Sunday, April 29, 2012

Remember the Sabbath Day...

Every once in a while I will have an epiphany of some sort, and put it down on paper (you know, on my iPhone...). This was one of those moments. As I was listening to an old Hugh Nibley lecture at work, the Spirit was present, and I suddenly realized how truly important the Sabbath is, and why. Needless to say, this is something I will pay more attention to from here on out!




When the Lord commanded His ancient covenant people to perform animal sacrifices, it was to keep their lives and their minds focused on the Messiah who was to come, continually looking forward to a specific event. They were given specific directions as to how to perform these sacrifices because of their importance, and because they represented an actual event that was forthcoming.

A careful study of the scriptures will reveal that God works in patterns. When He said "I am the same yesterday, today, and forever", this is what He meant. Not that he would always do the same things over and over again, but that what things He did do would always be done in the same manner. "[The Lord's] house is a house of order".

Another pattern of symbolic action is Elisha's commandment for the leprous Naaman to be healed by immersing himself completely seven times in the Jordan River, the exact same river where Jesus himself was later baptized, even the Savior who would later "take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people." (Alma 7:11; see also 3 Nephi 9:13)

In our day, we take the sacrament each week to remember the Savior and renew our covenants with God. This is a symbolic action to help keep our minds focused on the Atonement.

So, let us then examine the commandment to keep the Sabbath Day holy to find out if we can discover the true meaning and purpose of this practice.

Naaman's experience was a one-time event, just like baptism. Keeping the Sabbath, however, is a repetitious event, just like the sacrament. Repetition, we are told, is a tool God uses to keep us from forgetting. So, we know that whatever the Sabbath represents, we are meant never to forget it.

Sacrifices, baptism, and the sacrament are all things that must be done, with specific actions that must be performed. Keeping the Sabbath, on the other hand, is a period of time rather than an action, and it is defined more by what we are NOT to do, than what we must do.

What are we not to do on the Sabbath? Work. We also do not cause others to work on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is to be a day of rest. So, we must remember, and never forget, some period of time within which we cannot work.

Is there anything we must do on the Sabbath, besides rest? Worship the Lord. This is mandatory. In D&C section 59, the Lord commands us to "offer up [our] oblations and [our] sacraments unto the Most High" on "[His] holy day". We have also been instructed by modern leaders about other things that are acceptable Sabbath activities: spending time with family, visiting relatives or the sick, fulfilling church callings, and doing family history work, are a few examples. In other words, enjoying our family units, and serving the Lord.

Another clue lies in who the keeping of the Sabbath applies to. According to Deut. 5:14, it is required of not only those who have made covenants with the Lord, but also all the servants and even strangers. In other words, the Sabbath is for everyone.

How often are we to observe the Sabbath? Every seven days, the scripture says. A day is a period of time. Do we have reference to any other seven periods of time in the scriptures? In fact, we do. In the beginning, of course, we know that God made all things in six days, and then rested on the seventh. Here is the origin of our Sabbath pattern: no work is to be performed during the seventh period of time.

There is scriptural reference to another seven periods of time, which might help us in our journey to understand the Sabbath. It is found in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 77. In this section, the Lord is explaining to Joseph Smith some of the symbolism used in the book of Revelation. There is a book with seven seals, which, the Lord explains, is a symbol of the earth and its seven thousand years of temporal existence, each seal representing a period of one thousand years. Seven thousand years, seven periods of time. Could this perhaps be the final clue we need to discover the identity of our mysterious Sabbath symbol?

What do we know so far? Every seven periods of time, everyone must remember, and never forget, some future seventh period of time within which we cannot perform works of labor, but instead will spend our time with our families, resting from our labors, and serving the Lord.

Can the Sabbath be anything but a constant reminder of the Millenium, and the impending finality of our own mortality?

Earlier I mentioned the commandment not to work on the Sabbath. How serious is this injunction? In Old Testament times it was important enough to the Lord that He declared: "Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people." In our own day, we don't have to worry about suffering physical death for disobeying God; rather, we face the much more serious consequence of experiencing the second death - separation from God and our family units forever.

"For behold," says Alma, "this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. And now... I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity..." Remember that a day is merely a time period. The fact that we are given six days between Sabbaths should remind us of how merciful the Lord is; He wants us to have as much time as possible to repent. Then, Alma continues: "...behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed."

"And the Lord spake unto Moses," in Exodus 31, "saying... Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you."

When we keep the Sabbath day holy, we show the Lord that we recognize that this life is the time period we have been given to show our obedience to Him. We recognize the importance of our daily decisions, and of not procrastinating.

As Alma said, "behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed." Alma 42:4 says "And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God." The Sabbath is a constant reminder that our life is a probationary period. If we do not use our probationary period to repent, we will suffer the second death because the Lord has said so, and He cannot lie.

The degree to which we seek to obey and honor the Sabbath is, I believe, a direct reflection of how seriously we take the Lord at His word.



Citations:

Exodus 23:13, 31:12-17
2 Kings 5:10
D&C 59:9-10, 12
D&C 77:6-7, 10, 12
D&C 132:18
3 Nephi 9:13
Deut. 5:12-14
Alma 34:32-38

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Legislative Process - Vaccine Hearing

We just returned from attending a hearing of the CA Assembly Health Committee on Assembly Bill 2109. This bill proposes a new law making it mandatory to get authorization from a licensed medical doctor (or, as amended, a naturopath "under the supervision of an M.D.") if you wish to opt out of the already "voluntary" vaccination requirements of schools, etc., and only after the doctor verifies that you have received sufficient education about vaccines.

What seemed like hundreds of doctors and others in the medical industry were somehow able to leave their practices, or educational facilities, to be present and give testimony in favor of this bill. This was a mystery to me, until someone passed around a note during the hearing, claiming that the AAP (American Association of Physicians, I think) had held a lobbying class or expo in Sacramento, just so their constituents could be present at the hearing. This was obviously nothing more that anti-vaccine propaganda. It was actually the California Medical Association that held their "Legislative Lobby Day" today for precisely those reasons. Seriously, people. Get your facts straight.

This, of course, is of no importance whatsoever.

Except that Assemblyman Pan, the sponsor of AB2109, has received more money in campaign contributions from Health Professionals, including the California Medical Association, than from any other source. So, the people who stand to benefit most from the passage of this bill - those who will be paid to administer the vaccines to your children - have contributed the greatest amounts of money to the sponsor of this bill, and showed up in large numbers to support it. Interesting.

Mysteriously, this conflict of interest was never mentioned during the hearing.

The other conflict that was never mentioned was that this bill puts citizens at the mercy of doctors to "approve" their choice to not vaccinate. We heard testimony from every one of the aforementioned "medical professionals," i.e., lobbyists, that they would love to sign waivers for any parent who declines vaccines. What we didn't hear is how much money these doctors stand to put into their own pockets in direct proportion to the number of vaccines they administer. A choice which, I'm sure, would have absolutely no bearing on their decisions.

The opposition to this bill, including ourselves, were represented in greater number than the supporters, although there were many supporters. The majority of the opposition were chiropractors (specifically excluded from the language of the bill), parents of vaccine-injured children, vaccine-injured adults, medical doctors, and parents.

Although many stories of vaccine injury were shared, this issue was, again, mysteriously never addressed during the hearing.


Dr. Pan, the bill's sponsor, assured everyone time and again that there were approximately 150,000 doctors who would be authorized to sign these waivers. One of the other Assemblymen pointed out that this is an awful low number of contact points for a state of approximately 38 million people. The opposition also pointed out that studies have been done which show that 30-39% of doctors polled will not sign vaccination waivers. That drops it to... what, around 100,000? So, have fun driving around the state looking for a doctor to sign your "permission slip." And when you do find one, you will most likely still be stuck footing the bill for your visit whether or not you get the vaccine. The bill's supporters claimed that this can all be taken care of during regular visits; however, if school is approaching and vaccines are mandatory, there will be a surge of parents who will have to schedule appointments just for this purpose. Who benefits from that, I wonder? Last I heard, extremely lengthy hospital visits were on the increase in this country.

The opposition contended strongly that this bill was un-Constitutional, as it mandates vaccines, unless authorized by an agent of the government. The bill's supporters claimed that it merely ensured that parents would receive "unbiased" vaccine education before being then free to choose for themselves. In fact, as pointed out by another of the Assemblymen, educational materials are already available, and there is no evidence that parents are making the decision not to vaccinate based on lack of education. They also stated that this bill is redundant to current practice, which is that parents are already inundated with vaccine information and coercion when they go in for regular visits! Where is the need to put a government mandate behind something that is already being done? All the parents present who were in opposition testified that this was true; I know it is true from my own experience; and everyone I know that has mentioned the issue has said the same thing: doctors are already quite forceful in pushing vaccinations on parents.

Although the opposition tried to say people were getting their education from bad sources on the internet, much of the information shared by the opposition's representation came directly from the CDC's website. The information I personally submitted to the Assembly also contained information from the CDC.

In what world do doctors give unbiased information about a medical procedure that they will profit from? In the world I live in, parents get thrown out of doctor's offices all the time for refusing vaccines, and employees are fired for holding anti-vaccine viewpoints. Many of these people testified at today's hearing.

In what world are you "free" to opt out of vaccinations, when doing so will cause your child to be deemed unfit to return to public school*? The bill's sponsors claimed that there is a need to increase public education about vaccines because an increased number of people refusing vaccines leads to a public health risk, including, in their own words, their own vaccinated children. I fail to see the logic in such an argument. If vaccines are a shield against diseases, and I choose not to put this armor on my child... how does this put your armored children at risk?

Another issue that remained unaddressed today was the fact, brought up by objectors to the bill, that many people get sick, and even die, from taking vaccines! This is backed up by scientific evidence, which the opposition provided to the Assembly. Which leads us directly into the fact that, in the event that you or your children are in fact harmed by a vaccine, there is no recourse!

In the end, the bill passed the Assembly, and will now proceed to the Senate, where it will be "considered" on our behalf by the Socialists in the CA Senate. Good luck with that.



* I strongly advocate for homeschooling. However, for the millions who still put their children in government education centers, this is a valid concern.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Why You Should NOT Oppose Obama in the 2012 Elections

Not oppose Obama? What on earth could he be thinking? Well, by golly, let me tell you: Everyone keeps telling me they have to vote for Romney because he is "the lesser of two evils." And that's just stupid on a bunch of different levels.

Let me explain.

To begin with, voting against Obama - voting for someone merely to keep Obama from winning -  is putting yourself on the defensive, instead of taking an offensive (i.e., proactive) stance. When your opponent puts you on the defensive, they have won the argument. Why? Because you can't gain ground from a defensive position.

Voting for Romney just to oppose Obama, instead of supporting a good candidate, is like Martin van Buren telling Joseph Smith, who was appealing for relief from the persecution of the Saints, “Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you. … If I take up for you I shall lose the vote of Missouri.” (Source) Instead of focusing on what was right, he had to make sure no one else got that Missouri vote. He placed political expediency before the rights of his fellow men. Instead of supporting what was right and just, he sought personal interests.

We must be sure that our actions are always in the positive. Remember Pres. Hinckley's counsel to "stand for something." (Source) Notice he didn't advise us to stand against, or in opposition to, something. Because that gets you nowhere. Merely keeping our enemies from advancing does not advance our own cause. True, we must oppose evil, but it is what we stand for that gets us somewhere.


Secondly, how will a good man ever win the Presidency if we continually insist that we must only make a choice from two bad ones? This is a popular false premise, frequently repeated in the media. The best advice I have heard on this issue is:

"Good, wise, and honest people do not vote for the best bad choice."
-- Jim Noorlander (Source)

Instead, we should find someone we support, and put our efforts behind them! It is amazing what good people can accomplish when other good people get behind them! Keep in mind that we do NOT have a "two-party system." This is a lie to reinforce the false set of choices. There are other parties and other candidates. Find one you actually agree with. Better yet, find a set of principles you believe in, and support others who agree with your principles. Better than that, read the Constitution, and find someone who support its principles.


Third, don't worry about how other people are voting. Just stand for what's right. As with the prophet Elisha, you will always be correct, even if there are only two of you. (2 Kgs. 6:16)

"I will always maintain a true principle, even if I stand alone in it.”
-- Joseph Smith (Source)


Fourth, ask yourself: Who selects the two people they insist you must choose from? "But it comes from polling data," you say. Can polls be manipulated? If I take the poll, and I count the results, and I declare the winner... should there be any cause for concern here? I'll let you figure that out on your own. Of course, you could always read this:

 It is the job of the polling companies to mold and shape public opinion... Much of what we read in the newspapers or see on television has first been cleared by the polling companies... This is called "public opinion making."
...
One of the most respected of all pollsters is... Daniel Yankelovich, of the company, Yankelovich, Skelly, and White. Yankelovich is proud of telling his students that polling is a tool to change public opinion.
-- Conspirators' Heirarchy: The Story of the Committee of 300, by Dr. John Coleman, as quoted in Hiding in Plain Sight, by Ken Bowers, emphasis in original.
The next time you hear someone insist that you must choose between two political candidates, ask them for facts to back up their assertion. They probably will have opinions, but very little facts. The truth is, if our votes count for anything, then it is truly anyone's game until all the votes get counted! So why not vote for someone you believe in?


Listen, don't be manipulated. Remember:

  1. Stand for something! Not against.
  2. Be principled! Take the Constitution as your guide.
  3. Don't be afraid to stand for what's right! God is on your side!
  4. Ignore the polls and other attempts to secretly manipulate you. Think for yourself.

Disclaimer: I do not in any way, shape, or form, endorse Obama for President. Go wash your mouth out with soap.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why Mormons Should NOT Vote for Romney

I know what you're thinking: "Mitt Romney is a member of the Church, and a priesthood holder. He was a stake president, for crying out loud! How could we not give him our support?!?"

To begin with, I have a hard time supporting a person merely based on their religious affiliation. In my mind, that is just as stupid as voting against someone for the same reason. Neither are based on facts. So, here are just a few things I think members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should take into consideration when pondering which political candidate to support this year in the bid for President of the United States.

We will take the prophets as our guide as we do so.

1) Being Mormon does not mean you can be trusted.

As sad as that statement is, we must remember that both Harry Reid and Mitt Romney are Mormons. Give that some thought. Most people support one or the other (some of us neither, but that's a different lesson), yet both are LDS. I can give other examples, but you get the point. Pres. J. Reuben Clark put it this way:

The ravening wolves are amongst us, from our own membership, and they, more than any others, are clothed in sheep’s clothing because they wear the habiliments of the priesthood…we should be careful of them.
-- Church News June 15th, 1940 (as quoted on Latter-day Conservative; see #4 on that page)

2) Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper.

Yes, you've heard this one already. So much, in fact, that you can't believe I even mentioned it, right? I agree, but let's give this issue a little more thought than it usually gets. I can support the right of any imperfect human (that's all of us) to change their minds as they learn and grow. That's what the Gospel is all about. It's the number and frequency of changes that concerns me with Romney, and the motives behind them. Some just seem a little too politically convenient in their timing.

The other reason this bothers me, and should bother you, is that several of the issues Romney has flip-flopped on should have been non-issues from the get-go for Latter-Day Saints! Abortion? Taking away the agency of citizens with a Socialist-style mandated healthcare law? The Church has an official stance against abortion, and, even though Mitt's healthcare was legal, it definitely goes against the most fundamental belief in Mormonism - that of free agency. It was Satan's plan to force people to do what he thought was best for them, remember? God allowed us to decide for ourselves, good or bad, and suffer the possible consequences.

According to the laws and aconstitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the brights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral aagency which I have given unto him, that every man may be baccountable for his own sins in the day of cjudgment.
If you have to continually change your mind on issues, maybe you haven't given them enough thought to begin with. In contrast, some candidates have stood firm on the same issues for decades.

“Are there not, in reality, underlying, universal principles with reference to which all issues must be resolved whether the society be simple or complex in its mechanical organization? It seems to me we could relieve ourselves of most of the bewilderment which so unsettles and distracts us by subjecting each situation to the simple test of right and wrong. Right and wrong as moral principles do not change. They are applicable and reliable determinants whether the situations with which we deal are simple or complicated. There is always a right and wrong to every question which requires our solution.” (Albert E. Bowen, Prophets, Principles and National Survival, P. 21-22)
-- As quoted by Pres. Benson in his talk, The Proper Role of Government.

3) Mitt Romney is NOT going to save the Constitution.

We Mormons have a long-standing tradition of prophecy concerning the United States and its Constitution. We love to quote the bit about the Constitution "hanging by a thread" and the elders of the Church being instrumental in saving it. Recently, I have heard some suggest that perhaps Mitt Romney will be the fulfillment of that prophecy. Pres. Benson says this will not be the case:

I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith. But it will not be saved in Washington. It will be saved by the citizens of this nation who love and cherish freedom. It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church — men and women who will subscribe to and abide the principles of the Constitution.
-- Source (see #4 on that page).
In other words, the Constitution will be saved when the lay members - you and I -  learn about the Constitution and abide by its principles, including "diligently" supporting candidates who also know and support the Constitution:

Men who are wise, good, and honest, who will uphold the Constitution of the United States in the tradition of the Founding Fathers, must be sought for diligently. This is our hope to restore government to its rightful role.
-- A Witness and a Warning (as posted on Latter-day Conservative)
Do you know what "the Constitution... in the tradition of the Founding Fathers" means? To begin with, it means that we interpret the Constitution as the Founders did. None of this newfangled mumbo-jumbo about a "living document," etc. God inspired it as it was written, and inspired the men who wrote it. He even gave it His blessing in the Doctrine and Covenants, and commanded us to support and maintain it.

And for this purpose have I established the aConstitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.
-- D&C 101: 80
Have mercy, O Lord, upon all the anations of the earth; have mercy upon the rulers of our land; may those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the bConstitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever.
-- D&C 109: 54

4) Mitt Romney does NOT know and/or support the Constitution.


Pres. Ezra Taft Benson gave us his wise counsel when he said:

[T]he most important single function of government is to secure the rights and freedoms of individual citizens.
-- The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner


What does this mean? Should our government be given the freedom to kill American citizens who are merely suspected of collusion with our country's enemies? Mitt Romney thinks so:


Does it mean giving the government the ability to track us, put us under surveillance, and otherwise give up our civil liberties in the name of "security?" Mitt Romney thinks so:



Perhaps the Lord put it best (of course He did, He's the Lord!) when He said:
And that alaw of the land which is bconstitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the aconstitutional law of the land;



5) Mitt Romney, Foreign Policy, and Jesus

Not long ago, Mitt Romney was asked about the war in Afghanistan.

“These people have declared war on us. They've killed Americans. We go anywhere they are and we kill them,” he said. “The right thing for Osama bin Laden was the bullet in the -- in the head that he received.”
-- L.A. Times Article,  January 16, 2012.

A week ago, a member of the First Presidency said:

Let us, as disciples of Jesus Christ, return good for evil.15 Let us not seek revenge or allow our wrath to overcome us.
“For it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink. …
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”16
Remember: in the end, it is the merciful who obtain mercy.17
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wherever we may be, let us be known as a people who “have love one to another.” 
-- The Merciful Obtain Mercy, Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2012 General Conference.


Now, let me ask: Are these two views compatible?



(NOTE: You can read more about Mitt Romney's foreign policy stances here at LDS Liberty.)


6) "But he's not Obama!"

Well, that depends on how you look at things. If we exclude his race and religion, and consider that he has supported many of the most destructive laws that Obama has passed, then we aren't really that much better off, are we? Both major political parties are controlled from behind the scenes by the same people, and have long sought the exact same ends. Many conservative voters were convinced to support John McCain during the 2008 election. We were coerced into doing so by the so-called conservative talk radio hosts who told us that we had to support him in order to keep Obama from winning. Let me tell you this: you don't win anything by standing against something; you win by standing for something! As we learned then, John McCain was just a shill anyway, and he quickly jumped behind everything Obama did from the start. It turned out that they were just two faces of the same devil.


This "anyone but Obama" attitude reflects the "lesser of two evils" attitude. This is false. You do NOT have to choose any evil at all. Popular or not, you can support a candidate that you feel good about. Period. And, at the end of the day, you can sleep well, knowing that you did the best you could do to assist in the cause of righteousness.

John Adams said: "Always stand on principle, even if you stand alone." The Lord and His prophetic mouthpieces have laid out the correct principles for us, if we care to follow them.

Oh, and one more thing: the Lord will hold you accountable for how you vote. (See the sixth item listed.)


Conclusion

I could continue, but I believe the information I have provided here should make it clear that Mitt Romney is not the man to bring our country back in line with Constitutional principles in the tradition of our Founding Fathers, as the Lord has commanded us to diligently seek.

There are other candidates. Our duty is to pinpoint any that fit the description given to us by the Lord, and give them all the support we are physically able!

Here are the things God has said you should be looking for:

  1. Wise
  2. Good
  3. Honest
  4. Will uphold the Constitution of the United States in the tradition of the Founding Fathers

I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the aconstitutional law of the land;
And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.