Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Winter Inversion and Warmth and Light

Pine Valley
We live at 7333 feet above sea level in the Uinta Range of the Wasatch Mountains. Far below in the Salt Lake Valley at about 4400 feet, cold winter air laden with pollutants is trapped and temperatures plummet when the high pressure is aloft. However, yesterday we were basking in the warmth of the sun at 45 degrees, while the valley below was in the frigid 20s. 

The analogy is an apt one in today's political climate. We have concluded perhaps the most bitter and divisive presidential election anyone can remember. Mitt Romney was savaged and made to look like someone who could never be considered for high office, when in fact he may have been the most qualified candidate for the presidency ever put forward by either party. You can debate that point if you wish, but the brutal non-stop attacks on him would certainly have made anyone think twice before considering a vote for him. Despite the ugly accusations, he lost by a narrow margin. The recriminations have ended, and no one will be able to blame the Mormon Church for the state of our politics. Probably a good outcome for the Church and its members, many of whom withheld their votes for Romney. 

In the aftermath of the 2012 election, I have been reminded of a passage of scripture: "Old things are done away, and all things have become new." (3 Nephi 12:47). 

That passage, of course, has reference to the Savior's teaching in the "Sermon at the Temple," similar to the teaching He gave in the Sermon on the Mount in Galilee. He was referring to Himself as being the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law of Moses, and He taught the old law had now been replaced by His atonement, the event the law had only typified before it was accomplished. 

I began thinking about how trapped and paralyzed we are in the political chill of living at lower elevations. If anything, this election plumbed new depths of debauchery and depravity. It seems we have become frozen and polarized as a nation in our thinking about politics. Indeed, Washington D.C. seems paralyzed and inept at best. We have a president who is so inept he refuses to negotiate with Congress over pressing fiscal matters facing us as a nation. 

In the middle of the night on New Year's Day last week, the Senate passed a bill dubbed "The Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012." The bill was distributed to Senators at 1:36 a.m., they were given six minutes to read the 153 page bill, then the vote roll call began.

Similarly in the House two nights later, it passed without an open floor debate, an amendment, or so much as a whimper of protest. In fact, the bill provided for a tax increase on an estimated 77 per cent of Americans. Yes, some Bush-era tax cuts were made permanent and rates were fixed on those making less than $400,000 (single) and $450,000 (married), but in the way the bill was passed in the middle of the night, a bill hammered out by chiefly two individuals, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden, the process left much to be desired. And after all the bickering in the run up to the procrastinated settlement, President Obama flew out of town to resume his Hawaiian vacation without signing the bill. He left the formality to his auto-pen.

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
Our system of government is broken, some say irreparably. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) offered an explanation for his "no" vote on the measure in an op-ed piece that appeared in the Washington Examiner. Orrin Hatch, senior senator from Utah, and one who will never have to face the referendum of voters ever again, was the only member of the Utah delegation who voted "yes." Even Democrat Congressman Jim Matheson, ever so cautious about upsetting conservatives in Utah, voted "no." One of Obama's critics has come up with at least 50 impeachable offenses so far (he's still counting). There are others, including newly-elected Texas Senator Ted Cruz who contend Obama's doing nothing more than broadcasting scare tactics about defaulting on the national debt if he doesn't get a rubber stamp from Congress to increase the debt limit. We have more than enough revenue coming in to service the debt. It costs about $30-40 billion per month to service the debt with over $200 billion per month in tax revenues.  

So as I looked back to scripture in that same chapter for direction and compared it to the Biblical account in Matthew, I spent some time with the Beatitudes in the same sermon. If the goal in life is to become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ, we have an unfailing glimpse into His character. What if we adopted the inspiration in our public discourse that reflects what we read in the Beatitudes? I know it's impossible to comprehend we might find such character reflected in government officials, but I can dream. 
President Harold B. Lee

President Harold B. Lee observed, "In His Sermon on the Mount the Master has given us somewhat of a revelation of His own character, which was perfect, or what might be said to be 'an autobiography, every syllable of which He had written down in deeds,' and in so doing has given us a blueprint for our own lives." (Stand Ye in Holy Places [1974], 342). 

Our need to rely upon God in our civil discourse in this country has never been more acute than it is right now, yet we see those in government who are doing everything humanly possible to disavow and disengage from any religious influence. People of good will everywhere, regardless of their affiliation with a certain denomination, must never fail to point to the Judeo-Christian model of self-governance if we are to preserve our heritage as Americans. We know, if we learned anything from Mitt Romney's candidacy, that there are increasing numbers of people inclined to seek and value good leadership even if they lost a close election this time around. Leadership is most often lacking because of arrogance and the false meme that government can take care of every social ill that besets us. Humility is always in style, especially as the severity of our extremity becomes more apparent.
President Gordon B. Hinckley

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "Meekness implies a spirit of gratitude as opposed to an attitude of self-sufficiency, an acknowledgment of a greater power beyond oneself, a recognition of God, and an acceptance of his commandments." ("With All Thy Getting Get Understanding," Ensign, August 1988, 3-4). 

There may always be fewer of us who can remember and still infuse the vision of America in our youth, but don't discount the rising number of young people in this country who are more inclined toward good and right principles than ever before. Regardless of the comparatively small numbers in the ranks we can all remember the Savior's teaching about being "the salt of the earth." 

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught, "Among the ancient Hebrews salt. . . was used as a preservative, in seasoning food, and in all animal sacrifices. (Leviticus 2:13; Ezekiel 43:24; Mark 9:49-50). So essential was it to the sacrificial ordinance that it was the symbol of the covenant made between God and His people in connection with that sacred performance. (Leviticus 2:13; Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie

"Accordingly, our Lord's statement, made first to the Jews and then to that other great body of Hebrews, the Nephites, that they had power 'to be the salt of the earth,' takes on great significance. . . They had power, in other words, to be the seasoning, savoring, preserving influence in the world, the influence which would bring peace and blessings to all others." (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition [1966], 667-68). 

This is now mostly self-talk to remind myself what it's like living at the Ranch in clear, crisp air where the sun shines and warms the house even on the coldest of days down in the murky valleys below. We must continue to hold the high ground. We must stand with Christ, His Church, and His teachings. Those teachings include the Beatitudes to help us govern ourselves. In the very next verse after He tells us the old things are done away, He reminds us, "Therefore, I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect." (3 Nephi 12:48). 

The quest for perfection is a lifetime ambition, not to be confused with New Years resolutions made and forgotten. Those were what Mary Poppins referred to as "pie crust" promises - easily made, easily broken." He really means to make us perfect in Him. (See Moroni 10:32-33.) It is not merely ethereal theological gas, this matter of perfection. We can become perfect in our faith in HIS perfection. When we do, we are "sanctified in Christ by the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot." 

Each of us can model perfect faith in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. It was Thomas Carlyle who reminded us, "Every noble work is at first impossible." 

Influence for good will continue to be felt among those who take the higher ground. It's people like Mike Lee in government who will make a difference with the support of people of good will who are serious about preserving our way of life in America under the glorious banner of the Constitution. The struggle ahead will be long and arduous. I predict Mike's influence will be as one consistent and resolute voice in the wilderness of sanity and reason, pleading with Americans to stay true to the principles of sound government and Constitutional principles. As the years ahead unfold we may be assured others will join him. 

How can I be so bold in asserting that? I live in the thin air of the winter above the inversion where the sun is warm and the truth is more easily discerned, and, like Billy Graham, I've remained an optimist. I've read the last chapter of the Bible and I know how this all turns out - we win.


  1. Thank you for your words of Wisdom! I have been feeling out of sorts with the whole political picture that we're facing. I appreciate your common sense approach. I know the end of the story also, but wish we could just skip to the final pages to the "happily ever after". Happy New Year! Please tell Pres. Goates hello for me. I love that man!

  2. Thanks for your comments. It's important to remember these events through which we are passing are only the preamble to the coming tests, trials and eventual glory that will prevail as the Millennium is ushered in. Keep the faith with the politicians who are attempting to keep America anchored in correct principles. Those men and women do exist in government, and we must sustain and support their efforts to keep things moving in the channels of Constitutional guidelines.

    Dad is hanging in there. He will soon be 91 years old! Hard to believe. I'll pass along your thoughts.

  3. I get a lot of comfort from your message but even more from your Grandfather...

    "Men may fail in this country, earthquakes may come, seas may heave beyond their bounds, there may be great drought, disaster and hardship, but this nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail. This is the cradle of humanity, where life on this earth began in the Garden of Eden. This is the place of the new Jerusalem. This is the place that the Lord said is favored above all other nations in all the world. 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 have faith in America; you and I must have faith in America, if we understand the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are living in a day when we must pay heed to these challenges. "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 nation that will stand despite whatever trials or crises it may yet have to pass through." - Harold B. Lee

    1. Knowing what we know should provide great comfort in the uncertain events that lie ahead!

  4. David B., you are the bomb! We do know the way it all turns out, don't we. Getting there will be quite the ride.
    Love ya Brother