13 November 2013

Starting Again

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I have taken a break from reading and an even longer break from writing about it. Here is a list of what I have read since Locke:

  1. Rousseau: The Social Contract- this was disturbing
  2. Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ch 15-16- I liked this and will read more
  3. The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, several of The Federalist Papers
  4. Smith: The Wealth of Nations book 1 ch 9
  5. Marx/Engels: Manifesto of the Communist Party
  6. Homer: The Iliad- loved this 
  7. Aeschylus: Agamemnon, Choephoroe, Eumenides- I loved these.
  8. Sophocles: Oedipus the King, Antigone: I liked these so much I finished the trilogy.
  9. Herodotus: The History book 1-3- these were fun
  10. Plato: Meno
  11. Aristotle: Poetics- very interesting
  12. Aristotle: Ethics book 2,3,&6
  13. Nicomachus: Introduction to Arithmetic
This is where I pick up, with writing and everything.

27 January 2012

Concerning Civil Government by John Locke

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Before reading John Locke I was aware that he was influential on our Founding Fathers and those of the French Revolution, but I was struck by how much they borrowed almost word for word from his writings. They are certainly inspiring and helpful in creating a government. It was also useful in understanding how our government was designed and supposed to work.

I found his words on the dissolution of government pretty relevant to my life today. I have witnessed my government officials doing some of the very things that Locke said are justifications for dissolving our government. He said that one person making a stink doesn't matter. It is not until the actions begin to really affect the lives of many people that anything can and will be done. He claims that people will take a lot and be very inconvenienced before doing anything drastic because change is not something that is easy or always wise (we know what we have, but have no idea what we will get). Seeds are being sown for future problems. I just hope people will see it.

I was also impressed by his words about parental power. Parents have power over their children because children have no reason. They are able to be led about where ever we wish until they learn this. It is better for parents to lead them than to take chances on where strangers, no matter how well meaning, will take them. Children are born free but have no right to exercise it, they are made free by their parent's understanding. Parents have a duty to educate and nourish their children which they cannot escape. This is designed to be a perfect arrangement because children are secure even in the face of chastisement and discipline because parents will not give greater discipline that what is absolutely best for them. This is what ultimately obligates them to always honor them even if they are not longer obligated to obey them. I wish this were still true, if it ever was. There are parents that are harsher and more severe than they need to be for many reasons including immaturity, lack of training, mental illness, extreme stress. These are not excuses because nothing excuses ill treatment of children, but it does happen and it has to be acknowledged so that the same behaviors are not repeated in the next generation.

The first part of parental power is the education of the children and it belongs to the father. When he gives their child's education to others he gives over a great part of the child's duty to obedience to him and his mother, but their honor stays. Another great point is that the duty to parents is separate for each one. Each parent has his or her own claim to obedience and honor. The degree will be different based on the relationship established when young.

There was much more to discuss, but I could have read with more attention and with a pen in hand more often.

18 July 2011

Lessons from King Limhi's People

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For just under a month I have been studying the story of the people of King Limhi. I am so thankful that there is such a detailed history of what these people went through. There are many lessons to be learned. Granted, I feel that the history may be a little biased because of the man who wrote most of it, Zeniff, but it is not all sugar coated. A group of people leave Zarahemla during the reign of King Benjamin to reclaim the land of their inheritance, the land of Nephi, now occupied by the Lamanites. This is mentioned in the closing verses of the book of Omni.

Zeniff, although not the leader of this group, he does keep the record. He wrote that he was sent as a spy to see if the Nephite armies could destroy the Lamanites. According to Amaleki (in the book of Omni) they wanted to take back the land of Nephi. The leader of the group wanted to destroy everything, but Zeniff, like King Saul, seeing all that was good did not want it all destroyed. This created a civil war that killed all but fifty of them. They went back to Zarahemla, but Zeniff gathered more people and led them back.

He decides to see what the King is like and ask him if they can move in. The blood-thirsty, yet patient, King Laman just gives them the land. Supposedly to bring them into bondage, but he allows them to dwell there for twelve years before he decides to implement the next step in his plan. He attacks the people of Zeniff, but the Lord is on the side of the Zeniff and they win. King Laman dies and a new king attacks, still the Lord protects and helps them and he loses also.

All went well when they were righteous, but Noah, the son of King Zeniff, takes over. He replaces all of the priests with his friends and they live the high life for a while, living off the taxes of the people. Abinadi comes along to call them to repent, but they kill him. Finally the people are fed up, they try to kill King Noah, but the Lamanites are attacking.

Noah and his priests and other cowardly men flee to the wilderness, where they kill him and try to kill his priests. The people who stayed who no less cowardly. They sent their daughters to soften the hearts of these ferocious, blood-thirsty, angry warriors. Luckily for them it works, but with a high price tag. They have to pay a tribute to the Lamanites of one-half of their substance. Eventually Ammon comes along and they work together to help them escape.

This is a sad, sad story. God gave them opportunities to repent, but they didn't take them until almost too late. The good news is that they did repent and God made the best of their bad situation, Lesson #1 Repent right away.

God sent them a prophet but they did not listen because he had no credentials. Lesson #2 Lack of credentials does not mean that someone is not a prophet and telling the truth. The Spirit will tell us if what we are hearing is true not matter who is speaking.

They humbly and patiently accepted the situation they caused, but hoped and prayed for deliverance. Lesson #3 Be patient, the Lord will relieve our suffering when it no longer benefits us.

In the beginning they chose to live among the Lamanites instead of eliminating their influence. This proved fatal after twelve years of peace. Lesson #4 The World always takes over unless we eliminate it from our lives.

On the surface Abinadi's mission seems to be a failure because only one person believes what he had to say. That one person was enough to bless generations of Nephites and Lamanites after. Lesson #5 Success is measured by God's standard not our own.

I know there are more lessons, but this is enough for me to work on for now. I love the scriptures and how they are tailor made for each of our situations and lives.

05 July 2011

Wisdom

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For several days I studied, pondered, and prayed on what wisdom is. The scripture in Mosiah 8:20-21 seems key to learning what I need.

20 Oh how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with
his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the
children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she
should rule over them!
21 Yea, they are as a wild flock which fleeth from
the shepherd and scattereth, and are driven, and are devoured by the beasts of
the forest.
These scriptures are quite an indictment. I have had to take a look at my blindness and impenetrable understanding. I have found that I try to seek wisdom, but not knowing where to find it or even what it really is, I have been wild and fleeing from the shepherd.

I have determined that there are two types of wisdom. The first is a worldly wisdom. You are judged to be smart by the world or yourself. This type with eventually be confounded by the weak (Alma 32:23, D&C 133:58) and perish (2Nephi27:26). This kind of wisdom is foolish and built upon a sand foundation. Being puffed up with this type of wisdom makes God despise us (2Nephi 9:42).

The other is wisdom with a capital “W”. This one is a little tricky because there are three parts or levels of this wisdom. The first as it applies to us, second as it applies to God, and third the Wisdom God gives to us. The third is more like stepping stones to bridge the gap between the first two types. The Wisdom that applies to us starts in knowing that God knows everything and that compared to Him we know nothing. For us it is also keeping the commandments, service, knowing how to be saved, trusting God to do what He has promised, and taking care of our bodies. This is not a comprehensive list. Understanding our relative ignorance is key to the rest. We won't do those other things to a level that brings salvation with out first knowing that what we think doesn't matter unless is comes from God through the Holy Ghost.

These along with the choice to be baptized, open the gate to wisdom's path. This path ultimately leads to God and knowing what He does. We have to ask, be humble, be wise (see above paragraph), and then treasure the wisdom He imparts in our hearts, only revealing to others what God commands you to.

Ultimate Wisdom is that which God possesses. He knows all and always does what is just, right, good, etc... All he does is for a wise purpose, mostly that we know not.

The great thing about wisdom is that it never matters how much we have as long as we treasure what we do have and use it. Wisdom receives wisdom (D&C 88:40). We learn it line upon line, precept upon precept (D&C 28:30). WE have to be humble to get Wisdom and we have to be wise to be humble. Once we start on the pat it seems that God will keep giving until we choose to leave the path by boasting and depending on our own wisdom.

Asking means seeking after wisdom. We are commanded to seek first by faith (D&C ). If we don't have enough faith we seek it by studying good books. I think that the study is to increase our faith, because all that we study will avail us nothing until we receive it in the Spirit of the Lord, which is wisdom and understanding. Otherwise we begin to depend on our own wisdom and we are off the path. God has promised us in D&C 111:11 ...”be ye as wise as serpents and yet without sin; and I will order al things for your good as fast as ye are able to receive them.” I believe we will become wisest the fastest by concentrating on entering the path and continuing forward; being humble, keeping the commandments, learning how to be saved, and most importantly, trusting God's wisdom to keep us safe. Exactly what learning by faith means is not exactly clear to me yet.

15 June 2011

Thoughts on Education From King Benjamin

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For many years I have been searching and searching for the best way to teach my children. I found many wonderful plans and curriculum, but nothing seemed to fit or feel right. We decided we needed a new goal. Our goal had been to make our children smart and leaders. We changed that to faithful and fruitful. Once we changed focus our minds eased and we have since settled on what and how to teach our children. Our first priority is to teach them who they really are, who their Father is, and how to be saved, anything else is either to help with this or is just icing. I have spent many hours talking to mothers who have been able to do this and they all told me to study the scriptures and teach them to my children, and remember our perspective needs to include more than this life, it needs to include eternity. I have been following their advice for some time now, especially focusing on the Book of Mormon and the words of the modern prophets and apostles..

Last week I began a careful study of King Benjamin's farewell teachings to his people. The account begins with information about his family, specifically his sons, one of which is going to succeed him as king. King Benjamin taught many things to his three sons, but only a few are mentioned specifically. The other things are either too sacred to share or less important that what Mormon actually took the time to engrave the details of. Either way what was have in the Book of Mormon is important for us to know and it is there to guide us in teaching our own children.

Mosiah chapter 1 verse 2says that, “he causes that they (his sons) should be taught in all the language of his fathers.” His specific purpose in this is to make sure that they are men of understanding and know the prophesies delivered by God. I pondered just this part for a two days. What does it mean to be “men of understanding?” What does he mean by “all the language of his fathers?” I don't claim to be a great scriptorian, but I believe that the Holy Ghost can teach me what I need to know. Here is what I have come up with. All the language … is the Egyptian characters that Lehi, Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni wrote on the Gold Plates. In verse four it says that Lehi was taught this language so he could read the record on the Brass Plates and could teach them to his children. Something that I had never noticed before is that the Brass and God Plates were written in the same language.

King Benjamin also taught his sons this record (vs. 3) that is why they know the mysteries of God and do not live in ignorance like the Lamanites. I believe that they were taught this language so they could read the Brass Plate and this is what made them men of understanding. King Benjamin wanted God's words and especially his commandments to be “always before (their) eyes” (vs. 5). Without being able to read and understand God's words this is impossible and worse we would have to rely on other men for our salvation. Brigham Young specifically warned against this
"What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter
destruction! Are
you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so
much
confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire of the Lord whether
they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a blind self-security,
trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless
confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their
salvation,k
and weaken that influence they could give tho their leaders, did
they know for
themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in
the right way. Let
every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit
of God to themselves,
whether their leaders are walking in the path that the
Lord dictates or not.
This has been my exhortation continually.” (JD
9:149-50)

Their father wanted them to know the prophesies and reading for themselves would have been the best way to accomplish this.

Knowing the scriptures is what gives us understanding, acting on the things written in them
makes us wise. It seemed strange at first that he only wanted to make them men of understanding and not wise, but wisdom is earned not given. He could not make them wise. He wanted to give them everything he could by way of knowledge and understanding of the things of God, hoping they would choose to be wise. I share this goal with the king. I teach my children the gospel in the language of our scripture and explain over and over until they understand, then hope they choose the right and earn wisdom.

It also made me pause that he caused these things to be taught to them rather than teaching them himself, but he was busy running a kingdom and keeping peace. I am going to assume he delegated the actual teaching, at least in their younger years, to their mother. This also parallels my experience and goals. It is comforting to see the path I am trying to follow in the scriptures.

11 June 2011

The Doctrine of Christ

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For several years I have been on a quest. I have been looking at how I can more fully bring my life into harmony with God's will. I have spent countless hours reading and praying and asking God to tell me what He wants me to do. About six months ago I decided that I needed to understand the gospel more. I decided to leave off all of my secular learning and focus on studying the gospel. My life has completely changed. I am a new person and like Christ and Alma advised us to do, I have been born again. My focus in life is very different. I no longer wish to be smart, I hope to be righteous and please God. I have developed faith necessary to make things happen in my life. My life is centered on my role as a daughter of God, which includes being a wife, mother, and disciple. Everything I do now has a divine purpose. I can even see a divine purpose in laundry and cooking dinner. This has not been easy, but it has been fun. It has been frustrating, yet fulfilling.

Recently I was reading in Second Nephi and all that I have been thinking about became clear. My thoughts begin in chapter 31:13 which tells us the steps to spiritual enlightenment. The first is follow the Son with full purpose of heart. Step two is to act no hypocrisy and no deception before God. The third step is repent of your sins. Step four is to witness to the Father that you are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by following Him in baptism. Then the reward you receive is the Holy Ghost. This may look like a one time thing, after all how many times is a person baptized? This actually happens constantly in our lives, which is why God gave us the ordinance of the Sacrament so that each week we have the opportunity to show God we are willing to take upon us the name of His Son. Going through this process brings the Holy Ghost to our lives. Another amazing part of the gift is the Holy Ghost gives us the ability to speak with the tongue of angels. Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost and speak the words of Christ (2 Nephi 32:3). This is amazing to me. We can speak the words of Christ only when we know them, although, so in the same verse Nephi tells us to feast upon the words of Christ. This will get them into our inner most parts and allow the Holy Ghost to bring them to our remembrance when it is necessary.

These steps lead us onto a path, through the gate of baptism, which is strait and narrow. Once on the path we leave at our peril, for Christ tells us that if we start and then deny Him it would have been better to not have knows Him (2 Nephi 31: 14). This is startling because to know Him and the Father is eternal life (John 17:3), to not know them seems to be damnation, progression stopped.

Staying on the path leads to eternal life. Verse 18 of the 31st chapter in second Nephi says,

“And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life;
yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments
of the Father and the Son, and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses
of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath
made, that if ye entered in by the way ye would receive.”
This tells us what our goal is, eternal life, and how to get there. First enter the gate, next keep the commandments, then receive, not just once, but more like entertain, the Holy Ghost, all the way unto the end until we receive what he promised. The promise is found in John 14. It is called the Second Comforter. Christ Himself comes to us and makes our calling and election sure because we have proven that we will do all that the Lord asks, not matter what. Then we will have power, like Helaman's son, Nephi and Joseph Smith to have whatever we ask granted (Helaman 10:5-11, TPJS p. 340).

This is a long process and for most it won't happen in this life. The time line doesn't matter, as long as we start of the path and never get off or get back on when we realize we are off. The promise is made and God can't lie, just ask Enos (Enos 1:6). He will follow through. We will have eternal life. Because of Christ's atoning sacrifice , it is done and waiting for us to take advantage of it. If we don't understand all we have to do is ask (2 Nephi 32:4). I did and my understanding is unclouded now.

Nephi declares this to be the doctrine of Christ and writes in ch 32:6, “There will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh.” This is really all we have to worry about for now. This gives us plenty to work on for a lifetime. The verse concludes with a teaser to keep us enduring. “And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.” I am excited to find out what the Lord has planned for me to do. I am looking forward to this personal interview with Him to learn what he wants me, individually, to do. This confirms something I heard a while ago, “Your mission is life to to find your mission in life and then do it.”

02 May 2011

Education in Our Home

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I am ready to participate in another blog hop on Sunday Society. I have been doing all the readings, but have been too caught up on my worldly cares to have time to write. I have repented and am back at writing.

This issue was so timely for me. I am preparing to purchase books that I would like to have to use for our 2011/2012 school year. In the section about education was written
Education essays to elevate the child to an honorable position in society, to assist in making him a competent, intelligent and virtuous citizen, a good patriot.
This is a better worded version of our school motto. This is our goal with our children. We have been working to raise children like those described since our oldest was born. The second sentence in the paragraph made me pause and consider.
If this be the aim, it is palpable that too little stress is often laid upon the moral and religious training of our youth.
My husband and I decided many years ago that nothing matters more than a testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ. If our children don't have this they have nothing and no amount of education can make up for it. We teach reading so they can study the scriptures, we teach math and art to show the beauty of our God. We study to science to show the order of His creation. We teach history to show that God cares about individual lives and the world as a whole. Everything we teach leads us back to God, if it doesn't, we don't teach it. The bulk of our school time is spent on reading the scriptures and talking about them, memorizing words of our prophets, and character building. We add history, science, math, and others when the Spirit directs (which is almost every day), but some days we only focus on those basics. We have taken some flack over the years for our ideas about education, but Joseph Smith said,
"If we seek first the Kingdom of God, all good things will be added."
This is our attempt at seeking to establish the Kingdom of God or Zion in our home. We try to be governed by God and nothing else, not our whims, desires, or passions, but by what God wants us to do. This means that we are not child led in our school and that our children know that sometimes what God wants us to do is not what we want to do. My children are still so very young and trust everything I say. When I say that their father and I prayed about it and this is the answer they are very willing and anxious to do what God wants. The pressure is on us to make sure that we are having them follow Gods plan and not our own. We are seeking to make His will our will. Thankfully He led me to Milestones Academy so most of the work has been done for me. We take her work and make it work for our family. (thank you Kate, the finding of this site is a miracle that still makes me smile whenever I think of it)

The final paragraph in the article is also another better worded version our our family motto.
When you can get a scholar to obey and to study because it is right, and from a conviction of accountability to God, you have gained a victory which is worth more than all the penal statutes in the world, but can never gain such a victory without laying great stress upon religious principles in your daily instruction.
In the end what matters is that my children are happy and have a firm testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and have the discipline and knowledge to follow His direction.

(I really need to update our family photo, we are missing a person)