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I Pledge Allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.
I stand at attention with my hand over my heart. In spite of the literal meaning of this pledge, my pledge is of allegiance to the nation, its ideals, its principles, not the fabric. The flag is a living symbol. I treat it with respect as a symbolic gesture of how I want to treat those principles, those ideals, this great nation.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands.

A republic is a nation or state in which the power belongs to the people, administered by their elected officials. This is in contrast to a monarchy where the leader is supreme. In a republic, the people share an equality in standing.

One nation under God.

It is by the grace of God that we are a nation. And it will only be by the grace of God that we might one day truly be one nation in heart as well as polity. In that Latter-day Saint canon of scripture, we have a story of Enoch who walked …

Young Men Activities without Venturing

On May 11, 2017, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saintsannounced that wards would no longer use the Varsity Scout and Venturing programs for young men in the church. The transition date is stated as January 1, 2018. Rather than dwell on how sad this announcement makes me, I want to turn my attention to the positive emphasis the announcement makes in relation to reaching out to our young men aged 14-18.

The new directions for activities are not new but are instructive for seeing the vision of what our modern prophets and apostles are wanting to establish for our youth activity programs. These directions are broken down into principles and guidelines. Preliminary to these principles and guidelines is a vision statement.
Building young men with strong testimonies in the Lord Jesus Christ, helping them magnify their priesthood duties and preparing to fulfill their divine roles is the purpose of the Young Men’s 14-18 activity program. Activities should prov…

3rd Party Voter? Campaign!

Wow! What a crazy week this has been. The country certainly seems to be in commotion.

Anyway, I wanted to write a few thoughts about voting third party. I've seen political commentary saying that a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote, or even worse a vote for the enemy (whoever that might be). For example, this or this. And the wasted vote interpretation certainly seems to dominate the conversation I'm seeing on Twitter or Facebook.
Friend A: ‟I'm voting for [3rd party candidate].” Friend B: ‟You idiot! That's a vote for [your preferred candidate for devil in chief].”  And the crazy thing is that both sides are saying the same thing, even in the same state, just about the opposite candidates. Which makes no sense. Hopefully this post makes some sense even though I'm hitting publish at nearly 2 am.

Here is the basic reasoning behind calling such a vote wasted. (See this pretty good article from thefederalist.com — who knew I'd ever say that?) The a…

Of Differing Political Opinions

Our government is not a democracy. It is a republic. We, the people, elect representatives to govern on our behalf, establishing and enforcing laws. In our nation, the government is dominated by the two major political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats. Political parties represent a coalition of people with many different beliefs and backgrounds who band together to accomplish goals of government that would not be possible in the absence of this coalition. Compromise is an essential component of the political process when a coalition is formed from a diverse group in which a failure to cooperate makes a majority agreement impossible.

The presidential campaign continues and we are one month away from Election Day. The two major candidates and their most vocal supporters are extremely polarizing. Often, the choice is cast as finding the lesser of two evils. The trouble is that different ones of us will identify the greater evil in different ways.

Here is my concern, especially …

The Purpose of Young Men Church Activities

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One month ago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saintsresponded to the Boy Scouts of Americachange in the membership standards for adult leaders. I wrote a blog entry on that topic, which you can read here.

Today, the Church updated its response with an announcement from the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles that it is continuing its support of the Scouting program in the Church. Part of the statement says:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appreciates the positive contributions Scouting has made over the years to thousands of its young men and boys and to thousands of other youth. As leaders of the Church, we want the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances, thereby equipping them for greater success in life and valuable service to their country. This is a strong endorsement of the purposes of the Scouting movement. Thi…

A New Direction for Scouting

Today, July 27, 2015 (yesterday by the time the post is live), the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America approved a policy change to allow gay adults to serve as adult volunteers in units, with an exception for units sponsored by religious organizations that allows those units to "use religious beliefs as criteria for selecting adult leaders, including matters of sexuality" (for adults only).

My church and the sponsoring organization of all of the Scouting units for which I have volunteered, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a fairly strong response, objecting both about the scheduling of the vote and about the outcome of the policy, saying "the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America."

The mission statement of the Boy Scouts of America is:
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make et…

Deep and Strong Currents

In the October 2014 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Larry Kacher gave a talk, "Trifle Not with Sacred Things." He started with a personal experience about swimming in the Indian ocean on the coast of Oman and being caught in a rip-current. The flow of water was quickly pulling him away from the safety of the shore and attempting to swim against the current was of no use. Ultimately, he escaped the current and returned to shore tired and grateful for his life, and the life of his wife who had followed behind him. At this point in the talk, Elder Kacher said:
There are many currents in this earthly life—some safe and others not. President Spencer W. Kimball taught that there are powerful forces in our own lives much like the unseen currents of the ocean. These forces are real. We should never ignore them. As I was preparing for a talk in our congregation's Sacrament meeting (November 23, 2014), I decided to find out more about t…