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The Election is The Lesson: What Do We Learn from The Storm?

November 3, 2012

It could have been worse, but Sandy was horrible. We are left with sadness for the losses, but with hope and faith — the missionaries are there helping and the Lord’s healing has begun. It will be a long recovery.

We are also left with questions: Why did this natural disaster occur at this time? Why in this place? Is Divine Providence involved? If so, what is the purpose?

OMINOUS PATTERNS

In his April 2004 Conference address, “Preparation for the Second Coming,” Elder Dallin Oaks said, “the accelerating pattern of natural disasters in the last few decades is ominous.” Indeed.

The September 2012 issue of National Geographic has an article about Extreme Weather in the United States. The article included a chart of the disasters caused by drought/heat waves, wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tornados, or blizzards and that caused over $1 billion in damages over two 16 year periods in the United States:

  • 1980-1995 46 disasters – total losses $339 billion
  • 1996-2011 87 disasters – total losses $641 billion
  • 2011 had the most $1 billion disasters: 14
  • Hurricane Katrina alone cost $146 billion.

Imagine what the costs will be after Sandy, and imagine the costs if we considered earthquakes and terrorist attacks and drug wars and all the pestilences increasing throughout the world.

DISASTERS AS WARNINGS

Quoting D&C 43:23, 25, Elder Oaks said, “. . . some of these signs are His voice calling His people to repentance.”

Some people blame climate change for weather disasters. New York Mayor Bloomberg, udoubtedly distraught by the horror, took time to formally endorsed Obama for president in hope that he will lead out on climate change, as if a man could decide how to stop what has been prophesied.

The National Geographic considers global warming as a contributing factor. “As the oceans warm, they’re giving off more water vapor. ‘Everybody knows that if you turn up the fire on your stove, you evaporate the water in a pot more rapidly.’”

Everybody needs to know that the true cause of commotion on earth, and the cause of any “global warming,” is sin. “Let the people be holy, and the earth under their feet will be holy.” (Brigham Young. Teachings of Presidents of the Church, p. 333.)

The solution is repentance.

OF WHAT ARE WE TO REPENT?

I’m a New York native, born in 1941 in the Queens borough of New York City. I don’t actually remember the area, but all the names I was hearing reported during the storm were familiar to me. The places where we lived when I was very young are inland enough that the sea did not heave itself beyond its bounds that far, but there was plenty of wind and water and the area was without power.

Atlantic City in New Jersey was a lovely beach resort when I was a child. The ice cream on their cones came wrapped in paper in a cylindrical shape. You pulled the paper off and dropped the ice cream into the cone. Since I only remember the ice cream, I can only imagine the boardwalk, and I see it with young lovers strolling there in turn-of-the century costume. Unfortunately, today Atlantic City is the Gambling Capital of the East Coast.

Only two states have not legalized gambling: Hawaii and Utah.

Wikipedia reports that to deal with hard economic times, in 2010 Governor Chris Christie made the city into a state-run tourism district, over the objections of 43% of the citizens. “The district would include heavier police presence, as well as beautification and infrastructure improvements. The CRDA would oversee all functions of the district and will make changes to attract new businesses and attractions. New construction would be ambitious and may resort to eminent domain.”

I am no expert on eminent domain, but the Constitution is pretty clear that it was never intended for the taking of private property for tax revenue. This is unconstitutional and immoral, and it is being done in Utah too.

So there are two things going on in New Jersey: gambling and the forced redistribution of property. That’s for starters.

What about New York? What evils go on in the United Nations headquartered there? In the stock market? In the major banks? On the Broadway stage? And everywhere else?

There is actually a town named Babylon on Long Island where over 200,000 people live. Those close to the beach were evacuated, and the town was without power as of Friday.

Worse of all, how did most of our 13 original colonies, the cradles of liberty, become “blue,” socialist, big government states? How did those people lose the gift their ancestors fought for? How do the Founding Fathers and the Armies of Heaven feel about this?

While we don’t want to judge the people individually, there is much about these areas that is out of order with the heavens. There is much room for repentance in all states. We might start by cleaning up the earth and planting trees. Trees cool the earth.

PREPARATION FOR DISASTERS

Certainly there is not much anyone can do to prepare for the sudden destruction of their home, but citizens should be prepared as well as they are able and have extra to help their neighbors. Governments should also be prepared.

On video I saw a desperate, hungry woman in a neighborhood of rubble ask the officials on tour, “When is the government coming? Will they bring gas for our generator? Are they bringing food? We’re cold. We are going to die.” She could have been you or me. She had prepared; she had a generator. Her food may have been washed away. She is not going to die; she was walking. But with ineffective disaster preparation and ineffective leadership, help may be slow in coming.

We should be as self reliant as possible. Beyond what we can do, the next step should be the city government. After that, the county. Then the state. And along with this comes the private citizen who wants to help out and the private businesses (Wal-Mart and Home Depot sent trucks to Katrina, as did individual businessmen.) Churches and other non-profits are often the first responders. Our missionaries were already there and went to work immediately, and other Saints will be coming. Our trucks are probably on their way from Salt Lake. Glenn Beck’s charity organization, MercuryOne, has also been there and is sending trucks.

Is there a time for the Federal government to step in? When the disaster covers more than one state? Only in a coordinating role? When there is Federal property involved? I don’t know. Which brings us to FEMA, the federal disaster agency. Until now, I hadn’t given much thought to FEMA.

In a blog article connected to, but necessarily representative of, the Akron Ohio Beacon Journal on Friday, Romney was quoted from a previous CNN interview about the “devastating tornadoes at the time in Joplin, Missouri and elsewhere.” Romney said:

Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.John King countered….”Including disaster relief?” Romney was unmoved….

“We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids,” Romney replied. “It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.”

In a nutshell, that exchange….combined with Mitt’s reprehensible, faux-food collection photo op stunt on Tuesday….tells you all you need to know about how Mr. Romney would lead our nation.

Romney spoke well, but the text does read a bit like a cut-and-past job, possibly because the Beacon article was written by “The Reverend.” He ended with this:

Is there anyone out there who actually believes that disaster relief following Katrina, Irene, tornadoes in Missouri, or Superstorm Sandy would have been “better” if individual states, alone, were responsible for providing relief?

Further, does anyone think that sub-contracting state-led, disaster relief to private, for-profit businesses (assuming they exist) could get the job done more effectively and efficiently than FEMA?”

A friend who makes annual visits to DC tells me that FEMA does contract to private industry and does so on a no-bid basis. He speaks of the “lines of pinstripe suits” with outstretched hands, standing ready — cronyism at its worse. He says none of the rebuilding jobs will go to those in the disaster area. all will go to the president’s union friends. Let’s watch that and see.

SPIRITUAL PREPARATION

President Oaks said, “There are many temporal causes of commotion, including wars and natural disasters, but an even greater cause of current “commotion” is spiritual.”

Spiritual preparation we can all do, and it doesn’t cost anything!

I have known much of fear over the past couple of years in seeing where our government was going, but I am stronger for having been through the process. I’m not alone in believing that we stand in real danger if the election does not bring us a change of leadership, and I’d love to throw the covers over my head; but we were sent for these days. If we want to be spiritually prepared, we have to put in the time. Pray for courage and faith.

SATAN’S DOMINION

In my study of the election over the past months, I have learned that this is truly Satan’s kingdom and he is always busy. The Lord said, “For I am no respecter of persons, and will that all men shall know that the day speedily cometh; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion.” (D&C 1:35)

Historically, our “perfect” government did not last long; freedom has been eroded away in waves, over two and a half centuries. Every era has its challenges, and prophets have continually warned. It seems that every person must be given the opportunity to make choices about freedom and force in government and about the closeness of his own walk with God.

Every organization of our government, the best government in the world, is crumbling to pieces. Those who have it in their hands are the ones who are destroying it. How long will it be before the words of the prophet Joseph will be fulfilled? He said if the Constitution of the United States were saved at all it must be done by this people. – President Brigham Young, delivered in the New Tabernacle, afternoon, April 8, 1868

I do believe that Tuesday represents our final vote, or at least our most serious one. Freedom, including our freedom to homeschool, may be washed away in one last storm as the costal beaches just were. President Benson once said the Constitution would be saved, but “what remains to be seen is how heavy the chains and how deep the blood.” That is the question on the ballot on Tuesday.

STAYING STRONG

There will be many more disasters in the future; that we know. There may be terrorism and war. In our fears and tribulations, will we fall back to our position of dependence on the big government we are used to? Can we become more self-reliant? Do we want to go through more national disasters with ineffective leadership? Do we want the priesthood in the oval office? Do we want Godly men and women in the Houses of Congress? In our State Legislatures?

How will this storm effect the election? Some say it works in Obama’s favor. Obama has been in the spotlight and Romney is out. Most media, busy protecting the president’s image, will follow him around and ignore the suffering on the coast that might make him look bad.

There is one day of prayer left, and one day of action. Beyond what we can do, the event is in the hands of God. If the Lord wants Mitt Romney in office, He seems to be going about it in a strange way; but then His ways are not our ways. If not, we will keep repenting and keep praying and keep working for liberty in spite of the heaviness of the chains and the deepness of the blood, and we will do so with courage and faith — and we will be expecting miracles. There are many, many good people in the Lord’s army. We know how the story ends.

“And also the Lord shall have power over his saints, and shall reign in their midst . . .” (D&C 1:36)

Expect miracles, no matter what.

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The Election is the Lesson: Our American Christian Heritage, Geography, and American Exceptionalism

October 29, 2012

Note: I’ve been working on this email for a week, and it seems almost insensitive now to be talking about elections and maps as I make a final proofread today. All of us have people we care about on the East coast. Some of our readers may be without electricity and won’t be able to read this message. Worse, I can’t imagine how it would be to sit through a dark night and be cut off from the latest news and communication. I will finish up and send the message out with a heavy heart. I’m reading Elder Oaks’ April 2004 talk, “Preparing for the Second Coming” and wondering what the “message” might be. I’m sure there is a purpose here and we will soon see it.

Our American Christian Heritage

We’re running out of time here — the election is almost upon us. One thing I hoped everyone would understand is the importance of restoring the religious depth of our early American Christian Heritage, The best teacher of that information is David Barton from Wallbuilders who has an huge collection of old books and original documents and knows our history well.

Here is a linkto several short videos David put out, some just before the Primary elections this past summer, and others recently added. The “Test of Fire” shows the courage of the Catholic Church in the face of the president’s attack on religious liberty, a subject on which our church leaders have confidently taken a strong stand. In “Voter Responsibilities” Barton quotes President Garfield:

Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.

If the next centennial does not find us a great nation it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

Amen. I really think we lost America when we stopped educating our youth in American in religion and government. If we have good outcomes in the election and if we follow that with a restoration in education, we may be able to save our Constitution. More homeschoolers = more educated Americans. More educated Americans = the blessings of the Constitution.

Here is a link to an eight minute video of a tour of the Capitol, hosted by Barton. You will see that we were, without question, once an openly Christian nation. Religious Liberty is our freedom to discuss our religion, to pray, and to behave according to Christian religious principles. Without religious liberty we will only be able to speak about our religion within our own church buildings as is the case under dictatorships. This video would be great for the family to watch for Family Night. You might also send it out to your social media friends.

Geography and American Exceptionalism

We will all certainly be watching the map come election day, which is a great time to teach geography. While you have your maps out, here is an interesting article from Meridian about American geography and how it influences the greatness of our country.

An Adventure in Ohio Geography

In the “Voter Responsibilities” video David Barton said James Garfield was our 20th President and a minister of the gospel in the Second Great Awakening. The Second Great Awakening? Where did I hear that term before? Oh, yes, in Elder Cook’s article about Religious Liberty in the September Ensign. I was soon off on a quest for knowledge. What was the “Awakening”? And did President Garfield cross paths with Joseph Smith in Ohio?

I learned that the The First “Great Awakening was from about 1720 to about 1750 and was a precursor to the American Revolution. The Second Great Awakening was from about 1800 to about 1860 and was a precursor to the end of slavery and the beginning of the Civil War. I wonder if a Third Great Awakening is happening now as Christian congregations throughout our country are fasting and praying with mightiness for good results in the upcoming election which is critical to freedom itself.

I also learned (in a nutshell here) that James Garfield was born to Campbellite parents in Chester, Ohio, in November 1831, the same year Joseph had arrived in Kirtland. Kirtland is about 250 miles north-west of Chester. Garfield was in elementary school in Chester when Joseph left Kirtland in 1838. We recognize the Campbellite church from our own church history; they considered Joseph a false prophet. Garfield attended high school and/or college in the Campbellite school in Hiram, 30 miles east of Nauvoo. Then he went East to finish college and came back to Hiram to teach in the same school, which had become a college. He became the president of the college. Later he went into the military, then government, and then served only four months as President of the United Sates before he was assassinated. He was a good and righteous man.

I spent a couple of hours making search after search as new questions arose. I had 20 pages of notes by the time I decided to quit. The bottom line is that while it seems unlikely that Garfield ever met Joseph Smith, it does seem likely that his parents would have read the Campbellite article about the Mormons, and the boy may have heard the story and followed it in his adult life. I’m sure he knows Joseph now.

I’m telling you about this block of time in my life not because of what I learned but because of the enjoyment of the journey. I began with two questions. I acted on my own. There was no assignment, no test, no grade, no one hovering over me to correct my grammar, and I’ll probably never look at my unorganized file of information again. The reward was intrinsic: the satisfaction of the quest for knowledge. This is what education should be about. I hope you and your children are having experiences like this in your homeschooling experience.

In the Morning We Homeschool . . .

 Joyce Kinmont, joyce@ldshea.org .
LDS Home Educators Assn, since 1990 .
http://www.ldshea.org..

In the afternoon we play. Such was the sentiment of one father in the comment section fora Wall Street Journal article  about homeschooling. (The best part of the article was about the variety of homeschooling options. The author said, “At this point it no longer seemed to us like a binary decision. It was less a matter of either/or than of how-much-of-each.” . . . “As our habits evolve, it won’t be home schooling as we’ve known it, but it won’t be brick-and-mortar schooling, either. I call it ’roam schooling.’”) (My Education in Homeschool, by Quinn Cummings, Wall Street Journal, July 2012)

The father, whose name was Mark, said in his comment that his boys choose to study from 7am until noon. After that “we played.” He said he did teach them long division, but he also took them bike riding to the beach, surfing, hiking in the High Sierras, fishing in Baja, and much more. “You take home-enlightened kids, they love it. Home ‘schooling’ is a total blast.”

(I like both words: “roam schooling” and “home-enlightened,”  I do think we need to rebrand homeschooling in a new, more open way. Unfortunately, “roam schooling” gives the idea but won’t be understood, and “home-enlightened” is still home-based. I love John Holt, but the word he coined, “unschooling,” also has to go.  I haven’t found anything yet that really works  Any suggestions?)

Another man, Jose, said his parents took him many places: community gardening projects, political conventions, city hall, hospitals, schools, churches, civic groups. He participated in spelling bees, attended a hospital ribbon-cutting ceremony and the unveiling of a Microsoft product, and he met and asked questions of authors, doctors, and scientists. He also took classes from various providers and made many friends. After high school – he got an accredited diploma — he took a technical class, got a job, rose to management, and started a business of his own – without college. In working with his clients, he said he “holds his own” with the Harvard grads. (Although college is sometimes a necessity, I applaud anyone who can find success without it.)

Here in Utah parents must fill out a form to exempt their children from public school. Rather than being pinned down, I always wrote, “learning activities take place a minimum of 6½ hours per day, for a minimum of 180 days per year between July 1 and June 30 between 6:00am and 9:00pm and include, but are not limited to, the subjects required by law.” Our family’s learning activities included many real life, away-from-the-desk activities.

As Latter-day Saints, we are commanded that we should engage in scholarship, but we are also commanded to work and to serve. One of the biggest problems with the public school is that it drags things out so long that children lose their desire to learn and families lose precious individual and family time. Learning should be an adventure, and life should include much more than sitting.

Homeschooling should be more efficient than classroom school by virtue of its small teacher-student ratio, the freedom we have to innovate, and the love that drives and bonds a family together. We should accomplish more is less time. Families who follow the plan Elder Bednar teaches us ( see our YouTube video) should be even more efficient and effective as the learn to act as agents rather than being “acted upon” as objects.  And the family should have the help of the Holy Ghost, the only true teacher. Is there a better plan than this?

Thomas Jefferson, the greatest of scholars, recommended studying in the morning and then taking long walks. Experts from the past and from the pioneering days of home schooling, would agree. Charlotte Mason (1842 – 1923) taught that 15-20 minutes was long enough for young children’s lessons and 45 minutes for high school. She would also expect the lessons to be interesting and the children to be self-disciplined.  (The adult Institute class my husband and I attend is 1 1/2 hours and the time flies by.  Our teachers are wonderful and most of us are too old to raise a ruckus.)  I hear often of young boys being forced to sit at their desks until the math is done if it takes all afternoon. I came close to chaining one of mine to his desk, but D&C 121 taught me that wouldn’t work. I gave him his freedom, and he did fine. (I think I could do my part better today.)

Charlotte Mason also insisted on an afternoon outing every day, even in the cold English winters. For my sons, the outdoors was the classroom, or at least one of the classrooms. Another was the shop teacher’s well-equipped back yard workshop. If the heart is not engaged and the brain cells aren’t lighting, what is accomplished?

Raymond Moore and John Holt were contemporaries in my early homeschooling days, although both are deceased now. Both wrote books on the subject. Dr. Moore, a professional educator and college president, taught that only half of the day should be spent in academics to leave time for work and service opportunities. He recommended no formal schooling until 8 or 12, and said mature reasoning isn’t there until 10 to 12, or later if the children don’t have sufficient interaction with adults. John Holt coined the term “unschooling” to describe the unlimited ways children could learn outside of the traditional classroom. The truths these wise men taught endure, but many homeschoolers today seem to prefer the security of an “acted upon” textbook or computer-intensive curriculum.

  • Today we have brain imaging so we know much more about what’s happening in our heads. In Smart Parenting, Smarter Kids, author David Walsh says that children need lots of movement and exercise for healthy brains. Their muscles and brains are connected: * Human survival depended [he’s an evolutionist] on both our muscles and our brains. And new research confirms that exercise not only increases the brain’s ability to focus, but also builds and strengthens brain cells involved in planning, memory, and learning. p.107

He notes that newborn premature infants were once tightly blanketed so they couldn’t move,

  • since doctors wanted the infant’s calories directed toward growing, not wasted on movement. Someone with good sense eventually realized that the premature infant would be turning somersaults and doing handstands if he were still in the womb, so maybe movement was good for a developing baby. Subsequent studies confirmed that gently exercised babies grew more muscle mass and strong bones in their arms and legs. Moreover, their bodies produced more growth-stimulating hormones. . . . If we could peer inside these babies’ brains, we would see neurons sprouting new branches like weeds. Brain scientists now know exercise doesn’t just build strong bodies. It builds strong brains. p.106

He also notes that with the current emphasis on testing, schools are abandoning recess and physical education: 

  • This is counterproductive since brain research shows that exercise during the school day improves brain functioning and raises test scores. p.110
  • Today’s kids don’t just get less exercise at school; their homes are often exercise-free as well, with screen-time the number one activity for kids today. . . the average K-12 student today spends over fifty hours a week in front of some sort of screen. That’s the equivalent of a full-time job. Our bodies and brains were designed to move. p.111

Since “moving and exercising our muscles directly builds better brains,” let’s take frequent breaks in our morning schooling (I highly recommend a mini tramp or running to the corner and back), and in the afternoon let’s play, let’s create, let’s work, let’s serve. And then let’s get innovative about the way we learn in the morning. All this in whatever way works for your family!