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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Singing On Your Way

                Parents are known to try all kinds of ways to get their children ready and to Church on time and in a good mood. Check out this link for some help. 

Monday, May 30, 2016


                I had a difficult time selecting a VIP for this week from what is happening in the news, so I decided to go back in history to 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Lehi lived in Jerusalem with his wife, Sariah, and four sons and some daughters. We know that the sons were Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi, but we do not know the names of any of the daughters.

                Lehi was a wealthy business man and did some traveling with his work. He had heard prophets call the people to repentance and warn them about being destroyed if they did not change. He was praying as he traveled one day and received a vision. He returned to his home and cast himself on his bed because he was overcome by what he had seen.

                While Lehi was lying on his bed, he received another vision in which he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He saw Christ descending to the earth and twelve other men following Him. They gave Lehi a book, which he read and was filled with the Spirit. The Lord showed him many wonderful things concerning the destruction of Jerusalem.

                After the vision was over, Lehi went out among the people and began to prophesy and declare the things he had seen and heard. The Jews did not like what Lehi was saying and began to mock him because he had testified of their wickedness. He tried to tell them of the things he had read in the book about the coming of the Messiah and the redemption of the world.

                The Jews became angry with Lehi and sought his life, just as they had cast out, stoned and slain other prophets. Lehi escaped from the Jews and went home. There he had a dream in which the Lord told him to take his family and depart into the wilderness. Lehi was obedient and left Jerusalem, along with his home, inheritance, gold, silver and precious things.

                Lehi ad Sariah had two more sons in the wilderness, Jacob and Joseph. Another family eventually joined Lehi’s family in the wilderness, and the two families made their way to the coast. There they built a ship and sailed to the Americas. The descendants of the two families became the Nephites and the Lamanites and are the principle ancestors of the Native Americans. Their story is told in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I encourage you to read the Book of Mormon because it is the word of God and will bring you closer to God than any other book (Joseph Smith). I know for myself that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Time of Remembering

                It is Memorial Day once again, a day for remembering those who are no longer with us. It is a day for visiting grave sites and placing flowers on the tombs of our loved ones.

                Memorial is observed in the United States on the last Monday in May. It originated after the Civil War was known as Decoration Day, a day set aside to honor men and women who gave their lives while serving in the U.S. military. It became an official federal holiday in 1971.

                Peter Brookes shared some of his thoughts about Memorial Day on The Daily Signal.   Here are some of his thoughts, which I echo:

            “Whether you’re spiritual or not, it’s right for this country to take this day to remember those who have fallen, those who have returned, those who are hurting and suffering wounds both visible and invisible, and those who are serving today.
            Nor should we forget their families, who have shared their most prized possessions with our armed forces for the good of this country. `They also serve who only stand and wait,’ as the poet John Milton noted.
            Memorial Day is but a brief moment in time every year when a great country takes pause to rightfully and reverently thank those both living and dead who have served for their courage and sacrifices on our behalf.

            We must never—ever—forget that America is the home of the free because of the brave.”
            Take a few minutes on this day for remembering to watch this video “I’m Going to Miss You.”  

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Covenant Marriage

                Covenant marriage is more than a simple contract to be broken at will. A covenant marriage is one in which the husband and wife are bound by covenants to help each other grow and reach their individual potential. A covenant marriage is one in which each companion gives 100 percent to the marriage.

                Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Quorum of Seventy states, “Marriage is by nature a covenant, not just a private contract one may cancel at will. Jesus taught about contractual attitudes when he described the `hireling,’ who performs his conditional promise of care only when he receives something in return. When the hireling `seeth the wolf coming,’ he `leaveth the sheep, and fleeth … because he … careth not for the sheep.’ By contrast, the Savior said, `I am the good shepherd, … and I lay down my life for the sheep’ (John 10:12-15). Many people today marry as hirelings. And when the wolf comes, they flee. This idea is wrong. It curses the earth, turning parents’ hearts away from their children and from each other (Doctrine and Covenants 2).

                What are the “wolves” that threaten marriage? Elder Hafen describes them as being (1) natural adversity – things that happen simply because we are human, (2) personal imperfections – weaknesses, faults, and (3) excessive individualism – selfishness.

                Elder Hafen further explains, “The adversary has long cultivated this overemphasis on personal autonomy, and ow he feverishly exploits it. Our deepest God-give instinct is to run to the arms of those who need us and sustain us. But he drives us away from each other today with wedges of distrust and suspicion. He exaggerates the need for having space, getting out, and being left alone. Some people believe him – and then they wonder why they feel left alone…. When we observe the covenants we make at the altar of sacrifice, we discover hidden reservoirs of strength.” (See Bruce C. Hafen, “Covenant Marriage,” Ensign, November 1996.) 

                How are you doing in your marriage? Are you a “hireling” in your marriage, ready to flee at the first sign of trouble?  Do you consider your marriage to be a covenant, and are you giving 100 percent to your marriage? I encourage you to treat your marriage as a sacred, three-way covenant between husband, wife, and God. As husband and wife each draw closer to God, they automatically draw closer to each other. Healthy and happy marriages can happen when each partner forgets themselves and works for the good of the marriage. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Eternal Families

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened by following the counsel given in “The Family:  A Proclamation to the World, which was published by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The third paragraph of the proclamation is as follows.

                “In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.”

                Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness for His spirit sons and daughters provides for marriage between a man and a woman and the children that are born to the couple or adopted by them. As this paragraph in the proclamation states, every human being born on earth was with Heavenly Father in the premortal life. All listened as He presented His plan for happiness and then accepted His plan. All mortals came to earth to gain a physical body and to gain experience that could be obtained in no other way. Heavenly Father sends His spirit children to earth to live as families and to prepare to live together for all eternity.

                The plan of happiness includes covenants and ordinances that are available in temples. The most important covenant is “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.” Marriages performed by proper authority can be eternal, and children born into those marriages belong to their parents for eternity. Marriage is part of God’s “laboratory on earth.”

                Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles states, “Perhaps it helps to emphasize – more than we sometimes do – that our first estate [pre-mortal life] featured learning of a cognitive type…. The second estate [earth life], however, is one that emphasizes experiential learning through applying, proving, and testing. We learn cognitively here too, just as a good university examination also teaches even as it tests us. In any event, the books of the first estate are now closed to us, and the present test is, therefore, very real; we have moved, as it were, from first-estate theory to second-estate theory laboratory. It is here that our Christ-like characteristics are further shaped and our spiritual skills are thus strengthened” (Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, pages 19-20).

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Freedom to Choose Our Leaders

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns our liberty to select our own leaders. A principle that goes with the freedom to choose, is the responsibility to choose well. A third principle is the fact that when we make a choice, we also choose the consequence of that choice.

                As my regular readers understand, I am not certain of my feelings for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, but I do from time to time write about him. It seems to me that he is showing some real leadership skills and espousing principles at the present time. Here is his most recent statement.

"I've not seen the kind of bitterness in our politics like we have today. And I've got to say, I think it's both sides. It's not—you know, I'd love to say it's just Democrats, but it's not—it's both. And it doesn't have to be that way. 
"This anxiety has got to be channeled and dealt with [and] with solutions instead of just amplified and accelerated and exacerbated. How do you fix that? I think leaders fix this, and we haven't had that kind of leadership lately.
"Leaders need to say: 'here's my principle; here's my solution.' And let's try and do it in a way that is inclusive, that's optimistic, that's aspirational, that's focusing on solutions.

"And so, that's the choice you'll have, far more than a personality. Republicans lose personality contests anyway. We always do. But we win ideas contests. We owe you that choice."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Life Is An Adventure

                I believe in adventure. I believe life is an adventure, which started the day I was born and will continue until the day I die. I did not realize until lately that I had this belief, but I now know it has directed my path throughout my life.

                Since an adventure is any experience or activity that is unusual and exciting, mortality offers us countless opportunities to find such a quest. If we are willing to accept life’s interesting undertakings and have a positive attitude, we will find unlimited vistas and enjoy boundless experiences.  Each day brings adventure, whether it is reading a new book, going someplace different, meeting diverse people, or learning a fresh skill. Life is to be lived fully, getting out of it all that we can. It is a journey in search of greater experiences, knowledge, and relationships.

                When I was a child, my siblings and I would often go on little jaunts. Our exploits would usually take us into the sandy hills located just north of our farm. The usual object of our escapades was to find the elusive arrow head. We had the understanding that someone once found one in those hills, and we wanted to find some for ourselves. We were unsuccessful in our quest, but we did find lots of other treasures:  fascinating rocks, skeletons of small animals, snake skins, pieces of glass with beautiful colors, and other bits of rubbish dumped in the area.

                After I was married and had one very young daughter, my husband suggested that we move to Alaska. A fellow employee was moving to the Great Land and offered us a place to stay until my husband found work. The entire idea upset my sense of peace and tranquility! I pondered the notion for some time and then had to agree. Since he had dreamed for several years of living in Alaska, how could I deny his fantasy? I did, however, insist on staying put until our second child arrived a few months later. Several weeks after our daughter’s birth, we loaded our necessary household goods into our blue, 1970 Chevrolet pickup truck with its small camper and our thirteen-foot, well-worn camp trailer. We said goodbye to our families in late-August and headed north. We drove up the muddy Alaska Highway with our little girls, taking two weeks to make the trip due to the demands of our toddler. I left Utah with the idea that we would be in Alaska for a year and then return to move on with our lives. I fell in love with Alaska because of its charming people and magnificent scenery and stayed to make it my home.

                More than forty years later, I am the grandmother of seventeen delightful grandchildren and am embarking on another adventure – going to college. I did not plan to take this journey but am enjoying it immensely. I am bursting with a sense of great accomplishment because I finally learned how to do basic algebra last semester, and I currently find pleasure in stretching my abilities to share my thoughts through writing. I look forward to the coming years as I learn new skills, gain considerable knowledge, and make numerous friends. I expect that this undertaking will add abundant excitement to my remaining years, and I am grateful for my belief that life is an adventure!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Whose Plan?

                I do not know how I really feel about Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. I like some of the things he does, but I question others. I do, however, like the commencement address he gave on Sunday, May 22, 2016, at Carthage College. I want my readers to read the entire speech, but I will share just a part of it.

            “The biggest piece of advice that I’d give to all of you is this: Don’t worry too much about the plan. Go where you can make a difference. Sometimes fulfillment lies in very unpredictable places. All your life people are going to hound you about the plan, the plan, the plan . . . Have you found a job? Are you going to graduate school? Where do you see yourself in 20 years? It will seem like nobody cares what you do so much as where you end up. And you will start to wonder whether you shouldn’t care either. But beware: Careerism, in the wrong way, is cynicism in perpetual motion.

            “Before donor services drags me off the stage, let me clarify what I'm saying here: I am not telling you to reject that job offer and move into your parents’ basement. What I am saying is, wherever you end up, the work itself is the reward. Treat it that way. Because the truth is, life can put your best-laid plans through the paper shredder. You may never get that dream job—or if you do get that dream job, it may turn out to be a nightmare. But maybe you’re meant to do something else. What seems to you like catastrophe could end up becoming opportunity. Don’t be so quick to dismiss that opportunity if it doesn’t fit into the plan. When you come to a fork in the road, and you are deciding between two paths, instead of thinking, “How do I stay on course?” think to yourself, “Where can I do the most good? Where do I get real fulfillment?" If you realize it is the detour, then take it.”

            Speaker Ryan added a three part postscript that I endorse also:  (1) Do not fear failure, but “learn from it” and “forgive it.” (2) “Read as much as humanly possible… The greatest asset you have is your mind. But it really is like a muscle. You have to keep it in shape.” (3) “If you’re [a] believer, keep going to church… Prayer has sustained me in many difficult moments of my life. I think it will do the same for you. Because as you get older, you realize that life does actually follow a plan. It just may not be your plan. It is God’s plan. And coming to accept that fundamental fact … is the essence of faith…. So if you remember one word from this speech, let it be `faith.’ That should be all the planning you need.”

Monday, May 23, 2016

James E. Talmage

                More than a year ago, I decided to study Jesus The Christ by Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I even purchased a study guide to increase the benefits of my study. When I went to my book shelves to get my book, it was not there. I looked and looked but could not find it. Later I discovered that my son had borrowed it. By the time he finished studying it, I was deep into my college classes. I did not think I had time to study another book, but I still felt drawn to it.

                Yesterday I made the decision to study Jesus The Christ, even if I can read only a page or two per day. I was fascinated by the information about Elder Talmage in the study guide and decided to do a little more research on him. You are the beneficiary of that research.

                James E. Talmage was born in Hungerford, Berkshire, England, on September 21, 1862. He was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 15, 1873, at the age of 10. Four years later in 1877, he and his family moved to Provo, Utah Territory. He studied at Brigham Young Academy (BYA) and graduated in 1880. (The academy is now Brigham Young University.) One of his teachers was Karl G. Maeser.

                “In 1881, Talmage received a collegiate diploma from BYA’s Scientific Department, the first such diploma to be issued. His early predilection was for the sciences, and in 1882 and 1883 he took selected courses in chemistry and geology at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

                “Though a special student and not a candidate for a degree, during his single year Talmage passed nearly all the examinations required in the four-year course....

                “Talmage studied chemistry and geology at Lehigh University and John Hopkins University. He received a B.S. degree from Lehigh University in 1891 and a Ph.D. from Illinois Wesleyan University for nonresident work in 1896….

                “Talmage was elected to life membership in several learned societies…. [He] taught science at BYA both before and after he went to study in the eastern United States. He was the president of Latter-day Saints’ University [now LDS Business School] until 1894 and then was president of the University of Deseret [now University of Utah] from 1894 to 1897. From 1897 to 1907, Talmage was a professor of geology at the University of Utah.”

                Merry May Booth (1868-1944) was only 16 years old when she starting studying at BYA. Talmage was one of her instructors. After completing her course of study, Booth was hired as a teacher in Kaysville, Utah. Talmage went to the area to “study the waters of the Great Salt Lake” as an excuse to pursue a relationship with Booth. They were married five months later on June 14, 1888, in the Manti LDS Temple. They became the parents of eight children.

                Talmage authored numerous books, including The Articles of Faith, The Great Apostasy, The House of the Lord, and Jesus The Christ. These volumes are still in print and widely read in the Church. Jesus the Christ is the only book written in the Salt Lake Temple.

                Talmage became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1911 until his death on July 27, 1933, at age 70 in Salt Lake City. He was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Right to Privacy

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the right to privacy. Courts recognize that the right to privacy is protected by the Constitution, and society has long protected the right to privacy. Why then has this right been set aside to appease the LGBT movement? Why do women and children have to fear men coming into their restrooms or locker rooms or men worry about women coming into theirs?

                Matt Sharp, legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, “represents students and parents in two federal lawsuits against the Obama administration for exceeding its authority in pushing school districts to open bathrooms to the opposite sex.” His article titled “Our Constitutional Right to Privacy Is Missing from Bathroom Debate” as published by “The Daily Signal.” 

                In his article, Sharp suggests that common sense has been eliminated from the discussion about bathrooms. “What else can explain the decision by dozens of school districts across the country, retailing giant Target, and even the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to voluntarily adopt and promote policies that strip away privacy for everyone, allowing men into women’s restrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa? …

                “When discussing freedom of speech, one of our most precious rights, the Supreme Court has often emphasized that the right is most important for those whose speech is most vulnerable to censorship.

                “The majority’s views aren’t the ones that need protection. The minority’s views, the ones that may subject the speaker to abuse, are the ones that the First Amendment was designed to protect.

                “The same is true of the right to privacy. So who are the vulnerable ones in our society most in need of privacy?”

                Sharp explains that the most vulnerable people are those who have suffered sexual abuse or assault and those who are vulnerable for other reasons. Privacy is “especially important [to them] in order to heal and to feel safe. By protecting privacy for everyone, we protect privacy for the most vulnerable among us….”

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sabbath and Celestial Kingdom

                I am reading The Promised Messiah by Elder Bruce R. McConkie and am gaining depth in my understanding of many of the principles and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was recently reading his section about how the Sabbath bears witness of Christ. He explains that Sabbath worship “identifies the Lord’s people” because “the saints of God rest form their labors and pay their devotions to the Most High on his holy Sabbath.” He then explains that “true religion” always calls for a Sabbath – “one day in seven be devoted exclusively to worshiping the Father in Spirit and in truth.” This is because “men’s hears will never be centered on the things of the Spirit sufficiently to assure them of salvation.”

                Elder McConkie states that the “law of the Sabbath is so basic, so fundamental” that it is the fourth of the Ten Commandments. The first three commandments are about worshiping God and showing reverence to His name.

                “The fourth gives us the Sabbath day as the weekly occasion on which we perfect our worship and put ourselves in tune to the full with Him by whom all things are.  It is in no sense an exaggeration nor does it overstate the fact one whit to say that any person who keeps the Sabbath, according to the revealed pattern, will be saved in the celestial kingdom. The Sabbath is a day of worship. … True worship includes keeping the commandments, and those who devote their Sabbaths to true and proper worship obtain the encouragement that leads to full obedience” (page 391; emphasis added).

                Even though I have attempted to keep the Sabbath holy for many years, I am trying harder now because of the emphasis made recently by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Russell M. Nelson’s counsel to “make the Sabbath a delight” means much more to me today – after reading this statement from Elder McConkie – than it did previously.

                This statement by Elder McConkie simplifies my life. Instead of worrying about whether or not I am worthy, I just need to keep the Sabbath holy. How about you? Does this knowledge simplify your life?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Kick Off the Weight

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when children, youth, and parents know they have a lifeline to God. Our lifeline to heaven is the Holy Ghost. When we pray to our Father in Heaven, we receive our answers through the power of the Holy Ghost.

                Sister Mary R. Durham gave a beautiful talk in General Conference titled “A Child’s Guiding Gift” in which she told a story about a father with a child on his back struggling to keep their heads above the water until he kicked off his heavy footwear. She discussed how we can “kick off some of the weight of the world we carry” and keep our children’s heads and our own worried minds above the water.” 

                “How can we prepare our children for the day when they can no longer cling to us and our testimonies – when they are the ones swimming?
                “An answer comes when we recognize this divine source of strength. It is a source often underestimated, yet it can be used daily to lighten our load and guide our precious children. That source is the guiding gift of the Holy Ghost.

                “At age eight, children can experience baptism. They learn about and make a covenant with God. Those they love surround them as they are immersed and come out of the font with a feeling of great joy. Then they receive the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, a gift that may guide them constantly as they live for that blessing.”

                Saying that “Children have a natural desire to do good and to be good,” Sister Durham asked some important questions: “How do we as parents increase the spiritual capacity of our little ones? How do we teach them to kick off worldly influences and trust the Spirit when we are not with them and they are alone in the deep waters of their lives?” She gave the following ideas.

                “First, we can bring to our children’s attention when they are hearing and feeling the Spirit” just as Eli did with the boy prophet Samuel in the Old Testament.

                “Second, we can prepare our homes and our children to feel the still, small voice” by immersing them in a setting where spiritual education can take place.

                “Third, we can help our children understand how the Spirit speaks to them” because He speaks to us in the way that we can learn the best.

                Sister Durham closed her talk with this statement:  “Feeling and recognizing the Spirit will bring spiritual capacity into our children’s lives, and the voice they come to know will become clearer and clearer to them. It will be as Elder Richard G. Scott said:  `As you gain experience and success in being guided by the Spirit, your confidence in the impressions you feel can become more certain than your dependence on what you see and hear.’”

                As parents, grandparents, and teachers, we have the responsibility to teach the rising generation about the Holy Ghost and how to recognize His influence in their lives. By doing so, we can prepare them for the time when they have to “swim” by themselves through the deep waters of life, plus we can strengthen our families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Civil Rights vs. Bathroom Debate

               The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the comparison of the bathroom debate with the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The Civil Rights movement was important to our nation because an entire race was being oppressed, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Now the debate about bathrooms is being compared to that movement, a comparison that disrespects the battle fought by the black community.

                 Lawrence Jones wrote an interesting article titled “No, the Bathroom Debate is NOT Equivalent to the Civil Rights Fight of the 60s.” He begins his article by stating that he understands the plight of the LGBT community, feels everyone should be free to live their lives as they choose, and is on record of encouraging other people to show understanding and compassion to others.

                “That said, the LGBT community has elements within it that don’t feel that compromise is a valid end game, and their definition of coming to an understanding is the old `my way or the highway’ saying. This latest stunt from that arm of the LGVT community has tossed on the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. …

                “So inexcusable, in fact, that they compared it to the civil rights issues of the black community faced back in the 60s, when segregation was a thing we did.

                “As a black man, I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Back then, they discriminated against an entire race of people based on their skin color, barring them from anything from colleges to water fountains. This was something the black community couldn’t help. They were black, and regardless of what they’ve done, or the decisions they made, they were looked down on simply for having a certain level of melanin….

                “Now let’s take the transgender bathroom issue. Here we have people who are not what they say they are by the simple rules of nature, and defying these natural facts to make up their own rules in order to gain access to a restroom they don’t belong in. Their claim that they do belong in said restrooms is based solely off of reasoning that amounts to `because I said so.’ …

                “In what world is the transgender bathroom issue like the civil rights era issue? Except for the fact that you have two groups of people being denied something based on identity, one was denied for no good reason, and the other is being denied for a perfectly good reason.

                “This is so disrespectful to the black community whose struggle was a real issue of rights, not just for a bathroom, but for a life of freedom for an entire race….”

                I am grateful that this man had the courage to state the facts as they really are and not the way some people wish they were. I encourage you to read the entire article to feel the full extent of the author’s wrath.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Truth about Islam

                The Lord, even Jesus Christ, defined truth as “knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” He added that “whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24-25).

                So, what is the truth about Islam? Who can we believe? Who can we believe to give us the unadulterated truth? I found an article by Lawrence Sellin, PhD, titled “Muslims Don’t Assimilate, They Infiltrate.” Mr. Sellin is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the U.S. Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. 

                Mr. Sellin began his article, “Let us first, dispense with the pretense. Every notion we in the West have adopted in terms of dealing with Muslims, both individually and collectively, is wrong.
                “It is a policy based more on political correctness than on rational analysis, more on a misunderstanding of culture than religion.”

                Continuing his article, Mr. Sellin explained where, when, why, and by whom the term “Islamophobia” was coined. He then cites Nicolai Sennels, a Danish psychologist who treated 150 criminal Muslim inmates. Dr. Sennels discovered there are “fundamental and largely irreconcilable psychological differences between Muslim and Western culture” and made the claim that “effective assimilation [is] at best serendipity and at worst urban myth.”

                One difference is how the Muslim culture and the Western culture view anger. In the Western culture “expressions of anger and threats” lead to “a feeling of shame and a loss of social status.” “In Muslim culture, aggressive behaviors, especially threats, are generally seen to be accepted, and even expect as a way of handling conflicts.” This means that “peaceful approaches such as demonstrations of compassion, compromise and common sense are seen by Muslim leaders as cowardice and a weakness to be exploited.”

                Another difference, according to Sennels, is an “important psychological difference” called the “locus of control.” For Westerners, their lives are mainly influenced by their “inner forces” – or their ability to control themselves and their emotions, how they think, what motivates them, how they relate to people, and their ability to communicate with others. “In Muslim culture, however, inner factors re replaced by external rules, traditions, and laws for human behavior. They have powerful Muslim clerics who set the directions for their community, dictate political views, and provide rules for virtually all aspects of life.”

                The ultimate difference is the Muslim feels like a victim while the Westerner feels like a survivor. Because the Muslim has no feelings of personal responsibility, he makes his demands that society conforms to his way.

                Dr. Sennels offers this suggestion:  “We should not permit the destruction of our cities by lawless parallel societies, with groups of roaming criminal Muslims overloading of our welfare system and the growing justified fear that non-Muslims have of violence. The consequences should be so strict that it would be preferable for any anti-social Muslim to go back to a Muslim country, where they can understand, and can be understood by their own culture.”

                Okay, what is the truth? Read the article and see if you can find the truth.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Is the American Church in Trouble?

                Is the Christian religion in trouble in the United States today? I personally believe that it is. I believe that Christians will continue to be persecuted here in this land of freedom because our people have turned from the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ. I am not alone in my beliefs that Christians are in trouble.

                Pastor Michael Harrington in Hood River, Oregon, believes it so strongly that he put up this message on the billboard for his church:  “Wake up Christians. Allah is not our God. Muhammad [is] not greater than Jesus.” As if that message was not clear enough, he added this one:  “Only the Bible is God’s word. `Holy book.’ Koran is just another book.” 

                Pastor Harrington’s billboard caused shock, dismay, offense, and opposition in his community. While I believe his message to be the truth, I believe he could have put it in kinder words such as:  “Jesus Christ is our God. The Bible is His `Holy Book.’”

                Radio host and conservative commentator Steve Deace also agrees with me. He believes our nation is “screwed” because Donald Trump appears to be the Republican’s choice for President. Mr. Deace believes the media is supporting Trump in order to use him “to denigrate Christians and conservatives. The [media’s] goal of elevating Trump has not just been ratings. For decades, the left and the media … have been looking for a straw man to brand the rest of us with. He’s the perfect douche bag for the job, and he even volunteers for it.” 

                The plan seems to be to make evangelicals look bad. “The goal is to brandish Christianity and conservatism with the negatives of Trump. That is the goal and that’s the endgame if they get him the nomination.”

                Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, claims that our belief that America is a Christian nation is false. He admitted that most Americans profess to be Christians, but he does not believe that God made a covenant to bless the United States of America.

                Dr. Thomas S. Kidd, a history professor and the associate director of Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, agrees, saying that Mr. Moore “gets this exactly right.” 

                “We need to ask, what do people mean by a `Christian nation’?  If you could have done a public survey in 1776, the vast majority of white Americans would have professed to be Christians. … Christian (or at least theistic) assumptions about creation, equality, and human nature undergirded the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. … But the idea that God made a special covenant relationship with America, like he did with Israel in the Hebrew Bible, has no scriptural or historical basis.”

                Dr. Kidd is wrong in his statement about “no scriptural or historical basis” for believing God made a covenant with the inhabitants of this land. The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ contains histories for two great nations who came to this land and perished because they forgot their covenant with God. This covenant is found in many places in the Book of Mormon, beginning in the second chapter of the book.

                “And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands” (1 Nephi 2:20). The next reference is two chapters further:  “… I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that:  Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise” (1 Nephi 4:14) (emphasis added). This same promise is repeated at least seven more times in the Book of Mormon.

                In our time – and after the United States of America was established as an independent nation – the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith to “importune for redress, and redemption … According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles….
                “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77, 80; emphasis added).

                The God of this land, even Jesus Christ, did make a covenant with the United States of America, and that covenant is the Constitution. This Supreme Law of our land is sacred and must be preserved for the benefit of all human life. This means that our nation is definitely a Christian nation and America will prosper only as long as We The People worship Jesus Christ!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Senator John McCain

                Senator John McCain is my VIP for this week. I do not care much for the Senator as a politician, but I am now very impressed with him as a man. While doing an assignment for my writing class this week, I found an essay by the Senator that was heard on the “This I Believe” podcast on March 1, 2016. I found his essay under the “America and Patriotism” theme and was very impressed with what he wrote. I particularly like this portion.

                “I believe in honor, faith, and serve – to one’s country and to mankind. It’s a lesson I learned from my family, from the men with whom I served in Vietnam, and from my fellow Americans….

                “Years later, I saw an example of honor in the most surprising of places. As a scared American prisoner of war in Vietnam, I was tied in torture ropes by my tormentors and left alone in an empty room to suffer through the night. Later in the evening, a guard I had never spoken to entered the room and silently loosened the ropes to relieve my suffering. Just before morning, that same guard came back and re-tightened the ropes before his less humanitarian comrades returned. He never said a word to me.

                “Some months later on a Christmas morning, as I stood alone in the prison courtyard, that same guard walked up to me and stood next to me for a few moments. Then with his sandal, the guard drew a cross in the dirt. We stood wordlessly there for a minute or two, venerating the cross, until the guard rubbed it out and walked away.

                “To me, that was faith:  a faith that unites and never divides, a faith that bridges unbridgeable gaps in humanity. It is the faith that we are all equal and endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is the faith I would die to defend.

                “My determination to act with honor and integrity impels me to work in service to my country. I have believed that the means to real happiness and the true worth of a person is measured by how faithfully we serve a cause greater than our self-interest….”

                As I said previously, I do not agree with much of Senator McCain’s political moves, but I respect him as a man. He suffered as a prisoner of war for long years and yet wants to continue serving our nation. I honor him for staying sane and willing to serve.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Democracy or Constitutional Republic

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is a question:  Is the United States of America a democracy or a constitutional republic?  Do you know the difference between these two types of government?

                Randy Barnett, law professor at Georgetown University, wrote the book Our Republican Constitution in an effort to explain what “We the People” meant to the Founders. In a recent visit to The Heritage Foundation, Professor Barnett explained why he is pessimistic about the makeup of U.S. Supreme Court since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

                “There’s a lot at stake with the next Supreme Court justice, but I can already tell you, I believe that fight has been lost. We have to decide how we’re going to survive under a court that is hostile to how we think.”

                To hear more of Professor Barnett’s thoughts about his book, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution, watch this interesting video made at The Heritage Foundation. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Joy in Service

                Followers of Jesus Christ have long known that He expects us to serve others in His name. The Savior showed us an example of how to give unselfish service because He devoted His life to serving Heavenly Father and all of His Father’s children. He works unitedly with His Father to give the gift of immortality and the blessing of eternal life to all of us. (See Moses 1:39.)

                President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency reminded his listeners that “Jesus went about teaching His gospel and doing good (see Acts 10:38). He healed the sick. He raised the dead. With His power He fed thousands when they were hungry and without food (see Matthew 14:14-21; John 6:2-13). After His Resurrection He gave food to several of His Apostles as they came ashore at the Sea of Galilee (see John 21:12-13). In the Americas, He healed the sick and blessed the children one by one (see Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 17:7-9, 21).

                We can find numerous references in the scriptures that admonish us to serve. The Apostle Paul taught, “By love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
                An ancient prophet known as King Benjamin exhorted:  “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 2:17)

                Modern-day prophets and apostles also teach the importance of service to the needy, poor, sick, widows, and fatherless. Just a month ago, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were admonished to reach out and help the refugees in our communities.

                President Thomas S. Monson told the story of Jack McConnell who “grew up in the hills of southwest Virginia in the United States as one of seven children of a Methodist minister and a stay-at-home mother. Their circumstances were very humble. He recounted that during his childhood, every day as the family sat around the dinner table, his father would ask each one in turn, `And what did you do for someone today?’ The children were determined to do a good turn every day so they could report to their father that they had helped someone.  Dr. McConnell calls this exercise his father’s most valuable legacy, for that expectation and those words inspired him and his siblings to help others throughout their lives. As they grew and matured, their motivation for providing service changed to an inner desire to help others.

                “Besides Dr. McConnell’s distinguished medical career – where he directed the development of the tuberculosis tine test, participated in the early development of the polio vaccine, supervised the development of Tylenol, and was instrumental in developing the magnetic resonance imaging procedure, or MRI – he created an organization he calls Volunteers in Medicine, which gives retired medical personnel a chance to volunteer at free clinics serving the working uninsured. Dr. McConnell said his leisure time since he retired has `evaporated into 60-hour weeks of unpaid work, but [his] energy level has increased and there is a satisfaction in [his] life that wasn’t there before.’ He made this statement:  `In one of those paradoxes of life, I have benefited more from Volunteers in Medicine than my patients have.’ There are now over 90 such clinics across the United States.
                “Of course, we can’t all be Dr. McConnells, establishing medical clinics to help the poor; however, the needs of others are ever present, and each of us can do something to help someone.”

                President Monson quoted the Savior as saying, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it:  but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24); he then added the following statement.
                “I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, which those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish – and in effect save their lives.

                “I am confident it is the intention of each member of the Church to serve and to help those in need. At baptism we covenanted to `bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light’ (Mosiah 18:8). How many times has your heart been touched as you have witnessed the need of another? How often have you intended to be the one to help? And yet how often has day-to-day living interfered and you’ve left it for others to help, feeling that `oh, surely someone will take care of that need.’
                “You may lament:  I can barely make it through each day, doing all that I need to do. How can I provide service for others? What can I possibly do?” (See Thomas S. Monson, “Lose Yourself in Service,” New Era, August 2015.)

                President Eyring taught that service to other will help to qualify us for eternal life. “One of the assurances that you are being purified is an increasing desire to serve others for the Savior. Home teaching and visiting teaching become more of a joy and less of a chore. You find yourself volunteering more often in a local school or helping care for the poor in your community. Even though you may have little money to give to those who have less, you wish you had more so that you could give more (see Mosiah 4:24). You find yourself eager to serve your children and to show them how to serve others.

                “As your nature changes, you will feel a desire to give greater service without recognition. I know disciples of the Savior who have given great gifts of money and service with a determination that no one but God and their children would know about it. God has recognized their service by blessing them in this life, and He will bless them in the eternal life to come (see Matthew 6:1-4; 3 Nephi 13:1-4). …

                “The Savior teaches us how we can learn to serve others. He served perfectly, and we must learn to serve as He learned – line upon line (see Doctrine and Covenants 93:12-13). Through the service we give, we can become more like Him. We will pray with all the energy of our hearts to love our enemies as He loves them (see Matthew 5:43-44; Moroni 7:48). Then we may at last become fitted for eternal life with Him and our Heavenly Father.” (See Henry B. Eyring, “Service and Eternal Life,” Liahona, March 2014.)

                There is something we can all do to help someone else. We must be wise in our service and not attempt to do more than we have strength, and we must remember that some of the greatest service we can give is given within the walls of our own homes and for members of our own families. The question asked by the father of Dr. McConnell’s father is one that we should ask ourselves every day:  “And what did you do for someone today?” The best way to know where our service would do the most good is to ask Heavenly Father each morning where He would like us to serve. We cannot do everything, but we can do something!