RING OUT WILD BELLS:  A Message For Our Day

 

Every first Sunday in January our church sings the hymn, “Ring Out Wild Bells”.  Its music is haunting, but the lyrics have always seemed strange to me, and as I discovered, we only sing three stanzas of the original poem.  I’ve often wondered what it means.  Recently, while researching the idea of Father Time and New Year celebrations in general, I came across the full lyrics of this poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Pondering his words, I found a deeper understanding, which seems eerily applicable to our world today.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (a Baron), lived from 1809 – 1892 in England.  He was poet laureate of the United Kingdom for most of Queen Victoria’s reign.  He is famous for several works, including “Charge of the Light Brigade”, “The Lady of Shalot”, and “In Memoriam”.   “Ring Out Wild Bells” is a section of “In Memoriam” which Tennyson wrote following the death of his close friend, Arthur Hallam.  Hallam was also engaged to Tennyson’s sister and died unexpectedly when he was 23 years old.  If you want to know more, a good biography of Tennyson can be found at internetpoem.com.

Wild Bells

In Britain, the ringing of church bells for special occasions has been a tradition since the early Christian priests rang a handbell to call the faithful to meetings, about 450 a.d.   Over time, bells became “tuned” and compositions written for bell ringers.  Wild bells (with no particular pattern) would be rung in times of danger or joy. 

According to Wikipedia: “It is an accepted English custom to ring English Full circle bells to ring out the old year and ring in the new year over midnight on New Year’s Eve. Sometimes the bells are rung half-muffled for the death of the old year, then the muffles are removed to ring without muffling to mark the birth of the new year.”

Father Time

I searched high and low for a good, comprehensive article about the concept of Father Time.  The best documented article can be found at Wikipedia, and I highly recommend it if you’d like to know more. 

Father Time seems to be an ancient symbol of Time, reaching back to the Greek male god of Chronos, or possibly a more ancient persona.  Tennyson’s use of the pronoun “he” when referring to the old year (“let him die”) reflects this connection.

Time is also a symbol of Truth.  Quote from the article: “Time (in his allegorical form) is often depicted revealing or unveiling the allegorical Truth, sometimes at the expense of a personification of Falsehood, Fraud, or Envy. This theme is related to the idea of veritas filia temporis (Time is the father of Truth).”

“Ring Out, Wild Bells”

In this poem, Tennyson touches upon obvious truths and offers solutions.  See if you can identify them for yourselves as you read each stanza below.  Listen to this beautiful rendition of the full song by the Croft Family.  The poem is so popular in Sweden that each year people gather to listen to readings of it as part of their New Year’s celebrations.

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

My Personal Impressions

The first two stanzas seem to be about letting go of the past and freeing yourself to more fully experience the future.  Always good advice, and may reflect the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions, as well.

In the third stanza, Tennyson advises us to overcome our grief for those who have passed on, and to stop arguing over who is rich and who is poor.  His solution: seek redress for everyone who is grieving, rich or poor for grief is universal.  Redress means to set right or remedy a situation.  We have seen countless examples of grieving in 2021 and also countless acts of mercy by those attempting to ease the grief or pain of others, a timeless principle of compassionate outreach.  Jesus Christ said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40).

The fourth stanza appears to address political issues, something we have also had our fair share of in 2021.  I am weary of America’s corrupt political system.  We need to return to the higher road of moral political virtue in all areas of life.  Using the definitions found in the 1802 Webster’s Dictionary, both the Framers of America’s constitutional republic and Tennyson would have defined “moral” and “virtue” thus: Moral is “Relating to the practice, manners or conduct of men as social beings in relation to each other, and with reference to right and wrong. The word moral is applicable to actions that are good or evil, virtuous or vicious, and has reference to the law of God as the standard by which their character is to be determined. The word however may be applied to actions which affect only, or primarily and principally, a person’s own happiness;” and, Virtue is “Moral goodness; the practice of moral duties and the abstaining from vice, or a conformity of life and conversation to the moral law. In this sense, virtue may be, and in many instances must be, distinguished from religion”.  Yes, a return to moral and virtuous behavior in political life will lead to “purer laws”.   2022 is an election year.  Being moral and virtuous in our personal lives, and choosing moral and virtuous leaders, is the only path towards the restoration of a simpler, wiser, more peaceful America.

Tennyson mourns the lack of compassion humans show towards one another in the fifth stanza.  Daily news headlines in our time reflect this tendency, but there is hope.  Occasionally a story appears of how one individual saw a danger or a need and took action to help someone in distress.  The poet is asking us to shake off the negativity of the time and embrace the spirit of living life to its fulness, in spite of our trials and woes.  The role of a minstrel in ancient times was to uplift his audience with inspiring epic poetry and songs to liven the heart.  Psalm 100 says it best: “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.  Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations”.

The sixth stanza seems to also be right out of the headlines, as Tennyson berates false nationalism and racial arrogance.  Instead, he asks us to seek the common ground of humanity based upon high principles of truth, justice, and compassion.  As Christ said, when asked what is the greatest commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets’” (Matthew 22: 37-40).  It is not your nationality or ethnicity which matter, it is how you treat one another within the bounds of moral and civil law, which has its root in the morality and virtue of the individual.

Wars and rumors of wars, global pandemic, and materialism are the subjects of the seventh stanza, -.  We seem to be a reactionary people, always rushing to put out this fire or that fire, with no real, logically thought out, principled plan of action.  We have forgotten what our common principles are.  Tennyson seeks for the peace of a thousand years, a millennial peace looked forward to by prophets both ancient and modern, but that peace must be based upon truth.  Mankind must understand self-governance in order to govern communities and nations.  Joseph Smith stated it best when asked why there was no crime in Nauvoo, the city built by the Latter-day Saints in Illinois.  He said, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”

In A Nutshell: The Eighth Stanza

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

The New Year of 2022 is open to all possibilities, good and bad.  Ultimately, it is how we govern our own lives that will matter most.  To be valiant and free, to show compassion to those we may encounter, these are the basic principles that will “ring out the darkness” and ring in the Light of Christ.  Then we may experience the thousand years of peace, which Tennyson longed for in his lifetime.

A conversation between Frodo and Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings seems appropriate here. “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.  “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”  

What will you do with the time and circumstances that are given to you?

Happy New Year, One and All!  It’s going to be a great adventure!  

Librarium: Thoughts on The Great Apostasy by James E. Talmage

First published in 1901, this book is a well-researched and aptly presented review of the historicity of what is known as “The Great Apostasy”, a time period in which it is said that the purity and simplicity of the Doctrine of Christ as established by Jesus himself during his sojourn and ministry in mortality. 

This second time period is known as the “Meridian of Time, not necessarily an exact division of physical time, but a historical division between the Garden of Eden and what is known as  the Millennium. From the  Garden of Eden (Adam) to the Great Flood (Noah), to the establishment of the Abrahamic Covenant  to the Meridian of Time (First Coming of Christ), to the Great Apostasy followed by the Restoration of the Fulness of Times (Joseph Smith), to the future Millennial period (Second Coming of Christ). These are the markers of historical time.   To simplify: life on earth can be seen in stages of Pre-Flood (when the Promise of Christ was established), Meridian (when the Promise of Christ was fulfilled), and the Millennium (when the Kingdom of God under Christ’s reign will be actualized for this planet).  My personal belief is that we are in the early Millennial stage.

Since the founding of the nation in 1776, life as we know it during the early 2020’s, has become more globalized and more tyrannical than we in America could ever have imagined.   Before now, various powers have wielded the sword of conquest over the heads of pre-existing nations, but not even the tyranny of Rome (in the Old World) and Spain (in the New World) will be able to rival what we will see before the Second Coming of Christ ushers in the full global governance of the Millennium.  Something for another essay, at another time.

The societal traumas of pandemic, war, poverty, crime, etc., have led to a spiritual discontent and a tendency to cast off everything of the past in a search for something unknown in the future that might be better, but history has shown us that these fearful times always lead to the tyranny of state control rather than the freedom and commitment to the principles of Liberty which have always provided a way to light our way through the darkness and out of chaos.  Again, another story for another day.

There are always evil, self-serving people who take advantage of these situations, both in and out of political, educational, and  religious institutions.   This was the situation in the ancient world which led to the Great Apostasy in the Christian church.   James Talmage gives us some insight into what corrupted the pure doctrine of Christ, why it happened, and the societal consequences.  I’ll discuss three of his main points, and these are the three things which I need to carefully consider in my own life and religious choices.  If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then learning His true doctrine and doing one’s best to live the revealed principles will lead to the best chance of living in a manner which provides blessings for oneself and for others, and to maintain the consistency that should exist in a simple system of belief that purports to be eternal in its existence.  It also means knowing the path of deviation from that doctrine, and how to avoid it.

“The corrupting of simple principles of the gospel by admixture of the so-called philosophic systems of the times.”[1]

Originally, the gospel spread only among the Jews.  Revelation given to Peter soon brought the gospel to the Gentiles (or pagans) as well.   Both Pagans and newly converted Jewish Christians tried to blend and bend Christian doctrine and practices into previous religious traditions.   As Talmage points out (quoting Christ), “No man, said He, putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment and the rent is made worse.  Neither do men put new wine into old bottles; else the bottles break and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:16,17).

In our own day, we have been counselled to put aside the “traditions of our fathers”, if they are inconsistent with the principles of the Gospel.  It is a very difficult thing to “set aside the things of the world”, especially those which have been deeply ingrained into our cultures and societies for generations.   It is very easy to fall into complacency and embrace the philosophies of the world when everyone is doing it and may mock those who choose a different path.  In the Meridian of Time, it was the traditions of Judaism, which had corrupted both the Abrahamic Covenant and Mosaic Law.  Followers of Gnosticism worked to merge their teachings with Christian doctrine.  Platonic concepts of God became mixed with the Christian concept of God, leading to false doctrine and bitter conflicts concerning the nature of the Godhead.

Today the battle between the philosophies of Men and the doctrine of God grows ever stronger as we contend with controversies on the very nature of male and female, of the central role of the natural family in stable communities, of societal norms and cultural traditions which distort not only basic moral law, but also God’s Law of Liberty for both individuals and society at large. 

If we are to bring the Light of Christ to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, we need to weave new cloth — using the warp of the Restoration and the weft of Personal Revelation. We need to weave the textures and patterns of a Zion society into the fabric of our daily lives and remove the old worn-out textures and patterns of the philosophies of Man, first as individuals and families, then as influencers in our communities.

“Unauthorized additions to the ceremonies of the Church, and the introduction of vital changes in essential ordinances.”[2]

The Great Apostasy saw the beginning of several controversies, which still continue today.  Wars have been fought over these issues, the ordinance of Baptism being one of the most important.   Baptism by immersion, baptism by sprinkling, infant baptism (christening), or baptism of adults only….”What should we do?”, our religious ancestors asked themselves.  The Baptist sect of Protestantism was founded on this very issue.  Other sects have taught that baptism is not necessary for salvation.  In the Meridian of Time, Christ set the example of baptism by immersion by one having the authority of the Aaronic priesthood, John the Baptist.  Adam and Eve, Enoch, and others who lived before Christ, taught and practiced baptism by immersion.[3]  The fullness of this ordinance was lost during Apostasy era, and has now been restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1829[4], thus re-establishing the continuity between times past, times present, and into the future.

Our awareness of the history of the ordinance of Baptism[5] can help us prevent a second Apostasy, both in our personal lives and in the body of the Church.

There are other “essential” ordinances. The word “essential” is defined by Noah Webster (1812 dictionary) as something that is “necessary to the constitution or existence of a thing”; and “important in the highest degree”.  The following are those ordinances which are considered to be “essential” to salvation:  Confirmation, Priesthood Ordinations and Setting Apart, Administering to the Sick, and Administering the Sacrament.  Specific instructions[6] for each ordinance have been restored, to which Latter-Day Saint Christians should strictly adhere in order to prevent apostasy.

Baptism is just one example of the many changes which were made by the 4th century A.D.  Talmage examines more of these in Chapter X.

“Unauthorized changes in Church organization and government.”[7]

“The principle of self-government, or common consent, was respected in apostolic days with a care amounting to a sacred duty”.[8]

From the initial establishment of local congregations, through the 2nd century A.D., each were independent of the others, without any sort of coordinating body overseeing them.  “Each Christian assembly was a little state, governed by its own laws, which were either enacted, or at least approved of, by the society.[9]   Talmage details the development of a universal church and the pontificate that later emerged in Rome.  I highly recommend reading it, for the history of the rise of apostate Christianity is the history of Western Civilization, a basic understanding of which is necessary to understanding it’s wars and contentions, it’s Crusades and other societal conflicts.

The Restoration of the fulness of the gospel in our time, from 1830 A.D onward, has seen many authorized changes – from independent congregations coordinated by a prophet, later the Quorum of the Twelve, to the global establishment requiring a central authority working with the governments of the earth in order to open doors to the preaching of that gospel, the tension between local control and central control is a sensitive balancing act.   The recent pandemic crisis is a case in point.   Governments were not consistent in their policies.  In America, state policies regarding masking or gatherings or vaccinations were not consistent.  How can the Church of Jesus Christ maneuver through the muddy waters of individual rights, governing authority so the greater part of the people will have guidance?  I think we began to see the light, when the responsibility for such decisions was returned wholly to local areas, stakes, and wards, with bishops and the ward councils deciding if cancelling meetings or mask mandates were the best way to meet the needs of their congregations.   One way to avoid a general church Apostasy, is to return to the ideas of self-government and local autonomy in matters specific to conditions in various geographical and political locations,  while still maintaining communication and adherence to the actual doctrine of the Gospel, rather than establishing policies, which may or may be applicable in all areas of a global church.  We live in a day and time with such great technical advantages in the field of communications, unimagined in the times past, that this balance can actually be achieved as we build Zion among every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

Final Thought:

In my opinion, knowing the history of the Great Apostasy will go a long way towards preventing the tendency of Mankind to desire to create a Church in his own image, rather than in God’s image.  Books such as The Great Apostasy can enlighten our minds and strengthen our commitment to preserve and protect the purity of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is widely available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Deseret Books, and other similar outlets.


[1] Discussed in Chapter VII, pages 96 – 112: The Great Apostasy; Talmage, James E.; 1973 edition, Deseret Book Company.

[2] Discussed in Chapter VIII, pages 113 – 129: The Great Apostasy; Talmage, James E.; 1973 edition, Deseret Book Company.

[3] Woodford, Robert J.; How Much Do We Know About Baptism Before Christ’s Time?, article in July 1991 Ensign magazine.

[4] The Authority to Baptize; https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/content/the-authority-to-baptize?lang=eng

[5] Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost; https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-joseph-smith/chapter-7?lang=eng

[6] Priesthood Ordinances and Blessings; https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/principles-of-the-gospel/priesthood-ordinances-and-blessings?lang=eng

[7] Discussed in Chapter IX, pages 130 – 149: The Great Apostasy; Talmage, James E.; 1973 edition, Deseret Book Company.

[8] Chapter 11, page 131: The Great Apostasy; Talmage, James E.; 1973 edition, Deseret Book Company.

[9] Chapter 11, page 131: The Great Apostasy; Talmage, James E.; 1973 edition, Deseret Book Company.

OLD CRONES

Sometimes insights into the human condition come in mysterious ways.   Well, maybe not so mysterious.  Experience is a great teacher, as I recently found out.

A few days ago, my arthritis flared up, in my left knee this time.  It felt like a pieces of bone had broken off and were roaming about the back of my knee, damaging every bit of tissue it encountered.  

It got so bad I could not walk without searing pain.  The doctor later asked, “On a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being worst, how do you rate your pain?”  I answered, “150”.   He gave me some anti-inflammatory medication and sent me on my way, in a wheelchair to the car and home to my walking stick.

Old CroneAs I went to bed later that night, I stumbled down the hall, thinking to myself, “I look like an old crone walking down the road with my long gray hair and my walking stick”, because the most painless way to walk was hunched over with knees deeply bent, grasping the stick for dear life, or so it seemed to me.  All that was missing was the wart on the nose.

I got to thinking of images of “old crones” from childhood memories of fairy tales and witch lore.  They are often portrayed as ugly spiteful old women, full of curses and evil spells.  What if they are really just old women with severe arthritis, suffering beyond belief in a time and place without modern medications or even understanding of what was happening to their bodies?   What if they were grumpy and disagreeable because they were mocked by older children, feared by the younger ones, and adults were impatient with their slower pace?

58bc1c95d40d5aa7c0b5093024482106--historie-womens-clothingI’ll never look at an old crone the same way again.  In fact, I think I shall never look at a homeless person or a person with mental illness the same way, or anyone for that matter.   The following poem, written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895 sums up the matter and may very well be a solution to the tendency of today’s society to judge too quickly those we perceive to be modern “old crones”.


Judge Softly

Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,

Or stumbles along the road.

Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,

Or stumbled beneath the same load.

There may be tears in his soles that hurt

Though hidden away from view.

The burden he bears placed on your back

May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today

Unless you have felt the same blow

That caused his fall or felt the shame

That only the fallen know.

You may be strong, but still the blows

That were his, unknown to you in the same way,

May cause you to stagger and fall, too.

Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins.

Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain.

Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,

And it’s only wisdom and love that your heart contains.

For you know if the tempter’s voice

Should whisper as soft to you,

As it did to him when he went astray,

It might cause you to falter, too.

Just walk a mile in his moccasins

Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.

If just for one hour, you could find a way

To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.

I believe you’d be surprised to see

That you’ve been blind and narrow-minded, even unkind.

There are people on reservations and in the ghettos

Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.

Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I.

Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions

And see the world through his spirit and eyes

Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.

Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins

And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.

We will be known forever by the tracks we leave

In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.

Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.

PANDEMIC

Thoughts and Ponderings on the Current World Pandemic

4 April 2020

During General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the president of the Church, Russell M. Nelson, asked the world to fast and pray on Good Friday, 10 April 2020, to ask God to alleviate the Covid-19 Pandemic.

5 April 2020

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6 April 2020

Rendevous_Destiny

This is a quote from U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

7 April 2020

Frank Buckles, The Last Soldier to Fight in World War I Dies at 110

This gentleman saw some amazing history in his lifetime. If you think about it, he came home from the war to a world suffering with the Spanish Flu pandemic and went home to his Heavenly Father during the second great global pandemic, a century a part.

8 April 2020

The Facebook page “Worldwide Fast April 10” gains momentum with over 362,000 people joining to say they will fast.  So many countries are represented that a map has been created to show where people are joining from.  People of all faiths as well as agnostics and atheists are posting that they are joining in – Christians of many denominations and non-denominational, Latter Day Saints, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Messianic Jews, Hindus, Buddhist, gays, lesbians, former Latter Day Saints – all are coming together to fast and pray for all people, in all nations, of all faiths or no faith.

Here is a link to the map: Worldwide COVID-19 Fast, Friday April 10 – Locations.

I WELCOME ANY OF MY READERS TO JOIN WITH US IN THIS ENDEAVOR!

World Wide Fast

 

Is This Not How LIBERTY is Lost?

Crises come and Crises go, it is a law of Nature, as History shows.  Will we do this every time we face a crisis from now on?

With the passage of the $2 Trillion Corona Virus Relief Stimulus legislation, Congress is basically using the tax money paid in by the American People for many generations as collateral for giving the people back a portion of their own money (taken from them by the force of government) while driving the nation deeper and deeper into debt for the sake of very temporary security and safety.  Crises come and Crises go, it is a law of Nature, as History shows.  Will we do this every time we face a crisis from now on?

It is like parents taking out credit cards in their children’s names and charging them to the full extent of their credit, printing monopoly money on their home printer and using that to pay the debt with the understanding that the children and their grandchildren, and then their grandchildren, will earn enough to pay it all, given enough time and income.  Buy now and future generations will pay later.  I call that fraud, theft, and a reverse Ponzi scheme.  Congress calls it business as usual.

I  personally think we should hold China accountable for their withholding of vital information about the virus by withholding interest payment on all the US Treasury Bonds and other financial instruments China may hold, confiscating all their assets on United States soil, sell those assets, and use that money as a direct payment of the debt we are racking up.  If China retaliates by flooding the market with US bonds, then We the People sell our shares in Chinese companies, buy those bonds and invest in our own country.

If we don’t find a way to reduce our debt and stop printing fiat money that has no gold or silver reserves to back it up, we are in for far more trouble than we face with this current crisis.

I must ask you… is this not how LIBERTY is lost?

Do What is Right, Let the Consequence Follow

4399655f9862fe2e7bf227af7c43a87eThe battle for liberty and freedom is a constant struggle against the forces of tyranny and coercion. The Grand Yin/Yang of the universe. It permeates everything in our lives. We push forward towards understanding and promoting liberty, and tyranny pushes back. All we can do in our limited lifetime is seek to understand the truth of all things, take a stand, be immovable, and face the consequences of our actions, good or bad.  The cumulative actions of all of us, acting individually, swings the pendulum towards one pole or another at any given time in history.  What direction are you pushing?

Do What is Right, Let the Consequence Follow

It has become my custom to sing a hymn each morning to start my day. Not only to I get to learn the music but I also get to learn the lyrics, and ponder them. Last week it was an old hymn called, “Do What is Right”.

One morning the thought occurred to me that the song seemed to be talking about slavery and I wondered if it had been written during the time of the American Civil War. Looking at the bottom of the music, I noticed that it had been included in a collection of hymns called The Psalms of Life, published in Boston in 1857. This sparked an interest and the hunt was on.

I found a really great blogsite called Latter-Day Saint Hymnology. The author presents a wonderful history of the hymn. He says, “Recent scholarship, however, indicates the text was first published on October 17, 1850, in The National Era, an abolitionist newspaper published at Washington, D.C.” A review of the footnotes shows that The National Era is “the newspaper in which Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin debuted in serial form in 1851, before it was published as a book.” Uncle Tom’s Cabin is one of my favorite books.

As I pondered the lyrics in a new light, it seemed to me that they apply to us today as well as to a specific time in American history. They apply to our spiritual struggle for an inner liberty, as well as our political struggles in society at large.

Do what is right; the day-dawn is breaking,
Hailing a future of freedom and light.
Angels above us are silent notes taking
Of ev’ry action; then do what is right.

[Don’t we often feel we are on the cusp of something but can’t quite reach it? On as side note, as a child the concept of angels keeping track of my actions was both frightening and unrealistic. However, with today’s surveillance state, the reality of imperfect humans keeping track of my every action is far scarier.]

Do what is right; the shackles are falling.
Chains of the bondsmen no longer are bright;
Lightened by hope, soon they’ll cease to be galling.                                                             Truth goeth onward; then do what is right.

[There are many types of shackles – physical chains, addictions, debt, some of the philosophies of Mankind, etc. As we seek Truth and put that truth into action in our lives, we experience more and more freedom, which blesses not only ourselves but others, as we become free to give to those in need, helping them move to remove their shackles.]

Do what is right, be faithful and fearless.
Onward, press onward, the goal is in sight.
Eyes that are wet now ere long will be tearless.
Blessings await you in doing what’s right.

[During the seven years I served as National Communications Director for the Constitution Party, I would often get emails or phone calls from people thanking us for taking a constitutional stance on this issue, or that issue, and not backing down. They felt that there is light at the end of the dark political tunnel. It made them feel that there is hope for America’s future.]

Do what is right, let the consequence follow.
Battle for freedom in spirit and might;
And with stout hearts look ye forth till tomorrow.
God will protect you; then do what is right.

Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1995-2008), wrote a book entitled, “Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes” In it he said, “It is not enough just to be good. We must be good for something. We must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for our presence. And the good that is in us must be spread to others. This is the measure of our civility.”

My challenge to you is to find your truth, stand for it, and let the consequences follow, whatever they may be.

Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”  Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Karen Signature

EyeWitness 2020: Re-Establishing the Constitutional Republic

In the beginning was the Word . . . in the beginning was the Word of the Declaration of Independence; in the beginning was the Word of the Constitution of these United States, a culmination of all the Words which went before – the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Arbroath, the Mayflower Compact, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, and many more.  In the end, will there be the Word of Liberty or will there be the nothingness of chaos and anarchy, every man for himself, the survival of the fittest, tyranny?  Civilizations without a common Word to unite them fall. Civilizations which ignore their common Word fall.  2020 may very well be the tipping point for America.

The Word of the Declaration of Independence Defines the Spirit of America

Thomas Jefferson, as the author of the Declaration of Independence said it best, ” When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.  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.”

The Founding Fathers, in terms of education, having great minds and souls, have never had their equal gathered together and committed to creating a nation of Liberty in the history of the world.  There is certainly not their equal in our day.  There are a few Statesmen scattered here or there across the globe, but none their equal.  To be sure they were not perfect, none of us humans  are, nor have we ever been, nor will we ever be on  this mortal plane of existence.  But the ideal they gave us does not have its equal either, though many movements have tried.  Most countries have a constitution now, modelled on the American constitution, but none are its equal in spirit or potential for liberating the struggling masses of people in our world.

The Constitution and the Republic which it Defines is the Word for America

When the Constitution was finally crafted and Benjamin Franklin left Independence Hall in Philadelphia, he was asked by a woman what form of government had the delegates giving the new country.  He answered “A Republic, if you can keep it”.

A Republic, in which the interests of the people and the interests  of the State are balanced, is a difficult form of government to keep.  Just ask the ancient Romans.  Corruption, greed, and other human failings can destroy it, if great care and diligence are not taken to keep the Rule of Law, as outlined by a constitution.  The Constitution of these United States is very particular about balancing the interests of the people, the interests of the State, and the interests of the Federal government so that no one aspect could gain power over the other and lead the nation into a tyranny – a tyranny of the people, or a tyranny of government.

America today has lost its constitutional moorings and has drifted into a strange creature  best defined as a democratic oligarchy, meaning that a small group of people with the idea of controlling every aspect of the average citizen’s life, while ignoring the rules they make for others, has been put in control by manipulating the demos, or the people, into believing they have a real choice, when in fact, the people in charge are really two sides of the same coin.  Both are determined to gain and keep power by manipulating the demos into re-electing them year after year after year, with no fundamental reversal of the destruction of the Constitutional Republic.  Both use the Constitution as their justification while ignoring it when it suits their agenda.

None of the current presidential candidates, nor the sitting president have any clue or mind as to the need to restore the Republic, or the understanding of how to do so.  It is a lot of hard work and will take a lot of sacrifice just to start the process, let alone see it through to the end.  It cannot be done over night, nor with the flick of a pen.  It will take several presidents and several congresses before it can be achieved.  It will take state legislatures and most importantly, it will take the will of the people.  The will of the people is essential.  On the other side of the struggle will be Liberty, the liberty of a limited government and low taxes, the liberty of being out of debt – both personally and nationally, the liberty of a free enterprise economy, and the liberty of being a free nation with the means to influence the world to move towards Liberty, instead of becoming an increasingly imperialistic power.

I’ll be addressing many issues this year, and although a constitutional Republic seems complicated, it is really quite simple.  I’ll also be looking at all the presidential candidates, including third parties, seeking for the one with the best understanding of the role of a constitutional presidency, and one which is committed to that end.  I recommend three things:

  1. Read the Declaration of Independence and contemplate its words.
  2. Read the Constitution of these United States.
  3. Read “A Constitutional Presidency” by Kerry L. Morgan.  It is downloadable for free if you want a copy.

PS: If you like what you read in “A Constitutional Presidency”, send a copy to your favorite candidate and challenge them to be that President.

 

The Sea of Glass

Truth in science and truth in religious teachings are, in fact, truth.  They do not negate each other, they complement each other, they support each other.  If they do not meld into one fact now, they may very well do so in the future.  It is up to us to use our minds and spiritual intuition to seek out the correct puzzle piece with which to complete the picture, moving forward in faith, and not settle for a piece that fits, mostly, and force it in.  In this article we may be on the path to just such a discovery.

earths-layers


One morning, as I was listening to this episode one of my favorite podcasts called “Suspicious Observers”, I heard an astounding scientific fact – 97% of white dwarf stars, such as our sun will become, eventually morph into crystal globes.  These globes will eventually gather dust and matter on their surfaces, and it was speculated that perhaps our earth is one of these types of globes, with an old star as its crystalline core.

I did a little more research and found an article on the Space.com website entitled “The Sun Will Turn Into a Giant Crystal Ball After it Dies”.   The facts and information in the article totally astounded me and brought a lot of thoughts to mind.  The lead author of the study is Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay, a physicist at the University of Warwick in England. Here are a few quotes from the article and my thoughts on them:

  • All white dwarfs will crystallize at some point in their evolution.
  • This means that billions of white dwarfs in our galaxy have already completed the process and are essentially crystal spheres in the sky.
  • The sun itself will become a crystal white dwarf in about 10 billion years. 

The author then goes on to explain the importance of oxygen and carbon in the crystallization process, which I found thought-provoking. To quote a section of the article:

“The result is likely a core composed of crystallized oxygen and a mantle dominated by carbon. ‘Not only do we have evidence of heat release upon solidification, but considerably more energy release is needed to explain the observations,” Tremblay said. “We believe this is due to the oxygen crystallizing first and then sinking to the core, a process similar to sedimentation on a riverbed on Earth. This will push the carbon upward, and that separation will release gravitational energy.” 

What this says to me is that the current model of the earth’s core being composed of iron may be fundamentally wrong.  The rest of this paragraph is pure speculation on my part. The oxygen-carbon cycle described may explain why space dust and matter particulates might adhere to such a star in it crystal stage, eventually creating a mantle and a crust.  The crystallization of the oxygen which pushes the carbon created by the heating of matter causes gravity on the planetary body.  It also creates the atmosphere we know today – 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.04% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases.  The process by which the other gasses form would be a chemistry lesson for another day.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at a higher ratio in the past would have created the greenhouse effect so necessary for life to begin and to sustain that life in abundance, as evidenced by the fossil record.

All this reminded me of several scriptures, which I will share and comment on below:

  • Speaking of the sphere upon which God dwells, John the Revelator says in Revelation 4:6 – “And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto a crystal”. 
  • Joseph Smith asked for the Lord for clarification of the meaning of the term “sea of glass”. The answer was given in Doctrine and Covenants 77: 1 – “It is the earth in its sanctified, immortal and eternal state.” 
  • Doctrine and Covenants 88:18-19: “Therefore, [the Earth] must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory; For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father.” 
  • 2 Peter 3:7 speaks of a “burning with fire” of the heavens and earth. Certainly our current sun going through the process of becoming a white dwarf would fit this imagery.  The concept of a cleansing by fire is also mentioned in Doctrine and Covenants 64:24. 
  • Perhaps in the process of our sun becoming a white dwarf in its own right, the earth is caught up in the fire of its expansion and is celestialized…”And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.” [Doctrine and Covenants 29:23] 
  • “The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim. This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.” [Doctrine and Covenants 130:8-9] 

My commentary:  I believe it is possible that the star cycle of life goes something like this: a star like our sun burns out its energy becoming a white dwarf – which goes through a crystallization process – which then begins to accrue matter about its oxygenated-carbonated crystal core until a planet suitable for life is formed – after an time period allotted by God, this planet goes through a process of celestialization in which the properties of a Urim and Thummin are naturally imbued into the earth crystal itself.

In considering all of these things, I can more easily understand Moses when he says, “Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed” [Moses 1:10].  We seem so insignificant compared to the wonders of the Universe, yet we are so important that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, that whosever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” [John3:16].  We exist symbiotically with the Universe – we are of it and through in and in it.

I leave you with this thought from Max Erhmann’s “Desiderata”:

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,

and whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Karen Signature

 

 

The Nature of Time

Sun_Moon_Stars“Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.” (Genesis 1:14)

Time.  What is the nature of Time, I wondered as I sat stunned by the beauty of a full autumn moon  with its brilliant light filling the sky.    The next day most of America would dutifully adjust their clocks back one hour as they head for bed.   The morning after everyone’s lives would be synced to the artificial Time of calendars and clocks so we all be about the business of the day, and our society.

Modern time is an artificial construct overlaid on the natural cycles of Nature, which were given to us by our Creator.   Man changes them according to his will, by legislating Daylight Savings Time (DST), for example.  DST gives no one more time, nor does it take away time.   It only re-orders the natural cycle to meet Man’s demands upon other Men.   We got along very well on this planet without it.

God is no respecter of persons or societies.  He has set in motion a wonderful clockwork, designed to give us the best markers for the time and seasons that all can understand, no matter where we live on this planet, nor the era in which we live.  He does this without price or strings attached.   All we need do is raise up our heads and observe the sky in motion around us.

Our ancestors observed the sky.   They filled the landscape with standing stones to mark the movement of the sun, the moon, and the stars.   Nothing mystical or mysterious, just creating on earth what they observed in the heavens.   What if we all lived our lives this way?

The Sun.  Many cultures have built their houses with the doorway to the East, to welcome the sun into their homes – to give them light and warmth as they start their day.   The sun marks the hours of the day with a simple sundial – a stick in the ground, a standing stone, fashioned from metal, arranged in a circle.  The length and position of the shadow on the edge of the circle determines the hour of the day.  Simple, easy, and always the same, self-adjusting for latitude and longitude, though a cloudy day could make it more difficult.  The sun’s position on the horizon also determines the procession of the seasons, also easily marked wherever one lives.

The Moon.   Cold-hearted orb that rules the night, as intoned by the rock band Moody Blues.   Cold as a new moon withholding its light maybe, but brilliant and warm when full.   The Moon marks the passage of the month, each quarter, each crescent, waxing and waning through its 29 – 30 day cycle.   Anyone could say “in three moons”, or “at the next full moon”, and all would understand by observing the night sky the meaning of the time of the expected event.

The Stars.   I often wonder if astrology is simply astronomy gone awry.   There are patterns in the stars, which we call “constellations”, that progress through the night sky at a predictable rate, depending on the hemisphere in which one lives.   In Fall/Spring Pegasus and Andromeda dominate.  In Winter/Summer, we see Orion and Canis Major.  In Spring/Fall, Leo and Virgo.   In Summer/Winter, Sagittarius, Lyra, and Hercules.  Their progression tells us where we are in the year and helps us understand what we should be doing to prepare for the next season.   Our ancestors, no matter where they lived on the planet and no matter what their culture, recognized these patterns and used them for navigation as well as for determining the seasons.   Some assigned characteristics to each constellation, projecting them onto anyone born within the season of the star’s dominance.  For example, one could say that he or she was born on the third hour of the day of the first full moon in Orion, and all would know they were born at 3 am on May 10, 2017, and since Orion is a hunter, then one born under the sign of Orion would possess skills necessary for hunting, whether for food or for information, as we now live in the Information Age.  A good provider or a good detective or a good researcher, perhaps?

All these random thoughts led me to wonder what would happen if we all went back to living according to Nature’s cycles rather than Man’s impositions.   Would we sleep better?   Would we be healthier?  Would we be more productive and enjoy life more?   What would happen to modern society as we know it?  What do you think?