Thursday, April 26, 2012

Presidential Miracles - Dwight D. Eisenhower

During his freshman year in high school, President Dwight Eisenhower fell and scraped his knee. This was a common enough experience, and his only thought was for his ruined brand-new pants, which he had bought with his own earnings. Since there was no bleeding, he went to school the next day. Infection set in, however, and that evening he fell into a delirium on the sofa in the front room. His parents called in Dr. Conklin, but despite his treatment, the infection began spreading. For the next two weeks, Dwight slipped into and out of a coma. Conklin called two or three times a day; Ida stayed at his bedside; they painted a belt of carbolic acid around his leg; still the poison spread and crept up his leg toward his abdomen. Conklin called in a specialist from Topeka. The two doctors agreed that only amputation would save his life.

During one of his conscious moments, Dwight heard his parents discussing amputation. They distrusted surgery, but the doctors insisted on it. Fourteen-year-old Dwight listened, then said, quietly but firmly, "You are never going to cut that leg off." When his parents told Conklin of his decision, the doctor warned, "If the poisoning ever hits his stomach he will die."

By this time the infection had reached his groin and his periods of consciousness were few and short. He called in Edgar and said, "Look, Ed, they are talking about taking my leg off. I want you to see that they do not do it, because I would rather die than to lose my leg." Edgar understood. He made the promise, and from then on stayed at his brother's bedside to make certain that no amputation took place. Conklin grew angry, began mumbling about "murder," but he could not persuade Edgar, or David and Ida, to allow him to amputate. Edgar even slept at night on the floor across the threshold of the door, so that Conklin could not get into the room while Edgar was sleeping.

At the end of the second week, the poison began to recede, the fever left Dwight's body, consciousness returned. After a two-month convalescence, which caused him to have to repeat his freshman year, Dwight recovered completely. It was miraculous enough, but became much embellished decades later. Sunday School tracts and inspirational literature described the whole family as down on its knees, night and day, praying for recovery.

The Eisenhower boys hated such talk, with its implication that their parents believed in faith healing. They insisted that they prayed no more, and no less, than at other times. "We always prayed," Edgar recalled. "It was just as natural for us to pray, to call upon God for help as it was for us to get up and eat breakfast."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bible-Based Society

"Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God ... What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be."  
John Adams, 2nd U.S. President and Signer of the Declaration of Independence

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Man, A Free Agent

(Marion G. Romney. General Conference, October 1968)

"In this year of decisions, we shall have opportunity to exercise our voting franchise. There seems to be no end to the advice available as to how we should do this. We join with all right-minded men in defense of every man’s right to make his own choice.

"Our political institutions have been structured upon the premise that man is a free agent by divine endowment. Upon this premise the Magna Charta was wrung from King John in 1215. Contending for this principle, the Pilgrim Fathers were harried out of their native land by King James. After taking temporary refuge in Holland, they came to America, where they founded a new state in which they could implement their ideals of freedom. A century and a half later, the colonists wrote the principle of free agency Into the Declaration of Independence. Following the revolution, the Founding Fathers perpetuated it in the Constitution.

"Our national strength has always been in our devotion to freedom. When asked, 'What constitutes the bulwark of our liberty and independence?' Abraham Lincoln replied: 'It is not in our frowning battlements, or bristling seacoasts, our army and navy. . . . Our reliance is in the law of liberty which God has planted in us.'

"We Latter-day Saints know that the right of men to make their own decisions is God-given, for to Moses the Lord said: '. . . I gave unto . . . [men] their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency.' (Moses 7:32.)

"Through an ancient American prophet, the Lord said: '. . . remember, my brethren . . . ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free.' (Hel. 14:30.)

"Latter-day Saints not only believe that freedom to make one’s own choices is an inalienable divine right; they also know that the exercise of it is essential to man’s growth and development. Deprived of it, men would be but puppets in the hands of fate.

"The preservation of free agency is more important than the preservation of life itself. As a matter of fact, without it, there would be no existence.

“'All truth [says the Lord] is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.

“'Behold, here is the agency of man. . . .'” (D&C 93:30–31.)

"The foregoing are but samples of the scriptures which set forth the principle of free agency accepted and implemented by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Neither the Church, its officers, nor any of its responsible representatives ever seek to abridge one’s freedom to make his own decisions-be it in the voting booth or elsewhere. Representations to the contrary are either ignorantly or maliciously made. Usually such representations are calculated to influence people in the exercise of their agency-the very objective they impute to and so condemn in others. Only Satan and wicked men seek to abridge men’s agency. The Lord never does. Neither do his servants. The divine gift of free agency, however, is not a self-perpetuating endowment.

"Men themselves can, and most of them do, abridge their own agency by the decisions they themselves voluntarily make.

"Every choice one makes either expands or contracts the area in which he can make and implement future decisions. When one makes a choice, he irrevocably binds himself to accept the consequences of that choice.

"Jesus, in his Prodigal Son parable, gives a classic illustration of this truth. You will remember that in it a young man, exercising his inherent right of choice, makes a decision to take his portion of his father’s estate and go and see the world. This he does, whereupon nature follows its uniform course. When the prodigal’s substance is squandered, he makes another choice, which takes him back home where he meets 'the ring, and the robe, and the fatted calf.' His felicitous father gives him a welcome. But the consequence of his earlier decision 'is following him up, for the farm is gone. The `father’ himself cannot undo the effect of the foregone choice.' (Collins, Such Is Life, pp. 85-88.)

"From the very beginning God has, through his prophets, made it clear that expanded freedom follows wise choices, and that freedom is restricted by unwise decisions.

“'Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse,” said Moses to the children of Israel. “A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, . . . And a curse, if ye will not obey [them]. . . .'” (Deut. 11:26–28.)

"There is a great lesson on this point, as it affected a whole nation, in Israel’s rejecting judges, which were recommended by the Lord, and choosing to be ruled by kings. Near the end of his administration, as judge of Israel, the people said to Samuel:

“'Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.'” (1 Sam. 8:5.)

"Samuel, being grieved by this desire of the people, sought the Lord and was directed by the Lord to say to Israel:

“'This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.

“'And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

“'And he will take your daughters to be confectioneries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

“'And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

“'And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

“'And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

“'He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

“'And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.'”

"This message Samuel delivered.

“'Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

“'That we also may be like all the nations. . . .'” (1 Sam. 8:11–20.)

“'And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people . . . for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.'” (1 Sam. 8:7.)

"The Lord here followed his uniform course. He refused to interfere with Israel’s right of choice, even though their choice was to reject him. Israel, having been warned by both their God and his prophet Samuel, exercised their agency, contrary to the advice of both. They got their king, and they suffered the consequences. In due time their kingdom was divided, they were taken captive, and ultimately they became slaves.

"Realizing that liberty depends upon the decisions we make ought to inspire in us a desire to make such choices as will preserve and expand our freedom, and I believe it does so inspire us. What people lack and desperately need today-as they have always needed-is a sure guide for making right decisions.

"Let us be ever conscious of the fact that our characters are fashioned by the decisions we make. Free agency does not guarantee freedom and liberty. Freedom and liberty and peace are the products of right decisions made in the exercise of free agency.

"By the making of proper decisions, Jesus Christ became the Son of God and our Redeemer. By making wrong decisions, Lucifer, “son of the morning,” became Satan.

"Inherently, they were both endowed with free agency.

"On election day, we shall have opportunity to test our commitment to these principles of the gospel. Let no man fault his God or his state by failing to vote.

"If on that day, in the privacy of the voting booth, we so exercise our franchise as to satisfy ourselves and please our God, we shall have made a decision calculated to preserve our free agency and expand the area in which we can exercise it in the future.

"And finally, when the issues are determined, whether we stand with the winners or the losers, of this we may be sure: To make the proper choice on any issue is of far more importance to us personally than is the immediate outcome of the issue upon which we make a decision. The choices we make will affect the scope of our agency in the future. As of now, we have the right of decision. What we will have tomorrow depends upon how we decide today. In conclusion, I put to you the question and the admonition given by Elijah to Israel:

“How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21.)

"God grant us discernment and the courage to make right decisions

Friday, March 9, 2012

Will We Be True?

"Each day the forces of evil and the forces of good enlist new recruits. Each day we personally make many decisions showing the cause we support. The final outcome is certain---the forces of righteousness will win. But what remains to be seen is where each of us personally, now and in the future, will stand in this battle---and how tall we will stand. Will we be true to our last days and fulfill our foreordained missions?" (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, September 1988, p. 2).

Monday, February 27, 2012

Not Yours to Give

In the early 1800's Congress was considering a bill to appropriate tax dollars for the widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in support of this bill. It seemed that everyone in the House favored it. The Speaker of the House was just about to put the question to a vote, when Davy Crockett, famous frontiersman and then Congressman from Tennessee, rose to his feet.

“Mr. Speaker, I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased and as much sympathy for the suffering of the living as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity, but as members of Congress we have no right to so appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Sir, this is no debt. We cannot without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. I cannot vote for this bill, but
I will give one week's pay, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount
to more than the bill asks.”

There was silence on the floor of the House as Crockett took his seat. When the bill was put to a vote, instead of passing unanimously as had been expected, it received only a few votes. The next day a friend approached Crockett and asked why he spoken against a bill for such a worthy cause. In reply, Crockett related the following story: Just a few years before, he had voted to spend $20,000.00 of public money to help the victims of a terrible fire in Georgetown. When the
legislative session was over, Crockett made a trip back home to do some campaigning for his re-election. In his travels he encountered one of his constituents, a man by the name of Horatio Bunce. Mr. Bunce bluntly informed Crockett, “I voted for you the last time. I shall not vote
for you again.”

Crockett, feeling he had served his constituents well, was stunned. He inquired as to what he
had done to so offend Mr. Bunce. Bunce replied, “You gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in the honesty and firmness to be guided by it. The Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions.”

“I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings of Congress. My papers say that last winter you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000.00 to some sufferers by a fire. Well, Colonel, where do you find in the Constitution any authority to give away public money in charity? No Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose.”

“The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution. You have violated the Constitution in what I consider to be a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the People.”

“I could not answer him,” said Crockett. “I was so fully convinced that he was right.” I said to him, “Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head when you said I had not sense enough to understand the Constitution. If you will forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another unconstitutional law, I wish I may be shot.”

After finishing the story, Crockett said, “Now sir, you know why I made that speech yesterday.
There is one thing now to which I will call your attention. You remember that I proposed to give a weeks pay? There are in that House many very wealthy men, men who think nothing of spending a weeks pay, or a dozen of them, for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Some of these same men made beautiful speeches upon the debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased, yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it.”

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Our Government Rests Upon Religion

“Our government rests upon religion. It is from that source that we derive our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberality and for the rights of mankind. Unless the people believe in these principles they cannot believe in our government. There are only two main theories of government in the world. One rests on righteousness and the other on force. One appeals to reason, the other appeals to the sword. One is exemplified in a republic, the other is represented by a despotism.

"The government of a country never gets ahead of the religion of a country. There is no way by which we can substitute the authority of law for the virtue of men. Of course we can help to restrain the vicious and furnish a fair degree of security and protection by legislation and police control, but the real reform which society in these days is seeking will come as a result of religious convictions, or they will not come at all. Peace, justice, charity- these cannot be legislated into being. They are the result of Divine Grace.”
(President Calvin Coolidge, 30 president of the United States)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Blast From the Past

"We should pay no attention to the recommendations of men who call the Constitution an eighteenth-century agrarian document—who apologize for capitalism and free enterprise. We should refuse to follow their siren song of concentrating, increasingly, the powers of government in the Chief Executive, of delegating American sovereign authority to non-American institutions in the United Nations, and pretending that it will bring peace to the world by turning our armed forces over to a U.N. world-wide police force."
(Ezra Taft Benson, Title of Liberty pg. 176; from an address given at Los Angeles, CA, 11 Dec 1961)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Warnings from J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

"Is there any one so naive as to think that things will right themselves without a fight? There has been no more fight in us than there is a bunch of sheep, and we have been much like sheep. Freedom was never brought to people on a silver platter, nor maintained with whisk brooms and lavender sprays. And do not think that the usurpations, intimidations, and impositions are being done to us through inadvertence or mistake; The whole course is deliberately planned and carried out; its purpose is to destroy the Constitution and our constitutional government; then to bring chaos, out of which the new Statism with its slavery is to arise..." [Church News PPNS pg. 327]

"This gigantic worldwide struggle more and more takes on the form of war to the death. We shall do well and wisely so to face and so to enter it. And we must all take part. Indeed, we all are taking part in that struggle, whether we will or not. Upon its final issue, liberty lives or dies.
"This earth-wide conflict has taken the form of seizing without compensation from the man who has, and giving to the man who has not; of taking from the worker the fruits of his work, and giving to the idler who does not work. It has from its very nature become an economic, uncompensated leveling downward, not upwards of the whole mass. That this result may in one country be reached by confiscatory taxation, and in another by direct seizure, is a mere matter of method. The results is the same. In some countries outright seizure and confiscation are already openly and shamelessly practiced. All is done in the name of the state, as if it were deity, as if the state, not God gives all. Even into the field of family relationship, which, next to man's relationship to God, is the most precious and dearest of all relationships, this modern State is thrusting its polluting hand. In some lands this new State is robbing the parents of custody of their children, it is forbidding the parents to teach and admonish the children in the ways of righteous living; it is teaching the children that officers of State, not God, shall be looked to for a guide as to standards of life! Into the field of religion, the holy of holies of the soul of man, this modern world State also enters, to dethrone God and exalt the State into God's place. This is the archest reason of them all! For man robbed of God becomes a brute. This sin must be felt, not told, for words cannot measure the height and breadth of this iniquity; nor can human mind encompass the punishment of those who shall commit this sin."
[1938 Vital Speeches]

"God provided that in this land of liberty, our political allegiance shall run not to individuals, that is, to government officials, no matter how great or how small they shall be. Under His plan the only allegiance we owe as citizens of the United States, runs to our inspired Constitution which God himself set up.�This principle of allegiance to the Constitution is basic to our freedom.
"I wish to say with all the earnestness I possess that when you see any curtailment of these liberties I have named, when you see government invading any of these realms of freedom which we have under our Constitution, you will know that they are putting shackles on your liberty, and that tyranny is creeping upon you, no matter who curtails these liberties or who invades these realms, and no matter what the reason and excuse therefore may be.
"I say to you that the price of liberty is and always has been blood, human blood, and if our liberties are lost, we shall never regain them except at the price of blood. They must not be lost.�
[The Improvement Era, 43, [July 1940] 444.]

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Individual Agency

"With regard to the rights of the human family, I wish to say that God has given unto all of his children . . . individual agency. This agency has always been the heritage of man under the rule and government of God. He possessed it in the heaven of heavens before the world was, and the Lord maintained and defended it there against the aggression of Lucifer and those that took sides with him, to the overthrow of Lucifer and on-third part of the heavenly hosts. By virtue of this agency you and I and all mankind are made responsible beings, responsible for the course we pursue, the lives we live, the deeds we do in the body" (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 8-9).