03/26/20

Banner Waving

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

My son came up to visit and brought me a Trump flag/banner to display from my house up here in Buffalo, Texas.  He didn’t want to attach it to the house in Houston, fearing it might bring out the worst in some folks who lack civility at most any level.  Can’t say I blame him, having seen some of the nonsense that’s been going on in our country.

So here’s the Trump banner, proudly waving in the breeze as it’s wedged in between the top railing of my porch and the roof overhang.

I’m not sure I like Trump as much as so many of his supporters, but at least he loves America and is doing what he can to expose the ugliness of the folks in Congress who keep trying to destroy this nation.

Several years ago when Obama was running for the presidency, a good friend of mine, Terrell Hunt, (may he rest in peace), was backing Obama’s candidacy and put up a huge ‘Obama for President’ banner to hang from the entryway to his house.  I was on my way home in the evening and noticed it; how could you not notice it?

Terrell and I didn’t see eye to eye on most anything political, but we were brothers in the gospel of Jesus Christ and treated each other with the highest respect and love.  Lucy and I would go over and visit with the Hunt family regularly and joke about our differences, chiding each other here a bit and there a bit; but always knowing our friendship was more important than any political issue.

I decided to call Terrell in the morning to chide him about the ‘Obama for President’ sign.  When he answered the phone I explained, “Someone vandalized your house last night.”

Terrell was a bit angry as he replied, “They sure did…they wrote nasty stuff all over my brand new ‘Obama for President’ banner.”  Turns out someone had actually ‘vandalized’ his home by spray painting across his political hero’s banner.

His response caught me completely off guard, and from the way he paused, let me know that perhaps he considered me the culprit since I knew about it as the sun was coming up.  I assured him I had no idea someone had spray-painted his Obama banner; that I was joking with him for having put the banner up in the first place.

Timing is a funny thing and it’s a shame Terrell passed away a couple of years ago; he was a true friend, and I can’t say that about too many folks who claim to be Democrats…

Terrell’s probably looking down from the Heavens at my house here in Buffalo, Texas, wishing he could call me on the phone, “Hey, Brother Stern, someone came by your house and vandalized it.”  Yes, I can see him laughing into the phone and wondering if I too have a sense of humor big enough to let him get away with such a line.

02/17/20

This Too Shall Pass

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

My remarks are tied in with a talk given during last October’s General Conference, “Thru Cloud and Sunshine, Lord, Abide with Me! ” as given by Reyna I. Aburto.  She described being on an airplane high above the clouds with the light bouncing off those clouds; but as the plane descended and they were surrounded by these very same clouds, darkness surrounded them and took over.

(Image: There is no timeline for healing courtesy of tinybuddha.com)

“Some of those clouds are of depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental and emotional affliction. They can distort the way we perceive ourselves, others, and even God. They affect women and men of all ages in all corners of the world.”

I was on my way home from Florida many years ago, flying into a storm system that had delayed our take-off and delayed my arrival in Houston. The closer we got to Houston the worse the storm got; lightning flashing off the interior of the plane as we sped through the night, the plane being bounced like a toy with each passing air mile.

It came as no surprise when the Captain got on the intercom and explained that our flight was being diverted to New Orleans because the weather in Houston was not suitable for landing. As we made our approach prior to landing, the flight attendant gave the customary instructions, “Please place your seats in the upright position and secure your tray tables. We’ll be landing in New Orleans momentarily.”

About that time a woman near the front of the plane jumped up, having slept through the nasty storm and unaware of our having been diverted, yelled out, “Oh my god, I’m on the wrong plane!” Most everyone let out a huge belly laugh, a much-needed relief from the sheer panic of having ridden out the storm. It took the airline janitorial crew about two hours to clean up the inside of the airplane and deodorize it before we could re-board and resume our flight.

Sister Aburto then related an experience, “A friend described it this way: “Since my early childhood, I have faced a constant battle with feelings of hopelessness, darkness, loneliness, and fear and the sense that I am broken or defective. I did everything to hide my pain and to never give the impression that I was anything but thriving and strong.”

“My dear friends, it can happen to any of us—especially when, as believers in the plan of happiness, we place unnecessary burdens on ourselves by thinking we need to be perfect now. Such thoughts can be overwhelming. Achieving perfection is a process that will take place throughout our mortal life and beyond—and only through the grace of Jesus Christ.”

There is so much wisdom included in that last statement, one that we all need to take into our minds and hearts. Whether we’re looking into the mirror, wondering how we’ll survive the challenges that seemly have taken control of our lives, leaving us with doubt and minimizing our joy; or, perhaps we experience these challenges through the lives of family or friends, it’s important to be aware of the ever-changing mental environment which we all must pass through while on our way back to our Heavenly Father’s presence.

Elder Jeffery R. Holland had this to say, “Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being Merciful, Nonjudgmental and Kind.”

He also admonished, “For caregivers, in your devoted effort to assist with another’s health, do not destroy your own. In all these things be wise. Do not run faster than you have strength.7 Whatever else you may or may not be able to provide, you can offer your prayers and you can give “love unfeigned.’”

I’m reminded of the soberness of thought contained in 2 Nephi 4, starting in verse 16.

“Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.”

If you’re paying attention, this is a man who loves the Lord and has been following the path as almost perfectly as can be done. But then he looks into his own soul…

“Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.  I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.” (extra spaces included to permit breathing)

He goes on pleading with the Lord to strengthen him, to keep him on the path of righteousness and to avoid sin; being aware that at any time he might fall into transgression should he forget to include the Lord in all his doings.

If you would, make an effort later on to read the entirety of 2 Nephi 4; especially since it’s part of the lesson included in this month’s  Come Follow Me home study manual.

I’ve marked this in my scriptures as a “must-read regularly” and have since joined the Church back in 1978. I am, as yet, unable to read it aloud without forming a lump in my throat and sniffling away as moisture gets in the way.

Quoting Sister Aburto, “Sadly, many who suffer from severe depression distance themselves from their fellow Saints because they feel they do not fit some imaginary mold. We can help them know and feel that they do indeed belong with us. It is important to recognize that depression is not the result of weakness, nor is it usually the result of sin. It “thrives in secrecy but shrinks in empathy.” Together, we can break through the clouds of isolation and stigma so the burden of shame is lifted and miracles of healing can occur.”

While contemplating how to approach sharing this difficult topic, at first I couldn’t place myself as having ever been in a state of depression, ignoring a one week period of time when I’d been ‘Indefinitely Suspended’ from the police department, which for all practical purposes was the same as being fired since up until that time no officer had ever gotten his/her job back from the Houston Police Department after such a ruling. My infraction was summed up in one word, Insubordination, followed by a list of untruths intended to make a solid case against me.

I’d been placed in the awkward situation of performing my duties fairly, while at the same time having supervisors who wanted me to ignore a member of the ‘Good Old Boys Club’, someone I’d been issuing parking tickets to for having parked his limo in the fire zone in front of his hotel. Ever hear the term, “You can’t beat City Hall”? That’s what I was up against.

Long story short, I no doubt exhibited a lack of respect for my superiors and after my appeal was completed, did end up with a 40-day suspension; but during that time I had no gainful employment and the odds were slim on getting back on as a police officer. The first couple of days I must have been in a fog, similar to the black clouds described by Sister Aburto.

It took a couple of more days to snap out of it, mostly with the help of my loving wife who encouraged me to use the skills I’d learned as an apprentice locksmith, to simply move forward with the idea that I could provide for my family, just in a different setting.

I began in earnest the task of looking for locksmith customers and being in business, going out and obtaining small used car dealerships that were not being properly serviced by other locksmiths and not worrying about how my Civil Service Hearing would turn out.

I put aside my depression in favor of life, not the one I’d planned; but the one which the Lord had prepared me for. I did get reinstated as a police officer and decided to work night shift because my fulltime locksmith business had become the real breadwinner and my priorities had been made clear as a result of this challenge.

This all happened in the early 80’s and I completed the requirements for a 20-year retirement from the Houston Police Department in 1992, all the while working my locksmith business in the daytime. I joked that I got my four hours of sleep every day whether I needed it or not. I went on to complete roughly 40 years being a self-employed locksmith specializing in restoring lost automobile and truck keys; putting myself out to pasture a couple of years ago and moving up to our property in Buffalo, Texas.

Returning to the wisdom found in that wonderful Conference talk, “If you are constantly surrounded by a “mist of darkness,” turn to Heavenly Father. Nothing that you have experienced can change the eternal truth that you are His child and that He loves you. Remember that Christ is your Savior and Redeemer, and God is your Father. They understand. Picture Them close by you, listening and offering support. “[They] will console you in your afflictions.” Do all you can, and trust in the Lord’s atoning grace.”

Your struggles do not define youbut they can refine you. Because of a “thorn in the flesh,” you may have the ability to feel more compassion toward others. As guided by the Holy Ghost, share your story in order to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.” (emphasis added)

I’ve opened an old wound and shared it with you all, one that kept me awake many nights when I should have been sleeping peacefully. I’ve often wondered how I might have handled it differently; should I have bitten my tongue when confronted about writing a silly parking ticket, certainly. Would that have ever happened, not likely; I know myself too well. Perhaps my having shared this will help someone; but even if it’s only one, how great in the eyes of the Lord is the saving of one soul?

In Matthew 11:28-30, this sentiment is recorded for all of us.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

“I testify to you that “thru cloud and sunshine” the Lord will abide with us, our “afflictions [can be] swallowed up in the joy of Christ,” and “it is by grace that we are saved after all we can do.” I testify that Jesus Christ will return to the earth “with healing in his wings.” Ultimately, He “shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes, and there shall be no more … sorrow.” For all who will “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him,” the “sun shall no more go down; … for the Lord shall be [our] everlasting light, and the days of [our] mourning shall be ended.”  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

02/12/20

Addressing Contrary Strangers

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

We’re supposed to be kind and loving to everyone; but…

There are some folks who enjoy being insulted, going out of their way to extend or prolong a conversation that should have ended before it ever started. These folks are often found on social media forums such as Facebook or Twitter. I’d have included conversations on elevators; but that in and of itself violates a Cardinal Rule of remaining silent while the doors are closed.

The problem, at least as it has presented itself, arises when you read something which runs contrary to your opinion, an opinion based on a lifetime of experiences, feelings, prejudices with an occasional fact thrown in just for fun. These types of contrary comments beg for a snide reply and, (pausing to inhale) they most often are found in comment threads belonging to someone listed as one of your ‘Friends’.

Of course, (I read somewhere that you’re not supposed to start a sentence with Of course, but I like to live dangerously), where was I… there are others who’ve specialized, even made careers out of insulting others. “ Don Rickles earned the nicknames “The Merchant of Venom” and “Mr. Warmth” for his poking fun at people of all ethnicities and all walks of life.”

But what about the common everyday Smart-Alec who doesn’t make a living insulting their friends, strangers or people who didn’t check with their mothers prior to commenting in an open social media forum? What’s the average Joe/Jane supposed to do when he/she enters a conversation only to find the other individual is never going to ‘get it’, what then?

This is a modern-day challenge. In the past you’d simply shake your head and leave; but in our day of omnipresent communication abilities, there really isn’t a way to exit without appearing cowardly or uninformed. All those years of schooling, indoctrination, and prejudice can’t be ignored or wasted; no, you have to get your Two Cents in.

Of all the folks I know and consider associations, some reaching close enough to be classified as Friend, I try to weed out those who ‘will never get it’. This saves time and energy; but it limits the number of times I’ll have to apologize to the Lord for yet another human frailty, another sinful act on my part…remembering that we’re supposed to be kind and loving to everyone.

I really do try to be open-minded, giving others the opportunity to admit that they are mistaken and could use a healthy dose of my insight. Those who are unable to benefit from my exhaustive library of information; well, it’s their loss and good riddance to bad baggage. Some people have never learned to enjoy sarcasm, considering everything to be on the level.

The Onion and BabalonBee take great pride in killing off these weaklings, often leaving their entrails scattered across the internet as a warning to others. Their message, have fun laughing at the ridiculous because most of the time it can’t compare or compete with what’s really happening.

All of what I’ve written to this point, this nonsense, is a set-up, a way to introduce my latest slam-dunk reply to someone who just won’t let a comment thread die. I have no idea who the individual is and don’t figure on inviting them over for lunch to find out other areas of life on which we don’t see eye to eye.

After a prolonged exchange, (that’s when you never actually exchange ideas or convince anyone of anything), their final ‘insult’ to my intelligence was, “You watch Fox News too much”. I’m sure that must be important to some folks; but is it really an insult?

I sent the following, “I get my most important information from an Ouija Board, but since most of this data comes from dead people I must assume they are Democrats.”

Do you think this individual will request being my Friend any time soon?

02/7/20

This Tears It!

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

The spectacle put on by the Democrats, lead by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, should be etched in the minds of the American people. The die-hard Democrat voters must recognize by now that the party of their parents and grandparents no longer exists, it having been taken over by a band of anti-Americans.

It would be difficult to ignore the State of the Union Address given by President Trump, a patriotic summary of what is good and hoped for, pride in our achievements and honoring a few well-deserving individuals along the way. In contrast, it boggles the mind that so many elected Congressmen and Senators were unable to acknowledge many of these accomplishments as they were shared; choosing instead to remain seated with somber looks of indignation.

At the close of this nationally televised moment in time, Nancy Pelosi waited for the last word to be uttered and then, on cue, lifted her hand-delivered copy of President Trump’s address and tore it in half, ceremoniously putting an exclamation mark on her disdain.

It reminded me of a film character played by Cary Grant, Dr. Noah Praetorius, in the movie, People Will Talk. Noah was a genuinely happy individual who enjoyed helping others. A jealous and hateful man, Professor Elwell, perfectly acted by Hume Cronyn, made it his goal to destroy Dr. Praetorius. Elwell filed an official inquiry, all based on unsubstantiated rumors, which raised the likelihood of Dr. Praetorius being removed from his position at the university.

During the somber closed-door hearing, Doctor Praetorius calmly noted the enthusiasm which his accuser demonstrated in his quest to destroy him. (I shouldn’t have to point out a recent political coup attempt bearing strikingly similar elements.)

“Professor Elwell, you are the only man I know who can say ‘malignant’ the way other people say ‘Bingo!’.”

While on the topic of ‘malignant’…civilized Americans should be disgusted with how so many on the left are applauding the news that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh recently was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. It’s one thing to disagree with the politics of your neighbor; yet another to jump for joy upon hearing this kind of sad news.

A sequel to Professor Elwell’s flaunting of ill will was recorded when Speaker of the House Pelosi handed out Victory Pens to her treasonous co-conspirators after signing the Articles of Impeachment prior to having their poisonous piece of parchment delivered to the Senate.

Near the end of the movie, after all the facts were brought to light and the good doctor’s reputation exonerated, there’s a scene worthy of today’s closing performance by Queen Nancy.

Immediately after the hearing/mock trial concluded, Mr. Shunderson, the slow-witted friend of the good doctor, approached the hateful professor. Elwell still couldn’t accept that all his efforts to discredit a truly good individual had been in vain.

“Professor Elwell, you’re a little man. It’s not that you’re short. You’re…little, in the mind and in the heart. Tonight, you tried to make a man little whose boots you couldn’t touch if you stood on tiptoe on top of the highest mountain in the world. And as it turned out…you’re even littler than you were before.”

Nancy Pelosi and Socialist Democrats desiring to ‘transform this nation’ have nothing to offer American voters as they demean and denigrate traditional values, attacking Christianity, individual natural rights and the family. Their disgusting performance as elected representatives should be a wake-up call to voters as we determine the direction of our nation.

Sorry, Nancy, “you’re even littler than you were before”, and as you pointedly have awakened a sleeping electorate; This tears it!

01/20/20

Connecting with Heaven

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

In the October 2019 General Conference Stephen W. Owen of the Young Men General Presidency gave a talk, Be Faithful, Not Faithless, which began with, “We must deliberately take time each day to disconnect from the world and connect with Heaven”. There are so many opportunities to be distracted from the basics which connect us with Heaven; too many to list and most of them we’d consider as time well spent were it not for them keeping us from reading our scriptures, studying the talks given by our church leaders and our time talking to Father in Heaven in personal prayer.

It boils down to priorities; now doesn’t it? How many of us wake up first thing in the morning, lean over to turn off the alarm on our cell phone and then click on the weather app to see what kind of clothing to put on; that is, instead of thanking our Father in Heaven for letting us wake up to begin with? Have we made it a habit to study our scriptures prior to turning on the news or is that one of next year’s resolutions?

Jeffery R. Holland pointed out, “We wouldn’t expect our physical bodies to survive long on one meal a week – even if it is a very good meal. Similarly, if a one-hour Church class, even an excellent Church class, is the main setting for our “feasting upon the word of Christ,” then we are in danger of spiritual malnourishment”.

Getting back to the talk by Elder Owen, he explained how he got sidetracked; checking his messages, email, news items, and social media posts prior to his original intention of reading his scriptures. He’d spent so much time on the unimportant items that he’d run out of time and left for work that day without being nourished spiritually.

The scriptures teach that we’re made in the image of God, that we’re children of our Father in Heaven. In the Temple, we hear the blessings promised each of us as we stay on the covenant path. We begin to understand more and more that the Lord has his hand in our lives and desires our successful return while we travel through mortality.

Are we reaching up to Heaven daily and do our actions match our beliefs? That’s the key to appreciating all that has been done to prepare our hearts and minds to receive all the blessings of the gospel.

C.S. Lewis once said, “If we could recognize who we were, we would realize that we were walking with possible gods and goddesses, whom if we could see them in all their eternal dignity and glory, we would be tempted to fall and worship.”

While talking with Don Mangum, Patriarch in the Houston North Stake, several years ago, he shared how amazed and humbled he was each time he laid his hands upon an individual’s head to give them their Patriarchal Blessing. He was given the opportunity to see the nobility of the individual similar, as he put it, to the way the Lord sees each of us.

Once we’ve decided that we want to reach and partake of the Tree of Life, having entered the path, holding onto the iron rod, the iron rod being the Word of God, we have connected ourselves with Heaven.

As a side note, was it a coincidence that Joseph Smith reached out in prayer to the Heavens while in the middle of a grove of trees, what we now call the Sacred Grove? Just a thought…

Having begun our way toward the Tree of Life isn’t enough, is it? So many fall away down forbidden paths, going through the motions of spirituality; and as Elder Owen pointed out, “They were fed but not nourished”.

We all face challenges; so what works to our benefit, what is required of us? Scripture study, not simply reading the material and be done with it so you can visit your friends on Facebook.

Ezra Taft Benson made an important statement regarding the Book of Mormon, important enough that a friend of mine kept it on a small piece of paper tucked into his wallet so he could read it each morning.

“It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called “the words of life” (D & C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.”

This year you have a little help in the form of the, Come Follow Me, home study course as it guides individuals through the Book of Mormon. The first week’s lesson directs your attention to the introductory pages and the statements from the Witnesses.

I should mention that I enjoy a hands-on approach to history. We visited several historic church sites one year, to include the Sacred Grove and Smith family farmhouse, rebuilt on the spot where it actually stood. Why is that important?

We made our way to the second floor, where, in the dark of night the angel Moroni visited with Joseph and explained how the restoration of the gospel would take place. Closing my eyes while standing in that room, imagining that moment in time was as real as if I’d witnessed the event.

In my library, there are a couple of ‘museum books’, for lack of a better term. Within the pages of each book are replications of original documents, carefully displayed in such a way as to be able to remove them and handle them. This permits my brain to time travel, to see things from a different perspective.

This would explain why we purchased a copy of the 1830 version of the Book of Mormon when we visited Palmyra, New York a couple of years ago. We found it challenging to read it from cover to cover, but did so while comparing it word for word with the newer edition.

We left this collector’s edition on the table after completing our reading for the evening. When we awoke the next morning we found that our puppy had chewed up the first ten pages completely and so we ordered another copy; it’s kept on the bookshelf and is there pretty much just for show.

As a matter of interest, Martin Harris lost 116 pages of the translated Book of Mormon that he’d been entrusted with. I guess my puppy wanted me to feel more a part of history by destroying those 10 pages.

While I’m thinking about it, with all the technology available, most of us have the scriptures available via the LDS App on our cell phone. It’s so easy looking up a specific scripture during Sunday School and lightning-fast.

That said, I find if more satisfying to pick up my old copy of the Book of Mormon or Bible when studying on my own. There are notes in the margins, verses highlighted and then marked again with dates from when someone gave a talk. These small things make impressions on my mind as I glean what the Spirit intends for me to learn on that particular reading.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a member of a family that came across the prairie as a member of a hand-cart company or whether you’re the first and possibly the only member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. What matters is that you recognize the importance of your relationship with our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ as you find your way back to their presence.

Are you willing to put your scripture studies to the test?

“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Nephi 3:7)

We watched a movie the other night, Field of Dreams, in which the owner of a cornfield hears a voice saying, “If you build it he will come”. Somehow he managed to figure out that he’s supposed to build a baseball field on his property by plowing under the crop that pays his mortgage payments.

If you’re familiar with the movie’s ending, he’s playing catch with his father, who’s been permitted to visit the Field of Dreams through the miracle of following the promptings of the Spirit. His father asks, “Is this Heaven?”

His son, looking about, taking in the setting sun, the baseball field set inside his crop of corn and then back towards his house; see his family sitting on the porch at the end of the day, all this while contemplating the question a little more deeply he replies, “Maybe it is.”

While going through this portion of our existence, the time we call mortality, we need to recognize that we are spiritual beings learning to cope with the frailties of our human bodies. We have to look beyond our current circumstances and reach out to Heaven since that’s really our home.

You must make a concerted effort, regularly connecting with Heaven as Elder Owen pointed out. While doing this you will find life to be brighter and the joy you’re seeking will present itself in the simple tasks of each day.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

12/11/19

Restoration and Repair

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

Recently we found a television show produced by the BBC, The Repair Shop. Talented artisans receive a wide variety of keepsake items brought in for restoration and repair, their owners hoping these treasured items can once again be enjoyed as they had before time took its toll.

Each piece brought to the shop has a story, something which makes it personal and priceless to that individual. Watching the item being worked on creates a link between the owner and the artisan performing his/her skills while bringing it back to life.

Through the magic of Netflix, this television program, along with others, can be viewed as if newly released, opportunities to enjoy shows which otherwise would never have been seen. The Repair Shop is such a show.

Speaking of priceless…not once during the show was the cost of restoration or repair brought up. I’ve no idea how much it would cost on most of the items presented; however, from my own experience in restoring an old Steeple Clock that’s been in our family for as long as I can remember; expert craftsmanship doesn’t come cheap.

On our Christmas tree are several hand-me-down ornaments which we’ve been able to keep safe over the years from the cat’s attempts to destroy. This one is from the 1950s and didn’t cost that much, even when it was brand new; but seeing it allows my mind to travel through time, back to my youth. It’s only for a short trip; but the vision provided is real and no price can be affixed to it.

I was distracted by another thought, one from an old black and white television series; can’t remember if it was from the Outer Limits or the Twilight Zone. If memory serves, the story had an older couple reaching the end of their lives, bent over and disfigured from the process of aging, presented with an opportunity to be restored to youthful bodies so they could enjoy an extension available at considerable expense by a company providing this service.

As the story developed it became apparent they only had enough money to permit one of them the miraculous transformation and it was decided the husband would go first; his coming out of the procedure a handsome man in his early twenties. His wife, encumbered by old age, took his hand and it became obvious the results were not what they had envisioned or intended.

The last scene, at least as I recall, showed the husband, having been returned to his aged body, walking hand in hand with his wife as they return to the life that they had enjoyed for so many years as a couple. They choose to grow old together and appreciated the memories more than the opportunity to extend mortality separated by age.

We re-live pieces of our lives, happy moments from our youth, a wedding or birth of a child by touching photographs or items associated with these moments in time. Our spirits are healed, restored and repaired if you will, by visiting pleasant thoughts related to physical items, items that most of the time have no intrinsic value to anyone other than ourselves.

10/6/19

Congress Searching for the Truth and Absence of Malice

By: T F Stern | Self-Educated American

Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave these last few months then one of the topics being talked about is how Congress has been involved in trying to impeach President Trump for an as yet imprecise violation of law that would fit the definition of high crimes worthy of removal from office.

Before going into any of the details put forth by those making a mockery of our system of justice; try to define, in such a way that Noah Webster’s dictionary will, in some way, validate your idea of Truth. Is truth a collection of facts, observations or the result of beliefs which fit your opinion; exactly what is the truth?

The other night there was a movie on,  Absence of Malice, which got my attention as it presented a believable scenario showing how Truth is obtained or perceived.  There’s a short synopsis available at Wikiquote’s page; “…a film about the son of a deceased criminal who awakes one day to find himself a front-page story in the local newspaper, incorrectly indicating that he is being investigated in the murder of a local longshoreman union official.”

That short statement really doesn’t explain enough about the film.  It fails to identify that the story that made its way into the newspaper was due to an intentional leaking of information by a government official to a reporter looking to find a good story, and, since the information being leaked came from a supposedly reliable source, it must be true.

As the movie unfolded, having seen it many years ago, the idea occurred to me that current political events could have easily been used as a backdrop for the story; but I’m getting ahead of myself…

The main character, played by Paul Newman, confronted the reporter, played by Sally Field, who had basically destroyed his business and ability to mingle in society.  She attempted to justify her actions as ‘just doing her job’; but he tells her, “…You don’t write the truth. You write what people say. What you overhear, you eavesdrop. You don’t come across truth that easy.”

The news media doesn’t have to prove anything they print or share, as the movie’s newsroom editor explained, “…That as a matter of law, the truth is irrelevant. We have no knowledge the story is false, therefore we’re absent malice. We’ve been both reasonable and prudent, therefore we’re not negligent.”

Isn’t that how Congress has been moving forward with its investigation of President Trump?  They let stories leak to the media, a media that has already proven it’s really nothing more than a propaganda machine for leftist politicians, constantly inundating the public with half-truths, innuendo and presumptions based on what some have properly called ‘Nothing Burgers’. A lie told often enough becomes the same as truth to a gullible public.

But; all their sources are reliable.  Reminds me of Marc Anthony referring to Caesar’s accusers as Honorable Men…Yes, our sources are all reliable.  As far as Congress is concerned, all of their sources are pure with no axes to grind; a few knives to jab President Trump in the back perhaps, but no axes to grind.

As we’re finding out through multiple sources, other than the main stream media outlets, the reliable sources sharing dirt on President Trump just happen to be associated with the Democrat Party, their failed attempt to get Hillary Clinton elected to the Oval Office and the never-ending attempt to remove a duly elected President from office.

If Congress really was looking for truth then it would have been investigating the top most leaders in the Democrat Party, those who have been running a criminal enterprise for several years proving that they are above the law.  Don’t quote me on that; the only reliable sources to validate such an incredulous statement are from conservative pundits; but at the same time, I’m free to make that statement since I can prove… absence of malice.

09/5/19

Following the Prophet at all times is a challenge

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

That’s a heck of a way to start off, Following the Prophet at all times is a challenge.  But that’s as true a statement from me as you’ll get.  The Prophet is the mouthpiece of the Lord and speaks only what the Lord would have said if He were addressing us; this I believe and so I do my best to be obedient.

I consider all the knowledge obtained in my years of mortality, mix in the wisdom of the Lord which I may or may not yet possess as gleaned from the scriptures and Prophets and try to figure out if it makes sense as I move forward in my journey to become more like the person the Lord would have me be.

That brings us to the topic of the day, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints recently announced the newest policy regarding the carrying of concealed weapons in church buildings.

“Churches are dedicated to the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. With the exception of current law enforcement officers, the carrying of lethal weapons on church property, concealed or otherwise, is prohibited.”

This new policy is a minor, yet significant change from the previous policy; the previous rule said the carrying of lethal weapons was inappropriate.  Why, I asked myself, why did the policy go from “inappropriate” to “prohibited”?

I ask this for a number of reasons; but there are a few that come mind, some of which are in the form of posters commonly available.

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07/18/19

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

By: T F Stern | Self-Educated American

We were watching a movie the other day on one of the regular channels where you get to see a few minutes of the movie followed by several minutes of commercials.  The efforts of the moviemakers got lost somewhere between combining car, house and life insurance, more comfortable jockey shorts and deciding which brand of whiskey best matched the outdoor sportsman in us.

At a certain point, you consider yourself ‘invested’ in watching the movie until its conclusion while attempting to ignore interruptions.  Maybe this is how cable companies have figured how to get folks to pay for adding movie channels; just interrupt the programming on the regular channels enough and people will pay not to see commercials.

The movie was ending as the credits began to roll across the screen, a chance to give individuals who’d put the movie together credit.  Did I say roll across the screen; I meant sprint past at nearly the speed of light.  Evelyn Woods Speed Reading Course had not prepared me for this particular exercise.  To make it more challenging, they split the screen so that the credits for the previously viewed movie, now in a tiny box in the corner of the screen, could play out while introducing the next feature.

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06/25/19

Dwindling Right to Freedom of Movement

By: T F Stern | Self-Educated American

Hello America, it’s a little over a week until we celebrate our Independence Day and consider all the rights and privileges associated with citizenship.  What did our founders have in mind for this Great Experiment in self-governance and, have we kept that vision?

Some folks call me a dreamer for holding on to my belief that America is the land of promise, that our constitution was divinely inspired and if applied properly would allow us all to achieve the highest level of personal freedom available on the planet; but according to the news media that term should be reserved for young illegal aliens who claim they are immune from immigration laws or that they shouldn’t be deported simply because their parents violated our immigration laws.

Maybe our sense of history needs to be ignited, like the fuse of a 4th of July bottle rocket sent into the night sky, a chance to remind us of battles long ago fought for… for what?  I know they fought for something; must have been for lower prices on Dr. Pepper so we could enjoy grilled hamburgers with a stack of crunchy potato chips.  They fought so we could send a women’s soccer team to represent our country in the World Cup Games; well, most of the athletes on our team acknowledge and stand when our National Anthem is played…

Those battles were fought to define us as a nation that honors and respects inalienable rights of individuals, generally defined as Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  These rights were later specifically defined as the Bill of Rights in our Constitution; however, among the individual rights so defined, the individual’s right to freedom of movement within these United States wasn’t listed because our founders didn’t think individual freedom of movement would ever be in question.

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