Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Blog 5, Constitutional Questions

The founding fathers had many questions to face in drafting the Constitution. One question they did not really need to answer was whether or not they needed government in some form. Essentially every major organizational unit in society has some form of government. Families, for instance, are organized according to a matriarchal or patriarchal order. Clans are run by tribes, and tribes by chiefs. The idea of government being necessary was to most people, to use the language of the Declaration of Independence, a self evident truth. However, the founding fathers had many other questions to face. They had to grapple between government, ideals like freedom and liberty, and human nature and reality and finding a balance between all of these things. The founding fathers wanted to create the best government possible to protect the rights of the people but maintain the fledgling nation. In order to do this, they had to overcome the human predicament, which has been seen in so many societies throughout history. It starts with tyranny, which leads to revolution, which leads to anarchy, which leads to competing groups, out of which rise specific groups which end up taking over and governing in a tyrannical fashion. The founding fathers had to decide between several different types of government, including autocracy, and classical republicanism. Autocracy means rule by one person. The US had had some problems with this system…these problems lead to revolution against Great Britain. Also, many of the founding fathers were wary of putting too much power in the hands of a single individual. Theocracy, or religiously oriented government, was also a problematic idea, as many of the inhabitants of the New World had emigrated there to escape the religious persecution they had previously faced in their native countries. Also, if one single religious group ruled the entire country, it would cause a lot of problems with the many other religious groups that existed in the young nation. The founding fathers had other issues to face as well. They had to decide on the political economy of the new government, namely the bounds set by laws, police and courts. They also needed to determine the structure of the government, or society…the laws, customs and traditions, moral sense and, perhaps most importantly for the framers of a government, leadership. Obviously, there were many questions to face, and a lot of pressure to face them correctly. For several years, the country had been operating under the Articles of Confederation. This document left most power in the hands of the states, and allowed the federal government basically no room to operate. Obviously, as far as the unity of the states went, this caused problems. States wanted their sovereignty, but this often meant that they ignored resolutions passed by the weak Congress of the day. There was no national currency, and differing trade amongst the states caused many problems. The new founding fathers had to figure out how to reconcile the idea of a more powerful federal government with states which had been governing themselves for scores of years. Another question the founding fathers had to face was that of slavery. In order to form a new government, they had to reconcile the states in the north, which were based on a mercantilist economy, with the southern states with their agricultural economy supported by the labor of hundreds of thousands, if not millions at some points in time, of slaves. In short, the founding fathers had many issues on their plates when they came together to amend the Articles of Confederation. They eventually ended up abolishing them altogether and forming the Constitution of the United States of America, which still stands today as a hallmark of free, republican government, with a landmark system of checks and balances and a balance of powers unlike any ever seen before.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

John Adams movie blog

I really, really enjoyed the John Adams movie. It was fantastic. Seeing historical events dramatized makes them seem a lot more real to me. I had a similar experience when I saw the play “Children of Eden.” It helped me think of Adam and Eve as real people instead of just figures in the Bible. The movie did the same thing for me with the founding fathers. I loved it. John Adams seems like he was a very passionate man. I admire the things he did for the country and for posterity. I kind of understood before what kinds of sacrifices the founding fathers had to make, but to see it dramatized made such a difference. It helped me look at them as real people. They had thoughts, passions, and families. They had to leave their families in difficult times to be involved in the congress. The scenes with John Adams’ family were some I found to be particularly touching. I really admire Abigail Adams. I would love to meet her. I love hearing things about her relationship with her husband. They seemed to have such a wonderful relationship. Seeing the movie made me wonder how much influence she had in the revolution. I think that women probably had a larger amount of influence than we often hear about. One scene I found particularly touching in the movie was the scene when Abigail had herself and her children inoculated against the Pox. It was a very sad scene. The boy with the pox looked terrible. It was so sad to see him. What an awful thing to be afflicted with!
It is amazing to think how much we owe the founding fathers of our country. They did such an incredible amount for us. There are still many countries in the world where women have very few freedoms. While the founding fathers did not directly grant specific freedoms to women, the American Revolution had a lot of impact on the freedoms I enjoy today as a woman. The founding fathers also did a lot to influence religious freedoms. Without the freedoms we enjoy in this country, the gospel would likely not have been able to be reestablished on earth nearly as easily as it was, despite difficulties.
The John Adams movie helped all of these things to mean a lot more to me. It reminded me of the part of Esther that talks about Esther being brought for such a time as this. The founding fathers were good men who were chosen for a purpose. They conversed with each other. They were friends and countrymen, and they worked together to do many important and incredible things. I had never before thought of them being friends or interacting with each other. For some reason, the fact that they did this makes them seem a lot more human to me.
This movie was very impactful to me. I thought it was fantastic. Even if it was not completely historically accurate, it brought the founding fathers to life for me in a way that nothing else really has. It helped bring their families to life for me, too. They had wives and children who also had to sacrifice a lot so that I could enjoy the freedoms I enjoy today as a citizen of the United States. I appreciate them. I am grateful for the wonderful things that they did.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Exhibit, MOA

I really enjoyed the exhibit at the MOA. One of the pieces that really struck me was the picture of the 2 chairs, the one overturned in front of the other, with its striking visual contrast. I thought that picture was absolutely beautiful. I loved all of the symbolism involved.
Another picture that caught my eye was the picture of the discarded shroud. It seemed like an afterthought, almost, something that had just been left behind. However, it spoke of great things that had come to pass. I really liked the concept of that painting.
I also enjoyed the painting of Mary seeing Jesus in the garden after the resurrection. I loved the flowers in that painting. I thought they kind of symbolized the garden well. Mary’s position in the portrait was very telling. She looked so hesitant, like she almost could not believe her eyes. She seemed to be approaching the Savior. Her hands were close to her body, but at the same time, they were reaching away from her. I loved the way she was postured in the painting. I thought it was very beautiful.
Another painting I liked was the little one called “Cat Gift” in which two people seemed to be reverencing a cat. One of them is standing barefoot, and all one can see is his feet. The other is approaching the cat on his hands and knees with a gift. I loved this painting. I thought it was so cute and charming. I don’t know exactly why. Perhaps it was because of the turnaround in the painting. Generally, cats are giving gifts to people. I love the way the people in this painting are giving a gift to a cat. It is very cute.
There was one picture that I absolutely loved. It was a sketch of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemene being held by an Angel. Jesus looked so sad in this painting, as I am sure He was when He was performing the Atonement. The Angel was comforting and holding Him. I thought this was beautiful. I loved the feeling of comfort that came from the sketch. It was so beautiful.
The painting “Man of Sorrows” was also very beautiful. Christ’s body seemed to be stereotypically perfect. However, His face was lined with sorrow, His eyes gaunt, and He seemed to have the cares of the world on His shoulders. The wood of the cross was another interesting point in this painting. I called the number to hear the reflections from the author. He talked about how the wood, to him, symbolizes the times and seasons and trials of life. It was wonderful. As I sat and listened to this, I was running my hands over the wood of the bench sitting in front of the painting. It made me think about how this bench was similar to something that Jesus may have made as a carpenter. It was a beautiful bench. I would love to have a similar one in my home someday.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sober Expectations, Blog 2

Expectations are things that we think will happen. Also, we expect them. Sober, in some connotations, means not drunk. Also serious. In this case, it means serious. However, I do not think the founding fathers were generally drunk

Having said that, a revolution of sober expectations, to me, means a revolution that was not based on revolutionary ideals, like many other revolutions. Rather, it came about as a process. The American Revolution officially started in 1776. However, it did not just happen. It came about as a result of scores of years of history. The colonists had governed themselves without much British interference for a long time. When the British started interfering in colonial government, the colonists wanted representation. When they did not get it, they were angry because it violated what they viewed as their natural rights. The revolution was based on ideals that had been around for a long time. There had and would be many other revolutions. The difference between these and the American revolution was the fact that the American revolution was a slow process, eventually culminating in the colonists fighting for independence. The colonists were not trying to build a utopian society. They did not think they were going to form the perfect form of government, or make some amazing society. Their expectations were not unrealistic, or even terribly high. They wanted to be represented, and they wanted to have a government that took into consideration their needs. At the time of the American Revolution, the British Parliament was no such government, with their ridiculous idea of virtual representation. The phrase “sober expectations” means that the people did not think that they were going to form the perfect country. Also, they did not kill a lot of their leaders. They merely wanted independence. The leaders of the time, as a matter of fact, did not even have a particular form of government in mind.