photo credit: Alex Grichenko
This December, would you like a daily thought, song, scripture, story, and/or activity to help you feel more of the calm
spirit of Christmas? My friend Amy over at LDS Holistic Living
has a Christmas Advent Calendar you can use or download for free. It's designed specifically with members of the LDS faith in mind, but anyone can find great things in it. If you're interested, you can get the calendar here.
Meanwhile, here's a sample:
The Real Story Behind the 12 Days of Christmas
Catholics in England were prohibited by law from practicing their faith, both in private and in public from 1558 to 1829. Being a Catholic was treated as a crime. There was no restored gospel at the time, however there were good Christians who knew without doubt the true church was not one that was mainly created merely for the convenience of King Henry the Eighth who wanted to sin and have a church justify his actions. So in secret they continued to teach their children their religion.
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England during this time frame. It was written to help children learn about their religion. The entire song is writing in symbolism and hidden meanings because it was illegal to have anything in writing that would indicate adherence to the Catholic faith. To be caught could mean imprisonment, hanging, or drawn and quartered.
Christmas referred to a twelve day period that starts with Christmas day. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" referred to a twelve day period that began Christmas day. While the world may have celebrated Christmas for about twelve hours, these Christians celebrated it for twelve days as a reminder that the gifts of God are with us for twelve months of the year. It also represented the idea that we should be thankful for the gifts of God and follow His teachings for all twelve months of the year and not just one day a year.
The song begins, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me..." The "true love" represents God, as our greatest love should be for Him. The word worship means that which we love the most. The "me" who receives these presents is the Christian man or woman.1
. The "partridge in a pear tree" was Jesus Christ who died on a structure made from the wood of a tree. In ancient times a partridge was often used as mythological symbol of a divine, sacred king.2
. The "two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testaments - another gift from God. Doves symbolize peace and the Gospel contained in these scriptures, when practiced, brings peace.3.
The "three French hens" were faith, hope and love - the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (I
Corinthians 13). The French hens can also represent God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.4.
The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.5.
The "five golden rings" were the first five books of the Bible also called the "Books of Moses."6.
The "six geese a-laying" were the six days of creation.7
. The "seven swans a swimming" were "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit." (I Corinthians 12:8-11, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4:10-11)8.
The "eight maids a milking" were the eight beatitudes.9.
The "nine ladies dancing" were nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22)10.
The "ten lords a-leaping" were the Ten Commandments.11.
The "eleven pipers piping" were the eleven faithful disciples.12.
The "twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of the Apostles' Creed.
"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth", 1914, Jennie A. Brownscombe, public domain
First, a bit of trivia:
Did you know? While pumpkins were certainly a part of the first feast of thanks-giving, they were usually roasted or stewed. And eaten very, very often!For pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon."Pilgrim verse, circa 1633
Please take some time this week to gather your children, grandchildren, neighbors, or whomever you care about, and teach them of our nation's heritage of gratitude. Some great resources are below, including what George Washington said in his Proclamation for a Day of Thanksgiving. Each generation must learn this, or it dies out, leaving a gaping hole that entitlement and selfishness rush in to fill.Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
— Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC-43 BC), Pro Plancio (54 BC)
The following is from the Providence Foundation
's Nov. 2013 newsletter. (Thank you to them!)Celebrating Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is an uniquely American holiday. We have been giving thanks to God in private and public from the foundation of the nation. In fact, governments regularly issued official days of Prayer and Thanksgiving from the planting of the first colonies up until the present. Over 1400 Days of Prayer, Thanksgiving, and Fasting were proclaimed by colonial, state, and national governments from 1620-1815, and hundreds more have been issued since then. A few items to help you remember and pass on our heritage of thanking God include:Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving
You can use this article to share with your family the origins of Thanksgiving Day.
Some Early Government Thanksgiving Proclamations
1. President George Washington, Proclamation for a Day of Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 26, 1789
2. Governor Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Thanksgiving Proclamation, December 9, 1779
3. Proclamation for a Public Thanksgiving, New Hampshire, December 10, 1778
4. Proclamation for Thanksgiving Day, Continental Congress, December 18, 1777
Issued during the American Revolutionary War by the Continental Congress, this was the first national Thanksgiving Day in America. The explanation of the proclamation is from W. DeLoss Love, The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England (1895). Love lists over 1400 days of prayer and fasting and prayer and thanksgiving observed by civil governments (colonial, state, and national) from 1620-1815.
5. Proclamation for a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, Massachusetts, June 29, 1676
On June 20, 1676, the Council of Massachusetts appointed June 29 as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, in response to the colonists’ victory in King Philip’s War. The broadside of this proclamation is the earliest printed thanksgiving broadside known. At the top is the seal of Massachusetts, which shows an Indian speaking the words, “Come Over and Help Us.”
I began homeschooling January 2013, starting with just one child, a fifth-grader.
I'll maybe write more about what started that, another time. This school year I have three children staying at home to learn, from Kindergarten through sixth grade.
We've started out our homeschool year by starting at what we know as the 'beginning'- the premortal existence, which gives context and purpose to everything from that point on:Where did we come from?Why are we here?Where are we going?The book of Genesis starts with "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth". This coming week we'll cover what is known here as "in the beginning" which is different than what's above, the latter being the beginning of mortal life here. The book of Moses not only talks about what Genesis does, but also shows some of what was before, "worlds without number".
So far I've taught what we know of pre-mortality
, the Plan of Salvation
, the War in Heaven
, and the universe and galaxies (this coming week will be the solar system as part of this earth's Creation)- and I found some absolutely stunning things to teach with. You will be amazed! My 11-year-old cried as she watched and told me that the Holy Ghost was telling her this is true. Here are links:I Am A Son of God
(Moses' vision of the earth and everything in it)The Hubble Deep Field: The Most Important Image Ever TakenThe Scale of Everything
Scriptures I used with these:
(really, all of Moses chapter 1, and if it's scripture study, eventually the rest of Moses for the second part of his vision)Moses 1:32-33 (32-35)
Moses 1:37:39Moses 7:30
We also made glitter galaxies
Have any of you found or used the NASA educational website? As is typical of any information on the Internet, things need carefully reviewed before using them- but there are some pretty great things there. This week we'll do the "Jump to Jupiter" activity
, which will help carry on the idea of better understanding the scale of things (which you get in the videos and links above)
Upcoming 2014 Utah Legislation-Ending Compulsory Education
Utah state senator Aaron Osmond
has announced that in 2014 he’ll sponsor a bill proposing to end compulsory education
in Utah. The announcement got national attention, as Utah would be the first state to have this in a hundred years if it passes.
There is a bit of panic and a lot of misunderstanding about this.
“Compulsory education” is not the same as “public education”, and under his proposal, public education would remain solidly in place. What would
change is the parents’ ability
to determine what is best for their child, would give teachers more respect
by not forcing those who don’t want to be there on them, and would return the role of the state as a supporter of the family
—the basic unit of society-- rather than the current view of the family being the supporter of the state.
The principle involved here is whether or not we will allow parents to make decisions based on their own projected outcomes, or whether they’ll be compelled to do what bureaucrats think best for their children.
I believe the purpose of life is for each person to learn from their own choices and learning and the consequences that naturally follow. We are much less likely to learn –or value the chance to learn- when we’re forced into anything. Our current system’s promise is that every person will turn out to be ‘educated’, without regard to individual preference, agency, or voluntary dedication. They fail, as they must.
I have children in public school, in a charter school, and homeschool. Even though I’m ‘allowed’ to homeschool, the state requires me to get their permission to take care of my own children’s education, to promise to have them in ‘school’ for a certain number of hours and days, and to teach them the same topics the state Board of Education determined were most necessary. This is wrong for a few reasons.
- Do individuals and families exist to serve the state, or does the state exist to protect natural rights of individuals and families?
- My children, not having to compete for attention with 30 other students in a class, can get their work done in fewer hours.
- There are multiple reasons for education- and the UBOE’s objectives are not the same as mine.
- There’s never enough time to get everything done that anyone would like; I want to spend the limited time with my children teaching them things I think most important in helping them be hardworking, loving, responsible people who search for wisdom and reach out to others on their own initiative.
Before acting on your fears that Utah will suddenly be a hotbed of juvenile delinquents and welfare recipients if this law passes, please research the history of compulsory education and what the alternatives yield
. Some good places to start are (please at least watch the video! the same one as embedded above):
In addition, this will help relieve the huge financial burden that comes with our local student population predicted to double over the next 15-20 years.
According to http://boostup.org
we currently have a 24% dropout rate in Utah. I think that this will not change much when ending compulsory education. Others are worried that some parents are lazy and will not have their children attend- but I believe these parents are highly motivated to have the children at school where others take care of them and leave the parents with free time during the day.
What about those who worry that children not educated at a school (home-schooled) will end up on the welfare rolls?
Look at the track record of those who ARE in public education! Two years ago (2011) we had about 32 million households
who receive means-tested government assistance like school lunches, Medicaid, and food stamps, and 49% of American household have at least one member who receive some sort of government assistance. And the numbers continue to climb. We have a government that discourages personal initiative and effort, and protects us from the natural consequences of our actions, which would yield growth, understanding, and drive.
Here's something else that Oak (the guy from the vid above) has said:
"Why don't parents parent? Because once the state takes that authority from a parent, they are absolved of responsibility. If you want parents to parent again, give them back the authority and responsibility so they are empowered. If their child doesn't want to go to school, it's not the state's job to call the child a criminal and force him/her to school, it's then the parent's job to teach the child (perhaps with the help of concerned family and neighbors) the value of an education. If the child doesn't see the value, he/she won't learn. You can't teach someone who refuses to learn and you only hinder those who are there to learn. Removing compulsory education will help children become self-motivated just like we expect of them in college. It's not going to introduce child labor and sweat shops. It's going to open up new paths in education as educators innovate to provide a reason for those children to be in school."
“Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government
.” –Milton Friedman "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
— James Madison
In the War in Heaven,
some were willing to trade their agency to choose, for promises of security. Christ’s plan is for agency, personal effort, and learning from natural consequences-- the path that leads to personal, meaningful growth; Satan’s plan is of control and coercion.
"We must be careful that we are not led to accept or support in any way any organization, cause or measure which, in its remotest effect, would jeopardize free agency, whether it be in politics, government, religion, employment, education, or any other field. It is not enough for us to be sincere in what we support. We must be right!” -Marion G. Romney Summary of my thoughts- I see this as an issue of whether the parents or the state is the ultimate authority over each child, and also as a perfect example of the continuation of the War in Heaven. In addition, scaling back the arm of government to its proper role here will have cost benefits.
A friend sent me instructions for making Easter Story
Cookies. I tweaked the ingredients, tweaked the instructions, and changed some of the scriptures to ones I thought my younger ones would relate to. (In other words, I don't know whose idea this originally
was, but should no longer be considered plagiarism.:) This is a sweet way to bring some of the real meaning of Easter into your home! For more Easter ideas, click on the "Easter" category on the right.
Mix these cookies the evening before Easter, they sit in the oven overnight, as an Easter morning surprise.
You will need:
- 1 tsp. vinegar
- 3 large egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup pecan pieces
Waxed paper or parchment
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. (This is important, so don’t wait until you’re half-way done with the recipe).
Smell the vinegar
. Put 1 tsp. into the mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30
or Psalms 69:21
Add egg whites
to the vinegar.
Explain that eggs represent life. Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:9-11
Sprinkle a little salt
into each hand. Taste it and brush the rest into the bowl.
Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and bitterness of our sins. Show the wooden spoon, it represents the cross he carried and was nailed to.Read Luke 23:27
With a mixer, beat on high speed until soft peaks form.
Explain that the color white
represents the purity of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3
So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 3/4 cup sugar
, a tablespoon at a time, as you continue to whip. Keep mixing until they reach stiff peaks.
Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. It wasn’t the nails that kept Him on the cross because nothing earthly could have. It was His love for us! Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16
Fold in the nuts
using the wooden spoon. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60
Put the cookie sheet in the oven and close the door and turn the oven OFF! Each person places a piece of masking tape
and seals the oven door. Read Matthew 27:62-66
Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20, 22
On Easter morning, watch the 4-minute video “He is Risen
”, then open the oven and give everyone a cookie.
Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow!
Explain that on the first Easter, Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Suggested scriptures to read: John chapter 20
(5 minutes), 1 Corinthians 15:22
(two lines), Mosiah 16:6-9
Happy Easter, Everyone! Christ Lives & Loves Us!
What beauties are around us! Below are some of the photos I've taken.
There's always "one that got away"; back when I was in college I looked outside and saw what looked like an upside-down, hanging rainbow. Turns out it was a circumzenithal arc
. Didn't have the camera.
Most of these pictures are from the last two years; the sun pillar photos are the most recent: from this New Year's Eve. We spotted them on our drive home from Grandma's house... What an amazing way to end the year! It felt like God's reassurance that he's aware and still in charge.
(For a music-backed experience, play Desert Symphony
while watching the pictures. Yeah, their videography upstages my pictures. Enjoy them both. )
Tonight I stood in the kitchen with my 10-year-old daughter; I kneaded bread rhythmically on the counter while she prepared pumpkin for the first time, scooping out seeds, cutting carefully into cubes to be steamed. We had music playing in the corner, Handel's masterpiece "Messiah" emanating from a pink Barbie CD player. Nevermind that my daughter was in charge of the pumpkin because she'd poked holes in it with a pencil (a smiley face, but now it wouldn't store through the winter) or that it was 11pm and both of us would have liked to been asleep. Some days the schedule just goes out the window. But as I showed her what to do - and not do!- then watched while she eagerly and carefully cut the pumpkin- I had the feeling I think every mother gets every now and again. The feeling that this is what life is about. Joy in learning. Joy in being with family. Joy in seeing abilities and confidence bloom in someone you love. Joy in working together, in passing skills on to the next generation, and in helping them see the results of honest effort. Joy in beautiful music and gratitude for those who created such uplifting works. Joy in my Savior, his life and example.
Joy to the world! -for all these joys are available to everyone to some degree.
If you'd like to hear the whole Messiah-
which is the best way to hear and understand its message-
here you go.
Notice the music above is over two hours long... it's the entire work. Handel wrote this in only 24 days- hundreds of pages of music for choir and instruments. It was written to help the listeners understand more about Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The lyrics are taken directly from the Old and New Testament, and go through His life, from before his birth, clear through his sufferings, Atonement, resurrection, and glory. A good, short video giving some of the background can be found here
, or see a fantastic blog post here
. I love to feel the power of the music and the message. At one point while this music was being composed, a friend came to visit and found Handel sobbing with emotion after writing the Hallelujah chorus. Handel is quoted as saying "I did think I did see all heaven before me and the great God himself." It is customary to stand while that chorus is sung... but did you know the chorus is referring to Christ's Second Coming? The scriptures this chorus comes from are Revelations 19:6, 16
, and 11:15
. It, like the "Christmas" song Joy To the World
(which Handel wrote the music for), are really a celebration of the future day when Christ rules as the righteous King of kings. (You can read more about the background of the custom of standing here
He signed the work "S.D.G
": Soli Deo gloria, or "glory to God alone".
Most people claim the best-known bit, the "Hallelujah Chorus", as their favorite, but the two below are my
A couple weeks ago I received a newsletter from the American Family Association, titled
"Who Should Christians Vote For
?, published October 9, 2012
I read the letter, read the article it referenced, and then sent a response to both the letter author and article author. Below are the original newsletter, the article link, and my response.
Please look deeply at the underlying principles
in this election and the long-term results of what each candidate proposes. Will it help limit government to what the Founders intended
? Is it truly Constitutional?
Is it right, or is it wrong? Is it based on force, or based on choice and natural consequences? As important as is this presidential race, however, your local elections are even more important
: you have much more
relative influence in those. Please really study the candidates and issues, and then vote in a way that will strengthen the moral fiber and accountability of each citizen.
Dear Rhonda,There is some discussion within the Christian community about who to vote for in the upcoming elections. Some are even questioning if they should vote at all. In the race for president, on the one hand you have one man who claims to be a Christian yet supports causes and policies that clearly violate biblical morality like abortion and homosexual "marriage."
On the other hand, we have a gentleman who is a member of church that promotes a different theological doctrine than historical Christianity teaches. What to do?
I have an excellent article here, written by historian Stephen McDowell, president of the Providence Foundation
, that answers this dilemma to my satisfaction. It is not short, as it is well thought out and well documented. But it answers a lot of questions in a biblical manner.
I encourage you to read and then send it out to as many people as you can.Obama, Romney, Other: Who Should Christians Vote for in the 2012 Election?
Tim Wildmon, President
American Family Association
Dr. Stephen McDowell,
Tim Wildmon, of the American Family Association, sent me a link to your article "Obama, Romney, Other: Who Should Christians Vote for in the 2012 Election?". It was an interesting read for me as an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
, commonly called 'the Mormons'. While I agree with the conclusion and many of the reasons in the article, I would like to set the record straight on my religion.
In the article, you state "Mormonism is a non-Christian religion with fundamental theological beliefs that are contrary to Christian orthodoxy. Mormons do say they believe the Bible and that Jesus is divine and their savior, but this is not in the same sense as Biblical Christianity."
and then later write, "Neither candidate acts like a regenerated believer who meets the qualification of fearing God as the Bible presents.
#1, non-Christian religion
It seems self-evident that a church with a name like the one I belong to would believe in Christ, the Anointed, my Savior. Mr. McDowell quoted Noah Webster later; I'll refer to the same man's words here. First off, let's define Christianity
. The 1828 Webster's Dictionary, published by Noah Webster, defines a Christian as "A real disciple of Christ; one who believes in the truth of the Christian religion, and studies to follow the example, and obey the precepts, of Christ; a believer in Christ who is characterized by real piety." I study Christ's life and examples, as well as the teachings of his prophets through all ages, work to obey them, and emphatically proclaim that I am a Christian, as are other members of this church.
#2, contrary to Christian orthodoxy
Now, about it being "contrary to Christian orthodoxy"; hopefully I've established that we are Christians, so what is the definition of 'orthodoxy'? Let's go back to Noah Webster: orthodoxy is "a belief in the genuine doctrines taught in the Scriptures". Our church's Article of Faith #8 states, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.". In other words, I recognize the Bible as scripture, as well as the Book of Mormon. I personally believe the genuine doctrines taught in the scriptures and try to govern my life by them.
Admittedly, a problem arises here because our doctrine differs from other Christian sects. However, each sect's interpretation of doctrine differs from each other; who is to say which one is correct? I believe only the Spirit of God can whisper that to us. We ought to build each other up and look for the good, not tear each other down. The important parts, I believe, are that we recognize our complete dependence on our Savior's grace through his Atonement and our great responsibility to love and serve him and his children.
#3 Jesus is divine and their savior but ... not in the same sense,
As to our recognizing Jesus as divine and our Savior, the critical points I believe are in harmony not only with the Bible but with most sects' interpretation of them. Jesus is
divine. He is God, or rather the Son of God. He is our Savior
- he saves us from both spiritual death through our baptism and enabling us to repent and become more Christlike, and from physical death through his Resurrection and the promise of our own. How is that not a Biblical interpretation?
#4, "Neither candidate acts like a regenerated believer who meets the qualification of fearing God as the Bible presents.
While I disagree with some of Mitt Romney's opinions, and feel that our religion supports my viewpoint, I disagree that he acts like an unregenerated man. How do you recognize a reborn man? By his fruits, the degree to which the Spirit of the Lord has affected his life and his actions. You see this in devotion to serving others, which shows his devotion to serving God. Some of the chapters in the Book of Mormon record the words of a very righteous king in the Precolumbian Americas, King Benjamin. After recounting his years of service to his people, he tells them he worked hard to not only not
be a burden to them, but to also avoid burdening them with heavy taxes. He tells them this wasn't to boast, but to point out that he can face God with a clear conscience. Then he says
, "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom
; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service
of your fellow
beings ye are only in the service of your God." This man, King Benjamin, is one of our scriptural heroes and a prime example of living a Christlike life, and I think Mitt Romney will try to emulate not only some of Benjamin's finest points, but of the example of our Savior. He has already demonstrated his willingness to help and serve others
While I agree that Mitt Romney is likely not going to help us return completely to a non-socialist government, I can tell you that he is a Christian
, he does fear God
and lets that influence his life and choices, and that he has been 'born again
'. He is definitely the better choice between Obama, whose god seems to be the government, and Romney, who recognizes more that the way to true greatness is freedom and serving God and each other
I bear you my testimony that Christ is our Savior, that he cares deeply about this nation, and that the way to return to greatness is to return to individually having God's law written in our hearts and displayed through our actions. I invite you to read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ
, and to read through both it and our church's website
to find what we really believe.
September 17th is Constitution Day; the United States' Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787
How big a deal was this? Well, Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, recently pointed out, "After two centuries, every nation in the world except six have adopted written constitutions, and the U.S. Constitution was a model for all of them
. No wonder modern revelation says that God established the U.S. Constitution
and that it ‘should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles
’ (D&C 101:77
)” (“The Divinely Inspired Constitution,” Ensign, Feb. 1992, 68)
The same magazine, this month, asks, "Do Latter-day Saints believe the U.S. Constitution is a divinely inspired document? The Lord Himself answered that question when He declared, “I established the Constitution … by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose” (D&C 101:80).
Since the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith
, who called the U.S. Constitution “a heavenly banner
” (in History of the Church, 3:304), latter-day prophets have said the Constitution is divinely inspired, declaring that America by divine design was prepared as the place for the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ
. The freedoms and protections enumerated in the Constitution—including freedom of speech, assembly, and religion—made the Restoration possible.
The Church respects the rule of law and constitutional government in every nation and expects Latter-day Saints to adhere to the law
, to use their influence to promote and preserve their God-given rights
, and “to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound
” (Joseph Smith
, in History of the Church, 5:286)."
Modern scripture also affirms "that law
of the land which is constitutional
, 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 constitutional
law of the land; And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil." (D&C 98:5-7
Another modern prophet, David O. McKay
, declared "Next to being one in worshiping God, there is nothing in this world upon which this church should be more united than in upholding the Constitution of the United States!
(1956, The Instructor
Considering the importance of this founding document, both for political and religious reasons, shouldn't we study, understand, and teach this to our children and others?
There is a booklet produced by the LDS church, with "Family Home Evening" lessons about the Constitution, see this post
for more on that. It's out of print, but the post has a link to a pdf. It's a great place to start. For links to ideas, games, videos, and more, see below. There are lots; pick what will best help you and your family!
Videos and musicActivitiesTeaching materials/lessonsTalks/articles
Scriptures (links from a search on http://www.lds.org/scriptures/
- Inspired Constitution, by Joseph L. Wirthlin, LDS General Conference Oct. 1939
- The Constitution, J. Reuben Clark, Conference April 1957.
- Ezra Taft Benson quotes on freedom, Constitution
- The Divinely Inspired Constitution, Dallin H. Oaks
- God's Hand in the Founding of America, L. Tom Perry
- The Constitution- a Glorious Standard, Ezra Taft Benson
- Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom, Quentin L. Cook, Sept. 2012 Ensign
- constitutional law should be befriended, D&C 98:5–6
- the Lord caused Constitution to be established, D&C 101:77, 80
- prayer that Constitution be maintained, D&C 109:54
- Governments are instituted of God for the benefit of mankind, D&C 134:1–5
- Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, Matt. 22:21 (D&C 63:26).
- Be subject to the higher powers, Rom. 13:1
- Pray for kings and all in authority, 1 Tim. 2:1–2
- Be subject to principalities and powers and obey magistrates, Titus 3:1
- Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, 1 Pet. 2:13–14
- Jesus Christ shall be the ultimate governor of the earth, Rev. 11:15
I grew up with the vague idea that the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were kind of the same thing. Or at least I thought they were written at the same time. Now that I know more, I want my children to know and understand better the background and history of each. This way they can better appreciate what our Founders set up, why they did it, and at what cost.
This year I ran across the following quote, which sparked an even greater desire to learn and teach:
“If American freedom is lost, if America is destroyed, it may be by Americans who salute the flag, sing the national anthem, march in patriotic parades, cheer Fourth of July speakers–normally good Americans, but Americans who fail to comprehend what is required to keep our country strong and free
– Americans who have been lulled away into a false security...
If America is to withstand these influences and trends, there must be a renewal of the spirit of our forefathers, an appreciation of the American way of life, a strengthening of muscle and sinew and the character of the nation. America needs guts as well as guns. National character is the core of national defense.” –Ezra Taft Benson
Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee... seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." James Madison Aug 4, 1822
The lesson is below this photo.
Of course, your family may only need some of these pieces, or something different, or a shorter version, or longer. Pray to know what they need. God cares about what we learn and teach!
lesson on The Declaration of Independence
Sing a song
: God Bless America, or My Country, 'Tis of Thee
Have an opening prayer
Introduce the topic
: Hand everyone something little like pennies (or pieces of cereal, or jelly beans). Give them several, based on how much they helped today, or if they did all of their chores (so they feel ownership). Tell them they are like the 13 Colonies, and you’ll be England. Take some of the pennies back and give all of them to one person. How do they feel?
Explain that when a government takes money from you without you getting to have a say in where it's used, it's called "taxation without representation". The colonists knew it wasn't right, England's own Constitution even guaranteed them a say in how tax money was spent. (With older children, you can explain more about the Stamp Act
of 1765, or the Boston Tea Party
in 1773.)Have someone read D&C 134:1-2
, the LDS Statement of Belief on government:
We believe that governments
were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable
for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.
We believe that no government can exist in peace
, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free
exercise of conscience
, the right and control of property, and the protection
What was wrong with how the colonies were treated?
The colonies had been fighting with England for a couple years already. At first they were fighting for their right to be treated fairly, but by the summer of 1776 they decided that the only good solution was to become their own nation.
July 4th, when they finalized the Declaration of Independence, became the birthday for The United States of America. It was the beginning of our nation but the bigger deal was how our leaders claimed that right- not from men, but from rights given to all mankind by God.
“The Declaration has three parts—the famous Preamble, a list of charges against King George III, and a conclusion. The Preamble summarizes the fundamental principles of American self-government. The list of charges against the king presents examples of the violation of those principles. The stirring conclusion calls for duty, action, and sacrifice.” ( -The Heritage Foundation
- great article!!)
_________________Read The Declaration of Independence
! (see a photo of the original here
Words you might need to explain or discuss:self-evident
-they prove themselves trueunalienable
-cannot be given up or takenpursuit of happiness
- living to your full potential, bettering yourself and your situationevinces
-shows or provesDespotism
-(1828 Webster’s: ‘Absolute power; authority unlimited and uncontrolled by men, constitution or laws, and depending alone on the will of the prince)____________
:Read or relate
the following: John Adams
wrote in a letter to his wife Abigail
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
(Note: A rough draft of the Declaration of Independence was written in June 1776; July 2nd
is the date the Continental Congress unanimously voted for separation from Great Britain. The Declaration was modified a little, then read and approved on July 4, 1776, though it may not have been signed until August.)Have someone read 1Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Ask:
How can you show that you remember and are grateful for our nation and freedoms?
Bear your testimony of the great blessings God has given us.Closing song
: America the Beautiful
-----------------Choose one or more activities (or do one of these each day for a week)
:-Make paper pinwheels
-Watch a Mormon Messages video
: What Freedoms Are you Grateful For?
-Ring a “Liberty bell”
- Hang a bell from a rope. Take turns telling each other some blessing that you’re grateful for; each person gets to toss a beanbag or ball at the bell for every blessing mentioned.
If you don’t have a bell, you can make one out of cardboard or cardstock, or punch two holes in the bottom of an empty soup can (run a piece of yarn, string, or a twist tie through the two holes; you can hook onto something for a clapper at the same time), or make a bell from a porcelain or glass cup.
One of my children drew a large bell, taped it to a thread, which was tied onto the ceiling fan pull (I asked him to draw a bell and find some way to hang it someplace) ... the game was a big
hit with them! (I did have to remind them the goal was to RING the bell, not DESTROY it.)-Write a Family Creed-Make and hang a sign saying "Remember" over the inside of your front door.-Decorate your table, living room, or porch with flags and red, white, and blue.-Eat red, white, and blue foods
Blue and white tortilla chips with salsa (red!)