Declaration of Independence

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

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Religious Test for Public Office

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the ban on religious tests for public office. The third paragraph of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution clearly states: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. (Emphasis added.)

            There should be little question about the meaning of the above statement. Gerard V. Bradley at The Heritage Foundation gives the following information. 

The original, unamended Constitution contains one explicit reference to religion: the Article VI ban on religious tests for “any office or public trust under the United States.” Despite much litigation over the constitutional border between church and state, there have been no judicial decisions involving the religious ban. The clause has been entirely self-executing. We do not know whether the Framers intended the clause to apply to every federal officeholder, howsoever minor; but no federal official has ever been subjected to a formal religious test for holding office.

            The lack of “decisions involving the religious ban” seems to be a thing of the past. In recent confirmation hearings for federal appellate-court nominees, some Senators appear to be giving tests on religion. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif) and Dick Durban (D., Ill.), appeared to be giving a religious test to Amy Coney Barratt, a law professor at Notre Dame and a Catholic. They suggested that she is not qualified to be a judge because of her Catholic faith.

When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you…. And that’s a concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.

            Were the senators concerned that Barratt would not uphold Roe v. Wade due to her beliefs as a Catholic? Apparently, Feinstein and Durbin believe that Christians do not qualify for public office because of their strong religious beliefs. I am certain that their attitudes would not be approved by the men who debated and approved Article VI. They obviously do not understand that the nominees’ legal experience and judicial philosophy are the only areas that should be questioned.

            Since Barratt is not the only one currently being questioned on beliefs and there are sure to be some in the future, Conservatives are fighting back against the religious ban. This is another area that needs to be watched if Christians are to be allowed to serve in public office.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Receiving Answers from God

            Some time ago my friend Chris was seeking answers to a big problem in her life. Her dilemma was about decreasing her monthly expenses to a level where they met her income. She was in the awful spiral of withdrawing retirement funds in order to meet ongoing expenses, and she realized that this pattern could not continue.

            Christ had been in this situation for several months, and we had discussed it numerous times. One day I asked her if she was praying for enlightenment from God on what she should do. She indicated that she was praying, but she said that she was not receiving any help.

            I assured my friend that she was receiving answers and suggested that she wasn’t recognizing the answers when they came. I then reviewed two of her experiences that she had previously shared with me and told her that I considered those experiences to be answers to her prayers. I do not remember the particulars about the events in her life, but I was able to open her eyes to how God speaks to her. She eventually sold her home and moved to another state where her money will stretch further.

            While assisting the Prophet Joseph Smith in the translation of the Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery desired the gift to translate. Oliver began translating but doubted his ability. Heavenly Father then revealed the following to Oliver through Joseph at Harmony, Pennsylvania, in April 1829.   
2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3; emphasis added). 

            We learn from this scripture that God speaks to us in our minds and in our hearts. This means that we receive His communications through our thoughts and feelings. We can be sure that the information is from God if we receive a sudden thought – one that is foreign to our normal thought pattern – and the feeling that it is from God. No one but God knows our thoughts and feelings, and He knows what we need before we ask Him for help.

            As I was thinking about what to write, I remembered a scripture in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ that may be helpful to anyone seeking to receive communication from God. 

3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

4 Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.

5 For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do (2 Nephi 32:3-5; emphasis added). 

            This scripture tells us that we must study the scriptures in order to know what God has already revealed for us to do. They – the words of Christ – will “tell” us the commandments and doctrine of God. Nephi says that we must include prayer with our scripture study in order to understand the words of Christ. Then he gives a very important piece of counsel: The Holy Ghost will “show” us how to apply the words of Christ to our personal circumstances.

            Another Book of Mormon scripture keeps coming to my mind, so I will share it with you. “For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3; emphasis added). This scripture tells us that Heavenly Father knows the best way for each of His children to learn and that He teaches us in that way in order for us to understand what He is telling us.

            For a lot of years Heavenly Father taught me by dreams. I usually recognized that the dreams were from God, but I did not always understand them or interpret them correctly. I will give some examples. In late spring I had a couple of dreams about my mother. I recognized that both dreams were basically giving the same message, but I did not understand the message. She died a few days later, and I then understood that the Lord had been preparing me for her death. If I had understood the dreams before she died, I would have called my mother when prompted to do so and expressed my love instead of saying, “What would I tell her?” I passed off the inspiration because telephone calls from Alaska were so expensive and I had nothing particular to tell her. I missed a great blessing because I lacked understanding.

            Sixteen years later I awoke one morning after a dream about my father. I immediately knew that he was dying, but I received no thought or prompting to call him. Instead, I worked all day long to prepare myself, my home, and my family for a quick trip out of state. I received “the” telephone call that evening and was on the airplane the next morning. This time I understood what the Lord was telling me, and I was prepared.

            Another example happened when my older son was on a mission. Heavenly Father knew that I was having a difficult time being separated from my son for two years, and He compensated my sacrifice by giving me dreams of him from time to time. One morning I awoke after seeing my son riding his bicycle and then flying through the air. I was certain that he had been hit by a car, and I expected a telephone call from his mission president at any moment. I dreaded the thought and cringed every time that the telephone rang. No call came, but a letter came a couple of weeks later. My son wrote that he had forgotten to tell me about an accident that he had while riding his bicycle. He did not see a board lying across the sidewalk and hit it. He went flying through the air with everything in his backpack scattered all around him. He was wearing his helmet and was okay, but he thought that it was important to share.

            I seldom receive information in dreams now. The inspiration usually comes while I am studying the scriptures, pondering, or quietly listening. A recent bit of inspiration came while I was cutting the batting for a quilt, and it came so softly that I could have easily missed it. The prompting was nothing big or life shattering, but it was a simple suggestion to turn my fabric sidewise on the batting in order to be more frugal with the batting. I am grateful for the inspiration, but I wonder why I did see this solution many years ago.

            All this thinking and remembering came because I read an article by last week by one of my favorite speakers, Sheri Dew. I could listen to her much more often than I do because I value her counsel so much. Her article is actually an excerpt from her book Worth the Wrestle and is about learning how to receive messages from God. 

            Sister Dew admitted to a friend and mentor that she could feel the Spirit but was unable to “discern specific answers.” Her friend suggested that she ask the Lord to teach her “what it felt and sounded like when He was speaking to me.” She followed the counsel of her friend and learned several things over the years.

[She learned that] seekers have certain habits that are key to learning to communicate with God. For starters, they engage in the wrestle, meaning they work at it. They immerse themselves regularly in the scriptures, which are the textbook for the Lord’s language. And seekers listen….

Seekers also work to be increasingly pure – pure in their heart, thoughts, and motives; pure in what they say, watch, read, and listen to; even pure in what they wear – meaning avoiding suggestive or provocative attire. Purity invites the Spirit, and it increases light….

As you create a spiritual environment at home, cultivate spiritual habits, and seek to recognize the Lord’s hand in your life, there are two questions that will help open the heavens. First, ask the Lord to teach you what it feels and sounds like for you when He is speaking to you via the Holy Ghost. Then watch how He tutors you – including the scriptures you’re drawn to, the emphases in general conference message you may have missed the first time around, and so on.

Second, if you’ve never asked the Lord how He feels about you, that is a great question to ask. Over time, He will tell you, and, as He does, you’ll learn more about discerning revelation through the Spirit.

Cultivating the capacity to feel the presence and hear the whisperings of the Spirit is central to living a life based intentionally upon the Spirit. When the Lord sees that we want to communicate with Him, He will teach us how….

Searching the prophets suggests more than reading or even studying. It implies spiritually wrestling. When we are willing to work, the Lord will teach us, open our eyes to things we haven’t seen before, and lead us along as we grow in our understanding about the truths of the gospel.

            I appreciate this counsel from Sister Dew because it confirms what the scriptures say and what experience tells me. When we truly desire to receive answers from God, we will seek them. We will search the scriptures and the words of the living prophets and apostles diligently. We will ask for help from Heavenly Father. We will listen when the Holy Ghost prompts us to do certain things. In other words, we will become what Sister Dew calls seekers.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Building Resilience in Children

             Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when parents and other loving adults help children to become more resilient. The need for the rising generation cannot be overstated. Just consider the college students who need safe places from hearing a differing point of view, or think of the people who go crazy simply because they see a statue that offends them.

            Katie M. McLaughlin shared a difficult family experience: her 4-year-old son left his favorite stuffed animal in a car belonging to a friend or family member who lived in the next state. It was bedtime, and he had never gone to bed without Glenn. Her son melted into tears and began to throw a temper tantrum. He declared that he would not go to bed ever again until he had Glenn again. It was a family emergency – and all of us have been there at some time.

            Then the author remembered what she learned before becoming a parent and while providing therapy for others. She remembered “The Life-Changing Train Analogy.” She describes this analogy as follows.

Difficult feelings are tunnels, and we are trains traveling through them. We have to move all the way through the darkness to get to the – you knew this was coming! – calm, peaceful light at the end of the tunnel. It sounds simple, but it’s way easier said than done….

The problem is that we well-meaning parents and caregivers often attempt to intercept our children on their journey through an emotional tunnel….

So often when our kids are struggling with a difficult feeling – sadness, anger, fear, embarrassment, loneliness, guilt – we try to logic them out of it. We explain why they’re overeating, or how WE know it will turn out just fine in the end.

We’re trying to help our children, of course, but if we peel back the layers a bit, I think we’ll find that what we’re really doing is trying to make OURSELVES feel better. Because our children’s pain hurts US so deeply, makes US so acutely uncomfortable.
We’re the ones who want their crying to top as quickly as possible – not them.

Back to the analogy: If emotions are tunnels and we are trains going through them, then we NEED to keep moving all the way through to the other side.

What we adults often do when facing our own emotional struggles is attempt to get out of the tunnel early – banging on the sides, ignoring the cavernous echo, and wondering with confusion why we can’t see daylight yet….

Then, when we FINALLY let ourselves scream and wail and bang our fists and crumble onto the floor and have a good cry, we suddenly feel so. much. better.

Same goes for our kids. We can’t teach them there’s some secret side exit when there’s really not. There is no way out except through, and it’s our job to guide them there.

            McLaughlin says that she did not even speak to her son. She just sat next to him as he sobbed and made sure that he knew that she was with him by rubbing his back and doing other comforting things for him. He cried and cried – until he was cried out about eight minutes later. Then they were able to discuss the problem rationally. She asked her son if he “wanted to make a plan.” She acknowledged that bedtime was going to be difficult, so maybe they could do something to make it less so. Her son chose “two different stuffed animals to sleep with that night, then asked if we could read two extra books before bed to help make the evening more special.” When she finally kissed her son goodnight, he said, “I’m going to be OK tonight.”

            McLaughlin’s son was okay because his parents helped him to build resilience. She explains that resilience would not have been built if she had driven to the next state to retrieve the stuffed animal or told him over and over again that it was no big deal. By allowing his “train” to go all the way through the emotional tunnel, she sent him the message that his pain was valid. She allowed him to go through the entire experience and “then come up for air all on his own.” She then tells parents how to build resilience in their children.

So the next time your child is deeply frustrated, angry, or upset, remember what the job of a parent really is. The job of a parent is to:

. Provide comfort through the frustration.

. Draw out our child’s cleansing tears.

. Show empathy to our child’s struggle.

. Allow the life lesson to be learned naturally – not through preaching.

. Support our child’s journey through the emotional tunnel.

The job of a parent is NOT to get our child to stop crying as quickly as possible. Tears are a sign of parental success, not failure.

So rub your child’s back. Sit with them in silence. Stay alongside them as they chug chug through their tunnels of feelings. And be with them when they finally reach the calm, peaceful light at the end.

            I was really impressed when I read McLaughlin’s article. It makes sense, and it works for children of all ages! I often said that kissing the bumps and hurts of little children are much easier than healing the heartaches of teenagers and young adults. However, a parent can sit by children of all ages in silence, comfort them with backrubs, and simply be with them as they exhaust their emotions and prepare to move forward with their lives.

            When parents allow their children to move all the way through their tunnels of feelings, they are building resilience in their children. Resilient children grow into resilient teenagers and adults, and resilient adults strengthen homes, communities, and nations.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Freedom from Worry

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the freedom from worry about the world coming to an end. The disastrous hurricanes in the southeastern United States, the fires in the northwestern United States, and the recent huge earthquakes in Mexico and Japan all make people feel jittery. I too am a little nervous with all the natural disasters, and I wonder if there is any meaning to them. However, I am not worried about the world ending on September 23.

            I am not concerned about this “prophecy” because I study the scriptures. I know that the world will not end until the Savior returns to earth. I also know that the Savior told His Apostles that no one, not even the angels in heaven, knows the day that the Savior would return to earth except Heavenly Father. I know these things because of this scripture.

38 Now learn a parable of the fig tree – When its branches are yet tender, and it begins to put forth leaves, you know that summer is nigh at hand;

39 So likewise, mine elect, when they shall see all these things, they shall know that he is near, even at the doors;

40 But of that day, and hour, no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven, but my Father only (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:38-39). 

            This scripture tells me that I do not need to worry when someone proclaims that the world will end on a certain date. I just need to remember that the Savior said that no one will know except Heavenly Father! This means that Christian numerologist David Meade does not know what he is talking about when he proclaims that the numbers in the Book of Revelation indicate that the world will end on September 23.

            Matt Walsh is another person who does not believe what Meade is saying. He wrote an article stating his reasons for not believing Meade. The gist of his article is that the world will not end on September 23, but one’s personal world may end at any moment. This is because none of us know when our mortal lives will end, and we should be preparing for that end and stop worrying about the world ending. 
            Robert L. Millet is anotherperson who does not believe that the world will end on September 23. In a recent article on this subject he reminds us of a couple of scriptures that have particular meaning here. The first scripture is by an Old Testament prophet named Amos who declared the following.

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7).

            Millet shares a latter-day scripture in which the Lord proclaims that he works through His prophets. On November 1, 1831, the Lord revealed, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, some information to four men who would later be called to be members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Even though most of the information is applicable to all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it was directed to these men. Some of it is as follows.

10 And he that believeth shall be blest with signs following, even as it is written.

11 And unto you it shall be given to know the signs of the times, and the signs of the coming of the Son of Man (Doctrine and Covenants 68:10-11).

            Millet continues his essay by reminding us that there are cycles of times when people are positive that the end of the world is coming. He remembers General Conference in October 1972 when President Harold B. Lee chastened and warned the priesthood brethren to not stress over the economy or society crashing. He says that President Lee spoke to the students of Ricks College (now Brigham Young University-Idaho) just weeks before he passed away and said the following.

Men may fail in this country, earthquakes may come, … and hardship, but this nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail. … This is the place of the New Jerusalem… This is the place … where the Savior will come to His temple. This is the favored land in all the world. Yes, I repeat, men may fail, but this nation won’t fail…. I plead with you not to preach pessimism. Preach that this is the greatest country in all the world. This is the favored land. This is the land of our forefathers. It is the location that will stand despite whatever trials or crises it may have to pass through” (Ye Are the Light of the World, Deseret Book, 1974, 350-51).

            Millet claims that the point that he is making with the above scriptures is that the prophet and apostles “seldom talk about this subject” and this fact should show us that we have no need to “panic about some impending doom or be too excited about the imminent return of the Savior.” Millett continues with his reasoning.

There are many, many things that must take place before Jesus Christ returns to earth to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Second Coming will not take place next week or next month! …

            Millet then discusses seven things that must happen before the Savior comes and the world as we know it will end. You can see the main points here, but you will have to go to his article to see his commentary.

1. The gospel needs to be preached to every part of the world. “This gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end [of the world] come, or the destruction of the wicked” (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:31)….

2. Congregations of saints must be found all over the earth. “And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 1 Nephi 14:12; emphasis added)….

3. Baptisms for the dead need to take place in the Holy Land (Jerusalem). “It is ordained that in Zion, and in her stakes, and in Jerusalem, those places which I have appointed for refuge, shall be the places for your baptisms for the dead” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:36; emphasis added)….

4. Church headquarters must be moved to Missouri. “The place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward” (Doctrine and Covenants 57:3). Also, “Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered…. And, behold, there is none other place appointed than that which I have appointed” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:17, 20)….

5. The Savior needs to appear in His temple. “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 3:1)….

6. The great council/sacrament meeting at Adam-ondi-Ahman needs to take place. “Spring Hill is named by the Lord as Adam-ondi-Ahman, because, said he, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken by Daniel the prophet” (Doctrine and Covenants 116; see also Daniel 7:9-14)….

7. The sun must be darkened, the moon turned to blood, and the stars fall from the sky. Before this great day shall come [before the Savior returns and the first resurrection resumes] the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall be turned into blood, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and there shall be greater signs in heaven above and in the earth beneath” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:14; see also 34:9; 45:42)….

            Millet concludes his article by stating that there are even more “signs of the times and prophetic events that have not as yet come to pass or been fulfilled” before the Savior returns. He continues with these words.

…While we are certainly closer to the Second Coming than we were a year ago, and although many of the signs of the times have indeed been fulfilled, there is yet a great deal for the Lord to accomplish on this earth before Zion will be redeemed, the Saints have been sanctified, the work of the restored Church brought to fruition, and Zion communities established throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

To be sure, we have work to do to prepare ourselves for the end of the world, the destruction of the wicked at the time of the Lord’s Second Coming in glory (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:4,31)…. Our task is to live a sane and balanced life, to proceed on the gospel path in a dignified and determined manner, to be active and involved and always in the mainstream of the Church. Therein is our safety. If we do these things, we have no need whatsoever to be alarmed.

            Both Walsh and Millet agree that we should not let ourselves become consumed with worry about the world ending. They both say that we should concern ourselves about the direction of our lives and who we are becoming. If we are living Christlike lives as well as loving and serving God and our fellowman, we have no need to worry or fret about when the Savior returns. He wants us to be busy doing His work– bringing to pass the exaltation and eternal life of man (see Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:39). If we are serving God and keeping His commandments, it really does not matter whether we live until the Savior returns or die because His return because our reward will still be eternal life with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Trump Speaks at the UN

            President Donald Trump spoke at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, September 19, 2017, for his first time – and he did it his way! His speech was unlike other speeches given at the UN, and it was definitely different from any given there during the past eight years by former President Barack Obama.

            I have read comments about his talk from various sources – mostly conservative, and here are some of the comments. Mark Levin says it was an “outstanding speech” and a “tremendous speech.” He has many more wonderful comments on his YouTube presentation, to which I hope you will listen.

            John Bolton claims that it was “outstanding” and the “best speech of the Trump presidency.” He says that the centerpiece of the speech was Trump’s “criticism of the behavior of North Korea and Iran.” “It’s safe to say, in the entire history of the United Nations, there has never been a more straightforward criticism of the unacceptable behavior of other member states.”

            Rush Limbaugh says that President Trump’s speech “as unlike any speech at the United Nations we have ever heard an American president give.” Here are some of the President’s statements with comments by Limbaugh. I encourage you to go to this site to read more of Limbaugh’s comments.

As present of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you as the leaders of your countries will always and should always put your countries first. (applause) The United States will forever be a great friend to the world, and especially to its allies. But we can no longer be taken advantage of or enter into a one sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return. As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else.

            The President was very clear where he put his first priorities. He did not say that the United States would be isolated, but he did say that the United States would put its own interests first. Limbaugh made this comment.

Nobody at the U.N. has ever been spoken to this way by an American president. They’ve all heard Trump say it … but no president has ever dared go to the sacred ground of the United Nations General Assembly and basically tell them they don’t matter when it comes to putting America first, [saying] that the world will not come first….

            The President stunned the attendees at the gathering when he spoke plainly and firmly about the situation with North Korea.

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. Now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life. The United States has great strength and patience. But if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. “Rocket Man” is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing, and able. But hopefully this will not be necessary.

            This may have been the last warning to North Korea. The President made sure to mention that the U.S. is “ready, willing, and able” to do anything necessary to protect Americans. Limbaugh added.

You don’t go to the United Nations and threaten to destroy another nation on the planet. It isn’t done. Well, I mean, in World War II, League of Nations, there might have been some allusions at some point, but in the modern era, this just doesn’t happen. I don’t care how depraved the regime is, because in the modern world depraved regimes are depraved because of the United States. We’re responsible.

            After warning North Korea, the President called the deal with Iran an “embarrassment to the United States.” He absolutely pounded on Iran, the UN, and Cuba. He did not go light on any of them. I particularly like what he said about socialism and Venezuela. 

… We have also imposed tough calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse. The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country.

This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation – a prosperous nation, by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried….

… We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela. The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.

From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems….

            There are many people in the United States who want to destroy our democratic republic and replace it with socialism. I am pleased that the President came right out and told the world the truth about socialism: “The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.” I am so grateful to have a President of the United States that loves the United States and is willing to stand up to the world. It is nice to have a President that does not apologize for all the good that the United States does in the world. I like the “fighter” that now sits in the White House!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Goodness of Americans

            I searched in vain for something to write about in this post. I find little interesting about what is in the news today. I am not at all interested in anything that Hillary Clinton says or does. As far as I am concerned, Hillary is irrelevant and should fade away. The only thing that I want to hear about her is that she has been tried and found guilty of treason. As for news about Chelsea Clinton, I cannot for the life of me figure out why she is in the news at all because she has accomplished nothing worthy of the ink to print or the time to read about her.

            I have heard and read all the Trump-bashing that I wish to hear. It seems to me that President Trump can do nothing to earn good comments from the politicians or the media. It is not only the President that is being bashed, it is also his wife. Why in the world do people need to talk about what shoes she wears to a hurricane zone? If she wants to wears spike heels, more power to her! Then there are the rude and crude comments about the newborn grandson! Even the Miss America Program and the Emmys are no more than Trump-bashing fests! What is the matter with people today?

            I finally found some good news in an article about the Brigham Young University-University of Wisconsin Madison football game in Provo, Utah. It seems that the Wisconsin fans were “stunned” by the treatment that they received from the BYU fans at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday. Even though BYU did not make a good showing on the football field, their fans made a great impression in the stands. The Badger fans that traveled from numerous states were treated with much kindness. BYU rolled out the red carpet for their visitors and even treated them with free cups of ice cream from the BYU Creamery. BYU fans even stopped to talk with the Wisconsin fans and to welcome them to the city. These are some of the comments made about the BYU experience.

It was like the twilight zone.

The nicest fans in the world.

Things weren’t nearly as nice at games in Big 10 country.

I’ve never seen anything like it.

They are friendly people. It’s been great. No complaints at all.

            Can you even imagine? BYU fans were friendly with the Wisconsin fans! There were no fights or brawls, no bricks thrown, and no violence! In fact, there were just people getting together to enjoy a football game and to enjoy the company of other people – the way America is supposed to be.

            This reminds me of Texas after Hurricane Harvey hit. No one cared about the color of the skin or the sexual orientation or the religion of anyone. They just saw people in trouble and reached out to help. The people are still there, helping wherever there is a need. One good thing to come from the hurricane disasters is that riots and violence lost their media coverage.

            The truth came out! America is not full of racists and haters. America is full of good people who go about doing good things. I hope that we will hear more of the good news by the vast majority of Americans and less of the bad news caused by a small minority. To quote Glenn Beck from long ago, “America is great because America is good!”

Monday, September 18, 2017

Wilhelm Richard Wagner

            Wilhelm Richard Wagner, known as Richard Wagner,  was born on May 22, 1813, “to an ethnic German family in Leipzig … in the Jewish quarter.” His parents were Carl Friedrich Wagner and Johanna Rosine Paetz. The father was a clerk in the police department, and his mother was “the daughter of a baker.”

            Wagner was the ninth child of his parents, and his father died of typhus when Wagner was six months old. After his father’s death, his mother moved her family to Dresden to the residence of Ludwig Geyer, an actor and playwright as well as Carl’s friend. There is no record that Johanna married Geyer, but Wagner was known as “Wilhelm Richard Geyer” until he was fourteen years old and apparently considered Geyer as his biological father.

            Wagner shared his stepfather’s love for the theater and joined him in his performances. At age seven (1820) Wagner received instructions in piano from his Latin teacher at Pastor Wetzel’s school at Possendorf. He struggled with the keyboard scales and “preferred playing theatre overtures by ear.” He went to boarding school after the death of his stepfather in 1821 with expenses paid by a stepuncle.

            At age nine Wagner saw Carl Maria von Weber’s opera Der Freischutz and gained the desire to be a playwright. His first play was Leubald, a tragedy that was “influenced by Shakespeare and Goethe.” With a desire to set his creation to music, he convinced his family to provide music lessons.

            The family returned to Leipzig by 1827, and Wagner received his “first lessons in harmony.” He heard Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in January 1828 and his 9th Symphony in March 1828.

Beethoven became a major inspiration, and Wagner wrote a piano transcription of the 9th Symphony. He was also greatly impressed by a performance of Mozart’s Requiem. Wagner’s early piano sonatas and his first attempts at orchestral overtures date from this period.

In 1829 he saw a performance by dramatic soprano Wilhelmine Schroder-Devrient, and she became his ideal of the fusion of drama and music in opera….

In 1831, Wagner enrolled at the Leipzig University…. He took composition lessons with the Thomaskantor Theodor Weinlig. Weinlig was so impressed with Wagner’s musical ability that he refused any payment for his lessons. He arranged for his pupil’s Piano Sonata in B-flat major … to be published as Wagner’s Op. 1. A year later, Wagner composed his Symphony in C major, a Beethovenesque work performed in Praque in 1832 and at the Leipzig Gewandhaus in 1833. He then began to work on an opera, Die Hochzeit  (The Wedding), which he never completed.

            Wagner was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist (contentious rhetoric that supports a specific position of aggressive claims and undermines the opposing position), and conductor who is primarily known for his operas. Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto (text) and the music for each of his stage works.”

            Wagner was married twice. His first spouse was Cosima Wagner (m. 1870-1883), and his second wife was Minna Planer (m. 1836-1866). There are apparently no children. He was plagued with debt for most of his life and was even exiled from Germany for six years for his political ideas. He died on February 13, 1883, in Cannaregio, Venice, Italy.