I loved going to a regional conference this weekend (even if my kids were a bit on the beasty side and I hardly heard anything of Pres. Packer's talk). I did, however, hear and love the story highlighting the faithfulness of my great-great Grandfather (I don't know how many greats), Daniel Webster Jones, who was sent by Brigham Young to settle Lehi, AZ.
Saturday night was fabulous and I DID get to hear that one (thanks to Cyn watching the girlies). For the second time this year, I heard Elder Ballard mention blogs in the sense that we could use our blogs for good (for a great talk on this, go here). I was impressed by that comment, but didn't know why.
I am like my mother. I love history and I love collecting articles and putting them in files for re-reading later. The other day I found a file I'd put together on America/patriotism for a Young Women's lesson about 6 years ago. With politics, voting and America on my mind, I settled down to "study" these topics from a gospel perspective. I got so excited and overwhelmed with these amazing stories and talks that I felt like I couldn't just be selfish and keep them to myself and I'm wondering now if this isn't why I felt impressed by Elder Ballard's comments.
So if you have a few minutes, read on and forgive my talk-like attitude and my over-zealous passion at the end and I promise that you will go away loving your country a little more than you did before reading this.
President Benson stated: "For centuries the Lord kept America hidden in the hollow of His hand until the time was right to unveil her for her destiny in the last days. 'It is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations,' said Lehi, "for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance.' (2 Nephi 1:8)."
In 1 Nephi 13:18-19, The Book of Mormon talks about Columbus being inspired to find this land. Columbus himself, in a letter to the Spanish hierarchy, wrote: "Our Lord unlocked my mind, sent me upon the sea, and gave me fire for the deed. Those who heard of my emprise called it foolish, mocked me, and laughed. But who can doubt but that the Holy Ghost inspires me?" (Quoted in Mark E. Peterson, The Great Prologus, Deseret Book Co., 1975, p. 26).
During the voyage, after weeks of sailing with no sign of land, mutiny raised its head. Finally, Columbus promised the captains of the Pinta and the Nina, both of whom wanted to turn back, that if no land was sighted in forty-eight hours, they would turn back. Then he went to his cabin and, in his words, "prayed mightily to the Lord." On October 12, the very next day, they sighted land.
They don't teach this to our kids in school anymore and that makes me sad. How do our children learn patriotism if these stories, just because they acknowledge a God, are taken away?
"Give me liberty or give me death" said Patrick Henry
"I only regret that I have but one life to loose for my country." said Nathan Hale.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." it reads in St. John 15:13
"Freedom is not free. It has to be nourished with each new generation -- worked for, fought for, and sometimes died for" said Karl Prussian.
Do Americans feel this way today? Do we have that deep-rooted love of country? Where did it get lost? I believe it was lost when we stopped remembering that God is our foundation, the cornerstone of our country.
Yesterday I read a few articles and stories that rekindled my patriotism and reminded me of the spiritual beginnings of this great country. And maybe, just maybe, it can make a few more people more thoughtful as they go to vote tomorrow...
(because YOU BETTER VOTE TOMORROW).
I read so many things about the divine guidance received during the Revolutionary War (which 1 Nephi 13 also refers to) and throughout the writing of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Pres. David O. McKay said: "Next to being one in worshiping God there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States."
Pres. George Albert Smith said: "...yet, there are those who go around whispering and talking and saying, "Let us change this thing." I am saying to you that to me the Constitution of the United States of America is just as much from my Heavenly Father as the Ten Commandments. When that is my feeling, I am not going to go very far away from the Constitution." (Gen Conf Apr. 1948, p.182).
I don't know how many people today think of the Constitution as coming from God, but we know it did and we have been told through modern revelation by the Lord himself,
"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." (D&C 101:80)
Our Divine Constitution by President Benson in the October 1987 General Conference is AMAZING and if you have any extra time today, I'd suggest reading the whole thing. It will inspire you and uplift you and make you love America more. It talks about the signers of the Declaration of Independence and their fates, how they appeared to Wilford Woodruff in the St. George temple and demanded their temple work be done, and our responsibilities to see that "freedom is perpetuated so that the Church may more easily flourish in the future."
Have you ever read the Federalist Papers or the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence? Good question (asked by Pres. Benson, not myself). I intend to do so this week because even though I have, it's been a LONG time.
From my Aunt Judy, I read this amazing story from the book "The Light of Liberty." The story is shared by Paul H. Dunn and is an account given by Thomas Jefferson:
"On that day of our nation's birth in the little hall in Philadelphia, debate had raged for hours. The men gathered there were honorable men hard pressed by a kind who had flaunted the very laws they were willing to obey. Even so, to sign a Declaration of Independence was such an irretrievable act that the walls resounded with the words treason, the gallows, the headsman's axe, and the issue remained in doubt.
"Then a man rose and spoke. Jefferson described him as not a young man, but one who had to summon all his energy for an impassioned plea. He cited the grievances that had brought them to this moment, and finally, his voice failing, he said, 'They may turn every tree into a gallows, every home into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can never die. To the mechanic in the workshop, they will speak hope; to the slave in the mines, freedom. Sign the parchment. Sign if the next moment the noose is around your neck, for that parchment will be the text book of freedom, the Bible of the rights of man forever.'
"He fell back exhausted. The fifty-six delegates, swept up by his eloquence, rushed forward and signed a document destined to be as immortal as the work of man can be. When they turned to thank him for his timely oratory, he was not to be found, nor could any be found who knew who he was or how he had come in or gone out through the locked and guarded doors."
That story gives me chills - can anyone doubt that this nation was founded by our loving Heavenly Father with a plan - an eternal plan - in mind? And that nothing was going to stand in the way of that plan moving forward?
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote (in Democracy in America) this famous quote about America: "I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world of commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."
"America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." That line has been written in the side margin of my scriptures for at least 10 years and always reminds me that this is a promised land IF we keep the commandments and stay true to our Heavenly Father. And I can't help but think that somehow, America's greatness is having some problems right now due to our unrighteousness and abuse of that original government that was originally created for America.
Now I wrote a few weeks ago on my 100 list that I am passionate about politics and maybe it's due to my passion for history and especially our nation's spiritual history. In the past weeks, I decided that maybe I was getting too passionate so I reigned myself in a little thinking maybe I was going overboard in my conservatism. In an effort to try to be fair, I even started watching MSNBC a little -- Keith Oberman, Racheal Maddows - yeah, I watched them and all their liberal sarcasm. Okay, anyone in their right mind (liberal or not) HAS TO ADMIT that that network is flat out biased. 100% pro-Obama. 100% against McCain.
So here I am trying not to get all worked up and then yesterday I read this: President Benson's "The Proper Role of Government" (there's also another website with his political background here). Okay, I'm fired up again and this time I don't mind because I'm backed up by a prophet.
By reading Pres. Benson's article, you can see how prophetic it was by how applicable and helpful it is for tomorrow's election. I just kept high-lighting and high-lighting until the whole page was yellow. GO READ IT AND YOU'LL BE AMAZED.
Anyone who is undecided (???I don't know how???) or even decided, should read this article because it's exactly what I've been thinking/feeling this whole election and I finally found it in print and written by an Apostle nonetheless -- doesn't get better than that in my book! So if you're a little dusty on your government history, read this and decide who will be the best president for the next four years.
I'm NOT sitting here telling you that McCain is the best, but I can tell you that deep down inside I think he's a notch better than Obama. I am disappointed he voted for the bailout and wants to nationalize mortgages, but that's better than promising people that they won't have to worry about anything again because we're going to "spread the wealth."
Not a good idea.
Go to another country if you want to do that because that's not what America was founded on and that's not the way America became great! Go read up your history, Mr. Obama!