Declaration of Independence

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

John Boehner Resigns

                Last Friday John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that he would resign from Congress and his position as Speaker of the House of Representatives with his resignation effective at the end of October.  Mr. Boehner was elected to lead the House after Republicans were put into power on a “conservative wave” in 2010.   Those conservative Republicans are now forcing his resignation.

                When Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) announced the resignation of Mr. Boehner, conservative voters attending the Values Voter Summit “roared in a standing ovation.” Others are wondering if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is the “next target of conservatives frustrated with party leadership.”  I am personally grateful that Mr. Boehner is leaving office because I consider him to be a Republican-in-name-only (RINO); I also consider Senator McConnell to be a RINO and would like to see him forced out of office.  Neither Mr. Boehner nor Mr. McConnell has made a stand against the lawlessness of Barack Obama.  We must have leaders who will defend and preserve the Constitution, and these leaders do not do it.

                Judicial Watch, under the direction of President Tom Fitton, wonders if the resignation of Mr. Boehner is “an opportunity to restore law and order.”  A letter sent to supporters of Judicial Watch acknowledged that the Washington Establishment may be surprised at the resignation, but “it is no surprise to American voters and conservative activists critical of Mr. Boehner’s speakership.  To sum up, Boehner will no longer be speaker because he failed to address the rule of law crisis caused by Obama’s unconstitutional power grabs and contempt for accountability.”

                Judicial Watch’s initial response to the resignation of the Speaker of the House is as follows:  “John Boehner’s willingness to fund rather than oppose Barack Obama’s lawlessness is a chief reason for his forced resignation from his position as speaker of the House.  It is no small issue that, during Boehner’s tenure, Judicial Watch is widely acknowledged to have been performing the oversight that is the job of Congress.  We’ve heard from many members of the House who are embarrassed that its committees and oversight have become a joke under Speaker Boehner.  Judicial Watch has had more success investigating the IRS, Benghazi, and Clinton email scandals than any House committee under Boehner’s direction.
                “And the House simply could not stand for John Boehner to allow the funding of the very things he told the American people that House leadership opposed. Corruption in government grew under Speaker Boehner’s watch.
                “The House, Republicans and Democrats alike, should take the pending leadership change as an opportunity to restore the House of Representatives to its preeminent role as defined under the U.S. Constitution.  A reform and restoration agenda for the House should be the priority of any new speaker and leadership team.  It is time to commit to combatting government corruption; time to focus on effective and serious oversight and accountability of an out-of-control federal government; time to end the DC transparency crisis; and time to restore constitutional governance and the rule of law.  The elected despotism that the Founding Fathers warned about must end.”

                I congratulate those conservatives who forced this action.  Let’s move on to the next RINO!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Searching for Principles

                I started school two weeks ago and am learning many interesting things.  Today’s post is in response to an assignment to share with others some of the teachings I am learning in my class about the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ.  We have been instructed to study the Book of Mormon – not just read it – and to use various study skills to do so.  The study skill for this week is to look for principles taught in the assigned scripture block.

                Principles are described as “unchanging truths, eternal laws, fundamental beliefs, and they are portable.”  In other words, if it is a true principle, it was true yesterday, it is true today, and it will still be true tomorrow; it will also be true in all circumstances.  Sometimes the writer points out the principle by using the words “thus we see.”  Other times we can find a principle by looking for the moral of the story.

                Our scripture block for this week was 1 Nephi chapters 1-5.  These chapters contain the story of Lehi and his family leaving Jerusalem and traveling into the wilderness; they also contain the story of Lehi sending his four sons back to Jerusalem to obtain the Brass Plates.  I cannot share in this post all the principles I found, but I will share a few of them.

                The first principle is:  Humble and sincere prayer invites personal revelation.  This principle comes from 1 Nephi 1:4-18, and the setting is Jerusalem about 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.  There were “many prophets” crying repentance and telling the people that Jerusalem would be destroyed if they did not repent.  Some of these prophets were Jeremiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Obadiah.  Lehi heard the teachings of the prophets and felt great concern; he knelt in humble prayers for his people.   He saw a “pillar of fire” that “dwelt upon a rock,” and “he saw and heard much.”

                Lehi returned to his home and “cast himself upon his bed” because he was so “overcome with the Spirit” and what he had seen and heard.  He received a vision while he was resting, and in the vision he saw “God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels” who were “singing and praising” God.  He saw “One” descending from heaven with “luster was above that of the sun at noon-day” and “twelve others” following him with “brightness” like the stars.  They gave Lehi a “book” and told him to read it.  Lehi read the book and “was filled with the Spirit of the Lord.” He attempted to share the information with the people of Jerusalem, but he was rejected.  The people threatened to kill Lehi, and he was forced to take his family into the wilderness.

                I found Lehi’s story to be very similar to that of Joseph Smith.  Both prophets prayed and received visions of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  They were each given a book, and both taught the information to others and prophesied.  Lehi’s life was threatened, but Joseph Smith was slain.

                The second principle comes from 1 Nephi chapters 3-4 and is:  The Lord will provide a way for us to keep His commandments if we exercise faith in Him and keep His commandments.  Lehi and his family had traveled into the wilderness for about two weeks when the Lord instructed Lehi to send his four sons – Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi – back to Jerusalem to get the Brass Plates from a relative named Laban.  The Brass Plates contained “the record of the Jews” and Lehi’s genealogy. 

                Laman and Lemuel murmured and objected most of the time, but Nephi and Sam were obedient and faithful in their duty.  Laman went to visit Laban and simply asked for the plates.  Laban became “angry,” called Laman a “robber” and threatened to kill him.  Then the sons tried to purchase the plates from Laban.  They went to their father’s property and obtained “gold and silver, and all manner of riches” and then went to see Laban.  Laban saw their property and wanted it.  He “thrust” them out of his house and “sent his servants to slay [them]” (3:11-14, 16, 23-27).  Laban was given two opportunities to give the plates to Lehi’s sons.

                Nephi understood the value of the Brass Plates and how Lehi’s family needed them to (1) “preserve … the language of our fathers” and (2) preserve the words of the holy prophets (3:19-20).  He was determined to obtain the Brass Plates and went back into the city after dark, being “led by the Spirit.”  As he walked he came upon a man passed out on the street and recognized the drunken man to be Laban.  The Spirit told Nephi three times to kill Laban, but Nephi did not want to commit murder.  The third time the Spirit told Nephi, “Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes.  It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief” (3:10-13).  Remembering the Lord’s promise to “prosper” his family if they were obedient to God, Nephi realized that they could not keep the commandments if they did not know them.  Since the Brass Plates contained the law of the Lord, Nephi knew he needed to get the plates.  Then he understood that the Lord had “delivered Laban into [his] hands for this cause – that [he] might obtain the records according to his commandments” (4:17).  Nephi followed the promptings of the Spirit, obtained the Brass Plates, and left the city with Laban’s servant, Zoram.

                I have noticed in recent years that the Lord continues to give difficult assignments to me.  Six years ago I was inspired to write this blog.  I knew absolutely nothing about writing a blog, but I had no doubts about the directions I was given.  Two years ago I was content with the amount of food I was growing on my city lot; I had a rhubarb plant, some strawberries, and a large raspberry patch.  I thought I was being obedient to the counsel to grow food.  Apparently I was not because I was inspired to grow more food.  At first I tried to grow food in pots, and the plants did okay.  Then I purchased a tent-like greenhouse to grow tomatoes and other plants, and I built two raised gardens to grow vegetables.  I took a gardening class to learn more about growing food and gained much knowledge.  Now the Lord has instructed me to further my education.  Like Nephi, I too know that the Lord “giveth no commandment” without “[preparing] a way” for me to accomplish what He commands.  I know that with the Lord’s help, I can accomplish difficult things.

                The third principle is:  We can help others to become more faithful when we respond to them with patience and love.  This principle is found in Chapter 5.  Sariah, Lehi’s wife, left her lovely home and her many friends in Jerusalem because people were threatening to kill her husband.  She traveled into the wilderness and was living in a tent.  Her husband sent her four sons back to Jerusalem to obtain the Brass Plates, a journey that would take at least a month.  She had no means of communicating with them and no idea if they were still alive.  She became worried about her sons and “complained against [Lehi].”  She called him “a visionary man” who led her family from “the land of [their] inheritance”; she expressed her feeling that her sons “were no more” and they would “perish in the wilderness” (verse 2).

                I believe the natural response for Lehi would be similar to “Woman, you need to support me, not complain against me!”  This was not the way Lehi responded to the concerns of his wife.  I can see him taking her in his arms and speaking soothingly to her.  He first admitted that he was a visionary man and that he had seen a vision.  He bore testimony that he knew they would be destroyed if they had stayed in Jerusalem.  He reminded her that he had “obtained a land of promise.”  He testified that he knew “the Lord will deliver my sons out of the hands of Laban and bring them down again unto us in the wilderness” (verses 4-5).

                Lehi continued speaking soothing words to Sariah until she was comforted.  Both Lehi and Sariah rejoiced when their sons returned with the Brass Plates.  Sariah then testified, “Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them” (verse 8).

                This experience illustrates how a soft answer can help strengthen relationships as well as strengthen faith.  I believe that using a soft answer when we respond to our spouses, children, and others can do much to strengthen our families.  A soft answer seems to extinguish the fire of anger and frustration.  I believe that we can all learn much from this experience of Lehi and Sariah.

                When we look for the principle being taught – the moral of the story – as we study the Book of Mormon, we can learn much more than the story.  The principles help us to understand the story better, but they also bring much understanding of why the story was included in the scripture in the first place.  Looking for principles can deepen our understanding and help us become better disciples of Jesus Christ.

Monday, September 28, 2015

William Randolph Hearst

                William Randolph Hearst is my VIP for this week.  He was born on April 29, 1863, in San Francisco, California, to George and Phoebe Apperson Hearst.  His father was a millionaire mining engineer, goldmine owner, and U.S. Senator (1886-91).  His father’s grandfather was Scots-Irish John Hearst who emigrated from Ballybay, County Monaghan; he, his wife, and six children were part of the Cahans Exodus in 1766 and settled in South Carolina.  They apparently immigrated to South Carolina because the policy of the colonial government encouraged Irish Protestants to come to America.

                The council records of October 26, 1766, list a “John Hearse” and a “John Hearse Jr.” as owning property.  The `Hearse’ spelling of the family name never was used afterward by the family members themselves, or any family of any size.  A separate theory purports that one branch of a `Hurst’ family of Virginia (originally from Plymouth Colony) moved to South Carolina at about the same time and changed the spelling of its surname of over a century to that of the [immigrant] Hearsts.  Hearst’s mother, nee Phoebe Elizabeth Apperson, was of Irish ancestry; her family came from Galway.  She was the first woman regent of University of California, Berkeley, funded many anthropological expeditions and founded the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.”

                William Hearst attended St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, and then enrolled in Harvard College, class of 1885, but was expelled for “antics ranging from sponsoring massive beer parties in Harvard Square to sending pudding pots used as chamber pots to his professors….”

                While searching for an occupation in 1887, Hearst became manager of a newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner.  His father had received it in payment of a gambling debt in 1880.  He gave his paper the motto “Monarch of the Dailies,” bought only the “best equipment,” and hired “the most talented writers of the time.”  He published “stories of municipal and financial corruption, often attacking companies in which his own family held an interest.  Within a few years, his paper dominated the San Francisco market.”

                Hearst went on to build the largest newspaper chain in America; his “methods profoundly influenced American journalism.”    In 1887 after “taking control of The San Francisco Examiner from his father,” he moved to New York City and acquired The New York Journal.  He then “engaged in a bitter circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World that led to the creation of yellow journalism – sensationalized stories of dubious veracity.  Acquiring more newspapers, Hearst created a chain that numbered nearly 30 papers in major American cities at its peak.  He later expanded to magazines, creating the largest newspaper and magazine business in the world.  Hearst had a great impact on journalism.

                As a Democrat Hearst was elected twice to the U.S. House of Representatives; he also “ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of New York City in 1905 and 1909, for Governor of New York in 1906, and for Lieutenant Governor of New York in 1910.”  He “exercised enormous political influence” through his newspapers and magazines; he was blamed for “pushing public opinion with his yellow journalism type of reporting” that apparently led “the United States into a war with Spain in 1898.”

                Hearst’s “life story was the main inspiration for the development of the lead character in Orson Welles’s film Citizen Kane.  His mansion, Hearst Castle, on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean near San Simeon, California, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, was donated by the Hearst Corporation to the state of California in 1957, and is now a State Historical Monument and a National Historic Landmark, open for public tours.  Hearst formally named the estate La Cuesta Encantada (“The Enchanted Hill”)” but preferred to call it “the ranch.”

                In 1903, Hearst married a 21-year-old chorus girl from New York City by the name of Millicent Veronica Willson.  Millicent’s mother Hannah Willson evidently ran a brothel that was connected to and protected by Tammany Hall characters; the brothel was located near the headquarters of political power in New York City.  Hearst and Millicent had five sons:  George Randolph Hearst (born April 23, 1904), William Randolph Hearst, Jr. (born January 27, 1908), John Randolph Hearst (born in 1910), and twins Randolph Apperson Hearst and David Whitmire Hearst (born December 2, 1915). 

                Hearst was also the grandfather of Patricia “Patty” Hearst who became famous for being kidnapped by and then joining the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974; her father was Hearst’s fourth son, Randolph Apperson Hearst.

                Hearst had an affair with Marion Davies (1897-1961), a popular film actress and comedienne, and lived openly with her in California.  Millicent grew tired of the long affair and separated from Hearst in the mid-1920s; however, she was still legally married to him at the time of his death.

                “Millicent built an independent life for herself in New York City as a leading philanthropist, was active in society, and created the Free Milk Fund for the poor in 1921.  After the death of Patricia Lake, Davies’s supposed niece, it was confirmed by Lake’s family that she was in fact Hearst’s daughter by Davies.

                Hearst left his home in remote San Simeon, California, to seek medical care in 1947 and died on August 14, 1951, in Beverly Hills at the age of 88.  He was buried in the Hearst family mausoleum at the Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, California.  None of Hearst’s five sons graduated from college but all of them followed their father in the media business.  William Randolph, Jr. became a Pulitzer Price-winning newspaper reporter.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Electoral College

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article 2 of the Constitution of the United States and concerns the Electoral College.  The Electoral College is the process through which we elect the President of the United States.

                The Electoral College has become unpopular over the last few decades because people do not understand the importance of it.  Chad Kent spoke with Tara Ross about the Electoral College and discussed their interview here.  Tara Ross wrote a book about the Electoral College titled Enlightened Democracy, and Mr. Kent highly recommends it, claiming it is thorough and easy to read.  Ms. Ross explained, “The Electoral College isn’t a bumper sticker.  You have to sit down and think about it for a few minutes to see why it’s so important.”

                Agreeing with this statement, Mr. Kent stated, “And she’s right.  The Electoral College doesn’t jump right out at you as a brilliant and effective method for choosing our presidents.  You have to stop and think about all the challenges we face in a huge country like ours before you start to appreciate what an incredible system it is.”

                Mr. Kent explained that the first thing we need to understand is that we do not directly elect our President.  He said that “democracy is a terrible idea that always fails.  A country as large as ours will not function properly unless it has strong characteristics of federalism in how it’s designed.  The electoral college is one of the indispensable parts of our government in Washington, D.C. that make it a federal government – and not a national one. 
                “Because federalism works – and straight democracy doesn’t – it’s actually the States who elect our president.”  When we go to the polls on Election Day, we are simply voting for the person we would like our state to support in the Electoral College.

                Mr. Kent’s article is very interesting with video clips of his interview with Ms. Ross.  I encourage you to go to his page to gain more information about the Electoral College; however, I will tell you that Ms. Ross beliefs Al Gore lost the 2000 election because of West Virginia and not Florida.  I found this information to be very interesting because we certainly did not hear much about it from the media.

                America is very different now than it was in 1787, but the electoral process designed then is still relevant today because we are humans.  Human nature has not changed.  The Framers of the Constitution put a process in place to keep as much corruption out of our government as possible by separating the powers.  The Electoral College is part of that process.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Temple and Marriage

                As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are taught about temple marriage from the time we are very small.  We sing learn to love the temple and know of its importance in our lives.  We sing “I love to see the temple , I’m going there some day…”  but few of us know about the pattern for marriage and family life as taught in the temple.

                According to Elder Bruce C. Hafen, formerly of the Seventy (1996-2010), “the life of Jesus Christ is the story of giving the Atonement” and “the story of Adam and Eve is the story of receiving the Atonement, amid the sometimes-formidable oppositions of mortality.”  The temple teaches about marriage as it teaches the story of Adam and Eve and how they were the first people to receive the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  They were the first parents on the earth as well as the first people to know of the joys and heartaches of parenthood.

                The ancient American prophet Lehi explained the doctrinal context for understanding the experience of Adam and Eve – and ours as well.  He explained that Adam and Eve would have remained in the Garden of Eden forever if they had not transgressed the law of God.  “ And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
                “But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
                “Adam fell that men might be [mortal]; and men are, that they might have joy” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 2:23-25).

                After sharing the above scripture, Elder Hafen taught, “So, paradoxically, sin, misery, and children help create the context for learning what joy means – a process made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
                “Because of the Atonement, we can learn from our experiences without being condemned by them.  And receiving the Atonement, as Adam and Eve did, is not just a doctrine about erasing black marks; it is the core doctrine that allows human development.  Thus, Christ’s sacrifice didn’t just return them to an Eden of innocence.  That would be a story with no plot and no character growth.  Rather, they left the garden holding on to each other and moving forward, together, into the world in which we now live.
                “The temple primal story is quite consciously the story of a married couple who help one another face continuous mortal opposition. For only in confronting that sometimes-miserable opposition could they learn to comprehend true joy.”

                Elder Hafen explained “two implications from the Adam and Eve story about our understanding of marriage”:  (1) The Restoration teaches a positive view of the Fall:  We know that Adam and Eve chose wisely in the garden because only mortality could provide the experience needed to fulfill God’s plan for them – and for us.” Explaining further, Elder Hafen taught that the relationship between Adam and Eve was neither dependent nor independent of one another but interdependent.  “They are `equal partners’ who `help one another’ in everything they do.”
                 (2) “When Adam and Eve left the garden, the Lord directed them to build an altar and offer animal sacrifices.  After many days an angel asked Adam why he offered sacrifices.  He answered, `I know not, save the Lord commanded me.’ Then the angel told him, `this thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten’ (Moses 5:6-7).”              
                “Thus, the animals Adam and Eve sacrificed were symbols that pointed them toward the Father’s future redemptive sacrifice of His Son.  The angel then taught them that Christ’s sacrifice and the plan of redemption would give meaning and purpose to all of their opposition – indeed, to all of their mortal experience.”

                Elder Hafen compared the altar of Adam and Eve with the altars in the temple and concluded that the temple altars are also “altars of prayer, sacrifice, and covenants.”  Sharing an experience he had as president of the St. George Utah Temple, Elder Hafen “was about to seal a young couple.  As I invited them to the altar and the groom took his bride by the hand, I realized that they were about to place upon that altar of sacrifice their own broken hearts and contrite spirits – a selfless offering of themselves to each other and to god in emulation of Christ’s sacrifice for them.  And for what purpose?  So that through a lifetime of sacrificing for each other – that is, trying to live as He did – they might become ever more as He is.
                “By living that way every day, they would each come closer to God, which would also bring them closer to each other.  Thus, living the covenants of the sealing ordinance would sanctify not only their marriage but also their hearts and their very lives….
                “But when we offer in our marriage a broken heart and a contrite spirit in similitude of the Good Shepherd, we promise to give our lives for the sheep of our covenant, a day or even an hour at a time.  This process invites us to take selflessly upon ourselves both the afflictions and the joys of our companion and children, emulating in our own limited way how the Savior takes upon Himself our afflictions….
                “As we deny ourselves of ungodliness and honestly love God as fully as we are able, Christ’s perfecting grace can complete the process of making us whole….
                “I bear witness that the order of marriage God gave to Adam and Eve is worth whatever it takes – to find it, to build it, and to keep it in our lives.  I also testify that husbands and wives who try to live like the Good Shepherd will discover, and will give to each other, a more abundant life of authentic joy.”

                I have been attending the temple for nearly fifty years and have learned much about the Atonement of Jesus Christ as well as marriage and sacrifice from the story of Adam and Eve.  My knowledge has come drop by drop, idea by idea – and I am still learning.  I truly appreciate knowing about Adam and Eve and how this knowledge helps me in my relationship with my husband and children.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Family Proclamation

                We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by following the principles outlined in the Proclamation on the Family.  This proclamation contains prophetic counsel on the duties and responsibilities of husbands and wives, fathers and mothers as well as the principles upon which strong families are built.

                Twenty years ago this month President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) presented the Proclamation on the Family to the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I was in attendance at the meeting and felt the solemnity of the occasion.  I did not, however, know the background of this great occasion.  

                Three months earlier a newspaper reporter asked President Hinckley about his greatest concern as he turned 85 on June 23, 1995.  President Hinckley replied, “I am concerned about family life in the Church.  We have wonderful people, but we have too many whose families are falling apart.  It is a matter of serious concern.  I think it is my most serious concern” (emphasis added).

                President Hinckley spoke about parenthood, saying there is no greater challenge or no greater opportunity.  “It is a God-given calling … And it’s worth every effort that one can put into it to make it successful.  There is no greater work.”

                President Hinckley continued, “There is too much of worldliness in our homes.  There is too much of selfishness.  We need to get back to the basics of respect one for another, concern one for another, love and appreciation one for another, and working and worshipping together and living together as families who love the Lord and look to Him for light and strength and comfort.
                “I just want to see our people walk in the light of the Lord.   That is where they will find their happiness; that’s where they will find their progress; that’s where they will find their prosperity, in walking the paths that the Lord has laid out for us.  Happiness and peace lie in living the gospel.”

                The Prophet of the Lord was experiencing some very powerful concerns for the families of the Church and the world.  Elder Bruce C. Hafen, who served as a member of the Seventy from 1996 to 2010, gave this observation:  “It was no coincidence that this solemn declaration was issued precisely when the Lord’s prophet felt that, of all the subjects on his mind, unstable family life in the Church was his greatest concern…. 
                “The proclamation was not merely a collection of pro-family platitudes.  It was a serious prophetic warning about a major international problem.  And now, 20 years later, the problem is getting worse, which shows just how prophetic the 1995 warning was.”

                Still feeling concern about the family in 2003, President Hinckley spoke at a year-long series “Bridges to the Future:  American History and Values in Light of September 11th.”  “In my judgement the greatest challenge facing this nation is the problem of the family, brought on by misguided parents and resulting in misguided children.”  He said that strengthening the home is of paramount importance in building bridges to the future.  He also put the bulk of the responsibility on “the man and woman who are responsible for the children.  And to put it bluntly, too many of them are cop-outs.”

                President Hinckley also spoke about divorce, pornography, and drug use as well as the Church’s family home evening program.  He said that as we work to strengthen the family, “America will be strong not only in her arms and military affairs, she will be invincible in her moral values and in the integrity of her people.
                “I urge each of you to work at it, to become involved, to reach out to lift those who stand in need of help.  We will not entirely solve the problem, but we can reduce it.”

                Elder Hafen  discussed the effects on marriage and children that have taken place since 1965:  (1) The divorce rate has more than doubled, (2) The number of unmarried couples has increased by about 15 times, (3) More than half of all first marriages end in divorce; 60 percent of second marriages do also; (4) 40 percent of births in the U.S. are to unmarried parents compared to 5 percent in 1960; (5) Four times as many children live in single-parent families; (6) More than half of marriages today follow cohabitation.
                “Nonetheless, the children of divorced or unwed parents have about three times as many serious behavioral, emotional, and developmental problems as children in two-parent families.  By every measure of child well-being, these children are far worse off.  And when children are dysfunctional, society becomes dysfunctional.”  He then listed some examples of that dysfunction:  (1) Juvenile crime has increased sixfold; (2) Child neglect and all forms of child abuse have quintupled; (3) Psychological disorders among children have all worsened, from drug abuse to eating disorders; depression among children has increased 1,000 percent; (4) domestic violence against women has increased, and poverty has shifted increasingly to children.

                Continuing, Elder Hafen stated, “How serious are these problems?  As President Hinckley said in 1995, these issues were his `most serious concern.’  And the trends that troubled him then are now measurably worse.  As a Time magazine writer put it:
                “`There is no other single force causing as much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage.  It hurts children, it reduces mothers’ financial security, and it has landed with particular devastation on those who can bear it least:  the nation’s underclass….
                “`The poor [have uncoupled] parenthood from marriage, and the financially secure [blast] apart their [own] unions if [they] aren’t having fun anymore.’”

                Elder Hafen reminded his readers of the cure promised by the Old Testament prophet Elijah to the modern day prophet Joseph Smith in 1836:  “Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi – testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—
                “To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—“ (Doctrine and Covenants 110:14-15; see also Joseph Smith – History 1:39 and Malachi 4-6).

                Brother Hafen asked, “Are we already living in the time of the curse?  Perhaps.  Today’s children (and therefore society – the earth)
are indeed being `wasted’ (devalued, made useless, rendered desolate) by each issue discussed here.
                  “The doctrine is clear – and is substantiated by years of research.  We don’t need to return to the family laws of yesteryear, but if we could just care more about our children and their future, people would marry before becoming parents.  They would sacrifice more, much more, to stay married.  Children would be raised, whenever possible, by their biological parents.  Ideally, there would be no elective abortions or unwed births.  Of course, some exceptions are needed – some divorces are justified, and adoption is often heaven-sent.  Yet in principle, the 1995 proclamation on the family says it perfectly:  `Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.’  ….
                 “Building a good marriage is not easy.  It is not supposed to be easy.  But when a confused culture confuses us about what marriage means, we may give up on each other and ourselves much too soon.  Yet the gospel’s eternal perspective, as taught in the scriptures and the temple, can help us transcend the modern marital chaos until our marriages are the most satisfying, sanctifying—even if also the most demanding—experiences of our lives.”

                 Twenty years ago the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued the Proclamation on the Family to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to the world.  They saw in prophetic vision the need to strengthen the family and issued their warning.  Millions of people listened and followed their counsel; those people have strengthened their marriages and their families as well as their communities and nations. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Unalienable Rights

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple belief that God has given us certain unalienable rights.  The Declaration of Independence set forth three very important unalienable rights:  life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  No human being, legislature, Congress, or vote of the people has the power to take these rights away.  The reason government is instituted in the first place is to protect our unalienable rights, particularly our rights of life, liberty, and property. 

                Ezra Taft Benson, late President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and former Secretary of Agriculture during the Eisenhower administration, spoke often of the role of government and stated:  “Rights are either God-given as part of the Divine Plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan.  Reason, necessity, tradition and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights.  If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government.  I, for one, shall never accept that premise” (“The Proper Role of Government”).  

                Frederick Bastiat wrote, “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws.  On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place” (The Law, 1850).  

                Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) was a French economist, statesman, and author and did most of his writing just before and immediately after the French Revolution of February 1848 and during the period of time that France was going socialist.  The Law  was published 165 years ago as a pamphlet in June, 1850; its truths have passed the test of time, and its values are eternal.  His writings deserve to be studied because many socialist/communist ideas are currently sweeping America. 

                The government is in place to protect our unalienable rights instead of infringing upon them.  The ideas for this blog and the above quotes are from this site, which states: 

                “Destruction of individual rights in the name of security and welfare is a breach of the government’s contract with `the people’, yet this happens regularly by our current Federal Government.  In George Washington’s day as President there 350 employees of the Federal Government serving about 3 million people, with one person serving 8,600 people (one person serves 107 people today).  By today’s standards Washington should have added 27,650 more federal employees to his 350.  These figures are atrocious, as are the 650+ official Federal Government Agencies in existence.”

                We have approximately 318,900,000 people living in America today and 2,721,000 federal non-uniform employees in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.  This number does not include any military members.  There are also many more government employees in the fifty states plus other government units.  The job of all these employees is to protect our unalienable rights.  We should be holding them accountable instead of allowing, encouraging and supporting the taking away of our rights. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Refugee Crisis

                There is a huge refugee crisis in Europe that no one wants to discuss; neither politicians nor citizens want to talk about it, and the media does not want to report it.  The situation in Europe is actually a global problem, never previously seen in our time.  It is the biggest migration of people since World War II and has the portion to cause enormous religious-social problems.

                Keith Fitz-Gerald, a market analyst for more than 30 years of global experience, wrote a commentary recently about this “elephant in the room.”  He titled his summary “Here’s What No One Understands About the Refugee Crisis in Europe.”  

                Mr. Fitz-Gerald claims that the situation could have a good outcome if “adept, intelligent politicians” worked to “turn social, political, and economic risks into opportunity.”  One example for good he gave was the fact that immigrants have more children; this would raise the overall birth rate and eventually build up the labor pool.  The highly skilled immigrants start businesses, and those with lower or no skills take the jobs locals do not want. 

                “If Europe is to survive, its self-interested officials have to involve business leaders and private  finance in making rapid policy changes.  That’s because business leaders are far more direct than political apparatchiks.

                “They will make decisions based on skills, benefits, and training needs that by their very definition involve a level of segregation.  Critics will call foul based on the apparent `discrimination,’ much the way they have lined up against Donald Trump’s position on Mexican immigration.  They’re not the same thing.

                “One is an economic/humanitarian need while the other is a security risk.  Countries that have refused to engage abroad are now going to bear the brunt of that failure.  Germany and America, for example, still do not grasp that inaction has led to direct battlefield escalation.

                “There’s also a corresponding danger inside Europe itself from sleeper agents using millions of refugees as cover for hijrah or immigration jihad.  Islamic State has openly threatened to flood Europe with 500,000 fake refugees, and unlike President Barack Obama’s `red line,’ chances are they mean it.”

                Mr. Fitz-Gerald’s article is very interesting and worth reading.  The European immigration crisis, plus our own illegal immigration problems, should be an on-going national discussion.  We should be asking questions such as the following:  Why should Europe take in the Muslim immigrants when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar refuse to take any of them?  What do they know that other nations should learn?  Why should some countries, such as Greece, Italy, and France, be allowed to act as conduits to other nations such as Austria, Germany, and Turkey?  Do these targeted nations have the right to close their borders and refuse to allow the immigrants to enter? 

                Trying to put all this into proper perspective, Mr. Fitz-Gerald stated that no more than 7,400 refugees per year were settled in the European Union between 2008 and 2014 entering a population of approximately 507 million.  The United States has a population of approximately 330 million and settles an average of 66,000 refugees per year.  Nation in the European Union ordered approximately 516,219 non-citizens to return home per year.

                “The staggering numbers involved here suggest a sobering truth:  Everything from women’s rights, to law, to intellectual freedom – concepts brought forth in the Age of Enlightenment dating from the 1620s to roughly the 1780s – is at risk.”

                Why is it a risk?  The potentially millions of people will bring “a massive economic impact at a time when Europe is almost totally unprepared to handle a rolling parade of desperation.”  Plus these people have admitted that they “are not culturally compatible” and “are showing very little if any desire to fit in to the millennia-old civilization Europe enjoys today.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


                I wrote last week about starting college classes and explained a little about Pathway.  I looked at the list of assignments for the first lesson of each class and became overwhelmed.  I was near tears when I realized how much time I would need to spend, how quickly I would need to learn more about technology, and the changes I would need to make in my schedule.

                I managed to bring fears under control by remembering an instruction by my piano teacher about focusing.  I remembered that I learned much quicker and better by focusing on one note at a time.  By recalling this instruction, I told myself that I could do the work by focusing on one thing.  .  If I allow myself to look at the big picture, I still feel a little overwhelmed, but by focusing on one assignment at a time, I am able to move forward with my classes.

                Focusing on one thing at a time can help us in many areas of our lives.  Many of us pride ourselves on our ability to multi-task, but maybe we are not doing so well.  I have over-cooked food several times by not focusing on the task at hand.  I remember one of my little children saying “Listen to me with your eyes” because I was doing something else while trying to pay attention to her.  Maybe we should all practice focusing on one thing at a time; we just might be able to move forward with our lives and relationships better than we can by multi-tasking all the time.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

                I decided to research Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  for my VIP this week because I am learning to play my first piece of his music and wanted to know more about the composer.  Mozart was born on January 27, 1756, in Salzburg, “the capital of the Archbishopric of Salzburg, an ecclesiastic principality in what is now Austria, then part of the Holy Roman Empire.” 

                Mozart’s parents were Leopold Mozart (1719-1787) and Anna Maria Pertl Mozart (1720-1778), and he was the youngest of seven children, five of whom died as infants.  He was baptized the day after his birth at St. Rupert’s Cathedral with his name on the baptismal record as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart.  He generally referred to himself as “Wolfgang Amade Mozart,” but his name varied greatly as an adult.  His older sister was Maria Anna (1751-1829), nicknamed “Nannerl”.

                Leopold Mozart was a native of Augsburg and “was a minor composer and an experienced teacher.  In 1743, he was appointed as fourth violinist in the musical establishment of Count Leopold Anton von Firmian, the ruling Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg.”  He married Anna Maria four years later in Salzburg. In 1756 he published a violin textbook that achieved success.  In 1763, twenty years after his appointment, he became the deputy Kapellmeister for the orchestra. 

                Leopold begin teaching Nannerl keyboard lessons when she was seven years old, and three-year-old Wolfgang looked on.  She reminisced years later after Mozart’s death, “He often spent much time at the clavier, picking out thirds, which he was ever striking, and his pleasure showed that it sounded good….  In the fourth year of his age his father, for a game as it were, began to teach him a few minuets and pieces at the clavier….  He could play it faultlessly and with the greatest delicacy, and keeping exactly in time….  At the age of five, he was already composing little pieces, which he played to his father who wrote them down.”

                Mozart composed his first three pieces of music within a period of weeks.  Leopold was a devoted teacher, and his son was an eager student who desired to learn more than he was being taught.  He wrote his first symphony at age eight years.  He was competent on the keyboard and the violin.  He was hired by the court in Salzburg as a musician when he was 17.  He became restless for a better position and began traveling.  In 1781 he was dismissed from his Salzburg position and chose to stay in Vienna; there he “achieved fame but little financial security.”  He composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas in his later years in Vienna; he also composed portions of the Requiem but left it unfinished at his death.

                Mozart “composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music.  He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, and his influence on subsequent Western art music is profound; Ludwig van Beethoven composed his own early works in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote that `posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years.”

                Being rejected by one young woman, Mozart became interested in a younger sister.  He had a difficult time getting his father’s permission to marry, but he married Constanze Weber on August 4, 1782, in St Stephen’s Cathedral, the day before the permission arrived.  The couple had six children, four of whom died in infancy:  Raimund Leopold (June 17 – August 19, 1783), Karl Thomas Mozart (September 21 1784 – October 31, 1858), Johann Thomas Leopold (October 18 – November 15, 1786), Theresia Constanzia Adelheid Friedericke Maria Anna (December 27, 1787 – June 29, 1788), Anna Maria (died soon after birth on November 16, 1789), and Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart (July 26, 1791 – July 29, 1844).

                Mozart was a lifelong and loyal member of the Catholic Church.  He was described as “a remarkably small man, very thin and pale, with a profusion of fine, fair hair of which he was rather vain.”  Another description said he was “small and his countenance, except for his large intense eyes, gave no signs of his genius.”  His face was pitted by a childhood case of smallpox.  He wore elegant clothing.  His wife described his voice as “a tenor, rather soft in speaking and delicate in singing, but when anything excited him, or it became necessary to exert it, it was both powerful and energetic.”  He worked long and hard on his compositions; he “lived at the center of the Viennese musical world, and knew a great number and variety of people.”  He enjoyed billiards and dancing and owned numerous pets including a canary, a dog, and a horse.

                While in Prague for the September 6, 1791, premiere of his opera La clemenza di Tito, Mogart became ill.  He continued his duties until November 20 when he became “bedridden, suffering from swelling, pain, and vomiting.”  His wife and her younger sister cared for him during his final illness under the care of his doctor.  He apparently tried to finish his Requiem but was not able to do so.  He died at his home about 1:00 a.m. on December 5, 1791, at age 35.  He was survived by his widow and two sons.  The cause of his death is uncertain with a possible 118 causes suggested by researchers.

                Mozart was buried in a “common grave” (individual grave for a member of the common people) at the St. Marx Cemetery outside the city on December 7 on a “calm and mild”.  Consistent with burial customs at the time in Vienna, no mourners attended the burial.

                “Mozart’s modest funeral did not reflect his standing with the public as a composer:  memorial services and concerts in Vienna and Prague were well-attended.  Indeed, in the period immediately after his death, his reputation rose substantially….”

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Originally Written

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the principle that all who make, interpret, and enforce the laws of our nation should be guided by the Constitution as it was originally written.  We must observe the origin even though many people consider the Constitution to be a “living document” that changes to suit the times.

                David F. Forte wrote a chapter in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution that explained why we need to stay with “The Originalist Perspective.”  He explained that “Attorney General Edwin Meese III delivered a series of speeches challenging the then-dominant view of constitutional jurisprudence and calling for judges to embrace a `jurisprudence of original intention.”  There ensued a vigorous debate in the academy, as well as in the popular press, and in Congress itself over the prospect of an `originalist’ interpretation of the Constitution.  Some critics found the idea too vague to be pinned down; others believed that it was impossible to find the original intent that lay behind the text of the Constitution.  Some rejected originalism in principle, as undemocratic (though it is clear that the Constitution was built upon republican rather than democratic principles), unfairly binding the present to the choices of the past.

                “As is often the case, the debate was not completely black and white.  Some nonoriginalists do not think that the Framers intended anything but the text of the Constitution to be authoritative, and they hold that straying beyond the text to the intentions of various Framers is not an appropriate method of interpretation.  In that, one strain of originalism agrees.  On the other hand, many prominent nonoriginalists think that it is not the text of the Constitution per se that ought to be controlling but rather the principles behind the text that can be brought to bear on contemporary issues in an evolving manner.

                “Originalism, in its various and sometimes conflicting versions, is today the dominant theory of constitutional interpretation.  On the one hand, as complex as an originalist jurisprudence may be, the attempt to build a coherent nonoriginalist justification of Supreme Court decisions… seems to have failed.  At the same time, those espousing originalism have profited from the criticism of nonoriginalists, and the originalist enterprise has become more nuanced and self-critical as research into the Founding period continues to flourish.  Indeed, it is fair to say that this generation of scholars knows more about what went into the Constitution than any other since the time of the Founding….”

                Mr. Forte continues by giving several reasons why originalism is being championed today:  (1.) “It comports with the nature of a constitution, which binds and limits any one generation from ruling according to the passion of the times.”  (2) “Originalism supports legitimate popular government that is accountable.”  (3) “Originalism accords with the constitutional purpose of limiting government.”  (4) “It follows that originalism limits the judiciary.”  (5) “Supported by recent research, originalism comports with the understanding of what our Constitution was to be by the people who formed and ratified the document.”  (6) “Originalism, properly pursued, is not result-oriented, whereas much nonoriginalist writing is patently so.”

                Then Mr. Forte explained how to ascertain the original meaning of the Constitution.  “All originalists begin with the text of the Constitution, the words of a particular clause.  In the search for the meaning of the text and its legal effect, originalist researchers variously look to the following:  (1) The evident meaning of the words, (2) The meaning according to the lexicon of the times, (3) The meaning in context with other sections of the Constitution, (4) The meaning according to the words by the Framer suggesting the language, (5) The elucidation of the meaning by debate within the Constitutional Convention, (6) The historical provenance of the words, particularly their legal history, (7) The words in the context of the contemporaneous social, economic, and political events, (8) The words in the context of the revolutionary struggle,
(9) The words in the context of the political philosophy shared by the Founding generation, or by the particular interlocutors at the Convention,
(10) Historical, religious, and philosophical authority put forward by the Framers, (11) The commentary in the ratification debates, (12) The commentary by contemporaneous interpreters, such as Publius in The Federalist, (13) The subsequent historical practice by the Founding generation to exemplify the understood meaning (e.g., the actions of President Washington, the First Congress, and Chief Justice Marshall),
(14) Early judicial interpretations, and (15) Evidence of long-standing traditions that demonstrate the people’s understanding of the words.”

                I like Mr. Forte’s summary of why we should keep the originalist perspective:  “Originalism does not remove controversy, or disagreement, but it does cabin it within a principled constitutional tradition that makes real the Rule of Law.  Without that, we are destined, as Aristotle warned long ago, to fall into the `rule of men’.”

                This summary reflects the reason why The Heritage Foundation published its guide to the Constitution.