Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Welcome to My God and Government

Welcome to My God and Government.  This first post is just to give you a bit of context about me and my views that will follow.  If you have strong feelings, for or against God and Government, I urge you to read and consider the articles to follow.  You may find that you influence my thinking, or I might influence yours.  Either way, know that I am ready for a spirited and civil conversation.

I am an American.  No offense intended to those from South America and Central America, or Canadians.  I am an American as first identified by Benjamin Franklin, to differentiate the North American Colonists from our European kin, be they from the United Kingdom or any other country, as well as to differentiate us from colonists in other parts of this hemisphere.

I believe that the United States of America, as established by its founders, represents the best form of government available in the world today.  It is in fact the best hope for the people of the world to realize their greatest hopes.  I believe our government has been undergoing a steady subversion to turn it into something totally at odds with what it was originally.  I believe that being a spectator to this drama is unacceptable.  We must each engage in this struggle and do our best to preserve our liberties, or we will lose them.

This blog is one way for me to carry on the struggle to preserve our freedoms.

First a short biography.  For those of you who know me, feel free to skip this part.  You probably have already heard this, directly from me.

I was born and raised in Montana.  Montanans tend to have a "live and let live" philosophy.  Which, in practice, means, "I don't care what crazy or stupid things you do on your own property or what crazy or stupid things you believe, as long as you don't interfere with my right to do and think whatever crazy and stupid things I embrace on my own land. Oh, and if you do mess with me and mine, I will as likely shoot you dead as look at you, especially if you come onto my land to harass me."

At the age of 12, I began hunting.  Of course, that was after I took the approved NRA hunter's safety course.  I lived in the country, about 10 miles outside of Helena, Montana.  We used to sight in our hunting rifles from a rest at the West end of our house, shooting at targets on our fence line.  We couldn't do that now, as the town has grown up around us totally and just a few feet across our fence line are several houses.

At the age of 13, I left the United Methodist Church and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known commonly as the Mormons.  More on that later.

I graduated high school in 1977, at the age of 18.  I went to college for one semester in the fall of 1977 and in February of 1978 I left home to go to Ecuador, South America for two years.  One result of my experience of living in a third-world country was a sharpened appreciation of just how good we have it here in the US.  I will share more explicit lessons learned from this experience is subsequent posts.

When I returned to the US in 1980 I used a shovel to lower the floor of my parents' basement and helped pour the concrete slab so that they could finish their basement.  That work paid for my return to college in the Fall of 1980.  In the interests of full disclosure, I couldn't have finished the job if it hadn't been for the help of my sister, Christine.  I used a rope and pulley to lift the buckets of dirt out of the basement to her.  She dumped them into a wheelbarrow and emptied the wheelbarrow, returning in time to get the next five-gallon bucket of dirt from me.  And pouring the slab was a family affair involving cousins and uncles as well as my mom and dad.  We all worked hard that day and had a lot of fun together.

In the summer of 1981 I met my wife-to-be, Angela Ball.  Of course, I didn't know she was going to be my wife (but I think she knew it).  We dated for three months and were engaged for one month before getting married.  For those who disparage such a short engagement and courtship, we have been married now for almost 34 years (as of this writing).

I tried being a full-time student, full-time breadwinner, and full-time husband and found I couldn't manage it. I dropped out of college in the fall of 1981 and enrolled full-time in the school of hard knocks.

By the winter of 1982/83 I had discovered that I wanted to work in the computer field.  Against all my own expectations and imaginings, in early 1983 I joined The United States Marine Corps.

Even though, by Marine Corps standards, I was an old man of 24 years of age, the Marines did put their 'brand' on me.  Although it has been many years now since I was on active duty, I am still a Marine.  The Marines taught me many things which have served me well outside the Corps. I may tell you a bit more on those points later too.

After four years in the Corps, and having earned my Bachelors Degree, I left the Corps and went into Defense Contracting.  From there, I went into banking.  After several years on banking I left to devote my self full-time to running my real estate business.  I found out I was a better project manager than I was a landlord and returned to banking as a project manager, consulting on high risk, high profile projects.

From the time I left the Corps to today, I have owned and operated several businesses on the side.  As a result of these experiences (and others), I am an unapologetic capitalist. I have learned that whatever we attain too cheaply, we value too lightly and that the laborer is worthy of his hire.  I also learned that the axiom "an honest days work for an honest days pay," is a two-way street.  It admonishes both labor and management to be fair and honest in their interactions.

So, now that you know where I have come from, let me tell you where I am at.

Politically, I am a Constitutional Conservative.  Although I have been a registered Republican all my life, in recent years it has become increasingly clear that both major political parties have embraced to a greater or lesser degree the principles of socialism - which are antithetical to the principles of government embodied in the US Constitution, The Declaration of Independence and The Federalist Papers.

I hold The US Constitution to be the first line of authority in any discussion on the proper powers of our government.  The Declaration of Independence reveals much of the motives and principles which drove the creation of the Constitution.  And The Federalist Papers reveal the thinking of the chief architects of the Constitution.  Much can also be learned by studying the historical and social context of the authors of the Constitution, our Founding Fathers.  I recommend that anyone who is serious about having an informed view of our government in this country read The US Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, and The Federalist Papers.

I have found a select few popular (and some unpopular) publications useful in this voyage of discovery.  The first is Cleon Skousen's book The 5000 Year Leap.   Next is The Citizen's Constitution: An Annotated Guide by Seth Lipinsky.  Both of these books have a four and 1/2 star out of five rating on Amazon.  So, clearly, I am not the only person who thinks these are very good books.  After you read them, I think you will agree on that point.

My last bit of recommend reading on the political front may surprise you.  The renown author The Art of War, Sun Tzu is credited with saying, "Know your enemy."  He was right, and that is why this next piece of reading is important for everyone who values our freedoms.  The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels is to Communism and Socialism, what the US Constitution is to Capitalism.

I first read  The Communist Manifesto  a few short years ago.  When I did, I confess I was stunned at how much of that agenda has been obtained in our country beginning over a hundred years ago and picking up speed dramatically since the 1960s.  I will make a separate post (or posts) revolving around  The Communist Manifesto.  I will likely also post in-depth reviews of the other books I have mentioned and those which I may yet consume.

I think that gives you a pretty good context for my political views.  Now, about that religion thing.

I am an unapologetic Christian.  Many Christians hold the very mistaken belief that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not Christian.  That is patently false.  I won't belabor the point here, I will just refer you to the Church's own websites to figure it out for yourself.  Mormon.org and LDS.org.

I didn't always believe as I do today.  As I stated, growing up, until I was 13, I was a member of the United Methodist Church.  When I joined the Church it wasn't because I had a burning belief in what I was taught.  I liked what I heard, but my feelings toward God and religion were intermittent, sometimes intense, at other times nonexistent.  During the next few years I drifted far away from the practices of the Church.  I won't go into great detail here, but around the time I turned 18 I had experiences that helped me to learn for myself that God is real, He lives and we are literally his children.  I learned that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God and that God has, in our day continued his long-established pattern of dealing with his children through living prophets.

I put this out here not in an attempt to convert you, rather to give you the context for much of what will follow.  There will be times in these articles where I will cite certain teachings and scriptures.  Many of those will be common points for all Christians.  Some will be specific to the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I won't apologize for that.  I grab hold of truth wherever I find it.  Be that in the world of science, the realms of warfare and politics, and in religions of the world, both old and new.

I take this inclusive approach because the Church teaches that all truth can be circumscribed into one great whole.  Joseph Smith Jr., the first President of the LDS Church taught, "The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another..." (This quote comes from a letter from Joseph Smith to Isaac Galland, March 22, 1839, Liberty Jail, Liberty, Missouri, published in Times and Seasons, February 1840, pp. 53-54; spelling and grammar modernized.  I found it in Chapter 22 of the official Church publication, Teachings of the Presidents: Joseph Smith.)

In Parting
So, now you have the political, religious and life context which underlays the articles that will follow.

If you find my articles stimulate you, I invite you to comment, whether you agree or disagree (and I expect there will be plenty who do not agree with me).  I do warn you however, that I am a big believer in civil discourse.  I believe that as mature human beings we must be capable of disagreeing without being disagreeable.  In practical terms, this means that I won't tolerate comments with vulgarity, profanity or personal insults.  Vulgarity and profanity reveal that, at a minimum, you have a profound deficiency in your vocabulary and likely lack in imagination.  So, if you really want to be insulting, and have your comment remain seen, you may need to crack open the dictionary and search for some seldom used word that conveys your meaning.   But, before then, you need to read the next paragraph.

Demonization and denigration of those whose opinions differ from your own does not actually diminish the validity or their arguments, nor does it increase the veracity of your own. Rather, it reveals a lack of maturity in your own thoughts, as well as a profound insecurity in the strength of your own reasoning and arguments.  John F. Kennedy is credited with saying, "Just because you have silenced a man does not mean that he agrees with you."  If you are truly passionate about your view, your objective is to win over adherents by the strength of your position, not to silence opponents.

Dialogue is a two-way conversation.  These articles will be a monologue, which I hope will inspire some dialogues in the comments.  At the very least, I hope they will 1) strengthen those who agree with my views and give them words they can use in this struggle, 2) cause those who are unconvinced or who disagree to consider a view that is different than their own, and 3) perhaps it will win over some from indifference or opposition to support the cause of individual and collective liberty as envisioned by the Founding Fathers when God inspired them to establish this nation.

One final note, on the capitalist angle, and in the interests of full disclosure.  I frequently insert links in my articles to various relevant products and publications.  Most of those links go through my Amazon Affiliates account.  So, if you follow one and buy something, I will get a small fee from Amazon.  I don't apologize for that.  I told you I am a capitalist.  I believe that if I found, read and reviewed a product enough to recommend it to you that my efforts are worthy of some compensation when you find that information helpful to you.

Welcome to My God and Government.

Tom Sheppard is a business consultant and coach to small business owners and individuals. He is a recognized author with dozens of titles in business and fiction to his credit. One of his endeavors is to help those who want to see their own book in print. He does this through his trademarked Book Whispering Process (TM). The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein. 

The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein.

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 Your comments are welcome... Please observe some ground rules. No profanity, vulgarity, or personal attacks. Profanity, vulgarity and personal attacks not only betray a lack of vocabulary and imagination, they also are the hallmarks of bigotry, and bigotry is the hallmark of someone who is fundamentally insecure in their views. Facts are always welcome.