Owing to the fact that I am LDS - meaning I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - and having a testimony, by the Holy Spirit, that this church is true, is the living Christ's living church, and that there is no way to return to our God but by the principles and ordinances administered therein, I would exhort any who come to this page to investigate these claims for yourselves. Below are links to resources I think you'll find helpful in this. The sources are all produced by either the church or its members. You may wonder whether you can get an accurate picture of things this way, but consider this: would I be able to get an accurate sense of who you are, as a person, if I enquired about you to those who hate you? Most non-Mormon writings about the Mormon church are written by those who are actively seeking its demise - either by professional clergy who wish to maintain their paid profession, selling a vague semblance or feel-good version of the Word to allay the guilt of the hearer, or ex-members with an axe to grind. If you have training in critical reading and are willing and able to put their claims to the test of rigorous scholarship, then by all means, read their work. However, doing so will bring you no nearer to the truth contained in what I link to below. Only reading, studying, pondering, the exercise of a particle of faith, and prayer with real intent (meaning that you will act if given an answer from God) will ultimately convince you that the below is true and from God Himself.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
- Our scriptures - The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine & Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price
- General Conference (going back to 1971, where we hear twice yearly from our Prophet and Apostles and others)
- More general conference (going all the way back to 1899)
- Bible Videos
- Our current magazines
- Our various historical magazines and newspapers
- Adult study courses (mainly for college-aged students)
- Journal of Discourses - Talks as recorded by stenographers during the early years of the church
- Writings of Joseph Smith
- Church History Library
- Encyclopedia of Mormonism
- Scripture citation index - find where any scripture was referenced by a church leader from several sources of talks
- Scholarly papers and publications
- Study Resources from the BYU Studies web site - be sure to click on 'Study Resources'
- BYU's Religious Studies ... and ... their library (older books have complete content online)
- GospelDoctrine.com - a collection of commentary by a church member which focuses on quotations from church leaders [note the resources link for further resources]
- A list of interesting topics and references compiled by a BYU professor. Of particular note are the topics of Calling and Election, Evolution, Constitution.
One of the claims of our church which many find incredible is our claim of divine authority, meaning that our church is actually run by Jesus Christ, Himself, and that he has delegated his priesthood to the prophet/president of our church. The prophet, in turn, delegates and ordains others. All of us can trace a 'line of authority' directly to the Savior. I am presently ordained to the office of "Elder".
- Ryan C. Constantine was ordained an Elder in November 22, 1992 by Brad W. Constantine
- Brad W. Constantine was ordained a High Priest September 17, 1978 by Evan Max Blair
- Evan Max Blair was ordained a High Priest July 10, 1955 by Elmo Raymond Smith
- Elmo Raymond Smith was ordained a High Priest September 26, 1943 by Nicholas G. Smith
- Nicholas G. Smith was ordained a High Priest August 1, 1921 by Rudger Clawson
- Rudger Clawson was ordained an Apostle October 10, 1898 by Lorenzo Snow
- Lorenzo Snow was ordained an Apostle February 12, 1849 by Heber C. Kimball
- Heber C. Kimball was ordained an Apostle February 14, 1835 under the hands of The Three Witnesses, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris
- The Three Witnesses were called by revelation to choose the Twelve Apostles and on February 14, 1835, were "blessed by the laying on of hands of the Presidency." Joseph Smith Jr., Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams, to ordain the Twelve Apostles. (History of the Church, Vol 2, pp 187-188)
- Joseph Smith Jr. and Oliver Cowdery received the Melchizedek Priesthood in 1829 under the hands of Peter, James and John
- Peter, James and John were ordained Apostles by the Lord Jesus Christ (John 15:16)
Find attached a few talks that I gave recently.
Considering the slow and methodical erosion of the liberties granted to us and ensured by the U.S. Constitution by its neglect and intentional misinterpretation and misrepresentation, it behooves every good citizen to learn the principles upon which the Constitution is framed and the circumstances which lead to its creation and those which threaten its very existence. The following are some good links to explore.
- Library of Congress
- Hillsdale College Online Classes (free) - really awesome courses!
- Constitution Reader
- Hillsdale College YouTube Videos
- National Center for Constitutional Studies
- Online Library of Liberty
Few people in the U.S. realize that for approximately 100 years or more, the education system of our country has been in the guiding hands of people who call themselves 'Progressives'. Their fundamental belief is that human kind today is not of the same nature as it was in the past. They believe that human kind can and is evolving, or progressing, toward a better type of person or that at least some humans are (I won't address here what they want to do with those who aren't). They believe that because our very nature evolves that the U.S. Constitution is founded on false assumptions - assumptions which lead logically to a republican government of the kind the Founders constructed. Instead, they believe in a large administrative government with tens of thousands of rules and dozens of organizations to create those rules, enforce their adoption, and punish violations. If you have ever wondered why we have many of our acronym organizations like the FDA, NHTSA, TSA, NEC, USDA, and others, this is why - the expansion of government in the progressive vision of legislating good and happy lives and of taking care of all of us.
Progressives are in both (or all) parties. If you have wondered why it doesn't seem to matter which party has control - why government keeps getting bigger and more invasive, that is why. The parties are two sides of the same coin, each play-acting a role to divide and confuse We, The People.
Have you wondered why people today don't seem to be as educated as they once did? Compare the famous letter of Sullivan Ballou (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sullivan_Ballou) to any from our servicemen today. Many of the words and patterns of speech are difficult for High Schoolers, or even many adults, to understand. The same goes for Shakespeare and the King James Version of the Bible. What kid has the attention span to even attempt to read those?
Also, who speaks or reads Latin today? Not me! And why not? Thousands of original source documents are written in Latin. It was the language of scholars for most of two thousand years. Instead, we are provided with translations and interpretations, carefully crafted by the Progressives.
And Latin isn't the only thing removed from education. In all civilized nations, ethics and morals used to be taught, both with and without religion attached. Progressives view themselves as modern philosophers, yet avoid the great moral subjects which were the main objectives of the philosophers of ages past, and refuse to teach the same. Whereas the ancient philosophers sought Truth, Progressives believe truth is relative and changing and malleable.
Common Core, the new Federally Mandated National curriculum for Kindergarten through High School, is just the next step along the path of complete control of our lives by government. The movement in this direction has been so subtle and so well organized, over the past 100+ years, that few people have noticed what was happening or what the implications and consequences are. But Common Core is such a leap forward that some people have taken a step back to look at what is happening today and how we got here. You can learn more by googling several topics such as:
There has been a lot of research done and it is quite compelling - and scary. See these links for a start:
If you start poking around in the Technical View of that last link and clicking on the fields, you will see that very few of the data points relate to education at all. Take a look at this one:
http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=perp... and this one http://nces.sifinfo.org/datamodel/eiebrowser/techview.aspx?instance=disc... (THEY REMOVED THE MODEL FROM THE SITE I LINKED TO; I'm attaching several downloadable versions).
Notice that in the STUDENT record, they will be tracking criminal activity. What if your child defends himself against an A student bully and there are no witnesses? Your child may be labeled a 'perpetrator', permanently in this database.
Also, health records are included in this database as well. And because these records are separate from a student's actual health record, or criminal or judicial record, they are not subject to the same privacy laws. HIPAA, for example, is out the window.
These are just a few issues. The situation is much worse, as you will find if you continue in your research. For decades, Science Fiction has been a good source for what-ifs, exploring possibilities that we now face today or soon will. See the movie Gattaca, for an example of this kind of data mining - but substitute data (our situation) for DNA (the movie's).
This may all be hard to swallow. It sounds very much like a 'conspiracy theory' and that moniker has received nothing but derision for decades. But consider the boiling of live frogs - if you place a live frog into boiling water, it will immediately jump out. If, however, you place a frog in water at room temperature, then increase the heat slowly, it will sit there contentedly until it dies. By changing education in America, slowly, over time, coupled with a few other key changes (derision of religion, stresses on the family unit, lack of respect for life, etc.), nobody notices that the changes might not be good for us until it is too late and we 'boil'.
Common Core is a direct threat to this Nation's freedom. So what can we do about it? The following are things we can all do to stop eventual tyranny and the eventual loss of our sovereignty as a Nation.
- Learn about Common Core (and other issues) yourselves
- Learn about the Founding of our Nation (see the America tab, above, for resources like Hillsdale College)
- Talk to your friends, family, and coworkers about this
- Write, call, or visit your elected officials from top (national) to bottom (local)
- Form local groups that get together to discuss and share findings and solutions
- Blog about it
- Pull your kids out of public school and try a private one that opposes Common Core (like this online one: http://www.fpeusa.org/)
Whatever you do, do something. Don't let your present comfort and security lull you into thinking that all is well and will continue to be so. The wool has been pulled over our eyes for too long.
For several years now, I have been interested in, and have been studying various topics related to self-sufficiency. Among them has been food - growing, storing, and preparing it. In terms of growing food, I have been most impressed with the topic or methodology of what is called Permaculture. I would encourage you to look into it as it can be done on any scale, from small urban backyards (and even apartment balconies) to hundreds of acres of farmland. The methods are all-natural and attempt to mimic processes found in forests and other ecologies, but at a more accelerated rate and with more deliberate plant selection to maximize diversity, sustainability, and yield. In a large enough yard, plants and small animals work together with the outputs of one item providing the inputs that another needs. In this way, a permaculture garden or farm can almost totally become a closed system. This saves money, time, and resources and especially with an unstable economy like we have today, just makes sense. If every yard in America replaced their ornamental greenery for useful, organic, non-gmo plants, food prices would be low, our nutrition would be sky-high, and the nation would spend far less on transporting foods around the world. Additionally, we would each enjoy a bit more freedom and independence in that we would have skills that are largely unknown and unused today, and also that if or when a crisis were to shut down transportation locally or nationally, we would not have suffer for a reliance on the supermarket.
Check these resources out:
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoff_Lawton - he makes excellent videos
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holzer_Permaculture - Sepp also has some amazing videos
There are a lot of books available, but I will list a few I think most useful to the suburban gardener:
- Gaia's Garden
- Mini-Farming Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre
- Great Garden Companions
- Organic Gardener's Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control
I feel that Gaia's Garden is a really good, concise treatment of Permaculture and any other books you read should be checked against the methods found in this volume. For example, the other three books I list are not strictly permaculture-oriented, so if there are contradictions, you should go with the permaculture way. Note, however, that permaculture is not one method of doing things, but more of a way to look at things, and decide what to do. Permaculture practitioners may disagree from time to time and you will need to decide between several methods or techniques based on your own situation. If you can, locate a local permaculture group that knows your climate and the plants and methods that work best.
One last comment: permaculture is designed to be used anywhere in any climate. It has made good efforts at reclaiming lands lost to desertification. Lush, green gardens have been built in Arizona, New Mexico, Jordan, other parts of the Middle East, Africa, etc. Each site has unique challenges, but most challenges offer unique design opportunities and successes.
What are you waiting for?
It has come to my attention that most of those who use computers are unaware that there are many, many free programs that are comparable to those you pay good money for. There are several kinds of free software. Some are watered-down versions of commercial software. Others are just-as-good-as-commercial. Some are lame. Some are developed by a single individual, some by a closed group or company. Others are created by a large and vibrant community that you too could join. Below are examples of both 'free' and 'free and open (open source)' programs.
I use many open source programs.
- Instead of Microsoft Office, I use LibreOffice.
- Instead of Microsoft Media Center, I use MediaPortal.
- Instead of Photoshop, I use GIMP.
- I also use Scribus.
- For file compression and archiving, I use 7-zip.
- For video and audio playback I use both VLC and Media Player Classic.
- For my web sites, I use Drupal.
- For quick text document editing when I don't need LibreOffice, I use Notepad++.
- To split and merge PDFs, I use PDF Split and Merge.
- For software development, I use Eclipse.
- For software versioning, I use Mercurial and TortoiseHg.
Free, but not open source.
- For comic and PDF reading on my PC, I use Comic Rack.
- For searching my PC, I use WinGrep.
- For screen shots, I use Screen Hunter.
- To print almost ANYTHING as a PDF, I use Bullzip's PDF Printer.
- To make Windows act like I want it to, I use Emerge Desktop and RocketDock.
- To manage my multi-monitor setup at work, I use Display Fusion.