Parenting: Teaching Courage

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

chicken

What does a Chicken have to do with courage? See this post:

Parenting Value: Courage


Methods for Teaching Courage

Richard and Linda Eyre

Courage

“Daring to attempt difficult things that are good. Strength not to follow the crowd, to say no and mean it and influence others to try it. Being true to convictions and following good impulses even when they are unpopular or inconvenient. Boldness to be outgoing and friendly.”

Method for Preschoolers: Teach Small Children to Look People in the Eye

This can help children learn a useful habit that takes courage and that gives you a good opportunity for praise. Establish a family tradition of looking people in the eye. Explain to small children that if you look right at people, they will like you and know that you like them. Practice looking in each other’s eyes as you say, “Hello,” “How are you?” “Thank you,” or as you ask questions: “Where do you live?” “What school do you go to?” And so on. Have little contests to see who can look into the person’s eyes the longest while having a “made-up” conversation. And have “staring contests” (who can look into the other person’s eyes the longest without blinking).

Explain that being brave means not having anything to hide — and when we look right at someone, it is like saying, “I trust you and you can trust me.” Learning to do this helps us not to be afraid to ask people questions or start conversations.

Method for Elementary Age: “Hard and Good” – The Relationship Between Them

This activity will help children begin to relish rather than resist hard challenges. For this game set up two sides with at least one child to a side. Say that you are going to mention certain actions and you want one side to write either “hard” or “easy” to define each action. The other side should write “good” or “bad” about each action. (Each side needs a paper numbered from one to ten and a pencil.)

1. Get up early and study for a test.
2. Say you’re sorry to someone even though it’s embarrassing.
3. Try smoking with your friends so they won’t call you chicken.
4. Make friends with the new kid at school, even though everyone else is ignoring him.
5. Sleep in on Saturday instead of getting up to do your household job.
6-10. Add your own (try to draw from real experiences).

When the game is over, match up the two team lists. Show how “hard” almost always matches up with “good.”

Method for Adolescents: Decisions in Advance

This can help adolescents make right — and courageous — decisions before they are in situations conducive to wrong choices. Explain to adolescents that many decisions are best made early — before we’re confronted with pressure to decide. Help them to make a list (preferably in the back of a journal or diary) of “decisions in advance.” For example, I will not smoke. I will not cheat. I will not be cruel or rude even if others around me are, and so forth.

With each “decision in advance” help the adolescent to imagine a future situation where it would be very difficult to keep the decision. Think it through together. Point out how much easier it is to do the right thing when the decision has been made in advance.

To illustrate the point tell them the story of Abraham Lincoln, who was riding in a coach with an important and influential man who was insistent that Lincoln smoke with him. He said he would be offended if Lincoln did not.

Abraham Lincoln said he had made a decision twenty years before not to smoke. He had committed himself to that decision and had even made the commitment to his mother. Because he had made the decision in advance, courage to keep it came easy for Lincoln, and his friend did not push him further.

Bible Stories: Character Education and Self-Government

Dinner Topics for Friday

Bible Stories: Character Education and Self-Government

Samson and Delilah—

Internal Government

*Teaching about the Fall

keySociety cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. ~Edmund Burke

samson-delilahSamson was raised from infancy, prepared by diligent parents to fulfill a mission of liberating Israel from the Philistines. Instead, he is known in scriptural record as the epic hero who never was. On the surface, the Biblical account of Samson looks rather amusing. That Samson’s remarkable physical prowess was connected to the length of his hair reads almost like one of Grimms’ fairy tales. The fact is, the length of Samson’s hair was only one outward manifestation of the Nazarite vows he had taken. The immense strength was a spiritual gift, contingent on his faithfulness to the Nazarite discipline.

Samson failed to develop the necessary self-discipline to merit the spiritual gifts he had been blessed with. As he became boastful, and trusted in his own strength rather than giving glory to God, Samson one by one broke all his vows. He indulged his selfish passions and appetites, including marrying out of the covenant with an immoral Philistine woman. He did not think anything through; his behavior was driven by his feelings.

When he trivialized the source of his strength by playing games with the Philistine Delilah, this represented the final breakdown of his discipleship to God.

She pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death. (Judges 16:16)

mockingpeopleAt some point, most of us can probably relate to having experienced this kind of pressure from someone else. Samson’s failure came first from dallying so much with sin and temptation. He constantly surrounded himself with it. Is it any wonder that he finally broke when he was pestered long enough?

Samson’s lack of internal government caused his personal downfall and deprived his nation of liberating leadership.

One may also be pressured when trying to do something right. Even then, it is easy to react in anger, fear, or foolishness.

The “wise man who builds his house upon a rock” knows that true freedom comes from acting by choice rather than being acted upon.

buildingonrock“Discipline” is defined as “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.” Simple, brute-strength “will power” is not mentioned. Because the natural man rarely has sufficient “will power,” the “wise man” trains, molds, and corrects himself on a daily basis. It is a building process— on rock. No shortcuts.

The wise man looks ahead, constructing his house to stand independently of forces that tear down and undo his work. Day by day, a step at a time, he schools his feelings, delays gratification, and subordinates foolish impulses to the larger character he is capable of. The less he indulges himself, the more substance he has, and the less room in his life for that which would cause irreparable downfall.

The builder’s to-do list might include practicing courteous actions rather than angry reactions. Discussing and using peaceful resolutions to conflict and misunderstanding. Using moderation in appetites and showing appreciation for the gifts and services of others. Teaching wisdom and order. All these seemingly small things make up the firm inner structure that can withstand incessant adverse elements and bring enduring peace of mind.

Character Education Concepts

gavarret-follow-christFor the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19 )

  1. Why is daily discipline in small choices more effective than “will power” in times of crisis?
  2. The three areas of temptation are: 1) appetites and passions 2)vanity 3)greed and power. How can this knowledge help us prepare to resist temptation?
  3. How can we avoid dallying with sin in the following areas? Movies and TV. Music. Reading material. Internet. Dating.
  4. What does “temperance” mean? Compare dedication and fanaticism.
  5. Choose five or more epic heroes from scripture and outline their ministries. How did they exemplify Christian discipleship?
  6. How does the Savior help us overcome our weaknesses through the atonement?

christs-outstreched-hand-lindsleyAnd if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.(Ether 12:27)

 

 

Copyright 2010 © by Christine A. Davidson

 

The Parable of the Empty House

As a Man Thinketh

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. (Prov. 23:7)

golden-calfAfter God had delivered them from bondage, the children of Israel began their epic journey to the promised land. Freedom, however, was not what they expected. Food was plentiful — indeed, bread from heaven rained down upon them daily. Yet they were not accustomed to the simplicity of the Lord’s way of life. Gone were the heathen groves wherein one could indulge in sensual pleasures. The flashy graven images were missing. Their new wilderness home was free of Egypt’s distractions. Now they could concentrate on building new lives for themselves, replacing the taint of idolatry with an eye single to the glory of God. They had but to look to God and live. Simple. They brought no Egyptian idols with them. Even so, they turned to idolatry, for in their minds, they were still in bondage.

The Savior gave a parable about this condition.

empty-house-2When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished, for the good spirit leaveth him unto himself.

Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. (Matt. 12:43-45)

 

empty-houseThis oft overlooked parable of the empty house might speak of a man who leaves his old life behind, accepts the gospel and embarks upon the strait and narrow path of Christian discipleship. On that path the first obstacle is in the form of habits from his past. The iron rod [word of God] is steady and secure, but plain. It does not glitter and allure. In vain he searches for something on the road to heaven that will give him the same thrills and carnal satisfaction that his pre-conversion world held. He finds none.

Still, his soul has been cleansed, released from the chains of past wickedness. Agency has been extended to him anew. He has arrived at the pivotal point of his life, the brink of glorious opportunity.   However, if a traumatic experience in his previous life robbed him of spiritual roots, that opportunity could have a dangerous edge. His mind might be a spiritual vacuum. With what will he fill his mind? The choice is his, and his alone. Will he lay hold upon every good gift, or will he touch the unclean thing?

apathydudeThe trials and adversities of life are painful. Seeking comfort, the man turns, not to God, but to his old habits. He goes to Church every Sunday, but during the week, the old ways take over. Instead of looking to God to heal his pain, he numbs it with worldly distractions, which God calls idols. Seemingly innocuous habits move in and make themselves comfortable, and make him comfortable. Upon arising, the man turns to phone and social media. This programming is the first thing that enters his mind in the morning. What can be wrong with that? During lunch, social media. After work, TV. After dinner, games, social media. Before bed, social media, video games. After Church, electronic media, video games.

On Sunday, the man dutifully dusts off his scriptures and hauls them to Church. But they don’t mean anything. He doesn’t understand them. After years of worshiping images, he can no longer recognize the real thing. He has succeeded in numbing his pain. In fact, now he is “past feeling,” just like the idols which have received his unwavering attention for so long.

Moses was faced with the monumental task of sanctifying his people— removing the ungodly habits from their lives and filling their minds and hearts with the word of God. Most importantly, he had to keep the children from being sullied by the unholy baggage their parents had brought out from Egypt.

So he taught them,

family5prayingdinnerAnd these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deut. 6:6,7)

“Holy habits and righteous routines,”[1] when practiced daily, are part of holding to the iron rod [word of God], and will steady us on our path back to Heavenly Father.

Dinner Topic Questions

Dinner Talk Topic: Our conversation, use of leisure time, and choice of entertainment are a reflection of what is in our minds. *Controlling our thoughts

  1. How are our conversation, use of leisure time, and choice of entertainment a reflection of what is in our mind? When you are alone, what kind of background do you like to “keep you company? Is there a better companionship to seek?
  2. What do you dwell on when you have nothing specific to think about? If you look around, can you see someone who is worse off than you are? How does it make you feel?
  3. Are you alone in your circumstances? Why not?
  4. Can a self-absorbed person be truly happy?
  5. Can you recognize the presence of the Spirit? How?
  6. In what conditions will the Spirit withdraw?
  7. What seemingly small things can offend the Spirit?
  8. How can continual exposure to the sensationalism of electronic media cause a person to be “past feeling”? (1Nephi 17:45)
  9. What must we do to be worthy of having the continual companionship of the Holy Spirit?
  10. In what ways can games and social media dull our senses? How can reading scriptures or a good book, or listening to classical music,  be active rather than passive? Can we go through the motions and not understand the life lessons God is trying to teach us?
  11. How can failing to actively nourish our minds with spiritual food create a spiritual vacuum, and what are the dangers of such a vacuum?
  12. A “graven image” is a tangible object a person might worship instead of God. Also, spending time and money on things that distract someone from God might also be considered as idolatry. How can we avoid this problem in our lives?
  13. Look up “idolatry” in the dictionary. Is idolatry only an ancient evil? How can idolatry affect our lives today? Why do you think their idols caused the children of Israel to be immoral? Do cold, lifeless idols, or even movie idols, hold their worshipers accountable? What happens when there is no accountability?
  14. James 1:8. “ A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” What must we do to stay out of spiritual Babylon?
  15. Isaiah 7:15 “Refuse the evil, and choose the good.” Is it possible to “touch the unclean thing” without letting go of the word of God?

 

Copyright 2010 © by Christine A. Davidson

 

            [1] Elaine Dalton, “Look toward Eternity!”. Ensign, November 2006, p.32

Western Culture Dinner Topics Newsletter: American Exceptionalism

Western Culture Dinner Topics Newsletter:

American Exceptionalism

July 2017

Welcome to Western Culture Dinner Topics! 

TRY TO IMAGINE THE WORLD WITHOUT AMERICA.[1]

I know, a few people with very loud voices, some leading to violent action, continue to hate America and try to destroy her. But while the dogs bark, the wagons roll on. As we have seen in the last election, an overwhelming majority of Americans prefer a patriot at the helm of our government—a patriot who believes in American Exceptionalism.

               No one can deny that America stands out among the nations of the world. But what is the cause of this exceptionalism? That is where the debate arises.

The hate groups claim that America rose to power because of greed and oppression. The truth is, fewer than 5 percent of all people who have ever lived on the earth have lived under conditions that we could consider “free.” [2]

  Only through inspired leadership by men raised up by God for that purpose did America become great. If not for the courage and integrity of the Founding Fathers, would America have been any better than the bloody tyrannies of previous thousands of years of history? But the protecting Hand of God has been over America from the beginning.

               Even in his historic voyage of 1492, despite daunting opposition, Christopher Columbus was driven by a sense of divine purpose. He brought with him a Jewish Rabbi, for he hoped to find the lost tribes of Israel. His writings reveal that he was led by the Holy Spirit. His first action upon arriving on shore was to kneel and thank God, and then claim the land for Jesus Christ.

George Washington and his compatriots felt a strong connection to Biblical Israel. They wove it into the great shield, into the money, into the architecture, and in everything they did.

George Washington consecrated, not only his own life and sacred honor, but he also dedicated his troops and his every action to the cause of liberty. He made a covenant with God. In return, God has blessed this land with liberty, protection, and prosperity, so that the gospel of Jesus Christ could flourish and be sent out to all the world.[3]

So the next time you hear the current smear campaign against America and the good men who have fought and died for the liberty we enjoy, let us remember that without the smile of God’s approval and His protective Hand, we would all be in bondage, just like the rest of the world.   

Highlights

Thanks for visiting. Come often, stay late.

For Faith and Freedom,

Christine Davidson

News and Updates:

Transmit a Legacy of Faith and Freedom to Your Children and Grandchildren

In the coming months, we are developing the Birthright Academy. We are seeing the effects of decades of secularism which started in the schools, and from thence have invaded our government and our culture. Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s leaders. We cannot leave the teaching of our youth to the public schools and colleges. By then it will be too late.  If we want to preserve our Judeo-Christian values and culture of liberty, we will need to start serious teaching to the middle school and high school youth, so they will be prepared when they get on their own in college. This is the purpose of the Birthright Academy—to instill the Biblical Worldview into the rising generation, preparing Epic Heroes to lead our nation.

 

So from now on, we are sharpening the focus of Western Culture Dinner Topics on what matters most— to continually define and defend Judeo-Christian values, more about Israel, our spiritual  brother in the house of Israel,  and to know true history, so as not to be deceived.

As Joshua Benamoz  taught us,

Battered but not beaten, Western Culture wins the day!

Stronger than ever, Western Culture’s here to stay!

New Parenting Resource!

Life Lessons from Biblical Big Picture

Critical thinking skills are taught in very few public schools anymore. Some of the best resources for character education and critical thinking are found in literary fiction. Using the historical novel series, Birthright, by C.A. Davidson, as a platform, parents can teach their families vital critical thinking skills and Life Lessons from the Biblical big picture.

Topics include:

  • Truth–
    • How to Know What is True
    • Discerning Right and Wrong
  • Scientific Method (Empiricism) and Academic Freedom
  • Life Lessons from Historical patterns and literary symbolism

 

NEW PAGE!

Western Culture Center:

Quetzal bird, symbol of freedom

Under the Ceiba tree, meet the memorable characters from Birthright,  join the Crusaders’ Council, with our motto—

Battered but not beaten, Western Culture wins the day!

Stronger than ever, Western Culture’s here to stay!

Knowing that truth matters and ideas have consequences, come meet with us in the arena of ideas at Nobles’ Western Culture Center as we work together to restore Judeo-Christian values to their rightful place in our society.

 

Stress Relief Tip of the Month: Keep the Commandments

The Commandments of God are like warning signs along the road of life—they keep us out of the danger zones. Keep the Commandments. It is not always easy, but in the long run, as one Christian leader said, it is easier to Prepare and Prevent than to Repair and Repent.

Keep the Commandments

Keep the commandments! In this there is safety; in this there is peace.

He will send blessings, He will send blessings.

Words of a prophet;

Keep the commandments.

In this there is safety and peace.

 

Text and music: Barbara A. McConochie

Theme Quotes for July: American Exceptionalism

Try to imagine the world without America. ~ Thomas H. Conner

The greatest export of America has been the constitutional principles that have paved the way for God and gospel to make entry in other lands. ~Timothy Ballard

Objects of the most stupendous magnitude, and measure in which the lives and liberties of millions yet unborn are intimately interested, are now before us. We are in the very midst of a revolution the most complete, unexpected and remarkable of any in the history of nations. ~ John Adams

[I]t is a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own.~ Benjamin Franklin

 

The happy union of these states is a wonder; their Constitution a miracle; their example the hope of liberty throughout the world. ~James Madison

James Madison

Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society. They reared the fabrics of governments which have no model on the face of the globe. ~James Madison

I shall rejoin myself to my native country, with new attachments, and with exaggerated esteem for its advantages; for though there is less wealth there, there is more freedom, more ease, and less misery. ~Thomas Jefferson

Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind! ~George Washington

 

For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. ~John Winthrop

A recent report produced by Pew Research Center concluded that the United States of America has more Christians than any other nation in the world. Studies further conclude that Americans—in addition to representing the largest Christian nation—actually live their religion. Almost 80 percent of the America population claims to be Christian. But their actions speak even louder than their words. Charitable donations in the United States (not including the colossal amount of service hours offered by Americans) is twice as much as the next most charitable nation (the United Kingdom.) ~Timothy Ballard, The Covenant, 29-30.

 

July Preview

The Western Culture Dinner Topic Theme for July: American Exceptionalism

Featured Topics

The Parenting Value for this month: Teaching Integrity

Defining Moment: Defining communism, fascism, and socialism

Famous Birthdays: William Blackstone, John Paul Jones, Calvin Coolidge, Alexis De Tocqueville, Milton Freedman

  • Bible Stories: Samuel on the evils of tyrants
    • Birthright
  • Biblical Worldview: 3 Spiritual Reasons for Europe to exit European Union
  • Constitution Series 7: Equal Rights, not Equal Things
  • Critical Thinking: Defining Communism, Fascism, and Socialism
  • Culture Wars: 10 Ways to Protect Religious Freedom
    • AFA Christian News
  • Faith: His Daily Guiding Hand
  • Hillsdale Imprimis: The Left’s Attack on Free Speech, Part 2
  • History: Book Review, 7 Miracles that Saved America
    • Debunking the Myths about Thomas Jefferson
  • Stress Relief Tip: Keep the Commandments
  • Truth in Journalism: Free Americans reach out to rescue baby doomed by socialized medicine; Media censors story

And as always—current events, updates, cultural enrichment, great cartoons, and analysis

Please Vote for our Site and help us reach more readers. Do you enjoy this web site? If you do, please consider voting at the link in the right-hand sidebar beneath the Follow button. If we can be listed in the Top Sites at “Christians Unite!”—we can reach more people who think like you do. You can vote more than once—any time you appreciate a post with Christian content. This keeps us up toward the top 10 so we get referrals.

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 PLEASE VOTE FOR EPICWORLD DINNER TOPICS.

Ongoing

1. Does it all seem too complicated to train your Children for the Future? Here’s How to Keep it Simple!

Everyone has to eat dinner, right?

Nothing like a fascinating dinner table conversation to teach the Biblical worldview in a comfortable setting.

And it’s so much easier to explain what you stand for when it’s a way of life.  

Just follow this blog.  Every day, you get two dinner topics to choose from. Follow me here, at  Epicworld Dinner Topics.

Even if you do it once a week to begin with, it’s a great start. Congratulate yourself. Out of small and simple things, great  things come to pass. Do not be weary in well-doing.

 

 P.S. Don’t Forget the Stress Relief Tips every month!

2. Parents, You Can Educate Yourself, for Free, from the convenience of your own Home!

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”–Ronald Reagan

 

New Resource: Take this online course from Hillsdale College!

History 102: American Heritage, From Colonial Settlement to the Reagan Revolution

Recommended Readings

The U.S. Constitution is the key to securing liberty for all Americans — yet very few know exactly what it says, and what freedoms it protects. Hillsdale College is dedicating this year to educating millions of Americans about this critical document. That’s why the College is offering its most popular course, American Heritage,  for free, when you sign up now, and receive first lesson by email. 

3. Study the U.S. Constitution!

It is the last remaining safeguard of our precious freedoms! A good way to do this is to study the monthly Constitution series from The 5,000 Year Leap. To access this series of posts, type US Constitution Series in this site’s search bar. Also, look for posts that refer to the Constitution in current events. This month Constitution series #7: Equal Rights, not Equal Things

 

[1] Thomas H. Conner, American Heritage, Online course from Hillsdale College

[2] Stewart, Chris and Ted, The Miracle of Freedom, the 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World

[3] Ballard, Timothy, The Covenant: One Nation Under God.

 

Stress Relief Ideas: Obey the Commandments

Stress Relief Ideas:

Obey the Commandments

The Commandments of God are like warning signs along the road of life—they keep us out of the danger zones. Keep the Commandments. It is not always easy, but in the long run, as one Christian leader said, it is easier to Prepare and Prevent than to Repair and Repent. ~C.D.

Keep the Commandments

Keep the commandments! In this there is safety; in this there is peace.

He will send blessings, He will send blessings.

Words of a prophet;

Keep the commandments.

In this there is safety and peace.

Text and music: Barbara A. McConochie

History Facts: Economy, Taxation, and Integrity

History Facts:

Economy, Taxation, and Integrity

Calvin Coolidge represents the exact opposite of President Obama. Coolidge had integrity. He deserves a lot more respect than he ever got. ~C.A. Davidson

“Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.”

key“We must have no carelessness in our dealings with public property or the expenditure of public money. Such a condition is characteristic of undeveloped people, or of a decadent generation.” ~Calvin Coolidge

Senator Selden Spencer once took a walk with Coolidge around the White House grounds. To cheer the President up, Spencer pointed to the White House and asked playfully, “Who lives there?” “Nobody,” Coolidge replied. “They just come and go.”

It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones. ~Calvin Coolidge

Amity Shlaes
Author, Coolidge

calvincoolidgeCalvin Coolidge and the Moral Case for Economy

AMITY SHLAES is a syndicated columnist for Bloomberg, a director of the Four Percent Growth Project at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, and a member of the board of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation. She has served as a member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal and as a columnist for the Financial Times, and is a recipient of the Hayek Prize and the Frederic Bastiat Prize for free-market journalism. She is the author of four books, Germany: The Empire Within, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, The Greedy Hand: How Taxes Drive Americans Crazy and What to Do About It, and Coolidge.

The following is adapted from a talk given at Hillsdale College on January 27, 2013, during a conference on “The Federal Income Tax: A Centenary Consideration,” co-sponsored by the Center for Constructive Alternatives and the Ludwig von Mises Lecture Series.


WITH THE FEDERAL DEBT spiraling out of control, many Americans sense an urgent need to find a political leader who is able to say “no” to spending. Yet they fear that finding such a leader is impossible. Conservatives long for another Ronald Reagan. But is Reagan the right model? He was of course a tax cutter, reducing the top marginal rate from 70 to 28 percent. But his tax cuts—which vindicated supply-side economics by vastly increasing federal revenue—were bought partly through a bargain with Democrats who were eager to spend that revenue. Reagan was no budget cutter—indeed, the federal budget rose by over a third during his administration.

An alternative model for conservatives is Calvin Coolidge. President from 1923 to 1929, Coolidge sustained a budget surplus and left office with a smaller budget than the one he inherited. Over the same period, America experienced a proliferation of jobs, a dramatic increase in the standard of living, higher wages, and three to four percent annual economic growth. And the key to this was Coolidge’s penchant for saying “no.” If Reagan was the Great Communicator, Coolidge was the Great Refrainer.

Enter Coolidge
Following World War I, the federal debt stood ten times higher than before the war, and it was widely understood that the debt burden would become unbearable if interest rates rose. At the same time, the top income tax rate was over 70 percent, veterans were having trouble finding work, prices had risen while wages lagged, and workers in Seattle, New York, and Boston were talking revolution and taking to the streets. The Woodrow Wilson administration had nationalized the railroads for a time at the end of the war, and had encouraged stock exchanges to shut down for a time, and Progressives were now pushing for state or even federal control of water power and electricity. The business outlook was grim, and one of the biggest underlying problems was the lack of an orderly budgeting process: Congress brought proposals to the White House willy-nilly, and they were customarily approved.

The Republican Party’s response in the 1920 election was to campaign for smaller government and for a return to what its presidential candidate, Warren Harding, dubbed “normalcy”—a curtailing of government interference in the economy to create a predictable environment in which business could confidently operate. Calvin Coolidge, a Massachusetts governor who had gained a national reputation by facing down a Boston police strike—“There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time,” he had declared—was chosen to be Harding’s running mate. And following their victory, Harding’s inaugural address set a different tone from that of the outgoing Wilson administration (and from that of the Obama administration today): “No altered system,” Harding said, “will work a miracle. Any wild experiment will only add to the confusion. Our best assurance lies in efficient administration of our proven system.”

One of Harding’s first steps was to shepherd through Congress the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, under which the executive branch gained authority over and took responsibility for the budget, even to the point of being able to impound money after it was budgeted. This legislation also gave the executive branch a special budget bureau—the forerunner to today’s Office of Management and Budget—over which Harding named a flamboyant Brigadier General, Charles Dawes, as director. Together they proceeded to summon department staff and their bosses to semiannual meetings at Continental Hall, where Dawes cajoled and shamed them into making spending cuts. In addition, Harding pushed through a tax cut, lowering the top rate to 58 percent; and in a move toward privatization, he proposed to sell off naval petroleum reserves in Wyoming to private companies.

Unfortunately, some of the men Harding appointed to key jobs proved susceptible to favoritism or bribery, and his administration soon became embroiled in scandal. In one instance, the cause of privatization sustained damage when it became clear that secret deals had taken place in the leasing of oil reserves at Teapot Dome. Then in the summer of 1923, during a trip out West to get away from the scandals and prepare for a new presidential campaign, Harding died suddenly.

Enter Coolidge, whose personality was at first deemed a negative—his face, Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, “looked as though he had been weaned on a pickle.” But canny political leaders, including Supreme Court Justice and former President William Howard Taft, quickly came to respect the new president. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, after visiting the White House a few times that August, noted that whereas Harding had never been alone, Coolidge often was; that whereas Harding was partial to group decisions, Coolidge made decisions himself; and most important, that whereas Harding’s customary answer was “yes,” Coolidge’s was “no.”

The former governor of Massachusetts was in his element when it came to budgeting. Within 24 hours of arriving back in Washington after Harding’s death, he met with his own budget director, Herbert Lord, and together they went on offense, announcing deepened cuts in two politically sensitive areas: spending on veterans and District of Columbia public works. In his public statements, Coolidge made clear he would have scant patience with anyone who didn’t go along: “We must have no carelessness in our dealings with public property or the expenditure of public money. Such a condition is characteristic of undeveloped people, or of a decadent generation.”

If Harding’s budget meetings had been rough, Coolidge’s were rougher. Lord first advertised a “Two Percent Club,” for executive branch staffers who managed to save two percent in their budgets. Then a “One Percent Club,” for those who had achieved two or more already. And finally a “Woodpecker Club,” for department heads who kept chipping away. Coolidge did not even find it beneath his pay grade to look at the use of pencils in the government: “I don’t know if I ever indicated to the conference that the cost of lead pencils to the government per year is about $125,000,” he instructed the press in 1926. “I am for economy, and after that I am for more economy,” he told voters.

Coolidge in Command
“It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones,” Coolidge had once advised his father. And indeed, while Harding had vetoed only six bills, Coolidge vetoed 50—including farming subsidies, even though he came from farming country. (“Farmers never had made much money,” he told a guest, and he didn’t see there was much the government could rightly do about it.) He also vetoed veterans’ pensions and government entry into the utilities sector.

The Purpose of Tax Cuts

In short, Coolidge didn’t favor tax cuts as a means to increase revenue or to buy off Democrats. He favored them because they took government, the people’s servant, out of the way of the people. And this sense of government as servant extended to his own office.

Senator Selden Spencer once took a walk with Coolidge around the White House grounds. To cheer the President up, Spencer pointed to the White House and asked playfully, “Who lives there?” “Nobody,” Coolidge replied. “They just come and go.”

But as unpopular as he was in Washington, Coolidge proved enormously popular with voters. In 1924, the Progressive Party ran on a platform of government ownership of public power and a return to government ownership of railroads. Many thought the Progressive Party might split the Republican vote as it had in 1912, handing the presidency to the Democrats. As it happened, Progressive candidate Robert LaFollette indeed claimed more than 16 percent of the vote.

Yet Coolidge won with an absolute majority, gaining more votes than the Progressive and the Democrat combined. And in 1928, when Coolidge decided not to run for reelection despite the urging of party leaders who looked on his reelection as a sure bet, Herbert Hoover successfully ran on a pledge to continue Coolidge’s policies.

Unfortunately, Hoover didn’t live up to his pledge. Critics often confuse Hoover’s policies with Coolidge’s and complain that the latter did not prevent the Great Depression. That is an argument I take up at length in my previous book, The Forgotten Man, and is a topic for another day. Here let me just say that the Great Depression was as great and as long in duration as it was because, as economist Benjamin Anderson put it, the government under both Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt, unlike under Coolidge, chose to “play God.”

Lessons from Coolidge

Beyond the inspiration of Coolidge’s example of principle and consistency, what are the lessons of his story that are relevant to our current situation? One certainly has to do with the mechanism of budgeting: The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 provided a means for Harding and Coolidge to control the budget and the nation’s debt, and at the same time gave the people the ability to hold someone responsible. That law was gutted in the 1970s, when it became collateral damage in the anti-executive fervor following Watergate. The law that replaced it tilted budget authority back to Congress and has led to over-spending and lack of responsibility.

A second lesson concerns how we look at tax rates. When tax rates are set and judged according to how much revenue they bring in due to the Laffer Curve—which is how most of today’s tax cutters present them, thereby agreeing with tax hikers that the goal of tax policy is to increase revenue—tax policy can become a mechanism to expand government. The goals of legitimate government—American freedom and prosperity—are left by the wayside.

Thus the best case for lower taxes is the moral case—and as Coolidge well understood, a moral tax policy demands tough budgeting.

Finally, a lesson about politics. The popularity of Harding and Coolidge, and the success of their policies—especially Coolidge’s—following a long period of Progressive ascendancy, should give today’s conservatives hope. Coolidge in the 1920s, like Grover Cleveland in the previous century, distinguished government austerity from private-sector austerity, combined a policy of deficit cuts with one of tax cuts, and made a moral case for saying “no.” A political leader who does the same today is likely to find an electorate more inclined to respond “yes” than he or she expects.

Coolidge and Moral Economy, complete article

Parenting: Teaching Integrity

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Honesty and Integrity: Parenting Value for July

Richard and Linda Eyre

Honesty

family7gardeningIntegrity with other individuals, with institutions, with society, with self. The inner strength and confidence that is bred by exacting truthfulness and trustworthiness.

Introduction

How can we teach our children to develop the inner strength and confidence that is bred by exacting truthfulness, trustworthiness, and integrity? How can we help our children avoid the common childhood tendencies to stretch the truth, to exaggerate, to rationalize, and to tell the little lies that often lead to bigger ones? Can small children develop the early integrity that will help them become honorable, dependable adults? Can elementary-age kids learn the direct, look-you-in-the-eye truthfulness that will win them respect and confidence? Can adolescents communicate candidly with parents?
“Parenting-by-Objective”

Review the activities and stories that go along with this months value. Make sure everyone in your family understands the value so they can see how they can apply it in their own lives and situations.

Talk about the Monthly Value every morning and remind your family to look for opportunities to use the value throughout the day. They may also observe how others don’t understand the value. Get your children to share their experience with the value each day at the dinner table or before you go to bed. Be sure to share your experience each day as well. It will help your children know that you are thinking about the value too.

Bonus

Methods for teaching honesty

Honesty

Integrity with other individuals, with institutions, with society, with self. The inner strength and confidence that is bred by exacting truthfulness and trustworthiness.

Method for Preschoolers: The Honesty About Feelings Game

This will help small children realize that feelings are caused by what has happened — and that it is okay to feel things and okay to tell others honestly how we feel. Go through a magazine (one with lots of ads and colored pictures) and point at faces saying, “How do you think he feels?” Then say, “Why do you think he feels that way?” Then say, “Is it okay to feel that way?”

Help children to identify feelings and their probable causes and to know that it’s okay to feel those things and to tell other people how they feel.

Method for Elementary Age: The Honesty Under Pressure Award

This is a motivational way to get children to evaluate their personal honesty every week. On Sundays (or whatever day you most often get your whole family together for a meal) ask, “Who had a situation this past week where it was a challenge to be honest?” Have an “award” on hand to give to the person who remembers the best incident of being honest. A piece of construction paper or colored card with a neatly printed H.U.P. (Honesty Under Pressure) will do nicely as the award. Let the child (or adult) who wins put it on his bedroom door during the week until it is awarded again the next week.

After a couple of weeks of “getting used to,” you will find that children are thinking hard about their behavior of the past week in hopes of winning the award. And it is this kind of thinking and recognition that strongly reinforces honesty.

Method for Adolescents: Share Your Own Honesty Dilemmas

This can help demonstrate to older children that you are willing to be honest with them — even about your own struggles. Be brave enough to tell your children about times when you have had a hard time being honest. Tell them “positive” incidents when you were honest and negative ones when you weren’t — and tell them about any current situations where you are struggling to be completely honest.

This kind of sharing is quite a compliment to your older children because it expresses your confidence in their maturity. Nothing will inspire more trust from them or encourage them more to share their struggles with you.

 

Judeo-Christian Culture: Ode to the Epic Hero

Dinner Topics for Friday

Defining Moment

Critical Thinking Skills

childrenlitreadingartEpic Literature— has the following features.
Broad scope in time, with nationalistic emphasis
Narrative motifs including warfare and rulership
Historical impulse, with allusions to key events in the life of a nation
Supernatural context
Plot with recurrent patterns or situations
Narrated in a ceremonial style or exalted diction which is deliberately distanced from ordinary  speech
~Richard Dilworth Rust, Feasting on the Word, pp. 49-51

Mayan hieroglyphic, and it came to pass

Mayan hieroglyphic, and it came to pass

To a child learning to read, at first, those symbols loom on the page, defying understanding.  If you have stood before rock monuments or stelas in Central America, gazing at the hieroglyphs, you know how it feels.  Now that the dense jungle has been cleared away to reveal the remains of the Mayan civilization, that is only the first step.  Men and women have since dedicated their lives to learning the meaning of those glyphs.

Sometimes we feel that way about the Bible and other epic literature.  It’s like a whole different language.  It’s true— the written word, or literature, is in a different realm from the spoken word of our day.  And epic literature has special characteristics that set it in a class all by itself.  The first feature that creates a barrier for most of us is the diction, or choice of words.  Richard D. Rust, in his book Feasting on the Word, tells us that epic literature is “narrated in a ceremonial style or exalted diction which is deliberately distanced from ordinary speech.”

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “epic” as “otherwise called heroic. . . which narrates a story. . . in an elevated style. . . usually the achievements of some distinguished hero, and intended to form the morals and affect the mind with the love of virtue.  The end [or purpose] is to improve morals, and inspire a love of virtue, bravery and illustrious actions.”

If we as parents wish to give our children a foundation as firm as Rock, that will be remembered in the hearts of our children, and their children, and so on, we must develop teachings with staying power.

ScripturePoetry After thousands of years, the Bible remains the chief and most widely read of classic literature. What makes it an enduring best seller, past the peak of three weeks, six months, or even a year?  Why is it never really obsolete? Its language remains untouched by the jungle of our modern day semantics.   As we leave the mundane behind, and lead the way through that straight and narrow passage, past the language barrier, we begin an epic adventure with our families.  We begin to. . .

Discover things that will be treasured,

Perhaps not always in money measured—

Gems of knowledge, virtue, truth,

Eternal standards for our family and youth.

Best of all, if we as parents faithfully train, or “direct the growth of” our children, we will watch them discover great truths and heaven-sent messages in the exalted diction of the word of God. Youth will rise to the noble standards in epic literature, and find the epic hero within themselves.

Epic Hero resize medThe following poem pays tribute to the hero of epic literature and presents a pattern for the successful quest to build good character. It invites the reader to discover the epic hero within you.

          Ode to the Epic Hero

Your epic quest begins at birth

To find your purpose here on earth.

Along the way your heart will learn

How good from evil to discern.

Moments in time will come to define

Trials of your soul, to test and refine.

Discover things that will be treasured,

Perhaps not always in money measured—

Gems of knowledge, virtue, truth,

Eternal standards for families and youth—

To strengthen, protect, and to prepare

A way to escape the enemy’s snare.

faithjourney2The journey of life demands your part—

Courage, faith, and a willing heart.

You need not fall, though you may stumble,

For angels fail not to help the humble.

Your lone small flame may not seem bright,

Yet it reveals the way to greater light.

Day by day, big and little—

Answers await life’s every riddle.

Just when you think you can’t continue,

You’ll find the epic hero within you.

Honor and virtue will be your choice.

Return home triumphant, and rejoice.

~C.A.Davidson

Copyright © 2010 by Christine A. Davidson

Critical Thinking Skills: Parable shows Unseen Realities of Bad Economic Policy

Dinner Topics

Critical Thinking Skills:

Parable shows Unseen Realities of Bad Economic Policy

Frederic Bastiat and Legalized Plunder, or Socialism

Frederic Bastiat: The Law

keyNote: I found the Parable of the Broken Window when I clicked on just one more link. Parents, teach your children to pursue topics they are interested in. Your young people will excel in their education when they educate themselves, and they acquire a thirst for learning. You will not find any teachings of Frederic Bastiat in typical public schools. And look what they are missing!

The Law, by Frederic Bastiat. This is a short little book written in the nineteenth century. It really nails the notion of governments who think they can plunder the citizenry, just because they are the government and “above the law.” This is classic literature that you will want in your library, and which teens and young adults will find thought-provoking. It is well known by reliable historians, and should be easily available to purchase online. I highly recommend this little book to read aloud and discuss together. It will give you a clear understanding of how economics should be. ~C.A. Davidson

 

The Parable of the Broken Window

Bastiat’s original parable or story of the broken window from Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas (1850):

brokenwindowHave you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James Goodfellow, when his careless son happened to break a pane of glass? If you have been present at such a scene, you will most assuredly bear witness to the fact that every one of the spectators, were there even thirty of them, by common consent apparently, offered the unfortunate owner this invariable consolation-“It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?”

Now, this form of condolence contains an entire theory, which it will be well to show up in this simple case, seeing that it is precisely the same as that which, unhappily, regulates the greater part of our economical institutions.

Suppose it cost six francs to repair the damage, and you say that the accident brings six francs to the glazier’s trade—that it encourages that trade to the amount of six francs—I grant it; I have not a word to say against it; you reason justly. The glazier comes, performs his task, receives his six francs, rubs his hands, and, in his heart, blesses the careless child. All this is that which is seen.

But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out, “Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.”

It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented.[1][2]

Bastiat’s argument

Austrian theorists, and Bastiat himself, apply the parable of the broken window in a different way. Suppose it was discovered that the little boy was actually hired by the glazier, and paid a franc for every window he broke. Suddenly the same act would be regarded as theft: the glazier was breaking windows in order to force people to hire his services. Yet the facts observed by the onlookers remain true: the glazier benefits from the business at the expense of the baker, the tailor, and so on.

Bastiat argues that people actually do endorse activities which are morally equivalent to the glazier hiring a boy to break windows for him:

Whence we arrive at this unexpected conclusion: “Society loses the value of things which are uselessly destroyed;” and we must assent to a maxim which will make the hair of protectionists stand on end—To  break, to spoil, to waste, is not to encourage national labour; or, more briefly, “destruction is not profit.”

What will you say, Moniteur Industriel[3]-what will you say, disciples of good M. F. Chamans, who has calculated with so much precision how much trade would gain by the burning of Paris, from the number of houses it would be necessary to rebuild?[1][2]

Bastiat is not addressing production – he is addressing the stock of wealth. In other words, Bastiat does not merely look at the immediate but at the longer effects of breaking the window. Moreover, Bastiat does not only take into account the consequences of breaking the window for one group but for all groups, for society as a whole.[4]

Complete article from Wikipedia

Biography

BastiatBastiat was born in Bayonne, Aquitaine, a port town in the south of France on the Bay of Biscay, on 29 June 1801. His father, Pierre Bastiat, was a prominent businessman in the town. His mother died in 1808 when Frédéric was seven years old.[2] His father moved inland to the town of Mugron with Frédéric following soon after. The Bastiat estate in Mugron had been acquired during the French Revolution and had previously belonged to the Marquis of Poyanne. Pierre Bastiat died in 1810, leaving Frédéric an orphan. He was taken in by his paternal grandfather and his maiden aunt, Justine Bastiat.[2] He attended a school in Bayonne, but his aunt thought poorly of it and so enrolled him in Saint-Sever. At 17, he left school at Sorèze to work for his uncle in his family’s export business. It was the same firm where his father had been a partner. Economist Thomas DiLorenzo suggests that this experience was crucial to Bastiat’s later work since it allowed young Frédéric to acquire first-hand knowledge of how regulation can affect markets.[3] Sheldon Richman notes that “he came of age during the Napoleonic wars, with their extensive government intervention in economic affairs.”[4]

Bastiat began to develop an intellectual interest. He no longer wished to work with his uncle and dreamed of going to Paris for formal studies. This dream never came true as his grandfather was in poor health and wished to go to the Mugron estate. Bastiat accompanied him and took care of him. The next year, when Bastiat was 24, his grandfather died, leaving the young man the family estate, thereby providing him with the means to further his theoretical inquiries.[2] Bastiat developed intellectual interests in several areas including “philosophy, history, politics, religion, travel, poetry, political economy and biography.”[3] “After the middle-class Revolution of 1830, Bastiat became politically active and was elected justice of the peace of Mugron in 1831 and to the Council General (county-level assembly) of Landes in 1832. He was elected to the national legislative assembly after the French Revolution of 1848.”[1]

His public career as an economist began only in 1844 when his first article was published in the Journal des economistes in October of that year. It was cut short by his untimely death in 1850. Bastiat had contracted tuberculosis, probably during his tours throughout France to promote his ideas, and that illness eventually prevented him from making further speeches (particularly at the legislative assembly to which he was elected in 1848 and 1849) and took his life. In the fall of 1850, he was sent to Italy by his doctors. He first traveled Pisa, then onto Rome. On 24 December 1850, Bastiat called those with him to approach his bed. He murmured twice the words “The truth” then passed away.[2]

Bastiat’s most famous work, however, is undoubtedly The Law, originally published as a pamphlet in 1850. It defines, through development, a just system of laws and then demonstrates how such law facilitates a free society.

 

manwbagBastiat asserted that the sole purpose of government is to defend and protect the right of an individual to life, liberty, and property. From this definition, Bastiat concluded that the law cannot defend life, liberty, and property if it promotes socialist policies, which are inherently opposed to these very things. In this way, he says, the law is perverted and turned against the only things (life, liberty, and property) it is supposed to defend.[12]

He was also a strong supporter of free trade. He “was inspired by and routinely corresponded with Richard Cobden and the English Anti-Corn Law League and worked with free-trade associations in France.”[1]

In The Law, Bastiat explains that, if the privileged classes use the government for “legalized plunder”, this will encourage the lower classes to revolt or use socialist “legalized plunder” and that the correct response to both the socialists and the corporatists [crony capitalism and corporate socialism are the same] is to cease all “legalized plunder”. Bastiat also explains why his position is that the law cannot defend life, liberty, and property if it promotes socialist policies. When used to obtain “legalized plunder” for any group, he says, the law is perverted and turned against the thing it is supposed to defend.[12]

 

Dinner Talk

1. What do you learn from the Parable of the Broken Window? Why do Progressives and Socialists use the broken economy to make people dependent on them? (Hint: They get more power and votes.)

2. Bastiat writes of “legalized plunder.” In ancient American history, there was a group called Gadiantons who took over the free government and engaged in plunder. How is this a type of what governments do today? What recent examples can you give of our government engaging in “legalized plunder?”

Judeo-Christian Culture: Character Education Quotes

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Character Education Quotes

“True greatness is never a result of a chance occurrence or a onetime effort or achievement. Greatness requires the development of character. It requires a multitude of correct decisions in every day choices between good and evil that Elder Boyd K Packer spoke about when he said, ‘Over the years these little choices will be bundled together and show clearly what we value.’ “Those choices will also show clearly what we are.” ~Howard W. Hunter

Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. ~Edmund Burke

It has been said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny. ~Thomas S. Monson

Even if “everyone is doing it,” wrong is never right. Evil, error, and darkness will never be truth, even if popular. In fact, 50 million people can be wrong—totally wrong. Immorality is still immorality in the eyes of God. ~Russell M. Nelson

Spencer W. Kimball : Love people, not things; use things, not people.

Gospel Teachings: Warning to Youth to Repent is an Act of Love

Gospel Teachings:

Warning to Youth to Repent is an Act of Love

The Voice of Warning

D.Todd Christofferson

While the duty to warn is felt especially keenly by prophets, it is a duty shared by others as well.

The prophet Ezekiel was born about two decades before Lehi and his family left Jerusalem. In 597 BC, at age 25, Ezekiel was one of the many carried captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, and as best we can tell, he spent the rest of his life there.1 He was of the Aaronic priestly lineage, and when he was 30, he became a prophet.2

In commissioning Ezekiel, Jehovah used the metaphor of a watchman.

“If when [the watchman] seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;

“Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.”3

Warning to Turn from Sin

On the other hand, “if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, … his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.”4

Then speaking directly to Ezekiel, Jehovah declared, “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them [for] me.”5 The warning was to turn away from sin.

“When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

“Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. …

“Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; …

“None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.”6

Interestingly, this warning also applies to the righteous. “When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his [righteous deeds] shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.”7

Look to God and Live; He seeks our Happiness

Pleading with His children, God tells Ezekiel, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”8

Far from being anxious to condemn, our Heavenly Father and our Savior seek our happiness and plead with us to repent, knowing full well that “wickedness never was [and never will be] happiness.”9 So Ezekiel and every prophet before and since, speaking the word of God out of a full heart, have warned all who will to turn away from Satan, the enemy of their souls, and “choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men.”10

While the duty to warn is felt especially keenly by prophets, it is a duty shared by others as well. In fact, “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”11 We who have received a knowledge of the great plan of happiness—and its implementing commandments—should feel a desire to share that knowledge since it makes all the difference here and in eternity. And if we ask, “Who is my neighbor that I should warn?” surely the answer will be found in a parable that begins, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves,”12 and so forth.

Rooted in Love—To Warn is to Care

Considering the parable of the good Samaritan in this context reminds us that the question “Who is my neighbor?” was tied to the two great commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”13

The motivation for raising the warning voice is love—love of God and love of fellowman. To warn is to care. The Lord instructs that it is to be done “in mildness and in meekness”14 and “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness … , and by love unfeigned.”15 It can be urgent, as when we warn a child not to put his or her hand in a fire. It must be clear and sometimes firm. On occasion, warning may take the form of reproof “when moved upon by the Holy Ghost,”16 but always it is rooted in love. Witness, for example, the love that motivates the service and sacrifices of our missionaries.

Parents—Warn your Children

Surely love would compel parents to warn their closest “neighbors”—their own children. This means teaching and testifying of gospel truths. It means teaching children the doctrine of Christ: faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.17 The Lord reminds parents, “I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.18

A crucial element of the parental duty to warn is to paint not only the demoralizing consequences of sin but also the joy of walking in obedience to the commandments. Recall the words of Enos about what led him to seek God, receive a remission of sins, and become converted:

“Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

“And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication.”19

Because of His incomparable love and concern for others and their happiness, Jesus was not hesitant to warn. At the outset of His ministry, “Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”20 Because He knows that not just any path leads to heaven, He commanded:

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”21

He devoted time to sinners, saying, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”22

He warned the Pharisees out of Love

As for the scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus was uncompromising in condemning their hypocrisy. His warnings and commandments were direct:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”23

Surely no one would accuse the Savior of not loving these scribes and Pharisees—after all, He suffered and died to save them too. But loving them, He could not let them go on in sin without clearly correcting them. One observer noted, “Jesus taught his followers to do as he did: to welcome everyone but also to teach about sin, since love demands warning people about what can hurt them.”24

Shame Culture with no right or wrong, only Tolerance vs. Guilt Culture with Moral Absolutes

Sometimes those who raise a warning voice are dismissed as judgmental. Paradoxically, however, those who claim truth is relative and moral standards are a matter of personal preference are often the same ones who most harshly criticize people who don’t accept the current norm of “correct thinking.” One writer referred to this as the “shame culture”:

“In a guilt culture you know you are good or bad by what your conscience feels.

In a shame culture you know you are good or bad by what your community says about you, by whether it honors or excludes you. … [In the shame culture,] moral life is not built on the continuum of right and wrong; it’s built on the continuum of inclusion and exclusion. …

“… Everybody is perpetually insecure in a moral system based on inclusion and exclusion. There are no permanent standards, just the shifting judgment of the crowd. It is a culture of oversensitivity, overreaction and frequent moral panics, during which everybody feels compelled to go along. …

Moral Relativists are Strangely Unmerciful to Those who Disagree

“The guilt culture could be harsh, but at least you could hate the sin and still love the sinner. The modern shame culture allegedly values inclusion and tolerance, but it can be strangely unmerciful to those who disagree and to those who don’t fit in.25

Contrasted to this is “the rock of our Redeemer,”26 a stable and permanent foundation of justice and virtue. How much better it is to have the unchanging law of God by which we may act to choose our destiny rather than being hostage to the unpredictable rules and wrath of the social media mob. How much better it is to know the truth than to be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.”27

 How much better to repent and rise to the gospel standard than to pretend there is no right or wrong and languish in sin and regret.

Voice of Warning to All; the Lord’s Watchmen Cannot Be Neutral

The Lord has declared, “The voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days.”28 As watchmen and disciples, we cannot be neutral about this “more excellent way.29 As Ezekiel, we cannot see the sword coming upon the land “and blow not the trumpet.”30 This is not to say that we should bang on our neighbor’s door or stand in the public square shouting, “Repent!” Truly, when you think about it, we have in the restored gospel what people, deep down, really want. So the warning voice is generally not only civil, but in the Psalmist’s phrase, it is a “joyful noise.31

Deseret News opinion editor Hal Boyd cited one example of the disservice inherent in staying silent. He noted that while the idea of marriage is still a matter of “intellectual debate” among elites in American society, marriage itself is not a matter of debate for them in practice. “‘Elites get and stay married and make sure their kids enjoy the benefits of stable marriage.’ … The problem, however, is that [they] tend not to preach what they practice.” They don’t want to “impose” on those who really could use their moral leadership, but “it is perhaps time for those with education and strong families to stop feigning neutrality and start preaching what they practice pertaining to marriage and parenting … [and] help their fellow Americans embrace it.”32

Do Not Let Fear of the World Stifle Teaching of Truth

We trust that especially you of the rising generation, youth and young adults on whom the Lord must rely for the success of His work in future years, will sustain the teachings of the gospel and the standards of the Church in public as well as in private. Do not abandon those who would welcome truth to floundering and failing in ignorance. Do not succumb to false notions of tolerance or to fear—fear of inconvenience, disapproval, or even suffering. Remember the Savior’s promise:

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”33

Ultimately, we are all accountable to God for our choices and the lives we live. The Savior declared, “My Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.”34

Recognizing this, the Lord’s supremacy, I plead in the words of Alma:

“And now, my brethren [and sisters], I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would … cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance;

“But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit … ;

“Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.”35

May we each be able to say to the Lord with David:I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord.”36