06/25/20

Mrs. Miniver, Antifa and BLM

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

While watching an old black and white classic movie, Mrs. Miniver, the idea occurred that there were many similarities with our present-day struggles.  The first similarity is that we are a peaceful people for the most part with no desire to impose on others, much as the people of Great Britain during the time leading up to and during their war with NAZI Germany.

The primary character, Mrs. Miniver, as portrayed by Greer Garson, quietly goes about sharing her good-natured spirit with most everyone she comes in contact with.  The railway station master, James Ballard, gets permission to name a rose after her, a rose that exemplifies all that is beautiful as he prepares to enter it in the local flower show competition.

Mrs. Miniver goes about life observing the challenges of a nation at war, a war that touches many around her, to include her son as he enlists in the RAF to do his part.  Her concern for each individual is matched with her concern for their way of life and the threat to England as a nation.

A German plane had been seen to crash in the vicinity of their small village and the pilot was on the loose.  Mrs. Miniver came across him in their garden, but he had the drop on her as he followed her into the house to hide and obtain much-needed nourishment.

Splashing milk down his uniform while consuming whatever food was available, this arrogant agent of the Third Reich rattled on about how their military had taken Poland in only two days.  Hate spewing from his lips as he boasted, “Thousands of people dead in only two days”, and as he railed on, “We will do the same to you.”

Somewhere in my mind, I was seeing a different enemy, arrogant bullies priding themselves on having created fear among the people, a people with no desire to impose their will on others.  I was recalling recent images of Antifa and BLM “protestors” as the left-leaning news media called them, doing their best to wreak havoc on our metropolitan cities.

(Image of Antifa burning American Flag courtesy of redwhiteandright.com)

Antifa and BLM aren’t protesting racial injustices as we were led to believe; they are domestic terrorists, enemies of our country who’ve been hiding among us; but with the opportunity of civil unrest have come out in the open.

They wear face masks to keep from being identified; but they are openly spreading fear by killing innocent bystanders under the false flag of racial equality, assassinating police officers, looting and burning businesses along with tearing down statues or defacing monuments built to honor those who have fought and died to protect a liberty-loving people.

Could an enemy from a hostile country be any more destructive?

What about governors and mayor who’ve bowed to these terrorists, those who’ve instructed their police departments not to engage; but to permit these criminal acts?  What about the judges and district attorneys who release those arrested for looting and burning down buildings…release them back onto the street with little or no bail?

Are they acting in our best interests or have they joined the movement to destroy our nation?

There’s a scene in the movie where the family is hunkered down in a makeshift bomb shelter while enemy fighters strafe and bomb all around.  Their children are asleep; but with each passing moment, they can be seen clutching tightly to their blankets while their parents read aloud from Lewis Carroll’s, Alice and Wonderland.  Their world is being blown apart, all that is dear and sacred is under attack.

Isn’t that much the same as our nation right now?  Aren’t we praying to survive the next attack, praying our children will inherit a land of liberty rather than have to submit to the terrorists trying to destroy our peaceful republic?

Read into Mrs. Miniver’s composure what you will; but there is strength, dignity, and resolve to uphold the standards by which our culture is built.  Win or lose the fight, it is our duty to stand for what is right and true.

As the movie came to a close, the small congregation meeting in what was left of their bombed-out chapel, their minister addressed them as he pointed to the empty seats indicating the loss of a choir boy and then mentioning the loss of Mr. Ballard who’d only two weeks prior had won the award for his beautiful Miniver Rose.  Then he mentioned the loss of the recently married young Carol Beldon, the camera focusing momentarily on the young RAF flyer/husband grieving the loss of his wife and Lady Beldon grieving the loss of her granddaughter.

“We are all in this fight”, the minister proclaims, the roof of his chapel partially missing as a wave of British aircraft is seen headed towards harm’s way overhead.  It’s not just the military, but each of us has a stake in this war.

And so Mrs. Miniver, the character, and the movie has shown us all how we are to bear up under this current attack which has all the earmarks of a declared war on those things we consider sacred and of worth.  Our individual liberty, our families, religious beliefs, and constitutional republic have nothing to do with racism as has been claimed.  Antifa and BLM are at war with civilized society and it is our duty to stand firm.


t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.

05/25/20

Honoring Their Gift

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

Gratitude is an interesting human trait.  We say thank you when somebody does something nice for us or gives us a present; but that only touches on the idea of gratitude. How do we express heartfelt gratitude?

I could lead off with the highest level, the gratitude we as individuals show for our Savior, Jesus Christ.  His gift of eternal life to mortal beings truly is incomprehensible so we can only do our best to live a life worthy of such a gift; that’s how we show our gratitude for His sacrifice.

But that’s not where I’m headed this Memorial Day…no, but honoring the sacrifices of those who gave their lives in the battle for liberty, our individual chance to live and breathe while their lives were cut short; that’s something to consider.

I once saw a photograph of a mass burial at sea; sailors who’d lost their lives following a kamikaze attack.  The image of their shipmates carrying out the somber task struck a chord with my soul.  They had little time to morn their friends while the business of war and the ever-present threat required the detail to be carried out in haste.

Recalling a movie, The Man Who Never Was, there are civilians who ‘stepped up to the line’, so to speak.  They served the war effort in ways they never could have considered, some joining the ranks vicariously.

(Image: The Man Who Never Was, courtesy of sgliput.wordpress.com)

The military needed to fool the German hierarchy by supplying them with erroneous information.  The plot was formulated to leave a military courier’s body floating off the coast of Spain where it would be found.  Every detail of the courier’s life would have to be verifiable, right down to having letters from his girlfriend, where he purchased his uniform shirts, tickets to the show he’d last seen, and so on.

“The corpse will appear as a plane crash victim, the non-existent Royal Marine, Major William Martin, who is carrying falsified letters about a forthcoming Allied invasion of German-occupied Greece, rather than the obvious target of Sicily.”

But they needed a corpse who looked like he’d drowned in the ocean, and so they obtained the body of a man who’d died from pneumonia (At least that’s how this was accomplished in the movie.  According to a different historical account the body was likely obtained from a shipwreck off the northern coast of Great Britain).

There was a scene in the movie where the grieving father of the recently deceased individual was asked to donate his son’s body for the war effort.  Instead of being able to bury his son he was being asked to trust the military, that his son would eventually be given a proper funeral.

It’s a wonderfully well-made production of a movie and worth your efforts.

Memorial Day is for the survivors, those who didn’t die in the service of their country.  Sounds a bit strange doesn’t it?  This day is for us to recognize and honor the sacrifices made and try to live worthily as a means of showing gratitude for a gift that’s too hard to understand in its entirety.

When we look at the lessons of life, particularly in the scriptures, we see miniature versions of the big picture and use them to understand the ultimate gift of the Savior’s Atonement.  Abraham being directed to sacrifice his only son being a shadow of the sacrifice of God’s Only Begotten Son teaches us to see the world through His eyes.

So it is with Memorial Day as we consider and honor the gift of liberty from those who never made it home.


t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.

05/15/20

A Transformative Experience

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

My grandson, James, is up here at our house in the country.  He was asking lots of questions about various things on the property, pointing to a pair of upright four by four support posts that at one time had been covered with metal roofing.

I mentioned while pointing to the metal roofing material that had been stacked on the ground next to the fence, that the shed got damaged when a tornado passed close to our house.  We’d been extremely lucky the tornado only took off a couple of sections of metal roofing from the shed; that it could as easily have hit our house and done lots of damage.

The idea of a tornado passing through our property kicked his mind into overdrive as I watched him trying to put all these ideas into a completed thought.  I then explained that the tornado that had barely touched down at our property, that very same tornado made its way over to where the freeway is; again I was pointing in the general direction of the freeway for James to be able to follow the story.

I asked if he remembered being in my truck going into Buffalo on the service road that goes next to the freeway.  I explained that the tornado had destroyed three huge transformers and torn them from off their supports right next to the road and that the electric company had to come out and repair all the damage.

“Wow! The tornado broke the transformers?” Looking at his expression let me know he was thinking of a completely different kind of transformer, those featured on television shows where one moment it’s a pickup truck and seconds later it’s turned into a giant fighting machine standing tall, shooting lightning bolts or rockets out of its extended arms.

I could see an additional explanation would be required as I pointed to the electrical transformer attached to the pole next to our house.  “That’s the kind of transformer that got destroyed; only they were much larger.”

James might not have understood how I could be as confused about something as simple as a transformer, heck; any kid knows what transformers are, just look at what’s available at the toy store.

This exchange reminded me of my son William when he was about the same age.  We’d been planning our vacation and invited Lucy’s dad, Bob Spitler, to go along.  He lived on the other side of town and was about to leave when a terrible thunderstorm moved through knocking out power to his house.

He called letting us know he’d been delayed while waiting for the power company to replace a broken transformer.  Upon hearing this William started bouncing off the walls in excitement.

“Gran-Bobby has a transformer in his backyard!”  Nothing we could say changed his mind, “Gran-Bobby has a transformer in his backyard; Wow!”  Visions of twenty-foot tall superheroes and villains stomping on trees as they marched across his grandfather’s back yard knocking out power lines to the house were running rampant in William’s mind.

About an hour or so later Bob showed up and we were able to leave on our trip.  William made sure to sit next to his grandfather wanting to hear all about the transformer and how it got broken, how it got fixed and how come he’d never told him he had one in his backyard.  It was a great way to start our vacation, one of those delays that you can’t complain took away anything simply because we didn’t get started on time.

Having a conversation with a five-year-old can be a transformative experience.  You can take my word on that.


t-f-stern-1Self-Educated American, Senior Edi­tor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer and, most recently, a retired self-employed lock­smith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since January of 2005.

05/6/20

Seeing Different Sides of a Memory

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

My grandson wanted to look at photographs that had been stored away in some old albums.  There were images of my folks, their townhouse in Houston, my children at various ages along with pictures of my sister and more images of various dogs and cats we’d learned to love over the years.

While turning one of the pages in the album there was a Houston Police Department ‘photo-op’ showing my old walking beat partner, Donnie White, and me receiving a Police Chief’s Commendation.  Lots of memories came to the surface; but interestingly, a line from Charles Dickens’ book,  A Tale of Two Cities, jumped out first.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”

The department was going through changes and had prioritized Community Policing, a nice way of saying, No Policing; the city wanted public relations at almost any price. I was assigned a new partner and we had little in common other than we wore the same uniform.  We were given a walking beat; if memory serves, it was about six city blocks.  Somebody working in our office had picked out a location for us to park our patrol car and even had special signs erected showing it as ‘Reserved for Police’.  It was up to us to do something positive, create goodwill among those within our assigned beat.

One of the first things my new partner and I noticed was the location they’d picked out to park our patrol car wasn’t well thought out.  We knew most of the time we’d be using it to transport shoplifting suspects from Foley’s Department store to the city jail.  That meant that if we used the spot picked out, we’d have to walk these prisoners two blocks to get to our police car.

We let our supervisors know that it would be much safer for everyone if they’d change the location and reserved a parking spot right there next to Foley’s.  We went much further in our ‘suggestions’ as we made an in-depth study of nearly every aspect pertaining to traffic flow, parking, and safety issues within our six-block area.

We got the proprietors of the businesses to review our suggestions and had them submit their approval on letterhead stationery that identified each business as being positively included in our Community Policing efforts.  In short, our supervisors considered our actions worthy of a Chief of Police Commendation.

“It was the best of times…”

Not too long after being carried through the streets of Houston on our supervisor’s shoulders, lifted up as heroes along with being handed the keys to the city… wait; that never happened…

A month or so later we noticed the limousine used by the Lamar Hotel was parked in the fire zone directly in front of that hotel.  We issued a parking ticket and didn’t think much about having done our duty.  We issued it a parking ticket almost every day for about a week, that is until our immediate supervisor approached us; asking that we ignore that particular vehicle since they, our supervisors, were having to void out the parking tickets. The owner of the Lamar Hotel was a member of the ‘good old boys club’ and didn’t appreciate being ticketed by some lowly patrol officers.

It’s difficult to explain my reaction to their ‘request’; it simply took off from there.  The department called it ‘insubordination’ and did their level best to get my partner and I fired.  I ended up with a 40-day suspension, without pay.  I suppose that was warranted since I really did tell all of the supervisors, to include three assistant chiefs, where they could put their ‘request’.

“…it was the worst of times…”

During my ‘spare time’, if that’s what it could be called, I didn’t sit around the house feeling sorry for myself.  Instead, I used locksmith skills I’d picked up from my friends at Reed’s Key Shop to begin earning a living.  I beat the pavement, so to speak, obtaining customers; visiting small used car dealers that were plentiful and always in need of a reasonably priced locksmith.

Within a very short time, I’d replaced my police paycheck with more than enough to pay regularly occurring bills.  After a bitter Civil Service fight, I was re-instated as a police officer and, at my request, transferred to a completely different assignment and began working night shift patrol.  That meant I could be a fulltime locksmith in the daytime and a police officer at night.

I used to joke that I got my four hours of sleep every day whether I needed it or not. This arrangement lasted until I completed my twenty-year hitch with the Houston Police Department and I became eligible to receive the retirement package I’d earned.

“It IS the best of times…

05/5/20

What Kind of Word is Fumfy?

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

The reason I’m writing today has to do with the homeschooling of my granddaughter; she’s in the first grade.  One of the books on her ‘required reading list’ has the title, Pinkalicious, and is clearly marked for beginning readers Level 1.

I was in the office when my daughter in law came over and asked, “Dad, how do you say this word and what does it mean?”  I took the book from her, looking at the word she was pointing to, ‘fumfy’.  I’d never seen that word before so, being at my laptop; I did a quick search for ‘fumfy’ to learn its meaning.

Apparently it’s a recently ‘made up’ word that’s found in the Urban Dictionary; that should tell you something.  But why is such a word being used in a book to teach first grade children how to read and understand our English language?

I’d met some people who were frumpy, some who were grumpy; but, looking at the word ‘fumfy’ didn’t give me a clue as to its actual meaning.

I should be grateful for the internet’s ability to answer interesting useless or nearly useless information at the speed of thought, and I am, really.

Here you go; the Urban Dictionary defines… Fumfy: a combination of fluffy, puffy, and comfy.  As Church Lady from the old SNL show would inject, “Well, isn’t that special.”

Getting back to my original concern, if neither I nor my grown daughter in law knew this word, then what the heck was it doing in a book where young children are being taught the use of the English Language.  It seems like ‘fumfy’ might qualify as a slang term rather than legitimate vocabulary in use or even accepted as everyday English.

There are some who would argue that the writings of Dr. Seuss violate the kind of logic I’m pointing out.  There’s an article by Ben Frankeberger which explains quite a bit about Theodor Seuss Geisel…

“The man better known as Dr. Seuss used sleight of hand to make readers believe his seemingly silly rhymes were just that. But the good doctor’s prose, be it concerning plates of eggs or mustachioed tree-people, was deceptive. His casual couplets and nonsense words serve as a linguistic boot camp for kids.”

The second paragraph of that article answered most of my questions as to why such odd language and words in a children’s book were appropriate.  According to Professor LouAnn Gerken, Ph.D.:

“Rhythm is a vital tool for babies to understand when phrases end and begin – their first step in learning language. After they get a handle on that, rhythm helps infants develop a motor pattern. As springy, heavily rhythmic prose is one of the hallmarks of Dr. Seuss’ works, the good doctor presents a crash course in early linguistics.”

Okay, I get that; but how can my granddaughter’s reading material contain a one-word response, ‘fumfy’, a word that is neither easy to say nor does it rhyme with anything around it; how can this be justified?

I can only hope that when these kids go back to having classes at school, learning classical music to enrich their lives, the list doesn’t have artists like 50 Cents teaching them Rap.

“The Rap Game,
Hip hop 101,
The hardest 9 ta 5 you will ever have,
you can’t learn this sh** in no history book,
you ready to rap mother****er,
you ready to sell your soul,
Ha,ha,ha,ha…”

I’m old school and simply miss Jack and Jill going up that hill to fetch a pail of water.

05/2/20

A Bible, We Have a Bible

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

I was reading the comment section of a Christian fellowship group and found it interesting, not surprising; but interesting these good people rejected the Book of Mormon as being the word of God on the premise that the Bible was complete and any attempt to include additional scripture was ludicrous.  You could feel them bristle at the mention of any additional scripture.

Rather than be confrontational, something I tend to enjoy; but rather than jump into their comfort zone it might be better to wait at least a day (and then jump on them)… and consider how best to introduce them to a marvelous work and wonder, one which they’ve been instructed to avoid as if it were evil in nature.

I’ve always wanted to know who began telling folks to avoid reading the Book of Mormon and for what purpose?  Why avoid reading information that might actually be from God, information that wasn’t in the canon scriptures of the Bible?  Are you going to let someone tell you what you believe or wouldn’t you rather find out on your own?

Could it have been members of the clergy, individuals who feared they might lose their congregations were they to find the true Church?   I ask only because this certainly was the situation in Jerusalem during Christ’s ministry.

The Sanhedrin, those holding religious power, those responsible for teaching the Law of Moses felt more than a little uneasy about this “new guy” going around preaching doctrine “as if he had authority”.  They didn’t like having to admit the possibility that all the prophesies they’d learned might actually have come to pass with this individual, Jesus of Nazareth, son of a poor carpenter, a man, nothing more than a man; but whom many considered to be the Messiah.  If Jesus was the Messiah the Sanhedrin would then be out of business.

How did the disciples of Jesus determine He was the Messiah?  Then take that same test to determine what is scripture and what is poppy-cock; a test that conforms to the standards set forth in the New Testament.

You’ll find the answer on how to determine all things by carefully reading in Matthew 16, starting in verse 13.

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (emphasis added)

I return to the original topic being discussed by the fellowship group, those who so quickly dismissed the Book of Mormon as being worthy to be considered scripture.

A long history of the Bible’s compilation was offered as if it were the “be all end all”, the “ace in the hole” that would trump any discussion regarding the Bible already being complete, that nothing could be added.

I was waiting for Ed McMahan of the old Johnny Carson Show to toss in his familiar challenge line, “Everything you always wanted to know about the Bible….”  At which time Johnny would look into the camera, pause and put on his boyish grin, followed by, “Not everything, Metamucil breath…”

With only a limited search on Wikipedia anyone could find pages and pages about the Christian biblical canon, “the Fifty Bibles of Constantine, the First Council of Nicaea and their determination on the canon, and that by the fifth century the East, with a few exceptions, had come to accept the Book of Revelation and thus had come into harmony on the matter of the canon, at least for the New Testament.”

Perhaps the single most important sentence in all that was offered regarding the Bible as being complete as a canon of scripture, “The idea of a complete and clear-cut canon of the New Testament existing from the beginning, that is from Apostolic times, has no foundation in history.”  (emphasis added)

What does the Book of Mormon have to say about individuals who are too stiff-necked to read and consider other scripture that God intended for His children to have?

The introduction to the contents found in 2 Nephi 29 of the Book of Mormon reads, “Many Gentiles will reject the Book of Mormon—They will say, We need no more Bible—The Lord speaks to many nations—He will judge the world out of the books which will be written.”

“And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.

But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?”

I’ll end with an invitation and a warning.  Read the Book of Mormon with the idea that perhaps, just perhaps those who’ve been telling you that God’s words could only be found in the Bible, or that He had nothing more to say to His children; perhaps they were mistaken; or worse, afraid you might find the true church of Jesus Christ.

05/2/20

His Church is the Kingdom of Heaven

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

This morning I enjoyed reading another Facebook entry by my good friend Bob Kersten.  His topic centered on the meaning of the Kingdom of God as he shared his ideas on what that meant.  He referenced the Lord’s Prayer, specifically, “Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Most Christians recognize Matthew 6:10 as being part of the Lord’s Prayer.

My friend highlighted a quote from a book written by John C. Nugent,  Endangered Gospel, a thought he concurred with.  “His conviction is that we, the Church are to be a preview of the consummated kingdom of God that Jesus Christ came to earth to inaugurate.”  I’d have to agree as well.

In our day, where do we find that church in which Jesus Christ came to earth to inaugurate?  Does it exist or did the formal Church vanish with the passing of the last apostle within only a few years after having been established?  No doubt the great apostasy lasted for hundreds of years.  Then, with the dawning of the Renaissance came an awakening of the human spirit along with the awareness of man’s relationship with God.

Michelangelo’s depiction of God’s finger giving life to Adam as painted on the Sistine Chapel ceiling may be one of the best summations of this relationship.    (Image courtesy of pinterest.com)

Keeping in mind that the Lord requires that His church here on earth be organized and run the way it was when Jesus Christ established it during his ministry in the flesh, is there any one church that can lay claim to this?

“The Kingdom of God on earth is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (D&C 65). The purpose of the Church is to prepare its members to live forever in the celestial kingdom or kingdom of heaven. However, the scriptures sometimes call the Church the kingdom of heaven, meaning that the Church is the kingdom of heaven on earth.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on the earth, but it is at present limited to an ecclesiastical kingdom. During the Millennium, the kingdom of God will be both political and ecclesiastical.”

Those last two paragraphs almost certainly will annoy or aggravate quite a few individuals; however, since I’m expressing my belief and sharing it for the sole purpose of enlightening folks that the Church which Jesus Christ established during his mortal ministry, that same Church has been restored in our day, then you’re obligated by the Savior Himself to forgive my boldness.  His Church will never again be taken from the earth as we await the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ.  Amen.

04/28/20

The Season of Renewal

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

An old friend of mine wrote an interesting short opinion piece this morning, posting it on Facebook, an acknowledgment that many folks are looking for the re-establishment of Jesus Christ’s true church.  He began by using Spring-time as an introduction, explaining how different trees alert us to the end of freezing weather while giving us hope for the next planting season.  He quickly changed tack…

“Anyone who’s studied the great revivals/renewals of the Christian Church can see there are certain signs that a season of renewal is coming soon and may have already begun. Prior to every great renewal, there were conditions that laid the groundwork.”

Truer words were never spoken.  What conditions might we be looking for, what groundwork laid prior to such a great renewal?

There would, of necessity, be people prepared to risk everything looking for the true church of Jesus Christ (freedom of religious expression).  They would recognize there were important issues with current formal religious sects or denominations, teaching doctrine that ran contrary to that of Jesus Christ.  They would have rejected, vehemently, mandates, and compulsory membership which violated the Agency of man, their ability to choose for themselves.

This gift from God is at the heart of being a mortal being and has been since the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve were instructed that everything was theirs to tend to; but that they must not eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They were also told that the decision was theirs to make; but if they did eat of it, “in that day they would surely die”.

…And so it has been for each of us ever since; we are to make choices about everything with the understanding that choices come with consequences.  The nature of man is to seek liberty, the level of agency afforded under the living conditions available, which brings up the topic of government and the limiting of that agency by mandates and coercion.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

In the history of the world, there is no stronger evidence of a ‘starting point’ indicating the time had arrived when people recognized the need to make a statement and a stand for one’s convictions.  These individuals fled nations that oppressed their religious beliefs or simply the ability to live their lives in accordance with their own idea of personal liberty and reached the Promised Land we now call America.

This was a required step in the preparation for the restoration of the true church of Jesus Christ.  A nation had to be established, one that would accept the eternal principles as found in the scriptures.  In case you were wondering, our founding documents didn’t come about by accident.

The men who gathered and recorded our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights were divinely inspired, including language which has stood the test of time, documents that would be sufficient; but, as John Adams so succinctly warned:

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

I’ll repeat the wonderful observation my friend made, “Anyone who’s studied the great revivals/renewals of the Christian Church can see there are certain signs that a season of renewal is coming soon and may have already begun.”

The people of Jerusalem at the time of Christ’s ministry in mortality had signs and yet many didn’t recognize the time had arrived.  They too had been given the words of the prophets regarding the coming of the Messiah.  Did they all recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Chosen One, the Only Begotten Son of God?

In short, no; they not only didn’t recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, they rejected him and crucified him, and all while claiming to be living the Law of Moses.  How’s that for a contradiction of belief and actions?

Why are there so many Christian denominations and sects in our day?  All of them can’t be the true church of Jesus Christ and how are we to know which of them, if any, is the true church?

As Joseph Smith, a young boy recorded, “For, notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective clergy, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling, in order to have everybody converted, as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased; yet when the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions.

The great revivals spurred many to consider the need to be closer to the teachings of Jesus Christ; but which of the denominations was the right one, the one with the most correct doctrine?

If a young boy who truly loved the Lord wanted to know which denomination was right, then how much different are we from his not knowing or being sure?

“While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of Jamesfirst chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

Joseph Smith prayed to God and was told to join none of them.  How’s that for simple and to the point?  The restoration of the true church was to begin at that point…and yet there are so many still looking for the true church.  Is this any different than those in Jerusalem who were looking for the Messiah and they rejected him as well?

In closing, I would strongly suggest assessing the information shared, pray with a sincere heart to God about what is true, and what you should be doing.  God will give you an answer by the power of the Holy Ghost.

04/26/20

Corona Virus and Spider Bites

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

There’s a news item by Gabrielle Fonrouge, Bernadette Hogan and Bruce Golding posted on the New York Times page on April 23, 2020, with the title, Coronavirus patients admitted to Queens nursing home – with body bags.

“Within days, three of the bags were filled with the first of 30 residents who would die thereafter Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Health Department handed down its March 25 directive that bars nursing homes from refusing to admit “medically stable” coronavirus patients, the exec said.”

“‘Cuomo has blood on his hands.  He really does.  There’s no way to sugarcoat this”, the health care executive added.”  The article pointed out that the executives were concerned about retaliation and wished to remain anonymous since they are regulated by Cuomo’s office.

“Why in the world would you be sending coronavirus patients to a nursing home, where the most vulnerable population to this disease resides?”

My own opinion would be that there is sufficient negligence on the part of Andrew Cuomo and those directly linked to the March 25th directive to support charges of Negligent Homicide for failing to consider the result of such actions, actions which they understood by the fact that they sent body bags as part of the transfer.

What has that got to do with Spider Bites?  A good question that deserves an answer…

(Image of spider is one that was on our house in Houston and has nothing to do with today’s article… isn’t it a beauty…)

In the early 1970s, while attending Military Police School at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, I came down with an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI).  Well, actually I’d entered Basic Training with it and it never went away, only getting worse the longer it went untreated.

We were nearing completion of training when they admitted me into the base hospital. I remember it so clearly because it was the same week we were supposed to report to the pistol range to qualify on the M1911, the old standard 45 caliber pistol that’s had been in use since Noah tied up at the dock to offload.  I was familiar with the weapon and could field strip it blindfolded and put it back together; something which was part of the training.

While confined to the URI Ward with all the other members of the Wheeze and Hack Choir, we noticed a civilian being brought in with his arm bandaged up as they assigned him a bunk.  Turns out he and his friend were hunting close by the base and he got bitten by a spider.

The nurse in admitting didn’t like the look of the bite and since his buddy was in the Army they let him use the Emergency Room to get checked out and given a shot of antibiotics just in case.  He had a reaction to the shot and rather than send him home the doctors decided it would be better to keep him overnight for observation.

That would have been a great idea except there were no beds available except the one in the URI Ward; that’s right, they put this poor schnook in with a bunch of contagious Wheeze and Hacks to spend the night.

Two or three more days went by and my upper respiratory infection went away and they let me get on with my Military Police training.  I was able to get over to the pistol range and qualify with the pistol without having ever fired it previously so the time in the hospital didn’t keep me from moving along with the rest of my buddies.

The spider bite on that fellow’s arm cleared up nicely and by the next day it was hardly noticeable, but he’d come down with a terrible case of… you got it…URI; he was still confined there a week after I’d left.  He was fit to be tied as he unleashed his disgust at the doctors for having put him in contact with god-knows-what.

Remember, “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help”.  So, maybe Governor Cuomo’s Health Department hired one or two of the doctors, health care professionals who at one time were on staff at the Ft. Gordon Army Medical Unit; hey, anything’s possible.

04/25/20

Surprise Ending for a Crime Scene

By: T.F. Stern | Self-Educated American

This past week there was a news item that showed up on Facebook about a criminal who accidentally shot himself in the “package” with his own pistol while committing a robbery.  It turns out it happened in Chicago and the story was from 2017 and was making the rounds again.  I know we’re not supposed to laugh, but that’s just too good not to at least smirk as Karma unloaded on that idiot.

It reminded me of a crime scene from back in the early 70s when I worked as a Crime Scene Investigator; before such a designation became popular.  Basically, the department assigned some low seniority patrolman, which would be me, to carry a latent fingerprint retrieval box and a camera in the trunk of the police car for those times when a detective wasn’t available.

It wasn’t a glamorous job at all, oftentimes being sent to the morgue to lift prints off a ‘John Doe’ to figure out his identity.  Think about having to get up close and personal with a stiff body that had already begun to stink and having to take a ‘dead man’s spoon’, some ink, and then transfer each finger’s print onto a flat piece of card stock.

Yeah, that was a fun and exciting job.  So glad I moved on within the department, directing evening rush hour traffic; now that really was fun. Somehow that fun and exciting job as CSI became a popular television series; folks will believe anything that comes out of Hollywood.

I did get to take pictures with a fancy 35mm camera at various crime scenes.  As I recall, there was another CSI who had a morbid sense of humor.  When I say morbid, that means much more so than most other police officers since that’s probably a character trait required to be a police officer… where was I?

Anyway, not a great way to start a sentence; but anyway, this officer would take slide film of his own and take pictures of crime scenes and then drop a slide of a really nasty one in with his vacation pictures when relatives came over asking about how much fun he’d had.  Apparently the department didn’t think too highly of this and he was let go; imagine that…

Getting back to surprise endings for a crime scene… The best one I was ever mixed up with involved several locations all tied in with the same suspect, there having been a robbery, subsequent search for the suspect involving an empty school bus by two police officers, and then the suspect finally being shot by a security guard down the street…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The suspect ‘allegedly’ (I love how that word has to be included) robbed a small convenience store using a pistol and got away with a handful of dollars, a couple of packs of cigarettes, and some candy which he’d stuffed under his shirt.  He fled through an apartment complex with several police units that were close by when it went down in the area looking for him.

A two-man unit decided to check out a school bus that had been parked on the street overnight.  The lead officer was going through the bus, looking under every seat as he worked his way towards the back of the bus.  His junior partner was standing on the landing of the bus with the door open keeping an eye out for the suspect.

Sure enough, the suspect came running in the direction of the school bus, pistol still in his hand while looking for any police that might be chasing after him.  The officer in the bus ducked as the suspect took a shot at him and then returned fire.  The awkward manner in which the officer was standing caused him to lose balance and he fell backward into the bus while the suspect continued on down the street.

From the evidence at that location the suspect did get hit by the officer’s bullet, striking him in the stomach.  There was a blood trail that was easy to follow; again I’m getting ahead of myself…

The officer in the back of the bus thought his partner had been shot and, putting it delicately, lost his composure.  He was normally an excellent shot with a pistol and had the medal hanging on his shirt to prove it, but that wouldn’t explain the back window of the bus being shot out from the inside of the bus or the multiple bullet holes that exited the roof of the bus.

Yeah, I had to take pictures of all the bullet holes and I don’t know how it came to be, those bullet holes were listed in the official report as having come from the suspect’s pistol as he shot at the officers inside the bus.

As I mentioned, the suspect continued running away from the bus and towards yet another small convenience store where there were several cars parked and a security guard standing in front of the store.  The suspect began shooting at the security guard and the security guard began firing at the suspect, all the cars in the parking lot sustained damage.

The suspect’s pistol ran out of ammunition; but that didn’t stop him from aiming at the security guard and continuing to pull the trigger, “click, click…and click”.  This didn’t sit well with the security guard who still had bullets in his pistol as he shot the suspect several times at close range, “Kablam, kablam and kablam”.  The last shot apparently removed the suspect’s “package” and the rest tore up most of his gut and chest.

The suspect was loaded into an ambulance with a limited chance of survival while I was called out to gather evidence and take pictures.  As mentioned, I took pictures around the school bus to include the spot where the suspect dropped the money along with the candy and cigarettes that were on the ground.

I then took pictures of the cars that had bullet holes and completed my supplement report, the one that would be assigned with the primary reports filled out by the officers assigned to each location’s criminal report.

Here’s where it got interesting… About a year later I received a subpoena to attend District Court on this incident.  It surprised everyone when the suspect, the one everyone expected to die from his wounds, yeah, that suspect walked into court and pled not guilty.  It later turned out that the State of Texas and his attorney worked out some kind of plea deal so I never got to bring my “Eight by ten glossy color images of the crime scene” into court (a reference to the tune, Alice’s Restaurant).

In my best Paul Harvey voice, “… and that’s the rest of the story…”