Declaration of Independence

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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Life of Christ

                Do you study the life of Jesus Christ?  Do you know why you should study the life of Jesus Christ?  Do you have any idea why you should follow Him and keep His commandments?  The answer to all of these questions is because you and I need to develop a personal relationship with Him.  You and I and all mankind depend on Jesus Christ to fulfill His pre-mortal promise to be our Savior.  Heavenly Father’s entire plan of salvation revolves around Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice.

                All of the prophets from Adam to Jesus Christ testified that He would come to earth, and all of the prophets since Jesus Christ have testified that He did come.  Adam knew the Savior’s name would be Jesus Christ because an angel gave him that information (see Moses 6:51-52).  Enoch saw in vision that Jesus would die on the cross and then be resurrected (see Moses 7:55-56).  Noah and Moses testified of Him (see Moses 8:23-24).  Isaiah lived about 800 years before Christ, and he foresaw the life of Christ.  He witnessed the sorrow, grief and suffering the Savior would endure in order to pay the price for the sins of mankind.  “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief….  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities…. he was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth:  he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:3-7).

                The ancient American prophet Nephi saw the Savior in vision 600 years before the birth of Christ.  He saw Mary, the beautiful virgin mother of the Son of God.  He heard an angel exclaim, “Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 1 Nephi 11:18).  Nephi then saw the virgin holding a child in her arms.  The angel declared:  “Behold the lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!” (1 Nephi 11:21).

                King Benjamin, a prophet king on the American continent, foresaw the Savior’s life about 124 years before He was born to Mary.  “For behold, the time cometh and is not far distant, that with power the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.
                “And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.
                “And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
                “And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary” (Mosiah 3:5-8).

                We can read the story of the birth and life of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.  In the accounts written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we can read that Jesus was born in Bethlehem to a virgin named Mary.  We can read the story of the engagement of Joseph and Mary and the appearance of an angel to Mary.  The angel told Mary that she had been chosen to be the mother of the Son of God.  When she asked how that would be possible (see Luke 1:34), the angel explained “the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:  therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).  

                Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God, and He was born of a mortal woman named Mary.  With an immortal father Jesus had the power to lay down His life and to take it up once again (see John 10:17-18); no one could take His life from Him.  With a mortal mother he inherited mortality and became subject to hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, and death.

                The Savior lived a perfect life and obeyed all the commandments of Heavenly Father.  He was subject to Mary and Joseph, and He grew much as other children grow.  “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:40).  Jesus went with Mary and Joseph to Jerusalem when He was twelve years old.  His mother and stepfather found Him in the temple with the doctors “hearing them, and asking them questions.”  All that heard Him were “astonished at his understanding and answers” (Luke 2:46-47). 

                Mary and Joseph were relieved to find Jesus, but they were no happy with His behavior.  “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us?  Behold, thy father [meaning Joseph] and I have sought thee sorrowing.”  Jesus gently reminded her that Joseph was His stepfather by saying, “Wist ye not that I must be about my [Heavenly] Father’s business?” (Luke 2:48-49).  He knew even at the young age of twelve years that He had a mission to perform.

                There is not much about Jesus in the scriptures until He was thirty years old and went to John the Baptist to be baptized in the Jordan River (see Matthew 3:13-17).   John recognized his cousin right away as the Savior and was reluctant to baptize Him, knowing He had never committed any sins.  Jesus told John that He needed to be baptized “to fulfill all righteousness.”  John did baptize Jesus by immersing Him in the Jordan River.  After the baptism of Jesus, Heavenly Father spoke from heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  The Holy Ghost descended upon Jesus in the “sign of the dove.”

                Soon after His baptism the Savior went into the wilderness to fast and to commune with His Father.  After He had been fasting for forty days, Satan came to Him to tempt Him, but the Savior resisted the temptations and commanded Satan to leave.  After Satan departed, angels came to minister to Jesus (see Matthew 4:1-11).  Jesus then began His mortal ministry.

                Jesus Christ came to earth to die for our sins, but He also came to teach us how to live.  He taught the two “great commandments”:  (1) We are to love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength, and (2) We are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-39).  He then showed by His example how we are to leave those two commandments.  Jesus loved His fellowmen and spent His life serving them.  He loved those who sinned against Him and even prayed for the soldiers who crucified Him and His Father to forgive them (Luke 23:34).

                The Savior knew that He would be put to death and chose twelve apostles to testify of Him.  He gave them authority to act in His name and to call others to help with the work.  They continued His work after His death.  After Jesus Christ had done all that He could do for mankind, He prepared for His great and last sacrifice.  He met with His apostles for dinner and then went into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  He carried the weight of the world on His shoulders.  In a modern revelation, the Savior described His great suffering:  “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:18).

                Jesus Christ suffered the punishment for every sin committed by mankind.  No mere mortal could have withstood such pain and suffering nor truly comprehend what He did for us.  In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus Christ suffered so greatly that blood came from His pores as He overcame all the horrors that Satan could inflict on mankind.  He suffered more the next day as He was beaten, humiliated, spit upon, and forced to carry His own cross up the hill.  Then He was nailed to the cross and suffered further for nine hours, His greatest suffering came when Heavenly Father withdrew from Him and allowed Him to complete His mission by Himself.  When the Savior knew that the Father had accepted His sacrifice, He cried in a loud voice:  “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).  He then bowed His head and died.

                The body of Jesus Christ lay in the tomb for three days, but His spirit went to preach His gospel to other spirits (see 1 Peter 3:18-20).  He returned on the third day and took up His body, becoming the first to overcome death.

                God loved us so much that He sent His beloved and Only Begotten Son to earth, knowing that His Son would have to suffer great pain.  Jesus Christ loved us so much that He gave His life that we might have eternal life.  His only requirement is for us to repent of our sins and keep His commandments.

                “And this is the gospel which I have given unto you – that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.  And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me… that they may be judged according to their works … for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do….  Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be?  Verily, verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:13-27).

                The Father and the Son each made great sacrifices for our benefit.  We should love them and study about them that we can come to be like them and be with them for all eternity.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Physical Intimacy in Marriage

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when parents properly teach their children about committed marital love and intimacy.  Children should be able to see and feel the commitment their parents feel for each other.  Children should also be taught two important facts about love and intimacy:  (1) Sexual intimacy is not a “reward” to be given out for a lovely date; it should take place only between a legally and lawfully married man and woman.  (2) Each of us can have a joyous and fulfilling sexual relationship with the right person and at the right time.

                I found a wonderful article by Linda and Richard Eyre, who are considered “experts” about love, marriage, and family relationships.  I found the entire article interesting and worth reading and pondering.   The bulk of this post is from the article but is only a small part of it.  The entire article can be found at this site.   In their article they shared how they went to a wise and trusted mentor seeking marital advice while they were still engaged.  Even though they did not fully understand at the time the importance of his counsel, they have since learned the full meaning of it.

                “He chose to talk to us about committed, marital sex because he knew there were so many counterfeits out there.  He was not talking about lust or about the media kind of sex that is often selfish and almost always amorally glamorized.  It wasn’t about pornography or sex-as-recreation.  And, it certainly wasn’t about sex as exploitation or domination.
                “What he was saying was that in a marriage there can never be too much love, only too little.  Unhealthy sexual relationships do not come about because of too much love, but because of too little.
                “Real love increases communication, increases empathy, increases and deepens emotional and spiritual feelings, and can increase both the quantity and the quality of physical intimacy.
                “There is no such thing as too much intimacy when it lifts and binds and empathizes and cares more about what the other person is feeling than about one’s self….
                “This intimacy incorporates total trust and complete commitment and, beyond its physical wonder, it is the perfect metaphor for mental and emotional and spiritual oneness….
                “This kind of marital sex is an exercise in empathy, a case-study in commitment, a tradition of tenderness, and the epitome of excitement….  It is worthy of the term `making love’ and is the polar opposite of `having sex.’  And, it is available to every able-bodied married couple who wants it bad enough to develop it, and to every single person who wants it bad enough to wait for it.”

                Parents have the responsibility to teach the rising generation what committed marital love and intimacy is and how to achieve it.  Parents should teach about love and intimacy by both precept and example.  When the rising generation has this kind of understanding about sex, they will be strengthened against dangerous and too-early experimentation.  When the rising generation is strengthened, their families, communities, and nations grow stronger also.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Economic Freedom 2015

                The 2015 Index of Economic Freedom has been published by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation.  The Index can be a useful and objective tool for analyzing the economies of nations and shows how economic freedoms and historical data can provide principles and facts for anyone studying the fundamentals of economic growth and prosperity.  The Heritage Foundation has a new guide entitled Using the Index of Economic Freedom that will help those using the Index in research, public policy, business, and advocacy.

                The Heritage Foundation defines economic freedom as “the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property.  In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please.  In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital, and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.”

                Throughout most of human history economic freedom and opportunity was rare, causing people to live in poverty and deprivation.  We are fortunate today to live in “the most prosperous time in human history” with “poverty, sicknesses, and ignorance receding throughout the world.”  All this has been “fueled” by nations using “the principles of economic freedom.”  The most important result of economic freedom is “greater prosperity,” and the Index “documents the positive relationship between economic freedom and a variety of positive social and economic goals.  The ideals of economic freedom are strongly associated with healthier societies, cleaner environments, greater per capita wealth, human development, democracy, and poverty elimination.”  With these benefits, every nation should strive for total economic freedom!

                The effort to measure economic freedom in 186 countries is “based on 10 quantitative and qualitative factors, grouped into four broad categories, or pillars, of economic freedom.”   Those four groups are:  “(1) Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); (2) Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); (3) Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom; and
(4) Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom).”  Each of the ten economic freedoms is graded on a scale of 0 to 100, with the average being the overall score for each country.  The Index covers the period from July 2013 through June 2014. 

                “The Index of Economic Freedom considers every component equally important in achieving the positive benefits of economic freedom.  Each freedom is weighted equally in determining country scores.”

                So with all this information, how well do you think the United States of America did when compared to other countries we think of as “free”?  The United States ranked twelfth.  The countries considered to be “free” are:  (1) Hong Kong, (2) Singapore, (3) New Zealand,
(4) Australia, and (5) Switzerland.  The countries considered to be “mostly free” are:  (6) Canada, (7) Chile, (8) Estonia, (9) Ireland,
(10) Mauritius, (11) Denmark, (12) United States, (13) United Kingdom, (14) Taiwan, (15) Lithuania, (16) Germany, (17) the Netherlands,
(18) Bahrain, (19) Finland, and (20) Japan – plus fifteen more nations including (25) United Arab Emirates, (29) South Korea, (32) Qatar, and
(33) Israel.

                How do you feel about your nation – the home of the free and the land of the brave – being considered “mostly free”?  I am disappointed and think we can do much better!  We really do need to reduce the size of our government and stop spending ourselves into debt.  We as citizens of what should be the most free nation on earth can do our part by becoming more self-reliant and requiring less from the federal purse.  We can only do this if we can root the corruption out of our federal, state and local governments and elect good men and women who will stand up for us and protect our many freedoms.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Scott Walker

                Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) is my choice for the next President of the United States.  His record in Wisconsin shows that he works on conservative principles and that conservative principles work.  He recently spoke to a conservative crowd in Iowa and gave “a passionate argument for small government and his own lengthy resume.”

                Walker has every asset needed to be a good President.  He is conservative, he believes in limited government, he has proven his principles and his lack of fear, he has a sense of humor, he has charisma, he is smart, he is a good speaker - and he is very good looking!  His speech apparently brought his listeners to their feet many times.

                The Hill printed some of his comments and well as carried his oral presentation.  “There’s a reason we take a day off to celebrate the 4th of July and not the 15th of April….  Because in America we value our independence from the government, not our dependence on it.”

                “If you get the job done, the voters will actually stand up with you.”

                Some people say that Scott Walker is too conservative to become President.  People were saying that about Ronald Reagan also.  When a conservative stands on true conservative principles, the people recognize it and want it.  I really hope Walker runs for President and is elected.  I believe he has what it takes to correct all the progressives’ mistakes and save our nation.  If continues as he has done for several years, he will have my vote!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Why Abortion?

                We passed the forty-second anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last week.  This decision made abortion legal in the United States and has caused the murders of more than 50 million babies since it was made.  Thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators participated in an annual march for life at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on the anniversary of the decision.

                Americans have been debating abortion for decades and probably will continue it for decades yet to come.  Both sides have multitudes of arguments, but not all of the arguments are good ones.  The Wonderful World of Stu presented what may be the very best argument against abortion.  It gives much cause to serious think about when and why an abortion should be legal.  You can find Stu’s argument here and then tell me what you think about it and why.  I hope it at least makes you consider your own thoughts about the way so many unborn babies are killed.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Samuel F. B. Morse

                Samuel Finley Breese Morse was born on April 27, 1791, in Charlestown, Massachusetts.  He was the first child of Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826) and his wife Elizabeth Ann Finley Breese (1766-1828).  His father was a pastor who preached the Calvinist faith; he wanted to preserve Puritan traditions including strict observance of the Sabbath Day.  He was also a geographer who supported the American Federalist party; he believed in the party’s support of an alliance with Great Britain as well as a strong central government.  He also believed that his first son should be educated within a Federalist framework and have the Calvinist virtues, morals, and prayers instilled in him and.  Samuel’s siblings were Sidney Edwards Morse and Richard Cary Morse.

                Samuel Morse attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, before moving up to Yale College where he received instruction in religious philosophy, mathematics, and science of horses.  While he was at Yale, he attended lectures on electricity and belonged to the Society of Brothers in Unity.  He painted to support himself and graduated from Yale in 1810 with Phi Beta Kappa honors.

                After graduating from Yale, Morse became a clerk for a book publisher in Boston, but his interest remained in painting.  In 1811and with his parents’ help, he went to England to study painting for three years at the Royal Academy of Arts.  Great Britain and the United States went to war again in 1812, and Morse became very patriotic and pro-American.  He adopted “English artistic standards, including the `historical’ style of painting – the romantic portrayal of legends and historical events with personalities gracing the foreground in grand poses and brilliant colours.”

                When Morse returned to America in 1815, he discovered that “Americans did not appreciate his historical canvases;” he “reluctantly” began painting portraits to pay for his living expenses. 

                Morse married Lucretia Walker (m. 1818-1825).  He married a second time to  Elizabeth Griswold (m. 1848-1872).  Morse was the father of Edward Morse, James Morse, Susan Morse, William Morse, Cornelia Morse, Samuel Morse, and Charles Morse.

                After being an itinerant painter in New England, New York, and South Carolina, he settled in New York City in 1825; there “he painted some of the finest portraits ever done by an American artist.  He combined technical competence and a bold rendering of his subjects’ character with a touch of the Romanticism he had imbibed in England.”

                Morse often did not have a lot of money in those early years, but he did have a lot of friends among “the intellectuals, the wealthy, the religiously orthodox, and the politically conservative.  In his middle years he became friends with “the French hero of the American Revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the novelist James Fennimore Cooper.  Among his many gifts, Morse had the gifts of friendship and leadership.

                After studying art again in Europe, Morse returned to America in 1832.  While on the ship “Morse conceived the idea of an electric telegraph” after “hearing a conversation about the newly discovered electromagnet.”  Morse thought he had an original idea, but “the idea of an electric telegraph had been put forward before 1800.”

                Morse continued to devote “most of his time to painting, teaching art at the University of the City of New York (later New York University), and to politics; however, he “made his first working model by 1835” and “turned his full attention to the new invention” by 1837.

                Morse had the help of a colleague at the university who “showed him a detailed description of an alternative model proposed in 1831” and a friend who provided “materials and labor to build models in his family’s ironworks.”  The two men became Morse’s partners and shared his telegraph rights.  “By 1838 he had developed the system of dots and dashes that became known throughout the world as the Morse Code.”  Congress was note interested in building a telegraph line, but a congressman was interested in becoming an additional partner.  Without cooperation from his partners, Morse obtained “financial support from Congress for the first telegraph line in the United States, Baltimore to Washington.”  The line was completed in 1844, and he sent the first message, “What hath God wrought!” 

                Rival inventors and his partners brought legal claims against Morse.  After a series of legal battles, the U.S. Supreme Court established his patent rights in 1854.  His wealth and fame grew as telegraph lines grew in America and Europe. 

                By 1847 he had purchased Locust Grove, an estate that overlooked the Hudson River near Poughkeepsie, New York.  He built an Italian villa-style mansion there in the 1850s  and spent his summers there with his large family of children and grandchildren.  He returned each winter to New York City where he lived in a brownstone home.

                In his later years Morse had a long flowing beard and became a philanthropist.  Vassar College (where he was a founder and trustee), Yale College (his alma mater), churches, theological seminaries, Bible societies, mission societies, temperance societies, and poor artists all benefitted from his generous donations.  He watched the world change as a result of his telegraph. 

                Morse passed away on April 2, 1872, in New York City, New York.  After his death the inventions of the telephone, radio, and television obscured his fame as the inventor of the telegraph, but his reputation as an artist continued to grow.  Even though he did not wish to be remembered as a portrait painter, his portraits have been exhibited throughout the United States.  His 1837 telegraph instrument is preserved by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.  Locust Grove, his family estate, is now a national historical landmark.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Rebellion Debt

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned….”  This statement means that anyone with a claim against the United States for expenses incurred fighting the rebellion of the South in the Civil War would receive payment without any questions asked.  This was probably because anyone objecting would be considered a rebel himself.

                According to Paul Moreno of The Heritage Foundation, this provision was “the least controversial of the sections of the Fourteenth Amendment, at least in the North….
                “In applying the section, federal courts held that no contracts involving Confederate bonds could be enforced and that `a court of the United States must hesitate to give them any recognition….

                “The issue of the repudiation of the United States debt again emerged when Congress took the United States off the gold standard, and some of the Gold Clause Cases (1935) involved United States bonds.  The Supreme Court did hold that Congress had exceeded its power under the Constitution in refusing to repay the bonds in gold, but it concluded that the bondholders had suffered only nominal damages and could not recover.  Although Section 4 `was undoubtedly inspired by the desire to put beyond question the obligations of the Government issued during the Civil War, its language indicates a broader connotation [that embraces] whatever concerns the integrity of the public obligations.’  Gold Clause Cases.”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 406-407.)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Holy Scriptures

                From the beginning of time God has commanded His servants to keep records of His revelations and dealings with mankind.  These records are considered to be scripture.  In fact, any time the Lord’s servants speak or write under the influence of the Holy Ghost, their words are scripture.  God speaks to mankind today just as He has done for thousands of years.

                In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith in November 1831, the Lord said, “And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:4).

                The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has four books of scriptures:  the Bible, the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.  These four books are called the standard works of the Church and are studied privately and in Church classes.  In addition, Church members accept the words of the living prophets as scripture.

                Daily scripture study is a good way to stay in tune with God.  As members of the Church share the truths found in the scriptures, the rising generation also learns to love them and to use them in their lives.  Daily scripture study fills minds with truth and righteousness and thus keeps people from the evils of the world.

                God told an ancient American prophet named Nephi to keep records, and then He warned him that many people in the latter days would not accept Nephi’s record as scripture.  He said that many of the “Gentiles” would claim that they had a Bible and did not need any more scriptures.  God called those people “fools.”
                “Know ye not that there are more nations than one?  Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
                “Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word?  Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another?  Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another.  And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
                “And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure.  And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
                “Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.
                “For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 29:3-11.

                The Lord continued by telling Nephi that He would “speak unto the Jews and they shall write it”, He would “speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it”, He would “speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it” (2 Nephi 29:12).  He continued by saying that the Jews would have the records of the Nephites and the Nephites would have the words of the Jews; He also said that the Jews and the Nephites would have the words of the Lost Tribes of Israel and the Lost Tribes would have the words of the Jews and Nephites (2 Nephi 29:13).

                I personally have read the Bible numerous times.  I have the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ many, many times.  I have also read the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price too many times to count.  I know these books contain the word of God.  I make scripture study a daily part of my life and have done so for more than thirty years.  I love to study the scriptures and to feel the Spirit contained therein; I learn something new every time I study the scriptures.  I look forward to the time when I can also study the words written by the Ten Lost Tribes as well as other scriptures not yet given to us.  I encourage you to make scripture study a daily part of your life.  I know you will receive much comfort, knowledge and other blessings for doing so.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Music Lessons

                Parents can strengthen their children in numerous ways by insuring they receive musical instruction in their childhood and youth.  Scientists have proven a connection between music and mathematics.  Other studies connect music with IQ and other academic subjects.  Recent studies have connected music instruction with emotional and behavioral growth.

                The January 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry published a report about a study entitled “Cortical Thickness Maturation and Duration of Music Training:  Health-Promoting Activities Shape Brain Development.” The cortex is the outer layer of the brain, and the thickness of it changes as a child matures.

                The objective of the study was to assess the effect of musical training on the development of the thickness of the cortical.  There were 232 children and youth, ages 6-18 years of age, in the study.  Participants in the study made up to three separate visits to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at two-year intervals.  There they underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanning and behavioral testing.  The thickness of a participant’s cortical, the number of years playing a musical instrument, age and gender were all considered in the study.

                Even though “playing a musical instrument was associated with more rapid cortical thickness maturation within areas implicated in motor planning and coordination, visuospatial ability, and emotion and impulse regulation,” researchers found “no association between thickness and years playing a musical instrument.”

                The study shows that parents can expect greater blessings from enduring the early periods of musical training than simply beautiful music.  Musical training helps children develop fine motor skills and aids in their emotional and behavioral maturation.  Musical training also aids in academic work.

                I have a dear friend who has wonderful music abilities – both instrumental and voice – as well as mathematical skills good enough to teach on the university level.  She told me many years ago that her mathematical skills help her musical skills and vice versa.  Maybe my lack of musical training as a child led to my difficulty in understanding mathematics!   

                Even though my husband does not play a musical instrument, he has great appreciation for music; he is an engineer with great capacity to understand and remember numbers.  My children all received piano lessons in their childhood and took AP math classes in high school.  None of them became engineers or scientists, but they know algebra, physics, trigonometry, etc.  I believe there is a definite connection between music and mathematics, and history and science seems to support my belief.

                “Music theorists sometimes use mathematics to understand music, and although music has no axiomatic foundation in modern mathematics, mathematics is `the basis of sound’ and sound itself `in its musical aspects… exhibits a remarkable array of number properties’, simply because nature itself `is amazingly mathematical’.  Though ancient Chinese, Egyptians and Mesopotamians are known to have studied the mathematical principles of sound, the Pythagoreans (in particular Philolaus and Archytas) of ancient Greece were the first researchers known to have investigated the expression of musical scales in terms of numerical ratios, particularly the ratios of small integers.  Their central doctrine was that `all nature consists of harmony arising out of numbers’.
                “From the time of Plato, harmony was considered a fundamental branch of physics, now known as musical acoustics.  Early Indian and Chinese theorists show similar approaches:  all sought to show that the mathematical laws of harmonics and rhythms were fundamental not only to our understanding of the world but to human well-being.  Confucius, like Pythagoras, regarded the small numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 as the source of all perfection.
                “The attempt to structure and communicate new ways of composing and hearing music has led to musical applications of set theory, abstract algebra and number theory….”

                Ludwig van Beethoven was born in 1770 and died in 1827.  He was a German composer and pianist who “reinvented the symphony and redefined piano sonatas.”  He is possibly one of the greatest composers of all time and wrote most of his songs while going deaf.  How did he do it?  Natalya St. Clair uses Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” to show how he “was able to convey emotion and creativity using the certainty of mathematics.

                I had no musical training in my childhood and youth.  I loved to sing the songs I heard on the radio, in movies, or at church, but I did not actually know music, how to read it, or carry a tune.  I graduated from high school with little appreciation for music and no appreciation at all for instrumental music without words.  Over the years and with my husband’s help, I learned more about music and gained greater appreciation for it.  I am now able to pick out the sounds of the piano and violin from the sounds of the bass instruments and consider this to be a great achievement.  My growing appreciation for music helps me to encourage others to learn more about music when they are young.  I urge all parents to provide musical lessons for their children in their childhood and youth if at all possible.  I know music strengthens individuals in many ways, and strong individuals strengthen families, communities, and nations.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Highest Form of Liberty

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that the highest form of liberty is freedom of the soul.  Agency, sometime called free agency or moral agency, is an eternal principle and will endure for all eternity.  God gave us our agency in our pre-earth life and sent it with us when we came to earth.  We can use our agency to remain free or we can misuse our agency to sell our souls to the devil.  It all depends on the choices we make. 

                In an address given in October 1981, President Marion G. Romney, then Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke about the “Perfect Law of Liberty.”  “… The sweets of liberty about which we usually speak may be classified as (1) political independence, (2) economic freedom, and (3) free agency.”

                President Romney invited the attention of his listeners “to a few illustrations in support of the thesis that, while political independence, economic freedom, and free agency may contribute to liberty of the soul, they do not guarantee it.  He first spoke about “political independence and power” and used the examples of Alexander the Great and Cardinal Wolsey to prove his point. 

                Alexander the Great used his courage, energy and imagination to become “master of the then-known world.  But he was far from enjoying liberty, for of himself he was not master.”  He died at age 32 “a total stranger to freedom of the soul.”

                Cardinal Wolsey learned the hard way “how little political independence and even political power can contribute to true liberty…. [H]e gave a long life in the service of two English sovereigns, enjoying all the while great freedom and political power” but was “shorn of all his greatness by an impatient king.”

                There are many “financial wizards” who achieve economic freedom.  Too many of them lose their fortunes and die broke.  The disgrace is so awful that some of them commit suicide to escape.  Others spend time in prison for breaking the law.  “All of the men had obtained temporarily at least, economic freedom, but to none of them did their economic abundance bring freedom of the soul.”

                Even free agency can be misused.  This “God-given right to choose one’s course of action is an indispensable prerequisite” to “perfect liberty.”  “Without it we can scarcely enjoy any type of liberty – political, economic, or personal.  It is one of our greatest heritages.  For it we are deeply indebted to our Father in Heaven, to the Founding Fathers, and to the pioneers….

                “Free agency, however, precious as it is, is not of itself the perfect liberty we seek, nor does it necessarily lead thereto.  As a matter of fact, through the exercise of their agency more people have come to political, economic, and personal bondage than to liberty.”

                President Romney gave numerous examples from scripture and history of people – Egyptians, Israelites, Nephites, etc. - making wrong choices and losing liberty. “We ourselves have gone a long way down this road during the last century.  My counsel is that we beware of the doctrine which encourages us to seek government-supported security rather than to put faith in our own industry….
                “With respect to the loss of personal liberty through the misuse of free agency, our daily lives are filled with tragic evidence.  We see the alcoholic with his craving for drink, the dope fiend in his frenzy, and worse, the pervert with his irretrievable loss of manhood.  Who will say that such persons enjoy liberty?”

                Political, economic, and personal liberty are lost through the misuse of agency, but “free agency will always endure because it is an eternal principle.  However, the free agency possessed by any one person is increased or diminished by the use to which he puts it.  Every wrong decision one makes restricts the area in which he can thereafter exercise his agency.  The further one goes in the making of wrong decisions in the exercise of free agency, the more difficult it is for him to recover the lost ground.  One can, by persisting long enough, reach the point of no return.  He then becomes an abject slave.  By the exercise of his free agency, he has decreased the area in which he can act, almost to the vanishing point….

                “Just as following wrong alternatives restricts free agency and leads to slavery, so pursuing correct alternatives widens the scope of one’s agency and leads to perfect liberty.  As a matter of fact, one may, by this process, obtain freedom of the soul while at the same time being denied political, economic, and personal liberty….

                “Freedom thus obtained – that is, by obedience to the law of Christ – is freedom of the soul, the highest form of liberty.  And the most glorious thing about it is that it is within the reach of every one of us, regardless of what people about us, or even nations, do.  All we have to do is learn the law of Christ and obey it.  To learn it and obey it is the primary purpose of every soul’s mortal life.”

                I love the message given in a hymn of our Church entitled “Know This, That Every Soul Is Free” (Hymns, 240).  The author of the text is unknown, but it was apparently written about 1805 in Boston.  It was included in the first LDS hymnbook in 1835.  The music was written by Roger L. Miller.  The first two verses are as follow.

                Know this, that every soul is free To choose his life and what he’ll be;
                For this eternal truth is giv’n:  That God will force no man to heav’n.

                He’ll call, persuade, direct aright, And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
                In nameless ways be good and kind, But never force the human mind.

                With our God-given agency, we can choose to attain the highest form of liberty.  It is up to us as individuals because it is us who decide what we really desire.  If we desire true liberty, we must learn the law of Jesus Christ and then remain obedient to it.  There is no other way to be truly free.  Freedom of the soul IS the highest form of liberty!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Roe v. Wade

                Tomorrow marks forty-two years since abortion became legal in the United States of America.  Roe v. Wade was first argued December 13, 1971; it was reargued October 11, 1972; it was decided on January 22, 1973.  In the forty-two years since that decision, Americans have murdered nearly 50 million unborn and nearly born babies.  How could we fall so far from morality?

                Today I remembered what I was doing during the period of 1971-1973.   I spent more than half of 1971 trying desperately to get pregnant.  I made many visits to doctor’s offices and endured numerous tests in an effort to discover my problem.  How could any woman kill her baby when I was having such a difficult time getting one?  In September of that year my problem was diagnosed, and I became pregnant in October 1971.  I was so very happy because I was finally going to have a baby of my own! 

                I felt good all during the pregnancy and secretly hoped I would have twins.  I remember thinking I was fat enough for two babies, but my doctor assured me that I was actually quite tiny and there was only one baby due in June 1972.  In late April my little girl decided she had waited long enough and came five weeks early; she weighed only 4.5 pounds and was immediately put in an incubator.  I remember other mothers in the hospital asking me if it was hard to care for such a tiny baby, and I replied that I did not know anything different.  My baby girl was strong and determined; she was beautiful with dark hair and big blue eyes, and she was mine!  She soon proved that she could breathe on her own and was strong enough to be taken home at five days of age.  My husband and I were overjoyed to take our baby home and had a delightful time getting to know her.  She was so tiny that she could have slept herself to death; therefore, I woke her every two to three hours to eat.  She was not real interested in food but ate enough to stay alive and grow.  Gradually, she grew big enough that my fears for her life vanished, and I could begin to think of other things.

                A few months after the birth of my first child I became pregnant once again.  This pregnancy was a little more difficult than my first one but was still fairly easy.  I no longer hoped for twins because I realized my babies would be very close in age.  My second daughter was born in the middle of July 1973 when her sister was 14.5 months old; she was full term and weighed 7.1 pounds.  She too was beautiful with dark hair and big brown eyes; she was easier to care for and adored her big sister.  My two little girls grew up together and became great friends.  They were about the same size for a long time, and I treated them as twins.  When I changed one diaper, I changed the other one.  When I fed one, I fed the other.  I dressed them in similar but different clothing and had a wonderful time being their mother and watching them grow and develop.

                While millions of other women were arranging for the deaths of their babies, I have been enjoying my children and grandchildren.  I truly enjoyed being a mother to my two little girls and their four younger siblings.  I am grateful to know that my children are good friends and enjoy being together.  They travel long distances and make many sacrifices in order to spend time together and allow their children to know their cousins.  There is such closeness among my children that I sometimes feel like an outsider at our family gatherings!  I am very grateful and know I am very blessed to be a mother and grandmother.  I am grateful to have wonderful children and fifteen adorable grandchildren with another one due next summer.

                I am grateful for scientific and medical advances that prove unborn babies are human beings and not just tissue.  I support right to life for all unborn, nearly born, and newborn babies.  I was pleased to hear the U.S. House of Representatives had scheduled a vote on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, an age that a fetus feels pain.  I was disappointed today when the House dropped the bill because of inter-party disputes in the GOP.  The House will instead vote on a bill to ban the use of federal tax dollars for abortions.  This same bill passed the House nearly a year ago but died in the Democrat-controlled Senate.  Hopefully, the bill will become law now that we have a Republican-controlled Senate as well as House.  This vote will take place on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision and is a good step forward.  I hope and pray that our elected leaders in Washington will soon put a stop to most abortions and allow more babies to be born.  No one need kill their baby; any mother unable to care for her child can bring joy to another woman who cannot have children of her own.  Babies are human and deserve the blessing of life!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

State of the Union Address

                Did you watch or listen to the State of the Union address tonight?  I did not because I cannot stand to watch Barack Obama’s arrogance and I refuse to spend my time listening to a liar.  I do not respect the man who sits in the Oval Office at the present time.  Even though Mr. Obama “won” the last two presidential elections – as he so often reminds Americans – he lost the confidence of the majority of us long ago.

                Tonight Mr. Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address.  He spent much of his speech calling on Americans to show more civility in politics; then he taunted Republicans because he won his last two elections.  He gave two separate veto threats in his speech with one of them “covering everything from immigration to tweaking Obamacare to revamping the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms.”  He stated that the economy is improving and unemployment is falling.  He said it was time to “turn the page” on years of war and economic weakness and turn to investments.  He did not mention the radical Islamic terrorism that is sweeping the earth or his illegal amnesty program.  His talk was much the same as previous ones that called for higher taxes on the rich, more unfunded programs, and more debt.  He may not have said it in these words, but Mr. Obama basically said that he does not care about the message sent by voters in November and that he intends to continue doing exactly what he wants to do.

                Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), one of our brand new senators, gave the GOP response to the State of the Union.  She reminded Americans of the “failed policies” of Mr. Obama and said that the new Republican-controlled Congress “will focus on people’s concerns about jobs and health care.”  She called for bipartisan cooperation and for Mr. Obama to “cooperate with Republicans to simplify the tax code by lowering rates and eliminating unspecified loopholes….”

                Other Republicans gave responses to Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address.  I found some very interesting responses here. I listened carefully to the responses given by Representative Curt Clawson (R-Florida), Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Representative Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), and Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky).  From the various speeches I heard wonderful ideas:  (1) We should restore our nation to greatness by returning to personal liberty, free enterprise, and the opportunity to live the American dream.  (2) We need a strong America in order to strengthen the nations of the world.  (3) We should return to the rule of law.  (4) We should base our policies on economic liberty and equal opportunity for all, not equal outcomes.  (5) We should respect and listen to each other even when we do not agree with the other’s ideas.  (6) We need to become a team and work together by respecting, trusting, relying on, and caring for each other.  We are the same!  (7) We need to secure the borders before any amnesty program will work.  (8) We should change our tax to a flat tax where everyone pays a certain percentage:  those who make a lot of money would pay a lot of taxes and those who make little money would pay little taxes.  (9) We should stop the policies that reward the rich and hurt the poor.  (10) We should have term limits for Senators and Representatives just as we do for Presidents because we need new people going to Washington with new ideas and new ways of doing business.  (11) We need government to get out of the way and let Americans grow and develop.  (12) We need to stop the governmental gifts to Americans and destroy poverty instead of growing it.  (13) We need to amend the Constitution to have a Balanced Budget Amendment.  (14) We need to have the stronger military in the world – a lean, mean fighting machine.  (15) We need to audit the Pentagon to make sure the money is going to the military and not being wasted.  (16) We need to allow Americans to exercise compassion without forcing it.  (17) We need to return to our Founding Principles.

                Katrina Trinko of The Heritage Foundation put together a great political commentary by various Heritage experts on “What Obama Got Right and Wrong in the State of the Union.” The experts zeroed in on the following topics:  economy, energy, education, legal, health care, life and marriage, and foreign policy and national security.  She stated what he got right and then explained what he got wrong on each of them.  Her article includes charts, numbers and other facts.  The collection of statements with the following paragraphs by Helle Dale.

                “President Obama tonight displayed an almost touching faith in the power of quiet diplomacy to solve problems in a dangerous, complex world.  If only it were so well.  The president’s speech contained several references to diplomacy.  He described America as leading `with consistent and strong resolve.’  For most observers of Obama’s U.S. foreign policy, that description is almost unrecognizable.
                “Obama talked about smarter U.S. leadership and strong diplomacy, about not talking rash decisions, about war as the choice of last resort.  Rejecting the idea of sending troops into war zones like Iraq and Syria, he said he intends to `stand on that wisdom’ of not putting boots on the ground.  The president also said he considered climate change to be the greatest challenge and national security threat for future generations.  For those who follow the news from the Middle East and the unraveling of terrorist cells in Europe, climate change is an almost quaint choice.  The speech spent all of two paragraphs on terrorism and did not mention al-Qaeda.
                “If you believed Obama, ISIS is being pushed back, Russia is reeling, and Iran is being disarmed – all because of American leadership, coalition building and diplomacy.  Unfortunately, reality is almost the exact opposite.  The Obama administration insists on running U.S. foreign policy from the White House.  As a consequence, politics take primacy, rather than statecraft and national interest.  That was the case again in the president’s speech tonight.”

                Once again Barack Obama addressed the citizens of the United States of America.  He lied and withheld critical information – and generally said nothing of importance.  We have two more years of this fraud!  I hope America is still around when he leaves office!