Teaching Children about Easter

Teaching Children about Easter

Can kids comprehend the cross?

Teddy James

American Family Association Journal

Jesus and ChildrenExcept for a few details such as being “with child from the Holy Spirit,” children don’t seem to have much problem understanding the Christmas story. God came to earth as a baby. His mother was Mary; his earthy father, Joseph. They had traveled a long way and were sleeping in a barn the night He was born. The good guys, like the shepherds and the wise men, celebrated His birth, but others did not.

Compare that story with the 33-year-old Jesus voluntarily traveling to Jerusalem, celebrating Passover, staying silent before His accusers, being flogged, beaten, spat upon, having a crown of thorns forced onto His head, carrying the instrument of His homicide, nailed to a rough, wooden cross, and suffering for six hours until He died. Easter is difficult to explain and understand for adults, but much more so for children.

It is here that traditions can help families explain the tragedy and hope of Easter. Using tactile items to tell the story of Easter helps children understand the events on a level appropriate for their sensitivity and maturity. It also leaves room for their understanding to grow through the years. On top of that, new traditions help families mark, remember, and celebrate the most important of holy days in Christendom.

Resurrection Eggs
The ubiquitous plastic eggs have become synonymous with the Easter season. This has led some families to create a new tradition that embraces them but also points away from the commercialization of Easter and toward the reason we celebrate.

Parents get children to help them create or find items that go inside the eggs to symbolize the events of Easter. Most limit the items to 12 so the eggs can be kept in a common egg carton.

teaching-children-easterFamilies choose different symbols including: a cracker to symbolize the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26), silver coins (Matthew 26:14-16), a piece of leather or rope (John 19:1), a twig of thorns (Matthew 27:29), a cross (19:16-17), a large nail (John 19:18), a sign reading “King of the Jews” (Luke 23:38), a sponge (Matthew 27:48), a spear (John 19:34), cloves or spices (Luke 24:1), a rock (Matthew 27:59-60), and a white piece of linen (John 20:7). The last egg is left empty to show that Jesus left the tomb on the third day.

No matter what items are chosen, it is important to include a Scripture reference inside each egg. This will also help children see Scripture as living, breathing, and applicable rather than dry and boring.

Resurrection Tree
Building on the idea of gathering items that symbolize Easter, many families build a Resurrection Tree. The tree is unique in that it takes families from Creation to Jesus’ resurrection. Some families take 30 days to decorate the tree and spend a few minutes each day leading up to Resurrection Sunday to read Scripture and create ornaments.  (See sidebar below.)

On the first day, parents read Genesis 1-2 and children place an ornament that resembles earth on the tree. That ornament can be papier-mâché or a colored balloon. On day seven, families can read Genesis 37, 40-46 (or excerpts from those chapters) and place an ornament symbolizing Joseph’s coat of many colors. On day eight, a lamb is placed on a branch while reading Exodus 12, the story of the Passover. This is a perfect time to discuss how the Passover is a foreshadowing of Easter. Families continue working their way through God’s story of redemption to its culmination in the resurrection.

But the Resurrection Tree doesn’t have to take 30 days. Some families make one ornament for every week of Lent. (See sidebar.) Others choose to make only four ornaments the first year, carefully explaining each symbol. They add a few more the next year and further explain the ramifications of Easter to their children.

Seder Meal
Messianic Jewish congregations possess a great way of teaching that the gospel did not begin in the New Testament but was in God’s plan from the very beginning. They celebrate Passover with a Seder meal, and some choose to end the dinner with Communion.

The Seder meal consists of many elements including the washing of hands, a time during which children ask four questions and are answered by the leader of the Seder meal, the hiding and finding of the Afkomen (unleavened bread), the four cups of wine that involve a reading and response filled with history and Scripture, the partaking of the Seder plate consisting of Karpas (greens), Beltzah (a boiled egg), Maror (a bitter herb), Charoset (a sweet mixture of chopped apples, nuts, honey, and cinnamon), and the shank bone of a lamb.

Every aspect of the Seder meal has a powerful, symbolic meaning. That meaning is amplified when viewed through the lens of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. The Seder meal is a tradition thousands of years in the making and will bring extra meaning to your family’s Easter celebration.

Easter is certainly difficult to explain and hard to understand, especially for children. However, it can also be the most celebratory, meaningful, and maturing seasons in a Christian child’s life. These traditions, and many others like them, will ensure that your children remember that Easter isn’t about new clothes, candy, and an oversized bunny. It is about the Creator of the Universe clothing Himself in flesh and offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Whatever traditions you choose to establish, make sure they will be remembered, treasured, and repeated.

_____________________________

Lent – This year, Lent began on February 18, Ash Wednesday. Although the Lenten season is almost complete, it isn’t too late to prepare your family for Easter through this traditional time marked by self-examination, prayer, fasting, self-denial, and repentance.

Here are some ideas for Lent to help you get started.

  • Practice self-denial. Give up something important to you. A few examples include withholding food for one meal a day, giving up coffee or tea, abstaining from television, or choosing to read only Scripture.
  • Serve those around you. Make a special effort to follow Jesus’s life of service by finding families in your community to bless, or by making a sacrificial gift to a gospel ministry.
  • Make pretzels. Pretzels are a traditional Lenten food symbolizing arms crossed in prayer. Making pretzels is a memorable way to include children in the Lenten season.
  • Prepare your heart. Like an annual physical exam, use this time to access your relationship with Christ. Pray through the verses of Psalm 51 and meditate on it daily.
  • Begin a focused family Bible time. If your family is not in the habit of studying Scripture together, Lent is a great time to begin. The Easter story found in Mark 14-16 is an appropriate passage.

http://www.afajournal.org/recent-issues/2015/april/can-kids-comprehend-the-cross/

_____________________________

New Easter traditions

Resurrection Eggs kit
1-800-358-6329

Resurrection Tree

Seder Meal Resources

Full copy of a Haggadah

How to make an Easter Garden

How and why to celebrate the 40 days Jesus stayed on earth after His resurrection

40-day journey to Easter

Advertisements

Easter: Passion Flower and Christian Symbolism

Christian Symbolism

MarynresJesusEaster is the Sunday that celebrates the resurrection of Christ, and is one of the most holy days in the calendar of Christian churches. The Easter message is one of hope and victory over death, for it recalls that Christ rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. Easter symbolizes the love of God and the promise that man’s soul is immortal.

In many languages, the name for Easter comes from the Hebrew word “pesah”, or passover; in fact, Easter was first associated with the Hebrew festival of the Passover, which falls in the spring. Easter was celebrated at different times by the early Christian churches until 325 A.D., when the Council of Nicaea fixed the day as the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21. This always places Easter sometime between March 22 and April 25. It is believed that the council probably set the date of Easter to fall near the time of a full moon so that pilgrims journeying to worship a shrine might have moonlight to help them find their way. (xmission.com)

 

 

passionflowerPassion Flower and Christian Symbolism

by Luba Ambrose

Passiflora, a passion flower [Lat. flos passionis], is an amazing example of beauty of nature created through Divine Intervention. The flower was first discovered in the New World in the 17th century and was presented to the Old World by Jesuit missionary priests. Its unique anatomy, not found on any other flower, symbolically represents the events our Lord and God Jesus Christ went through in His last two days of His earthly life – Passions.

A piece of exquisite yet passing beauty, it comes from a bell-shaped bud to open and live for only one day and then succumb to its fading death in the same bell-shaped form. The tropical vine it grows on is lavished with multiple flowers and draws one’s attention immediately by the flower’s perfect shape and hidden mystery. The colors vary from deep purple (the color of Orthodox priests’ vestments during the Great Lent) to scarlet red, yet the numerical constituents remain the same: 10 petals (5 petals and 5 sepals identical in shape and color), 1 column, 72 corona filaments, 5 anthers, 3 stigmas.

Let’s decipher the numbers above according to Biblical story of Passions:

10 – Biblical account of Christ’s suffering tells us about St. Peter who distanced himself from Christ during His last hours, neither was Judas; whereas, 10 is the number of remaining Disciples of Christ at the time of crucifixion;

1 – Column of flagellation;

72 – Traditional number of thorns on a crown of thorns set upon Christ’s head;

5 – Total number of wounds inflicted to Christ at time of crucifixion;

3 – Nails.

resurrected ChristmedAdditionally, the vine’s leaves are shaped like a spear used to pierce Christ’s side. Some even find representation to Judas’ 30 pieces of silver (dark round spots on the underside of some species). Ominous may it seem to some or not, this flower graciously and quietly speaks of the most inspiring, life-changing and soul-bending story ever told to mankind.

The Orthodox faithful in Columbus area will have abundant services during the remaining days of Holy and Great Week of Christ’s Passion (up until Holy and Great Friday).

He is Risen! View Video

 

Easter YouTube Music: Jesus, Redeemer of my Soul

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Easter YouTube Music: Jesus, Redeemer of My Soul

Rescuing the one

Rescuing the One Sheep; vintage oil by Wilhelmena Davidson

I Stand All Amazed

Charles H. Gabriel

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine

To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,

That he should extend his great love unto such as I,

Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

 

 

 

 

“Rescue Me” from Solace Album by Jordan

Thomas Jefferson: Christian Leadership

Dinner Topics for Monday

The Real Thomas Jefferson, Part 1-3

The Real Thomas Jefferson, by Andrew M. Allison, Part 4-5

keyI hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man.

If the freedom of religion guaranteed to us by law in theory can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson, Part 4 His Presidency

This is a large book, very easy and enjoyable reading, but also packed with valuable information. I will share with you some notes and quotes, a little at a time. But don’t miss reading the entire book with your family. It belongs in every American’s home library.~C.A. Davidson

Thomas_Jefferson_by_Rembrandt_Peale,_1800Jefferson’s Presidency

“Though we differ on many points, he displayed an impartiality and a freedom from prejudice that. . .were unusual. There was a mildness and amenity in his voice and manner that at once softened any of the asperities of party spirit that I felt. . .No man can be personally acquainted with Mr. Jefferson and remain his personal enemy.”  (Justice William Paterson of the Supreme Court, one of Jefferson’s most inveterate political opponents p.219)

The tone of Jefferson’s presidency was low key. Believing that American political leaders were aping European royalty too much, he led with a simple style. He never used public funds for his social gatherings.

“A Noiseless Course”

“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.” (p.225)

Slander

James Callender, one of the victims of the Sedition Act who was pardoned by President Jefferson, became embittered when he didn’t receive a government post he wanted. He made up a series of scandalous stories, the ugliest of which accused Jefferson of an illicit relationship with Sally Hemings, a young mulatto slave at Monticello.

Federalists, jealous of Jefferson’s popularity, took up these false accusations, creating a relentless torrent of slander. Jefferson made no public response to these unscrupulous attacks. “I should have fancied myself half guilty,” he said, “had I condescended to put pen to paper in refutation to their falsehoods, or drawn to them respect by any notice from myself.” (p230)

In the face of it all, Jefferson defended the right of his countrymen to free press. He remained silent all during the calumny and instructed his cabinet to do the same.

Under the guise of “modern scholarship”, some recent scholars have “brought forth a rash of sensational and poorly researched publications designed to discredit America’s Founding Fathers.  Many of the ‘facts’ [Callender] dished up are known to be false.” (pp231-232)

Douglass Adair, one of the most highly respected historians of our era, concluded after examining all of the evidence on this matter which has now come to light: “Today, it is possible to prove that Jefferson was innocent of Callender’s charges.”

One of the recently discovered documents to which Adair referred was a letter written by the nineteenth-century biographer Henry Randall, recounting a conversation at Monticello between himself and Jefferson’s oldest grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph. In this conversation Randolph confirmed what others close to the family had already disclosed: that Sally Hemings was actually the mistress of Jefferson’s nephew, Peter Carr, and that “their connection . .  . was perfectly notorious at Monticello.” He also pointed out that “there was not the shadow of suspicion that Mr. Jefferson in this or any other instance had commerce with female slaves.” (from essays by Douglass Adair, cited by Allison on p.233)

It is virtually inconceivable that this fastidious gentleman whose devotion to his dead wife’s memory and to the happiness of his daughters and grandchildren bordered on the excessive could have carried on through a period of years a vulgar liaison which his own family could not have failed dot detect. It would be as absurd as to charge this consistently temperate man with being, through a long period, a secret drunkard. (Professor Dumas Malone, author of Pulitzer-Prize-winning six-volume biography of Jefferson p.234)

Jefferson wrote privately that he “feared no injury which any man could do me;. . .I never had done a single act or been concerned in any transaction which I feared to have fully laid open, or which could do me any hurt if truly stated.” (p234)

First Term

1801-1805—Jefferson sent American naval ships to the Mediterranean area, where they were victorious over the Barbary pirates, freeing up trade.

1802—Napoleon was threatening to establish a French empire in the Louisiana territory. Jefferson sent Robert Livingston to solve the situation diplomatically.

1803—The Louisiana Purchase. Almost one million acres were purchased for 15 million dollars, nearly doubling the physical size of the United States.

1804—Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to explore the Louisiana Territory and reach the west coast

These brilliant public achievements were overshadowed by the personal tragedy of the death of his 26-year-old daughter Mary. He deeply mourned her death, but submitted to the will of God. (He was not an atheist!)  (pp. 240-245)

Second Term

Jefferson was reelected by a large margin.

Native Americans

Jefferson was an enthusiastic student of Indian tribes and sought to provide them with instruction in agricultural and domestic arts. He had good relations with Native Americans. (pp250-253)

Aaron Burr

As Vice President in the first term, Aaron Burr often used his tie-breaking votes to favor Federalists. He was replaced as Vice President by George Clinton.

Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. There were warrants for arrest in New Jersey and New York. He lived out the last few months of his term in disgrace and exile. Burr later became involved in a plot to divide the Union. He was arrested and tried for treason.  (pp255-257)

John Marshall

Chief Justice John Marshall acquitted Burr of treason on technicalities. Federalist judges sought to consolidate all power in hands of the federal government.

Judicial Review (pp259-260)

John Marshall established the concept of “Judicial Review”, enabling the federal courts to void Congressional laws by declaring them unconstitutional.

President Jefferson warned that Judicial Review endangered the separation-of-powers principle.

The opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action, but for the legislative and executive also in their spheres, would make the judiciary a despotic branch.

Jefferson was urged by his friends to run for a third term, but he declined. He recommended an amendment to the Constitution limiting the President to two terms.

Teach your family why Religious Freedom Matters

Dinner Talk Topics

1. If our young adults are to restore the culture of liberty, why is it vital we seek truthful history from reliable sources? Watch out for Wikipedia versions of history. Its articles on Jefferson give credence to the slanderous Sally Hemings story. The Real Thomas Jefferson was recommended by Glenn Beck. You can find many sources of historical truth and helpful analysis at his web site.

2. Do you think  today’s “Judicial Review” threatens our liberty? Why?

The Real Thomas Jefferson: The True Story of America’s Philosopher of Freedom

Part 5

Andrew M. Allison

Dear Reader,

This is the final segment of my notes and quotes from this American Classic. The Real Thomas Jefferson, by Andrew M. Allison, is a character education experience that your children must not miss. Truly, Thomas Jefferson was an exemplary epic hero. Not only is this book easy and interesting reading—it is memorable. Bless your children by reading it together with them. You, and they, will be glad you did. And they will never forget it. ~C.A. Davidson

 

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson, Part 4: Retirement and Closing Years

Character Education, Thomas-Jefferson-style

Teaching Youth their Biblical Heritage  Click Here

Awards for foot races were as follows: three pieces of dried fruit—figs, prunes, or dates—to the victor, two to the second, and one to the lagger who came in last. One of his granddaughters described his method of character education.

He talked with us freely, affectionately, and never lost an opportunity of giving a pleasure or a good lesson. He reproved without wounding us, and commended without making us vain. He took pains to correct our errors and false ideas, checked the bold, encouraged the timid, and tried to teach us to reason soundly and feel rightly. Our smaller follies he treated with good-humored raillery, our graver ones with kind and serious admonition. He was watchful over our manners, and called our attention to every violation of propriety. (Ellen Coolidge, p278-279)

In 1820 he received 1,267 letters. He wrote more letters by his own hand than any other public man that ever lived. An invention  by John Hawkins of Philadelphia called the polygraph preserved 19,000 letters by duplicating them. After 1804 he produced a file copy of almost every letter he wrote. He made several improvements on the polygraph. (p 283)

Dr. Benjamin Rush, a good friend of Jefferson, wrote to both Jefferson and John Adams, urging both men to heal a rift caused by political differences. Both of the former Presidents indicated that they wanted to put aside past disagreements and renew their friendship. Adams said, “I always loved Jefferson, and still love him.” (pp284-285)  The two renewed their friendship and wrote letters for fourteen years.

Monroe Doctrine

monroe-doctrine1823—Jefferson’s successor,  James Monroe, consulted him about European influence in Latin America, which was widely feared. Said Jefferson, “Our first and fundamental maxim should be never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe. Our second, never to suffer Europe to intermeddle with cis-Atlantic affairs. From this emerged the Monroe Doctrine. (p287)

Missouri Question

Jefferson very reluctantly accepted Missouri’s entering the union as a slave state, because they threatened to secede.

“I can say, with conscious truth, that there is a not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would to relieve us from this heavy reproach [i.e., slavery]in any practicable way.” He maintained hope to his dying day of emancipating the slaves. (p 289)

Visitors to Monticello

Jefferson was so loved that he had thousands of visitors continually for eight months of the year, from all over the world. Although Jefferson welcomed the visitors cheerfully and graciously, they often proved a burden to him and to his daughter Martha, who served as hostess. She would often have to prepare for as many as fifty overnight guests.

People even invaded the halls of his home just to get a look at him. One woman actually punched through a window with her parasol just to get a better view of him.

People would gaze at him point-blank as at a creature in the zoo. “They wanted to tell their children, and have it told to their grandchildren, that they had seen Thomas Jefferson.” (pp290-291)

The accommodation of these visitors, the social events in Washington that he paid from his own pocket, neglect of his plantations during his forty years of public service; his enormous generosity to his grandchildren, to local beggars, and to various charitable organizations, all mounted the great indebtedness he struggled with. One biographer wrote, “His contributions to religious, educational, and charitable objects through his life would have made his old age opulent!” (p 305)

University of Virginia

Jefferson spent the closing years of his life establishing a state university. “He believed that these two great purposes—‘the freedom and happiness of man’—should serve as the polestars of all educational programs throughout the Republic. (p 296)  The university opened in 1825, one year before his death.

I am a Real Christian

Another project of Jefferson was to compile in several languages all the New Testament passages which he understood to be the actual utterances of Jesus Christ. He titled this little book, “the Philosophy of Jesus.”

A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen. It is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus—very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what its Author never said nor saw.(p 299)

Jefferson was reticent on the subject of religion. This caused his political enemies to label him as an atheist. During his presidency, he wrote to Benjamin Rush:

My views of [the Christian religion] are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be—sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others.

I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man. (pp 300-301)

Many Americans in the early nineteenth century shared the hope of a re-establishment of the Christian religion in its “original purity” in the United States.

Anticipation of the Restoration of Pure and Original Christianity

If the freedom of religion guaranteed to us by law in theory can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.

Closing scenes of a noble life

Jefferson and his old friend John Adams passed away within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence—that immortal document which he wrote.

He had desired a private interment, but crowds of neighbors and friends waited at the grave to bid farewell and a last tribute of respect and affection.  The “nation’s newspapers and lecture halls overflowed for months with eulogies to honor America’s champion of liberty.  His countrymen of that day seemed to sense, as we do now, that the world is not likely ever to produce another Thomas Jefferson.”

One American declared eloquently, “The grief that such a man is dead may be well assuaged by the proud consolation that such a man has lived.”  (pp 316-318)

Teaching Youth their Biblical Heritage  Click Here

Dinner Talk Topics

1. What comment by Jefferson indicated that he looked forward to a restoration of Christianity in its pure form?

2. Discuss the wisdom of the Monroe Doctrine

3. Together with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, Jefferson was appointed to draw up a proposal for the Great Seal of the United States. Although Congress later adopted a simpler design, Jefferson took this occasion to emphasize the historical influence of two earlier civilizations on the liberties of his countrymen. One side of his proposed seal depicted the Anglo-Saxon leader Hengist and Horsa, while the other side portrayed the ancient Israelites being led through the wilderness by God’s pillar of fire. (Allison, The Real Thomas Jefferson, pp. 73-74)

List principles and actions by Jefferson which exemplified, supported, and perpetuated the Judeo-Christian culture of liberty.

 

Quotes by Thomas Jefferson

Historical Note about Jefferson’s contributions to the Great Seal of the United States

Together with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, Jefferson was appointed to draw up a proposal for the Great Seal of the United States. Although Congress later adopted a simpler design, Jefferson took this occasion to emphasize the historical influence of two earlier civilizations on the liberties of his countrymen. One side of his proposed seal depicted the Anglo-Saxon leader Hengist and Horsa, while the other side portrayed the ancient Israelites being led through the wilderness by God’s pillar of fire. (Allison, The Real Thomas Jefferson, pp. 73-74)

Quotations

“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

We can surely boast of having set the world a beautiful example of a government reformed by reason alone, without bloodshed. . . but the world is too far oppressed to profit by the example.

In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. (Allison, p. 200)

“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another; for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents. “

“As to the calumny of atheism, I am so broken to calumnies of every kind. . .that I entirely disregard it … It has been so impossible to contradict all their lies that I have determined to contradict none, for while I should be engaged with one they would publish twenty new ones. [My] thirty years of public  life have enabled most of those who read newspapers to judge of one for themselves.”

My views of [the Christian religion] are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be—sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others.

I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man.

If the freedom of religion guaranteed to us by law in theory can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by his pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.

Teaching Youth their Biblical Heritage  Click Here

Thomas Jefferson: Champion of Liberty

jeffersontyrannygovDinner Topics for Monday

key“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another; for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.~Thomas Jefferson

Book Reviews: Thomas Jefferson history

The Real Thomas Jefferson: The True Story of America’s Philosopher of Freedom, PART 1

Andrew M. Allison

Book Reviews: This is a large book, very easy and enjoyable reading, but also packed with valuable information. I will share with you some notes and quotes, a little at a time. But don’t miss reading the entire book with your family. It belongs in every American’s home library.

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson

C.A. Davidson

Thomas Jefferson rarely spoke in government sessions. He never made a political speech.(p.45) He preferred to remain in the background, but he was famous for his “power of the pen.” He said Congress talks too much, but they are all lawyers, what else do you expect? (pp. 112, 150)

During the deliberations of the House of Burgesses in colonial Virginia, Jefferson declared a day of fasting and prayer to try to resolve issues, but, as usual, the royal governor, Lord Dunmore, dissolved their assembly. (p.49)

Legislative work

Property ownership.  In October 1776 he initiated and passed bills to end the custom of “entail”, which means that the oldest son automatically inherits all the property, and other siblings receive nothing.

Voting. In those days people had to own property in order to qualify to vote. That custom was not eliminated, but Jefferson created an extremely low property qualification for voting. He believed that an agrarian society of many small landholders was the safest foundation for a republican government.

Education

He believed that the exercise of political power should be based on knowledge, not ignorance.

Quote: Experience has shown that even under the best forms [of government], those entrusted with power have in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and. . .the most effectual means of preventing this would be to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large. . . (p.82)

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson, Part 2

C.A. Davidson

Diplomacy in France

Architecture

The building in Richmond VA is patterned after a Roman temple in southern France. Jefferson did more than any other man to stimulate classical revival in America. He has been referred to as the “father of our national architecture.” P.129

Life in France 

He was critical of the vain and indolent lifestyle of many women in France, and cautioned Americans against European luxury and dissipation.

Maria Cosway was an English artist whom Jefferson befriended in Paris. Some modern writers have tried to call their relationship a “love affair”, but Jefferson was devoted to his deceased wife. Responsible historians  have demonstrated that “there is absolutely no evidence nor reason to believe that the relation became anything but platonic.” P.133

Although Jefferson did not appreciate the morals of Parisian society, he loved the people and,  greatly appreciating French culture, he enthusiastically took in all he could during his stay there. He was a good friend of the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolutionary War. P.135

Constitution

Although Jefferson was not physically present for the writing of the United States Constitution, he was highly influential in the creation of the document. From France he sent Madison 200 volumes on various forms of confederate governments attempted throughout history.

He urged proper division of powers: legislative, executive, and judiciary. He disliked the eligibility of the president to be re-elected indefinitely, and the absence of a bill of rights. pp 139-141

Quote

We can surely boast of having set the world a beautiful example of a government reformed by reason alone, without bloodshed. . . but the world is too far oppressed to profit by the example. P. 143

Personal character

He never used tobacco, profanity or playing cards. He gave away much to the poor; deer ate out of his hand.

Several of his inventions are familiar in our era—the swivel chair, revolving table top, folding campstool, adjustable music stand. He appreciated comforts and conveniences. pp 178-186

Andrew M. Allison

Notes and Quotes on the life of Thomas Jefferson, Part 3 The Election

C.A. Davidson

In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. (Allison, p. 200)

The Alien and Sedition acts brought about the permanent dissolution of the Federalist Party.

“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another; for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents. “ p 203

Teaching Youth their Biblical Heritage  Click Here

 The Truth about Thomas Jefferson

Attacks by the newspapers—(really no different from media attacks of today. C.D.)

Jefferson did not even campaign for the presidency, but he was so much liked that people nominated him. There were many slanderous attacks against him.

The charge of atheism was the most pressed in this campaign: it was not only made in the public press; it was hurled from pulpits in various places. . .As the story goes, the time was approaching when Bibles were to be hidden in New England’s wells.  Dumas Malone, Jefferson the Virginian, pp. 479, 481

Jefferson chose not to defend himself publicly against the many vulgar accusations. To James Monroe he said, “As to the calumny of atheism, I am so broken to calumnies of every kind. . .that I entirely disregard it. . .It has been so impossible to contradict all their lies that I have determined to contradict none, for while I should be engaged with one they would publish twenty new ones. [My] thirty years of public  life have enabled most of those who read newspapers to judge of one for themselves.” Pp 203

Those in public office who choose to hurl personal attacks at their opponents, instead of analyzing the policies and principles involved, should pay attention to these words by Jefferson. (C.D.)

On the day that Jefferson’s election to office was publicized, he visited John Adams.

He was very sensibly affected, and accosted me with these words: “Well, I understand that you are to beat me in this contest, and I will only say that I will be as faithful a subject as any you will have.”

“Mr. Adams,” said I, “this is no personal contest between you and me. Two systems of principles on the subject of government divide our fellow citizens into two parties. With one of these you concur, and I with the other. As we have been longer on the public stage than most of those now living, our names happen to be more generally known. One of these parties, therefore, has put your name at its head, the other mine. Were we both to die today, tomorrow tow other names would be in the place of ours, without any change in the motion of the machinery. Its motion is from its principle, not from you or myself.”

“I believe you are right,” said he, “that we are but passive instruments, and should not suffer this matter to affect our personal dispositions.” (Allison, pp 206-207)

Jefferson was the candidate of the party representing republican principles, and also the choice of the people. Aaron Burr was the choice of the Federalist Party. The vote was taken by states, not delegates. The states were equally divided between the Republican and Federalist parties.  Congress was deadlocked for an entire week and for more than thirty ballots. Finally the deadlock was broken on the 36th ballot by James A. Bayard of Delaware, who was the only delegate from his state, Delaware. (p.212)

This procedural problem was corrected by the 12th amendment to the Constitution.(p.207)

Teaching Youth their Biblical Heritage  Click Here

Dinner Talk Topics

1. Compare the events of Jefferson’s election to the political scene in our day.

2. In Jefferson’s time the press (today called the media) was irresponsible in its reporting. Do you find similarities in media reporting today? Which media sources do you think are responsible and truthful?

Teaching Youth Moral Character Click Here

Jesus, the Fall, and Mercy for the Soul

Dinner Topics for Easter

What is the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

Month-Defining Moment

See More Defining Moments

Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet

By  Jeffrey R. Holland

He died, a broken law to satisfy . . .

keyHow great, how glorious, how complete, redemption’s grand design,

Where justice, love, and mercy meet in harmony divine! ~Eliza R. Snow

climbupWithout safety ropes, harnesses, or climbing gear of any kind, two brothers—Jimmy, age 14, and John, age 19 (though those aren’t their real names)—attempted to scale a sheer canyon wall in Snow Canyon State Park in my native southern Utah. Near the top of their laborious climb, they discovered that a protruding ledge denied them their final few feet of ascent. They could not get over it, but neither could they now retreat from it. They were stranded. After careful maneuvering, John found enough footing to boost his younger brother to safety on top of the ledge. But there was no way to lift himself. The more he strained to find finger or foot leverage, the more his muscles began to cramp. Panic started to sweep over him, and he began to fear for his life.

Unable to hold on much longer, John decided his only option was to try to jump vertically in an effort to grab the top of the overhanging ledge. If successful, he might, by his considerable arm strength, pull himself to safety.

In his own words, he said:

“Prior to my jump I told Jimmy to go search for a tree branch strong enough to extend down to me, although I knew there was nothing of the kind on this rocky summit. It was only a desperate ruse. If my jump failed, the least I could do was make certain my little brother did not see me falling to my death.

“Giving him enough time to be out of sight, I said my last prayer—that I wanted my family to know I loved them and that Jimmy could make it home safely on his own—then I leapt. There was enough adrenaline in my spring that the jump extended my arms above the ledge almost to my elbows. But as I slapped my hands down on the surface, I felt nothing but loose sand on flat stone. I can still remember the gritty sensation of hanging there with nothing to hold on to—no lip, no ridge, nothing to grab or grasp. I felt my fingers begin to recede slowly over the sandy surface. I knew my life was over.

Helping_Hand_430-Large“But then suddenly, like a lightning strike in a summer storm, two hands shot out from somewhere above the edge of the cliff, grabbing my wrists with a strength and determination that belied their size. My faithful little brother had not gone looking for any fictitious tree branch. Guessing exactly what I was planning to do, he had never moved an inch. He had simply waited—silently, almost breathlessly—knowing full well I would be foolish enough to try to make that jump. When I did, he grabbed me, held me, and refused to let me fall. Those strong brotherly arms saved my life that day as I dangled helplessly above what would surely have been certain death.”1

My beloved brothers and sisters, today is Easter Sunday. Although we should always remember (we promise in our weekly sacramental prayers that we will), nevertheless this is the most sacred day of the year for special remembrance of brotherly hands and determined arms that reached into the abyss of death to save us from our fallings and our failings, from our sorrows and our sins. Against the background of this story reported by John and Jimmy’s family, I express my gratitude for the Atonement and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and acknowledge events in the divine plan of God that led up to and give meaning to “the love Jesus offers [us].”2

Understanding the Fall

AdamandEveresizeIn our increasingly secular society, it is as uncommon as it is unfashionable to speak of Adam and Eve or the Garden of Eden or of a “fortunate fall” into mortality. Nevertheless, the simple truth is that we cannot fully comprehend the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ and we will not adequately appreciate the unique purpose of His birth or His death—in other words, there is no way to truly celebrate Christmas or Easter—without understanding that there was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequences that fall carried with it.

I do not know the details of what happened on this planet before that, but I do know these two were created under the divine hand of God, that for a time they lived alone in a paradisiacal setting where there was neither human death nor future family, and that through a sequence of choices they transgressed a commandment of God which required that they leave their garden setting but which allowed them to have children before facing physical death.3 To add further sorrow and complexity to their circumstance, their transgression had spiritual consequences as well, cutting them off from the presence of God forever. Because we were then born into that fallen world and because we too would transgress the laws of God, we also were sentenced to the same penalties that Adam and Eve faced.

adam-and-eve-offering-sacrificesWhat a plight! The entire human race in free fall—every man, woman, and child in it physically tumbling toward permanent death, spiritually plunging toward eternal anguish. Is that what life was meant to be? Is this the grand finale of the human experience? Are we all just hanging in a cold canyon somewhere in an indifferent universe, each of us searching for a toehold, each of us seeking for something to grip—with nothing but the feeling of sand sliding under our fingers, nothing to save us, nothing to hold on to, much less anything to hold on to us? Is our only purpose in life an empty existential exercise—simply to leap as high as we can, hang on for our prescribed three score years and ten, then fail and fall, and keep falling forever?

The answer to those questions is an unequivocal and eternal no! With prophets ancient and modern, I testify that “all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.”4 Thus, from the moment those first parents stepped out of the Garden of Eden, the God and Father of us all, anticipating Adam and Eve’s decision, dispatched the very angels of heaven to declare to them—and down through time to us—that this entire sequence was designed for our eternal happiness.

God’s Divine Plan Provides Mercy for Our Souls

Jesus-gethsemane-Greatest-of-All-Del-Parson-211887It was part of His divine plan, which provided for a Savior, the very Son of God Himself—another “Adam,” the Apostle Paul would call Him5—who would come in the meridian of time to atone for the first Adam’s transgression. That Atonement would achieve complete victory over physical death, unconditionally granting resurrection to every person who has been born or ever will be born into this world. Mercifully it would also provide forgiveness for the personal sins of all, from Adam to the end of the world, conditioned upon repentance and obedience to divine commandments.

As one of His ordained witnesses, I declare this Easter morning that Jesus of Nazareth was and is that Savior of the world, the “last Adam,”6 the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Alpha and Omega of eternal life. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,”7 Paul declared. And from the prophet-patriarch Lehi: “Adam fell that men might be. … And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall.”8 Most thoroughly of all, the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob taught as part of a two-day sermon on the Atonement of Jesus Christ that “the resurrection must … come … by reason of the fall.”9

So today we celebrate the gift of victory over every fall we have ever experienced, every sorrow we have ever known, every discouragement we have ever had, every fear we have ever faced—to say nothing of our resurrection from death and forgiveness for our sins. That victory is available to us because of events that transpired on a weekend precisely like this nearly two millennia ago in Jerusalem.

Gethsemane-Adam-Abram-627013-Beginning in the spiritual anguish of the Garden of Gethsemane, moving to the Crucifixion on a cross at Calvary, and concluding on a beautiful Sunday morning inside a donated tomb, a sinless, pure, and holy man, the very Son of God Himself, did what no other deceased person had ever done nor ever could do. Under His own power, He rose from death, never to have His body separated from His spirit again. Of His own volition, He shed the burial linen with which He had been bound, carefully putting the burial napkin that had been placed over His face “in a place by itself,”10 the scripture says.

That first Easter sequence of Atonement and Resurrection constitutes the most consequential moment, the most generous gift, the most excruciating pain, and the most majestic manifestation of pure love ever to be demonstrated in the history of this world. Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, suffered, died, and rose from death in order that He could, like lightning in a summer storm, grasp us as we fall, hold us with His might, and through our obedience to His commandments, lift us to eternal life.

Jesus-Christ-holland-victory-fall-sorrow-This Easter I thank Him and the Father, who gave Him to us, that Jesus still stands triumphant over death, although He stands on wounded feet. This Easter I thank Him and the Father, who gave Him to us, that He still extends unending grace, although He extends it with pierced palms and scarred wrists. This Easter I thank Him and the Father, who gave Him to us, that we can sing before a sweat-stained garden, a nail-driven cross, and a gloriously empty tomb:

How great, how glorious, how complete

Redemption’s grand design,

Where justice, love, and mercy meet

In harmony divine!1

 

 

 

 

  1. Correspondence in the possession of Jeffrey R. Holland.
  2. “I Stand All Amazed,” Hymns, 193.
  3. See 2 Nephi 2:19–29, especially verses 20–23; Moses 5:10–11
  4. 2 Nephi 2:24.
  5. See 1 Corinthians 15:45.
  6. 1 Corinthians 15:45.
  7. 1 Corinthians 15:22.
  8. 2 Nephi 2:25–26.
  9. 2 Nephi 9:6.
  10. John 20:7.
  11. “How Great the Wisdom and the Love,” Hymns, 195.

Journey of Faith: William Wordsworth, Purpose in Life, and Quotes about Life Lessons

Dinner Topics for Monday

William Wordsworth, Poet of Faith

How do I find my way Home?  …There is a Plan.

keyThe following excerpt from Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality” suggests that our home is with God in heaven. It reminded me of my own piece, entitled “The Map,” which touches on our purpose here on earth. We are here on earth with a quest: to learn how to return Home triumphant and live in heaven with our Father who loves us. ~C.A. Davidson

William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850) was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads. Wordsworth was Britain’s Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850.

Helping_Hand_430-LargeOde: Intimations of Immortality

By William Wordsworth

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar:

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home:

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Shades of the prison-house begin to close

Upon the growing Boy,

But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,

He sees it in his joy; (lines 58–70)

More about William Wordsworth

 

MapThe Map

Which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?  (Luke 14:18)

You may have been on a tour of some kind, with a map at the beginning, and at points along the way, wherein a mark indicates your current position with the words, “You are Here.”

By now you are fully aware that you are here on earth.  You may not be sure how you got to this point, or why you are here.  All you may know right now is that you are here, and the most pressing question now is, where are you going from here?  You need a good map.

One definition of “map” is to “plan in detail.”  It has been said that sometimes we plan our vacations with more care than we plan our lives.  Fortunately, God planned the creation, not only of our dwelling place, but also of us, His children.  The way we turned out was not left to chance or guess work.  Furthermore, a plan is provided to help us find our way through this mortal existence to the desired goal.

The first thing we look for on the map is our destination.  Amulek, a great Christian missionary, said that this life is the time to prepare to meet God.  The object, therefore, would be that we emerge from this earthly training session with the capability of standing on holy ground when we arrive there.  During this preparation period, then, we would expect to gain experience, and be tested to see if we have developed that capability.  Just as a delicate butterfly must struggle free from a confining cocoon to develop the power to fly, and to fulfill the measure of its creation, so we must endure certain inevitable pressures.  But there is no avoiding it if we are to achieve the necessary holiness to withstand God’s presence. He allowed His Son to endure all things to pay that price which we could not pay ourselves.  What if He had cracked under pressure?

Joseph resists TEven those tests which are not wholly unexpected can be overwhelming and painful.  We can’t instantly solve life’s every riddle, nor can we anticipate every problem that will come our way.  The very uncertainty can be frightening.  However, we can prepare ahead of time for certain tests that may lie in our path.  We can decide ahead of time that we will keep ourselves pure, and that we will avoid temptations that could destroy us.  Just as Joseph fled the wiles of Potiphar’s wife, so we can steer clear of obvious moral entrapments.  If the decision is made once and for all, at the beginning, then there will be no vacillation under pressure which could cause regrettable consequences.  The faster the lesson is learned, the sooner the trial passes and peace returns.  Prior preparation can take much of the fear out of our journey.

At times our soul may yearn to escape the furnace of affliction to which we were born. But the thrust of mortality impels each to the battle front, and there is no turning back.  And in the end, buoyed up by enduring obedience, we can emerge on the surface cleansed from the evils of this generation. It is all part of the eternal plan, and therein is the miracle.

Dinner Talk Topic: Planning ahead gives focus and purpose in life. *Planning, Purpose

1. How can training prepare us for critical decisions?

2. How can daily study, prayer, and keeping the commandments help us avoid unrighteous detours in our lives?

3. How can obedience to the Ten Commandments free us from temptation?

4. What is the connection between faith and works? (James 2:20)

5. How do we set proper priorities and keep them straight?

Crisis of Meaning?

Help Youth find Meaning and Purpose in Life  Click Here

Copyright © 2010 by C.A. Davidson

US Constitution Series 16: Our Government has 3 Parts—Law, President, and Courts

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

US Constitution Series 16: Three Separate Branches of Government—Legislative, Executive, and Judicial

John Adams Pushes Separation-of-Powers Doctrine: Law, President, and Courts

3-branches-govtIn 1776, when it first became apparent that the American people would have to set up their own government, John Adams practically stood alone in advocating a government built on a separation of powers. Even before the Declaration of Independence he was advocating a new national government with three separate departments but found himself severely criticized for such a revolutionary idea. (Skousen, 198)

John Adams Studies the “Divine Science” of Good Government

It is interesting that John Adams should have been the first among the Founding Fathers to capture the vision of Montesquieu in setting up a self-repairing national government under the separation-of-powers doctrine. As we pointed out earlier, he looked upon politics as a “divine science,” and determined to devote his life to its study. (Skousen, 199)

John Adams Writes Separation of Powers into a the Massachusetts Constitution

[I]n spite of all the opposition John Adams encountered, he did succeed, almost single-handedly, in getting his state to adopt a constitution based on separation of powers. (Skousen, 201)

 

The Modern Apostle of the Divine Science of Good Government Unappreciated for a Century

johnadams2In later years, Adams was successful in getting his ideas incorporated in the U.S. Constitution, but he was never able to gain a genuine acceptance of himself. Even though he was elected the first Vice President of the United States and the second President, he very shortly disappeared into history with scarcely a ripple. A hundred years after the founding of the country, neither Washington nor Massachusetts had erected any kind of monument to John Adams. It was only as scholars began digging into the origins of American constitutionalism that John Adams suddenly loomed up into proper perspective. Even he suspected there would be very few who would remember what he had attempted to accomplish. (Skousen, 201)

 

A Constitution for 300 Million Freemen

Nevertheless his political precepts of the “divine science” of government caught on. Even Pennsylvania revised its constitution to include the separation of powers principle, and Benjamin Franklin, one of the last to be converted, finally acknowledged that the Constitution of the United States with its separation of powers was as perfect as man could be expected to produce. He urged all of the members of the Convention to sign it so that it would have unanimous support.

John Adams said it was his aspiration “to see rising in America an empire of liberty, and the prospect of two or three hundred millions of freemen, without one noble or one king among them.” (Koch, The American Enlightenment, p. 191)

NEXT—

Principle 17: A System of Checks and Balances to Prevent the Abuse of Power

US Constitution Series 15: Government, Liberty, and Business Economy

 

 

 

Parents Teaching Children Character: Respect vs. Ego

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Parenting Value: Respect, Part 1.  General Guidelines. Don’t miss these helpful points on character education.

Richard and Linda Eyre

key Children born between 1980 and 1995, called “millennials,” now saturate the job market …They are typically demanding, impertinent, and narcissistic. They need constant affirmation and expect to be catered to. ~Reb Bradley

childhelpingotherMore respect for others, less egocentric. Becoming more extra-centered and less self-centered. Learning empathy. ~ Richard and Linda Eyre

Some children have a natural and seemingly inherent sense of caring and sensitivity. Such cases are rather rare, however, and the self-centered “surrounded by mirrors” perspective of life is typical of most children, particularly adolescents. In fact most of the problems teenagers face (whether taking the form of rebellion or of extreme shyness and withdrawal) stem from their rather intense preoccupation with self.

Sample Method for Preschool Age: “Put Yourself in the Picture” Game

This game lets children practice at empathizing with someone they have never met or spoken to. Watch for pictures in magazine that show people in situations that are unusual to you and your children. These could range from a man on a horse in the mountains to a girl in a magazine clothing ad. Almost any magazine has several pictures or advertisements that will work for this exercise.

The game consists of looking at the picture and attempting to describe how the person in the picture feels. This can start on a physical level as you try to imagine what he sees and hears, whether she is cold or warm, and so forth. Then try to go beyond the physical and speculate how he or she might feel emotionally. Have a discussion about it. Let each person imagine how the subject feels and express his or her own observations.

A variation of the game is to give each player a different picture to study, then have them give a short speech or write a brief theme on what the subject feels.

Sample Method for Elementary Age: The Noticing Game

boytieshoeThis game trains children to see more that is outside themselves and thus to be less self-aware. Form a habit of playing “the noticing game” when you are traveling or going to any unfamiliar place with children. Ask them, without notice or warning, to close and cover their eyes. Then ask them to describe, as best they can, the room or scene they are in (the walls, the lighting, the carpet, the trees, the sky, etc.). Let them also play the game on you. The exercise in observing and being aware of where you are and what is around you is good training for empathy and sensitivity.

 

 

Sample Method for Adolescents: The Mirror-Window Lesson

Make an effort to tell your children how the things they do make you feel. This will help children be more aware of your feelings and be more sensitive toward them. If a teenager tells you that you are weird, tell him that that hurts your feelings. Sometimes children think of parents as people on whom they can vent their feelings without making a dent.

This lesson can help adolescents conceptualize and appreciate the difference between self-centeredness and extra-centeredness. Try to get a piece of one-way glass (mirror windowfrom one side, window from other). If you can’t find one, a plain piece of glass will do. Point out that when it is dark behind the glass, it is a mirror — all you see in it is yourself. When it is light behind it, you see through it — you see other people and not your own reflection. Point out to your children that life is much the same. When our minds are dark and self-centered, we only see ourselves (“What’s best for me?” “How will that affect me?” “What can this person do for me?”) In this mode we are always unhappy and self-conscious.

 

youthservingBut when we light up and look at other people — trying to listen, trying to see their needs, and so on — we “lose ourselves” and quit worrying about ourselves and feeling self-conscious.

Remember that unselfishness does not come naturally. Try to maintain your patience as you implement this “month.” Everyone, although in varying degrees, is born with a certain amount of selfishness. There is no quick fix for learning to be unselfish. It is a process that takes thinking and practicing and a certain amount of maturity to develop.

YouTube Music: Classic Haydn

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyAbility may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.

YouTube Music: “The Heavens Are Telling”; Haydn Creation Oratorio

YouTube Music: Haydn Symphony No. 94, 2nd Movement: Surprise!

From Wikipedia

haydnFranz Joseph Haydn 31 March[1] 1732 – 31 May 1809), known as Joseph Haydn,[2] was an Austrian[3] composer, one of the most prolific and prominent of the Classical period. He is often called the “Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet” because of his important contributions to these forms. He was also instrumental in the development of the piano trio and in the evolution of sonata form.[4][5]

A lifelong resident of Austria, Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family on their remote estate. Isolated from other composers and trends in music until the later part of his long life, he was, as he put it, “forced to become original”.[6] At the time of his death, he was one of the most celebrated composers in Europe.

Joseph Haydn was the brother of Michael Haydn, himself a highly regarded composer, and Johann Evangelist Haydn, a tenor. He was also a close friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.

Early life

Joseph Haydn was born in Rohrau, Austria, a village near the border with Hungary. His father was Mathias Haydn, a wheelwright who also served as “Marktrichter”, an office akin to village mayor. Haydn’s mother Maria, née Koller, had previously worked as a cook in the palace of Count Harrach, the presiding aristocrat of Rohrau. Neither parent could read music;[7] however, Mathias was an enthusiastic folk musician, who during the journeyman period of his career had taught himself to play the harp. According to Haydn’s later reminiscences, his childhood family was extremely musical, and frequently sang together and with their neighbours.[8]

Haydn’s parents had noticed that their son was musically gifted and knew that in Rohrau he would have no chance to obtain any serious musical training. It was for this reason that they accepted a proposal from their relative Johann Matthias Frankh, the schoolmaster and choirmaster in Hainburg, that Haydn be apprenticed to Frankh in his home to train as a musician. Haydn therefore went off with Frankh to Hainburg 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) away and never again lived with his parents. He was about six years old.

Life in the Frankh household was not easy for Haydn, who later remembered being frequently hungry[9] as well as constantly humiliated by the filthy state of his clothing.[10] However, he did begin his musical training there, and soon was able to play both harpsichord and violin. The people of Hainburg heard him sing treble parts in the church choir.

There is reason to think that Haydn’s singing impressed those who heard him, because in 1739[11] he was brought to the attention of Georg von Reutter, the director of music in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, who happened to be visiting Hainburg. Haydn passed his audition with Reutter, and in 1740 moved to Vienna, where he worked for the next nine years as a chorister, after 1745 in the company of his younger brother Michael.

Haydn lived in the Kapellhaus next to the cathedral, along with Reutter, Reutter’s family, and the other four choirboys.[12] He was instructed in Latin and other school subjects as well as voice, violin, and keyboard.[13] Reutter was of little help to Haydn in the areas of music theory and composition, giving him only two lessons in his entire time as chorister.[14] However, since St. Stephen’s was one of the leading musical centers in Europe, Haydn was able to learn a great deal simply by serving as a professional musician there.[15]

Struggles as a freelancer

By 1749, Haydn had matured physically to the point that he was no longer able to sing high choral parts—the Empress herself complained to Reutter about his singing, calling it “crowing”.[17] One day, Haydn carried out a prank, snipping off the pigtail of a fellow chorister.[17] This was enough for Reutter: Haydn was first caned, then summarily dismissed and sent into the streets with no home to go to.[18] He had the good fortune to be taken in by a friend, Johann Michael Spangler, who shared his family’s crowded garret room with Haydn for a few months. Haydn immediately began his pursuit of a career as a freelance musician.

During this arduous time, Haydn worked at many different jobs: as a music teacher, as a street serenader, and eventually, in 1752, as valet–accompanist for the Italian composer Nicola Porpora, from whom he later said he learned “the true fundamentals of composition”.[19] He also was briefly in Count Friedrich Wilhelm von Haugwitz‘s employ, playing the organ in the Bohemian Chancellery chapel at the Judenplatz.[20]

When he was a chorister, Haydn had not received serious training in music theory and composition, which he perceived as a serious gap. To fill it, he worked his way through the counterpoint exercises in the text Gradus ad Parnassum by Johann Joseph Fux, and carefully studied the work of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, whom he later acknowledged as an important influence.[21]

musicnotesAs his skills increased, Haydn began to acquire a public reputation, first as the composer of an opera, Der krumme Teufel “The Limping Devil”, written for the comic actor Johann Joseph Felix Kurz, whose stage name was “Bernardon”. The work was premiered successfully in 1753, but was soon closed down by the censors.[22] Haydn also noticed, apparently without annoyance, that works he had simply given away were being published and sold in local music shops.[23] Between 1754 and 1756 Haydn also worked freelance for the court in Vienna. He was among several musicians who were paid for services as supplementary musicians at balls given for the imperial children during carnival season, and as supplementary singers in the imperial chapel (the Hofkapelle) in Lent and Holy Week.[24]

With the increase in his reputation, Haydn eventually obtained aristocratic patronage, crucial for the career of a composer in his day. Countess Thun,[25] having seen one of Haydn’s compositions, summoned him and engaged him as her singing and keyboard teacher.[26] In 1756, Baron Carl Josef Fürnberg employed Haydn at his country estate, Weinzierl, where the composer wrote his first string quartets. Fürnberg later recommended Haydn to Count Morzin, who, in 1757,[27] became his first full-time employer.[28]

The return to Vienna in 1795 marked the last turning point in Haydn’s career. Although his musical style evolved little, his intentions as a composer changed. While he had been a servant, and later a busy entrepreneur, Haydn wrote his works quickly and in profusion, with frequent deadlines. As a rich man, Haydn now felt that he had the privilege of taking his time and writing for posterity. This is reflected in the subject matter of The Creation (1798) and The Seasons (1801), which address such weighty topics as the meaning of life and the purpose of humankind, and represent an attempt to render the sublime in music. Haydn’s new intentions also meant that he was willing to spend much time on a single work: both oratorios took him over a year to complete. Haydn once remarked that he had worked on The Creation so long because he wanted it to last.[70]

The change in Haydn’s approach was important in the history of classical music, as other composers were soon following his lead. Notably, Beethoven adopted the practice of taking his time and aiming high.[71]

Read more about Haydn