Saturday, April 28, 2012

In Tribute to Patsy Hewlett Goates

Merilee and Patsy Goates
This week I've been living with two of my favorite women under one roof - my wife and our youngest daughter, Merilee. I realize in this circumstance three's a crowd, and I gladly accept my fate as a husband and father. They've been having way too much fun together, and I'm not about to spoil that by demanding equal time from either one.

We've been doing a lot of celebrating around here lately. Our 40th grandchild, Emma Lynn Goates, was blessed and received a father's blessing from her father, Andrew, last Sunday. She completes another circle of four generations of women in our family! We gathered in sacrament meeting where she was blessed and for a brunch following that coincided with Emma Lynn's mother's graduation from BYU. Congratulations Jessica!

Jessica, Peggy, Emma Lynn, Patsy
En route to the meeting, Merillee and BBF Kate got lost in Orem trying to find the building. After several attempts and text messages and conversations on cell phones trying to guide her to the meeting, they gave up and parked the car awaiting a rescue when the meeting was over. Her final text was classic, and provided an object lesson that will serve her well in the mission field: "We're tired of wandering around in circles, and we're lost. Will you PLEASE just come and find us and rescue us and show us the way back to Andrew's home when the meeting is over?"

Jessica, Emma Lynn, Andrew
The reason the object lesson is so profound is that Merilee will depart next week as the eighth missionary from our family for the Missionary Training Center in Provo, prior to her departure to the Washington D.C. South Mission, headquartered in Virginia. I reminded Merilee to treasure up in her heart the feelings she had as a lost soul, because it will help her identify with so many potential converts she will encounter on her mission.

It's all about perspective, and no one understood "perspective" better than Joseph Smith, unless it was the Savior Himself. Incarcerated against his will and falsely accused, Joseph Smith languished through the bitter cold winter months of 1838-39 in his dungeon temple - a Missouri hell hole ironically named Liberty Jail.

Liberty Jail
From his pen flowed these incredible words that follow, later canonized as scripture. These words illustrate the lofty revelatory heights to which an itinerant unlearned plow boy had risen in a few short years. One cannot read these words today and fail to be impressed with the prophetic insight Joseph possessed. The false claims and outrageous bigotry still raging today against him and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will someday have its end, but for the moment we can stand in awe of his prophetic tone:

And all that are in the magazines, and in the encyclopedias, and all the libelous histories that are published, and are writing, and by whom, and present the whole concatenation of diabolical rascality and nefarious and murderous impositions that have been practised upon this people 

That we may not only publish to all the world, but present them to the heads of government in all their dark and hellish hue, as the last effort which is enjoined on us by our Heavenly Father, before we can fully and completely claim that promise which shall call him forth from his hiding place; and also that the whole nation may be left without excuse before he can send forth the power of his mighty arm.

It is an imperative duty that we owe to God, to angels, with whom we shall be brought to stand, and also to ourselves, to our wives and children, who have been made to bow down with grief, sorrow, and care, under the most damning hand of murder, tyranny, and oppression, supported and urged on and upheld by the influence of that spirit which hath so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion, and has been growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very mainspring of all corruption, and the whole earth groans under the weight of its iniquity.

It is an iron yoke, it is a strong band; they are the very handcuffs, and chains, and shackles, and fetters of hell.

Therefore it is an imperative duty that we owe, not only to our own wives and children, but to the widows and fatherless, whose husbands and fathers have been murdered under its iron hand;

Which dark and blackening deeds are enough to make hell itself shudder, and to stand aghast and pale, and the hands of the very devil to tremble and palsy.

And also it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart —

For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it —

Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven —

These should then be attended to with great earnestness.

Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things.

You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.

Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed. (D&C 123:5-17, emphasis mine).

Despite the opposition, we are still in a season of gathering, and it is a prolonged season because of the patience of God. We are gathering the gatherers still, searching for the predominant blood of the sons of Israel flowing in the veins of the descendants of Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. It is "believing blood." They are the good people of the earth who are searching to be reclaimed from their fallen and lost condition and to be brought into the light of the fullness of the restored gospel. They are lost and we know the way. They want it, but they simply do not yet know where to find it.

Merilee and all those 56,000 missionaries like her scattered throughout the earth today, will lead them one by one into the light, point the way to happiness now and everlasting joy eternally. She will lead them into the light and when they meet her they will find the missing piece in their lives explaining their mortal condition in simple and cogent terms even a child can understand. She will help lead them home to the stakes of Zion where safety and hope abide in the midst of a chaotic world gone mad. Oh, did I mention she's going to the belly of THAT beast in Washington D. C.? I love that part. . .

The other significant event this week was Patsy's birthday. I titled this post as a tribute to her. I am so grateful for this magnificent woman. As we sat at dinner with her mother the other night, I commented that the best thing her mother did in this life was giving birth to this choice daughter whom I married for time and for all eternity on a December morning many moons ago. She has welcomed thirteen choice and extraordinary children - one at a time. For twenty years she was bearing children. We once calculated the number of months (including miscarriages) she had been pregnant. It was a large number we have both blissfully forgotten as we entered grand-parenthood.

Together we have coached an All-Star team of superstars. We have walked together through sunshine and shadows. Each child is a unique creation, so similar in their extraordinary spiritual gifts, but so divergent in personality, temperament and talents. When asked which we love best, the simplest answer is whoever we're with at the moment.

We used to think we loved them so much when we were all together as a nuclear family, but as we now bid farewell to our youngest and we have witnessed the addition of spouses who outshine even our children, and they have in turn welcomed 40 grandchildren into the mix, we cannot say more than "our cup truly runneth over."

As a husband and father, it is Patsy to whom I owe everything in the joy and realization of all these supernal blessings. I've always said she did the heavy lifting on the homefront, and I did the easy part - I got to go off to work every day. Giving herself as she has through all these years to me, her children and now her grandchildren is what she has excelled at.

When we were younger and having our family, we were often reminded about how wicked the world was, and we were questioned routinely about whether bringing so many children into such a wicked world was well-advised. Now that they are grown, we can refer our critics to each of our children and have them ask, "Are you happy to be in such a wicked world, or would you have been better off never being born?"

I'm hoping they would all answer that mortal life has been considered a gift, having a physical body enshrouding their eternal spirit is a blessing, and the prospects of eternal life despite all the opposition is worth it all. Only as we bring children into this world and become parents ourselves do we begin to grasp the significance of the great plan of happiness. As a grandfather in my advancing years, I am only now beginning to understand the full implications of the word, "FATHER."

There's a magnet on our refrigerator door in the kitchen, bearing words from an unknown author:

"Yesterday is History,
Tomorrow a Mystery,
Today is a Gift,
That's why it's called the Present."

Every day for the next eighteen months, Sister Merilee Goates will give a gift of inestimable worth to the lost souls she encounters - she will give a present of herself as she has never given before.

Every day of her life, my beloved companion Patsy has given me a present of inestimable worth - the gift of herself. She has demonstrated that in the giving - only in the giving - is the getting.

So today, I pay homage to the two women under my roof, and in the case of the younger we wish her well as she embarks on her latest adventure.

To the older, I owe everything. Thank you Patsy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Presumptive Nominee Presumes Victory

In case you missed it, Romney won five more state primaries tonight. This is what he said about it:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Author of Freedom is Jesus Christ

This morning I was engaged in an exchange on Twitter with someone who asked the question, "What is freedom?"

We began with his question, "In three words or less, what is freedom?" I responded, "Absence of debt." He liked that answer, and retweeted to his 150,000 followers. Then he asked, "A harder question: What is freedom and why does it matter?" I responded in six words: "Without freedom there is no agency." He responded, not impressed by my answer, "So?"

Since 140 characters on Twitter is insufficient, let me flesh it out here. It seems to me as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, questions of freedom and agency are nearly axiomatic. We simply don't give it a second thought because it is so deeply embedded in our DNA. However, those unfamiliar with the doctrines of the Restoration like my Twitter conversationalist, are stumbling to define exactly what freedom is, and seem at a loss to explain it.

In more recent years the leaders of the Church have made a distinction. They no longer refer to "free agency." Today it is "moral agency."

President David O. McKay
About free agency, President David O. McKay wrote:

Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct that life is God's greatest gift to man. . . Freedom of choice is more treasured than any possession earth can give. It is inherent in the spirit of man. It is a divine gift to every normal being. . . Everyone has this most precious of all life's endowments - the gift of free agency - man's inherited and inalienable right. (The Improvement Era 65 [February 1962]:86).

Joseph Smith
The Prophet Joseph Smith said our minds or intelligences - that part of our being with which we think and make choices and determine actions - have always existed: The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself. . . The intelligence of spirit had no beginning, neither will it have an end. . . There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [that is, co-eternal] with our Father in heaven. . .
Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age, and there is no creation about it. (TPJS, 353-4).

This is such an enobling idea, isn't it? One the world has little appreciation for. We have ALWAYS had the freedom to choose as an essential component of our identity as human beings.

In our pre-mortal existence at some point our Heavenly Parents clothed intelligence with a spirit body. All who live on this earth descended from the same heavenly parentage, and were spirit children of the same Father in Heaven.

We learned in the spirit world the importance of our moral agency. We learned we MUST experience the opportunity of choice in mortality. We embraced the necessities of opposites - good and evil, virtue and vice, light and darkness, health and sickness, wealth and poverty. We were taught we would always be free to choose. We would be encouraged to receive knowledge of the law and all its consequences. These essential elements, we were told, must be part of our existence as human beings to become as our Father in Heaven is, and to rise to our eternal opportunities.

In the spirit world before this mortal probation, however, no faith was required. We walked and talked with Him. We knew He existed in a corporeal and resurrected body of flesh and bone. The only way we could progress was to leave His side, take upon our spirits a physical body, subject ourselves to opposites so we could choose, and voluntarily assume the vagaries of a world that would not treat us fairly. We were assured, however, that here on the earth we would receive laws and ordinances associated with salvation (exaltation) we would be free to choose the moral consequences associated with truth and error. We would have scriptures, prophets, angels and parents to assist.

We knew before we ever came that some things would happen to us that were simply inexplicable, having nothing to do with our violation of the laws of the gospel, nor the agency of others that impacted us adversely. When parents suffer the death of an infant, for example, and these little ones are snatched suddenly from our arms without explanation either medically or spiritually, there is nothing but faith to turn to.

However, another law operates to assuage our anguish in mortality. I speak of the law of mercy. Mercy never robs the justice required under the law because there is a vicarious payment in full for the broken law. When we do violate the laws of the gospel willfully there is still forebearance through the instrumentality of the Savior. He descended below all things - premature death of infants, sin, despair, loneliness, anger, fear, misjudgment, anxiety, you name it, He's been there and done that. When we turn to Him in our need, mercy is activated on our behalf.

Father Lehi explains:

For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so. . . righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. . .

There is a God, and he hath created both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

And to bring about his eternal purposes. . . the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. . .

And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because. . . they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law. . .

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great mediation of all men, or to choose captivity and death. . . (1 Nephi 2:11, 14-16, 26-27).

There are few things more maddening in life than being a parent and witnessing the willful disregard in a child for the things you have believed and sought to instill in your offspring. That is agony. However, we are admonished in the example of our Father to let it play out in agency. We are encouraged to honor and bow beneath the rod of our children's agency, just as He is constrained to do with each of us. The physical body we now inhabit is a veil of forgetfulness, mandating that we walk by faith in this life not seeing and knowing as we once did. We are admonished to RECEIVE the gift of the Holy Ghost who is enabled to bring all things to our remembrance. Our spirit responds to the gentle enticings of the Spirit. We must remember as parents that He knew our children longer and more intimately than we do.

Mortality is a test on so many levels, the perfect laboratory to work out our salvation. Our children are bombarded with every enticement to draw them away through Satanic influences.

I don't know all the details of the designs of Satan's minions, but I do have this one chilling reality, that he "sought to destroy the agency of man." (Moses 4:3). All who live on earth today were abhorred by the prospect of the loss of agency, because we all embraced the plan of happiness that ensured our agency.

We exercised faith in our Heavenly Father's plan, in our Redeemer Jesus Christ, and in ourselves. We enthusiastically sustained the idea of living in a world filled with opportunities for further development. We embraced the possiblity of failure, disappointment, heartache and sin. I know it's sometimes hard to imagine that now when life deals its cruelest blows, but it's true.

As Latter-day Saints we know there was a war in heaven over agency. As I said, it is axiomatic with us. The prophet Jacob in The Book of Mormon taught if Jesus Christ did not atone, then all mankind must unavoidably perish and we would all "become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery unto himself." (2 Nephi 9:9). Jesus Christ was born into this earth as the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh and would have power over physical death. He lived a sinless perfect life in mortality so He alone would have power over all the laws of the gospel and could infinitely satisfy all the demands of justice and overcome death and hell (physical and spiritual death).

Unkown to my Twitter friend this morning, we cannot define freedom in any other terms than these: "I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free." (D&C 98:8). Therefore, because of the atonement the extent of our enjoyment of individual moral agency today is in direct proportion to the number and kind of laws we know and keep. The more we know and keep the freer we become. Ironic? Not really, because the loss of moral agency today can be measured in direct proportion to the number and kind of laws we disobey. Perfect freedom is made possible to us through the atonement, but it can come only through perfect obedience to the law. Since we are incapable of perfect performance under the law, when we turn to Christ, His perfection satisfies all the demands of justice and He makes us free.

If Satan is determined to destroy our agency (which he is), he will do all he can to deny us the opportunity of choice. The history of this world is filled with examples of tyranny through governments, dictatorships, and anarchy. He weakens our resolve that opposition must be necessary for human progress. He will try to "level the playing field," enact tax laws that are "only fair," he will "redistribute the wealth" through social programs administered by the few for the benefit of the many. He will advocate "collective salvation" and he will say to us, "There is no sin. It mattereth not what a man does; whatsoever a man doeth is not sin. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die." (2 Nephi 28:8). And thus he attempts to destroy the divinely appointed role of opposition in our lives.

Presidents of the Church and other General Authorities have consistently seen Communism and socialism in this light and have warned repeatedly of its effects.

President Henry D. Moyle
President Henry D. Moyle talked on this subject in these words:

All we have to do is. . . examine any movement that may be brought into our midst. . . and if it. . .[attempt[s] to deprive us the slightest respect of our free agency, we should avoid it as we would avoid immorality or anything else that is vicious. . . Free agency is as necessary for our eternal salvation as is our virtue. And. . . as we guard our virtue with our lives, so should we guard our free agency. (Conference Report, October 1947, 46).

President Marion G. Romney
Note how prophetic these words were from President Marion G. Romney when he gave this advice a decade later:

One of the fundamental doctrines of revealed truth is that. . . God endowed men with free agency. (Moses 7:32). The preservation of this free agency is more important than the preservation of life itself. . . Everything which militates against man's enjoyment of this endowment persuades not to believe in Christ, for He is the author of free agency.

Now the world today is in the throes of a great social and political revolution. In almost every department of society laws and practices are being daily proposed and adopted which greatly alter the course of our lives. Indeed, some of them are literally shaking the foundations of our political and social institutions. If you would know truth from error in this bitterly contested arena, apply Mormon's test to these innovations [as recorded in Moroni 7:16-18]. Do they facilitate or restrict the exercise of man's divine endowment of free agency? Tested by this standard, most of them will fall quickly into their proper category as between good and evil.
(BYU Speeches of the Year, 30 May 1957, 10-11, emphasis mine).

So how would the scriptures address my Twitter friend who attempts to define freedom? Here's a sampling:

If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32).

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him. (Hebrews 5:8-9).

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1).

Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. (D&C 58:27-28).

And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet. (D&C 29:39).

Whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free. He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have which is evil restored unto you (Helaman 14:30-31).

Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7).

To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (James 4:17).

The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23).

This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3).

President John Taylor
President John Taylor understood perfectly:

Besides the preaching of the Gospel, we have another mission, namely, the perpetuation of the free agency of man and the maintenance of liberty, freedom, and the rights of man. . . We have a right to liberty - that was a right that God gave to all men; and if there has been oppression, fraud or tyranny in the earth, has been the result of wickedness and corruptions of men and has always been opposed to God and the principles of truth. (JD 23:63).

Elder Richard L. Evans
Elder Richard L. Evans at a July 4th celebration noted:

May we take a moment from some of the side issues and from some of the irrelevant celebration, and clear our thoughts and humble our hearts and get down on our knees and simply, fervently, thank God for freedom - and then get on our feet with a firm resolve to preserve it against all who secretly or openly would set it aside.

Thank God for freedom - and for the Founding Fathers who reaffirmed to a new nation, an eternal, timeless truth: that the right of choice - that the free agency of man - is a God-given inalienable right, and is essential to the peace and growth and progress and salvation of the very soul.

This truth has been challenged again and again, and will yet be challenged again and again. It was challenged in the heavens before time began, by the brilliant but rebellious Lucifer. There was war in heaven - for freedom. And anyone who seeks to enslave men in any sense, in mind, in spirit, in thought - anyone who seeks to enslave the minds, the hearts, the spirit of men is essentially in league with Satan himself - for "where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Thank God for the Constitution of our country, which was brought into being "by the hands of wise men whom [the Lord God] raised up unto this very purpose." (D&C 101:80). Thank God for the promise that in this choice land, men "shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve" God. (Ether 2:12).

Thank God for the right of choice, for the right to become whatever we can become in a free and provident land that, despite its imperfections, has proved to be more efficient for progress and human happiness than any society founded on the false philosophies that would seek to enslave the minds and souls of men.

God grant that we may repent wherever we have departed from the principles of freedom - that we may preserve the right to fail and the incentive to succeed, and live, as did the Founding Fathers, knowing that there are no acceptable substitutes for freedom. ("Thank God for Freedom," From the Crossroads, 45).

So to parents of wayward youth, to parents who have just buried little ones, to those who are anguishing in the guilt of sin, to aged parents who are struggling with health infirmities and cannot seem to find the exit door to mortality, in short to all who would attempt to define freedom in these last days - I say to all, the Author of freedom is the Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom you may all turn for comfort and relief if you will, no matter what the nature of your anguish may be.

In all of it He sets us free.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Words Matter, Meaning Matters

For those of us who enjoy words, how they're used, what we want them to say, and the meanings they convey, this is a powerful reminder. . . . enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cain's Arcade in East L.A.

When I saw this tonight I couldn't stop smiling. This little boy probably never watched an hour of television, because his imagination gives him all the stimulation he needs. . . parents take note:

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Give the Lord's Way, Not the Government's

In ancient America a prophet/king whose name was Benjamin called his people together shortly before his death to deliver his final sermon to them. The event is recorded in The Book of Mormon in Mosiah 1-6. I have heard economists refer to his teachings in this sermon as the greatest discourse on human interaction ever recorded in human history.

There is a reason this profound sermon was preserved for our day in a book where only "a hundredth part" could be included. For example, King Benjamin taught:

And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.
And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the a love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.
And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.
And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.
And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just —
But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? 
And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.
I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.
And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give. 
And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.
And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you — that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God — I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.
And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.
And I would that ye should remember, that whosoever among you borroweth of his neighbor should return the thing that he borroweth, according as he doth agree, or else thou shalt commit sin; and perhaps thou shalt cause thy neighbor to commit sin also.
And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.
But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not. (Mosiah 4:11-30, emphasis mine).

In this political season as never before in my memory we are being daily bombarded with false doctrine. At a young age I received a blessing under the hands of our stake patriarch. In part I was warned, "There will be those who profess to know and who will stand before you and will try to teach you false doctrine. I bless you that you will in this hour have courage to stand and say, 'I know that my Redeemer lives. He is my Savior and I am a child of God.' If you do this the Savior will light your pathway and the gift of the Holy Ghost will manifest itself in you." I have lived long enough now to see that promise fulfilled again and again.

It seems the POTUS and his minions would have us believe government - bigger, more bloated and expansive government - is and must always be the answer to every ill in society that besets us as a nation. It is simply a statist false doctrine. At a time when our national debt has escalated into the stratosphere and our debt as a percentage of our GDP is over 100%, we are being told the rich must pay more to help the poor. We are being told "that's only fair."

However, what we are being told is "only fair," is something very different as our freedoms erode day by day. Instead of a politician's idea of what is fair, what it is instead is uncloaked tyranny of the first rank. Americans today are asking the question, "Can America Be Saved From Tyranny?" My answer is yes, of course it can, but we must remember whom we serve as its citizens.

The truth is the fuzzy government math just doesn't add up, never has, never will. If all the President's proposed tax changes were actually enacted into law, including his now infamous "Buffet Rule," there would never be enough to even begin making a dent in our deficits, much less reducing the national debt.

False doctrine, indeed! I called it The Great Big Fat Lie in a previous post with an accompanying video to illustrate the absurdity of these tax the wealthy proposals. Even if you confiscated all that personal wealth rather than merely tax it, you would be woefully short. But sophistry knows no bounds. The lies continue to be spewed forth as President Obama continues the class warfare meme now that he has an avowed capitalist in Mitt Romney who is poised to be the nominee of the other party.

I also posted Let's Just Tax the Rich to give an accurate portrayal of who is actually paying the lion's share of the taxes collected in America today. In another post I explained Obama's Redistribution Wealth Debacle. I asked an avowed Democrat, one of the hardcore left, how he actually felt Obama was doing as POTUS, to which my friend exclaimed, "He is the greatest president this country has ever had!" Really? The thought makes reason stare.

Elections Cure Policy Misjudgments was another attempt by me to explain the merciful provision in the Constitution for backing up, recalculating and beginning anew. Every two years we can re-calibrate and correct ourselves as the electorate when we feel things have gone badly astray and we give power to those who abuse it to our detriment. As long as we remember that we'll be fine as a nation. But we have to do more than remember, we must act to continually suppress tyranny.

Arthur C. Brooks suggested that as we Give More, we Get More. But the implication is clear - we don't give to the government through mandated taxation so it can redistribute our giving to those they decide should be the recipients, rather we give voluntarily to one another as King Benjamin suggested.

President Barack Obama
Here's a stark contrast, if you may be tempted to think I'm just making all this up. First, from President Barack Obama:

“I think that one of the things that we all agree to is that the touchstone for economic policy is, does it allow the average American to find good employment and see their incomes rise; that we can’t just look at things in the aggregate, we do want to grow the pie, but we want to make sure that prosperity is spread across the spectrum of regions and occupations and genders and races; and that economic policy should focus on growing the pie, but it also has to make sure that everybody has got opportunity in that system.” (New York Times, April 28, 2009).

President Thomas S. Monson
That "system" he describes is something akin to totalitarianism and something very different than the one envisioned by today's living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson:

“I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish — and in effect save their lives.” (Ensign, November 2009, 85).

The choice before us this election year could not be more clear and well-defined than it is. We will either choose to continue down an unsustainable path to oblivion where government is our master, our dictator and the beast of tyranny it has become, or we will reverse course and undertake a correction in mid-course to restore America to the greatness it once knew. These are principles of freedom, agency and liberty that must be re-enthroned as we throw off the shackles of oppression that are closing off any future hope of deliverance from the tyrannical grip of the political class over the citizens.

Never before in our history has the right choice to serve the God of the land been more imperative than it is in this election season. We must either choose the God of Israel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, or succumb to an ongoing erosion of our individual rights as we cede them to the statism that will define who we are for us and will eventually enslave us.

The choice in the election of 2012 could not be more clear.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Is Orrin Hatch a Career Politician?

When someone says it as well or better than you can, step aside and give the lady full credit:

Analysis: Should we have career politicians?

Written by  on April 10, 2012 in ColumnistsOpinion - No comments
Kate Dalley is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are hers and not those of St. George News.
OPINION –   The candidates are at it again. As politicians race to secure their place in our history books, we may roll our eyes and sigh at the slick advertising, campaign techniques and endless speeches. Every few years, we see the slew of posters and endure the character assassination commercials as we endure the election process.
Becoming a county and state delegate this year has given me a different perspective on the political arena. I have been fascinated listening to the passionate speeches of new candidates who seek to make changes and of incumbents, who scramble to keep their positions.
Presently, there is a 94 percent re-election rate in the U.S. House and an 83 percent re-election rate in the U.S. Senate. Because of name recognition, and usually the advantage of money, it can be easy to stay in office. I have to wonder though, is this really how politics is supposed to work?
Our founding fathers had some very distinct ideas about who should govern America. They described the office of a politician as one of short-term service with little pay, so that politics would not be sought after as a means of wealth and power. Indeed, in all cases of public service, the lower the profit the greater the honor.
Benjamin Franklin made it clear that a person elected into office should be a common man who stepped up to serve his fellow man and then, shortly thereafter, stepped down to let the next man perform his service. The idea of “career politician” was a foreign and nonexistent idea back in the 1700′s and considered an oxymoron. Franklin also believed public servants should not be paid a salary so that the office would attract those “… wise and the moderate … the men fittest for the trust ….”
When writing about a proposed Constitution for the State of Virginia, Jefferson suggested a single long term for senators. This would have several salutary effects: it would prevent senators from conducting their office so as to promote their own careers, and it would keep their perspective focused on the people whom they were to represent. Public office was to be a public service, not a means for self-enrichment. Jefferson once said, “(a) government by representatives elected by the people at short periods was our object.”
Permanent power can be a dangerous thing.
President George Washington declined his $25,000 yearly salary and took himself out of office after two terms in office –  voluntarily. He did this on principle because he wanted to serve his fellow man without compensation and do so in total servitude.
The duty to serve never meant the longevity to serve. Politics was never meant to be a profession.
We have a senator in the state of Utah, Orrin Hatch, who has become an “institution” in Utah because of his record 36 years in office, more years spent in office than any other politician in the history of our state.
Many still believe that this senator’s power would supersede what any new, younger politician could do in office. Hatch ran against incumbent Senator Frank Moss back in 1976 as a young politician, himself. Throughout his campaign, Hatch asked this question repeatedly, referring to Moss: “What do you call a senator who has been there 18 years? You call him home.”
Now, just about 40 years later, he has been in office longer than 60 percent of the citizens of this state have been alive – and almost my entire life.
Hatch should be more concerned with the issue of maintaining our liberties than he is with his legacy.
In my opinion, Hatch’s recent speech at the Washington County Republican Nominating Convention, held at Dixie State College April 7, was more about his power in Washington than a passion for fighting for our constitutional freedom which is in jeopardy right now. He claimed he needed one last term, “this time for sure,” he said, to get things done in Washington D.C. Well, he has had 36 years to make it happen.
I tend to think how much more we could have accomplished over the last 36 years by electing newbies with the same zeal and passion that the senator himself embraced when he first began his career. Sen. Mike Lee, who is a junior senator to Hatch elected two years ago, has done a great job in office. Hatch began his career as a junior senator when he began his political ride. I am not convinced that clout is the only answer.
Now, Hatch’s campaign runs on the premise that we need his seniority and power as he will likely soon be named the Senate Finance Chairman. Yet, he fails to tell us in his campaign speeches that the chances of the Republicans taking over the Senate are slim and the position may not even  be available to him. He said the same thing in 2006 while campaigning and we bought into it. The appointment to Senate Finance Committee never did happen.
Sen. Mike Crapo from Idaho would be named to the position if Hatch is not re-elected and the Republicans take the Senate. This conservative from Idaho would be an excellent choice for the position.
“Is there anything more dangerous to the cause of liberty than a politician fixated on re-election?” asked radio talk show host, Neal Boortz. He has a point.
As one moves up the political ladder – for example, from representative to governor to president –  one’s job duties change from one position to the next. I can understand wanting to assume different roles and different positions of responsibility thus giving a politician a substantial amount of time in a political career. I do have a difficult time, though, with someone who spends 36 years in the SAME position. Politicians are a product of their environment and we’ve created a system that creates the path of least resistance for politicians towards becoming corrupt rather than not.
Almost four decades is a very long time spent in the “swamp” we call Washington. The longer they stay in office, politicians can be bought and sold through cozy friends called lobbyists. A local candidate recently told me that we need to keep Hatch to compete with the other politicians that bear as much seniority as he; in other words, we must keep Hatch to play the game in Washington. That is exactly what is wrong in Washington, that we let anyone stay long enough to play the game in the first place.
The entire system needs to change and ousting career politicians is our first step forward towards reforming the system. Why are term limits inclusive to just the office of president of the United States?
Like all great TV show series, politicians should know when to quit. The time comes when they may bow out gracefully, leaving with dignity as they choose to step down, rather than waiting to be ousted by their own party.
Most would argue that Hatch did a great job for Utah, and I think that he served his position well; but all good things must come to an end.
When politicians start to think they are the only answer to our problems, they are most likely not the answer at all.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Muda - Jesus Christ Cleans It Up

Taiichi Ohno, 1912 - 1990
In business management studies over the years, beginning with Taiichi Ohno, "muda" became a buzzword for eliminating waste from the enterprise.

Ohno was an executive for the Toyota Motor Company. He was the chief architect of Toyota’s mission, vision and strategy after World War II. Ohno recognized that competing with Ford, GM and Chrysler by applying the principles of mass production would be impossible.

Tiny Toyota was producing fewer cars each year than Ford was each day, so Ohno focused on intimately understanding what customers want and were willing to pay for and then eliminated everything else.

Muda is the Japanese equivalent of "waste" in English, and the term stuck. Books, blogs, management studies and countless symposia have been sponsored and executed worldwide based upon his pioneering concepts. As Americans watched, Toyota slowly but surely overtook its "Big 3" counterparts, management experts began to take notice, and men like James Womack and Daniel Jones in the early 1980s began writing in earnest about the Toyota phenomenon.

The gospel equivalent is easy to illustrate. "More or less" is the Lord's way of reminding us of the precision with which He has laid out the path to salvation for each of us. It is "straight (sometimes strait) and narrow." On either side of the path - too much or too little - there is danger.

Jesus Christ was the premortal Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament. He came in the meridian of time to take upon Himself a body of flesh, blood and bones like ours. He was the foreordained Only Begotten Son of the Father. He is and will yet be the Promised Messiah, who will visit the earth again, this time as the glorified and resurrected Being destined to rule and reign up the earth during the Millennium and beyond.

In His role as Savior and Redeemer, He sacrificed Himself as a ransom to pay the price justice demands from each of us whose lives are constantly filled to varying degrees with muda. As we repent and give all our muda to Him, we are cleansed, "leaned out," and we become more productive

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
In the last General Conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf presented another classic address, this one titled "The Merciful Obtain Mercy."

In short, it was a two-word exegesis: STOP IT! Said he: "This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!" 

Under the heading of today's post, all of it and more is muda. He even suggested some bumper sticker wisdom, when he observed, "It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, 'Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.'”

When we come unto Christ and obtain mercy, our charge is then to spread it around liberally to everyone else. Those who have obtained mercy through their own repentance process, are in a much better position to extend it to others, and we are reminded by President Uchtdorf that we receive no better than we give. How can we be expected to receive mercy at the judgement seat someday, when we refuse to treat others mercifully?

There is a high gospel standard expected of disciples: “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive,” but then He said, “… of you it is required to forgive all men.” (D&C 64:10).

Is it easy? No. Is it possible? Of course.

One of the interesting teachings of applying lean principles to the manufacturing process is this: Perfection is sought, but discouraged. As perfection is approached by eliminating waste, lean proponents will advocate going back and starting again to make further improvements to prevent complacency and the false premise that perfection has been obtained, because while perfection is desirable it can be self-deceiving.

And so it is with us. By mentally filling out our checklists and satisfying ourselves that we are near-perfect in our performance in this or that category, we deceive ourselves. There is always room for improvement, and we must constantly guard against believing all is well.

When it comes to removing muda, each of us still has a lot of work to do. And when it comes to the Perfect Practitioner who removes it best, we need look no further than the Redeemer of Israel.