"Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions. Expedience and right are different things."--Jefferson

Monday, April 29, 2013

God's power made manifest through service!

Listened to this just now,...had to share:

I have learned a truth that has been repeated so frequently in my life that I have come to know it as an absolute law. It defines the way obedience and service relate to the power of God. When we obey the commandments of the Lord and serve His children unselfishly, the natural consequence is power from God—power to do more than we can do by ourselves. Our insights, our talents, our abilities are expanded because we receive strength and power from the Lord.

2012-2013 year in review and New Group info

It is exciting to see others enjoy the fruits of something I felt inspired to do for my own family and children.  I am excited to see the truths shared freely, openly, and see others bring their truths to the table and make it even better :).

As new groups start up, I feel the same hesitance I felt as I left my original group in the hands of very capable, wonderful people.  What I feel is my gift and ability and role in this is to explore this educational approach for youth, share the truths I find for my family and those that others have shared, and collect it in a...well, somewhat organized fashion on this blog.  I continue to see it bear fruit as my own children progress through scholar phase.  I don't feel that I can offer much more in the realm of particulars of the "how," as that is such an individual and prayerful application. Hopefully this blog will have a lot of resources for you to access and use as a spring board for your own group.

I would like to have general questions or concerns that come up in groups be posted on this blog, so that we may have open dialogue: like, "How do we get older youth to remain engaged?" or "How do others effectively engage or train parents and mentors?"...things like that.  For those who already have groups going, I think this end of the year time would be a valuable time to share learning experiences from this year.  What works for one group may not necessarily benefit another. However, as they say in the scouting acronym for TEAM, "Together Everyone Achieves More."

We could use this post for that kind of feedback.   Of course, I expect it to be a respectful forum for the exchange of ideas.  I figure this would be the case, but sometimes it is good to be reminded that there is a human heart on the other side of the internet connection :).

I also wonder if we could have the mentors of the different groups on the yahoo/blogger groups of the other groups?  I strongly believe in the power of synergy that comes when great ideas come together to become more, and feel that this could be a useful way of sharing.  The only concern I could see is if a group has personal info included on their sites.  What do y'all think?

I know this is a crazy time of year, so do what you can, but just wanted to have this place as an available forum for this kind of dialogue.

Woohoo!  The Vanguard grows and moves forward!

Learning with our hearts

The education of the soul is a truly noble and ambitious endeavor.   As it states in "Norms and Nobility," the supreme task of education is the cultivation of the human spirit.

In this book, it breaks it down further into the following areas:
-to know what is good
-to serve it above self
-to reproduce it
-to recognize that in this knowledge lies responsibility

The author, David Hicks, further states: "Classical education lays on man the burden of inner change in according with the Ideal Type." (For further juicy clarification, read pg 18-19 in the book...inspiring!)

Needless to say, this is not the educational pattern followed in most of the world around us. :)

I reviewed a talk this morning from the 2012 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by Elder Gonzalez titled: "Learning with our Hearts."  It reminded me so much of how essential it is to teach and learn true principles by the spirit, whether they seem secular or strictly religious.  (Personally, I believe all truth works together, and that there is no distinction, but that is the topic for another discussion :)...)
One way to come unto Christ is by seeking to learn essential truths with our hearts. As we do so, impressions that come from God will give us knowledge that we cannot get by any other means...
This truth was well stated in a children’s book, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry. In the story, the little prince became friends with a fox. Upon parting, the fox shared a secret with the little prince. He said, “Here is my secret … : It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Today, surrounded by so much information, we might think that navigating millions of web pages will give us all that we need to know. We can find good and bad information on the web, but information alone is not enough. God has given us another source for greater knowledge,6 even knowledge sent from heaven. Our Heavenly Father can give us such knowledge when we navigate the celestial web in our hearts and minds. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that he had “the oldest book in [his] heart, even the gift of the Holy Ghost.”7
We access this celestial source when we do things such as reading the scriptures, hearkening to the living prophet, and praying. It is also important to take time to be still8 and feel and follow the celestial promptings. When we do this, we will “feel and see” things that cannot be learned with modern technology. Once we have some experience in navigating this celestial web, we will discern the truth, even when reading secular history or other topics. The honest seekers of truth will know the truth of all things by the power of the Holy Ghost.

My friend, Karen, recently posted something perfectly relating to this.

Here is an excerpt that I have taken the liberty to include (as well as the bolding and italics):
(Refering to a talk she linked...)   He shared many important principles, but he mentioned two main ways that the 2 types of education differ.  The first is that the Lord is interested in educating the whole soul while the world is simply interested in the mind.  Elder Bednar's Increase in Learning is a great guide on how to do this.  Put simply - it comes down to acting on the principles that we learn so they become part of our character,and we become better because of what we learn.  Principles are everywhere and in everything that we learn if we know how to find them.  They don't teach you that in school, though.  At school we get taught stuff we need to know (to pass a test and get to college).  God would have us learn how to better live because of the principles we discover in the world around us.

The second way worldly education differs from God's is that the world is competitive as we try to get ahead.  Instead, a crucial way of educating our whole being is by lifting others to where we are.  We have all experience learning a new truth and wanting to share it with everyone because of how great it makes us feel.  As we do this we grow in truth, our knowledge expands, our character develops and we become truly educated.

"If we are living as the gospel requires, when we ourselves are learning, we are unwilling to leave others behind. An essential part of our growth comes in helping others grow. And then those we help in turn help others—among them, in many instances, our own posterity. This draws us close to one another, even across generations, and we become united, a Zion people. Fundamentally, education in the kingdom of God is different because it operates on the Zion principle of love."
The youth group that I have the opportunity to mentor is built on these principles.  It is amazing to see them repeated over and over as I read words of the prophets, Christian books on education, and as I receive inspiration on teaching my family and those around me.  Recently I have noticed them in the new youth programs of my church.  A book I am reading right now mentions that the home, school and church are what build the character of our youth and our nation. Unfortunately, the modern schools are secular and are failing and the homes are often places of distraction and entertainment instead of houses of learning.

I guess that is why I think it is important to invest my time on our homeschool youth group.  I want this education to be available to all, and I am sad when I see so much potential going to waste because we are neglecting the education of our youth. I am amazed at the insights and spiritual power of the youth I mentor as they are learning with the spirit of God present in their studies and discussions.  I am encouraged by their power and as I learn about similar schools and homes that are dedicated to this education of the soul.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Raising a "Natural Nobility"

Great article on leadership and education below.

Just a tantalizing tidbit:
Washington, Franklin, and Edwards achieved lasting greatness not as floating buoys, but by swimming against the current. 
Resolving to be different, they nurtured themselves on principles not personalities, seeking the true greatness of character, not the false friendship of fame...
The people who take shortcuts in their character development only end up shortening themselves. 

Raising a "Natural Nobility"
In the early 18th Century, three young colonial Americans resolved to build lives of virtue through the study and application of daily resolutions. 
George Washington, through tireless sacrificial leadership and against indescribable odds, defeated the mighty British Empire with his ragtag group of colonial volunteers.
Benjamin Franklin, through sterling character and endless tact, became America's leading diplomat, forming international alliances that secured war funding, without which the colonial's cause would have been doomed.
Jonathan Edwards, by his overwhelming intellectual and spiritual gifts, became colonial America's greatest minister and fanned the flames of the Great Awakening that led to further political and economic freedoms after the American Revolution.
These three men transformed themselves through the diligent study and application of their personal resolutions. Through developing, studying, and consistently applying their resolutions, these men changed not only themselves, but also the world.
Jose Ortega y Gassett wrote in his book, Revolt of the Masses
"The most radical division that is possible to make of humanity is that which splits it into two classes of creatures: those who make great demands on themselves, piling up difficulties and duties; and those who demand nothing special of themselves, but for whom to live is to be every moment what they already are, without imposing upon themselves any effort towards perfection; mere buoys that flow on the waves."
Washington, Franklin, and Edwards achieved lasting greatness not as floating buoys, but by swimming against the current. 
Resolving to be different, they nurtured themselves on principles not personalities, seeking the true greatness of character, not the false friendship of fame. 
Society has lost its commitment to character displayed by these great men. We've come to value image over integrity, commercialism over character, and fame over foundations. But what a high price has been paid for these errors. 
Life's enduring principles have fallen victim to today's microwave-age thinking. Everyone wants success, but most settle for planting "personality ethic" tomatoes, when true success requires nurturing "character ethic" oak trees in the field of achievement.
It's time to get out of the tomato patch, returning to the foundational forest of character development, the forest which fed mighty oaks like Washington, Franklin, and Edwards.
True character-based leadership requires endless hours of self-examination, a process of comparing our actions to our resolutions, and making the needed changes to grow in character.
The people who take shortcuts in their character development only end up shortening themselves.
Those who do the long, hard, necessary work become what economist William Roepke calls the "natural nobility." As he explains it,
"Only a few from every stratum of society can ascend into this thin layer of natural nobility.
"The way to it is an exemplary and slowly maturing life of dedicated endeavor on behalf of all, unimpeachable integrity, constant restraint of our common greed, proved soundness of judgment, a spotless private life, indomitable courage in standing up for truth and law, and generally the highest example.
"This is how the few, carried upward by the trust of the people, gradually attain to a position above the classes, interests, passions, wickedness, and foolishness of men and finally become the nation's conscience.
"To belong to this group of moral aristocrats should be the highest and most desirable aim, next to which all the other triumphs of life are pale and insipid...
"The continued existence of our free world will ultimately depend on whether our age can produce a sufficient number of such aristocrats of public spirit."
The best way to become such a person is to build trust with others by building trust in oneself. Following through on one's own deeply-held principles through the use of his resolutions, therefore, is the path to build both personal and public trust.
Simply put, any person who cannot trust himself to follow through on his convictions shouldn't be shocked when others refuse to trust his convictions as well.
Sadly, few people today have have developed, written, studied, and applied specific resolutions into their lives.
In the Western World, character development through written resolutions is a lost art. With this loss, significance, meaning, and morality are also fading. The West is fatally wounded, having stabbed itself in the heart.
To protect our freedoms and restore our greatness, we need an army of resolution creators and keepers who follow the example of Washington, Franklin, and Edwards. We need a new "natural nobility," a wave of "moral aristocrats" who rise from the ashes of an all but destroyed Western culture.
Will you be among them? Will you resolve to live a life of greatness? Will you resolve to conquer your weaknesses and develop unyielding character?
I challenge you to do so. Your life will only be as great, your contribution only as valuable to the extent that you make specific, written resolutions to yourself and live them with uncompromising integrity.          

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The history of modern education...

The following is an incredible video...a must-see for all of us who have "come off" the conveyor belt of modern education.

We have certain mindsets, behaviors, and expectations that have come from our experience in public school, and we need to really look at what they are and where they came from, so we can use true principles and methods.  I particularly like what he said about the purpose of certain classroom techniques.

Like I said, a must-see!  Thank you so much, Genevieve, for sharing this!
A friend brought up an interesting point about the Seth Godin clip. :)  I was already thinking this, but just wanted to get it out for you all to know.

I should be careful what I throw out and endorse :).  I loved so much of what he said, but, as my friend said, he said some things at the end that I don't necessarily agree with.  As with champions of most any cause, he was extreme in some cases, and I didn't agree that all of it applied to me or was even all truth.

Case in point: I love the hypnobirthing method and highly recommended the book to a friend.  She hated it, saying that she didn't agree with everything the author said.  I was surprised, because, I, too didn't agree with everything, but loved the truth that was in it and the food for thought the points I disagreed with gave me.

Like is says in Moroni 10:3-5, seek for truth by the spirit and the Holy Ghost will bear witness of it.  Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world, and the truth is hidden.  The Holy Ghost will help you know what is truth and what you need to do with it. 

But remember, the Holy Ghost may have different messages for different people:
-the Anti-Nephi-Lehis knelt in prayer even as they were slaughtered.
-Nephi took up the sword and slew a man who was lying helpless before him.

So judge righteously for yourself, and don't condemn the actions of others...good words to live by :).

Like was said in the most recent LDS General Conference, the most important thing we need to do in these latter-days is to be able to recognize, feel, and act on promptings of the Spirit.
Thanks, friend, for reminding me about that important clarification!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Freedom without Virtue?...impossible.

Here is a post about freedom and virtue, with some links and resources:

There are some things worth getting mad about...

Freedom is one of those. Or at least, the lack thereof. 

Movies like "Amazing Grace" and books like "Les Miserable" stir something deep within me as I see people battling for the cause of freedom.  It is one of the things I am born to do: champion the cause of Liberty and learn the language of Freedom, as I call it.

My definition of "the language of Freedom"? To be able to articulate, persuade, and reason in behalf of the cause of liberty and freedom.  Very few things are more important to me than that; in fact, God and family are the only ones.

In order to learn how to this, I felt inspired to turn to something called "Leadership Education." According to Oliver DeMille, in his powerful lecture last year titled "7 Keys and 4 Phases,"  the key ingredients in a leadership education is the study of classics and the study of history.  

When I heard him say that last year, I though, "Great!  That's what we are doing in our homeschool!" 
 For the past few years, we have been working our way through an incredible historical series by Susan Wise Bauer:

These books have everything in them...all from sources as original as you can get!  You read all sorts of crazy things about kings and messengers, generals and slaves, sometimes in their very words :)Her writing style is incredible, with stories that are written as they were lived...as an adventure and about real people!

And, in studying this history, I can see how important it is to know our history so that we may learn from it!

In all the cultures and time periods I have studied so far, government cannot be good government without virtue of the people!  Time and again, a virtuous person will come to power, do good on his or her "watch" in power, and then the society will topple and be overthrown by the corruption and deviousness of the next individual or group in power.  Time and again.  You get people in power who are trying to use the power of the government to do good things and find that they have to fight continuously against the corruption of people around them!  One poor chap in China tried to abdicate three times and retire to a monastery just so he could get away from it all...but he was too good and the people would not let him go!

So, going back to my original passion about freedom, I want to talk about that a little bit more. Want to really get my dander up? (Listen carefully, Daddy Clyde :)...here's what you've always wanted: the key to making me ready to fight!)  
Tell me the government has "told" me yet another way to run my life.  
Do you know who "the government" is?  My neighbor.  It is no all-powerful, all-knowing entity of accumulated knowledge.  It is the body that we have given the power to create laws on behalf of all of us to maintain our freedom, by securing some rights.

And do you know something else?  We lose freedom when people worry about personal "rights" that they want "secured" out of fear of the lack of virtue in others.

Let's look at that word: Virtue.  To me, part of that word "virtue" is the quality in a person that drives them to take responsibility for themselves and those in their stewardship in a way that respects the rights and responsibilities of others...all with a sense of accountability to some higher good.

Here is another way to look at it :):

Look familiar :)? We can also look at Cicero's summary of what he calls "natural law."  What is natural law? First of all, Cicero defines Natural Law as "true law." Then he says:
"True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions.... It is a sin to try to alter this law, nor is it allowable to repeal any part of it, and it is impossible to abolish entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by senate or people, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it. And there will not be different laws at Rome and Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is God, over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from himself and denying his human nature, and by reason of this very fact he will suffer the worst punishment." (The Five thousand Year Leap, p. 40)
Just think.  If everyone observed these simple maxims, found in the 10 commandments and their consciences, and echoed in Cicero's "Natural Law," would we need government?  No.  Of course not, other than perhaps as some minor local tax collector who would gather funds to build roads or as some judge between minor cases of misunderstandings.  People would do what is good and right and fair, without anyone trying to force them to do it, and without anyone trying to get out of it :).

So, going back to what I have read in history and in my study of governments and society, there is no possible form of government where people can be free to obtain and use their money and resources to support their lives and families without virtue of the people. None. There is no such thing as a government powerful enough to force people to do good, without giving it the power to force them to do evil.

Historic and modern events support the common idiom:

Absolute power corrupts...absolutely.

The Founding Fathers of the United States of America knew this from their own study of history, thus creating our Constitution with important limitations and safeguards.  However, even they knew that only with virtue of the people would we be able to reap the benefits of their work, and use the Constitution for the intent for which it was created.

We must echo Elaine Dalton's call for a "return to virtue" as we look at society.  As people look to their hearts and their God, in whatever form they worship Him, they will know what they must do, and what that answer is for themselves.

Ahhhh.  But how to encourage people to do that, to choose to sacrifice and be virtuous over the pursuit of selfishness?  How do we encourage people to not be dishonest, to not take advantage of one's neighbor, to honestly look at what they have and what they need and use the excess to reach out and help others?  

That remains the question to be answered before we can answer the question how to maintain a government that perserves our freedom.

It must begin, one person at a time, and it must begin today...with you and with me.d

Obviously, I have a long way to go in my effort to learn how to make my passion for freedom articulate and clear :).  I will trust in God and keep doing what I can, one day at a time. 

Excerpt from "The Divinely Inspired Constitution"
U.S. citizens have an inspired Constitution, and therefore, what? Does the belief that the U.S. Constitution is divinely inspired affect citizens’ behavior toward law and government? It should and it does.
U.S. citizens should follow the First Presidency’s counsel to study the Constitution. 17 They should be familiar with its great fundamentals: the separation of powers, the individual guarantees in the Bill of Rights, the structure of federalism, the sovereignty of the people, and the principles of the rule of the law. They should oppose any infringement of these inspired fundamentals.
They should be law-abiding citizens, supportive of national, state, and local governments. The twelfth Article of Faith declares:
“We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”
The Church’s official declaration of belief states:
“We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them. …
“We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside.” (D&C 134:1, 5.)
Those who enjoy the blessings of liberty under a divinely inspired constitution should promote morality, and they should practice what the Founding Fathers called “civic virtue.” In his address on the U.S. Constitution, President Ezra Taft Benson quoted this important observation by John Adams, the second president of the United States:
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” 18
Similarly, James Madison, who is known as the “Father of the Constitution,” stated his assumption that there had to be “sufficient virtue among men for self-government.” He argued in the Federalist Papers that “republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form.” 19
It is part of our civic duty to be moral in our conduct toward all people. There is no place in responsible citizenship for dishonesty or deceit or for willful law breaking of any kind. We believe with the author of Proverbs that “righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Prov. 14:34.) The personal righteousness of citizens will strengthen a nation more than the force of its arms.
Citizens should also be practitioners of civic virtue in their conduct toward government. They should be ever willing to fulfill the duties of citizenship. This includes compulsory duties like military service and the numerous voluntary actions they must take if they are to preserve the principle of limited government through citizen self-reliance. For example, since U.S. citizens value the right of trial by jury, they must be willing to serve on juries, even those involving unsavory subject matter. Citizens who favor morality cannot leave the enforcement of moral laws to jurors who oppose them.