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31 July 2014

Artist Study

Look at a picture for a couple minutes, then tell all you can about it. That's artist study, in a nutshell. It sounds so easy; such a simple way to do art appreciation. Yet, I am so bad at getting it done. We're trying agin. This time, my strategy is to put a reminder in my phone -with an alarm- to remind me that we should be looking at some art. In addition, we're looking at watercolor artists, since we like to play with watercolors. I think we're going to start with Winslow Homer. He liked to paint the sea. A couple of these are even in Chicago, which is where my sister and her family live, and we're overdue for a visit to see them.

So. Winslow Homer. Here are a few of his paintings that we will be looking at:

Herring Net

Croquet Scene

Northern Point Light

Fog Warning

Sunlight on the Coast

After the Hurricane

Gril with Pitchfork

We'll get started with that. See if we can make this thing happen. If we're really ambitious, maybe we'll make Mondays an art day, and see about watching a watercolor painting movie on YouTube and messing around. Maybe even put a favorite in a Book of Centuries. Could get crazy!

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!

10 July 2014

In the Beginning

"In the extraordinarly extended and inclusive ratification process envisioned by the Preamble, Americans regularly found themselves discussing the Preamble itself. At Philidelphia, the earliest draft of the Preamble had come from the quill of Pennsylvania's James Wilson, and it was Wilson who took the lead in explaining the Preamble's principles in a series of early and influential ratification speeches. Pennsylvania Anti-Federalists complained that the Philadelphia notables had overreached in proposing an entirely new Constitution rather than a mere modification of the existing Articles of Confederation. In response, Wilson - America's leading lawyer and one of only six men to have signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution - stressed the significance of popular ratification. "This Constitution, proposed by [the Philadelphia draftsmen], claims no more than a production of the same nature would claim, flowing from a private pen. It is laid before the citizens of the United States, unfettered by restraint ... By their fiat, it will become of value and authority; without it, it will never receive the character of authenticity and power." ...

"With the word fiat, Wilson gently called to mind the opening lines of Genesis. In the beginning, God said, fiat lux, and -behold!- there was light. So, too, when the American people (Publius's "supreme authority") said, "We do ordain and establish," that very statement would do the deed. "Let there be a Constitution" --and there would be one. As the ultimate sovereign of all had once made man in his own image, so now the temporal sovereign of America, the people themselves, would make a constitution in their own image."

-America's Constitution, by Akhil Reed Amar, page 8-9

07 July 2014

Are We Wise Beneficiaries?

For me, the answer to this question for a very long time was definitely NO. I knew very little about the Constitution. I had no idea if a proposed bill was Constitutionally sound or well in excess of the delegated authority. It really never even occurred to me to ask such questions. And I didn't know how to start learning about it, once I did realize that I needed to. If you find yourself in that position, here are a few places to get started.

1. Read the Constitution, itself. It's a short document. Pay particular attention to Article I Section 8 - that's the list of things that Congress is allowed to make laws about. When you consider supporting a bill, ask yourself: which of these itemized powers does this bill fall under? If you can't figure it out, then the measure probably doesn't belong at the federal level.

2. Read Brother Benson's essay, The Proper Role of Government. As near as I can tell, when he wrote this essay, he was acting as Brother Ezra Benson, private citizen, and not as an apostle. However, he quotes somewhere around 1/3 of the essay in his talk The Constitution -- A Heavenly Banner, which was given just following his call as Prophet of the Church. If you listen to the mp3 version, you will discover that this address, though it was given at BYU, was specifically and explicitly addressed to the entire membership of the Church. While the Role of Government essay is not doctrine, the fact that the prophet, acting in his calling, chose to quote so extensively from it makes me sit up and pay attention to the rest of it.

Those are both relatively short projects to get started with. After that, I recommend reading The 5000 Year Leap, by Cleon Skousen. That will introduce you to the ideas that underlie the Constitution. Skousen did a great job of making some really big ideas very accessible.

04 July 2014

Strict Constitutional Observance

There are two important ideas in this quote.

First, that the Constitution is inspired. This isn't just the opinion of Brother Taylor. It's cannonized scripture, though it's not an often quote couple of verses. When I first began to study liberty, I was quite surprised to find that the Constitution has place in the scriptures, even though I'd been a member all my life, attended Sunday School, completed Seminary, and gone on to Institute where I had learned a ton from a great teacher. But look:

And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.
-Doctrine and Covenants 101:80

The Constitution comes to us from the Lord. It is one of His tender mercies, designed to safeguard our agency. The battle for our agency may have began in the pre-earth life, but it rages still today.

The second important idea is that only strict observance of Constitutional law can keep our nation safe. Before we can strictly observe the law, we must know the Constitution. What it actually says. The reasons why the Founders wrote what they wrote in it. We need to educate ourselves, because most of us didn't learn it in school, and we need to educate our children, because they certainly aren't going to learn much, if anything, about Constitutional limits and principles from schools run by a government that observes no limits to its power. If we want to know, we'll have to search out the information for ourselves. We must want freedom enough to inconvenience ourselves in order to learn how to be free.


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