The Constitution – 230th Anniversary Edition

On September 17, 1787, the United States Constitution was signed and we became a new nation. Previous to this, we lived under the Articles of Confederation. These articles gave all power to each individual state, but none to the confederation. Without a federal government, issues like common defense, treaties, interstate commerce, and a common currency were not possible. Under the threats of economic collapse and other nations waiting to take over weak states, the Continental Congress gathered. They initially gathered to patch up the Articles of Confederation, but it was soon agreed upon to scrap them and start fresh. Six weeks later, the draft was completed and sent to committee to finish it.

Over the next few months, I’ll be discussing the Constitution, article by article. Others are also encouraged to write posts on the Constitution.

Today, we’ll look at the Preamble.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

1. We the People of the United States – this is the first nation in modern history created and approved by the people. No kings, lords, nor authoritarians imposed their will on the people.

2. In order to form a more perfect union – the Articles of Confederation failed to hold the individual states together. “Not worth a Continental” described the federal government.

3. establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare – herein lies the main purposes for the Constitution. Provide a federal judiciary, handle interstate commerce and disagreements, defense department, and PROMOTE general welfare.

Note that the Constitution and its Amendments constrain the federal government to a certain number of things it can do. The states and local communities are better able to handle most challenges, not as a one-size-fits-all federal program (most of which have grown out of control, are costly, and do not help individuals very well.

To promote general welfare is not the same as providing general welfare. To promote it means to open up the free markets, between states and with other nations. It means having a Federal government that does not overregulate anything and everything.

Also note that the Fed is to promote GENERAL welfare, not specific welfare. This opens up the question of why the Fed is involved in specific welfare issues like healthcare, retirement, education and welfare? Should the Fed be so deeply involved in these, or should they be left to communities and states? Such questions continue in Congress and statehouses, even though many of our federal programs are generations old.

As we look at the articles of the Constitution over the next several weeks, we’ll see exactly what the federal government is expected to do, and what things may be prohibited. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

LDS Perspectives #47: Recreating the Book of Mormon World – Taylor Halverson and Tyler Griffin

Tyler GriffinTaylor Halverson

Episode 47: Recreating the Book of Mormon World – Taylor Halverson and Tyler Griffin Aug 2, 2017

Taylor Halverson and Tyler Griffin are co-founders and co-directors of the BYU Virtual Scriptures Group.

This group recently released the Virtual New Testament App and are currently working on a Book of Mormon geography app.

Nick Galieti talks with Tyler Griffin and Taylor Halverson about the usefulness of mapping Book of Mormon geography. Their efforts are aimed at situating the Book of Mormon within the text, rather than within America.  They hope that their app will help readers gain a respect for how geography plays a role in motivating characters in the Book of Mormon to make certain decisions.

Praying for Your Enemies Keeps You Sane

A reminder, when you’re out and about on Facebook and in your online interactions with people, to remember, the other person is a person with feelings and all. I was reminded today, thru something that was brought to my attention, and which I had chance to observe, how hate, bitterness and the desire for revenge can canker and destroy your soul. I get why Jesus Christ taught us to pray for our enemies, not so much for them, but for ourselves, so we don’t go over the cliff.

We need to do better, and be better in our online interactions. Christ gives us a template in Matthew 18: 15, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” Heavenly Father needs us up on top, not down at the bottom of that cliff.

In the end, you don’t have to win all the arguments, you don’t have to save the world with your tweets, but we should all be working face to face with each other when we need to resolve our differences. Commit today to be a better online participant.

LDS Perspectives – Summer Podcasts

If you’re like us, you really enjoyed listening to the LDS Perspectives podcasts Laura Hales was cross posting here at Millennial Star. With summer upon us, Laura’s been focused on other things. And she probably expects most of us will have subscribed directly to LDS Perspectives by now.

In case you hadn’t yet subscribed, here are links to the episodes that have come out since mid-June. The thumbnails here are adapted from the LDS Perspectives summaries.

Episode 41: The Word of Wisdom – Jed Woodworth Jun 21, 2017

Historical context helps to shed light on the extent to which the Temperance Movement may have been an influence on Joseph Smith and the Saints at the time the Word of Wisdom was written. Nick Galieti and Jed Woodworth delve into what is often  referred to as the “Lord’s Law of Health.”

Episode 42: The Divine Council – Stephen Smoot Jun 28, 2017

Join Laura Harris Hales as she and Stephen Smoot discuss the divine council’s role in the religions of the ancient Near East and what references to the divine council in the LDS canon could mean for Latter-day Saint theology.

Episode 43: Discussing the Priesthood Ban with Members of the Genesis Group Jul 5, 2017

The Genesis Group was started in 1971 to address needs of the growing number of Black members at a time when the priesthood was witheld from some. The blessings of the priesthood were made available to all in 1978 under Church President Spencer W. Kimball. Yet the need for a specific ministry assisting Black members has persisted.

Nick Galieti talks with the current Genesis Group presidency and their wives about their lived experience with race and the LDS Church.

Episode 44: Mystery Solved: Who Wrote the Lectures on Faith? – Noel Reynolds Jul 12, 2017

In 1835 the Doctrine and Covenants incorporated seven theological lectures from the Kirtland School. The lectures remained in the Doctrine and Covenants until the 1921 edition.

It was common knowledge in the 19th century that the lectures were written by Sidney Rigdon, but by the mid-twentieth century many came to believe the Prophet Joseph Smith had penned them. Noel Reynold discusses new historical evidence that proves Sidney Rigdon was the author of the Lectures on Faith.

Episode 45: Misunderstanding the Bible – Benjamin Spackman Jul 19, 2017

Historical accuracy is actually a modern concept. Biblical writers often fashioned history to teach a higher purpose. If some of the historical details were fudged, then that was regarded as acceptable if done to make a point.

Laura Harris Hales talks with scholar Ben Spackman about the different genres of literature found in the Bible.

Episode 46: The Delicate Art of Critical Judgment with George Handley Jul 26, 2017

Handley suggests criticism, compassion, and charity must work together to create a quality intellectual and spiritual life.

Critical judgment allows us to analyze a situation deliberately and calmly. But it is compassion and charity for those within the church that helps people who struggle make the decision to stay within the LDS faith.

Three sisters and Illicit Intercourse

This past few days I’ve been at Sunstone, where I made a presentation about the Illicit Intercourse heresy of 1841 and 1842.

My point to all I talked with, whatever their persuasion, is that this history makes a huge difference in how we interpret our past. It has huge power to help us own our now and plan our future. I’ll be putting the audio together with the slide deck in the next day or so.

In the meantime let me mention a couple of the things I saw at Sunstone.

I learned that Exmormon Reddit is approaching 50,000 members, with about 1 million unique views per month. Apparently I had been a member of that Reddit group before under my own name but my account has now been deleted. I was assured that it probably had to do with the fact that I simply haven’t gone to that site in years now.

I saw Kate Kelly and chatted with her. She’s moved on from the faith and marriage that she was in when she was excommunicated. But the folks seeking female ordination in the LDS church are still active in attempting to make their point. I shared the experience I had of blessing my son before his death, at a time before I had come to realize that such things are not necessarily kosher under current policy. There is a documentary in the works about Kate Kelly’s journey, and the trailer includes footage of the moment when Kate learned she had been excommunicated. While I wished she had handled her disciplinary trial differently, it was a raw and painful moment.

I popped in on one presenter who happens to be from my stake. It was good to hear him talk about how we become one, but I’m afraid I brought a bit of the “no prophet is honored in his own country” to that session.

On Saturday I caught a session about the minutes of the Council of Fifty. It is good to have those records. But I would argue people shouldn’t be held to their most wild and fevered statements immediately after a murder.

The final session I was able to catch focused on female body image. The two main speakers are both involved in professions that focus on the human body. The first lady is not Mormon. She was a Playboy Playmate of the Month in 2011 and currently helps couples learn to more fully receive physical fulfillment from one another. The second, Sasha, is an active member of the church and her profession is dancing in strip clubs. Her tale is one of terrible abuse, homelessness, drug abuse, and rape. In short, a life from which becoming a very good stripper is a step up. And the entire time, as she struggled with the different stages of her life, she continually and faithfully came to church and held on to her faith in Christ.

As I left Sunstone to rejoin family and make sure I could actually catch my flight home, I ran into these two outstanding women, one who knows nothing of Mormonism and another who has held to the pure faith of Mormonism despite a rather atypical journey. I had shared some of my past experience during the Q&A session, so the three of us were pleased to have a picture taken, which for me was the only picture of this conference.

How do we love all the children of God, whom He loves, even when their lives differ so much from our own? Particularly in cases where their work could be seen as being in conflict with our own dearest hopes?