If I were president: foreign affairs edition

If I were president, I would do the following in regards to foreign affairs:

  1. Re-establish President George Washington’s insistence on no long term alliances, and no adventurism in the world. We are not the world’s police force.
  2. Get out of unnecessary wars and conflicts. This would include most of the Middle East. Reduce our 95 overseas bases to about 1/3 that number.
  3. Compromise with Russia. We get out of Syria and most of the Middle East, if they remain neutral towards Eastern European nations. I’d rather we were defending those who are clearly allies, than fighting thousand year old wars between nations run by tyrants and terrorists.
  4. North Korea: Placating NK no longer works, as it has in the past. Today they have a dozen nukes. A decade from now, NK could have 100 nukes, able to hit America. We must tell China that their past methods to control NK have not worked on Kim Jong Un. With the murders of an American and Kim Jong Un’s brother,, and continual efforts to test nukes and guided missiles, NK has shown itself belligerent and a clear and present danger to all its neighbors. We must tell China that either they must depose Kim Jong Un, or we will.
    1. If we must fight NK, the first thing to do after notifying South Korea and Japan, is to send a huge EMP hit on all of North Korea. With systems fried, most of their equipment, missiles, etc., will not work.Then we hit all of their military and government locations.
    2. With dialogue and agreement with China, we replace the government. I’d rather have a peaceful communist nation like Vietnam, than to continue having a crazy megalomaniac terrorizing the area.
  5. Build the wall. Whether electronic or actual wall, does not matter to me. We build it, not to keep good immigrants out, but to control entrance to terrorists and drug cartels.
    1. Create big doors for good immigrants to enter within. Especially encourage young families to enter. Do not give them welfare assistance. Let them work their way up the system, as did my great-grandparents, who came over a century ago from the Ukraine and became farmers in North Dakota.
    2. Require immigrants to being learning English and the concepts behind the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. If they someday wish to be good citizens, they must understand what makes America great (and it isn’t Donald Trump).
    3. Allow immigrants to replace the 50 million aborted babies we’ve had since the early 1970s, paying into Social Security and Medicare. Their numbers will prop up those programs, which currently are on the verge of bankruptcy.
  6. Be an Ensign to the Nations of Freedom and Liberty. George W Bush’s idea of forcing freedom onto other nations proved to be a failure. Barack Obama’s Arab Spring proved to be a failure. We must stop trying to impose freedom onto peoples who are not ready for it. Let them cause their own freedom, with us supplying the inspiration.
  7. Ronald Reagan stayed out of most wars. Yet, he inspired nations towards freedom. When nations prepared themselves for freedom, we were available to teach them how to use it best. We must do the same.Because of Reagan’s method, a billion people experienced freedom. Since then, new failed methods of intervention have enslaved hundreds of millions. Neo-conservatism has failed us, as have progressive interventions.

Such would be my beginning for Foreign Affairs.

How would you manage Foreign Affairs if you were president?

Visions of the Spirit World

Although it happened back in Feburary, until yesterday I hadn’t seen President Russell M. Nelson and Sister Wendy Nelson’s wonderful joint address to the RootsTech conference. President Nelson shared a remarkable story from his family history. This weekend Elder Kopischke of the Seventy came to our Stake Conference and he quoted the story at length while speaking of the importance of Family History and Temple Work. I offer the story with the caveat, of course, that it is not canonized revelation and does not supplant D&C 138 in any way.

I wanted to tell the family about my Grandfather Nelson and the precious gift he gave to us. His name is Andrew Clarence Nelson. They called him A. C. He died when my father was 17 years old, so I never knew my Grandfather Nelson. He’s the only one of my four grandparents I did not know. When my Grandfather A. C. Nelson was a young husband and father, just 27 years old, his father died. Then, about three months later, his father, now deceased, came to visit him. The date of that visit was the night of April 6, 1891. Grandfather Nelson was so impressed by his father’s visit that he wrote the experience in his own journal for his family and his friends. …

Listen to my grandfather’s words about that sacred experience:

“I was in bed when Father entered the room. He came and sat on the side of the bed. He said, ‘Well, my son, as I had a few spare minutes I received permission to come and see you for a few minutes. I am feeling well, my son, and have had very much to do since I died.’

“‘What have you been doing since you died, Father?’

“‘I’ve been traveling together with Apostle Erastus Snow ever since I died. That is, since three days after I died. I received my commission to preach the gospel. You cannot imagine, my son, how many spirits there are in the spirit world that have not yet received the gospel. But many are receiving it, and a great work is being accomplished. Many are anxiously looking forth to their friends who are still living to administer for them in the temples. I’ve been very busy preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.’

“‘Father, can you see us at all times, and do you know what we’re doing?’

“‘Oh, no, my son. I have something else to do. I cannot go when and where I please. There is just as much and much more order here in the spirit world than in the other world. I have been assigned work to do, and it must be performed.’

“‘We intend to go to the temple and get sealed to you, Father, as soon as we can.’

“‘That, my son, is partly what I came to see you about. We will yet make a family and live throughout eternity.’

“‘Father, is it natural to die?’

“‘It is just as natural to die as it is to be born, or for you to pass out of that door.’ And here he pointed at the door. ‘When I told the folks that I could not last long, it turned dark and I could not see anything for a few minutes. Then the first thing I could see was a number of spirits in the spirit world. The paper you gave me, my son, is dated wrong. But it makes no particular difference. Correct records are kept here.'” …

“‘Father, is the gospel as taught by this Church true?’

“‘My son, do you see that picture?’ Pointing to a picture of the First Presidency of the Church hanging on the wall.

“‘Yes, I see it.’

“‘Just as sure as you see that picture, just as sure is the gospel true. The gospel of Jesus Christ has within it the power of saving every man and woman that will obey it, and in no other way can they ever obtain salvation in the kingdom of God. My son, always cling to the gospel. Be humble, be prayerful, be submissive to the priesthood, be true, be faithful to the covenants you have made with God. Never do anything that would displease God. Oh, what a blessing is the gospel. My son, be a good boy.'”

There is much I could say about that incredible vision. But I will only add a few thoughts. First, I love how this deceased father cares so much about his son and his family. That eternal love is the essence of the Gospel. Second, I love his declaration that “we will yet” make an eternal family. It is never too late to seal and family together for eternity thanks to Heavenly Father’s plan. As someone whose father passed away quite recently, that thought brings me a lot of comfort. Third, the spirit world is organized after the pattern of this world. This may be a source of discomfort for those who chafe at Church organization on this earth, but to me it suggests that God has a plan and is not leaving anything to chance. There is a systematic effort to teach the vast number of spirits in the spirit world.

Elder Kopischke added his testimony that deceased sisters are also lanolin dilligently on the other side of the veil. I imagine my mother, preaching the Gospel to her ancestors and those who have not yet heard of it. That thought fills me with such gratitude. Even though she died more than a decade ago, I can sense that we are co-laborers in the work of the Lord. I am grateful for the Plan of Salvation and for the remarkable vision and President Nelson’s willingness to share it with the world.

Podcast: Help! Teaching in Gospel Settings with John Hilton III

John HiltonIn this episode of the LDS Perspectives Podcast, Laura Harris Hales visits with John Hilton III about teaching in church settings.

John has spent a good deal of his adult life working in religious education. He began his teaching career in the seminary and institute program and was hired by the BYU Department of Ancient Scripture after earning a PhD in education. He is also a popular speaker and author of several books for youth.

Hilton helped develop a “know, feel, and do” model for effective religious teaching. President Thomas S. Monson said that “the goal of gospel teaching is not to ‘pour information’ into the minds of [learners]. … The aim is to inspire the individual to think about, feel about, then do something about living gospel principles.” Hilton’s method aims to accomplish these goals.

To have a successful class, whether it is Gospel Doctrine or Come Follow Me or Seminary, students should learn something new, feel something positive, and should be able to apply what they learn in their lives.

As a professional teacher, Hilton shares insights on what inspires and motivates students to learn and to be invested in the learning experience. He also gives practical suggestions on how to prepare lessons that are impactful.

Most gospel teachers do so on a volunteer basis, don’t have any formal training in education, and often struggle just to make it through a lesson while keeping the class’s attention. According to Hilton, creative teaching techniques can lead to a positive experience for both the student and the teacher.

Listen in as we discuss how mnemonic devices, reviews, creative teaching, group activities, personal interaction, and careful preparation can help us all become effective teachers.

A transcript of this podcast can be found at LDS Perspectives.

The Perils of Misunderstanding Judgment

 Yesterday, Greg Trimble posted a response to critiques of his earlier article on the coming “revolution” in the Church. Although I had nothing to do with those critiques, I wanted to respond to Greg’s post yesterday.

Greg misread the responses to his article.

Greg misinterpreted the criticism he received. The authors of the posts responding to him (as I understand them) were not asking to not be judged for judging. They, too, believe that self-righteous judgmentalism is a sin. Nor are they advocating for unkindness, gossip, or mean-spiritedness, or self-righteousness.

What they are asking is that judgmentalism not be treated as the only sin (or the worst of all possible sins), or as a sin that is exempt from itself. When condemning self-righteous judgmentalism, it is easy to commit it — and it’s also easy to trivialize other sins in the process. In fact, that’s what so much of the “non-judgment” rhetoric going around right now does: it treats all other sins as trivial compared to the sin of judgment.

That’s the main point of the articles that were responding to Greg. And he seems to have missed that point and straw-manned those articles instead. He responded defensively, rather than charitably, rather than striving to understand the views of those who were responding to him. Instead, he further rallies his readers against the awful judgers.

Greg is wrong that all judgment is bad.

Not all judgment is self-righteous judgment. There is such a thing as plain-old righteous judgment. So Greg is simply wrong when he implies that the Savior said that judging is never good, or always wrong. Joseph Smith did not believe that all judgment was bad. Continue reading