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.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Freedom from Sexual Assault

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the right of all people to be free from sexual assault. A few weeks ago several women were paraded before Americans with claims that Judge Roy Moore made improper sexual advances to them when they were teenagers. Most, if not all, of the claims are questioned more and more as time goes past, and Moore is gaining in the polls.

            Since the claims against Moore were brought, numerous other men are facing charges that they made sexual advances. These men include  Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey, news anchor Charlie Rose, Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) (the longest-serving member of Congress), and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota). They seem to be falling like Dominoes with new names being added to the list daily – or so it seems.

            Amidst all the discussion about Conyers and Franken, a big secret came to light. It seems that lawmakers secretly created a mysterious slush fund from which to settle any accusations against lawmakers. The Daily Signal reports on the current status of the problem in Congress.

In the event of a monetary settlement of sexual harassment complaints, members of Congress can draw on a taxpayer-funded account set up within the Treasury Department to cover their legal expenses and settle cases.

The account has paid out $17 million in the past 10 years, public records show, although it is not clear how much of that was for cases of sexual harassment.

            Lest there be any doubt about the source of the money, let me repeat that this is a “taxpayer-funded account.” In other words, taxpayers are paying the cost of settling any accusations against members of Congress. Why? It is happening because legislators were able to get away with it. However, times may be changing.

            Various people and organizations are calling for an investigation into where the $17 million went and why. The U.S. Senate passed a resolution requiring training on sexual harassment for senators and their staff, and the U.S. House of Representatives will most likely follow suit.

            Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Virginia) sponsored the resolution in the house. It would require “all House members, officers, employees, including interns, detailees, and fellows” to complete “anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training” during each annual session of Congress. Comstock also wants to prevent the use of taxpayer funds to cover lawmakers’ expenses for sexual harassment.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Obamas Still Around

            I thought that Barack and Michelle Obama would fade away when their time in the White House was over. I must have been hoping for too much because I was wrong in a big way! I guess it will be a while before they fade into the background and stay out of the public view.

            Mr. Obama seems to think that he is still the REAL President of the United States since all liberals appear to believe that Donald Trump is not. Mr. Obama spends his time flying around the world in the name of his “foundation” and visiting with the leaders of numerous nations. The problem is that he tends to follow President Trump around the world. 

            A few months ago he was in Italy at the same time that the Trumps were there. His current itinerary is for him to hold meetings in India, China, and France – just two weeks after President Trump met with the same leaders. Is Mr. Obama trying to undermine the current President? If not, why does he tend to go to the same countries at the same approximate time that President Trump goes there? Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump obviously have different agendas, but one would think that the former President would be more supportive of the current one.

            Michelle Obama is not far behind her husband in her speech making and travels. Rush Limbaugh recently stated that he believes that Bernie Sanders – a communist - is the front-runner for the 2020 Democrat nomination for President. He also believes that Michelle Obama is “the only person that can stop Bernie Sanders.” He thinks that Democrats are clearing the stage for her by the way they are throwing Hillary Clinton under the bus on a regular basis. Michelle said before leaving the White House that she was not interested in running for President. I wonder if she still feels that way. I guess that only time will tell.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Dante and Life after Death

            I am studying The Divine Comedy for my humanities class this semester, and I want to share a little of what I am learning with you. The Divine Comedy is a long narrative poem that was written by Dante Alighieri in the early 1300s. He started his allegory about 1308-1312 and finished it just a year before his death in 1321. The poem is an “imaginative vision of the afterlife” as a “representative of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Church by the 14th century.” It was written in Italian rather than Latin because Dante wanted all literate people to be able to read it.

            The poem is divided into three parts known as Canticas, meaning religious or narrative poem. Dante’s three canticas are The Inferno or Hell, Purgatorio or Purgatory, and Paradiso or Paradise. Each cantica contains thirty-three cantos (or sections). The Inferno has an additional canto that serves as an introduction to the entire poem and brings the total number of cantos to 100. The first two cantos in Purgatorio and Paradiso serve as introductions to those canticas.

The narrative describes Dante’s travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise or Heaven; while allegorically the poem represents the soul’s journey towards God…

The work was originally simply titled Comedia and the word Divina was added by Giovanni Boccaccio. The first printed edition to add the word divina to the title was that of the Venetian humanist Lodovico Dolce, published in 1555 by Gabriele Giolito de’ Ferrari…

Written in the first person, the poem tells of Dante’s journey through the three realms of the dead, lasting from the night before Good Friday to the Wednesday after Easter in the spring of 1300. The Roman poet Virgil guides him through Hell and Purgatory; Beatrice, Dante’s ideal woman, guides him through Heaven. Beatrice was a Florentine woman whom he had met in childhood and admired from far in the mode of the then-fashionable courtly love tradition…

            I am fascinated with Dante’s “vision” of the afterlife and find it to be quite creative and thoughtful. I am also aware that Dante wrote his epic poem with the knowledge available in medieval Christian theology and philosophy in the 1300s. He wrote according to what he knew about life after death, and his poem causes a great deal of pondering and introspection. However, there is one particular part of Dante’s description of Hell that is wrong.

            In his poem Dante is led through Hell by the Roman poet Virgil. As he follows Virgil through Hell and into Limbo (the first circle of hell), he sees the souls of people – men, women, and children - who lived good and honorable lives. Virgil tells him that the people are in that condition because they were not baptized, not because they had committed sins. Many of them lived before Christianity was on the earth. They had, however, lived moral lives according to their laws and were good people.

            Dante recognizes many great people in this condition and feels concern for them. He asks Virgil if they were stuck in Limbo forever or if they could eventually progress out of Limbo. Virgil replies that the people are there to stay. They can never be saved because they did not hear about Jesus Christ and His gospel in mortality.

            This is the doctrine that concerns me. How many mortals believe that people are condemned to hell simply because they were not baptized before they died? In a First Presidency Message in March 1972, President Joseph Fielding Smith calls this doctrine “unfortunate and erroneous.” He explains that this doctrine did not originate with Dante but came “down from the earliest days of apostasy from the true teachings of Jesus Christ.”

            President Smith then proceeds to share the story of “an earnest, loving mother who was told by a well-meaning but misguided priest that her dead infant was eternally lost because the child had not been christened. He continues.

I was visiting at the home of this mother, and she related the following story. Several years before, she had lost a little child. He had not been taken to the minister for sprinkling and had, in that condition, died. The parents sought their minister and asked him to conduct the funeral and give their little one a Christian burial; however, this humble request was solemnly, but nonetheless brutally, denied. The parents were told the child was forever lost. Heartbroken, they laid their little child away as an outcast might have been buried, without the rites of that church and without “Christian burial.” How the hearts of those fond parents ached; how their feelings were torn asunder!

For several years this mother, with faith in the teachings of that priest, suffered the most acute mental agony. She knew it was not the fault of her infant that he had not been christened. He was innocent of any wrong. Was not that wrong her own? And in her mind, because of this false teaching, was not she responsible for the eternal suffering of this little one? She felt as the repentant murderer who could not restore the life he had taken, and in this anguish of soul she suffered the punishment of the damned.

It was a happy day when I came to the home of this tormented mother. Even now I can see the joy that came into her tormented face when I explained to her that this doctrine was false – as false as the depths of hell whence it came. I taught her this was not the doctrine of Jesus Christ, who loved little children and who declared that they belonged to the kingdom of heaven. I read to her from the Book of Mormon the words of Mormon to his son Moroni (Moroni 8) and explained that the Lord had revealed to Joseph Smith that “all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability” – that is, eight years – “are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven [Doctrine and Covenants 137:10].” (Documentary History of the Church, vol. 2. 2, p. 381.) Yes, the Lord has made it known in this glorious day of restoration:

“All who have died without a knowledge of this Gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God; also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom, for I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.” (DHC, vol. 2, p. 380.)

            Dante must have realized that the doctrine was wrong because he wrote something entirely different in Paradiso, Canto XXXII, Lines 40-48. There Dante describes children under the age of accountability as being in the presence of God because Jesus Christ made it possible by His atoning sacrifice. This is particularly interesting because the last thirteen cantos were not published until after Dante’s death.

Know that to here from where the petals meet,
     Up to midway, the lines of these partitions,
     No souls by their own merit have their seat,

But by Another’s, under fixed conditions;
     For all these spirits were absolved from sin
     Ere they had reached control of their volitions.

Lend ear and thou wilt realize how thin
     Their voices are; look well and thou’lt make out
     Their infant faces and their childish mien.

            Little children – before the age of eight years - are innocent in the eyes of God and return to directly to His presence upon their death. All people – whether in this life or the life hereafter – will have the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and either accept it or reject it. However, the covenants must be made in mortality.

            This is the reason why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints builds temples all over the world. Members of the Church perform temples ordinances in behalf of people who have passed away. If the person accepts the gospel when they hear it on the other side of the veil, their temple ordinances have already been completed, and they can continue progressing through eternity. If the ordinances are not performed, the person is stopped in their progression until they are completed by mortals.

            I know that Heavenly Father is a loving Father. He desires that all of His children have the opportunity to return to His presence, and He has a plan to make it possible.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Leonardo da Vinci

            Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (more commonly known as Leonardo da Vinci or Leonardo) was born April 15, 1452, in Tuscan town of Vinci, in the region of Florence, Italy. He was the illegitimate son of Piero da Vinci, an attorney or notary, and a peasant woman named Caterina. He lived with his mother in the hamlet of Anchiano for his first five years and then went to live with his father, grandparents, and uncle in Vinci. His father married four times and sired twelve other children, six with his third wife and six with his fourth wife. Leonardo’s half-siblings caused problems with the inheritance upon their father’s death.

            Leonardo was taught in the studio of Andrea del Verrocchio, a well-known Florentine painter. His first jobs were for Ludovico il Moro in Milan, and he later worked in Rome, Bologna, and Venice. He lived in France for his last years.

            While da Vinci is mainly known for being a painter, he had many “areas of interest, which included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography.” He has been “called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time.” There are also suggestions that he invented the parachute, helicopter, and tank. He is considered to be “the Renaissance humanist ideal.”

            Leonardo’s most famous painting is the Mona Lisa. His painting of The Last Supper “is the most reproduced religious painting of all time. His Vitruvian Man is considered to be a “cultural icon,” and his Salvator Mundi recently sold for $450.3 million at an auction in New York, “the highest price ever paid for a work of art.” Even though few – maybe 15 – of his paintings survived, he left a “contribution to later generations of artists rivalled only by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo.” He also left notebooks containing “drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting.”

Leonardo is revered for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualized flying machines, a type of armoured fighting vehicle, concentrated solar power, an adding machine, and the double hull. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or even feasible during his lifetime, as the modern scientific approaches to metallurgy and engineering were only in their infancy during the Renaissance. Some of his smaller inventions, however, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded. A number of Leonardo’s most practical inventions are nowadays displayed as working models at the Museum of Vinci. He made substantial discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, geology, optics, and hydrodynamics, but he did not publish his findings and they had no direct influence on later science.

            Leonardo died on May 2, 1519, in Clos Luce, Amboise, France. He was buried at the Chapel of Saint-Hubert, Amboise, France.

            “When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return” (da Vinci).

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Protecting and Preserving the Constitution

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns a prophecy made by the Prophet Joseph Smith about the U.S. Constitution being on the verge of destruction and the elders of Israel being involved in saving it. When I first heard of this prophecy, I wondered how it could be true. After many years of watching various individuals and groups attempt to destroy the Constitution, I now have no doubts about its truthfulness.

            According to D. Michael Stewart of the Department of History at Brigham Young University, there are documents that show that Joseph Smith made such a prophecy on several different occasions. Stewart shares information on the prophecy in an article dated June 1976

The first known record of the prophecy dates to July 19, 1840, in Nauvoo [Illinois], when the prophet spoke about the redemption of Zion. Using Doctrine and Covenants 101 as a text, he said, “Even this nation will be on the verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground and when the Constitution is on the brink of ruin this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction.” (Joseph Smith Papers, LDS Church Historical Archives, Box 1, March 10, 1844.)

There are also other documents in Church History files that show that five different early Saints recorded some remarks by the Prophet Joseph Smith on this same prophecy…

            Stewart continues his articles by sharing the five statements written by Parley P. Pratt, James Burgess, Orson Hyde, Eliza R. Snow, and Jedediah M. Grant. Each statement has the same basic message: The U.S. Constitution will be close to destruction and the Elders of Israel will rescue and save it. The wording of the statements varies, such as “on the brink of ruin,” “hang by a brittle thread,” “hang by a single hair,” and others.

            The Prophet “referred to the Constitution, the country, and destiny of the nation” on different occasions and obviously felt some concern. Stewart says that “there is clear evidence that he anticipated future peril” and that the Prophet might have also “interchanged the simile … to describe the anticipated crisis.” The Prophet left no doubt that the general membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the Elders would be involved in saving the Constitution. Stewart shares the following counsel.

Since no particular time was given for fulfilling this prophecy, members of the Church have often wondered about its timing. The prophecy clearly indicates a single, identifiable episode yet to come. However, it is helpful for us to constantly be on guard against threats to the central elements of the Constitution. It is not wise to sit by and think that the protection of the Constitution is the problem of someone else at some other time…

Students of history and the Constitution know that the Constitution has been imperiled a number of times in its history and has been saved a number of times both by vigorous political action and by vocal public opinion.

          So, what are we to do? Stewart counsels Latter-day Saints to not wait until the Constitution hangs by a thread, but to “continually be vigilant.”

Our commission to save the Constitution is, like salvation, a continuing task, and Church leaders have pointed out the tools available: analysis of constitutional principles, personal study of the history of our nation, reading the Constitution to children at home and in schools, teaching them self-sacrifice – the principle that makes freedom possible – teaching them their obligations as mature citizens, recognizing and resisting ideologies that threaten constitutional principles, and developing loyalty to principle rather than to men or parties.

            Did you notice the actions that normal, everyday Americans can take? Here they are again: (1) Know the principles in the Constitution, (2) study U.S. History, (3) read the Constitution to the rising generation, (4) teach children the importance of self-sacrifice, loyalty to principle, and love of country, and (5) prepare them to become mature, responsible citizens.

            I encourage all of us to follow the counsel of prophets and apostles and to prepare ourselves and our posterity to come to the rescue of the Constitution whenever the need may arise. We can do much in our homes and families to respond to the “commission” to rescue the Constitution, and we must be consistent in our efforts.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Serving God

            King Benjamin, a prophet-king in ancient America, was a great and righteous leader. Under his leadership his people eliminated contention in their land and had peace. King Benjamin was also a good father to his three sons and accepted the parental responsibility to teach his children. He taught them “in all the language of his fathers” that they might be “men of understanding.” He also taught them the words of the prophets and the importance of studying the scriptures. (See Mosiah 1:1-3.) 

            After King Benjamin “made an end of teaching his sons,” he realized that he was old and would “soon go the way of all the earth” (Mosiah 1:9). He wanted to leave his kingdom in good hands, so he called his oldest son, Mosiah, to him. He told Mosiah that he was going to confer the kingdom upon him. He also told Mosiah to notify the people in the kingdom to gather together the next day at the temple because he (the King) wanted to speak to his people.

            Mosiah was obedient to the commands of his father and notified the people of the kingdom to come to the temple to hear the words of the king. The people gathered on the morrow, but there were too many people to meet within the temple. King Benjamin caused that a tower should be built in order that the people could hear his words. He also caused that his words should be written and taken to the people to make sure that all of his people knew what he spoke.  

            King Benjamin’s speech contains many nuggets of truth as found in Mosiah 2-5. The truth that I wish to enlarge upon today is found in Mosiah 2:17-19

17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.

18 Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?

19 And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!

            I learned the truth of these words by King Benjamin very early in my mothering experience. I learned that the greatest service that anyone could give to me was to help my children. If I as a mortal had this desire for someone to help my children, I can only imagine how Heavenly Father must feel toward anyone who helps His children.

            Since we are all His children, each of us are usually on one end or the other of service, meaning that we are either serving someone or being served by someone. This is true in families as well as communities or nations.

            President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke about the importance of service in our quest to gain eternal life. He spoke about the Savior being the perfect “example of unselfish service” and how He devoted His life to serving Heavenly Father and His children. He explained that “we must be changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ – born again and cleansed from sin” to “qualify for eternal life. He then spoke about how we can be assured that we are being cleansed and prepared to return to God’s presence.

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

As your nature changes, you will feel a desire to give greater service without recognition. I know disciples of the Savior who have given great gifts of money and service with a determination that no one but God and their children would know about it. God has recognized their service by blessing them in this life, and He will bless them in the eternal life to come (see Matthew 6:1-4; 3 Nephi 13:1-4 (“Service and Eternal Life,” Ensign, March 2014.) 

            One does not automatically learn to forget oneself in service to others. There must be teaching of some kind taking place in order to impress the importance of service upon the rising generation. This teaching should be performed by parents and other leaders and shown by example as well by word.

            This site has some ideas on how to turn our homes into “service stations.” The site includes the following ideas: (1) A parent can take a child with them when delivering some of the “family’s plenty with others” who need it. (2) When baking goodies, a mother can “make enough to share with someone outside” the family and include the children in the decision of who gets the extra goodies. (3) Parents can teach children to help others in the family. (4) Parents can take children with them in performing service.

            As we learn to serve one another we will be preparing ourselves for eternal life. As we teach our children by precept and example to serve others, we can help them to live happier lives here and to prepare for eternity. Service is a blessing for people on both ends of the experience. When we are serving the children of Heavenly Father, we are in His service.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Choose to Think

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when individuals realize that they can choose how to think. In order to gain this understanding, one must understand that labels can limit the way one thinks. 

            As part of a personal effort to improve my own study skills, I am reading a book titled The World Book of Study Power, volume 1, and attempting to share a little of what I learn with my readers. Teaching others what I have learned helps to solidify the information in my own brain and is, therefore, a valuable learning tool. Most of the information that follows, including quotes and ideas, come from this book.

            Most people know that we use the right side of our brains to think globally while we use the left side to think analytic. The thinking abilities of some people are generally split down the middle, but many, maybe even most, people are more left-brained or more right-brained. This does not mean that one can think in only one way. We should never place a label on our thinking abilities.

Labels are too rigid to define anything as complicated as a human being. What you are is not determined by how others see you. You are always changing and always able to change. No one is locked into one way of thinking or learning. You use your whole brain all the time. You can think analytically or globally, even if you happen to prefer one way.

Think for a moment about how that frees you. Maybe you thought you could never learn to draw or understand math. But that simply isn’t true. Anyone can learn how to do anything at all. You just need to change your way of approaching art or math. Once you open yourself up to the possibilities, they become realities. (51)

            The book gives several examples of how we use all of all brains. An untrained musician may be drawn to music simply because they enjoy it. This would be thinking globally. They begin to think analytically when they learn to read and play music. A program computer thinks analytically, but a person using the computer to write a letter is thinking globally. “A painter paints globally, but mixes colors analytically.” (51-52)

            We can choose the way that we learn, and we can choose to learn in different ways. Knowing that we can choose is an important step in changing the way that we think.

Just because you prefer, or tend, to learn one way doesn’t mean you can’t learn in a different way sometimes. Having a choice is important because there are many ways to do something. Choosing strategies will help you enjoy learning more because you won’t find it as frustrating… (52-53)

            Parents can help their children to understand the various ways of thinking simply by being aware that there are different ways of learning and then sharing what they know. Learning to think in different ways can strengthen the individual as well as the family, community, and nation.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The First Thanksgiving

            Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. We celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. The holiday began as a celebration of the harvest. The Pilgrims celebrated the First Thanksgiving in October 1621 after their first harvest in the New World.

            Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks and show gratitude for blessings. It is a day to remember the arrival and survival of the Pilgrims in the New World. Since I enjoy many blessings, I will use the day to express my gratitude to God for watching over and blessing my family and friends.

            Michael Medved, shares the fascinating story of the first Thanksgiving in a video provided by Prager University. It can be found at this site.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Plato's Cave Today

            Human nature appears to be the same no matter where or when one lives. Some people claim that humans living today are more “enlightened” than those who lived in past ages. Others disagree and give examples to prove their point. One such person is Earick Ward who posted an article titled “Plato’s Cave and Our Current Reality” at American Thinker.

            I was immediately drawn to Ward’s article because I recently studied Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” in my humanities class. A short summary of the allegory is as follows.

In the allegory Plato has Socrates describing a group of people who have lived all their lives in a cave. The people are born in the cave and are kept as prisoners in the cave. They are chained to a wall and can see only the blank wall in front of them. Behind the prisoners there is a passageway where people walk back and forth carrying various items. On the far side of the passageway is a fire that causes shadows of the passing people to be projected upon the wall in front of the prisoners. The prisoners assign names to the various shadow objects. The shadows on the wall are the prisoners’ reality. They know nothing about the real world and have no desire to leave the cave.

The allegory continues by Socrates explaining what would happen if a prisoner broke free and fled the cave. The first thing he would notice is the brightness of the fire, which might partially blind him. As he made his way to the front of the cave, the increasing sunshine would further hurt his eyes. He may be tempted to return to his chains.

If the prisoner made it to the outside world and recovered from the blindness, he would see a whole new world and realize that it is better than the cave. He might wish to return to the cave in an effort to help his fellow prisoners to escape. However, his eyes would have difficulty returning from the brightness of the sun to the blackness of the cave, causing him to stumble. The prisoners still in chains would see his stumbling and believe that his blindness was caused by his escape. Having no wish to become blind, they would gladly stay in their chains.

            Ward compares Plato’s allegory to the biblical story of the Israelites who preferred to die in Egypt where they had “pots of meat” to eat rather than to starve to death in the desert. (See Exodus 16:3 and Numbers 14:4.) He also compares the allegory to Nazi Germany where Goebbels said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it…” Ward claims that the same thing is happening in America today.

What we see playing out in America, and throughout the world, is two starkly different worldviews: Freedom and the State (bondage). Of course, bondage isn’t being sold as such. It’s being sold as “free stuff” and “safety and security” from the ravages of hatred. Who doesn’t want free stuff and safety and security? Of course, reason informs us that there is no such thing as free stuff, and that safety and security for some, demands that freedom for others must be infringed upon and/or suppressed…

Let us appoint a new leader and return to Egypt (or the cave). In the end, the people (the mob) will accept the comfort of lies (bondage), over the reality of truth (freedom). Our efforts to free our fellow captors are being met with fear and anger. As Plato suggests, they will fight to the death, to maintain their belief that what they’re seeing on the cave wall is true.

            What do you think? Does Ward have a point? Are the people today much like the people in the day of Plato or the Israelites or the Germans? I think so!

Monday, November 20, 2017


            It seems only fitting to have Tisquantum, known as Squanto, as my VIP for Thanksgiving week because he was there for the first Thanksgiving. The story of Squanto helping the Pilgrims was one of my favorite childhood stories.

            Squanto was born about 1585 in Massachusetts. He was one of the last living members of the Patuxet Indian Tribe because he was in England when his village was annihilated by an infectious epidemic.

Six years before the Mayflower’s landing, in 1614 Squanto was abducted by an English adventurer, Thomas Hunt, who came to Patuxet as part of a commercial fishing and trading venture commanded by Captain John Smith. After Smith left for England with his cargo, Hunt, who was to take his dried fish cargo to Spain, kidnapped 27 Natives, including Squanto, and sailed to Spain to sell them into slavery. How Squanto escaped from Spain to England is not known, but when in England Squanto lived with a merchant involved in the project to exploit and settle Newfoundland. He eventually was sent there, where he met an associate of John Smith, Thomas Dermer, who was acting for the London merchants involved in settling New England. In 1619 Dermer brought Squanto to his native village, which he found to be destroyed by an epidemic. After intervening in a dispute between Dermer and Cape Code Natives, Squanto evidently went to live with the Pokanoket, some say as a prisoner. No records exist of his activities from that time until his famous encounter with the Mayflower settlement in 1621.

            Squanto is famous because he was the liaison between the Native Americans in the New England area and the settlers from the Mayflower, who built their settlement upon the ruins of Squanto’s former summer village. Squanto lived with the settlers for 20 months and served as their translator, guide and advisor. In particular, he is known for showing them how to plant, fertilize, and grow native crops. He also introduced them to the fur trade, which helped them to pay their debts to their financial backers in London.

            Squanto was a great help to the Pilgrims in numerous ways. His ability to speak English was helpful in teaching the newcomers the ways of the New World. He was an important part of the reason for the settlers’ survival during their first two years in America.

            Squanto died on November 30, 1622, in Chatham, Massachusetts, and was buried at Burial Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Gorsuch: Originalist and Textualist

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the importance for judges to stay faithful to the Constitution. One such judge is Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch who spoke during the 2017 National Lawyers Convention in Washington, D.C. According to Rachel del Guidice at The Daily Signal, Gorsuch said that judges should be “applying pre-existing law” and made the following statements.

A person can be both a committed originalist and textualist and be confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Even if … you might find yourself the only person in a class or in your office who holds to textualism, it would still be OK to say so, because what matters isn’t whether an idea is popular, what matters is whether it is right.

Originalism has regained its place at the table with the Constitution interpretation and textualism in the reading of statutes… and neither one is going anywhere on my watch.

            Gorsuch has been making national headlines since he was nominated for Supreme Court by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate on April 7, 2017, on a vote of 54-45. Conservatives are grateful for his nomination and confirmation. We hope that he is followed by other “originalist and textualist” nominees.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Blessed by Gratitude

            Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday. This is a day set apart in our nation to proclaim our gratitude for our many blessings. It is a day for expressing thanks to God. We should give thanks in all things and at all times. In fact, our lives reflect whether or not we feel gratitude because we always have enough when we are thankful for what we have.

            We are commanded to be grateful. In fact, showing gratitude is not only a commandment, but it is a commandment with a promise.

Ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with (Doctrine and Covenants 46:32). 

And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments (Doctrine and Covenants 59:21). 

And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more (Doctrine and Covenants 78:19). 

            The last scripture promises us that our blessings will be multiplied if we are grateful for what we have. Most of us are familiar with the Parable of the Ten Lepers. Leprosy was a terrible disease that caused much physical suffering as well as social and emotional problems. At the time of Jesus Christ the people who suffered from leprosy lived isolated lives and were required to proclaim themselves as being “unclean” as shown in Luke 17:11-19

11 And it came to pass as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,

16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
           We should all take this lesson to heart. We know that the one leper was healed because he had the faith to be healed and was grateful for the blessing. We do not know what happened in the long run with the other nine lepers. Were they healed, or did their leprosy return?

            Obviously, God is aware of whether or not we are grateful for the blessings that He pours down upon us as individuals, families, and nations. The following statement by President Brigham Young tells us that ingratitude may cause the loss of blessings. “The Lord is more merciful than we are; but there may be a termination to His gifts, if we do not receive them with gratitude and take good care of them when we have them in our possession” (“Cultivating Gratitude, Humility, and Honesty,” Teachings of the Presidents of the Church:Brigham Young).

            President Young’s successor, President John Taylor named some blessings and taught that we are indebted to God for each and every blessing in our life.  

If we have life, or health, or possessions; if we have children, and friends and homes, if we have the light of truth, the blessings of the everlasting gospel, the revelations of God, the holy priesthood, with all its blessings and government and rule, all these, and every true enjoyment that we possess come from God. We do not always realize this, but it is nevertheless true that to God we are indebted for every good and perfect gift (“Temporal Blessings and the Law of Tithing, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church:John Taylor). 

            Since we are commanded to have gratitude to God for our many blessings, we must realize that ingratitude is a sin that requires repentance. If we are ungrateful for what we have, we bring darkness into our lives by wanting more and more. When we are grateful for what we have – even if it is little, we move closer to God and bring His light into our lives.

            President Thomas S. Monson is one of the most positive people in the world and seems to always look on the bright side of whatever is happening, as shown by the following quote.

This is a wonderful time to be on earth. While there is much that is wrong in the world today, there are many things that are right and good. There are marriages that make it, parents who love their children and sacrifice for them, friends who care about us and help us, teachers who teach. Our lives are blessed in countless ways.
We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the nobles of virtues (“The Noblest of Virtues,” A Future as Bright as Your Faith, p. 358). 

            We can bring more happiness and satisfaction into our own lives by developing an attitude of gratitude. We can lift others, as President Monson states, by filling our hearts with gratitude. We can demonstrate by our words and actions that we are grateful for the many blessings in our lives, and Heavenly Father will recognize our gratitude and give us further blessings.  May we all cultivate attitudes of gratitude and bring blessings to us and to others.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Time for Family

            Families, communities, and nations are strengthened by individuals who make time in busy lives for family. My husband and I returned early this morning from a four-week trip to visit children and grandchildren. As my regular readers may have guessed, I chose to invest my time with family rather than write blog posts for a few days. We saw other family members and long-time friends, but we took the trip to strengthen our relationships with our own posterity.

            We had the opportunity to visit with my older brother and his wife. My brother’s health has been declining in recent years and continues to do so. He has his good days and his bad days, but his condition is not good. My sister-in-law carries a heavy burden – literally – in her attempt to make my brother comfortable at home. She is assisted by her children, grandchildren, neighbors, and friends, but the major part of responsibility falls on her. We were grateful to be able to help her for a few days, and we wish we could be of more service there.   
            We also had the opportunity to have lunch and visit with one of my cousins. We had only two hours together, but we covered a lot of years and experiences in that time.

            We saw some long-time friends in the temple and had a good visit with them in the waiting room and while walking to our cars. We watched another long-time friends in a starring role in a local play production. We knew that he had a beautiful singing voice, but we had our first experience of watching him act. He did a good job!

            We had some time to rest and relax on our own, but we spent most of our time with children and grandchildren. We attended numerous activities where our grandchildren took part: dance presentation, high school play, and several soccer, hockey, and basketball games. We even attended a Cub Scout pack meeting.

            We gave our support as a daughter and grandson ran a 15K race that ended with a climb up some steep steps. Our daughter took first place in the Masters Division (over 40) and her son took first place in his division (probably 15 and under). She was the third woman to come in, and he was the sixth runner to come in overall. We had the opportunity to attend a Veterans Day program and lunch with a granddaughter and a Thanksgiving lunch with a grandson.

            We joined our posterity for nightly scripture study and prayer. We united in fasting and prayer with our posterity for a daughter-in-law who was undergoing serious surgery, and we rejoiced when no obvious cancer was found. We also joined with our extended family in praying for a sister who had her eye removed, a niece who had cancer surgery, a cousin fighting cancer, and other family members who are undergoing challenging situations. We felt great unity in our family because we were helping other people to bear their heavy burdens.

            We rejoiced to know that grandchildren appreciate the things that we do for them. Three granddaughters were pleased to receive handmade quilts made specifically for them, and three teenagers expressed appreciation for the scriptures that we purchased and marked for them as baptismal gifts when they were eight years old. We are pleased to see that realize the value of the teaching notes written in their scriptures.

            We enjoyed our time with family and feel that the time and money were well spent. More trips will be made in the future because we know that strong families require quality time together, and strong families bring strength to their communities and nations.