Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hillary Clinton: “liar,” “dishonest” and “untrustworthy.”

I don't know when the summer leading up to a presidential election has ever been more interesting (read "strange") than this one. I think someday America will probably have a female president. There, I've said it. But this woman, who has been running for president most of her adult life, now faces the end of the trail.

Hillary Clinton
The smart money on the Democrat side got behind Hillary Clinton early. Then a radical socialist named Bernie Sanders started making headway and he began to nibble away at the Clinton lead. Strange that someone even more polarizing and radical than either Obama or Clinton could make that kind of headway.

Now comes news that her fund raisers are reporting less than enthusiastic support from traditionally reliable sources. Some are aching for Vice-President Joe Biden to get into the race, and even President Obama has reportedly "given his blessing" for another Biden run at the presidency. So much for forgotten pledges to Bill Clinton, who campaigned for Obama in exchange for a Hillary endorsement someday. The political calculus these days for me has become increasingly mystifying, and well, just strange. But some have suggested the Biden pick as VP was a cool political strategy on Obama's part because it insulated him from impeachment - no one would want Joe Biden as the replacement POTUS. Yes, strange.

Yesterday Hillary boasted that she already had 25% of the "super delegates" on the Democrat side already locked up, and she was certain the nomination would be hers. Well, time will tell on that one. Strange she could be so self-assured when her favorability ratings and her polling numbers keep dropping like a rock. She thinks the "fix" is in, but she may just sink her own ship that is beyond fixing.

On the Republican side all the air in the room is being sucked up by Donald Trump. He has been dissed, dismissed, and disassembled a thousand times piece by piece this summer by all the pundits who claim he has "no chance" of winning the nomination, much less the presidency in November 2016, and yet his ascendancy cannot be denied. Strange that someone so bombastic, arrogant and off-putting could somehow tantalize the electorate the way this man has.

Jeb Bush was the presumptive nominee a few weeks ago until Trump got into the race, and since that first debate Bush has been dropping. Three of his fund raisers have already abandoned the ship. That's very strange, given the inevitability of another Bush/Clinton match-up predicted by the political punditry earlier in the summer.

Someone I read yesterday on Twitter suggested to the DC establishment that if they want to stop Trump they should just endorse him. Strange that you've never heard that strategy enunciated in politics before this year. But these are not normal times. The disfavor into which the Republican establishment has dropped keeps finding new bottoms.

The Republican field is deep this year and filled with what one would presume is a talented field. One would think the GOP hierarchy would be licking its chops in glee. Experienced governors and ex-governors with tremendous accomplishments in the field this year would be a campaign organizer's dream come true. Talk about an embarrassment of riches! But this year things are different. Things are very strange this year.

Donald Trump
Topping the early primary polling, of course, is Mr. Trump, followed now by retired brain surgeon Ben Carson, and retired HP CEO Carly Fiorina. It depends of course on who's doing the polling, but the strange thing about the ascendancy of Trump, Carson and Fiorina is that they are political outsiders. It seems Republicans have forsaken their party champions and taken leave of their collective conservative and time-tested reasoning ability and their rational and measured sense of propriety. That's strange indeed to think Trump could be the standard bearer for conservatives.

But maybe, just maybe, what's happening is a collective disenchantment with leadership in the GOP. They made bold promises about standing up against Obama. Republicans swept control of both houses of Congress in 2014, with high hopes the promises made would be promises kept. But their perception seems to be that they got nothing of what they bargained for from either Boehner in the House or McConnell in the Senate. One senses the makings of an uprising in the base.

Maybe in part that's what might explain Trump's ascendancy. His scorched earth policies and rhetoric - maybe the best word is "hyperbole" - have swept across the land like a raging wildfire of pent up anger, especially over illegal immigration. Many are warning of what happened in pre-World War II Europe as millions promoted and embraced Adolph Hitler in the name of German nationalism. That idea, however, seems a little strange to me, since Obama would resemble more of a dictator than Trump. But I said this was a strange summer.

Nevertheless, there are those who see all the familiar earmarks of what's now happening in America in our desperate search for a savior who can deliver America. "Making America Great Again" has struck a responsive chord and Trump has found legs with his slogan this summer. Granted he's a little light on the specifics of HOW he's going to do that, but it seems a refreshing alternative to what Obama has given us in his "transformational change" of nearly everything in America.

People are saying they've had enough of politicians and their promises, period. Somehow, almost mystically it seems, Trump has managed to differentiate himself from lifelong politicians and their promises. He says outrageous things that would doom any other politician and he gets away with it as his poll numbers continue to soar! And that's very strange.

Here's the essence of all this: There was a poll last week that caught my attention. It was done by Quinnipiac, and summarized by Breitbart. The participants in the poll were asked to give the first word that came to their minds when Clinton, Trump and Bush were mentioned.

The top three words used to describe Hillary Clinton were "liar," "dishonest" and "untrustworthy."

And that might be the first thing I've read this summer that was not strange.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Making the Sabbath a Delight

We live in an increasingly dark and dreary world, filled with sin and wickedness almost unimaginable and unspeakable even a few years ago. The latest news broke last week, secret videos exposing Planned Parenthood's selling of fetal tissue - and in some instances, complete bodies of fetuses - to buyers. It should be clear that "Planned Parenthood" is a complete misnomer, since they are in the abortion business and now we learn they are profiting in a black market that is blacker than black. A Senate vote is scheduled for Tuesday to defund the organization, and any moral person would have to conclude their activities must not be underwritten by taxpayer dollars.

Elder Kevin W. Pearson
It's hard to remain an optimist in such a world, but there is at least one way to do that. Elder Kevin Pearson of the Seventy was a speaker in his home ward last week. I got a report of his remarks from my father and sister who were there. He stated in years past when they have gathered at General Conference time in a four-hour training that a host of topics are covered, topics the senior Brethren would like them to take to the far-flung corners of the globe. This year, however, that training centered on one topic only - the Sabbath.

As evidence that the water has flowed into the final furrow on this topic, we heard our bishop address the topic in a recent sacrament meeting where our stake president presided, and then we received instruction from our stake presidency in a letter that was distributed throughout the stake, as follows:

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Kamas Utah Stake, July 2015

We would like to communicate direction we have received from church leaders for each of us to strengthen faith in God by observing the Sabbath day with greater purpose.

Church leaders have felt the importance of encouraging families and individuals to rethink and refocus our efforts on what we do on the Sabbath day. We recently met with Bishoprics and Stake leaders, they in turn have met in Ward Councils to discuss what we can do within our Wards, Branches, families and as individuals to renew our personal and collective worship on the Lord's day. As a Presidency, we have prayed and pondered on this direction and would like to announce the following change to our meeting block order and invite all members of the stake to focus on the Sabbath in the following ways.

First, starting on Fast Sunday August 2nd, we will change, where possible, the order of our meeting schedules so that the Sacrament meeting is first. This is recommended by the leaders of Church so that the sacred sacrament ordinance and the sacrament meeting can begin our block of meetings. Your Bishop or Branch President will announce the specific meeting schedule for your Ward or Branch. Let us use this change as a catalyst to renew our commitment to the Sabbath, such as being on time to Sacrament meeting, increasing our reverence in the chapel, and pondering on the words and meaning of the Sacrament prayers.

Second, between now and August 2nd, we invite and encourage all members of the stake to hold a family council, or personal pondering based on family circumstances, regarding how we can elevate our observance of the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Consider such questions as "What changes can we make to improve our Sabbath observance?" and "What can we do to give the Sabbath back to the Savior?".

Third, on August 2nd, we invite all members of the stake to fast and pray with the unified purpose to improve our Sabbath worship and keep the Lord's day holy. As we fast, let us include a desire to receive an increase in the spirit individually and collectively, and receive the blessings that the Lord has in store for all those who honor Him and strive to keep His Sabbath day holy.

"If thou turn away...from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord...and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure...Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth." Isaiah 58:13-14.

Fourth, we encourage you to view between now and August 2nd, the communication and video from Church leaders on this topic. It is found at this website. Please view the video presentation and read the short overview. This will help set the tone for our fast.

We express our love for you. We testify that we have living prophets today, who lead and guide us, and communicate to us the Lord's will. We know that obedience brings forth the blessings of Heaven. We promise that as we increase our individual and collective observance of the Sabbath day, we will be richly blessed. (emphasis mine).


Mark T. Durham
Howard N. Sorensen
Matthew L. Flinders

* * *

I continue to be grateful for inspired leaders in these last days, filled as those days will be with discouragement and distress on all sides. There seems to be so little peace. The observance and the full embrace of the Sabbath day can provide the nourishment and the refreshment we all need.

I've been reading several articles this morning about the Sabbath, and most come to one conclusion - it should and can be a day of rest and joy. Yes, observing the Sabbath day is the fourth commandment in the list of Ten, but when it is observed with a fullness of heart it should not be oppressive or onerous filled with "shalt nots". Rather than focusing on how our neighbor is or is not observing the Sabbath, let us decide for ourselves what will bring the greatest joy and satisfaction possible to us, and then do those things. I do not suggest a list here. That is for everyone to come to on their own.

When we cease "finding thine own pleasure" on the Sabbath, as Isaiah suggests, then we are free to "delight thyself in the Lord". I have always called the Sabbath "a delight" because it gives me a chance to think about and to do those things that focus on the Lord. It is more than coincidental that God "blessed" the seventh day of creation from the beginning. It was sanctified by Him and consecrated for us as a day in which to rest from our labors and to return our thanks to Him.

July has brought a full house of delightful chaos, as we have had visits from every child and their families. We have loved the noisy squeals of joy as they have played with each other, since so many of our empty nesting days are nothing but dead calm and silence. Now that our home is empty of little children requiring our constant guidance and instruction, we are finding it much easier to spend the day in quiet bliss and pondering on the blessings of the goodness of their lives.

Long forgotten are the hard times, the tears of remorse some shed, the contention and the bickering that too often marred the peace of the Sabbath in years gone by. Now we have nothing but deafening silence to greet us on the dawns of our Sabbaths. Now they are the ones who are giving instruction and guidance to their children, and in every case they are doing much better than we ever did. For that we are constantly grateful, and we express that each time we pray to our Heavenly Father. There is no greater joy than the blessing of a posterity who are trying to do good.

Going to Church on Sunday is only the least part of observing the Sabbath day. I have found much solace in writing my feelings, as I do constantly on this page on a Sunday. As you will note above, our meeting schedule has changed. We might be the last stake on earth that wasn't holding sacrament meeting first in the three-hour block. We're also meeting in the afternoon while the roof on our stake center is replaced and we are lovingly compelled to share our building with another ward that took our morning slot.

All of these structural changes in the Sunday routine call for flexibility and accommodation, but they are all possible because of our abiding faith in the underlying and overarching principles of the purposes of the Sabbath day.

Many years ago I was chairman of the boundary committee in our stake, and we were grappling with some contentious and difficult recommendations about pending changes that involved new boundaries and creating new wards. In the middle of one of those meetings, I reminded the members of the committee, "It doesn't really matter what we do. Faithful saints will show up to worship on top of a mountain at dawn in a tent if that's what the recommendation might be." I was expressing the point of view so many of us know to be true. It is not when and where we worship, so much as it is HOW and WHO we worship. Section 59 of the Doctrine and Covenants provides the counsel needed to explain the Sabbath spirit of worship.

Joseph Smith
On this Sabbath day when there will be many "firsts" in our stake, it is my prayer we may all focus on the object of our worship - our Father in Heaven. We worship Him in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost. The Godhead comprise three separate and distinct beings, two corporeal resurrected and glorified beings and a third who is a body of spirit. (See D&C 130:22-23). To them we owe our existence and our happiness because in these last days they have made themselves known to us through modern revelation to a living boy prophet, Joseph Smith. At fourteen years of age he saw them, spoke with them, and his testament stands. The evidence of his divine calling is The Book of Mormon.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work;
But the seventh day, the sabbath of the Lord thy God, thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates;
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all in them is; wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Mosiah 13:16-19).