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.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ted Cruz Puts Principles First

                When Senator Ted Cruz spoke at the Republican National Convention, he was classy and stood on principles. He congratulated Donald Trump on winning the nomination and urged his listeners to vote their consciences in November. He stood on principles and presented his remarks in a masterful way. Yet, he was booed off the stage, and his wife and father were escorted out of the arena by security.

                You can read Cruz’s remarks for yourself here and make your own decision about him. I think he gave a powerful speech, and I want to share his closing sentences. “We deserve leaders who stand for principle. Unite us all behind shared values. Cast aside anger for love. That is the standard we should expect, from everybody.
                “And to those listening, please, don’t stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.
                “It’s love of freedom that has allowed millions to achieve their dreams….
                “We must make the most of our moment – to fight for freedom, to protect our God-given rights, even of those with whom we don’t agree, so that when we are old and gray… and our work is done… and we give those we love one final kiss goodbye … we will be able to say, `Freedom matters, and I was part of something beautiful.’”

                I was pleased to read Cruz’s remarks. He did not endorse Trump, but he did not say anything against him either. He stood on his principles and presented his message that we can defend freedom and we must do.

                Ian Ballinger explains that “The importance of the speech goes beyond this election, because what happens after this election, what constitutionalist conservatives do, whether we see a trump presidency or a Hillary Clinton presidency, will determine whether or not the constitutionalist movement survives.
                “For constitutionalist conservatives, this election is lost; neither Trump nor Clinton represents the values and principles within the Constitution. If we as a movement are to survive, we need to realize something: we very well may not see a fix to our country’s problems within our lifetime. And that’s okay.
                “To live constitutional and Biblical principles isn’t to only think of yourself in this time, but is to work towards establishing a foundation upon which our children, our grandchildren and generations down the line have the upbringing and the knowledge of history to continue the fight for these principles. To quote Sen. Cruz: `Freedom means religious freedom whether you are a Christian or Jew, Muslim or atheist, gay or straight. The Bill of Rights protects the rights of all of us to live according to our conscience.’
                “Cruz’s audience was not the people on the convention floor; it was the tired and broken conservative who isn’t ready to give up on principles yet. How easy it would’ve been for him to give up on his principles….”

                Many people were ready to give up on Ted Cruz when he accepted Trump’s invitation to speak at the convention. They thought he had gone over to the “dark side” and forfeited his principles. I am grateful to see that he is still standing tall and steadfast in defending constitutional principles. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Law of the Fast

                The law of the fast includes fasting and paying fast offerings. According to Elder L. Tom Perry, “The Law of the fast has three great purposes. First, it provides assistance to the needy through the contribution of fast offerings, consisting of the value of meals from which we abstain. Second, a fast is beneficial to us physically. Third, it is to increase humility and spirituality on the past of each individual.” 

                The Lord established the law of the fast in order to bless His people. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints observe “fast Sunday” once each month. Fast Sunday is a day when members go without food and drink for 24 hours and then attend fast and testimony meeting on Sunday. Members are asked to pay a fast offering of at least an amount equal to the value of the food they would have eaten.

                The law of the fast blesses all who participate in it. Those who fast properly also pray and worship while going without food and drink. Their blessings include a greater “closeness to the Lord, increased spiritual strength, temporal well-being, greater compassion, and a stronger desire to serve” (Handbook 2, 6.1.2). 

                The Savior commands us to love our neighbors and to take care of the poor. The fast offering is the Lord’s way to help the poor, and He bestows blessings upon all those who are obedient to the law.

                Elder Perry quoted some remarks made by President Marion G. Romney (1897-1988), First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church:  “…I am a firm believer that you cannot give to the Church and to the building up of the kingdom of God and be any poorer financially. I remember a long time ago, over 50 years, when Brother [Melvin J.] Ballard laid his hands on my head and set me apart to go on a mission. He said in that prayer of blessing that a person could not give a crust to the Lord without receiving a loaf in return. That’s been my experience. If the members of the Church would double their fast-offering contributions, the spirituality in the Church would double. We need to keep that in mind and be liberal in our contributions.” (Welfare Agricultural Meeting, 3 April 1971, p 1.)

                Po Nien (Felipe) Chou and Petra Chou write in a recent Ensign article about miracles coming into their lives as they increased their fast offerings. “During financial difficulties, giving a generous fast offering and helping care for the needy can be difficult, particularly when we are – like the widow of Zarephath – among the needy. Giving a generous fast offering, no matter the amount, requires faith in the Lord and His promise to care for us. But the Lord fulfills His promises, and our family’s experience taught us that the more we are willing to share, the more we are blessed.”

                I too can testify of the blessings that come from paying generous fast offerings. I know people who literally add the dollars that their two meals would cost, but I never took the time to follow their example. I prefer to give a certain percentage. We are commanded to pay ten percent of our gross income for tithing, and I simply adapted that formula to pay one percent of whatever our gross income as fast offering. It is so much easier to calculate! We have always had enough money to pay our bills, and I have never worried about where our next meal would come from. I know that living the law of the fast brings blessings into our lives.

Friday, July 29, 2016

All Women Are Mothers

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when girls and women realize they are all mothers whether or not they ever bear children in mortality. Heavenly Father gave the gift of motherhood to his daughters before they came to earth. This gift is observed in toddlers as they care for their dolls. This gift is a divine calling as important as priesthood.

                After God created the earth and everything upon it, He created Adam. All the beasts and birds were brought to Adam to be named, and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was their name. Then God created a helpmeet for Adam and brought her to him. Adam called his helpmeet “Woman” because “she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 23). “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). Adam said that Eve was the “mother of all living” before she bore any children. That means she brought the ability to be a mother with her to earth – just as all females do.

                Sister Sheri L. Dew, then Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, spoke to the sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a talk titled “Are We Not All Mothers?” (Ensign, November 2001). She shared a story of taking four nieces to one of her speaking appointments and needing to walk through “an enormous mob of drunken parade-goers.” She “better understood how mothers who forgo their own safety to protect a child must feel. My siblings had entrusted me with their daughters, whom I love, and I would have done anything to lead them to safety. Likewise, our Father has entrusted us as women with His children, and He has asked us to love them and help lead them safely past the dangers of mortality back home….

                “Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate. As President J. Reuben Clark Jr. declared, motherhood is `as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.’…

                “For reasons known to the Lord, some women are required to wait to have children. This delay is not easy for any righteous woman. But the Lord’s timetable for each of us does not negate our nature. Some of us, then, must simply find other ways to mother. And all around us are those who need to be loved and led….

                “… Every time we build the faith or reinforce the nobility of a young woman or man, every time we love or lead anyone even one small step along the path, we are true to our endowment and calling as mothers and in the process we build the kingdom of God. No woman who understands the gospel would ever think that any other work is more important or would ever say, `I am just a mother,’ for mothers heal the souls of men….

                “As mothers in Israel, we are the Lord’s secret weapon. Our influence comes from a divine endowment that has been in place form the beginning….”

                Righteous women and girls can love and lead others to Christ by using their God-given gift of motherhood. They can use this great gift to strengthen families, communities, and nations. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Religious Freedom and Eternal Identity

                School districts all over the United States are changing their curriculum to include topics such as the changing of the roles that family and gender play in the lives of students. As the curriculum changes become public knowledge, religious leaders are taking steps to help the members of their congregations know how to deal with the changes. For example, leaders in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – local or otherwise – are holding a multi-stake youth fireside in my area to discuss the topic “Religious Freedom and LGBT Rights.”

                Consider what you would do if your local school board made this decision, confusing the youth in your ward or stake. What counsel would you give to your bishop in discussing the situation with parents who are concerned about what to tell their children? Imagine that your bishop is preparing to present a talk to the parents in your ward on the topic of “Teaching our children the importance of Gender and Eternal Identity,” and he asked for input from you. What would you tell him?

                I would suggest that Bishop Sinclair read and discuss the second paragraph of “The Family – A Proclamation to the World." “All human beings – male and female - are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

                This paragraph would lay the foundation for the rest of the presentation and show exactly what the Lord’s doctrine is as proclaimed by modern prophets and apostles. It explains plainly that the gender of each of us was determined in our premortal life, is important in our mortal life, and will continue to be “essential” in eternity.

                I would suggest to the bishop that he encourage the members of his ward to stand for correct principles in a kindly way. He might weave some counsel given by the Apostle Paul into his talk: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Paul is saying that we do not need to apologize for our beliefs because the gospel of Jesus Christ will lead us to salvation.

                I would recommend Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson’s talk “Defenders of the Family Proclamation to the bishop. She lists three principles in the proclamation on the family that are “especially in need of steadfast defenders” and gives some good reasons why she believes we should defend them. The first principle is “marriage between a man and a woman” (paragraph 10). The second principle is “elevating the divine roles of mothers and fathers” (paragraph 11). The third principle is the “sanctity of the home” (paragraph 17).

                I would suggest that the bishop show the video titled “Respecting Our Differences While Defending Religious Freedom.” This video was published by the Church on June 27, 2016, in an effort to seek fairness for all. It is one of “a new series of dramatized videos” that “shows members how to navigate the landmine-laced terrain of the sensitive social and religious issues of the day.” The video would teach the parents how to have open and honest discussions with people who have different beliefs without becoming angry and making the situation worse.

                I would also suggest that the bishop use Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ talk “Truth and Tolerance” as part of his presentation. Elder Oaks said that Truth and Tolerance are “twin ideas” (paragraph 2). In the next paragraph Elder Oaks speaks first of Truth: “We believe in absolute truth, including the existence of God and the right and wrong established by His commandments.”

                Elder Oaks also spoke of “three absolute truths” for tolerance. The first absolute truth is that “all persons are brothers and sisters under God, taught within their various religions to love and do good to one another” (paragraph 20). The second absolute truth is that “living with differences is what the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us we must do” (paragraph 23). The third absolute truth is that we “do not abandon the truth and our covenants” (paragraph 31).

                Additionally, Elder Oaks gave four principles of truth and tolerance that we can use when seeking government action: (1) Seek the inspiration of the Lord to be selective and wise in choosing which true principles [we] seek to promote by law or executive action (paragraph 54). (2) Always be tolerant of the opinions and positions of others who do not share [our] beliefs (paragraph 57). (3) Do not be deterred by the familiar charge that [we] are trying to legislate (paragraph 59). (4) Do not shrink from seeking laws to maintain public conditions or policies that assist [us] in practicing the requirements of [our] faith where those conditions or policies are also favorable to the public health, safety, or morals.

                Elder Oaks closed his remarks by reminding his listeners/readers that he is one of the Lord’s watchmen on the tower who has seen the dangers ahead and is warning us how to avoid them. He said that he had delivered the message that the Spirit directed him to give, and that we can obtain answers to our questions or doubts by going to the same source (the Holy Ghost) (paragraph 66).

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

This Is Why

                Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) may be the only person in Washington, D.C., that can be trusted. He stands tall and steadfast on his principles. He recently published a book titled Our Lost Constitution, which I highly recommend. 

               Glenn Beck interviewed Senator Lee during the Republican National Convention. Beck reminded the Senator that “people on both sides of the aisle – and a lot of Americans” are suggesting that some of the Amendments to the Constitution be curtailed. He then asked, “How do you save [the Constitution] when people don’t even know what their rights are and are so willing just to give them up?”

                Senator Lee said that it will come down to three words, “This is why.” He said, “We can still win this. But we’ve got to win the conversation. We have to have the conversation in the first place…. That conversation hasn’t been taking place because our schools don’t teach civics anymore like they used to. They don’t teach the stories behind our Constitution.”

                The Senator said that we need to be able to trigger the three words, “This is why.”  “This is why we have the Fourth Amendment. This is why we have the Legislative Powers Clause. This is why we have the Origination Clause.”

                This is why Americans need to study the Constitution. We need to know what is in the Constitution, why it is there, and why it is relevant today.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Samoa 2

                One of the requirements for my basic writing class was to learn about another culture. Many Pathway students do not speak English and are assigned to visit for 30 minutes every week with an English-speaking student. I did not receive a speaking partner and was given an alternate assignment. This is the second of two reports for my assignment that is included on my blog.

                I did not receive a speaking partner and chose to learn about Samoa as an alternative assignment. I visited with friends about their lives in Samoa and researched in books and on the Internet about Samoa. I have learned much about my friends and their native land.

                There are actually two places called Samoa. One is American Samoa, a territory of the United States, and the other is Western Samoa, an independent nation. Both places experience high emigration due to the low standard of living, and there are huge populations of Samoans in other places, such as Hawaii, California, and other western states. Alaska has its own group of Samoans. I find it interesting that American Samoa is the only place in the United States that does not automatically bestow citizenship on newborns.  Samoans can claim citizenship only if they have a parent that is a citizen of the United States. Otherwise, they must follow the same immigration rules as other foreigners.

                An interesting cultural fact I learned from my friends is about rudeness. Apparently, the rudest thing a person can do in the Samoan culture is to walk around the room at an event while eating and visiting. People can visit while seated at a table to eat or drink, but doing the same while walking around is wrong.

                Samoans enjoy a variety of activities. Cricket is so popular in Samoa that there is a cricket pitch in the middle of every village green. Rugby, American football, boxing, and wrestling are also popular in Samoa. Samoan men enjoy playing Dominoes.

                Samoans have their own standard for time. It is known as “Samoan time” and is based on the concept that time runs in cycles. This is probably because time traditionally was oriented at events, signs of nature such as sunrise and sunset, or the stars. Samoan time means that if an event is delayed, it simply gets postponed to a later cycle. Samoans would rather get things right than rush to get results. The details of the event are more important to Samoans than time commitments. It seems to me that Americans could learn something from Samoan time. We could learn to stop rushing around and multi-tasking and simply take time to enough life.

                Most Samoans speak English as well as their native language. It is important for Samoans to learn English because it is the language used in schools, tourism, and government work. It is important for all people to learn English because it is the universal language and knowledge of it leads to better employment opportunities.

                I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Samoa and the Samoan culture. I gained greater love for and understanding of my Samoan friends. I like the concept of Samoan time and hope to make it a part of my life. It will help me remember that strengthening relationships is more important than completing tasks. I plan to continue learning about Samoa and other nations because I know learning about other cultures will enrich my life.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sheriff David Clark

                Milwaukee Sheriff David Clark continues to stand tall for the right. He spoke at the Republican National Convention last week and received “rousing applause” when he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to make something very clear: Blue lives matter in America.”

                The sheriff continued, “What we witnessed in Ferguson, and Baltimore, and Baton Rouge was a collapse of the social order…. So many of the actions of the Occupy Movement and Black Lives Matter transcends peaceful protests and violates the code of conduct we rely on – I call it anarchy.”

                Tre Goins-Phillips at The Blaze explains that “Clarke went on to say police understand the racial tension that exists in the country and `appreciate the vital need for thoroughness and transparency and pursuit of the greater good in their actions and in their investigations.’” 

                I have a lot of respect for Sheriff Clark because he stands for the principles that made America great. I hope he continues to stand tall and be a leader in the cause of liberty.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Study the Constitution

                I believe that Americans should study the Constitution of the United States. I believe they should make a study of the Supreme Law of our nation a lifelong endeavor. I believe their study of the Constitution should begin in elementary school, continue in middle school, high school, and college, and then continue for the rest of their lives. By studying the Constitution, Americans will know what is in the document and what is not, will be better prepared to protect and preserve the document, and will be more capable of teaching the contents of the document to the rising generation.

                I do not remember studying the Constitution in school. In fact, I lived most of my life without knowing much about it. I was the type of American that went about living my life and letting politicians worry about running the nation. Then Barack Obama was elected as the President of the United States, and he started doing things that I had not seen previously, such as taking over General Motors.

                I became more interested in politics and began studying the Constitution. I studied books, such as The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution by W. Cleon Skousen and The Heritage Guide to the Constitution by Edwin Meese III, Matthew Spalding, and David Forte. I took some courses on the Constitution from Hillsdale College. I was astounded by how much I did not know about the Constitution, and I was determined to learn as much as I could about it.

                I was concerned that my posterity would ask me, “What were you doing while the freedom, independence, and liberty of Americans were being destroyed.” I began writing this blog in September 2009 in order to share what I was learning with my children, grandchildren, and others who might be interested in writing my words. I wanted to be part of the movement to stop Obama from gaining another term as POTUS and was very disappointed when he was elected once again. I worried that our nation was on the slippery slope to destruction, and I changed my writing to focus on strengthening faith in God and my family as well as sharing knowing about the Constitution and freedom. I believe that my posterity is pleased with my efforts.

                Yes, I believe Americans should study the Constitution. They should know why it was written and why it is relevant in our day. They should share their knowledge with the rising generation. I came to this realization very late in my life, and I believe that my children and grandchildren are doing better than I. I believe that my interest in the Constitution and politics has encouraged the same in my husband and children. I believe that all my children and their spouses study the candidates and issues of each election, are responsible voters, and some are even involved in politics on the local level. My posterity may not vote for the same candidates or issues, but they are at least informed voters and involved in the process.

                I hope that my readers will also make studying the Constitution a lifelong endeavor and teach their posterity the greatness of the Supreme Law of our land. America is great because America is good. As long as Americans worship Jesus Christ, who is the God of this land, America will continue to be great. May God continue to bless America!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Pioneer Day

                Pioneer Day has always had extra special meaning to me. Pioneer Day is a holiday for both the State of Utah and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is celebrated widely in the State and commemorated by members of the Church all over the world.

                Pioneer Day was always a family day when I was a child. Our family often celebrated it by going to the mountains. We would arise very early in the morning – usually to the sound of dynamite blowing up a tree trunk – to milk the cows and feed the animals. Then we would haul one load of hay to the pasture for the cows to munch on all day. We would gather picnic supplies and climb into our old truck. On this special day our mother gave us white “Bakers Bread” and puffed wheat, two foods we seldom ate.

                I also celebrated Pioneer Day in Primary. Our meetinghouse sat on a large piece of land, maybe an acre. I remember dressing up in pioneer-type clothes, decorating bikes and wagons, and walking around the property. As we walked we sang a pioneer song. “Pioneer children sang as they walked and walked and walked….”

                There were only a few days each summer that my family did not work in the fields. Those days were usually Independence Day, Pioneer Day, and Labor Day. Of course, we never worked in the fields on Sundays.

                I am very proud of my pioneer heritage as seven of my eight great-grandparents crossed the plains with the pioneers, and the eighth crossed a few years later on the train. I have often wondered how members of the Church without pioneer ancestors feel about Pioneer Day, and I appreciate the counsel of the Brethren who remind us that there are pioneers today.

                The word pioneer is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it means to go ahead of others to explore or settle a new area, as in the Utah Pioneers. As a verb, it means to be the first to use something, a new method, activity, or area of knowledge. By this simple definition, all converts to the Church are pioneers.

                President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was reared and joined the Church in Germany. He had no ancestors among the Utah Pioneers, but he still loves and honors “the faith and courage of those early pioneers of the Church. My own ancestors were living an ocean away at the time. None were among those who lived in Nauvoo or Winter Quarters, and none made the journey across the plains. But as a member of the Church, I claim with gratitude and pride this pioneer legacy as my own.
                “With the same joy, I claim the legacies of today’s modern-day Church pioneers who live in every nation and whose own stories of perseverance, faith, and sacrifice add glorious new verses to the great chorus of the latter-day anthem of the kingdom of God” ("Faith of Our FatherEnsign, May 2008, 70).

                Today I honor all pioneers, my ancestors and others who crossed the plains to Utah as well as those who are forging new paths today. Happy Pioneer Day to all of you!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fidelity in Marriage

                Fidelity in marriage is essential to strengthening families, communities, and nations. Fidelity includes emotional or spiritual loyalty as well as physical faithfulness.

                We learn from “The Family – A Proclamation to the World” that the “family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. 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. … We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.”

                Kenneth W. Matheson, a professor in the School of Social Work at Brigham Young University, explains why fidelity in marriage is so important. “When a spouse has developed a relationship that compromises his or her spiritual fidelity, he or she should be humble and take the necessary steps to restore the marital relationship…. Physical infidelity is only one of the many temptations Satan uses to break up families and marriages. Emotional infidelity, which occurs when emotions and thoughts are focused on someone other than a spouse, is an insidious threat that can weaken the trust between a couple and shatter peace of mind.

                “Emotional infidelity doesn’t usually happen suddenly; rather, it occurs gradually – often imperceptibly at first…. Relationships with others of the opposite sex are not in and of themselves a problem or a fracture of fidelity. [These relationships are often] “meaningful” [and] “have a balanced and important place in our lives.” However, compromising on spiritual fidelity can create emotional heartbreak, distrust, and marital conflict. If not corrected, this can lead to physical infidelity.”

                The first step in the right direction is the “willingness to admit there [is] a problem.” Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must realize that “attitudes, thoughts, and actions [can] jeopardize [their] ability to hold a temple recommend.”

                The author recommends that we stop using the term “emotional infidelity” and start using the term “spiritual infidelity.” “This phrase underscores the seriousness of the choices we make because it recognizes the eternal potential of our marital relationships as well as the importance of acting in accordance with the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Spiritual fidelity also causes us to consider the sacred covenants we have made in the temple and how the very nature of our thoughts and deeds can undermine those covenants. In other words, if a person is unfaithful spiritually, he is not honoring his temple covenants even though he has not committed physical acts of intimacy.”

                The author says that when we “think in terms of spiritual fidelity, we also open the door for healing and hope. When a spouse has developed a relationship that compromises his or her spiritual fidelity, he or she should be humble and take the necessary steps to restore the marital relationship. Fasting, prayer, temple attendance, scripture study, and pondering the Lord’s teachings are essential in helping one remain pure and true to one’s spouse and in healing the relationship.” (See “Fidelityin Marriage: It’s More Than You Think,”Ensign, September 2009.)

                I recognize that slipping into spiritual infidelity is easy. Early in my marriage I was working as a secretary in a bank and enjoyed visiting with one of the vice presidents. He was older than I and a former bishop. There was nothing inappropriate in our relationship. One day when I went home for lunch, I found the Church News in my mailbox. While I was eating my sandwich, I read one of the editorials on the back page. The article was about fidelity in marriage and how easily a person can slip into spiritual unfaithfulness. I recognized that I was in danger even though I felt no attraction for the man. I took the article back to the bank with me and put it on the man’s desk. I explained that my marriage and his marriage were too important for us to continue the relationship as it had been. He read the article and agreed with my assessment. We worked together as professionals, and my husband and I hunted pheasants with him. However, we never sat and visited as we had previously done.

                We must exercise fidelity in marriage, both spiritual and physical, in order to keep our marriages strong. Fidelity in marriage strengthens families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

War on History

                The topic of discussion today is a reminder that there is currently a war on history and an effort to change or destroy the history of our nation and the world. This war has taken place over numerous years, but most people do not even recognize that there is a war on history.

                Waller R. Newell is one person who does recognize this war. In his essay “Resisting the War on History,” Newell explains about this war on history and gives some counsel on how to fight it. He begins his essay by asking: “What do the following have in common? (1) The demand on campuses that history, philosophy and literature deemed offensive (including Greek mythology and Shakespeare) must be assigned a `trigger warning’ so that students will feel `safe.’ (2) The demand that all traces of the American South be removed from public life, including monuments to Civil War generals. (3) The demand that America open its borders to Syrian refugees and to all of the world’s disadvantaged.

                “These demands are all premised on the assumption that human beings are isolated monads without any connection to history, tradition, or precedent, and can be interchanged with identical monads in all countries and cultures without any serious acclimatization or difficulties. Just as a world of `open borders’ can be achieved without difficult, so can absolute equality of condition among these equal integers, virtually overnight. Any failure to do so immediately, and any record of having failed to do so immediately in the past, must be condemned unconditionally, and all historical traces of it stigmatized and removed. Progressive politics, these people believe, requires a war on history, especially America’s history.”

                Newell’s introduction to his essay plainly shows that there is a war on history, and the effects of this war can be seen in our society. It also shows a lack of common sense in our nation. How can “history, philosophy and literature deemed offensive” or a monument to a Civil War general make anyone feel unsafe? Why are people so willing to open our borders to “Syrian refugees and to all of the world’s disadvantaged” without taking into consideration their history and culture?

                Newell suggests that a change needs to be made in the university curriculum in order to “resist the war on history and its barren understanding of the American character.” He also suggests that this change needs to “be initiated largely from outside the academy (though the effort should include academics), for nothing less than an alternative curriculum for a historical education in political life is needed to counter-act the universities’ neglect.”  

                The author suggests that “One place to start would be for students to read what the American Founders read in college, traditional political historians like Polybius, Cicero, and Sallust. At a minimum, students should read the great classics of Cold War history (it might cure tem of what they think is appealing about socialism). And let us surely not forget the canonical literary figures who brilliantly illustrate the perennial dilemmas of war, peace, and statesmanship, including Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Flaubert, and Turgenev. The same goes for a grounding in comparative religion and in music.”

                Newell believes that “history is the key” and listed “one man’s Top 15 List of the Next Best Books, what every student should read at a minimum to become a historically literate citizen….” Here are the 15 books that Newell thinks every student should read. How many of these books have you read? I have not read any of them, but I am going to start at the top of the list and work my way down the list. I do not expect to complete the list soon, but I encourage you to join me in studying history.

  1. H.D.F. Kitto, The Greeks. An overview of the civilization that formed the West.
  1. Ronald Syme, The Roman Revolution. How the Roman Republic became a world monarchy in disguise.
  1. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. An Enlightenment historian surveys the career of the greatest state yet known to mankind.
  1. Lord Bryce, The Holy Roman Empire. The emergence of medieval Europe on the ruins of the Roman empire and the centuries-long struggle between Church and State.
  1. R. H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism. How the modern age was born of a unique synthesis of Renaissance and Reformation individualism.
  1. Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America. Why America’s only deep tradition is individualism.
  1. Lord Charnwood, Abraham Lincoln. A masterful political and psychological portrait of America’s greatest president.
  1. Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation. Advocated Europe’s retreat from laissez-faire individualism and the restoration of an organic view of society, mirrored in Social Democracy and paternalist Conservatism.
  1. Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August. A grab-you-by-the-lapels account of how Europe, at the apex of its culture and prosperity, plunged into the horrors of World War One.
  1. Jose Ortega y Gassett, The Revolt of the Masses. Fascism as the lust of the masses to smash the high civilizational standards of 19th century Europe.
  1. Winston Churchill, Great Contemporaries. Matchless short portraits of the most impressive figures of the era, including pre-war Hitler.
  1. Robert Conquest, The Harvest of Sorrow. Indispensable for revealing the crime of Soviet genocide, on a par with the Holocaust.
  1. Lucy Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews. Among the first to establish that the Holocaust was Hitler’s central and over-riding policy guiding World War II.
  1. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago. The conclusion to Volume Two “The Soul and Barbed Wire” says it all.

  1. Bernard Lewis, The Crisis of Islam. How a great civilization declined into a seedbed for Jihadist fundamentalism.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


                One of the requirements for my basic writing class was to learn about another culture. Many Pathway students do not speak English and are assigned to visit for 30 minutes every week with an English-speaking student. I did not receive a speaking partner and was given an alternate assignment. I made two separate reports for my assignment and am including them on my blog.

                I chose to learn about Samoa, and the first bit of knowledge I gained is that Samoa is actually two nations. American Samoa is a territory of the United States, and Western Samoa is an independent nation. Both of them are quite poor and lose much of their population to emigration. Most Samoans are of full Polynesian descent. I chose to concentrate my learning on Western Samoa.

                Western Samoa is located about 1,700 miles northeast of New Zealand and west of American Samoa. It is one of the smallest nations in the world and consists of two main islands (Savai’i Island and Upolu Island) and several smaller islands. The islands were formed by erupting volcanoes with one volcano still active. The capital city is Apia located on Upolu. The government is democratic. Most Samoans are Christian, and the stores close on Sundays.

                The main holidays in Samoa are Independence Day (March 5, 1962), Easter, and Christmas. Independence Day is usually a week-long celebration. School closes for several days for Easter and two weeks for Christmas in order for families to be together. These and other important events such as 80th birthdays are celebrated with feasts, dancing and entertainment.

                Samoans shop at regular stores and shops for their food, clothing, and other necessities. Employment in the cities can be found in stores, shops, government offices, and schools with other work found in tourism, fishing, or farming the family’s plantation.

                Most Samoans speak and write their native language, and about half of them speak and write English. It is important for Samoans to know English because textbooks, all government work, the tourist industry, and stores use the English language. The people with the better jobs all read, speak, and write English.

                I enjoy learning about different cultures. I appreciate studying about Samoa because I have numerous friends who are from Samoa and the knowledge aids in understanding them better. I find the history and culture of Samoa to be fascinating, and I want to learn more about other cultures.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Independence Mine

                I took a break from my studies on Monday and journeyed to the Hatcher Pass area with my family. My daughter, her three children ages 6-10, my husband, and I drove 64 miles (about an hour and a half)  north of Anchorage to Independence Mine. The mine is now part of the State of Alaska park system and is known as the Independence Mine State Historical Park.

                We drove through gorgeous scenery and finally arrived at the park entrance where we met my daughter’s high school friend and his ten-year-old son. We hiked the trail to Gold Core Lake along an easy trail. All of the children easily hiked the mile to the lake and back. My husband and I had more difficulty as there is a 500-foot elevation gain, but I consider it to be an easy hike. 

                We saw an old sod cabin along the trail and stopped to investigate it for a few minutes. It is about twelve feet by twelve feet. I think I would have difficulty living in that size of a home by myself, let alone with a spouse and family. We found the beautiful, pristine lake nestled at the foot of some high mountains. The water in the lake is so clear that I could see the bottom of it. The lake is surrounded with large boulders, some of which are larger than cars. We stopped there to eat our lunch and visit before starting down the trail.

                When we arrived back at the mine, we decided to tour the museum but found it closed. We walked through the historical park and read many of the signs. We decided to climb up a hill located in the park and found rails for the ore cars. We walked to the end of the boardwalk and found the entrance to the water tunnel. We went in the tunnel about ten or fifteen feet until we came to a locked gate. On the other side of the gate, we could see a river. We were amazed at the coolness in the tunnel. It felt very nice on such a hot day.

                We stopped on the way home at a place that advertises the “best ice cream in the world.” We were given a choice of about 24 ice cream flavors. The ice cream was soft and came in a twist. It was delicious and an appropriate way to end our wonderful day.

                This is my first time to be in the area, and I would definitely go back and do it again. I recommend the tour of the mine and the hike to Gold Core Lake.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mike Pence

                Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, named Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate just days before the Republican National Convention starts in Cleveland, Ohio. Trump won praise from the Republican leadership for his choice of Pence for vice president.

                Mike Pence seems to be a good choice for Trump’s running mate. He has defined himself as “Christian, Conservative, and Republican, in that order.” He is a reliable social conservative who has good relationships with both the religious right and Republicans in Congress. He has government experience on both the state and national level, having served six terms in the House of Representatives before serving as the Governor of Indiana. He has the leadership experience to satisfy my requirements because he is a sitting governor.

                I am anxious to see what happens at the Republican National Convention that starts tomorrow. I am also anxious to see how Pence handled the media. I am feeling a little optimistic at the moment. I hope this feeling continues!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Constitution and the Restoration

                On this Constitution Monday I would like to share a history lesson I recently discovered. On January 15, 1991, Rex E. Lee, then president of Brigham Young University, spoke to the students at that school about the connection between the Constitution and the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He presented his remarks, titled “The Constitution and the Restoration,” to show the relationship and to emphasize the fact that “the Restoration and the Constitution trace their beginnings almost to the same point in time, and over the intervening two centuries have grown and flourished side by side.

                “And yet, in another sense, the subject is not only timely, but also time-driven. Today’s devotional is the last one that will occur during the fifteen-year period from 1976 through the summer of 1991 that Congress officially designated as our bicentennial. Bicentennial! Over the past fifteen years – …. This word has virtually acquired a secondary meaning. Viewed narrowly, it has been a ceremonial observance of the most remarkable period in the history of our nation, and perhaps in the history of the world. From a broader perspective, the bicentennial has symbolized patriotism and liberty and has served as a valuable reminder that the unique blessings we enjoy as Americans are largely attributable to a document that has proven to be, notwithstanding some flaws, probably the most successful governmental undertaking in the history of civilized life on this planet.”

                President Lee shares some history about the writing and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. He then explains some “genius features” of the Constitution and how the Constitution limits the federal government. He concludes by discussing why the Constitution is significant to Latter-day Saints. I believe you will enjoy reading his remarks. I know that most people will learn something new about the U.S. Constitution. I encourage you to read his entire remarks for he gives more understanding to several points.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Live the Plan

                We lived in heaven a long time ago with our Heavenly Parents. While we were there, Heavenly Father called all His spirit children together in a big family council. There He presented a plan for our eternal happiness. He told us that we needed to gain knowledge and experience in order to become like Him and that He planned a special place for us to prepare. Our mortal life on earth is like a laboratory, and part of the experience is living in families.

                Elder Richard G. Scott spoke about the joys of living the great plan of happiness in the October 1996 General Conference. (See “The Joy of Living the Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, November 1996. He began his talk by speaking of the creation of man and woman. “This was done spiritually in your premortal existence when you lived in the presence of your Father in Heaven. Your gender existed before you came to earth.” He said that Heavenly Father endowed His sons and daughters with unique traits especially fitted for their individual responsibilities as they fulfill His plan. To follow His plan requires that you do those things He expects of you as a son or daughter, husband or wife. Those roles are different but entirely compatible. In the Lord’s plan, it takes two – a man and a woman – to form a whole. Indeed, a husband and wife are not two identical halves, but a wondrous, divinely determined combination of complementary capacities and characteristics.

                “Marriage allows these different characteristics to come together in oneness – in unity – to bless a husband and wife, their children and grandchildren. For the greatest happiness and productivity in life, both husband and wife are needed. Their efforts interlock and are complementary. Each has individual traits that best fit the role the Lord has defined for happiness as a man or woman. When used as the Lord intends, those capacities allow a married couple to think, act, and rejoice as one – to face challenges together and overcome them as one, to grow in love and understanding, and through temple ordinances to be bound together as one whole, eternally. That is the plan.”

                Marriage and family life bring us our greatest joys and deepest sorrows, depending on how well individuals in our families live the gospel of Jesus Christ. When all members of a family are trying to live the Lord’s plan, there is love and harmony in the home, but the atmosphere is usually very different when commandments are being broken and not fixed. The Father has a plan for our happiness, and we can find joy by living the great plan of happiness.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Loving Spouse

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when spouses love each other with the true love of Christ. Jesus Christ knows all our strengths and weakness, the good attributes and our sins, yet He loves us. Spouses normally know each other better than anyone else knows us because they see us at our best and at our worst. Love is the healing balm in marriages.

                I read an interesting article titled “Falling Out of Love … and Climbing Back In.” The author’s name was withheld for obvious reasons, but the article contained much good information.  She began her article with this paragraph: “By worldly standards falling in love is an easy thing to do. Unfortunately, falling out of love can be easy as well. But falling back into love after falling out is extremely difficult. People don’t fall back into love; they climb back in. this can be a long, difficult journey, but it is extremely rewarding. I know from experience.”

                The author thought she had only two choices for fixing her troubled marriage. The first choice was to get a divorce, and the second choice was to stay and be miserable. She did not like either option and turned to the Lord for help. A “new thought” entered her mind, and she knew it was the right thing to do: stay, love her husband, and be happy.

                During the next few weeks the author attempted to “fall” back in love with her husband but made no progress. She returned to Heavenly Father for help and was told to “fix yourself.” She did not believe that she was the problem but asked the Lord to guide her. No inspiration came until one Sunday during a Gospel Doctrine lesson. “But charity is the pure love of Christ… Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ” (Moroni 7:47-48).

                The class discussed charity and defined it as “the love that Jesus Christ has for each of us. I learned that the Savior knows what is good in each of us. He can find something worthy of loving in every person.”

                The class continued their discussion, and the teacher said, “It says in verse 48 that charity is a gift from the Father that is bestowed on you. Charity is not something you can develop on your own. It must be given to you. So there’s a neighbor who makes you angry or someone you don’t like. What’s the problem? The problem is you don’t have charity, the pure love of Christ, toward him or her. How do you get it? You need to `pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart’ and ask Him to give you charity toward that person. You need to ask to see that person through the Savior’s eyes so you will be able to see him or her as good and lovable.”

                The author knew that this was her answer. She went to the Lord in prayer and asked for the gift of charity towards her husband. She was prompted to name some good things that she saw in her husband. She followed this pattern for several days and then began to pay more attention during the day. She “watched closely and came up with 10 good things about him.” She set a goal to see 10 good things in her husband every day. Then she started “making” herself name 10 positive things about her husband whenever she got upset with him.

                Slowly a wonderful change was taking place. She stopped seeing her husband as a jerk, and her husband began working on his bad habits. “As soon as I stopped feeling I had to be responsible for his actions, he started taking the responsibility upon himself. I was enjoying my time with Mar, and there was more of it because he stopped working so many hours.”

                Even though there was so much good happening in the family, the author still did not feel love for her husband. She prayed to feel love for him and was rewarded one evening “with the strongest, most vibrant, most intense love I had ever felt hit me almost like a physical force. My eyes welled up with tears, and I was awed by the strength of my feelings, There, sitting across from me, was my eternal companion, whom I love more than words could express. His infinite worth was so brilliant I couldn’t believe I had ever been able to overlook it. I felt to some degree what the Savior felt for my Mark, and it was beautiful.”

                This article mirrors my own marriage in many ways. I agree with the author that we do not easily fall back in love with our spouses. We have to make a conscious decision to climb back into love. This act begins with seeing the good in your spouse and learning to love them with Christlike love. The love of Christ can heal many troubled marriages and families and strengthen communities and nations.