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18 May 2014

Scrapping Again

It's been a tough couple weeks. Tigress got pneumonia again, and Dragon had surgery (he's fine), plus there's the usual life stuff that always has to happen. Pleasant things like scrapbooking got crowded out. Then, I discovered that my favorite scrapbooking site -really the only one I visit- is closing down. Bummer. But they've got a sister site, and there was a sketch challenge, and I did it. I'm glad I did. It feels so good to make a page again. I need to figure out where I'm going to get some of these printed. I need to make actual physical books out of some of these pages I've been making.

11 May 2014

Thoughts for Mother's Day

Brother Holland said the following at a BYU devotional in 1982:

For my purposes today ... I have labeled my remarks “The Inconvenient Messiah.” I wish to speak this morning of the demands of discipline and discipleship, of the responsibilities we have to face when we choose to follow Jesus Christ. In the Savior’s life and in ours, Satan counters such discipline with temptations of an easier way, with an offer of “convenient Christianity.” It is a temptation Jesus resisted, and so must we. Life was very inconvenient for him, and, unless I miss my guess, it will often be so for you and for me when we take upon us his name.

 Brother Holland then went on to read and comment on the account of the temptation of the Lord:

Then Jesus was led up of the Spirit, into the wilderness, to be with God. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, and had communed with God, he was afterwards an hungered, and was left to be tempted of the devil, And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But Jesus answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.  -JST Matthew 4:1–4

It is the temptation to be the convenient Messiah. Why do things the hard way? Why walk to the shop—or bakery? Why travel all the way home? Why deny yourself satisfaction when with ever such a slight compromise you might enjoy this much-needed nourishment? But Christ will not ask selfishly for unearned bread. ... there is no convenient Messiah. Salvation comes only through discipline and sacrifice.

Mothering is working for the Salvation of our families.

But this doctrine of it may just be one of the best-kept secrets in the Church. It's about salvation.

Think about the Plan. We'd come to earth, we'd get a body, we'd be tested, and have an opportunity to walk by faith. When given the choice between good and evil, we're here to prove to ourselves (because God knew from the beginning) that we really will choose the good.

So we have a family. We're born. We. Forget. Everything.

How terrifying is that? We come to take a test, and we're told up front that there's going to be a Veil of Forgetfulness that means that all the studying, or whatever it is you do to prepare goes away. Who agrees to that kind of thing? It sounds crazy! But not only did we agree, we shouted for joy! Why did we do that?

We knew we would have a Mother. Our own personal angel, guide, teacher, mentor, and care-giver, and her primary role -the main thing she's supposed to do- would be to nurture and to teach, so that all that important stuff that babies forget when they arrive as little bundles of cuteness and joy could be re-learned as quickly as possible.

Our world no longer values mothering, but we are to be a peculiar people. We are to buck the trend; stand out from the crowd. President Spencer W. Kimball said,

“...I beg of you, you who could and should be bearing and rearing a family: Wives, come home from the typewriter, the laundry, the nursing, come home from the factory, the café.

“No career approaches in importance that of wife, homemaker, mother—cooking meals, washing dishes, making beds for one’s precious husband and children.

“Come home, wives, to your husbands. Make home a heaven for them. Come home wives, to your children, born and unborn. Wrap the motherly cloak about you and unembarrassed help in a major role to create the bodies for the immortal souls who anxiously wait.

“When you have fully complemented your husband in home life and borne the children, growing up full of faith, integrity, responsibility and goodness, then you have achieved your accomplishments supreme, without peer, and you will be the envy through time and eternity” (Source)

The prophets know that not every family is the same, and that some mothers labor for the salvation of their families under very trying circumstances. President Gordon B. Hinckley addressed this in the October 1983 Conference when he said:

“To you women who find it necessary to work when you would rather be at home, may I speak briefly. I know that there are many of you who find yourselves in this situation. Some of you have been abandoned and are divorced, with children to care for. Some of you are widows with dependent families. I honor you and respect you for your integrity and spirit of self-reliance. I pray that the Lord will bless you with strength and great capacity, for you need both. You have the responsibilities of both breadwinner and homemaker. I know that it is difficult. I know that it is discouraging. I pray that the Lord will bless you with a special wisdom and the remarkable talent needed to provide your children with time and companionship and love and with that special direction which only a mother can give. I pray also that he will bless you with help, unstintingly given, from family, friends, and the Church, which will lift some of the burden from your shoulders and help you in your times of extremity. ... 

“Now to others who work when it is not necessary and who, while doing so, leave children to the care of those who often are only poor substitutes, I offer a word of caution. Do not follow a practice which will bring you later regret. If the purpose of your daily employment is simply to get money for a boat or a fancy automobile or some other desirable but unnecessary thing, and in the process you lose the companionship of your children and the opportunity to rear them, you may find that you have lost the substance while grasping at the shadow” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1983, 114; or Ensign, Nov. 1983, 83).

From the Proclamation on the Family we learn that mothers are "primarily responsible for the nurture of their children." That's "it." Mothers nurture children. That's their main thing. You can say it in so few words, yet it will take a lifetime to really figure out how to do it, to know what it all means.

Sure, superficially, it's a messy job, and sometimes leaves you coated in grime its best not to consider too closely. But that's not what it's about. My husband sometimes comes home with grease smears on his shirts, or scraped up knuckles. But nobody thinks that's what his job is about; he works on radiation equipment for cancer centers. Mess is incidental; Mothering is eternal.

But Mom can't do it if she's not there. And there's so many voices saying to her that she doesn't need to be there. So terribly many things saying to women, "Never mind that homemaker stuff. Nobody does that anymore." Or sometimes it's something more along the lines of, "You need that new gadget. You deserve it; you need it. You're going to have to get a job." It's a lie. It's all lies. Our children need us. Your children need you. My children need me. And we can't swap places and expect it to work.

In the October 1942 Conference, President Heber J. Grant taught:

This divine service of motherhood can be rendered only by mothers. It may not be passed to others. Nurses cannot do it; public nurseries cannot do it; hired help cannot do it - only mother, aided as much as may be by the loving hand of father, brothers, and sisters, can give the full needed measure of watchful care.

The Lord, in His wisdom, sends us the children we need - and the ones that need us. He sends us souls that will blossom in the strengths that we have to offer, and that are able to weather our weaknesses. He sends us the children that can teach the things we need to learn, and that need to learn what we can teach. He sent my children to me, and He sent your children to you, and that was not an accident. From President Benson:

"It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters.

Mothering is amazing. It can be easy to focus on the hard or monotonous parts of being at home, but Mothering is amazing. There is laundry and dishes and meal after meal to prepare. Scraped knees and hurt feelings, moments of anguish. But Mothering is also that little boy running across the whole backyard to give you a hug and just as fast running back to his play. Mothering is also gifts of dandelions… or bugs. My one brother used to bring Mom bugs. She didn’t like it at the time, but she smiles when she remembers now. Mothering is squeals of laughter and cozy story times on a rainy day. It’s staying up late and talking with your teen and having the Spirit feed you words she needs to hear.

Mothers' Day is hard for me. I struggled over this talk. I called my Mom and cried, and we talked about a lot of things. Among other things, we were talking about the good things that bring balance she said, "It’s not really pride, it’s just real, true, joy at seeing your children doing what they are supposed to be doing. It’s hard and it’s difficult, but the balance is there. They say that there must be opposition in all things, and the joy is there. It makes the worry and the all the agonizing melt away. You forget it. It’s hard right now, because it’s here and its present and its right in your face. But when it’s done, and things get straightened out, it will all melt away, and it won’t matter. And you’ll look back and it will be ok. It won’t hurt. You’ll remember, and draw on it to help other people that’s good too." Mom talked about how it's not really very surprising that things get hard, because the joy in Mothering is immense.

When I read the story of Jacob and Esau, I am amazed that Esau would sell his birthright for no more than a single meal. He did not understand the value of the Priesthood. In our day, many voices seek to put a mess of pottage into attractive packaging, all the while running down the value of Mothering. But no matter how beautiful the bowl, pottage is still pottage. Mothering is about salvation.

I've seen, time and time again, feminists and others try to convince women that something else, anything else, is more important than being at home. They're wrong. One summer I sat in my grandma's living room, and we talked about feminists. Grandma was born in 1927, and she was in her late 70s when we talked. She lived through some amazing history. She married my Grandpa in 1950, and they lived 38 years together. He died in 1988, and she went on another quarter century, looking forward to the reunion. She saw the rise of feminism first hand. This is what she told me:

Feminists should have stopped with the vote.

The more I think about it, the more profoundly right I think she was. All this "equality" stuff has lead women to trade something precious - partnership with God Himself - for a mess of pottage. A bit of alphabet soup after your name, that a corner office, the latest toys, they hardly compare. The personal development you might find in the workforce can't possibly hold a candle to what He would teach you in the walls of your own home.

Is it hard? Heck yeah! It's really hard! But, did you expect salvation to be convenient? Have the prophets said it would be easy? Do you even want it to be easy? In the words of the poet:

Good timber does not grow in ease.
The stronger wind, the tougher trees,
The farther sky, the greater length,
The more the storm, the more the strength,
By sun and cold, by rain and snows,
In tree or man, good timber grows.
-Douglas Mallock

I want to finish with a final quote, from President Joseph F. Smith:

To do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all man-kind, is the truest greatness. To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman. ... We should never be discouraged in those daily tasks which God has ordained to the common lot of man. ... Let us not be trying to substitute an artificial life for the true one."
(Her Blessing - Her Calling; BYU Speeches)

There’s hope and there’s beauty, and joy. There’s sunshine and shadow, like there is with anything else, but the whole experienced is magnified and deepened by the love that you feel. Love that is strong when you first hold them in your arms, but grows and deepens as you serve. And you do your best, and you lean on the Lord, and He makes you more than you are on your own. He gives you the love to overcome the fear, and the strength to keep going through the sleepless nights, and the eyes to see the joy when all seems dark.

Mothering is partnering with God in the work of Salvation, and there is nothing that is more important than that.

05 May 2014

Immigration and the Constitution

Immigration is a messy, messy issue. And it's an issue that causes a whole lot of heartache when families are split. It costs lives down at the southern border, and it touches issues of national security. The question, "What should we do about immigration?" is an important question.

Recently, Brother Uchtdorf, along with several other religious leaders, was invited to the White House to discuss immigration with the President. The Church's newsroom had a write-up on the event that included a statement on the Church's position on immigration, and we got to discussing this in a Facebook group for discussing the Constitution of which I am a member. We quickly decided that the Church's position on immigration doesn't actually say much, and our conversation turned to what the Constitution says about immigration. Knowing exactly what the Constitution says our government should and should not be doing is important:

I had to go re-read the Constitution and find the relevant section:

Article I Section 8:
The Congress shall have the power ... to establish an uniform rule of naturalization;

It is also possible that a treaty would touch on immigration, giving the President, with the consent of the Senate, a possible legitimate say in immigration:

Article II Section 2:
He [the President] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur;

In the case that the President's treaty powers include matters dealing with immigration, then the Judiciary might also be able to rule on the matter.

Article III Section 2:
The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;

As far as I have found, in re-reading the document, this is the sum total of the powers delegated, relating to immigration. Not much there. To me, at least at first reading, it looks like while the federal government has the power to determine the naturalization process - the path to citizenship, so to speak - the States retained the power to determine which foreign nationals are permitted to reside in a State. Obviously, that's not the way things are done. But, from just reading the document, that looks to me like the way it ought to be.

In the course of the Facebook conversation, several articles were brought up. This one, for instance, points out that the federal courts have ruled that the federal government has broad powers to regulate immigration, even though it's not specifically granted by the Constitution. I am, however, unimpressed by the federal government's tendency to grant itself broad powers, and, in light of the Tenth Amendment, I find the argument as presented in the essay to be not convincing at all.

Tenth Amendment:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

So, what are the power prohibited to the States? That's covered in Article I Section 10, and it's a pretty lengthy list, but power to determine who may reside in State does not appear on the list.

Article I Section 10:
No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing  the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws; and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any State on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.

No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.

Typically, the Constitution says exactly what it means. It dates from before "legalese" became fashionable, and it was intended that the common citizen should be able to read and understand the law. Therefore, to me, the fact that the power is not expressly delegated says that it belongs to the States (it wouldn't make any sense at all for it to be a power retained by individuals). The Heritage Foundation has a great essay about naturalization, though it really doesn't distinguish between immigration (moving to the US and setting up residence in a State) and naturalization (becoming a citizen). The Heritage Foundation essay also goes into some very interesting commentary on the difference between citizenship as defined by the US, and as defined by other world powers, though that is beyond the scope of what I'm doing this evening. This passage, however, is more relevant:

Few powers are more fundamental to sovereignty than the control over immigration and the vesting of citizenship in aliens (naturalization). According to the Declaration of Independence, "obstructing the Laws for the Naturalization of Foreigners" was one of the grievances that led the American colonists to break with Britain.

Under the Articles of Confederation, each state retained authority over the naturalization of aliens. This resulted in widely varying state practices, which James Madison in The Federalist No. 42 called a "fault" and "defect" of the Confederation. At the Constitutional Convention, there was virtually no opposition to moving the naturalization power from the states to the new national government, and in the ratification debates only a handful of Anti-Federalists even raised the issue. James Madison seemed to speak the sentiment of most when at the Convention he expressed his wish "to invite foreigners of merit & republican principles among us. America was indebted to emigration for her settlement & prosperity."

I will examine more closely precisely what Madison was calling a "fault" and a "defect" in a moment - but it was more complex than that each sovereign nation in the Union was deciding who to naturalize.

Certainly, Congress has power to decide how citizenship is acquired. (Even if they are badly botching the job right now.) Still, I don't see how the Constitution can be construed to mean that the federal government gets to choose who lives in the various States. To me, that looks like a power that is clearly reserved. I think it wise to always give the smallest amount of power possible to the federal government, as they are so distant and unresponsive to the people, even more so than was anticipated in the beginning of our nation.

Having read the document itself, I also want to look at the explanatory commentary collected  Founders' Constitution to see how this was understood in our nation's beginning. It is possible that the language has shifted enough that the differences I am thinking ought to exist were not considered significant 200 years ago.

First of all, at the time of our Independence, immigration was looked upon as a good and necessary thing. So much so that the obstruction of worthy immigrants' migration to the several States was among the grievances listed in the Declaration.

-He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

The Constitution.net article is flawed in its reasoning:

"There is also an argument that immigration is an implied power of any sovereign nation, and as such, the federal government has the power to regulate immigration because the United States is a sovereign nation."

The problem with this is that there were thirteen nations - the individual States - entering into a Confederacy, a permanent alliance, with each State agreeing to do certain things in a unified manner, but EACH OF THE INDIVIDUAL STATES RETAINED ITS SOVREGENITY. In fact, this misunderstanding of our system of government is, in my opinion, one of the most common there is, and you simply cannot get a correct idea of what our multi-level system of government is supposed to look like if you do not grasp this. One of the charges levied by the Anti-Federalists was that the proposed Constitution would, in essence, create a single nation rather than a confederation of sovereign nations. Alexander Hamilton dealt with this criticism in Federalist #32:

An entire consolidation of the states into one complete national sovereignty, would imply an entire subordination of the parts; and whatever powers might remain in them, would be altogether dependent on the general will. But as the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the state governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, exclusively delegated to the United States.

James Madison addressed the issue of naturalization - though not really that of immigration - in Federalist 42. Rather, it is an explanation of the faults of the Articles of Confederation on the matter, and a brief comment on how this would be improved under the new Constitution:

The dissimilarity in the rules of naturalization, has long been remarked as a fault in our system, and as laying a foundation for intricate and delicate questions. In the 4th article of the confederation, it is declared, "that the free inhabitants of each of these states, paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several states, and the people of each state, shall in every other, enjoy all the privileges of trade and commerce, &c. There is a confusion of language here, which is remarkable. Why the terms free inhabitants, are used in one part of the article; free citizens in another, and people in another; or what was meant by superadding "to all privileges and immunities of free citizens,"  ... "all the privileges of trade and commerce," cannot easily be determined. It seems to be a construction scarcely avoidable, however, that those who come under the denomination of free inhabitants of a state, although not citizen of such state, are entitled, in every other state, to all the privileges of free citizens of the latter; that is, to greater privileges than they may be entitled to in their own states; so that it may be in the power of a particular state, or rather every state, is laid under a necessity, not only to confer the rights of citizenship in other states, upon any whom it may admit to such rights within itself, but upon any whom it may allow to become inhabitants within its jurisdiction. But were an exposition of the term "inhabitants" to be admitted, which would confine the stipulated privileges to citizens alone, the difficulty is diminished only, not removed. The very improper power would still be retained by each state, of naturalizing aliens in every other state. In one state, residence for  short term confers all the rights of citizenship; in another, qualifications of greater importance are required. An alien, therefore, legally incapacitated for certain rights in the later, may, by previous residence only in the former, elude his incapacity; and thus the law of one state be preposterously rendered paramount to the law of another, within the jurisdiction of the other. (emphasis original)

Madison doesn't directly address the question at hand, but he does deal with it indirectly, so with a bit of logic, we can come closer to our own answer.  Being as distinct from each other as France and Spain are, it is only natural that Pennsylvania and New York, for example, should set their own requirements for who may set up residence within their own boundaries. And in 42, Madison doesn't have any argument with this, only with the current system under the Articles, where incoherent wording has inadvertently lead to a situation where the states themselves are forced into conferring citizenship on people who have not been accepted in the State in which they actually reside. It appears that mere residency had become the standard for conferring citizenship, owing to the defect in the Articles, and of course this would be unacceptable. This passage does, however, lay to rest the idea that they were not making a distinction between foreign citizens allowed to be residents and naturalized citizens, as that distinction is at the heart of what Madison is concerned about.

On to the House debates as they were setting up the Rules of Naturalization, as required by the Constitution. It is very interesting to see what they do - and do not - address in their debates. The Founders' Constitution has about 8 pages of text from House debates on the matter from 3-4 February 1790. In that time, they never once address basic immigration issues such as excluding contagions and criminals. They do not talk about any kind of standard for entering the several States at all. I don't think it's at all reasonable to suppose that they would consider those to be unworthy topics, they simply were not the topic at hand. Their conversation was limited very narrowly to Naturalization, and in several places, they debated if even this narrowly focused work might not be going further than the Constitution allowed. One of the ideas under consideration was if the prospective citizens ought to be required to be a land owner prior to their naturalization, but there were some that felt that this went further than the Constitution allowed:

Mr. White doubted whether the Constitution authorized Congress to say on what terms aliens or citizens should hold lands in the respective States; the power vested by the Constitution in Congress, respecting the subject now before the House, extend to nothing more than making a uniform rule of naturalization. After a person has once become a citizen, the power of Congress ceases to operate upon him; the rights and privileges of citizens in the several States belong tot those States; but a citizen of one State is entitled to all the privileges and immunities of the citizens in the several States. Now, if any State in the Union should choose to prohibit its citizens from the privilege of holding real estates, without a residence of a greater number of years than should be thought proper by this House, they could do it, and no authority of the Government, he apprehended, could enforce an obedience to a regulation not warranted by the Constitution.  .. all, therefore, that the House have to do on this subject, is to confine themselves to an uniform rule of naturalization, and not to a general definition of what constitutes the rights of citizenship in the several States.
-House debates on the Rules of Naturalization, 3-4 Feb. 1790. (The Founders' Constitution 2:563)

At that point, there was no outright disagreement with Mr. White's suggestion that they were overstepping their authority, and the debate backed away from making residency and land requirements for a while, though it did come back to the topic later. However, the members of the house were careful about the Constitution, even as they tried to determine exactly what it did and did not allow, as evidenced by this from Mr. Tucker:

He had no doubt the Government had a right to make the admission to citizenship progressive, the Constitution pointed out something of this kind, by the different ages and terms of residence they annexed to the right of holding as seat in this House and in the Senate, and of being chosen President. No inhabitant can become President of the United States, unless he has been an inhabitant fourteen years; which plainly infers that he might have been  a citizen for other purposes, with a shorter residence But it goes still further, it enables Congress to dictate the terms of citizenship to foreigners, and it prevents them from being admitted to the full exercise of the rights of citizenship by the General Government; because it declares that no other than a natural born citizen, or a citizen at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President.

With respect to their interference with the State Governments, he believed it to be improper; and hoped, therefore, that the bill would be confined solely to the objects of the General Government.
-House debates on the Rules of Naturalization, 3-4 Feb. 1790. (The Founders' Constitution 2:564)

In light of what the Constitution itself says, as well as the words of those early Statesmen as they worked to hammer out the details of the Rules of Naturalization, I have come to a couple of conclusions.

1. Immigration and Naturalization are not the same thing.

2. The Constitution delegates authority to Congress to create a "uniform Rule of Naturalization," but no more. They have no legitimate authority on immigration.

3. Whereas the authority of Congress is so very limited, the States are well within their rights to police their borders, and govern immigration at the State level, regardless of what powers the federal government has since granted itself and attempted to legitimize through Supreme Court rulings. In the end, powers not delegated are still reserved until the Constitution is amended by an authentic act of the People.

4. The overreach in this area is powerful, well-entrenched, and will be very difficult to dislodge. However, I believe that it is still possible to return to a true Constitutionally limited government. IF the People wake up an value freedom more than convenience, ease, and the familiar way things have been done.

*The quote from John Taylor is from "The Mormon," 17 Feb. 1855, as quoted in A Glorious Standard, page 20.


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