Defending America

Gingrich

In 1993 Newt Gingrich produced a wonderful video course called Renewing American Civilization. My wife and I had the privilege to serve as local representatives of the course, persuading two local public TV stations to broadcast it (one of them re-broadcast it six times). We felt this was quite an accomplishment, especially in liberal Portland, Oregon. The course is still available from Amazon and well worth reviewing:

https://www.amazon.com/Renewing-American-Civilization-Newt-Gingrich/dp/155927462X

Now Professor Gingrich has created a new online course, Defending America. I have not worked through the course yet, but it promises to be a thoughtful, timely, and useful update on the state of our beloved country, the “culture wars”, and how best to preserve all that is true, good, and beautiful in our civilization. The six lessons are titled “Poisoning The Melting Pot”, “Faith Under Attack”, “Destruction of Opportunity”, “Thought Police Run Amok”, “Defending the 2nd Amendment”, and “Draining the Swamp”. The titles alone say, “This is going to be good!” Find out more here:

https://www.defendingamericacourse.com/p/defending-america

 

Best Wishes!

Education vs. Schooling

 

Years ago I published a quarterly newsletter called The Kithara. An article there pointed out the great damage done by Dewey and others when they changed education (satisfying the need of the individual for knowledge and understanding, thus creating useful and productive members of society who could think for themselves) into schooling (indoctrinating children in the current “progressive” dogma, thus creating obedient citizens who let their leaders think for them). The difference is profound.

30-Classic-Home-Library-Design-Ideas-8

An Ideal Home Library

From time immemorial, education has been the responsibility of the family and basics were taught by parents, including reading as well as principles of successful living, moral uprightness, and work.  This was supplemented with tutors and schools as opportunity and resources permitted. Reading and writing were recognized as necessary for communication and to have access to the scriptures, newspapers, and literature. An educated American in the 18th and 19th centuries was expected to be familiar with The Bible, Plutarch’s Lives, and Shakespeare. This system worked well enough that literacy rates at the time of the American Revolution are estimated at over 90%, and nearly 100% in Boston.

Education was a necessary precursor for the success of the American experiment in self-government. Recognizing this fact and the need to create good citizens, local governments instituted schools to better provide for children of families without the means to hire tutors or private schools; these were the public schools. They also functioned quite well for a long time, eventually becoming nearly universal, taking over many of the educational functions of families, and displacing private teachers. Despite the best efforts of generations of devoted public school teachers to aid and protect their pupils, politicians and ideologues recognized almost from the beginning that public schools with their naïve, captive audiences could be effective tools for indoctrination and social experimentation. In the process they necessarily devoted less and less time and resources to the actual acquiring of basic knowledge and useful skills. Alas!

1924 schoolroom

Elementary School About 1924

Chester Finn, a tireless champion of school reform for many years, recently wrote a fine article about the failure of one of those social experiments that started in the late 1980s and which even now corrupts discourse on the subject. It is well worth looking at:

https://edexcellence.net/articles/schools-are-still-peddling-the-self-esteem-hoax

 

Best Wishes!

 

 

Words, words, words

Language is not only a key instrument of memory (in addition to visual, auditory, muscular, and other forms of memory), it is essential to the characterization and comprehension of the world around us. In a very real sense, we come to understand a subject only when we have learned the vocabulary, the language that describes it. This is true not only with mundane subjects like math, mechanics, or physics, but also complex matters of the heart and spirit. Understanding then leads to application. Right words have great power to help us focus our thinking, our minds, our lives, even our faith. The following recent talk is inspiring and well worth reading:

https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/mckay-christensen_lay-hold-upon-word/

 

Best Wishes.

Remember

One of the key tools the Lord has given us to be able to return to Him is memory. We are encouraged over and over again in the scriptures to remember the blessings of the Lord, the commandments, our covenants, and so forth. One of the most moving such admonitions was given in the Book of Mormon by the prophet Helaman to his sons shortly before his death:

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.    (Helaman 5:12)

Seeing what great importance God places on our ability to remember, it behooves us to take steps to improve and preserve memory whenever we can. That is one of the great functions of pictorial art and photography and even writing itself–preserving memory. Learning to focus, to concentrate on that which we wish to remember is also very important for our individual memory, as indicated in the following research:

https://journal.thriveglobal.com/what-all-that-multi-tasking-is-doing-to-your-brain-and-memory-ed55b0848027

Indeed, as we learned back in medical school, the brain really can do only one thing at a time. Trying to do many things at once requires rapid switching of neural networks, which become fatigued and sometimes confused and result in weakened memory. Better to do one good thing at a time, do it well, and have a clear memory of it. Let’s all make good memories, and remember the things that are important.

 

Best Wishes.

What We’re Doing When We Think We’re Doing Nothing

What We’re Doing When We Think We’re Doing Nothing

Tim Miller has written a very nice, insightful discussion that relates to the overall purpose of life as a time to learn, to grow, to become more than we were before.

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

Or to paraphrase David O. McKay, it is what you are thinking about (and I would add, doing) when nobody is watching that reveals who and what you really are (and determines what you will become).

Going to Austria

A number of years ago, President Thomas S. Monson told the following story of two newly called missionaries:

Young missionaries always have an idea as to where they would love to serve. Usually it’s a faraway place with a strange-sounding name.

One day I was in the men’s suit department of a large store when I encountered two missionaries with their mothers. It isn’t difficult to spot missionaries or their mothers. The two elders were conversing, and one said to the other, “Where are you going on your mission?”

Came the reply, “I’m going to Austria.”

The first missionary responded, “You lucky dog, going to Austria! Those beautiful Austrian Alps, that wonderful music, those delightful people! I wish I were going there.”

“Where are you going?” said the missionary assigned to Austria.

“California,” came the answer. “You know, less than two hours away by plane. We go there every year for a vacation.”

I could see by the expression on the mothers’ faces and the near tears of one of the missionaries that it was time for me to intervene. “Did you say California?” I asked. “Why, I once supervised that area. You have an inspired call, Elder. Do you realize what you will have in California to help you? You’ll have chapels and stake centers that dot the land, and they’ll be filled with Latter-day Saints who can be inspired to be fellow missionaries with you in sharing the gospel. You are a very fortunate missionary to be going there.” I glanced at the other mother, who said, “Brother Monson, say something about Austria, quick!” I did so.

Young men, wherever you are called will be right for you, and you will learn to love your mission.

The rest of his talk can be found here.

Serving a mission in Austria was one of the great, maturing experiences of my life. Details are recounted in my memoir, All Enlisted. I loved Austria, but serving anywhere can and will be inspiring and life-changing, including the everyday service of Christian living. It is a privilege and joy to testify that Jesus is the Christ, that He lives, and that He speaks again in our day.

 

Best Wishes.

The Prince of Peace

The Prince of Peace

In the midst of the modern world’s turmoils there is one dependable source of peace for the world, for nations, for families, and for the soul. It is the Prince of Peace, our beloved Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. With Easter approaching, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has produced a lovely, short, and inspiring video message about the Savior. It is well worth watching:

https://www.mormon.org/?cid=HP_SU_2-4-2017_dPFD_fMORG_xLIDyL1-C_

 

 

Town and Country

Though born in a sizable city, Portland, Oregon, I am grateful to have been raised in the country. Even when we moved back to Portland while I was in Junior High School, it was not Portland per se, but a rural suburb. The sense of connection to the land and love for it that I grew up with have only been reinforced by the intervening years and travels. It is at least partly a sense of reverence and appreciation for God’s creations, but it is also an appreciation for the character that country life fosters. Like most things, this turns out to have political implications as well.

Victor Davis Hanson explored this concept in an essay linked below. It is well worth reading, not just for the political explanation, but also for the historical references:

http://www.city-journal.org:8080/html/trump-and-american-divide-14944.html

Almost Election Eve

This election has become a bitter and desperate battle for survival of the most utterly corrupt figure ever to occupy the national stage and the so-called “elite” politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, media, and academics who support her. That includes a sizeable number of Republicans who care more about their perks and privileges than their duty and honor. You may not have wanted Trump as the leader of the charge against this cabal, but there he is, doing well and speaking right. We will hope for the best. Following is a quote from my book, The Federalist, Excerpts With Commentary, 2nd edition, first Madison, then my commentary:

 

LXXI. THE DURATION IN OFFICE OF THE EXECUTIVE

The tendency of the legislative authority to absorb every other, has been fully displayed and illustrated . . . The representatives of the people, in a popular assembly, seem sometimes to fancy that they are the people themselves, and betray strong symptoms of impatience and disgust at the least sign of opposition from any other quarter; as if the exercise of its rights, by either the executive or judiciary, were a breach of their privilege and an outrage to their dignity. They often appear disposed to exert an imperious control over the other departments . . .

(T)he best security for the fidelity of mankind is to make their interest coincide with their duty.

 

  1. Arrogance, the Imperial Congress, and the Imperial President

Congress has been particularly aggressive in expanding its power relative to the presidency following periods of presidential embarrassment such as after Watergate, during much of the Carter administration, and during the latter portions of the Reagan and first Bush administrations. This took on a partisan character because of long-lasting, one-party rule in the legislature. How then to explain the lack of congressional assertion of power during the remarkably expansive and repeatedly illegal actions of the Obama years? When controlled by the same party, they presumably agreed with him, but when controlled by the opposing party, why are there no concrete actions, special prosecutors, indictments, etc.? Does an unprecedentedly arrogant, Imperial President intimidate them? Or has Congress become so corrupt they simply want to stay at the trough and not “rock the boat”? Do their personal interests coincide with their duty?

 

Reasons For Trump

I grew up on stories of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, Sir Walter Raleigh and Columbus, King Arthur and Sir Galahad. The highest ideal in life for a man is to be a Christian Gentleman, to emulate in our small lives the lives of great ones who have gone before us, most especially the greatest of all, our Lord Jesus Christ. So, when one of my grown daughters asked me after the recent release of that embarrassing 11 year old videotape of Donald Trump whether I still supported him for president, she might have been surprised when I answered, “yes”.

That was not to condone whatever was said on the tape–I have not and will not watch it, but the reports are enough. The fact is that though it has been many years since I was in a locker room, I remember how vulgar and uncouth some of the speech was. I was the quiet, nerdy guy, not one of the jocks who later became businessmen, lawyers, and politicians.

Through the years we have heard many stories and reports of similar embarrassing recordings of vulgar and uncouth language of leaders from FDR to Kennedy to Johnson to Nixon. Usually they are hidden by their friends in the media, unless their carefully timed release can sway an election toward the Democrat. And then, of course, they are all shocked, shocked at such language. Fact is, we are electing a president, not a Pope, and a vulgar and uncouth president may be all that a vulgar and uncouth people can handle.

There are four excellent reasons for voting for Trump:

First, we apply the Bill Buckley principle, “You should vote for the most conservative candidate who can win.” Trump is not a conservative, but he is infinitely better than Clinton, the most corrupt, vile, anti-Constitutional candidate in American political history. No third-party candidate can win.

Next, he has a remarkable talent for hiring good people such as Steven Moore as economic advisor. His lists of Supreme Court candidates, consultants, and supportive admirals and generals is a Whose Who of sensible, experienced, and constitutional thinkers and doers. He hires to his weakness, and is not reluctant to fire when necessary. (Incidentally, any previous Secretary of State would have resigned after the debacle in Libya; any previous President would have demanded it.)

Third, he is a disrupter. Not part of the political establishment and not beholden to the Establishment and their power brokers, he is committed to shaking up what has become an  utterly corrupt federal government which has usurped the powers and rights of the people and the states. His commitment to be the “law and order” candidate is refreshing, especially his most recent vow in last night’s debate to direct his Attorney General to appoint a Special Prosecutor to take action against Clinton for her many crimes. The fear you saw in her and her husband’s eyes when he spoke about it was real.

Finally, he has all the right enemies. Like a majority of my fellow Americans, I have grown to hate the fawning leftist media, the arrogant leftist academics, the violent leftist agitators, the complacent leftist bureaucrats, the rich leftist bankrollers, and the corrupt and haughty politicians of both parties they foist upon us. They call themselves “the Elite.” If they hate him, he has my vote.

 

Best Wishes.