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    Men are that they might have joy. - Book of Mormon

    I am not partly for the Constitution, and partly against it; I am wholly for it. I disdain the character of an uncommitted man. I am committed, fully committed to the constitution. And i am committed against everything which, in my judgment, may weaken, endanger, or destroy it. And especially against all extension of executive power; and any attempt to rule the free people of this country by the power and the patronage of the government itself. --- Daniel Webster
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    • It’s Not Mine February 16, 2016
      Originally posted on Letters to Lindsey: I set the case down next to the sink. No, it might get wet. I thought. I picked it up and put the strap on my shoulder, so the prized possession was resting on my back, safe from water. A woman walked by behind me in the public bathroom and…
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      In the world of the Christians, there has historically been a problem.  Some non-Christians, may look at the plethora of Christian denominations and wonder, why so many?  What’s the difference if they’re all Christians? Short answer: The difference is in the doctrine – the specifics about what they believe. Long Answer: Some Christians will claim […] […]
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      I have made some revisions to my document on Principles and Values which are more than cosmetic.   Take a look and tell me what you think. https://spiffy3.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/principles-and-values/
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Poem #20 The Welsh Marches. The Uncaringly Unconquerable

Yesterday kind of blew me out. That second poem was so long for me to type up that today I’m looking for just a short one. But it has taken me so long to find anything I want to write about I might as well have just taken the next thing on my list (turns out it is Eliot’s “Wasteland” – yeah, that ain’t happenin’ for a while) and just got it done. But no, today, family history is calling in my veins, so I turn to A. E. Housman, XXVIII.


High the vanes of Shrewsbury gleam
Islanded in Severn stream;
The bridges from the steepled crest
Cross the water east and west.

The flag of morn in conqueror’s state
enters at the English gate:
The vanquished eve, as night prevails,
Bleeds upon the road to Wales.

Ages since the vanquished bled
Round my mother’s marriage-bed;
There the ravens feasted far
About the open house of war:

When Severn down to Buildwas ran
Coloured with the death of man,
Couched upon her brother’s grave
The Saxon got me on the slave.

The sound of fight is silent long
That began the ancient wrong;
Long the voice of tears is still
That wept of old the endless ill.

The heart of the Welsh Marches is my ancestral home. I’ve never been there but I long to visit. I’m hoping someday soon.

I recently read a fascinating book, Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland, by Bryan Sykes. Wow! What a read. While it does provide a little bit of history, its focus is on genetics. It was so much fun to see the genetic distributions throughout the British Isles. Now I want to take a DNA test and see what mine shows.

One of my favorite stories about the Welsh is how they related to the Romans and other attempted conquerors. Conquering the Welsh is sort of like conquering air. The Romans took over the eastern side of the Marches comparatively easily. But once they crossed into Wales proper the people just didn’t care. The Romans would conquer and take over. The people would just let them do it. But as soon as the Romans yawned the Welsh would move right back in. They didn’t care about being ruled or governed. And that’s why the Romans never really got a foot hold in the western part of the island. it isn’t because the Welsh were so formidable. It was because they just didn’t care. It makes me giggle every time I think about it. It was the same way with the Vikings. They just didn’t care and the Vikings hardly made it a mile inland. I don’t know. It’s just hilarious to me.

My son, my second child, is much like this. I could put my oldest daughter into time out when she was a toddler and she would stay there till the cows came home. “Sit there and don’t move until I tell you.” I’d demand. She would just sit there and watch me. A few times she flailed her arms to see what I would do, but she would literally sit there forever if I demanded it. But not #2. No way. I’d sit him down and make the same demand. “Sit there!” and by the time I turned around he’s walking out the door. Time out was out of the question for him. He is just like the ancient Welsh and it makes me laugh.


Political Liberty Requires Economic Liberty. What Does Economic Liberty Require?

Rummaging through some old journals, I came across this statement.

Political liberty requires economic liberty. But you can’t have economic liberty without intellectual liberty.

I am sure when I recorded that, I was thinking, as most people might, only on the superficial level, that our educational institutions must be free to teach in the way they see fit. While this is true, it does not tell the whole story. Intellectual liberty has more to do with what a person does with his learning opportunities. Intellectual liberty comes when a person dives into the classics and learns how to think. But thinking for oneself is a hard task. We have largely become divorced from this condition, opting collectively for more of a vocational type training where we allow authorities (teachers, parents, bosses, political elites, religious leaders) to tell us what to think, rather than a true classical, liberal education. To fix the problems facing our nation today, we must return to the pursuit of intellectual liberty. It will take time, but with patience, we can do it.

Only the Disciplined Are Free: How an Education in the Classics Preserves Liberty

In a time when so many voices cry for freedom, I offer this bit of insight from one if my favorite authors, Mortimer Adler.

“Discipline is indispensable for a free use of our powers. The man who has not the knack of doing something gets tied up in knots when he tries to perform. The discipline which comes from skill is necessary for facility. How far can you go in discussing a book with someone who does not know how to read or talk about it? How far can you get in your own reading without a trained ability?

“Discipline…is a source of freedom. Only a trained intelligence can think freely. And where there is no freedom in thinking, there can be no freedom of thought. Without free minds, we cannot long remain free men.”

This comes from “Free Minds and Free Men,” the concluding chapter of Adler’s 1940 work, How to Read a Book. I have often heard it said that only a classical education preserves liberty, but I never fully understood how reading Robinson Crusoe, Opticks, or Madame Bovary was supposed to preserve freedom. It wasn’t until reading these words by Adler that I really began to understand this concept. Many have tried to explain that the classics discuss true principles and that is why. And I am sure there is something to that. But my argument has always been that the classics don’t really “teach” those principles as much as they support or illustrate those principles, that a reader really recognises a principle’s presence in a work more because he has learned it in the core phase of his education. Here Adler says something very different. He says that the classics preserve freedom because they teach discipline. And only the disciplined have freedom.

The Need for More Self-defense

I don’t post often enough about self-protection. I wanted to post last week about the Florida school board shooting but thought I would wait to hear what Ignatius Piazza had to say. Here is his blog today. I agree with his comments completely.

Self-discipline to Defeat Discouragement

There is another aspect to the concept of self-discipline. Success is a state of mind. I have heard others teach that all success at elite levels requires the ability to endure pain without losing focus on the prize. The prize is the desired result—the dream. The pain comes from the struggle required to achieve that result—the work, the opposition in yourself, the opposition from others who may not want you to achieve that result, or opposition from the elements as you work out a way of achieving your desired result. Whatever it may be, the achievement comes to the person who is able to focus his mind on the desire and thus keep himself from becoming discouraged in the face of that opposition.

I must work on this. I have allowed my mind to become discourage in such moments. This has limited my levels of success. I intend to fix this in myself and to overcome my own discouragement so I may reacher greater victories. One piece of council I have received to help me with this is to seek for those things which are good and to learn the truth through study. I love the good things and I love to study. And I have found that in my time of deepest discouragement I have turned to my books and similar resources.

Dear reader, what do you do to discipline your mind to keep from becoming discouraged or to get yourself out of discouragement? Please leave a comment below. 🙂

Discipline Yourself, Or Someone Else Will

I recently had the opportunity to share a concept with some seven and eight year olds that rings particularly true in our society today.

Discipline yourself or someone else will.

I asked them what they think that means. They were really funny about it. Some said it means you give yourself the spanking when you do something wrong. The general consensus was that you somehow punish yourself in such situations rather than waiting for someone else—a parent, a teacher, or a policeman—to punish you. After having a good laugh together, we discussed the situation in which a person recognizes the choices lying before him, and instead of choosing the wrong action, he disciplines his mind to choose the right on an increasingly consistent basis. I think they came to an understanding that self-discipline contains the mental maturity to make the correct choice so that others don’t have to correct them later on, like the parent, teacher, or worse, government.

Our conversation centered mostly around a child’s behavior in a classroom or at home, but this has deeper societal ramifications. Much of what America is going through right now is a result of society neglecting a self-discipline, such as Napoleon Hill taught, and now paying the consequence of our actions, collectively. Most people point the finger at Washington, the state capitols, or at city hall. While our politicians surely carry some portion of the blame, they are really a mere reflection of a much larger problem. I see a major culprit in each living room throughout the country.  For generations now, society has been living a non-disciplined lifestyle, in the name of freedom that looks more like license than liberty. One stark lesson lying before us teaches that principles govern. We don’t need a tangible force, such as a mother or a teacher or a government, to help us discipline ourselves. When society fails to discipline itself, the laws of the universe combine to discipline that society. Much of our current struggles are a result of that societal lack of self-discipline.

Want to Prosper? Master This One Thing

I have in my possession one of the greatest books on the accumulation of wealth ever written, Napoleon Hill’s The Master-Key to Riches. Why do I think it is one of the greatest? Probably because it is the one I have read the most. He makes some significant assertions in this book. the ideas are presented so succinctly that they cannot be misunderstood. I have had this book in my possession for six or seven years, maybe longer. My copy is tattered and falling apart from so much handling. Nearly every page has at least a small phrase that I have marked for memory and quick reference. I have used the book to help teach the Abundance Paradigm and self-reliance. the pages are dog-eared and folded over to force the finger and the eye to stop at certain points to review the concepts presented therein. Yet, not until this very moment do I finally recognize its message (even though the passage revealing it is marked by my own hand in brilliant yellow). The book ends with Hill’s final message.

It should be obvious to you that the great Master-Key to Riches is nothing more nor less than the self-discipline necessary to help you take full and complete possession of your own mind!

…Remember it is profoundly significant that the only thing over which you have complete control is your own mental attitude!

For this is the Master-Key to Riches!

So, how does one develop the self-discipline Hill speaks of?