Mortality of Modern Day Heroes

Today?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Globe and Mail offered an article regarding the recognition of Canadian troops in liberating Ortona, Italy, from the grip of Nazi forces in 1943. Hitler has fortified Ortona to be their last stronghold in Italy.

However, it wasn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t the celebration that was of interest to me. Nor was it contemplating what happened over 60 years ago. What interested me was the photo on the front page and its caption.

It was a photo of Canadian veteran Smoky Smith getting a peck on the cheek from an Italian school girl. The caption stated that Smoky Smith is the last surviving Victoria Cross winner.

On 21 October 1944, Private Ernest “Smoky” Smith single-handedly defeated a German counter-attack on the Savio River bridgehead in Italy, including two tanks and roughly 60 German soldiers. Seven weeks later, Smoky was awarded the Victoria Cross. The medal normally is awarded for most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.

Smoky is just over 90 years old. Only God knows how much time he has left. But his efforts and his presence in this world gives us a real tie to the Second World War. Once he is gone, his entire life and the sacrifices he made will be but memories, easily forgotten.

My great-great-grandfather?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s brother, John Loskot, fought in World War One. He died in battle as a Private in the Fifth Battalion of the Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan Regiment). Two hundred forty soldiers and officers from the Fifth Battalion died that day (28 April 1917) under heavy German shelling that lasted nearly 24 hours, north of Arleux, France.

Maybe it?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s this familial tie to World War One that made Smoky?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s by-line pop out. Either way, I suppose death is inevitable and real life heroes like Smoky (He received the Order of Canada in 1995) eventually pass on into the history books.

Maybe this year, I will actually participate in the Remembrance Day programmes.

Black and Mormon

University of Illinois Press sent me a copy of their new book Black and Mormon, edited by Newell G. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith. I am supposed to review it. I am only three-quarters of the way through it, so I cannot do a proper review yet, but it is such a good book, I thought I would post my thoughts so far.

Black and Mormon
consists of various essays written by different scholars on the issue of Blacks and the priesthood within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Naturally, I was somewhat weary of reading the book, but I kept an open mind and dived right in. I am sure glad I did. It is such a fascinating book?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùthe dry parts aside of course.

What I thought I would post about were some things I found interesting.

First, anyone who is at all comfortably familiar with the history of the Blacks in the Church is also familiar with the name of Elijah Abel. Of course, there are many who are not. Brother Abel was a member of the Church in its infancy. He was ordained a Seventy in 1836. However, what you may not know is that Brother Abel went on to serve three full-time missions, the third one in 1883. In addition, his son Enoch was ordained an elder in 1900 and his grandson Elijah was ordained a priest in 1934 and an elder the following year.

Why were so many blacks denied the priesthood while these three were not?

Second, Joseph Smith never instituted the Black Ban. He never taught that blacks should be denied the priesthood. In fact, the denial was not implemented until the year the saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. The closest the Prophet ever came to issuing such a ban was to state that slaves were not allowed to be ordained without permission from their slave-owners. He also said such slaves could not be baptised without permission.

Third, I came across two awesome quotes; one by Joseph Smith and one by Joseph Fielding Smith.

But there has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodge for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle [maul]. Even the Saints are slow to understand.

I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions; they cannot stand the fire at all.

Joseph Fielding Smith, comp. and ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1976), 331.

It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teaching of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s doctrine.

You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards in doctrine, only so far as the accord with the reveal word in the standard works.

Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954), 3:203.

There are many anecdotes in the essays that offer a different perspective on the entire issue. I am looking forward to finishing the remainder of the book. It has been a great read and I have learned quite a bit from it. Had I known it was going to be this good of a resource, I would have bought it myself.

And I am not even a reader.

Homeschooling and Socialization

When people find out that we homeschool our children, they almost always predictably comment, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìWell, I could never homeschool my children. They need the socialization?¢‚Ǩ¬ù.

First, why do people do this? Why do people tell us what they wouldn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t do? Did someone tell them they have to homeschool? Quite frankly, I don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t give a crap whether you use the public school system or not. I am not preaching to you; don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t preach to me.

Second, is there a class all homeschool opponents take? Does the first lesson in Opposing Homeschool 101 tell you that homeschooled children get no socialization? If no such class and lesson is offered, can someone please reveal to me why this is virtually the only comment we receive from people regarding homeschool? You would think we would at least get a ?¢‚Ǩ?ìYou?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re evil?¢‚Ǩ¬ù or ?¢‚Ǩ?ìYou’re going to hell?¢‚Ǩ¬ù once in a while, but all we get is ?¢‚Ǩ?ìyour children will be social misfits?¢‚Ǩ¬ù.

Third, since when did the public school system become a social laboratory? Maybe the seven schools I attended in two provinces did things differently, but outside of two 30-minute recess periods, we were discouraged from having social interaction. Chatting in class would result in a smack of the ruler on our desk or having to write lines. In all honesty, the bulk of my social experience came from interaction with friends in the evenings and on the weekends.

Fourth, why do people assume that homeschooled children have no social skills and/or get no social interaction? Are people really so ignorant that they think homeschooled children sit at home all day locked in the house until they emerge with their homework done? How ridiculous.

For your information, our daughter?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùour son is not officially being homeschooled yet since he is only three?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùreceives plenty of opportunity for socialization. She is in her third year of weekly ballet classes. Every week she either goes to another family?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s house that participates in our local babysitting co-op or the children of one of the families comes to our house. Next week she starts art classes. Next month she starts swimming classes. That?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s not even counting all the times we go to friends?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ houses and she plays with their children, nor is it counting all the times her friends’ parents phone up asking if she wants to come over and play.

Of course, there is the remote possibility that maybe we are just radicals when it comes to homeschooling, and the majority of homeschoolers do lock their children in closets under the stairs.

Either way, please stop telling us our children will not be socialized.