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Category Archives: Religion

  • Personal-Revelation

    Voting and Personal Revelation: Keep it to Yourself

    This article is written for two audiences. The first audience is anyone, Mormon or not, who may stumble across this blog and find interest in understanding how Utah’s unique socio-religious base affects the political scene. The second audience is anyone who has, or knows someone who has, seemingly received “personal revelation” from God to act in a particular way and then lambastes everyone for not acting in that expressed way.

    A person cannot interact in the political scene in Utah without knowing the Mormon lingo. Mormon scripture and words from the General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are used as much of a political tool to justify one’s personal political preference in Utah as any person outside of Utah might invoke political philosophers, Party leaders, or the law to promote their own beliefs.  As a politically active Latter-day Saint living in Utah, I see this mixture of politics and religion on a daily basis in political discussion.

  • Learning About Christianity

    I’m building a website with launch-pad style lessons to get people interested in expanding their horizons and learning new things. Part of the Humanities section includes Religion, and I’ve been building introductory pieces on the 6 major religions. My goal is to make sure each is seen positively, so we can learn to love each other more and glory in our similarities.

    I started with Buddhism, usually seen as one of the most peaceful of all religions. A picture of happy monks and resources full of enlightened and loving Buddhists were easy to find, and the lesson came together quickly. I then moved to Islam, one of the most misunderstood and often demonized religions.

  • “The Monroe Doctrine and Beyond”

    The following was written by Ezra Taft Benson, Secretary of Agriculture under Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961), and was published in his work An Enemy Hath Done This (pgs 241-245).

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    “Our first and fundamental maxim should be, never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe. Our second, never to suffer Europe to inter-meddle with cis-Atlantic Affairs. America, North and South, has a set of interests distinct from those of Europe, and peculiarly her own. She should therefore have a system of her own, separate and apart from that of Europe. While the last is laboring to become the domicile of despotism, our endeavor should surely be, to make our hemisphere that of freedom” (Thomas Jefferson, to President James Monroe, October 24, 1823).

    For more than a hundred years the Monroe Doctrine provided a fundamental guidepost for American foreign policy. Designed to protect American security through opposition to outside intervention in Western Hemisphere, the Doctrine was first enunciated by President Monroe in 1823. Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had made similar policy statements (1).

  • David Hume: On Conservatism

    Riddled throughout both US and international politics are the terms of conservatism and liberalism. Generally speaking, these terms are thrown about with little understanding of their origination or of their meaning, but, when elicited, feelings of emotion, sentiment, and passion are often triggered as epithets of self-identification. David Hume is often described as “the father of Conservatism,” but what is conservatism? Conversely, some have called David Hume a liberal (or, a classical liberal), but what is liberalism? In finding whether David Hume was a conservative or liberal political philosopher, we can define the foundational basis for both liberalism and conservatism.

  • Endorsements: Do They Mean Anything At All?

    Earlier today it was released (1) that Utah’s Senator Mike Lee has endorsed Mitt Romney for the GOP’s candidate for President of the United States. Senator Lee beat out incumbent Bob Bennett (who, ironically, was endorsed by Mitt Romney) in a run-off primary in 2010. Senator Lee’s victory was correlated to the Tea Party’s uprising two years ago, as millions of Americans across the country were proverbially “up-in-arms” about the federal government’s fiscal irresponsibility and seeming disdain for individual and civil rights.

    Since becoming a Senator, Mike Lee has made quite the name for himself. He is considered a Tea Party darling, and, with Senator Rand Paul, another newly elected Tea Party darling, they have generally voted together on major issues.

  • Precinct Chair: A Discussion of Representation

    Last week at the GOP caucus I was elected as the precinct chairman of Provo’s Precinct 17. Since then I have been nearly inundated with advice from various sources on what “representation” means. What do representatives actually represent? Do representatives represent interests, groups, individuals, institutions, or merely the majority? The most popular consideration is that representation is merely the parroting of the majority’s expressed opinion and/or interest. This consideration, however, is quite insufficient. Representation, to be just, uniform, and applicable to all mankind must represent something innate or common among all people… Representation, then, must represent

  • “A Republic, If You Can Keep It…”

    The longer I am involved in the political scene, the more I see the need for a consistent understanding of the basic philosophical difference between Democracies and Republics. The necessary distinction is often confused by so-called ‘constitutional authorities’ who loosely throw around terms like Democracy or democratic Republic without realizing the harm they are causing newcomers to the philosophy of liberty. This post is intended to dispel many false notions concerning the foundation of our country, and to reestablish a consistent and fundamental understanding between the two forms of government. There is much to write concerning this issue, and this post is not intended to be all-inclusive; however, as time permits I will edit and add to the post to constantly make it more comprehensive.

  • Term Limits: A Ridiculous Policy

    The failing economy has turned many Americans into ‘garage-politicians’: people who become political and economic experts by religiously watching Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann. Many of these garage-politicians are blaming their legislators for their apathy, laziness, or indifference towards their constituency’s economic and financial needs. This heated view of their elected officials has led many Americans to support a policy change that would flush out the legislature and allow the American people a new start with a fresh set of legislators. This new policy is term limits. This change in policy is ridiculous, because our Republic has built-in term limits: voting.

  • “Power that does not come from the barrel of a gun.”

    Introduction

    Of the many atrocities committed and the genocides performed throughout the 20th Century, few cases rival the stories that have come from of the Cambodian “killing fields”. Between 1970 and 1979, an estimated 1.2 – 2.2 million Cambodians were killed by the Khmer Rouge (Genocide). The barbaric nature of slaughter, the torture committed on innocent civilians, and the beliefs that fueled this genocide is a surprising combination of the accidents of history, ideological extremism, blundered US foreign policy, and clandestine US militarism. In reviewing the history of Cambodia, the horror of this mass-genocide appears to establish a universal and moral mandate on mankind to ensure that something like this will never take place again. An important question to ask is concerning how the United States may have failed to keep the killing fields from happening.

  • Silent Enim Leges Inter Arma

    Over two thousand years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero observed that “in times of war, the law falls silent”(Silent enim leges inter arma) (Cicero 17). Today, political philosophers, policy makers, and political leaders argue over this same topic: What laws, if any, are applicable during war? More specifically, what laws, if any, apply to war itself? These questions presuppose a shifting ethical relationship between individuals, societies, and states during a time of war that do not exist in peacetime. But the important question is whether Cicero is necessarily correct – can there exist a time and place where the law is not silent in times of war?

    For nearly as long as mankind has maintained written records, it has argued over the ethical actions of war – the idea of a just war is not a Western concept. The ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Chinese all discussed various forms of just war. The Egyptians were known for showing great moral restraint in battle (Wilkinson 274), and Laotse – a Chinese philosopher – argued that war is undesirable and should never proceed beyond a minimal objective (Laotse 154). The Babylonians, under Sennecherib, displayed the modern jus in bello notion of distinction, when they would not destroy innocent non-combatants but they would only fight against active soldiers (Friedman 3). Even the Bible establishes the Israelite rules-of-war against the Canaanites in Deuteronomy 20. These examples appear to negate any necessary claim to Cicero’s observation.