Declaration of Independence

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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Two Terms as President

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Section 1 of the Twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:  “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once….”  This provision establishes that Americans shall be free of a life-time President or one serving for long periods of time.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained that the “Founders had a great dread of hereditary rulers, or elected officials who might gain control of an office and then refuse to relinquish it.”  The attendees at the Constitutional Convention “proposed that the tenure of office for the President be limited to a term of four years.  However, when a straw vote was taken, Madison noticed that Washington voted against it.  It was assumed from this that Washington (whom everyone expected to be the first President) felt he might need more than four years to get the new government safely inaugurated.
                “Nevertheless, after President Washington had served two terms, he considered that sufficient, and refused the invitation to run for a third term….” 

                Skousen further explained that other Presidents followed the tradition set by President Washington or found the “notion” of a third term to be “unpopular.”  Then along came 1940, World War II – and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who successfully broke the tradition when he was elected for a third term.  He then went on to win a fourth term but died a few weeks after being inaugurated.
                “Since the Republicans had taken over the Congress, they immediately initiated a strong drive to prevent the President from serving more than two terms.  Congress approved this amendment on March 21, 1947, and it was ratified by the states on February 27, 1951.”
(See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 755-756.)

                Bruce Peabody of The Heritage Foundation added this explanation:  “Although the Twenty-second Amendment was clearly a reaction to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s service as President for an unprecedented four terms, the notion of presidential term limits has long-standing roots in American politics.  The Constitutional Convention of 1787 considered the issue extensively, although it ultimately declined to restrict the amount of time a person could serve as President….
                “Nonetheless, sustained political attention to this matter only developed with Roosevelt.  In 1946, lawmakers made the President’s four terms an issue in congressional election campaigns, pledging to support a constitutional amendment that would prevent a similarly lengthy presidency in the future.  In January of 1947, prominent House leaders acted on these campaign promises, introducing an initiative that ultimately became the Twenty-second Amendment.

                “The turning point in the debates on the measure occurred when Senator Warren Magnuson argued for an amendment that would simply bar someone from being `elected to the office of President more than twice.’ …
                “We can safely conclude that those who drafted the amendment sought somehow to prevent the emergence of a President with a tenure as lengthy as Roosevelt’s.  Many proponents of the measure further argued that they sought to codify the two-term tradition associated with Washington….
                “Although numerous court opinions make passing reference to the Twenty-second Amendment, its parameters have not been systematically examined by the judiciary.  No doubt the low profile of the amendment in the courts reflects limited interest in and opportunity for testing the provision….

                “These facts should not lead one to conclude that the Twenty-second Amendment is so straightforward that it requires no further interpretation.  Among other unresolved questions, the amendment seems to leave open the possibility that a twice-elected President could still become President through nonelectoral means.  For example, such a person might still be elevated to the presidency after serving as Vice President, or, if authorized, to act as President through a presidential-succession statute.”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 424-425.)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Gifts of the Spirit

                After one is baptized by immersion, hands are laid upon the person’s head to confirm them a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Then they are commanded to “receive the Holy Ghost.”  If they are faithful, they can have the influence of the Holy Ghost with them at all times.  Through the Holy Ghost, each person can be blessed with gifts of the Spirit or certain spiritual powers.  These gifts are given only to those who keep the commandments of God to help them know and teach the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ as well as to bless other people and to guide them back to Heavenly Father.

                In order to use the gifts of the Spirit wisely, one must know and understand what they are, how to develop them, and how to recognize Satan’s imitations of them.  The scriptures mention many gifts of the Spirit given to members of the true church of Jesus Christ whenever it is upon the earth.  The presence of these gifts is proof of the true church (see Mark 16:16-18) but are not the only proof of the true church because they are easily imitated by Satan.  Some of the gifts of the Spirit are as follow.

                The Gift of Tongues (Doctrine and Covenants 46:24):  Sometimes it is necessary to communicate the gospel in a language one has not learned.  In such an instance, the Lord can bless a person with the ability to speak that language.  Many missionaries have received this gift at times of great need.

                The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues (Doctrine and Covenants 46:25):  This gift is sometimes given when one does not understand the language and need to receive an important message from God.

                The Gift of Translation (Doctrine and Covenants 5:4):  If one has been called by the leaders of the Church to translate the word of the Lord, the person can receive a gift to translate beyond their natural ability.  As with all gifts, one must live righteously, study hard, and pray to receive it.  When one does these things, they will feel their translation is correct (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8-9).

                The Gift of Wisdom (Doctrine and Covenants 46:17):  Some people are blessed with the ability to understand people and the principles of the gospel as they apply in their lives.

                The Gift of Knowledge (Doctrine and Covenants 46:18):  In order to become like Heavenly Father, one must eventually know all things.  The knowledge of God and His laws is revealed by the Holy Ghost (Doctrine and Covenants 121:26).  No one can be saved without this knowledge (Doctrine and Covenants 131:6).  Knowledge from the Holy Ghost comes through thoughts to the mind and feelings to the heart plus a burning of the truth within one’s soul (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2).

                The Gift of Wisdom and Knowledge (Moroni 10:9-19):  Some people are given the special ability to explain and testify to the truths of the gospel.  This is a gift that can be used by parents in the home and teachers in the classroom.  This gift helps one to instruct others so they can come to an understanding of the gospel.

                The Gift of Knowing that Jesus Christ if the Son of God (Doctrine and Covenants 46:13):  This is the gift of prophets and apostles who have been called as special witnesses of Jesus Christ, but it is also given to other people.  Every person can have a testimony of Jesus Christ; this testimony may come through the whispering of the Holy Ghost, dream, or vision.

                The Gift of Believing the Testimony of Others (Doctrine and Covenants 46:14):  One may know the truth of all things by the power of the Holy Ghost.  If one desires to know if someone is speaking the truth, one must ask God.  If one is praying about something that is true, the Lord will speak peace to one’s mind (see Doctrine and Covenants 6:22-23).  By using this gift, one can know when someone has received revelation from God.

                The Gift of Prophecy (Doctrine and Covenants 46:22):  The gift of prophecy is the ability to receive true revelations about the past, present, or future.  Prophets have this gift, but other people also can receive it to govern their own lives (see 1 Corinthians 1439).  One can receive revelations from God for one’s stewardship – self, family, Church calling, etc. – but never for the Church or its leaders.  It is contrary to the order of heaven for anyone to receive revelation for one higher in authority than oneself.  Those who have the gift of prophecy will never receive any revelation contrary to what the Lord has said in the scriptures.

                The Gift of Healing (Doctrine and Covenants 46:19-20):  Some people have faith to heal while other people have faith to be healed.  Everyone can exercise the faith to be healed when ill (see Doctrine and Covenants 42:48).  Many priesthood bearers have the gift of healing the sick.  Other people may have received knowledge on how to cure illness.

                The Gift of Working Miracles (Doctrine and Covenants 46:21):  The Lord has performed many miracles.  When one is in great need and asks in faith, the Lord will work miracles if it is for one’s good.

                The Gift of Faith (Moroni 10:11):  Faith is very important because no other gift can be received without it.  One can increase faith, discover gifts, and use them.  Some people deny these gifts even exist because they do not have faith.

                One can develop these gifts.  The Lord said, “For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.  To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby” (Doctrine and Covenants 46:11-22).

                In order to develop one’s gifts, one must first discover the gifts one possesses.  This can be done through fasting, prayer, and seeking after the best gifts (see Doctrine and Covenants 46:8).  Patriarchal blessings sometimes mention one’s gifts.  The gifts are developed through obedience and faithfulness to the commandments and ordinances of God and should be used to do the work of the Lord.  The gifts are not given to satisfy one’s curiosity or to prove anything to anyone.  Gifts are to be used to build up the kingdom of God and to strengthen testimonies.

                Satan can imitate the gifts of tongues, prophecy, visions, healings, and other miracles as shown by the experience of Moses competing with Satan’s imitations in Pharaoh’s court (see Exodus 7:8-22).  Satan wants people to believe his false prophets, false healers, and false miracle workers; he can appear as an angel of light.  Satan’s imitations may appear so real that the only way one may the truth is to ask God for the gift of discernment.

                Satan wants people to be blind to the truth and does all he can to keep them from seeking the true gifts of the Spirit.  Mediums, astrologers, fortune tellers, and sorcerers are inspired by Satan but may claim to follow God.  The powers of Satan should be avoided at all times.

                The Lord desires all people to treat His spiritual gifts as sacred and not boast of them.  He asks only one thing in return for His gifts:  “Ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with” (Doctrine and Covenant 46:32).

Friday, May 29, 2015

Know Family History

                Knowing our family history can strengthen families, communities, and nation.  As parents and grandparents we can strengthen our posterity by sharing family history with them.  When children know they have extended family on both sides of the veil, they feel a part of something much bigger than themselves and feel a greater sense of belonging. 

                As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have been aware of family history for as long as I can remember.  My parents, particularly my father, were very active in doing genealogy work and shared stories of their ancestors with us.  I always knew I was part of something much bigger.  I too have shared stories with my children, who are now sharing them with their children.

                Andrew Devey shared three ways that family history helped him to discover who he really is.  The three things that he learned about himself by knowing family history are as follow:  (1) Be proud of who you are, (2) Know your roots, and (3) Become a historian.

                Wise parents will share family history with their children and teach them how to learn more about their ancestry.  By learning about their ancestors, the children will grow in their understanding of their own identities and thus be stronger people.  When our families are strengthened through family history, our communities and nations are strengthened.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Freedom to Roam

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that Americans are free to roam wherever they desire in the nation.  As an American I thoroughly enjoy this freedom and have traveled much. 

                I have traveled through much of our nation on cross-country trips – from our northern border to our southern border and from our West Coast to our East Coast.  Each region is different but beautiful in its own way.

                I travel outside of Alaska much more during the winter than the summer and spend more time in the western and southern states than the northern and eastern parts of the country because of cold and snow.  I hope to all of the states in the near future but know I will have to miss Alaskan summer to do so.

                I have also seen much of the great State of Alaska by air, road, snow, and water.  I have traveled most of the road system, flown over much of the rest of the state, covered much too much territory on snow machines, and traveled by boat on both rivers and ocean.  We live in a beautiful state, with each new sight being more beautiful than the previous.

                Summer brings trips into the wilderness once again and brings much enjoyment.  I encourage you to go outside and enjoy the great outdoors, even it is just to your backyard or a park.  We live in a beautiful world and should enjoy it!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Obama's Poverty Myths

                Barack Obama and members of his administration continue to speak myths about poverty.  Stephen Moore of The Heritage Foundation corrected some of these myths in his article entitled “Unraveling the Poverty Myths Obama Is Promoting.” 

                One of the myths promoted by Mr. Obama is a complaint that “folks on the left” are blamed for wanting to “pour more money into social programs, and don’t care anything about culture or parenting or family structures….”  Moore pointed out that the federal government has spent more than $22 trillion on the War on Poverty since 1964.

                Another myth promoted by Mr. Obama is that the Baltimore riots were caused by Republicans who refused to spend and borrow “even more money on his social programs.”

                Moore quoted Mr. Obama:  “It is a mistake for us to suggest that somehow every effort we make has failed and we are powerless to address poverty.  That’s just not true.  First of all, just in absolute terms, the poverty rate when you take into account tax and transfer programs, has been reduced about 40 percent since 1967.”

                Moore then explained, “There are two problems with this defense of the welfare state.  First, the official poverty was falling before 1965 and at a faster rate than after the Great Society got rolling in the mid-1960s.  This official poverty rate has remained virtually stagnant since the War on Poverty began.
                “Second, the decline in poverty that Obama is boasting about is only after taking into account tax credits and government handouts and welfare benefits.  When excluding these programs there has been little progress at all.
                “Redistribution may have raised the material living standards of some of the poor.  But it has not increased self-sufficiency.
                “The original purpose of the welfare state was to lift people into self-sufficiency, not to create a permanent underclass dependent on taxpayers.  Lyndon Johnson told us when he started these programs that `the days of the dole are numbered.’  We have passed day 18,000.
                “Obama also wants it both ways.  He says over and over, even in this speech, that the biggest problem with the economy is income inequality because the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.  So if the poor are getting poorer, how have his social programs worked to reduce poverty?”

                This is a very good question.  How do the social programs increase self-sufficiency -- and therefore wealth – if the gap between wealthy and poor continues to grow?  The answer is obvious.  The social programs do not help people; they only continue to keep people on the government plantation!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Benghazi Bombshell

                In spite of Hillary Clinton’s best efforts to evade responsibility in the Benghazi terrorist attacks, her emails are creating quite a stir.  The House Benghazi Committee obtained 300emails from the State Department, and the emails indicate Clinton was aware of security dangers months before the attacks took place.  In fact, there were “a number of emails” to Clinton in 2011 and 2012 with “warning signs.”

                Four Americans lost their lives because Hillary Clinton did not respond well to the warning signs.  Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty, and Sean Smith were killed in the attacks in Benghazi.

                When Hillary Clinton testified before the House Foreign Affairs on Benghazi in January 2013, she sought to excuse herself by saying, “They are all addressed to me.  They do not all come to me.  They are reported through the bureaucracy.”

                It is becoming more and more obvious that Clinton holds responsibility for the death of the Americans.  Why did Clinton not see the emails?  Why was security decreased instead of increased as the Ambassador requested?  Why were rescue teams not sent?  Why so many lies?  Why?  Why?  Why?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Henry David Thoreau

                Henry David Thoreau (pronounced like the word thorough but THOR-oh) was born David Henry Thoreau on July 12, 1817, in the Wheeler-Minot farmhouse in Concord, Massachusetts.  His parents were John Thoreau (a pencil maker) and Cynthia Dunbar.  He was named for a recently deceased paternal uncle, David Thoreau, but became “Henry David” after college – without a legal name change.  He had three siblings:  Helen, John Jr., and Sophia.  His birthplace still exists on Virginia Road in Concord; it was recently restored by the Thoreau Farm Trust and is open to the public.  He apparently was quite homely with a large Roman nose. [I found no mention of wife or children but found reference to a proposal to Ellen Sewall (which she declined).]
                Thoreau attended Harvard College (1833-1837) and studied rhetoric, classics, philosophy, mathematics, and science.  He was a member of the Institute of 1770, now known as the Hasty Pudding Club.  He refused to pay $5 for a master’s degree with no academic merit.  “Harvard College offered it to graduates `who proved their physical worth by being alive three years after graduating, and their saving, earning, or inheriting quality or condition by have Five Dollars to give the college.”
                Henry David Thoreau “was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, and historian…. [He] is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay Resistance to Civil Government (also known as Civil Disobedience), an argument for disobedience to an unjust state.
                “Thoreau’s books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes.  Among his lasting contributions are his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern-day environmentalism.  His literary style interweaves close natural observation, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore, while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and `Yankee’ love of practical detail.  He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life’s true essential needs.
                “He was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law while praising the writings of Wendell Phillips and defending abolitionist John Brown.  Thoreau’s philosophy of civil disobedience later influenced the political thoughts and actions of such notable figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.”

                Thoreau passed away on May 6, 1862, in Concord, Massachusetts, at age 44.  He had been “periodically plagued” with tuberculosis since college and finally succumbed to it.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Repeal of Prohibition

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed…. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited….”  The provision of the Constitution gave States the right to regulate the manufacture and distribution of “intoxicating liquors.”  It also gave the states the right to avoid such coming across state lines.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained, “This amendment did not legalize intoxicating liquors.  It simply turned the problem back to the states.”  (See The Making of America The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 754.)

                David Wagner of The Heritage Foundation explained, “When the nation repealed Prohibition via the Twenty-first Amendment in 1933, it vested primary control over alcoholic beverages in the states.  The common understanding of the framers of the Twenty-first Amendment was that it grants each state the power to regulate alcoholic beverages within its borders without intrusion by federal law or regulation.  The question remains, however, as to how much and what kind of federal intrusion the amendment blocks.  The Twenty-first Amendment has three parts.  Section 1 explicitly repealed the Eighteenth Amendment and brought an end to Prohibition.  Accordingly, because many saw the Twenty-first Amendment as nothing but a repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment, Congress passed the resolution without much substantive debate.  Most of the legislative debate centered on the issue of saloons and the ratification process codified in Section 3 of the amendment, which mandated the use of state conventions.  The amendment was passed by the Senate on February 26, 1933, and by the House four days later.  It became law on December 5, 1933.”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 421.)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Gift of the Holy Ghost

                The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead.  He does not have a body of flesh and bone but is a spirit in the form of a man.  He can be in only one place at a time, but his influence can be everyplace at the same time.  His mission is to bear testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as well as to bear witness of all truth.

                The Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost is not the same thing.  The gift of the Holy Ghost is a privilege given to a baptized member when he is confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This gift is given to baptized members to receive guidance and inspiration from the Holy Ghost.  Members of the Church must be worthy in order to receive revelation and to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

                Anyone may be temporarily guided by the Holy Ghost without receiving the Holy Ghost, but the person will not continue to receive this guidance if they do not receive baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.  This truth is illustrated in Acts 10 when the roman soldier Cornelius received inspiration from the Holy Ghost so that he knew the gospel of Jesus Christ was true.  Cornelius did not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized.  If he had not received baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Ghost would have left him.  Today, non-members of the Church learn, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ is true (see Moroni 10:4-5).  If they do not act upon that flash of testimony and receive baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, they will not receive the continuing assurance they might have received.

                The gift of the Holy Ghost is given through the laying on of hands by the elders of the Church after a person has been baptized and confirmed a member of the Church.  Every worthy elder of the Church may bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost to another person when properly authorized.  The person, however, does not receive a guarantee of inspiration and guidance simply because the elders have laid their hands on his head.  Each person must “receive the Holy Ghost.”  This means that the Holy Ghost will only come to those who are worthy and who desire help from this heavenly messenger.

                To be worthy to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, one must be striving to obey all of the commandments of God.  He must keep his thoughts and actions pure.  President David O. McKay taught “One chief purpose of life is to overcome evil tendencies, to govern our appetites, to control our passions – anger, hatred, jealousy, immorality.  We have to overcome them; we have to subject them, conquer them because God has said:  `… the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples –’ (Helaman 4:24), nor will it `… always strive with man’
(2 Nephi 26:11).”  (See “Emotional Maturity,” Instructor, Sept. 1959, p. 281, as quoted in Gospel Principles, p. 102.)

               The gift of the Holy Ghost is one of the greatest gifts of God.  Through this great gift we can know for ourselves that Heavenly Father lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that His Church has been restored to the earth.  Through this gift we can receive promptings from the Holy Ghost to tell us all the things we should do (see 2 Nephi 32:5).  Through this gift we can enjoy other gifts of the Spirit.  This gift can bring peace to our hearts and help us understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).

Friday, May 22, 2015

Facts of Life

                Families are strengthened when parents teach their children the facts of life.  We must teach the rising generation the most important of these facts, including the fact that life is not fair and no one has the power to make it fair.  Life is not fair; it is what we make of it.

                Life is not fair.  Some of us are born into families with wealth and began life in easier circumstances.  Some of us are born with the ability to be athletes, musicians, or artists, but none of us are both with all of the talents.  Some of us are born into loving families while others are born into abusive families.  Some have great intelligence while others struggle.  Some are born organizers while other never put order into their lives.  No, live is not fair!

                Texas native Matthew McConaughey,an Academy Award-winning actor, recently spoke to the graduates of the University of Houston.  A summary of his message would be a warning to stay out of the “entitlement trap.”  “Life’s not fair, it never was, it isn’t now, and it won’t ever be.  Do not fall into the trap, the entitlement trap, of feeling like you’re a victim.  You are not.”

                One of the most important truths that parents must teach their children is that life is not fair but what we make of it.  If we convince the rising generation that they are victims and can never rise out of their problems, they will sit back and wait to be rescued.  When they understand that success or failure is up to them, they will accept their responsibility and work for success.  We can strengthen the rising generation, families, communities, and nations by understanding and teaching this simple fact:  life is not fair.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

As A Man Thinketh

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that we are the result of our thoughts.  Whatever one is today, it is the result of thoughts yesterday, last week, or last year.  No one is able to say or do something without first thinking it.

                The writer of Proverbs 23:7 wrote:  “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”  James Allen took this thought and wrote a literary essay entitled “As a Man Thinketh” and published it in 1903.  The essay is now in the public domain in most countries of the world.  It is available in book form at this site.  The book is a true classic and has been widely read; it has stood the test of time for it carries a profound message.  As a Man Thinketh begins:

                Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,
           And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
           The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
           Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: --
           He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
           Environment is but his looking-glass.

                        Matt Walsh published an interesting essay about this subject entitled “Christians, Now Is Probably a Good Time to Stop Watching `Game of Thrones’” that thoroughly explains the current topic.

                After admitting that he makes bad choices at times, Walsh explained, “… I recognize, even in those moments, that entertainment is not a neutral exercise.  In every instance, it’s going to be a net positive or a net negative for my mental and spiritual welfare.  I am inviting these messages, images, and ideas into my mind.  I am doing something that is active and purposeful, and it will either help me or hurt me in the end.
                “Music, movies, TV, games – we spend so much of our lives wrapped up in all this stuff because it affects us.  There’s a reason why, in this economy, Americans still commit an inordinate amount of their income to cable bills, Netflix accounts, movie tickets, and video games.  It’s important to us.  Too important, clearly.  But even in proper proportion, this is art, and art is a powerful thing.  Art says something to us and about us.  It drives us.  Art moves the heart and the mind in a particular direction.  It can pull us closer to Him or push us further away, but whatever it does, it does something.
                “So anytime we sit in front of the tube, we should ask:  Am I progressing or regressing?  Is this drawing me to God or away from Him?  What am I getting out of this?"

                Walsh ends his essay by saying that we need to get a higher standard for our entertainment.  This is true whether our entertainment is oral, visual, written, etc.  The mode of the entertainment is not important, but the content is.  Our minds are like a computer, and they record every thought, word, and action we have.  They are put in some “file” in our brains and kept for ready access when we want it.  If our thoughts are good and pure, they will lead us on the upward path.  If our thoughts are otherwise, they will take us on the downward road.  We become what we allow ourselves to think.  We can cast out bad thoughts and replace them with good ones, but we must constantly be on guard to keep the bad thoughts at bay.  It is much better to stop viewing entertainment that brings bad thoughts than it is to try to control them once they are there.

                When we stand before the judgement seat of God, we will be judged on our thoughts, words and deeds (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 4:30).  We will not be able to hide any of them because they will determine the person we become.  We are the results of our thoughts – good or evil.  As a man thinketh in his heart so is he!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Benghazi - Still

                The terrorist attacks on Americans in Benghazi are still in the news because various Americans refuse to let the matter drop.  The latest results come from the relentless pursuit for truth by Judicial Watch (JW) and the many Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits.  JW announced two days ago that it had “obtained more than 100 pages of previously classified `Secret’ documents from the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of State” in response to a court order.  The papers reveal that “DOD almost immediately reported that the attack on the U.S Consulate in Benghazi was committed by the al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood-linked `Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman’ (BCOAR), and had been planned at least 10 days in advance.  Rahman is known as the Blind Sheikh, and is serving life in prison for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and other terrorist acts.  The new documents also provide the first official confirmation that shows the U.S. government was aware of arms shipments from Benghazi to Syria.  The documents also include an August 2012 analysis warning of the rise of ISIS and the predicted failure of the Obama policy of regime change in Syria.”

                The August 2012 analysis referred to above came three months before Barack Obama was reelected to the office of President of the United States.  The attack in Benghazi happened two months prior to the election.  The information about both was obviously buried in an effort to help his prospects.

                Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, stated:  “These documents are jaw-dropping.  No wonder we had to file more FOIA lawsuits and wait over two years for them.  If the American people had known the truth – that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other top administration officials knew that the Benghazi attack was an al-Qaeda terrorist attack from the get-go – and yet lied and covered this fact up – Mitt Romney might very well be president.  And why would the Obama administration continue to support the Muslim Brotherhood even after it knew it was tied to the Benghazi terrorist attack and to al Qaeda?  These documents also point to connection between the collapse in Libya and the ISIS war – and confirm that the U.S. knew remarkable details about the transfer of arms from Benghazi to Syrian jihadists…. These documents show that the Benghazi cover-up has continued for years and is only unraveling through our independent lawsuits.  The Benghazi scandal just got a whole lot worse for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.”

                I am grateful for people like Tom Fitton and organizations like Judicial Watch that continue to fight for the truth.  Richard Nixon was forced to resign because of his attempt to cover up Watergate, an illegal activity that caused no deaths.  Why is Barack Obama still president after his cover-up actions on Benghazi?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

One Person, Big Difference

                Can one person make a difference in another person’s life?  We all like to think so, but we are rarely in a position to see much change.  The Center for Neighborhood Enterprise recently released a video series with a powerful message.  “The series documents the work of grassroots leaders in low-income communities throughout the nation who are addressing the most devastating, entrenched forms of poverty and self-destructive behavior.” 

                The videos tell a story of one person helping another person to overcome poverty.  Omar Jahwar was a community leader with a successful record of “quelling youth violence in the streets and schools of Dallas.  When gang rivalry and violence peaked within the prison population in the mid-1990s, Dallas corrections authorities hired him as their first gang specialist to work within the walls of a state prison.

                “Omar embraced the mission.  Among the first of his charges was an intimidating figure – Antong Lucky, the man who “started the Dallas chapter of the Bloods gang in a neighborhood dominated by its notorious rival, the Crips.  In spite of Antong’s threatening demeanor and reputation, Jawhar recognized that he had a latent desire to live a positive, successful life, and that seed could take root if given the proper support and investment.”

                Antong was once a straight-A student but gave that life up to join a gang and sell drugs.  He saw many of his friends killed because of violence, and he ended up in prison.  Because Jawhar reached out to him, he was able to make a drastic change in his life.  He started a program in prison called “We Make Real Mentors” and “was able to establish peace among rival gangs.” When he was released from prison, he continued to work with Jawhar in his anti-violence initiative.

                One person can make a big difference in the life of another person if one is willing to accept the challenge and be a mentor.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Jane Addams

                Jane Addams was born on September 6, 1860, in Cedarville, Illinois, the youngest of eight children.  Her father was active in politics, and her family was prosperous and came from colonial New England.  Her father, John Huey Addams, was an agricultural businessman with large timber, cattle, and agricultural holdings; he also owned flour and timber mills and a woolen factory as well as being president of The Second National Bank of Freeport. Her mother, Sarah Weber Addams, died when Jane was two years old; her father married Anna Hostetter Haldeman, the widow of a miller in Freeport when Jane was eight years old.  Four of her siblings died in infancy and another died at age 16 – all before Jane was eight years old.

                John Huey Addams was a founding member of the Republican Party in Illinois and was an Illinois State Senator (1855-70).  He was a friend of Abraham Lincoln and supported him in his campaign for senator (1854) and President (1860).  “He kept a letter from Lincoln in his desk, and Jane Addams loved to look at it as a child.”

                Jane was four years old when she contracted tuberculosis of the spine – Potts’s disease – and suffered from a curvature in her spine and health problems for the rest of her life.  She walked with a limp and could not run very well; in addition, she considered herself ugly.  In spite of all her problems, her father adored her.

                Jane “was a voracious reader;” from her mother’s example and from Dickens she became interested in living and working among the poor.  Her father encouraged her to become better educated but stay close to home.  She wanted to attend Smith College in Massachusetts, but her father made her attend Rockford Female Seminary (now Rockford University) in Rockford, Illinois.  She graduated from Rockford in 1881 and hoped to earn “a proper B.A.” from Smith.

                John Addams died suddenly that summer from appendicitis, leaving each of his children $50,000 (“equivalent to $1.22 million today”).   Anna Haldeman Addams, Jane Addams, Alice Addams, and Alice’s husband Harry moved to Philadelphia that fall in order for the three young people to study medicine for two years.  Harry, already trained in medicine, studied at the University of Pennsylvania.  Jane and Alice completed one year at the Woman’s Medical College of Philadelphia; Jane was disappointed because she could not complete her degree due to “health problems, a spinal operation and a nervous breakdown.” 

                Stepmother Anna became ill, and the entire family returned to Cedarville.  Harry – Jane’s brother-in-law as well as stepbrother – operated on her back in an effort to straighten it.  He then advised her to travel instead of returning to school.  Jane left in August 1883 on a two-year tour of Europe with her stepmother; friends and family members sometimes joined them.  She realized she could help the poor without being a doctor.  Anna and Jane returned home in June 1887; they lived together in Cedarville and spent the winters in Baltimore.

                Jane Addams “was a pioneer American settlement social worker, public philosopher, sociologist, author, and leader in women’s suffrage and world peace.  In an era when presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson identified themselves as reformers and social activists, Addams was one of the most prominent reformers of the Progressive Era.  She helped turn America to issues of concern to mothers, such as the needs of children, local public health, and world peace.  She said that if women were to be responsible for cleaning up their communities and making them better places to live, they needed to be able to vote to do so effectively.  Addams became a role model for middle-class women who volunteered to uplift their communities.  She is increasingly being recognized as a member of the American pragmatist school of philosophy.  In 1889 she co-founded Hull House, and in 1920 she was a co-founder for the ACLU.  In 1931 she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and is recognized as the founder of the social work profession in the United States.”

                Troubled most of her life by health problems, Laura Jane Addams became seriously ill following a heart attack in 1926.  She passed away on May 21, 1935, in Chicago, Illinois, at the age of 74.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

In Case of Death

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Section 4 of the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.”  This provision simply says that Congress will decide how the House of Representatives and/or the House will proceed in case they have been tasked with choosing a President of Vice President and one of the candidates dies before a selection is made.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained:  “It will be recalled that in the event the House must select the President, it makes its choice from among the three top candidates.  In the event one of these should die before the choice was made, there was no clear-cut procedure to guide the House from that point on.  This provision enables the Congress to set up a procedure.  It also authorizes the Congress to provide for a situation where two candidates are being considered for Vice President but the selection process is disrupted because one of them dies.

                “All of this may seem somewhat technical, but should these circumstances actually arise, this provision could be of critical importance in transferring power from one administration to another.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 754.)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Baptism by Immersion

                The gospel of Jesus Christ includes certain principles and ordinances that require obedience.  A principle is a teaching or belief; an ordinance is a ceremony or rite.  The first two principles of the gospel are faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance; baptism is the first ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is followed by confirmation into the Lord’s church.

                Matthew recorded in his testimony of Jesus Christ the following instruction:  “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

                There are several very important reasons why we must be baptized:  (1) We must be baptized for the remission of our sins.  (2) We must be baptized to become members of the Church of Jesus Christ.  (3) We must be baptized before we can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  (4) We must be baptized to show obedience.  (5) We must be baptized to enter the celestial kingdom.

                There is only one acceptable mode of baptism for God.  Jesus Christ told the Prophet Joseph Smith that a person must be baptized by one hold the proper priesthood authority to perform baptism.  The Lord said that the person and the priesthood bearer “shall go down into the water…. Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:73-74).

                According to the apostle Paul, immersion is necessary.  He taught that being immersed in water and coming out again is symbolic of death and resurrection.  When we are baptized, our sinful life ends and our new life begins.  “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:  that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Romans 6:3-5).  Baptism by immersion by a priesthood bearer having proper authority is the only true and acceptable way to be baptized.

                Every person who has reached the age of accountability (8 years old) and is capable of being responsible for his own actions must be baptized.  The Savior considered little children to be worthy of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14).  An ancient American prophet by the name of Mormon said that it is a mockery before God to baptize little children for they are not capable of sinning and do not need baptism.  Baptism is not necessary for people who are mentally incapable of knowing right from wrong (see Moroni 8:9-22).  Everyone else must be baptized.  We must receive the ordinance of baptism and keep the covenant we make in order to return to live with Heavenly Father again.

                Baptism brings a new way of life – or a rebirth.  Jesus Christ stated that one must be born again or cannot enter the kingdom of God.  He also said that we must be baptized by water and the spirit to enter the kingdom of God (see John 3:3-5).

                Father Adam understood this principle for he was told, “Inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten” (Moses 6:59).  Baptism blesses us with a new start in life.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Family Forever

                Families are strengthened by being sealed together by proper authority for time and all eternity.  Parents and children feel greater security knowing they are sealed together for eternity.  Sealed parents also feel a greater need to make their marriage work and to keep their children close, but they do not fear death because they understand the meaning of being together forever.

                How does a family become sealed?  They must first be baptized and confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and prove their faithfulness by obedience to the commandments of God.  The parents – a man and a woman, legally and lawfully married – are first sealed to each other.  If the couple is sealed before any children are born, the children are born in the covenant.  If the children are born before the parents are sealed, the children must be sealed to their parents.

                The sealing power is given to a very small number of high priests, and these men must live righteous lives in order to retain the power and authority of their office.  The only places on earth where couples and families can be sealed are the temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  “Temples are literally houses of the Lord.  They are holy places of worship where the Lord may visit.  Only the home can compare with temples in sacredness….
                “Another temple ordinance is celestial marriage, in which husband and wife are sealed to one another for eternity.  A sealing performed in the temple continues forever if the husband and wife are faithful to the covenants they make.
                “Children born to parents who have been sealed in the temple are born in the covenant.  These children automatically become part of an eternal family.  Children who are not born in the covenant can also become part of an eternal family once their natural or adoptive parents have been sealed to one another.  The ordinance of sealing children to parents is performed in the temple.”  (See True to the Faith, pp. 170-171.)

                Deceased couples and families can also be sealed in the temple by proxy.  Members of the LDS Church do family history work in an effort to gather as many family members as possible and to link parents and children together for as many generations as possible.

                I am a member of a multi-generation sealed family.  My parents and their parents as well as other ancestors and their children have been sealed together as one big family, some as far back as the 1500s.  The sealing work is done whenever we can find the information on our ancestors.  They of course do not have to accept the work and can reject the blessings, but hopefully they do not make this choice.  Most of my children have also made the decision to be sealed to their spouse and children.

                A friend of mine recently did the temple work for her parents; she acted as proxy for her mother and her husband was proxy for her father during the sealing ceremony for her parents.  Then she was sealed to her parents.  I asked her if she felt any different after the sealing, and she indicated that she did.  Her feeling was one of greater security.  Then she told me that she can tell by looking at a family if they are sealed together because their feelings of security are apparent to her.    

                I encourage all of my readers to take the necessary steps to become sealed to their parents, spouse, and children.  The sealing power brings many blessings into the lives of individual family members and to families as a whole.  Sealed families bring great strength to their communities and nations.