09 10

28 January 2014

Required Reading

He hasn't made the leap into chapter books, so meanie that I am, I pulled out a couple and told him that I'm requiring that he choose one. He announced to me when he'd read the whole first page, and the second, but after that, it appears that he's too engrossed to be bothered with such things. 

Oh darn. 

26 January 2014

7 Lessons From the Bad Guys

Lately, whenever I read the scriptures, it seems like I'm noticing things I can learn from the Bad Guys. Here are a few of those observations.

1. Bad Guys are irritated by talking about good stuff, they get upset if you tell them to change their ways, but they get really irate -even murderous- when someone talks about the Lord.

I first noticed this with King Noah. If you look at Mosiah chapter 12, it starts off telling how Abinadai comes and tells the people about the sins they've committed and the disasters they can be anticipating. They're upset, and they arrest him. Then you have several chapters of the interchange between Abinadai and the priests. This is good reading, both doctrinally, and also in terms of just watching the interaction. They ask him, in effect, "If you're here to tell us about the gospel, the good news, why is it that you're so unpleasant to listen to? The scriptures tell us the messengers' feet are 'beautiful upon the mountains.' What's your problem?" And Abinadai answers their question. And he teaches the doctrines of Christ beautifully. But the Lesson From the Bad Guys moment is in chapter 17, and it's interesting. Abinadai isn't sentenced to death for talking smack about King Noah; he's going to burn because he told them about Christ.

"For thou has said that God himself should come down among the children of men; and now, for this cause, thou shalt be put to death..." (Mosiah 17:8)

It was the same thing for Lehi in Jerusalem.

"And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations..." (1 Nephi 1:19)

Telling them about the things they were doing wrong made them mad. They didn't like it and they said mean things to Lehi. But it wasn't until he started to talk about the Lord that they got murderous.

"...and he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world. And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him, yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away." (1 Nephi 1:19-20)

The Bad Guys dislike hearing about the stuff they're doing wrong, but they really get upset when they hear about the Lord.

2. In the scriptures there are many examples of Bad Guys who are members of the Lord's true Church.

Laman and Lemuel are assured that the people at Jerusalem are righteous because they keep the Law of Moses, but both Laman and Lemuel and the Jews in Jerusalem are would-be murders. Laban liked to spend his evenings with the Elders of the Jews, and had charge of the sacred records on the brass plates. In the story of Abanidai that we looked at just now, we often call them "King Noah's Evil Priests," but miss the point that these guys were the anointed, set apart, scripture-quoting priesthood leaders of their day. The Sanhedrin was the ruling council of the Church in the Lord's time. In our day, Thomas B. Marsh was the senior apostle, and he still fell. It is good to have confidence in our leaders... as long as they deserve it. I'm certainly not going to follow someone who is advocating things out of step with Scripture, and I don't care what their calling is. We are assured that the prophet will never be allowed to lead us astray (D&C 1:37-38) but that assurance clearly doesn't apply to others serving in the church. The Lord's comments to the Centurion make this explicit: simply being a member is no guarantee of salvation, and also that not being a member is no bar to having great faith. This means that I need to think critically, and question the actions as well as the underlying assumptions and motivations. Much of the time, this isn't a problem. But occasionally it is. I need to be alert. I need to have the Holy Ghost to warn me. I need to know the scriptures. They are called "the standard works" because they are the standard we measure against. Complacency has no place in the Lord's church.

3. Bad Guys focus on, even get hung up on, the outward. The minute details. They are quick to fuss over someone who isn't "measuring up."

The Pharisees were so persistent in this one that we have a word for it - pharisaical. The Lord had a lot to say about the Pharisees in Matthew 23, but I want to look at just one thing for which He raked them over the coals.

"But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad the phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments..." (Matt. 23: 5)

Under the Law of Moses the people were commanded to wear certain verses on their hands and their foreheads. They'd put them in boxes called phylacteries, and bind them on for prayers each week (See Deut. 6:2-9). The fringes, or borders, are interesting too. They were supposed to wear fringes on the edges of their clothing to remind them of the covenant. (See Num. 15:37-41). In both cases, the Jews were specifically commanded to teach their children, and the phylacteries and fringes were a reminder - the outward symbol of an inward commitment. In Deuteronomy we read that the verses that they were supposed to tie to their bodies were to already be written in their hearts. It seems to me that those fringes would be a great way to remember. I don't know about you, but I'd probably fiddle with them. And you can be sure that babies would find them irresistible! And they'd move. Brush up against you. The reminder of the covenant should have been constant, and used correctly could have been a great way to keep the people on the Strait and Narrow.

The Pharisees liked to be sure that people could see they were wearing them, so they got bigger boxes. They made their fringes wider. More observance is more righteous, right? It was all about what people saw, but as Christ pointed out to the people, it was just for show. They got hung up on the observance, but they missed the whole point.

That happens today too. People get hung up on white shirts. They treat men as if their Priesthood is somehow invalidated by the color of their shirt, the beard on his face, or the absence of a suit coat. The women do it too. I've seen people say, it all seriousness, that if you come to church with wet hair, or wearing denim, that it means you don't have a testimony. I've heard first hand accounts of situations where church leaders stand up and say that not wearing nylons is a sign of rebellion and apostasy. Because that's dressing "inappropriately." Getting hung up on clothing, and on making sure that the outward signs of other people are "appropriately" observed got the Pharisees in a heap of trouble. It looks different in our day, but it still happens. Here's a hint: modesty isn't about clothing. The gospel may, or may not, change our outward appearance. It may, or may not, make a huge impact on the things that other people see - or that we see in others. That's OK. It was never about outward appearances. It has always been about the heart. The inward desire. Like the large and well-cared for monument in the cemetery, the Pharisees had beautiful exteriors. The Lord's message, however, was clear: He wasn't nearly so concerned with the exterior. He wants us to pay the most attention to the interior; to the heart. And he wanted us to be concerned, not with our neighbors' hearts, but with our own. That is the message of the mote and beam, and the thing He was teaching when He talked about casting the first stone. But it can be so terribly difficult to put into practice.

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
1 Peter 3:3-4

4. Bad Guys don't ask The Lord.

When Lehi tells his family about his vision of the Tree of Life, it creates some discussion among his sons. Laman and Lemuel ended up asking Nephi some questions, and wanted Nephi to explain what the dream had been about. Nephi appears to have just come from his own experience with that dream, and he first reminds his brothers that they ought to be taking their questions to the Lord. Nephi agreed, the topic at hand was difficult, and he hopes they'll ask God for help understanding. They don't want to do that, and they've got a good excuse: it won't work.

And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.  -1 Nephi 15:9

I think Laman and Lemuel are fascinating for a couple reasons, and this conversation is one of them. They are the quintessential scriptural Bad Guys, but here they are trying to understand a vision. And their excuse for not inquiring is iron-clad: He doesn't tell me that kind of stuff. I can relate. I have often found it difficult to ask. I've heard it preached over the pulpit how the "economy of heaven" is such that the Lord won't send an angel when a home teacher will suffice, and we shouldn't expect a vision when the scriptures could do the job. Made sense to me at the time, and because of that teaching, for a long time there were things I didn't ask. Nephi, however, didn't buy it. He is unimpressed with that line of reasoning. He tells his brothers:

How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts? Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.  -1 Nephi 15:10-11

It's not that answers to important answers were unavailable to Laman and Lemuel. The problem is, they didn't ask. And that, "I don't get that kind of answers, so I'm not even going to bother asking" attitude is terribly easy to adopt, and horribly self-defeating. What is really interesting here is, Nephi's response looks to me like he thinks that the failure to ask is, itself, breaking a commandment. We are commanded to ask. To approach heaven in faith. And, we are given reassurance after reassurance that, when His children ask Him sincere questions, God answers them. He is, after all, no respecter of persons.

5. Shortcuts aren't just a bad idea, they're catastrophic.

The Tower of Babel was a shortcut. The people wanted to get to heaven, but they wanted to skip the difficult process of developing faith and virtue. They did not want to submit their will to the Lord's through obedience. The result was catastrophic. Consider, for a moment, the impact of sudden, absolute inability to communicate with your family,  loved ones, friends, and acquaintances. Consider, also, what the effect on trade would be, and how that would impact people's livelihoods and quality of life.

The Old Testament offers another example of the disaster of a shortcut in Saul's sacrifice. Early in his reign, Saul was fighting the Philistines, and it wasn't going well. They regrouped in Gilgal, and Samuel the Prophet was supposed to come and offer sacrifice, but he was late. They waited a whole week, but he still hadn't come. The army was deserting, the enemy was gathering, the prophet still hadn't arrived, and Saul felt he needed to do something. So he offered the sacrifice, in spite of his lack of authority to do so. No sooner had he finished it, than Samuel arrives, and Saul discovers he is in trouble. Because of his shortcut, Saul's family is rejected from the kingship of Israel. Samuel tells him,

"Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee."

This wasn't enough to teach Saul about shortcuts though. Only 2 chapters later he's taking liberties with the sacrifice again, and this time, it costs him his kingdom; David is anointed. Saul - and the kingdom with him - must suffer through the effects of his shortcuts as he struggles through the rest of his reign and the madness that consumes him as he contemplates David, not Jonathon, on the throne after him. Saul, though he began as a "man after the Lord's own heart," ends up a crazed would-be murderer, and it appears to me that shortcuts play a huge part in the transformation. The take-home lesson from both these stories is that there are no shortcuts in the Gospel, and any attempt to find one is probably going to end in disaster.

6. Bad guys aren't satisfied with a little power, they crave total power.

Amalickiah is the one that taught me this. His story is pretty interesting. When the Nephites established the Judges, though they became a free people, they didn't do away with power, nobility, and social hierarchy. It's human nature to compare one person to the next, and it takes more than a change of government to do change human nature. I'm reading between the lines a little, but it looks like Amalickiah was an influential man. Probably a judge, though not the chief judge. (See Alma 46:4-5) And, among the lower judges, he appears to have been a man of some influence, because when they decided to agitate for a return to monarchy, these lower judges made him their leader. And, these people had enough folks listening to them that they seem to have been surprised when the vote didn't come out in their favor. So Amalickiah was, at the beginning of the story, a man of considerable influence in the Nephite nation. But it wasn't enough. He wanted to be king.

So when they lose the vote, they're upset, and they get out their weapons, the plan being simple: If they can't rule with the vote of the people, they're rule without it. Only they lose the battle just like they lost the vote, and almost everybody except Amalickiah is captured and put in jail. Amalickiah gets away. But he hasn't given up on being a king, so he schemes, marries, and murders his way onto the Lamanite throne (see Alma 47). And this is where it gets really interesting. Throughout the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites are consistently a larger group than the Nephites. So Amalickiah has more power than what he'd originally set his sights on, and still it's not enough. His new nation isn't having anything to do with going to war (they'd just lost, badly), so he sets out on a propaganda campaign to convince his people that they need to fight. And it works. He sets out to take over the Nephites, so he can be King of Everything. In the end, it costs him his life. But right until the last, he's unsatisfied with the power he's got. Somebody is outside of his control, and that's not OK.

When I consider that the Book of Mormon was written for our day, this story becomes more than a little unsettling. Especially when I realize that, from the perspective of the ordinary Lamanite, Amalickiah's ascent to the throne would have appeared completely legitimate. He observed the forms, he had witnesses. Everything was in order. The deaths he arranged were, to the public's perception, not his doing at all. But his thirst for power was such that, from his first day in office, his policies were not in the best interest of the nation he ruled.

This pattern isn't only in politics, you can see it in interpersonal relationships as well. The abusive date or spouse can't enjoy being the center of their partner's life, they have to control all outside relationships, and if they can't do that will try to sabotage, discredit, or forbid that which they cannot dictate. The bully at school, the micromanaging boss, they're all doing pretty much the same thing, to a greater or lesser degree. But it's especially worrisome in government, because of the implications for freedom and for Agency.

7. Being a Bad Guy doesn't need to be the end of the story.

Saul of Tarsus was a Bad Guy. He was not only stirring up persecution, he was participating in murder (see Acts 9). The path of repentance was not easy, but it was possible. And once complete, he was able to go on to develop incredible faith and become a huge blessing to the Lord's kingdom on earth. His previous life did not bar him from service to the Lord; the Lord's grace was and still is all sufficient. Even for the Bad Guys.

21 January 2014

Good Trade

The local elementary school isn't far away, about one and a half blocks. Sounds pretty reasonable. Yeah. Until I checked the weather as I saw some poor kid walk past our house after school today.

-9F, with windchill. And you definitely notice the windchill getting too and from school. I remember. "Chill" doesn't even begin to cover it.

So we traded subzero walks to school for a really great conversation about the Great Law.

See, Hero was telling me how, even on "Agents of Smash," Red Hulk still says mean things, even though he's a good guy on that one. So the three of us, Hero, Dragon, and I, talked about saying mean things, and if they can be "good guys" and still say mean things all the time like Red Hulk. And in the course of the conversation I asked them what they thought the most important commandment might be. Hero had a good guess, but I ended up telling them: "Love the Lord thy God will all your heart." Then told them that Jesus had told us the second most important commandment as well, to love our neighbors. Dragon was with me that far, but at about that point is when we started getting too deep for him. But Hero was still doing great, so I kept going and told them about how "on this hang all the law and the prophets." And we talked about how all the other commandments go back to keep one or the other (or maybe both) of these two great commandments. Hero got it. Dragon got part of it. But we would never have had that conversation over lunch if I sent my boys to the school down the road.

So. The Gospel, rather than freezing cold walks.

It's a good trade.

17 January 2014


Dragon: I want to be a Mommy
Mom: Only girls can be Mommys. You're going to have to be a Daddy. 
Dragon: Nooo!! I don't want to be Daddy. I want to be Mommy!
Mom: Why is that?
Dragon: Because, one, you have to follow my rules. And, seven, you have to do what I say. And nine, you have to listen to me...

I'm not really a tyrant, I swear. Except it  was naptime. And I'm pretty sure he thinks a nap is cruel and unusual punishment. 


Dragon: why is our baby sleeping?
Mom: Because she's tired. 
Dragon: Nooo!! I hate when she's sleeping! She shouldn't be tired! 

I love 3. Three year olds say the funniest stuff!

09 January 2014

Quill Pens

We read about things in the past, and I struggle to know how to communicate to my boys how very different things used to be. I am, in spite of knowing a bit about history, still sometimes floored myself by how different things used to be. Like the realization that my $2 bottle of pepper, the one that came in its own disposable pepper grinder, was at one time worth its weight in gold. Literally. My spice cabinet, populated by a nice collection of pretty ordinary spices, would have been worth a king's ransom a few hundred years ago. It's mind boggling.

We read this week about Johan Guttenberg, and the text was trying to communicate the differentness of those times. It mentioned that he had to be careful of people "throwing water out the upper story windows" while he walked to school. I'm pretty sure that "water" really means chamber pots, and I said so. Hero was appalled. I wondered what people did if they got the ick from the streets on them. Brush it off? Shrug and not worry about it? Curse out the one that threw it from the window? Our home is modest, but it's got flushing toilets, hot & cold running water, and climate control. No king had these amenities, however rich or powerful. Cesar, Alexander the Great, Joan of Arc, all the personalities you read about in history. Their environment was just so... different.

So I try to come up with ways to bring that home to the boys. This time, we tried writing with quill pens. It was pretty easy, actually. I grabbed a package of feathers at the craft store, cut the end at an angle, slit the top, and off we went. The "ink" we used was just what I had on hand: acrylic craft paint, which I watered down. Once I had a pen for both boys, I just turned them loose and let them do their thing with it. Hero drew some stuff, tried writing some letters.

Turns out these pens are mighty messy. You read about how it took years and years to copy a single book, and I always wondered why. I can write an awful lot in an evening in my journal. But I have nice paper, and a rainbow of colors of ballpoint pens to choose from. The ink flows beautifully and effortlessly. (I'm a snob; any pen that doesn't write nicely, I don't use. I'm hopeless in the office supplies isle. It's dangerous to my budget...) But not in a quill. Those things are tough to use. I'm amazed that English has all those circle letters; they're hard to write! The pen scratches and rubs roughly on the paper. Ink splattered on the work. Good thing I'm not a scribe from way back when. I'd be fired for sure. And no wonder that everyone carried "pen knives." They needed them to keep their pens working! It was easy to blot and make a mess. And, back then, paper would have been precious. We read in our Guttenberg book how they used every inch of space, using red ink to mark the beginning of a chapter, because they didn't have the luxury of leaving half the page empty. The whole book-making process just sounds arduous.

It was a fun activity, and we've all got a greater respect for people who used their quill pens. I think about Adams, Jefferson, Washington, and the others, who had the voluminous correspondence. All written with feathers. Quill pens are cool. But I'm really glad that I can use my nice ballpoint gel pens, colored pens, and beautiful markers most of the time. It's just soooo much easier.

Still. You can't beat the coolness factor of cutting up a feather a bit, dipping it, and writing. Whoever thought that up was clever.

So. What do you think the coolest thing about the past is?

P.S. I'm so glad you stopped by to read about the adventures at our house! If you want more, "Like" my blog on Facebook to get posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

07 January 2014

Playing in Watercolors

I was trying for this:

But so far I have this: 

I thought I needed more practice! But I finished it anyway, and ended up with this:

  I learned a lot, and wanted to try it again. I'm thinking of this stuff a lot like copywork, and so I made this:

I haven't put in any trees in the foreground, but I'm not sure if I'm going to, because I am frustrated with the paints. We're still just using the Crayola watercolors, and it's difficult to get the colors dark. They just thin out, and I think it's the quality of my paints. I plan to get some better colors, but I haven't done it yet.

Hero wanted to play too, so he did this one.

And later, copying my work, he did this. I'm kind of at a loss as to how he coaxed such deep colors from our little paints. Now that I'm thinking about it, I should have him show me, and then I can finish my picture.

Dragon painted as well. Here is his picture:

I'd say that is a pretty successful series of art classes! I'm thinking I'll try this one next. The cool thing is, I've noticed that, at least with this, if I do it myself, pretty soon I'm hearing, "Can I paint too?" Music to my ears!


P.S. I'm so glad you stopped by to read about the adventures at our house! If you want more, "Like" my blog on Facebook to get posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

01 January 2014

Liberty and Salvation

It turns out that liberty and salvation are much more closely related than I'd realized.

First, a little background: In 1941, FDR's Department of the Treasury decided to sell bonds to fund US involvement in the war. As part of this effort they contacted a wide variety of private organizations, including unions, professional groups, service organizations, and churches, among them the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hoping they would urge their members to participate in the "war effort" by buying bonds.

The First Presidency not only turned them down, they boldly condemned both the war and the Administration's New Deal policies, in the strongest of terms. You can read all 18 pages of their letter, plus some eye-opening historical context if you'd like. This bit jumps out:

Used by permission.

There are a couple things I've been mulling over about this in the couple days it's been since LDS Liberty posted it on their page shortly before Christmas. The first thing is the remarkable way the Brethren tied political and eternal salvation together, at least for Americans. This is an intriguing teaching, and as I've pondered it, it's started to come into focus and make a lot of sense to me. 

Agency is so central to the Father's Plan. I think of it as a "ruling principle" of the Heavens. The scriptures teach that separation from God is a death. Poor choice is the reason for the separation, and God has the power to prevent this tragedy. Yet He does not. 

Agency is that important. 

Agency means that when we come to earth, we risk permanent separation should we choose sin. Lucifer offered a risk-free plan, one that guaranteed that nobody would lose. When our Father chose Christ we shouted for joy, in spite of the risk.

Agency is that important.

The Lord, in the Doctrine and Covenants, tells us that He gave us the Constitution -in essence, He takes credit for Authorship - and then He explains why He did it:

That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. (D&C 101:78

The way I see it, the Constitution is about preserving agency. That is the reason The Lord gives for giving us the Constitution: to preserve our freedom of choice. And He says further that the reason for that is so we'll all be responsible for our own actions (and no one else's) when it's all said and done. That cuts right to the heart of the purpose of life. 

The Constitution is that important. 

So when I think it through, it makes perfect sense for political and eternal salvation to be tied in the writings of the First Presidency, because they are, in fact, very closely related. 

That's cool, but so what? What should we do about it?

This quote is remarkable in that these brethren not only gave us an important gospel truth, but they also tell us about two distinct actions we ought to take:

1. "Return to the practice of the great fundamentals of Christianity."

The Savior summed his teachings up in a similarly succinct manner:

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  (Matthew 22:37-39)

 The Founders repeatedly talked about how key to the survival of the Union virtue is, both the Federalists and the Antifederalists. In fact, one of the Antifederalist objections was that the Constitutions renders too little homage to God; the Articles of Confederation had been more appropriately respectful, they said. While there was no nationally established religion, that is, no religion receiving tax support, nearly every single State had a religion or religions that did (and this continued into the 19th Century), and even the Federalists spoke of the importance of religious education and the necessity for virtue in order to maintain freedom. Virtue calls down the blessings of Heaven; both are necessary for establishing and maintaining freedom. The more broad the freedom, the larger the "space" in which to exercise our agency. Virtue, both public and private, is a critical element in maintaining our freedom, and there is nothing quite like the Gospel of Christ for persuading men that the effort of being virtuous is not only a good idea, but actually in their own best interest.

In our home, we use our homeschool education to support and enhance our teachings about the "fundamentals of Christianity." We often stop, when reading about history as well as fictional stories, and discuss who is the good guy, and who is the bad guy. Particularly interesting have been the times where it seems clear that there really wasn't any good guys in that historical episode. How "great" was Alexander the Great? (He more or less invaded the whole world...) We blend secular and spiritual instruction in every topic, even English grammar. We learn sacred and secular history they way they happened; all mixed together. And in doing so, there is some opportunity to point out some aspect of the Gospel in every day. It's what works for us.

2. "Return to the practice of the great fundamentals of ... Constitutional government."

You can't do this unless you know the fundamentals. Not just the fuzzy awareness that the Constitution has "checks and balances" that I left school with, not even just a general familiarity with the words of the document, though that is a good start. To know the fundamentals, you need to know the ideas that moved the inspired men we call the Founders. They set up our government based on a philosophy called Natural Law. Natural Law is not taught in our schools, yet it is the foundation our nation rests upon. The clearest explanation I've found for what it is is in the first chapter of The Thousand Year Leap by Cleon Skousen. (I highly recommend this book and Ezra Taft Benson's essay, The Proper Role of Government as a starting place for learning about good government.) Skousen quotes the Roman statesman Cicero to explain Natural Law:

"Therefore Law [of the Creator] is the distinction between things just and unjust, made in agreement with that primal and most ancient of all things, Nature, and in conformity to Nature's standard are framed with those human laws which inflict punishment upon the wicked and protect the good." (The Thousand Year Leap, p. 39)

Cicero believed that these laws of  Nature's God - Natural Law - could be discovered through the use of our Reason. He reasoned his way, using this philosophy, to the things that Christ summed up so beautifully as the greatest law and the second law: Love God, and love our neighbors. From this foundation our Founders worked to codify our government and protect the Natural Rights, or unalienable rights, that our Father in Heaven has given us.

Understanding this foundation makes the idea of limited government make perfect sense. The old ways conceived of the King as the fountain of rights. If the citizens had privileges, it was at the pleasure of the King, because He was sovereign, and typically ruled through some sort of Divine Right. But the Founders rejected monarchy and despotism, believing the People to be sovereign, and the People's Rights to be of Divine origin. The government is limited because government powers are not natural to them, but they are delegated to them by the People. This is a tremendously important idea! In this kind of government (and it has the specific, scriptural endorsement of the Lord), government can have no power that could not be exercised by an individual. It's an entirely different way of thinking about things. From The Proper Role of Government:

Leaving aside, for a moment, the question of the divine origin of rights, it is obvious that a government is nothing more or less than a relatively small group of citizens who have been hired, in a sense, by the rest of us to perform certain functions and discharge certain responsibilities which have been authorized. It stands to reason that the government itself has no innate power or privilege to do anything. Its only source of authority and power is from the people who have created it. This is made clear in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, which reads: "WE THE PEOPLE… do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess. So, the question boils down to this. What powers properly belong to each and every person in the absence of and prior to the establishment of any organized governmental form? A hypothetical question? Yes, indeed! But, it is a question which is vital to an understanding of the principles which underlie the proper function of government.

Homeschool, again, plays a big part in our family's plan for what to do about it. We teach early and often about what our government is supposed to be, and what freedom should look like. We look at history and talk about what happens when people are not free. We relate things to the teachings of King Mosiah as he set up the Judges, and to other scripture stories. These are things that even a child can begin to understand, though it does take some effort to re-educate ourselves to see past the flimsy propagandized version of things that my husband and I were taught in the public schools. It is, however, well worth the effort.

It makes a great deal of sense that, at least in America, political and eternal salvation should be related to each other, because they are both so closely related to agency, and this land has been set up as a land of freedom, a beacon to all the world. The war over agency, far from being decided in the past, rages today, with government being a primary front in the battle. The price of failure, whether failure to maintain and restore the institutions that safeguard our political freedom or failure in relation to our eternal salvation, is terrible. It is no wonder that the First Presidency sounded such a clear warning about it.

P.S. I'm so glad you stopped by to read about the adventures at our house! If you want more, "Like" my blog on Facebook to get posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!


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