TESTIMONY AND THE BALLOT BOX

Bearing witness is an essential component of being a citizen, whether a citizen of a religious society or a citizen of a country or a nation. Every aspect of life relies upon either the testimony of others or the testimony of our own observations and experiences.

It’s that time of year again, Election Season, time when everyone seems to lose their minds.  Vote for me, I’ll keep the world safe with war – war on drugs, war on the climate, war against anything or anyone you don’t like.   No, No, vote for me and I’ll make sure you have anything you want; we’ll just print more money and tax anyone who have more than you until no one has more than anyone else, a true utopian society.  But wait, wait, wait, vote for me and I will set you free – get out of jail free (no matter what your crime), free from accountability when you run amok in the streets rioting and looting, free of all those people with pesky opinions you don’t like, we’ll lock them up instead!  Honesty and Integrity become a rarity, Propaganda overtakes reason and fills the airwaves instead of hard facts and accurate reporting.  Calgon, take me away!

(Cut away from the chaos of the modern world to my quiet office overlooking the woods somewhere in rural Alaska…)

There is one thing that brings peace to an election troubled mind – – knowledge that is a better way, if we just open our minds to the idea that virtue and principles matter in America’s Constitutional Republic.  John Adams, second president of these united States of America, said “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”   He has a lot to say on the matter.  You can read more of his quotes here.

What is morality?  In Noah Webster’s 1812 American Dictionary of the English Language, morality is defined thus, “The doctrine or system of moral duties, or the duties of men in their social character; ethics.”  Ethics is defined as, “The doctrines of morality or social manners; the science of moral philosophy, which teaches men their duty and the reasons of it.”  Finally, religious can be defined in many ways, but in applying it to America’s constitutional republic, I believe it means “Exact; strict; such as religion requires” in upholding the moral and ethical foundations of that republic.  One of the basic moral foundation stones is the concept of Rights and Duties.

Rights and Duties

For a few years, I was blessed to teach the basics of the Constitution to elementary school-age children during the annual Constitution Week, as required by education laws in Washington State.  One of the most important interactions occurred when I had three or four children come up and hold some signs with the name of a “Right” on one side and the corresponding “Duty” on the other.  Most of the children clearly understood about Rights, as children do – “I have the right to my room”, “I have the right to my toys”, “I have the right to eat”, etc., but Duties are harder — “I have the duty to keep my room clean, “I have the duty to take care of my toys”, I have the duty to help prepare meals or to wash the dishes.”   In regard to the Constitution, we would talk about the Right to a Jury Trial, for example, and the subsequent Duty to Serve as a Juror.  If you expect a good, intelligent jury to judge a case you might be involved in, then you have the Duty to be such a juror for someone else.    Or perhaps, you want the Right to worship God according to your own conscience, then you have the Duty to allow others the same privilege.  And so on . . .

The Right to Vote is no different.  It also has an attached Duty.

Voting is a Sacred Duty

As Americans who are used to a lot of free speech and complaining about this or that all the time, we tend to forget that free speech and the ability to actually have a voice in our republic are blessings which most of humanity throughout history has not had the privilege of experiencing.  Indeed, many peoples in the world today do not have that privilege.  It is a Duty that we, as Citizens of the American Constitutional Republic should exercise wisely.

Most politics these days is gamesmanship, seeing who can win or lose at all costs, telling whatever lies and deceptions are necessary to win over the “enemy”.  It is all about the game and very little about what is moral or ethical.  The lie is perpetuated that the government will give you this right or that right, or this benefit or that benefit, without considering any facts or any consequences.  Fear and hatred of the opposition becomes the motivating factor and the spiral downward to lesser and lesser moral and ethical choices has let us to the chaotic, warlike rhetoric and behavior seen in the current Election Season.  It’s time for a real change.  It’s time to return to a sense of Duty based upon principle rather than personality.  It’s time to learn that voting is really a Sacred Duty to ourselves, and our posterity for generations to come.

Voting is a form of “Bearing Witness” and a “Testimony”

Because I feel I have a Sacred Duty to vote, I feel I must do my due diligence to make sure that the candidate in question meets the moral and ethical standard required to serve his or her constituents in the American Constitutional Republic.  You will probably have your own dream list for a candidate, but here are some of the things I look for:

  • Do they understand the concept of a constitutional republic and are they committed to it?  Do they understand the Law of Sovereign Liberty and are willing to defend it?
  • Do they have a record of keeping oaths and covenants, that is, have they shown integrity in their business and personal life? No legal entanglements or history of criminal behavior?  Keeping their marriage vows? Have they served in the military or volunteered to serve others, either personally or in an organization?
  • Are their core principles in line with the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights? Are their core principles in line with their state constitution?
  • Have they shown fiscal responsibility in their personal life?  Are their proposals for change fiscally responsible?
  • Do they believe that people are first self-governing, and that the state and federal governments support the people in their efforts to provide for themselves rather that regulate him or her out of business with overbearing rules and policies?
  • Do they believe that the proper role of government is to protect rights and that government has no power to either bestow rights or prevent the free exercise of rights unless those rights are used to harm others or to commit a crime?
  • Recognizing that no one is perfect, does the candidate show an ability to learn from mistakes and move forward once an error is pointed out?
  • Does the candidate have experience with organizational or business budgeting and financial decisions?  Do they know how to be fiscally responsible?
  • Do they care about serving the people in their district or do they only care about serving themselves and their future ambitions?

Once these questions are answered, I am ready to fill in the circles on my ballot.  When I do, I am bearing my witness that the candidate I have chosen meets most of my criteria and that I feel confident they will do their best to serve wisely.  I am also testifying to my children and grandchildren that I have lived up to my Duty as a Citizen to delegate a limited portion of the sovereign authority invested in by virtue of my birth on this planet, trusting that that candidate, when elected, will work to preserve and maintain their future liberty, as well. If not, I will work to remove them from office at the next election or by a call for his or her resignation, showing just cause for doing so.

Always Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

As I child, my first understanding of following my conscience came from the song sung by the character of Jiminy Cricket in Disney’s animated classic “Pinocchio”.  The Blue Fairy give the wooden puppet Pinocchio a conscience and Jiminy Cricket is always there to remind him to do so. 

Ranked Choice Voting is not a conscientious option for me.  In my mind, the best possible choice is still the best possible choice.  Diluting the best possible by spreading votes over lesser qualified candidates will only result in a continuation of the downward spiral, and the dumbing down of the American Constitutional Republic.  All candidates are not equal in terms of their qualifications or commitment to protect the Rights of the People against the government they wish to be a part of. Nevertheless, I believe God gave us the freedom to choose in the Garden of Eden.  What each of us may choose to do with that choice is ultimately between He and Me or He and Thee. 

What Do I Do if No Candidate Meets My Criteria

In the event that my conscience will not allow me to vote for any candidate listed, I choose to write in the name of some one I do trust, or I write “none of the above”, or I simply leave it blank.

John Adams also said, “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.”

May you be blessed with a clear mind as you make your own decisions this year and always let your conscience be your guide.

Ranked Choice Voting and the Constitutionist

A great experiment is taking place in Alaska this election season. Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is being promoted as giving a greater voice to all political perspectives. All votes will count, they tell us, but the actual outcome will be no different than the traditional non-ranked voting. Principle will succumb to expediency, and the same fear that the enemy is going to win will determine the outcome.

Winston Churchill said, “You may take the most gallant sailor, the most intrepid airman or the most audacious soldier, put them at a table together – what do you get? The sum of their fears.” 

Elections in America are the same. Two party voters often make choices based on the sum of all their fears:  Republicans fear Democrats taking power, Democrats fear Republicans taking power. Each person self “ranks” his or her own choice in primary election by who they think has the best change of defeating “the enemy,” even if the candidate chosen does not share the same principles as the voter.

Alternative party or independent voters, tend to choose candidates based on principle, in spite of the fact that their chances of winning are greatly diminished by the Fear Factor of the two-party voters.

What is Ranked Choice Voting?

In traditional voting, the voter selects one candidate in each category and whichever candidate get the most votes is then elected to serve a particular office.

Ranked Choice Voting in Alaska provides primaries in which the top four vote getters move on to the general election. The voter ranks the candidates first, second, third, or fourth out of an unknown number of certified candidates. On the first round of voting, if no single candidate has achieved 50% plus one number of votes, then the least vote-getting candidate is eliminated and his or her votes go to the third choice of the individual voter. This creates the second round.  The process continues with the lowest vote getter being eliminated and re-distributed until one candidate eventually achieves a majority.  The hope is that this candidate will have been selected in such a way that will unify the majority of the electorate, as well as opening the door for segments of the population who often feel dis-enfranchised by the current system to feel that they had a voice in the election.

For the Constitutionist voter, however, RCV continues to subdue their voice because it does nothing to correct the unconstitutional two-party election system currently operating in America, nor the mindset of the average voter who has been conditioned to believe that this is how it has always been and will always be.

The Constitutionist Ranked Choice Voting System

Voters, like myself, who support a return to the original intent of the Constitution of the united States of America, have their own version of RCV.  We rank each individual candidate by the principles they espouse rather than party affiliation before we even get to the ballot box.

  1. Is the candidate legally qualified by federal and state law to hold the office in question?
  2. Does the candidate seem to know and understand the principles and guidelines found in the federal Constitution and in their respective state Constitution?
  3. Does the candidate appear to have integrity and honor in his or her personal and professional life?
  4. Does the candidate seem to have the knowledge of how governmental organizations operate? (Robert’s Rules of Order, the legislative process, etc.)
  5. Does the candidate understand that the Constitution restricts and limits the actions of lawmakers to specifically defined powers?
  6. Does the candidate understand that the Constitution protects the rights of the people, who hold all natural rights within their persons, and that the Constitution does not bestow rights because it does not have the power to create rights?
  7. Is the candidate committed to his or her oath of office, that is, to support the Constitution, and are they willing to be held accountable to that oath by their constituents?
  8. Is the candidate willing to defend the Constitutionally protected rights of his or her constituents against encroachment by other elected officers or through the legislative and regulatory processes?

Once these boxes in the Constitutionist’s personal Ranked Choice Voting test is done, then we can look at more specific issues for further refinement of our choice.  Each Constitutionist decides which items are of more importance to his or her conscience and ranks accordingly. The Constitutionist sees his or her vote as a sacred duty and stewardship to preserve liberty for future generations.

Finally, the Constitutionist will choose only the candidates who meet the criteria above. If that is only one per election, then one it is, for it is the principle that matters in the long term. Sometimes the Constitutionist might have to select “None of the Above”, if that is an option, or not cast a vote for any of the candidates. Voting for the lesser of two, or three, or four candidates, will only net the voter lesser candidates, not greater.

Tips

Whatever method you choose to vote or to rank the candidates, don’t forget to check out the official write in candidates, as you may find a great candidate among them.

Voting your conscience will not only help you sleep better knowing you made the best choice you could, it will also lift you up out of the political street battles which rage on social media and television news programs.  You will be able to see the issues more clearly and see what the best solutions might be, when your sight is no longer blurred by the fog of political rhetoric.

Do your homework.  Researching candidates and issues has never been easier in the history of the world.  Take advantage of it.

Support your chosen candidate with a nice note or a contribution. Running for office is difficult and can be expensive.

Finally, remember Fear is not a Factor when Faith and Commitment prevail.


This Constitutionist’s Pre-Ranked Vote Choices for the 2022 Alaska Primaries:

U.S. Representative: Chris Bye, write-in (www.itstimealaska.com)

U.S. Senator: Karl Speights (https://karlspeights4alaskaussenate.com/)

Alaska State Senate, District N: Scott Clayton (https://www.claytonforaksenate.com/)

Alaska State Representative, District 27: David Eastman (https://davideastman.org/)

An Open Letter to My U.S. Senator Re Abortion, Rights, and Our Own Bodies

Amen. Truth spoken boldly and without fear. I especially like the discussion about men and women being equal co-partners in the DNA of the unborn child and, therefore, the father should have an equal duty (as protector of his progeny) and equal culpability in determining the life or death of the child. The author’s take on the constitutional issues involved is spot on, and the final paragraph sums up the true nature of choice over “one’s own body” in the list of violations of such by all levels of government. Thank you to Robert Peck for taking the time to write it all down for posterity.

Perspective

Dear Senator Murray:

In a recent email to your constituents addressing what you call the “right to abortion,” you ask, “do you support a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own body?” I regret that I cannot answer that question with the simple “yes” or “no” requested as the way it is presented constitutes a false premise.

The trouble is that we’re not talking about the woman’s “own” body, but another body that happens to be inside the woman at the time. This is a body with its own unique DNA that is distinctly different from that of the woman and therefore is clearly not the woman’s “own” body. The body we’re discussing aborting has its own genetic markers that distinguish it from the woman’s body as certainly as if a car parked in my driveway had a VIN number different from the one I hold title…

View original post 687 more words

ALONG THE MUSING TRAIL: Family History, Watch Party, and Covenants.

I often go down the Musing Trail, starting one place and ending up somewhere unexpected. This trail began with some family history research, passed through a Watch Party, and ended up with thoughts on Covenants. Hope you enjoy today’s meander!

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we talk a lot about covenants:  the covenant of baptism and the covenant of eternal marriage, in particular.  In the temple we covenant to keep the law of obedience, the law of chastity, the law of sacrifice, and the law of consecration.  In our personal lives, we can make and keep our own covenants with our Heavenly Father.

I recently became intrigued with the historical idea of covenants when researching ancestors in Arizona. I came across some newspaper articles about local high society residents hosting “Watch Parties” on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day during the 1920’s in Tucson, Arizona.  I had never heard of a Watch Party.  After a bit of research, I discovered that they began in the late 1700’s as a religious ceremony still held in some churches, and though motivations appear to have changed, they were basically the New Year’s Eve church services I attended as a young child.  For the Tucson folk, their Watch Parties seem to have had more to do with socializing on New Year’s and making fun resolutions for upcoming year than any particular religious celebration.

John Wesley (1703-1791)

The history of these events is long and varied.  I prefer John Wesley’s Covenant Renewal Service, a time dedicated to fasting, prayer, singing, recitations of scriptures, and ponderings upon the making and keeping of covenant with God, not only on New Year’s Eve or Day, but also on each full moon.  Both John, and his brother Charles, founded Methodism, and both were hymn writers.  Here is a list of those found in the current hymnal for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” (#200); “Come, Let Us Anew” (#217); “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (#209), “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” (#102); “Rejoice, the Lord Is King!” (#66); “Ye Simple Souls Who Stray” (#118).  Some of my other childhood favorites are found in a couple of old red hymnals I rescued being thrown out over the years. My first piano lessons were learning to play some of the hymns found in those old books, and they still move my soul from time to time. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we have the opportunity to participate in our own Covenant Renewal Service each Sabbath when we partake of the Sacrament. 

I am always intrigued by the religious thoughts and struggles of the people who lived through the Reformation and Protestant Eras, how they reached for the truth, trying to repair the losses of the Great Apostasy, and could not quite grasp the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ until the Restoration began in the early 1800’s, when Joseph Smith was called to do this work by the Savior. I would have loved to sit beside the hearths in their homes or in the pews in the churches listening to their discussions and pondering the doctrines they pondered. I am descended from such thinkers and my ancestors lived in times and places which required them to make life-changing decisions regarding those doctrines. Since that time, the original covenants of Christianity and their deeper meanings, have been restored and we are blessed to have them in their fulness in our day.  But just knowing them is not enough. We must make sure we fully understand their meaning and incorporate the concept of Covenant Living into our daily lives.

This year (2022) we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have been counselled to be more diligent covenant-keepers by both stake and ward leaders. This caught my attention as I have always been fascinated by the idea of temples and covenants.  As a child, raised mostly in the Free Methodist Church, with a smattering of Catholicism, Judaism, and other protestant sects thrown in, and heavily schooled in the Bible, I was taught the covenants entered into by biblical personalities, but I often felt like I was missing a piece of the puzzle.

I love the story of Hannah in the Old Testament.  She, her husband, and his first wife, were a covenant-keeping, temple-attending polygamist family, something you certainly not sanctioned today.  Hannah had no children and the first wife liked to remind her of that rather often and rather mockingly.  Hannah would pray for a child with such fervor during these visits that Eli, the High Priest of the temple in Jerusalem at that time, once accused her of being drunk.   Eli’s calling would be similar to that of a Temple President in our day, but he would have been a High Priest of the Aaronic Priesthood, unlike today’s temple presidents, who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Nevertheless, Eli, Hannah, and today’s temple attendees around the world are all covenant-makers and covenant-keepers. 

Hannah’s persistence resulted in the birth of her son, Samuel, whom she dedicated to the Lord at a young age, raising him in light and truth before giving him to Eli, where he was further taught in the ways of the Lord in the temple, becoming one of the most valiant prophets in the history of ancient Israel.  She is a great example to all covenant women today.  Her example teaches us to exercise faith in Heavenly Father, to act upon that faith, to keep our covenants, to allow ourselves to be guided by the still, small voice, and to take the deeper spiritual leap from obedience to consecration, even when it’s hard.  A good lesson, which I personally need to continually ponder and enact in my own life.

Commitment to Covenant Living and making changes can be scary and difficult, but it is part of becoming a “peculiar people”, as Peter said in I Peter 2: 9,  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  Truly we are becoming peculiar in the eyes of the world as we keep sacred covenants.  These covenants give us a firm foundation for a spirit-filled life in spite of the chaos around us.

Remember these words,

“When you come to the edge of all of the light you’ve known and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown; faith is knowing one of two things will happen. You’ll have something solid to stand on, or you’ll be taught how to fly.”  Poet Patrick Overton in his work, The Learning Tree.

Artwork Attributions:

  1. “John Wesley,” by the English artist George Romney, oil on canvas. 29 1/2 in. x 24 3/4 in. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London.
  2. “Hannah Presents Samuel to Eli” by Robert T. Barrett, cornerstoneart.com
  3. “Draper Temple” by Mandy Jane Williams, mandyjanewilliamsart.com

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 history 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 became corrupted.

The time in which Jesus established his Church 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, life 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 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 the 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 when he was baptized by John, who became known as 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 always 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 neither clear nor 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 to local authority, 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

fwfq8pvf5tm41

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