Friday, December 28, 2012

Gifts …

Gifts smI taught a lesson last Sunday. The assigned source for the discussion was a talk given by Pres. Henry B. Eyring entitled, “Help Them Aim High”. From the title of his talk you might be wondering how I jumped to gifts, I’ll ask for an indulgence as I review, what was for me, a great lesson; not because of anything I said but rather for where the class took the lesson.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

So You Think You Know The 80–20 Rule?

man frustratedDo you want to motivate others to change their behavior? Are you frustrated that your children, students, employees … aren’t moved to action by your crystal-clear messages. Perhaps there is a lesson in the following 80-20 story found in “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard”, by Chip and Dan Heath:

A local car wash ran a promotion featuring loyalty cards. Every time customers bought a car wash, they got a stamp on their cards, and when they filled up their cards with eight stamps, they got a free wash.

Another set of customers at the same car wash got a slightly different loyalty card. They needed to collect ten stamps (rather than eight) to get a free car wash—but they were given a “head start.” When they received their cards, two stamps had already been added.

carwashThe “goal” was the same for both sets of customers: Buy eight additional car washes, get a reward. But the psychology was different: In one case, you’re 20 percent of the way toward a goal., and in the other case, you’re starting from scratch. A few months later, only 19 percent of the eight-stamp customers had earned a free wash, versus 34 percent of the head-start group. And the head-start group earned the free wash faster.

At the conclusion of your lectures, do the recipients clearly understand where they need to go? Now for the important question. How often do they get there? If the target of your message does not feel like he or she is part of the way there at the conclusion of your discussion then perhaps that is one of the problems. In the story above, having customers feel like they were 20% of the way to the desired destination, resulted in 80% more of them getting there (and doing so more quickly)!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Should Congress Delegate Its Authority to Increase the National Debt Ceiling?

John MarshallThere are Supreme court rulings that support as well as oppose allowing Congress to delegate a broad range of its law-making power to bureaucracies within the Executive branch. The Supreme Court stated in US v. Shreveport Grain and Elevator Co., “That the legislative power of Congress cannot be delegated is, of course, clear. But Congress may declare its will, and, after fixing a primary standard, devolve upon administrative officers the "power to fill up the details" by prescribing administrative rules and regulations.” In 1825 Chief Justice John Marshall stated in his opinion in Wayman v. Southard, that Congress may not delegate powers that “are strictly and exclusively legislative.

Monday, November 26, 2012

William George Jordan Shares His Secret for Creating Analogies

William George Jordan created a lecture series entitled Mental Training: By Analysis, Law, & Analogy in the early 1890’s. The objective of these was to improve the ability of students to digest and utilize information.

In 1907 he published a pamphlet entitled Mental Training: A Remedy for “Education” which included a list of his twelve lectures along with a short summary of each. His view on education can be summed up in one short sentence; rather than simply feed children facts we should focus on teaching them how to think. In Mental Training shares his proposed methods for giving students the tools the need to digest and use information.

I’ve always been amazed by Jordan’s ability to teach using analogies drawn from a vast array of historical events, everyday objects, machinery … . He shares the “secret” to developing this skill as he describes an experience with a student of his lectures:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"If God be for us who can be against us." The Miracle of 1746

We read in the Old Testament of the many times God intervened in the affairs of man. From the escape of the Israelites from Egypt to the fall of Jericho, miracles seem to have been almost a daily occurrence. Why then did the Israelites repeatedly turn their back on the Lord? Good question, perhaps they simply forgot or were able to rationalize the miracles away. Many were the miracles associated with the founding of our country. These have been largely lost and are no longer to be found in today’s history books. On a day which we celebrate gratitude I would like to share one of my favorite “miracles”. One that that was celebrated for years and for which Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a ballad about over 130 years after the incident.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Favorite William George Jordan Quotes

William George Jordan - 1910-08 - Americana One of my favorite authors is William George Jordan. What I love about his writing is his ability to paint pictures with words and then use them to teach principles. You can find a quotable quote in nearly every paragraph he writes. Below are some of my favorites (I’ll be adding to this list over time).  If you are preparing a speech and are looking for insightful quotes on human nature Jordan has some great ones. Links to all of WGJ’s books can be found in my post “Books by William George Jordan.”

Friday, November 16, 2012

Can Communities Enact Sunday Closing Ordinances? A Postscript.

First of all I want to thank those of my friends who supported changing our Sunday closing policy, because it challenged me to research my initial position. I would also like to thank those who referred to me and other supporters as “idiotic fairy tale worshippers”, “blatant hypocrites”, “tyrants”, “religious bullies”, “liars”, having “libido dominandi [the will to power, the desire to dominate, the lust for government] … for providing the ongoing motivation to continue my research and study the issue.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bright Spots

Switch by Chip and Dan HeathIn Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, authors Chip and Dan Heath share the story of Jerry Sternin (1938-2008) who in 1990, while working for Save the Children, was asked to open an office in Vietnam and fight malnutrition. He was told by the Vietnamese government that he had six months to make a difference. Note, in 1990 about 65 percent of all Vietnamese children under the age of five suffered from malnutrition.

Jerry had researched malnutrition in Vietnam. The conventional wisdom was that the causes were poor sanitation, lack of access to clean water, and ignorance of the rural villagers. From Jerry's point of view this information was “True But Useless”, as there was little he could do in six months to remedy those issues, especially with almost no budget.

Monday, November 12, 2012

If thy brother hast ought against thee

Sermon on the MountWe covered Christ’s teaching of the “Sermon on the Mount” in Sunday School last week. As I was preparing the lesson I kept being drawn to two verses in particular—Matt 5:23-24  which read:

23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought [anything] against thee;

24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Highland Prop 6 Results and Comments

Here are the results as Tuesday night November 6, 2012:

  • For 2,993 (45.94%)
  • Against 3,522 (54.06%)

Although there may be additional adjustments due to absentee and/or provisional ballots we can be fairly sure that the end result will stand.

Note, here’s the final count dated 20 November 2012. To see a signed copy of the Official Certification of the Highland City Municipal Election of November 8, 2012 click here.

Highland Prop 6 Final Results - Click to go to Utah County site

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why I drive PAST the stores in my city to shop in Highland

Here’s an email that was sent last night by a resident of Cedar Hills who shops in Highland because of our Sunday closing policy and she is evidently not the only one.

Dear friends,

vote against prop 6I cannot vote on Prop 6 because I do not live in Highland but I wish that I could because I am certainly in favor of SUNDAY CLOSURE and would vote AGAINST proposition 6.  Whenever possible I drive past the McDonalds, Harts and Wal-Mart in Cedar Hills to shop in Highland because I love to support stores that are closed on Sundays.   I also go to Highland instead of American Fork or Pleasant Grove.  I would rather have my money go to your city even more than my own.  I also know that I am not the only one who feels this way.  So this is another issue to consider when thinking about your tax dollars--mine and others will stay in Cedar Hills/AF/PG if your stores open on Sundays.  

Thank you for your consideration.  Feel free to forward onto others,

Julie Sessions

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sunday Closing: My Final Thoughts

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time since March of this year researching “Blue Laws”, dialoging with supporters and detractors. I’ve found clear and overwhelming support for Sunday closure laws from any virtually any perspective you wish do choose. No need for logical gymnastics, no need to parse words and stretch points, simple clear common sense support from many, many sources.

Residents of Highland can freely choose to support or oppose the change to Sunday opening based on what they feel will be best for the community. We have the freedom to make that choice. Business rights do not trump the rights of residents. The claim if you don’t support Sunday opening you oppose “liberty” is not supported well by the Constitution, the Founders, or the sources they used in framing the Constitution.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fiscal Conservatives should vote AGAINST Prop 6 in Highland by Tara Tarbet

The other side notes that Smith's Marketplace generates over $400K in annual sales tax revenue, Wal-Mart produces over $300K. What they choose NOT to mention is that Lehi and Cedar Hills only receive 50% of that revenue. The rest is redistributed by the state to municipalities based on each municipality's population. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

“Blue Law” Gold by Mark Beesley

highland-utahMark Beesley submitted the a letter to the SL Tribune and then recorded a message regarding proposition 6. Mark is one of many non-LDS members of our community who share the view that we should maintain our current Sunday closing policy. He said in an email that “changing the policy is simply bad economics for the vast majority of residents. If Highland homogenizes itself into another Lehi, American Fork or Orem our community will be less attractive and property values will decrease. The introduction of more tired national chains that can only survive on a 7-day model will eliminate the diversity, charm and value of locally-owned businesses that truly cater to local tastes. I believe it makes sense to reject Proposition 6.”

Here is his recording and a copy of the letter he submitted to the Tribune:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Moral Foundation for Sunday Closure Laws by Ben Austin

I thought Ben Austin’s summary on Sunday Closure laws from a moral perspective was excellent. He agreed to allow me to post it on my site. It is well worth a few minutes of your time to read. Thanks Ben.


I wish to warn you that the following essay is somewhat lengthy. Many of you will feel that I could have covered each point much more quickly. I acknowledge this, but I chose to develop the ideas slowly and carefully because I wanted to be sure I was thorough. You will also find that Sunday closure is not even mentioned until the very end, but the earlier portions are necessary because they set up the framework for understanding blue laws. These sections are also valuable because they set the stage for discussing other political debates as well, such as the definition of marriage (a topic which I plan to address with my next treatise). I know that the first part of this paper is very philosophical and rather abstract. I do not consider myself an expert in philosophy, but I've tried to model my arguments using C.S. Lewis' writings as an example, so hopefully it will all make sense.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday Closure Thoughts by Kristen Chevrier

Some thoughts on Sunday closure (please share this with your friends in Highland):

I do not see the push to abolish Sunday closing laws as a push toward freedom. I see it as just another attempt to homogenize and to stifle the ability of a community to set its own standards.

Please consider the following:

An Alternative Solution for Highland's Revenue Problem that Increases Freedom by TJ Abbott

Here’s a great tongue in cheek solution (at least I think it is:) to Highland’s revenue problems that could even be “better” than eliminating the common day of rest which has always been part of Highland but is now viewed by some as limiting our freedom. Thank you TJ for this brilliant proposal.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sunday Business Opening by Don Ruzicka

Don wrote the following open letter to Highland residents regarding Prop 6 which is on the ballot this election cycle. I thought I’d share it with you.

For many years Highland has had an ordinance that does not allow businesses to be open on Sunday. With a few exceptions the vast majority of businesses everywhere already close on Sunday simply because they too need a day of rest and because of the reality that comparatively little shopping occurs on Sunday. Other businesses came to operate here and serve us knowing they could not be open on Sunday. As a result Highland has uniquely enjoyed a very peaceful and relaxed atmosphere on Sundays which has always been an important part of its charm and desirability. It’s nice to be able to take a leisurely drive to visit relatives or friends or just enjoy the abundant beauty that we are surrounded by in Highland without having to contend with the congestion and frenetic pace of every other day. It is truly one of the most beautiful and desirable places to live anywhere. IT’S WHY MOST OF US CHOSE TO LIVE HERE!

Lessons from a Sea Shell

I teach a Sunday School class for 17 and 18 year olds. Each Sunday I bring a random object and ask the class members to find a lesson in it. I reserve time at the end of the lesson to let the class share their thoughts.

See shell from IndiaLast Sunday I brought in a sea shell I picked up on a recent business trip to India. I showed them the shell at the beginning of the lesson and asked them to guess where I got it. Of course, no one guessed and they were surprised to learn it was from India. I then proceeded with my lesson.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Can Communities Enact Sunday Closing Ordinances–Part II

A more than sufficient number of signatures have been affixed to a referendum that will put a recent Highland City ordinance, lifting a restrictions on Sunday business operations, on the ballot this November (1,893 were validated versus the required 889). So now let the debate begin. See Part I for background info or click here to see a list of all posts on this subject from multiple Highland residents. If you want a good chuckle read “An Alternative Solution For Highland’s Revenue Problem that Increases Freedom”.

Well actually is has already begun. Local newspapers have published several articles, Facebook and blog posts have been written with a number of comments and replies (1). I’ve found that opponents to Sunday restrictions fit one or more of the following categories:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Can Communities Enact Sunday Closing Ordinances?

Book cover of The True-Blue Laws of Connecticut and New Haven and the False Blue-Laws Invented by the Rev Samuel PetersAn issue that has come up in our community, Highland, Utah, regarding the a city ordinance that precluded businesses being open on Sunday (these types of laws and ordinances are often referred to as Blue Laws). The issue arose because of a challenge with the city budget. The rationale for removing the restriction was it would help the city attract new businesses thus raising additional sales tax revenues. The city council, after much discussion with the residents, passed an ordinance which eliminates the community day of rest.

Personally, I am opposed to the change but I have respected friends who are supportive of it. While the concept of a shared community day of rest coincides with one of the 10 Commandments, the adoption of Sunday business restrictions is no more “enforced religion” than laws that prohibit stealing, lying (perjury), or killing, each of which are also one of the 10 Commandments.

Before we get into a lengthy discussion on the matter (see Can Communities Enact Sunday Closing Ordinances – Part II?) let’s get some facts on the table:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Fourth of July

Taylor Caldwell (1900-1984) was prolific writer whose works include Pillar of Iron, The Listener, and Captains and the Kings. The following “speech” given by a disabled veteran is found in her book The Sound of Thunder. It is an excellent reminder of what we really celebrate on the 4th.

fireworks-statue-of-liberty“It’s very good to celebrate the Fourth of July with firecrackers and the shooting off of cannon and bonfires and picnics and speeches. It’s nice to go out in rowboats and canoes on the lake, here in the park, and have a holiday. A holiday. I know you people work very hard, most of you twelve hours a day, six days a week. My dad does, too. You deserve a holiday, and pleasure, and the banging of firecrackers. But it shouldn’t be on the Fourth of July. Independence Day.

Monday, June 25, 2012

To Each Generation: A Right and a Responsibility

Mike Bready, a neighbor and fellow state delegate, shared with me his thoughts on the race between Senator Orrin Hatch and Dan Liljenquist.  He sent me the write-up  allowed me to share it on my blog. His insights have value well beyond tomorrow’s primary.. Here it is:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Brief Review of Senator Hatch’s Votes on Unconstitutional Bills by Scott Bradley

imageIn 2006 Scott Bradley ran as the Constitution party’s nominee against Senator Hatch for the U.S. Senator. Note, prior to joining the Constitution Party, Scott was a long-time active member of the Republican party. During his campaign is produced the following short list of votes by Senator Hatch that expand the power of the Federal government beyond its Constitutional bounds. Scott graciously gave me permission to share this with you.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sources of Campaign Donations to Representative Jim Matheson

Representative Jim MathesonI’m adding Jim Matheson to the list of current Utah federal representatives who’s donations I’m analyzing. Below are charts & tables that summarize 2006-2012 campaign contribution data from MapLight (a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that seeks to show the impact of money on politics). I downloaded the data June 14, 2012. 

Individual donors are required to provide addresses to campaigns so it is easy to show the source of funds from a location perspective. For PACs it is difficult because if a PAC is set up by a company with a national or global presence then it is hard to identify a specific location. If on the other hand it is a PAC that represents an industry or cause then donors can come from anywhere in the US. For the PACs I went through the list and identified the ones that I determined had a significant presence in Utah (for corporations I looked up where they had offices or plants) then added a small fudge factor to this total to err on the side of donations from Utah. Note, similar to Hatch donations I did not take the time to research all of them but I did look for those that I thought would have a Utah presence first. Also, I generalized the industries for the PAC contributions (e.g. Pharmaceuticals, Hospitals, Doctors, and Medical Devices are categorized as Healthcare) and added a pie chart to the sources PAC donations by Industry.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sources of Campaign Donations to Representative Jason Chaffetz

Jason_Chaffetz Official PortraitOne of Senator Hatch’s campaign staff asked me to select another candidate for federal office and do an analysis of their campaign donation sources so they could be compared. I thought it was a reasonable suggestions so I decided to use Representative Chaffetz as a comparator to Senator Hatch. As I did for the Senator I tried to err on the side of contributions coming from Utah when there was subjectivity involved.

Below are charts & tables that summarize campaign contribution data I downloaded from MapLight (a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that seeks to show the impact of money on politics). The data contains all donations for election cycles 2006-2012. I downloaded the data June 13, 2012. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sources of Campaign Contributions to Senator Orrin Hatch

Senator Orrin HatchOne of the items opponents of Senator Hatch point to is the % of funds to his campaign that come from out of state. As should be expected, supporters of Senator Hatch cry foul and say that the number is not accurate for a variety of reasons. The number I’ve most often seen is 91% of campaign donations to Senator Hatch come from out of state. I thought I’d do my own research this weekend and find out as best I could what the numbers really are. I’m sharing the results with you. I tried to err on the side of contributions coming from Utah when there was subjectivity involved.

Below are charts & Tables that summarize campaign contribution data I downloaded from from MapLight (a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that seeks to show the impact of money on politics). The data contains all donations for election cycles 2006-2012 as of June 8, 2012.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Senator Hatch Ratings Overview

Having listened to and read many claims regarding Senator Hatch’s record I thought I would organize a summary of a number of them so interested parties can easily find the information. I used Project Vote Smart to find those groups with the most recent ratings in the Conservative and Family Issues categories and then recorded the Senator’s ratings as far back as they provided them. Note, the Eagle Forum did not have a rating available for 1999 which is why there is a gap in their rating.

Each organization that rates congress identifies key votes on issues that they care about and uses them to rate members of congress. The rating then reflects how a member of congress performed against a limited set of votes. You can go to each group to find out which votes they considered (I’ve put links to them at the bottom of the post).

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Columbus, Providence, and the Discovery of America by Ron Mann

Bear with me for just one minute and we’ll get to the story. Thanks.

I find it curious that during a decade when when we’ve gone through one crisis after another (the Internet bubble, the real-estate crash, Katrina, 9/11, the financial melt-down of 2008 …) that while a lot of time and money has been spent trying to prevent similar problems in the future, society as a whole hasn’t taken an inward look to see if there are areas where we are off-track that contributed to these problems.

What! you say. How did we contribute to 9/11? We can see from the information that came out following 9/11 that there were a number of warning signs that were missed, not passed on to the right people, or ignored. Why? Could part of the issue be related to pride, an unwillingness to cooperate, and poor legislation which was crafted to protect the power of various departments but restricted cooperation that would have benefited all. The dots were there but no one connected them. We lacked the inspiration to put it all together.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Should Senator Hatch and His Primary Challenger Dan Liljenquist have Multiple Debates?

debateLocally, there have been a lot of discussions lately regarding whether or not the two primary candidates for one of Utah’s two Senate seats should have multiple debates prior to the primary election. The sitting Senator has agreed to one radio debate sometime the week before the election sometime between 9 AM and 12 PM. There has been a lot of energetic discussion on Facebook and in other online forums. I think much of the dialog misses the major point entirely.

I sent a short letter to the editor of Deseret News today on the subject. Not sure if it will be published so I thought I’d share it with you. But before that let me share a sampling of the online commentary so you can get a feel for the passion on both sides.:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Integrity by General Charles C. Krulak, USMC retired

General Charles C. Krulak, USMC General Krulak (former Commandant of the Marine Corps) was the keynote speaker at the Joint Services Conference on Professional Ethics (JSCOPE) 2000. JSCOPE is now known as the International Society for Military Ethics (ISME). They have met annually since 1979 to discuss ethics, values, leadership … .

General Krulak’s January 27, 2000 keynote address is timeless and an ever needed reminder of the importance of integrity. This characteristic is essential for those we select to serve as leaders, whether in business, government, or private organizations. It is vital that those who serve maintain their integrity or like Rome our nation, business, or group will collapse from within and fall prey to those who seek its demise.


We study and we discuss ethical principles because it serves to strengthen and validate our own inner value system … it gives direction to what I call our moral compass. It is the understanding of ethics that becomes the foundation upon which we can deliberately commit to inviolate principles. It becomes the basis of what we are … of what we include in our character. Based on it, we commit to doing what is right. We expect such commitment from our leaders. But most importantly, we must demand it of ourselves.

Sound morals and ethical behavior cannot be established or created in a day … a semester … or a year. They must be institutionalized within our character over time … they must become a way of life. They go beyond our individual services and beyond our ranks or positions; they cut to the heart and to the soul of who we are and what we are and what we must be … men and women of character. They arm us for the challenges to come and they impart to us a sense of wholeness. They unite us in the calling we now know as the profession of arms.

Of all the moral and ethical guideposts that we have been brought up to recognize, the one that, for me, stands above the rest … the one that I have kept in the forefront of my mind … is integrity. It is my ethical and personal touchstone.

Integrity as we know it today, stands for soundness of moral principle and character – uprightness – honesty. Yet there is more. Integrity is also an ideal … a goal to strive for … and for a man or woman to “walk in their integrity” is to require constant discipline and usage. The word integrity itself is a martial word that comes to us from an ancient roman army tradition.

Roman Legionary wearing 1st century armorDuring the time of the 12 Caesars, the Roman army would conduct morning inspections. As the inspecting centurion would come in front of each legionnaire, the soldier would strike with his right fist the armor breastplate that covered his heart. The armor had to be strongest there in order to protect the heart from the sword thrusts and from arrow strikes. As the soldier struck his armor, he would shout “integritas”, (in-teg-ri-tas) which in Latin means material wholeness, completeness, and entirety. The inspecting centurion would listen closely for this affirmation and also for the ring that well kept armor would give off. Satisfied that the armor was sound and that the soldier beneath it was protected, he would then move on to the next man.

At about the same time, the praetorians or imperial bodyguard were ascending into power and influence. Drawn from the best “politically correct” soldiers of the legions, they received the finest equipment and armor. They no longer had to shout “integritas” (in-teg-ri-tas) to signify that their armor was sound. Instead, as they struck their breastplate, they would shout "Hail Caesar", to signify that their heart belonged to the imperial personage – not to their unit – not to an institution – not to a code of ideals. They armored themselves to serve the cause of a single man.

A century passed and the rift between the legion and the imperial bodyguard and its excesses grew larger. To signify the difference between the two organizations, the legionnaire, upon striking his armor would no longer shout “integritas”, (in-teg-ri-tas) but instead would shout "integer" (in-te-ger).

Integer (in-te-ger) means undiminished – complete – perfect. It not only indicated that the armor was sound, it also indicated that the soldier wearing the armor was sound of character. He was complete in his integrity … his heart was in the right place … his standards and morals were high. He was not associated with the immoral conduct that was rapidly becoming the signature of the praetorian guards.

The armor of integrity continued to serve the legion well. For over four centuries they held the line against the marauding Goths and Vandals but by 383 AD, the social decline that infected the republic and the Praetorian Guard had its effects upon the legion.

As a 4th century Roman general wrote, “When, because of negligence and laziness, parade ground drills were abandoned, the customary armor began to feel heavy since the soldiers rarely, if ever, wore it. Therefore, they first asked the emperor to set aside the breastplates and mail and then the helmets. So our soldiers fought the Goths without any protection for the heart and head and were often beaten by archers. Although there were many disasters, which lead to the loss of great cities, no one tried to restore the armor to the infantry. They took their armor off, and when the armor came off – so too came their integrity” it was only a matter of a few years until the legion rotted from within and was unable to hold the frontiers … the barbarians were at the gates.

Integrity … it is a combination of the words, “integritas” (in-teg-ri-tas) and “integer” (in-te-ger). It refers to the putting on of armor, of building a completeness … a wholeness … a wholeness in character. How appropriate that the word integrity is a derivative of two words describing the character of a member of the profession of arms.

The military has a tradition of producing great leaders that possess the highest ethical standards and integrity. It produces men and women of character … character that allows them to deal ethically with the challenges of today and to make conscious decisions about how they will approach tomorrow. However, as I mentioned earlier, this is not done instantly. It requires that integrity becomes a way of life … it must be woven into the very fabric of our soul. Just as was true in the days of imperial Rome, you either walk in your integrity daily, or you take off the armor of the “integer” (in-te-ger) and leave your heart and soul exposed … open to attack.

My challenge to you is simple but often very difficult … wear your armor of integrity … take full measure of its weight … find comfort in its protection … do not become lax. And always, always, remember that no one can take your integrity from you … you and only you can give it away!

The biblical book of practical ethics – better known as the Book of Proverbs – sums it up very nicely: “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them”. (Proverbs 11:3)

Thank you.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Miracle and Hopefully Yours

I wrote the the following poem for my wife years ago and rededicate it to my wonderful companion this Mother’s Day. A better mother for our children does not exist. I hope everyone I know thinks the same about their companion.

Sunset on Wailea Maui

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

“Give Me Liberty!” by Ron Mann

The following short speech on freedom and liberty by my father, Ron Mann, is appropriate for today’s world, although it was written over 10 years ago.

Patrick Henry delivering his great speechPatrick Henry gave his most famous speech on March 23, 1775, in Richmond, Virginia, where he argued to mobilize for military action against the British – at the time the members of the 2nd Virginia Convention were undecided on this matter. Thomas Marshall, who was present at this speech, gave utterance to the unanimous verdict of all who heard it, when he described it “as one of the most bold, vehement, and animated pieces of eloquence that had ever been delivered.” Indeed it was so powerful that it consolidated all the forces in attendance to military resistance against the Crown.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A “Positive” Observation about Christ by Norman Vincent Peale

The Power of Positive ThinkingI recently started re-reading The Power of Positive Thinking (Amazon now has a free Kindle version on this link) which should be on everyone’s must read. In the foreword of the 2008 edition Pastor Robert Schuller shares a story from 1957 when he introduced its author, Norman Vincent Peale, a guest speaker to his congregation.

Dr. Schuller relates the following story:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lessons in Honor from Alexander Hamilton and Thornton W. Burgess

hon·or [on-er]: honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions.

Alexander_Hamilton_portrait_by_Ezra_Ames-croppedIs it possible for people on different sides of an issue to both have honor or share integrity in their beliefs? The answer is yes! You or I may not agree with the beliefs of people who stand on the other side of an issue but their belief may nonetheless be sincere.

Alexander Hamilton offer’s a great dissertation on this principle in a single paragraph (Federalist #1):

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reflections on a Campaign

DSC04665 sepia smThis campaign season I worked on Tim Aalders campaign to become the Republican nominee for the U.S Senate. Many of you will know that Tim did not make it through convention and finished 4th on the 1st ballot at convention with about 2% of the delegate’s votes. So was the time spent on my part worth it? If success is measured solely by the votes Tim received the answer would clearly be no. However, let me review with you some of what I experienced as a result of helping and then let me answer the question.

I got to meet and spend time with a number of truly wonderful people whom I otherwise would not have gotten to know:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Selecting a Senate Candidate – What do we do now Ollie?

I’ve thought long and hard on the subject. But before we go there I would like to talk about the circumstances we find ourselves in today. I find it ironic that at a time when so much information is available to us that so many of us our blinded by preconceived notions, “common” knowledge, and complacency.

If we just step back and do are our own research using the documents that defined our nation; the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers. Then with fresh eyes look at our nation today I think we may get a shock.

With just a little time invested we find that:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

100 Years Ahead of His Time – William George Jordan and “The House of Governors”

Patrick_Henry_RothermelWilliam George Jordan (1864-1928) was a noted author and editor but he was perhaps best known in the early 1900s for his contribution to national politics which began with the publication of a pamphlet entitled The House of Governors in 1907.

In the latter part of 1906 and early 1907 President Roosevelt and his Secretary of State Elihu Root advanced the notion that the Federal government needed to be given more power to deal with issues of national concern that the states were unable to resolve[1]. It was this threat that prompted Jordan to action.

Jordan came up with the idea of creating an entity composed of the governors of the states that would provide a forum for the states to resolve issues between themselves and push back on the Federal government. He shared the concept in February of 1907 with President Theodore Roosevelt, his cabinet and the governors of all 46 states when he sent them copies of his pamphlet. By May of 1908 thirty governors had endorsed Jordan’s plan.

The opening of The House of Governors reads as follows:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

William George Jordan: Education versus Mental Training

William George Jordan, was a strong advocate of changing the focus of education. In an article entitled “What’s the Matter with Education”, published in the March 1923 issue of The Forum, he argues that “there is not one single power, faculty, process or quality of the mind that is trained and developed by our present system of education. Our powers are not merely untrained—they are positively mistrained.” He continues “the theory of education, not as we get it from the ideals of educators but as it is evidenced in every detail of the system as it actually exists today, can be given in a single sentence: Education believes that by forcing a certain amount of knowledge, principally by means of textbooks, into the minds of children, that somehow in the divine mystery of mental processes this knowledge will not only be retained, but the mind of the individual will be exercised, trained and developed.” He advocated for a system whose “final aim … is to teach thinking, exercising the individual not in what to think, but in how to think … .

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

“A Christmas Gift of Snow for Colonel Knox” by Ron Mann

My father sent this story to family members as a Christmas gift and invited us to share it with others. It is the tale of a pivotal event early in the Revolutionary War performed by a man, Colonel Knox, whose faith and indomitable spirit made this journey possible. Similar faith and determination will be needed to return our nation to the federated republic established by its founding fathers.

Note, a PDF version is available if you want to print a copy of this story.  Enjoy …

With respect to General Knox, I can say with truth, there is no man in the United States with whom I have been in habits of greater intimacy; no one who I have loved more sincerely, nor any for whom I have had a greater friendship.”—G. Washington.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cultivating Charity

The Good SamaritanAs I contemplated the upcoming year today I reviewed a talk I gave in church on December 29, 2002. Its’ challenge was to develop a charitable attitude during the course of the next year. For me this is as important a goal for the coming year as it was then. Perhaps even more as there seems to be a never ending series of crisis where charity can make a difference; war is ever present, economic woes seem never ending; natural disasters of one form or another; the almost uncountable lives impacted in the wake of substance abuse … .   Of course one of the biggest blessings associated with true charity is the impact on the individual practicing it. You’ll find the talk below.

Let me start by reading the lyrics from of the beautiful hymn, “Lord, I Would Follow Thee” (music and lyrics, audio).  

Savior may I learn to love thee, walk the path that thou hast shown.
Pause to help and lift another, finding strength beyond my own.

Who am I to judge another, when I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden, sorrow that the eye can’t see.

I would be my brothers’ keeper; I would learn the healer’s art.
To the wounded and the weary I would show a gentle heart.

Savior may I love my brother, as I know thou lovest me.
Find in thee my strength, my beacon, for thy servant I would be

What a wonderful message! These words express the desire of a heart in tune with the Spirit. A message which, if internalized by a relative few, could truly change the world. I am reminded of King Benjamin’s sermon from which this song could well have been distilled: