Thanks to Greg Soden, World Religions teacher at Battle High School (Columbia, Missouri). I enjoyed my discussion with him. I really appreciate his efforts to increase understanding and awareness of many world religions.
Indifference befriends ignorance. But it is a terrible friendship. It is time we help each other see meaning and relevancy in our position as Americans. Where we started, what we have achieved, and why it matters.
Historical figures and lessons are being challenged by contemporary ignorance. Our past of confrontations and triumphs are being undercut by ignorance. It is dangerous in our day when we have so much and did so little to get it. It is disappointing in our day when we have a rich legacy of historical lessons and we can’t appreciate them.
Some are destroying and vandalizing historical memorials out of a fabricated contempt for individuals and people who lived 150 to 200 years ago. In whom present-day antagonist have read very little or nothing about. Neither have they studied and pondered the context of the culture and times in which these Americans lived. Continue reading
I just finished the book, The Vanishing American Adult; subtitled, Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance. Senator Ben Sasse [Nebraska] is the author.
I have to give him credit he doesn’t come out swinging at millennials. He doesn’t demean them and compare them to the older generation. He approaches arguments and suggestions for “righting the ship” as a collective problem and a collective effort. We all need to help each other become better, more resilient, self-reliant adults. He makes a strong case on how to resurrect grit, virtue, and a strong work ethic. Which may be the antidote for our nature of over-consuming and growing dependency. It is a good read, especially for young couples who are at the front end of rearing children, or grandparents desiring to influence grandchildren.
At the time I was reading this book my wife discovered a story from the life of her 4th great-grandfather, James Holt. In short, there was lucrative mine. James Holt and one of his son’s discovered the underground vault of riches. The initial minerals taken from it were tested and sanctioned as very fine indeed. James saw a respite from his hard labors.
And then a dinner guest. Continue reading
A teacher at Battle High School recently led the pledge of allegiance. His version: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands one nation . . . . indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
For unknown reasons the faculty member excluded “under God.” The students immediately caught it. Some students assumed he had mistakenly misquoted, while others discerned the intent. Their teacher assured them it was on purpose.
If not “under God,” under what? By what or whom? Through what or whom?
An elementary stroll through easy to find primary U.S. documents will reveal a constant recognition of God. Early writings and speeches of the men and women who laid the foundation we enjoy referred to Him as: Divine Being, Supreme Judge, Father of Lights, Omnipotence of God, the benign Parent, Providence, and the Almighty. Continue reading
America’s second contested presidential election in 1801 ended up in the House of Representatives when the Electoral College ended in a tie (between Jefferson and Burr, with Adams right behind them).
John Adams—the sitting president, and Thomas Jefferson—the sitting candidate, waited for the political quagmire to be resolved. Jefferson gives us a glimpse of the plague one must endure in the civic arena. As he waited the decision of his most recent political fight he was able to discern the coarse nature of politics in a free republic.
Jefferson conveyed to his daughter: “Warn down here with pursuits in which I take no delight, surrounded by enemies and spies catching and perverting every word which falls from my lips or flow from my pen, and inventing where facts fail them” (Meacham, Art of Power, see xviii in Prologue).
Poignantly the political arena has been offering the same main event for over 200 years. Perhaps it’s time to identify the promoter. Satan desires to stir people up. He is a liar, false accuser, and flatterer. His subtle but persistent chant: “Deceive and lie in wait to catch, that ye may destroy; behold this is no harm” (D&C 10:25). Those who wish to occupy premium seating in the arena are more prone to accept the promoter’s motto: “Lie a little, take advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor” (2 Nephi 28:8).
It is imperative that we get involved in civic activities to some degree. Our republic demands moral people be anxiously engaged. Maybe it’s time to expose the promoter, seek a change in venue, and alter the main event. Politicians and media-mongers must change their nature and soften the wild ambitions of personal gain, position, and power. So must the electorate.
The term Zion has multiple meanings in the scriptures. Perhaps the most general idea is “the pure in heart’ and/or being of “one heart and one mind” with emphasis of living in righteousness and eliminating poverty (See D&C 97:21 and Moses 7:18; online LDS Topics, “Zion”).
John Taylor (1808-1887) declared many years ago concerning a Zion people: “You will see the day that Zion will be as far ahead of the outside world in everything pertaining learning of every kind as we are today in the regard to religious matters” (Durham, The Gospel Kingdom, 275).
When I heard that a sixth spoke to the Church’s educational wheel was announced I was delighted. BYU-Pathway Worldwide (BYU-PW) now joins BYU, BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, LDS Business College, and Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. The wheel of educational opportunities continues to roll forward. The creation of BYU-PW is evidence of a greater effort to offer education to a broad range of individuals in a broad range of countries, economic situations, and social situations. Continue reading
My wife reminded me of this stirring version of “Let Us All Press On” that was performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir last October. Its crescendo is moving, but the message is crucial.
I appreciated the choir’s performance of “America, the Beautiful” at the presidential inauguration. But it would have been thrilling to hear them introduce this hymn, “Let Us All Press On.”
In a day of “fake news,” and “alternate facts” we need to be reminded that truth is eternal. Each of us must be more devoted and loyal to truth and less beholden to the deceptions of a profane world. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said, we must trudge through this world discerning “Celestial sense from secular nonsense.” Continue reading
People have asked me over the years what I would like to do if I wasn’t a religious educator. I give them three ambitions or interests. A college basketball play by play announcer, an OBGYN, or a speech writer. I know that’s a broad professional range. Ask my boys about the first interest, my wife about the second one, and keep reading about my third interest.
First, a few thoughts about my attempt. I think president-elect Trump should deliver a very short inaugural address. George Washington’s second inaugural was only four sentences. I don’t think president-elect Trump should be that brief. But I do think he should follow the counsel that FDR gave to his son before a speaking engagement: “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”
Speaking of FDR, his fourth inaugural was just over 500 words. Lincoln’s second inaugural was just over 700 words. Most of the others were quite long. Trump should come in under 1000 words. I think for most part, people will be watching and listening how he says his words, rather than what he says. The shorter and more sincere his speech, the more people will actually listen to his words. A shorter, thoughtful, and personal speech will be to his advantage.
For that reason I don’t think he needs to regurgitate campaign rhetoric. I don’t think he needs to explain policy during his address. I think he needs to genuinely tell people he is serious about getting to work and leave listeners with an assurance that is what he and his administration are going to do.
I hope the inaugural speech is simple and heartfelt. Here is my attempt of an inaugural speech for Donald Trump:
In Revolutionary rhetoric, patriot Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Events of our day resurrect the words.
For many days I have been briefed on trying situations and trying issues that concern all Americans. There are solutions for these situations and issues. There are some serious tasks before me—and before you. Continue reading
These words were written by John Adams to his cousin Zabdiel, during the swelling days of Revolution. In the letter he unequivocally argued: “The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a greater Measure, than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies.”
Zabdiel who was a lawyer, also received this conclusion in his short letter from John Adams: “You cannot therefore be more pleasantly, or usefully employed than in the Way of your Profession, pulling down the Strong Holds of Satan. This is not Cant, but the real sentiment of my Heart” (See The Adams Papers Digital Addition or Bennett, Our Sacred Honor, 371). Continue reading
More and more are hearing about how Mike Pence—vice-president elect—was booed and then lectured at the Broadway show Hamilton. The “curtain-speech-heard-round-the-world” as it has come to be known has flooded social media.
Mike Pence was a pillar. Watch footage of the how they treated him at the Broadway show and then watch how he responded the next day.
He won with kindness. He won with genuineness. He won in substance. Once again we see a public example where those crying against narrow-mindedness are themselves most narrow minded. This is an interesting read as well. Larry O’Connor observes the shaming and calling people out doesn’t reflect a diverse America. He is very familiar with the theatre industry. He wrote today: Continue reading