to Haman, the king was not able to sleep that very night and asked for the book of records to be brought to him.  There in the book of records was mention of a man named Mordecai who had saved the king’s life.  The king desired to know what honors had been bestowed on Mordecai and was told that nothing had been done.  The king called Haman in and asked him how the king could show great honor to a man.  Haman, being a proud man, thought the king was talking about him, and told him to put the royal apparel on the man and take him through the streets on horseback proclaiming his greatness to all the people.  Then the king told Haman to make haste and do that exact thing with Mordecai.  This of course caused Haman to be even more angry.

                The king and Haman came to Esther’s second banquet, and the king asked Esther “What is thy petition…?”  “If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request….”  The king of course wanted to know who would presume to do such a thing as kill the queen and her people.  She answered, “The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman.”  The king was so angry that he left the room to walk in the garden for a few minutes; when he returned he found Haman making a request for his life to Esther.  The king thought Haman was forcing himself upon Esther and commanded that Haman be hung on the gallows prepared to hang Mordecai.  The king took the house of Haman and gave it to Mordecai; he then took the ring that he had taken from Haman and gave it to Mordecai.  “Esther then set Mordecai over the house of Haman.”

                Finally, Esther had an opportunity to discuss with the king the decree that all her people were to be killed on a certain day.  The king could not remember making such an order and asked his scribes to find it in the record.  They searched the record and found the decree.  The king could not take it back, but he made a new decree for the Jews to gather together and to defend themselves.  The decree went out.  “And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day.  And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.” (8:17)  This day of joy and gladness is commemorated by Jews as the Fast of Esther or Purim.

                As reported by The Blaze, “Religious Jews are drawing parallels between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address next week to Congress, which has earned the ire of the Obama administration, and the experiences of the biblical Esther who made the case to Persia’s king on behalf of the Jewish people to halt the designs of a hate-consumed official to annihilate the Jews.

                “The faithful have been sharing their thoughts on social media and have pointed to the timing of Netanyahu’s speech, March 3, which happens to fall on the eve of the Fast of Esther, when Jews commemorate the three-day fast Queen Esther asked the Jews to undertake while they repented and prayed she would succeed in her mission to convince King Ahasuerus to scuttle the evil Haman’s genocidal plans.”

                The Obama administration is upset with Netanyahu because he accepted an invitation from House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) to speak to Congress; the administration described it as a “break in diplomatic protocol.”

                “Some religious leaders have noted that the same kind of break in protocol was key to the Jews’ redemption in the Book of Esther.  The Jewish holiday of Purim, which this year is celebrated March 5, marks Esther’s success in her mission to thwart Haman’s destructive plan.”

                Could Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be a man who has “come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  Please join me in praying for the nation of Israel as well as the Prime Minister that he can indeed save his people from the evil men and women who seek to destroy them from the face of the earth.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sexual Intimacy

                Parents can strengthen their family, community, and nation by teaching this family home evening about sexual intimacy being sacred and beautiful.  The link contains four additional family home evening lessons to aid parents in teaching the proper use of this important power.  

                The use of pornography is rampant in the world today; it is gaining ground for numerous reasons.  One of those reasons is because the rising generation does not realize the real dangers in it.  Another reason is that many “parents avoid addressing the topic of sexual relations and sexuality with their children. Some parents incorrectly assume that talking about sex will encourage their children to act out sexually or that their children are too young to have questions.  Many did not talk openly about these topics with their own parents and feel uncomfortable talking about them in their families.  They may also feel ill-qualified to teach about something they are currently struggling with.  Whatever your hesitations or fears, it is vital that you discuss sexual intimacy with your children on an ongoing basis.  Children and teenagers are regularly bombarded with damaging ideas about sex, and you have the opportunity to help them create a positive, gospel-driven understanding of sexual intimacy…..

                “Heavenly Father created the plan of salvation so that we can experience life, return to His presence, and have joy.  Central to this plan are the spiritual, emotional, and physical unity developed in marriage and family life.   He gave us the capacity for physical intimacy so that we could strengthen and grow our eternal families.  He intends for sex to be a beautiful, powerful, and joyful part of our lives – not something evil or corrupt.  Sex enables a husband and a wife to have children, express love, and strengthen their spiritual, emotional, and physical bonds.  Sexual intimacy is an important part of marriage, and when it is used in the way that God has commanded, it brings great blessings and joy.  While many in the world portray sex as casual or crude, the gospel teaches that sexuality is a powerful gift from Heavenly Father and that it should be used within the bounds He has set, with wisdom and reverence.”

                One of the very best ways we can combat pornography is to teach the rising generation how to use sexual intimacy appropriately and positively.  This teaching is best done in the home by two loving parents who model sexual intimacy appropriately and teach by word and example the proper use of it.  The ultimate way to overcome pornography is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

                Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught:  “Human intimacy is reserved for a married couple because it is the ultimate symbol of total union, a totality and a union ordained and defined by God.”

                Parents can use the information in these lessons to open a discussion about the proper use of sexual intimacy with their child or children; by doing so they can strengthen their family members to reject the temptations of pornography and prepare themselves for marriage and righteousness.  When the rising generation understands the proper use of this God-given power, they are strengthened against the evils of our day and can strengthen others in the community and nation.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Freedom from Fear

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that we can be free from fear.  In these days of uncertainty of whether or not we can trust our government to do what is right, we do not need to live in fear.  Even though we cannot see the future and do not know what it will bring, we can be sure that Someone does see the future and does know what will happen in the future.  That Someone is our loving Heavenly Father, and He is in control of all things. 

                God is all powerful and all knowing.  He knows what the future holds for you and me individually, for groups of people, and for nations.  Because He loves His children, He reveals to His prophets what He wants His children to know.  We live in a day and age when living prophets and apostles walk the earth once again.  The most important message they deliver to us is that Heavenly Father is watching over us and that His Son, even Jesus the Christ, lives and blesses us.

                Elder David A. Bednar is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  As an Apostle, he is also a Special Witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.  You can hear his testimony and other counsel here.  Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page for his testimony.

                I know that Elder Bednar is an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ because the Holy Ghost has borne that witness to me.  I encourage you to listen to his counsel and special witness of Christ.  Whenever I start to feel fear, I simply remind myself that God is in control and I do not need to worry.  I know that I need to have simple, childlike faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  I know They will help us and bless us if we are faithful.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Job-Hunt

                I have been out of the job market for more than forty years except for a couple of part-time jobs more than twenty years ago.  You can imagine my surprise when a priesthood leader asked me to serve in the local Employment Resource Center.  The world has greatly changed since I worked as a secretary on military bases.  At that time we typed letters on typewriters with multiple copies made with carbon paper.  It was okay until a mistake was made; then the erasures had to be done on sometimes as many as six copies.  I have not been back in any military office since my oldest child was born in 1972, but I suppose most employees do their own work on computers and send their own letters to the printer.

                At any rate, I accepted the assignment to help people find jobs.  Little by little, I have learned much about how to write a resume, how to prepare for interviews, the importance of writing “thank you” letters, etc.  I was recently asked – again – to get prepared to teach the Career Workshop taught by the resource center. 

                I came across an interesting book that seems to be way ahead of the crowd on employment matters.  The book was written by Richard N. Bolles and is entitled What Color Is Your Parachute?  It has the sub-title of “A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers.”  It is also “revised and updated annually.”  Time Magazine claimed that it is “one of the All-Time 100 Best Nonfiction Books.”

                In his opening chapter, Bolles gave “The Two-Minute Crash Course on Today’s Job-Market.”  In his crash course he explains how the rules of finding jobs have changed since 2008 when the United States entered “the so-called Great Recession, the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression in 1929.”  Here are Bolles’ seven ways of how the job-hunt has changed since 2008:

1. “Employers don’t stay the same.  They change their tactics.  When times are good, employers often have difficulty filling their vacancies, so they will typically cater to the job-hunter’s preferences in such a season.  We like resumes, so they will take the trouble to solicit, look at, and read our resumes.  We like job-postings, so they will post their vacancies where we can find them:  on their own site or on job-boards, typically.”
                In tough times “when employers are find it much easier to fill a vacancy, many – though not all – of them change their tactics.”  They stop doing the above noted things and wait for the job hunters to find them.  Thus, people think there are no jobs because employers are not responding as they previously did.

2. “Many employers are holding out for the Dream Employee.”  Now that more people are looking for employment, “there is a large pool of applicants,” and employers can be more selective.  “Thus, in one way or another many employers now reject candidates they would have cheerfully hired eight years ago.  Reason:  with the recovery still unsteady and slow, employers are more averse than ever to taking risks, so they keep thinking that now with all those unemployed out there, maybe somebody better will come along next week.  Of course, this ideal employee … may not even exist.”

3. “The length of the average job-hunt has increased dramatically.  From 1994 through 2008, roughly half of all unemployed job-seekers found jobs within five weeks.  After 2008, a far greater proportion – 30% of all unemployed persons in the U.S. – spent and are still spending more than a year looking for work.  Before 2008 that figure was just 10%.”

4. “The length of time the average job lasts has decreased dramatically.  There has been a great increase in the number of temp or part-time workers, since 2008.  That number stands at 2,800,000 as I write, and that includes independent contractors, consultants, and freelancers.  In a related figure, the number of people with part-time jobs who really want to work full-time is 7,400,000 currently.  The reason for this rise in temporary hiring, not surprisingly, is employers’ desire to keep their costs down….”

5. “Job hunting is increasingly becoming a repetitive activity in the lives of many of us.  … Our typical work history now is going to be three careers over our lifetime, and at least eight jobs.  This puts a premium on every one of us becoming masters of the job-hunt, in its post-2008 form.

6. “Job-hunting has moved more and more online since 2008.  … As social media and other sites have become more and more popular – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, e-mail, Skype, YouTube, etc. – job-hunters and employers alike have figured out how to use them in the job-hunt.  Now, ever-larger portions of the job-hunt can be done online.  And the future is coming face!  The future is that more and more will be done on mobile devices, rather than laptops.  If you have a particular issue, and you just don’t know how to find the appropriate social site, do a search on Google….
“If you are out of work for any length of time, and you do not have the skills of knowing how to use a computer or how to access the Internet, you will be wise beyond your years if you go take some computer courses….”

7. “Increasingly job-hunters and employers speak two different languages.  What has gotten worse since 2008 is the fact that employers and job-hunters speak two entirely different languages, though often using the same words.  Take the word `skills.’  When we’re job-hunting, you get turned down because – some employers say - `You don’t have the skills we’re looking for.’  You think they’re referring to such things as analyzing, research, communicating, etc.  No, they really mean `experience,’ though they use the word `skills.’  …
“You should assume that the employers’ world is like a foreign country; you must learn their language, and their customs, before you visit….”

                If you or your loved one or friend is out of work or expecting to be out of work, I encourage you or them to get the current copy of What Color Is Your Parachute?  There is much information in this book that can help you with your job search.  I was so impressed with the book that I considered buying a copy for each of my children even though all of them are currently working!

                Since I have been working at the resource center, I have noticed a few things about the people who come for help. We see very few professionals – doctors, dentists, engineers, accountants, etc.  When they are out of work, most of them already have the knowledge and skills to find another job even though it might take some time.  If they contact us, they need very little assistance.  They usually have plenty of skills and training.  Their resumes are usually well done.  They may need some practice interviewing or networking, but they usually have everything under control.

                Most of the people we see in the office have an “issue” of some kind.  They may be older.  They may have been out of the job market for a long time.  They may have no skills or training.  They may have legal issues.  Some of them have never written a resume or filled out job applications.  Some of them come to our office with the idea that we have jobs to give them; we do not.

                We invite everyone to attend our Career Workshop, either to learn job-hunting skills or to polish them.  I took the Career Workshop twice even though I do not intend to look for work, and I was very impressed with the offerings.  I believe that every teenager should attend the workshop where they can learn life skills.  Now I am preparing to teach the workshop – me, a woman who has not worked outside the home for over forty years!

                The very first thing we ask attendees to do is to evaluate their talents, interests, and values; we then ask them to set goals and develop a plan to achieve those goals.  This is the part of the workshop that I believe could help every young person greatly before they go to college.  The next unit is about identifying and developing the resources needed to reach the goals.  The third unit is about interacting with resources, and the fourth unit teaches how to negotiate, grow in the new position, and how to advance in a career.  All of these are covered well in What Color Is Your Parachute?  The book, however, lacks the ability to give personal assistance and networking, both of which is available in the workshop.

                Our nation – and particularly our state – is not in a recovering economy, but there are jobs for those people who know how to find them.  I encourage all of you – both those with jobs and those without – to determine what you need to do in order to be fully employed and capable of taking care of yourselves and your families.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rudy and Barack

                Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York City on September 11, 2001, and immediately took charge of the situation.  He was a hero in every sense of the word then, and he became a hero again recently when he said what many people have thought for a long time.  While attending a small private dinner, including Scott Walker and “about 60 right-leaning business executives and conservative media types,” Giuliani openly questioned if Barack Obama “loves America” while discussing Mr. Obama’s patriotism, foreign policy decisions and attitude toward terrorists.

                “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan.  “He doesn’t love you.  And he doesn’t love me.  He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

                The Politico story continued, “With Walker sitting just a few seats away, Giuliani continued by saying that `with all our flaws we’re the most exceptional country in the world.  I’m looking for a presidential candidate who can express that, do that and carry it out.’
                “`And if it’s you Scott, I’ll endorse you,’ he added.  `And if it’s somebody else, I’ll support somebody else.’”

                Ed Lasky, contributor at American Thinker, claims that “`America’s Mayor’ Rudy Giuliani was right about Obama not loving America.  Who supports his view?  Barack Obama himself….
                “Barack Obama has clearly been, at best, an apologist for Islamic terrorism, if not empowering Muslim terrorists (such as the mullahs of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood).  Of course, now the question of Obama’s patriotism has become this week’s Gotcha question.  Scott Walker was ambushed by the same question and answered `I don’t know’ if Obama loves America.  Well, Obama knows the answer.  Reporters don’t even need to ask Obama since he would answer with some political pabulum scripted by his spinners.  Reporters just need to do a few minutes of research – or, I offer my own research free of charge.
                “Because Obama has answered that question and has done so numerous times over the past 7 years.  He not only does not love America, he doesn’t even like it much – and certainly has no interest in defending America or Americans for that matter.”

                Lasky continues his article by a list of ways that Mr. Obama has shown his lack of love for America and Americans:  (1) a picture of Mr. Obama in Iowa – everyone else in the picture had their hand over their heart, Mr. Obama had his hands clasped together; (2) Mr. Obama’s comment about Americans being “bitter” and clinging to “guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations;” (3) Michelle Obama’s comment that she “had never been proud of her country until Barack Obama achieved some early campaign success;” (4) the way he continually insults Americans for being “soft,” “lazy,” “abusers of the planet,” “lost our ambition,” “whiners,” “greedy,” “ knuckleheads,” and fail to say “thank you” to him.

                Mr. Obama does not only insult Americans, but he insults our allies as well:  (1) sending the bust of Winston Churchill back to Great Britain; (2) his “apology tour” overseas soon after he was elected; (3) his assault on truth.

                I too believe that Mayor Giuliani was correct when he said Mr. Obama does not love America.  As a wise person or wise people have said many times, no one sets out to “fundamentally transform” something they love.  If a man truly loves his wife, he does not try to “transform” into someone else.  If a parent truly loves their child, they do not try to change them into something else.  If we truly love our country, we love it as it is – warts and all; we try to make it better without totally destroying it first.  I do not believe Mr. Obama or those surrounding him love America.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Margaret Sanger

                I do not like to consider Margaret Sanger as a Very Important Person in the history of the United States; however, I feel it to be very important that Americans know about Margaret Sanger and her goal to stop children from being born, either by birth control or abortion and the main purpose of Planned Parenthood. 

                Margaret Sanger was born Margaret Louise Higgins on September 14, 1879, in Corning, New York, to Michael Hennessey Higgins and Anne Purcell Higgins.  Michael was a Catholic “Irish-born stonemason and free-thinker” who   immigrated to the USA at age 14; at age 15 he was a drummer in the U.S. Army in the Civil War.  He studied medicine and phrenology after leaving the army but eventually became “a stonecutter, making stone angels, saints, and tombstones.”  He became “an atheist and an activist for women’s suffrage and free public education.”  Anne was “a hard-working Roman Catholic Irish-American,” who immigrated to Canada with her parents “due to the Potato Famine” [1845-1852].  She had 18 pregnancies with 11 live births in 22 years; she died at age 49 of tuberculosis.   

                Sanger was the “sixth of eleven children, and spent much of her youth assisting with household chores and caring for her younger siblings.”  She attended Claverack College and Hudson River Institute with the help of two older sisters; she enrolled in White Plains Hospital as a nurse probationer in 1900.  She married William Sanger, a “dashing architect,” in 1902 and ended her formal education.  She suffered from “a recurring active tubercular condition.”  She was the mother of three children.   The family lived quietly in Westchester, New York.

                Sanger was still a teenager when her mother died, and she believed that her mother died because of having too many babies.  She spent the rest of her life in an attempt to stop babies from being born.  She was a birth control activist and sex educator as well as a nurse.  She “popularized the term birth control, opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established organizations that evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  Sanger’s efforts contributed to several judicial cases that helped legalize contraception in the United States.  Sanger is a frequent target of criticism by opponents of birth control and has also been criticized for supporting eugenics, but remains an iconic figure in the American reproductive rights movement.”

                Margaret Sanger died at age 86 of congestive heart failure on September 6, 1966, in Tucson, Arizona.  Her body was interred in Fishkill, New York, next to her second husband, Noah Slee, and her sister, Nan Higgins.

                I believe the statements made by any person demonstrate the type of human being they are.  Here are some of the statements made by Margaret Sanger, compliments of Becky Yeh.  

                1. “It seems to me from my experience … that while the colored Negroes have great respect for white doctors they can get closer to their own members and more or less lay their cards on the table which means their ignorance, superstitions and doubts.
                “We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities.  The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. 
                “We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”  (In a letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble on December 19, 1939)

                2. “I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan … I saw through the door dim figures parading with banners and illuminated cross … I was escorted to the platform, was introduced, and began to speak … In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose.  A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered.”  (On page 366 of An Autobiography)

                3. “They [immigrants and poor] are … `human weeds,’ `reckless breeders,’ `spawning … human beings who never should have been born.
                “Organized charity itself is the symptom of a malignant social disease ...  Instead of decreasing and aiming to eliminate the stocks [of people] that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world, it tends to render them to a menacing degree dominant.”  (In Pivot of Civilization)

                4. “Knowledge of birth control is essentially moral.  Its general, though prudent, practice must lead to a higher individuality and ultimately to a cleaner race.
                “Birth control is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defective.”  (In her writings from “Morality and Birth Control” and “Birth Control and the New Race”)

                5. “Our failure to segregate morons [minorities, sick, and disabled] who are increasing and multiplying … demonstrates our foolhardy and extravagant sentimentalism … [Philanthropists] encourage the healthier and more normal sections of the world to shoulder the burden of unthinking and indiscriminate fecundity of others; which brings with it, as I think the reader must agree, a dead weight of human waste.
                “Instead of decreasing and aiming to eliminate the stocks that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world, it tends to render them to a menacing degree dominant … We are paying for, and even submitting to, the dictates of an ever-increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all.
                “The main objects of the Populations Congress would be to apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, ore whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring[;] to give certain dysgenic groups in our population their choice of segregation or sterilization.”  (In “The Pivot of Civilization” and “A Plan for Peace”)

                6. “I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world – that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically.  Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they’re born.  That to me is the greatest sin – that people can – can commit.”  (In an 1957 interview with journalist Mike Wallace)

                7. “But for my view, I believe that there should be no more babies.”  (In a 1947 interview that surfaced via the British Pathe, Sanger described her desire for women in the developed world to cease completely from reproduction.  When asked by the reporter whether this would be impractical to ask women who desire children, but would no longer be able to conceive in 10 years, Sanger said, “I should think instead of being impractical, it is very practical and intelligent and humane.”)

                After listing the seven statements with explanations as needed, Ms. Yeh included the following statement by Dr. Alveda King on the abortion-on-demand corporate ideology of Planned Parenthood:  “The most obvious practitioner of racism in the United States today is Planned Parenthood, an organization founded by the eugenicist Margaret Sanger and recently documented as ready to accept money to eliminate black babies.”

                I consider Margaret Sanger to have either been insane or evil.  No one with the love of God in their hearts could kill unborn babies for any reason, much less for money!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Constitutional Convention

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article V of the Constitution of the United States of America which outlines two ways for amendments to be made to the Constitution:  “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress….”

                This provision explains that Congress has the authority to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  If Congress fails to act or the people take matters into their own hands, the Legislatures in two thirds of the States can call for a Constitutional Convention.  Congress has chosen not to act; therefore, calls have gone out to the Legislatures of all fifty States, asking for their support to hold a Constitutional Convention.

                According to my figures, two thirds of 50 States s 34; therefore, I have no idea how people have come to the conclusion that 38 State Legislatures need to vote for a Constitutional Convention.  The additional three states may be needed because some states have opted in and then opted out.  At any rate, I received an email calling for a Convention and asking me to forward it to fifteen people.   This email claims that 35 states have filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them.

                The reason people are calling for a Constitutional Convention is their lack of trust in Congress.  Many of our representatives in Congress do not seem to care about the people and seem to consider themselves to be in a privileged class.  An example would be to exempt members of Congress and their families from the Healthcare Reform that they approved for the “lowly” citizens of America – WE THE PEOPLE.

                A proposed 28th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:  “Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators [and/or] Representatives of Congress; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.”

                I do not know how I feel about holding a Constitutional Convention.  I believe the proposed 28th Amendment is a good idea, but I do not know if we can trust the people attending the Convention to do the right thing for the people.  The Constitution of the United States of America is a precious document that we must preserve and protect for the benefit of the entire world.  We must be careful that we do not allow the amendment process to be misused.

                This provision was instituted to give the people an alternative method to change the Constitution without going through Congress.  There have been attempts to call for a Constitutional Convention previous to the current attempt, but they have all been unsuccessful.  The reason they have failed is because Congress acted.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained, “The Congress has been anxious to prevent this second method from being used, so whenever nearly two-thirds of the states have petitioned for a convention, the Congress has capitulated and passed the amendment itself.  This is what happened with the Seventeenth Amendment [the way Senators are elected].
                “It was the intent of the Founders to provide this second method of amending the Constitution as a protection against a hierarchy of power that might take over Washington and become a self-perpetuating demagoguery which the people could not control.  Such a situation arises when an oligarchy of wealth or a structured power bloc gains control of the following: (1) The leadership of both political parties; (2) The majority of the Supreme Court; (3) The majority of the Congress; (4) The White House; (5) The media; and (6) The major centers of education and intellectual opinion making.
                “This much control over a nation completely debilitates the normal operation of constitutional procedures.  The Founders therefore provided this special safety net in Article V to allow the people to regain control of their affairs without even going through Washington….
                “Probably the only reason why this procedure has been used so rarely in the past is the general misunderstanding of how it is supposed to work.
                “The greatest concern about this second procedure has been the fear that a constitutional convention called by the states might become a `runaway convention’ and set up a radical new constitution….
                “…There are already a number of amendments pending on the basis of state conventions.  One of them is the Balanced Budget Amendment.  Another is the Prayer Amendment.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, 647-648.)

                Trent England and Matthew Spalding of The Heritage Foundation further explained:  “Since 1789, over 5,000 bills proposing to amend the Constitution have been introduced in Congress; thirty-three amendments have been sent to the states for ratification.  No attempt by the states to call a convention has ever succeeded, though some have come within one or two states of the requisite two-thirds.  The movement favoring direct election of Senators was just one state away from an amending convention when Congress proposed the Seventeenth Amendment.

                “Because no amending convention has ever occurred, an important question is whether a convention can be limited in scope, either to a particular proposal or within a particular subject.  While most calls for amending conventions in the nineteenth century were general, the modern trend is to call for limited conventions.  Some scholars maintain that such attempts violate Article V and are therefore void.  Other questions include the practical aspects of how an amending convention would operate and whether any aspects of such a convention would be subject to judicial review.

                “Much greater certainty exists as to the power of Congress to propose amendments….
                “Since 1924, no amendment has been proposed without a ratification time limit, although the Twenty-seventh Amendment [regarding pay raises for Congress], proposed by Madison in the First Congress more than two hundred years ago, was finally ratified in 1992.  Regardless of how an amendment is proposed, Article V gives Congress authority to direct the mode of ratification….
                “Although some scholars have asserted that certain kinds of constitutional amendments might be `unconstitutional,’ actual substantive challenges to amendments have been unsuccessful….

                “In the end, the Framers believed that the amendment process would protect the Constitution from undue change at the same time that it would strengthen the authority of the Constitution with the people.  `The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government,’ George Washington wrote in his Farewell Address of 1796.  `But the Constitution which at any time exists, ‘till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all.’”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, 285-286.)

                It seems to me that our nation has nearly met all six conditions put forth by Skousen; however, I believe there are enough good men and women in Congress to hold back the evil that is all around us.  We have steadily increased the number of conservatives in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  These new conservatives are blocking progressives like John McCain in the Senate, and Representatives like Trey Gowdy keep House Speaker John Boehner’s toes to the fire. 

                I still have hope for our nation because of these new conservatives.  They have obviously slowed the progressive agenda that was blazing when Barack Obama first took office.  More stops are needed to derail the agenda, but people are working on it.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Testimony and Conversion

                Gaining a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not the same as being converted to the work.  Even Satan and his minions can testify that Jesus is the Christ, but they are definitely not interesting in building the kingdom of God.

                President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave some counsel on this subject.  “We know from our own experience and from observing others that having a few great moments of spiritual power will not be enough.  Peter denied he knew the Savior even after he had received a witness by the Spirit that Jesus was the Christ.  The Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon had direct testimony given to them that the Book of Mormon was the word of God, and yet later they faltered in their ability to sustain Joseph Smith as the Prophet of the Lord’s Church.”

                In order to be converted, we must have a change of heart much like the people of King Benjamin experienced.  King Benjamin, a prophet-king in ancient America, taught his people about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  His people believed his words and experienced “a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually….
                “And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 5:1-2, 5).

                I know lots of people who have testimonies but are not converted.  There are several members of my extended family who know the truth but who are not living it.  They have had spiritual experiences but make choices that are not compatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I see friends and loved ones fall away from the truth and feel concern for them and for all my loved ones.  We all need a “mighty change” in our hearts in order to be truly converted, but we need to nourish our conversion by doing those things that strengthen us.  What must we do to stay converted to Christ?

                The Lord told Peter, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).  Some of the best things we can do to strengthen ourselves and others is to pray, study the scriptures, attend church and temple, and serve others.

                President Eyring continued, “The Lord taught us that when we are truly converted to His gospel, our hearts will be turned from selfish concerns and turned toward service to lift others as they move upward to eternal life.  To obtain that conversion, we can pray and work in faith to become the new creature made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

                “We can start by praying for the faith to repent of selfishness and for the gift of caring for others more than ourselves.  We can pray for the power to lay aside pride and envy.

                “Prayer will be the key as well for receiving the gift of a love for the word of God and for the love of Christ (see  Moroni 7:47-48).  The two come together.  As we read, ponder, and pray over the word of God, we will come to love it.  The Lord puts it in our hearts.  As we feel that love, we will begin to love the Lord more and more.  With that will come the love for others that we need in order to strengthen those whom God puts in our path.”

                I am truly grateful for my testimony of Jesus Christ.  I know He is the Son of God because the Holy Ghost has borne that witness to me.  I cannot doubt the presence of the Holy Ghost in my life; however, I might temporarily forget my testimony if I do not feed it daily.  I feed my testimony and strengthen my conversion by communicating with my Heavenly Father every day.  Whenever I feel a distance between us, I recognize that it is I who has moved, not Him, and I return to the basics.  What are those basic things I need to do?  President Eyring told us.

                Instead of just reading a few verses in the Book of Mormon –Another Testament of Jesus Christ, I immerse myself in the scriptures, spending more time reading, pondering, and applying the scriptural counsel in my own life.  Then I read the words of prophets and apostles living in our day in at least one article in the Ensign; however, I usually read several articles before I feel I am back in the safe zone.  I attend my Sunday meetings, knowing that I get as much out of the talks and lessons as I am willing to receive.  I attend the temple regularly, usually spending several hours in the temple each week.  I renew my commitment to fulfill the assignments in the Church that I have accepted, and I look for someone to serve.  I know that I can strengthen my testimony of Jesus Christ and my conversion to doing His will, and I know I must diligently work at strengthening my testimony and conversion every day.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mental Health and Prophetic Counsel

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when the rising generation is mentally healthy.  By following prophetic counsel, parents, grandparents, and leaders can guide the rising generation and help them to avoid suicide.  We would be wise to discover that counsel and follow it.

                The Utah Department of Health conducted a study in 2013 and published the results of the study this month.   LDS Living published an article comparing the findings of the study with prophetic counsel.  The study discovered that teen suicide rates are affected by what happens in our homes.  The study discovered that the level of education attained by the parents, the strength of family relationships, and weekly attendance at religious meetings all have an impact on teen suicide.  Bullying and addiction to electronics also lead to higher risk of suicide.  Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day have received prophetic counsel on just these things.

                According to the health study, there is a specific benefit to a child whose parents were educated:  “Students who lived with adults who had not graduated from high school had a significantly higher rate of suicide ideation compared to those whose parents had completed high school (20.6% vs. 16.8%, respectively).  Those whose parents had graduated from college had lower rates of suicide ideation.”

                On April 2, 1843, the Prophet Joseph Smith received instructions about education by revelation:  “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
                        And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19).

                The Church considers education vital for this life as well as for the next life and counsels its members to get as much education as possible.  Prophets counsel the youth of the Church about many subjects in a pamphlet entitled For the Strength of Youth.  Regarding education, the counsel includes:  “Education will prepare you for greater service in the world and in the Church.  It will help you better provide for yourself, your family, and those in need.  It will also help you be a wise counselor and companion to your future spouse and an informed and effective teach of your future children.”

                The Church also published a special issue of New Era about education:  “Learning wisdom is a lifelong process.  It starts before your first day of school and doesn’t end when you die.  It is the thing you carry with you through the eternities.
                “But your growing-up years are devoted to spending your time learning the essential of education.  As facts and figures demand a place in your memory, hopefully you will also learn to think and reason and apply what you have learned.  That is the beginning of wisdom….
                “The education of the heart, of the conscience, and of the spirit, along with the education of the mind, truly is higher education.”

                The health study found that “students who ate a meal with their family five or more days in a typical week (61.1% of respondents) were half as likely to consider suicide.  Students who experienced an episode of depressive symptoms in the past year also benefitted from family mealtimes, as they were still less likely to have considered suicide in the past year.”
                “Studies have shown that kids who eat with their families frequently are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, and develop an eating disorder.  They are also more like to delay sex and to report that their parents are proud of them.  When a child is feeling down or depressed, family dinner can act as an intervention.  This is especially true of eating disorders, says Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, who has studied the impact of family meal patterns on adolescents.  `If a child eats with his or her parents on a regular basis, problems will be identified earlier on,’ she says.”

                Church leaders and other counselors encourage families to eat their meals together as a family in order to discuss schedules, daily happenings, concerns, etc.  Prophetic counsel about families eating meals together came from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles as well as others.  “The number of those who report that their `whole family usually eats dinner together’ has declined 33%.  This is most concerning because the time a family spends together `eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children’s academic achievement and psychological adjustment.’  Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children’s smoking, drinking, or using drugs.  There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents:  what your children really want for dinner is you.”

                The health study showed that families attending Church together helps to keep teen suicide at bay:  “Those who attend religious services or activities once a week or more (60.4% of sample) were half as likely to have considered suicide.”  The study also found that “even among those who had experienced an episode of depressive symptoms (two or more weeks of feeling sad or hopeless to the point where it interfered with their usual activities) in the previous year (20.8% of the sample), religious involvement was still protective.”

                President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency spoke about Church attendance in 2010:  “I understand that, at time, some may wonder why they attend Church meetings or why it is so important to read the scriptures regularly or pray to our Heavenly Father daily.  Here is my answer:  You do these things because they are part of God’s path for you.  And that path will take you to your `happily ever after’ destination.”

                Attending Church meetings together creates an extended support network and decreases the likelihood of developmental problems:  “A church family provides you with an extended network of like-minded people who have the same beliefs and spiritual aims that you have, allowing you to seek support and give encouragement to one another.  If you happen to live far away from your own extended family, members of your congregation who you’re particularly close to can help fill that void.”  Also:  “A special report by the National Survey of Children’s Health indicates that religious participation by an intact family is associated with a lowered risk of developmental and behavioral problems in school-aged children.

                The health study included bullying, saying that those who were bullied “were four times more likely to have seriously considered suicide during the same time period.  Those who had been bullied electronically (15.9% of respondents) were 4.4 times more likely to have considered suicide.”

                The study echoed counsel given by Elder David A Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when he warned of the harmful effects that digital technologies can have on our souls.  “I raise an apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences upon our souls.  The concerns I raise are not new; they apply equally to other types of media, such as television, movies, and music.  But in a cyber-world, these challenges are more pervasive and intense.  I plead with you to beware of the sense-dulling and music.  But in a cyber-world, these challenges are more pervasive and intense.  I plead with you to beware of the sense-dulling and spiritually destructive influence of cyberspace technologies that are used to produce high fidelity and that promote degrading and evil purposes.

                “If the adversary cannot entice us to misuse our physical bodies, then one of his most potent tactics is to beguile you and me as embodied spirits to disconnect gradually and physically from things as they really are.  In essence, he encourages us to think and act as if we were in our premortal, unembodied state.  And, if we let him, he can cunningly employ some aspects of modern technology to accomplish his purposes.  Please be careful of becoming so immersed and engrossed in pixels, texting, earbuds, twittering, online social networking, and potentially addictive uses of media and the Internet that you fail to recognize the importance of your physical body and miss the richness of person-to-person communication.  Beware of digital displays and data in many forms of computer-mediated interaction that can displace the full range of physical capacity and experience.

                “Brothers and sisters, please understand.  I am not suggesting all technology is inherently bad; it is not.  Nor am I saying we should not use its many capabilities in appropriate ways to learn, to communicate, to lift and brighten lives, and to build and strengthen the Church; of course we should….” 

                Elder Bednar also said, “Overuse of electronics in general was also associated with higher odds of suicide ideation; those who used video games or computers for non-school-related activities (social media, etc.) for three or more hours per day (24.8% of respondents) were about twice as likely to have seriously considered suicide in the past year compared to those who had two or fewer hours of screen time daily.”

                The Utah health study proved the validity of the words of prophets and apostles.  We would do well to listen when inspired leaders speak to us.  We can strengthen the rising generation in our families, communities, and nation by listening when prophets speak.