Greetings, Gentle Reader,

With the great uncertainty families face in today's economy, it can be well understood why many have allowed themselves to be caught up in despair and sorrow. We have one of the most divisive presidential elections in our nation's history, the economy is failing and people are losing their homes, businesses and jobs. This could easily be a time where Americans could be mired down in the negatives and forget what we really should be concentrating on.

Our prophets have counseled us for ages to prepare for the future. They've urged us to prepare for all types of economic downturn, whether they be the byproduct of natural disasters or man-made? Many have listened and many have not. If you have been unable to get food storage and a preparedness plan in place, it is my recommendation you begin by purchasing Preparedness Principles by Barbara Salsbury, one of the foremost experts on preparedness, both disaster and provident, in the nation.

With all that being said, let's take a moment and focus on what is really important today. God and family.

Do you take time to sit down to the dinner table with your family and night? Do you visit, laugh, talk and catch up as you eat, or is the evening meal endured in sullen or distracted silence?

When was the last time you got up on Saturday morning, rousted the kids out of bed and took them outside and worked with them side by side?

When was the last time you gathered your family together and read to them in the evenings from the scriptures? When was the last time you read a book together as a family? Just a chapter a night before you start your scripture reading.

When was the last time you made sure that your family did not begin their day without prayer and end it, gathered together, the same way?

This is what is important. Gordon B. Hinckley, many years ago, spoke of four things which woud effect a change in society within a generation or two. I have just listed them for you:
  • Pray with your families.
  • Teach goodness to your children.
  • Read good books together.
  • Teach your children a good, solid work ethic.
These four simple things implemented into family life will turn society around within a generation or two. That is no small thing?

And so I ask you to not focus on all the chaos going on around us right now and stop, assess your families as they function right now and ask yourselves, are you doing these four things?

May I suggest, with all the humility and love for my fellowman in my heart, that you begin to follow this wise counsel. You will find happiness in the smallest acts. Joy in the laughter of your family. Peace in the quiet stillness of the house as family prayer finishes and you hear "Goodnight, Mom and Goodnight, Dad" as your children disappear into their rooms at the close of day. And at that moment, when the house settles down and you are sitting there quietly on the couch, that is when you bow your head in gratitude and love to your Father in Heaven for trusting you with your precious children and spouse.

That, my friends, is what is most important.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

What does America have that makes it different from other countries? We have good weather. So do most of the other countries around the world. We have beautiful views. So do other countries. We have some really good people and some really bad people. So do other countries. So what’s the big deal?

More and more Americans are being taught to think that America is not an exceptional country. We even have large numbers of college students who are being taught that we are a bad country. They are being taught that Marxism and Communism, for instance, are superior system of government to the one we are guaranteed in our Constitution.

They are being taught that America is a racist country, where minorities are oppressed and abused. They are being taught that their country is selfish, though no other country on earth gives to others, especially in catastrophes, as ours does. They are being taught that we abuse the people of other countries. They are, in fact, being taught to hate the land of their nativity. Why?

I cannot explain evil. I can’t comprehend it, and I can’t explain it. My generation was taught to honor our country, to revere those who died to create it, as we did those who died in subsequent wars defending it and us. We celebrated all the special days that had to do with being American. That changed in the 60s, and this is how it happened:

About 20 or so years ago, a man who had been a revolutionary, a devout Communist, one who belonged to a radical group that tried to take our government down, wrote a book explaining the thinking of those with whom he had been associated.

He said that when their leader realized they would not be able to destroy the government, he instructed them to go into the colleges, high schools and junior highs and begin to teach the rising generation to think as they did. They tended to be well educated, often in Ivy League colleges (these people were neither poor nor mistreated), so it was easy for them to follow his instructions.

Today, we see the results of their efforts, and those results are not good. We have judges who make decisions that would have made our forefathers grab their muskets and go to war. Our kids have been hauled off to jail for praying. Workers can and have been fired for wearing a flag pin or a cross. The Ten Commandments plaques are being removed from our parks. The attempt to take Christ out of Christmas is ongoing. Our college kids can tell you what a great guy the ruthless, truly monstrous murderer Che Guavara was, but they don’t know all that much about the founding fathers, except maybe some scandalous behavior in which they were supposed to have indulged.

In a Boulder, CO, high school, kids were taught in a mandatory assembly that sex of any type was perfectly alright for them to experiment with, as was drug use. When some of the kids reported the outrage to their parents, both the kids and their parents were excoriated. Why? Because all educated people knew these behaviors were perfectly acceptable, and surely no one could disagree with that, unless they were knuckle-dragging neanderthals, and, oh yes, Christians, which is worst of all.

The result of this indoctrination is a wave of crime of every conceivable type, children being exploited or even killed, families being deserted by both fathers and mothers. We have a level of drug use that threatens our country’s sovereignty. We even have openly unpatriotic leaders of all types.

All of this, sadly, is part of the reason why Sarah Palin is being attacked so venomously. She is unabashedly good, and yes, Christian. In today’s world her goodness is viewed as both suspect and repulsive. The fact that she and her husband refused to kill their baby is considered unforgivable. The only thing more unforgivable is her Christianity.

Parents, we must inoculate our children against this type of indoctrination, by teaching them to be proud of their country, to revere the good in our people, and to work to overcome the bad. College kids tend to idealistic, so let’s teach them about all the good their country and its people have done over the centuries, and how they can take part in such activities, themselves. Let’s not be shy or humble about it.

We have so much to be grateful for in this country, but our children will not know it unless we make a point of looking for it and sharing it with them and their friends. Let’s go out of our way to keep them from harmful teachers. They are out there, but we don’t have to let them indoctrinate our children.

We can remind our young of the sacrifices made by both the noble and the common people of this land. We have so much to tell them, and time’s a wastin!" Let’s do it!

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

Our financial situation in this country has become downright dangerous for some of our people. Though we almost (but not quite) understand where we are now, how did we get there? It seems to have happened this way: Politicians in very high places got involved in some things they did not understand and started a destructive ball rolling down a pretty steep hill. As it rolled, it pick up a little bit of financial this and a little bit of financial that. By the time it hit the bottom, it had become wrapped up in a staggering percentage of most of the world’s economy.

Let’s begin at the beginning, a very good place to start, to quote a delightful song: During the Clinton presidency, there arose a tremendous political outcry against mortgage lenders who seemingly discriminated against minorities. Minorities were denied loans more often that whites. Instead of analyzing the data to find the reason for the denials, newspapers trumpeted their own interpretations of the problem: racial discrimination. When I say trumpeted, I really mean trumpeted. They raised a stink that rose to the skies. They continually abused lenders, never letting up.

In 1992 the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston did some statistical analysis, which turned out to be based on data that was ridiculously inaccurate. It’s not that they could not have done a better job of getting the data; it’s just that for some weird reason they did not. (It almost seems as though they didn’t want to get the real facts.) The result was a declaration of verifiable racial discrimination. When challenged, the bank refused to accept the factual data, which showed it’s declaration was in error.

Then the same Boston bank produced new standards for lenders. They said special care should be taken to insure that standards were such that "urban, lower-income, and non-traditional consumers" could buy houses. That started the ball rolling that turned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into buyers of loans made to people who either could not or would not pay their mortgage. That was just the first step. It goes down hill from here.

The Clinton White House wanted everyone to own their own homes, then Bush followed suit. The ownership society became all the rage, even though too many of those buyers should never have been given mortgages.

Then just to sweeten the pot, "prime borrowers" began buying and selling houses as a business. It became known as "flipping." They were buying them with as little down as possible and with the lowest adjustable rate mortgages they could get.

House values were being inflated so rapidly by the tremendous increase in demand caused by the easier-to-get mortgages, that builders were putting up new houses at an incredible pace and in huge volumes, creating a monstrous housing bubble. The more houses were sold, the higher the prices climbed. Then the housing bubble popped, and values began to come down. Now those who had bought and sold houses as a business couldn’t sell at those inflated prices. They had to pay mortgages on houses that were hugely overpriced, and then to make it worse, the interest rates began to reset.

Let’s say a person had bought ten monster houses with low down payments and with mortgages that reset to an interest rate that made the monthly payments out of sight. Then with the crash in home sales, these buyers were stuck with them. Those were actually prime mortgages, not subprime, but they began going into default in large numbers. Actually their numbers were 69% for prime mortgages, as opposed to 39% for subprime mortgages going into default.

This all came about because banks were pressured into making loans to buyers who could not pay them. It started with subprime and moved to prime. I guess it was a case of "what’s good for the goose is good for the gander." Unfortunately, it also seems to have been a case of "what goes up must come down." That’s a natural law, and should never be ignored.

Much of this came about because politicians stuck their noses into something they didn’t understand, and at least some of them did it for political gain. That is a common and incurable disease afflicting politicians, but the public should always be on guard against such political stupidity, refusing to be roped into the destructive messes politicians create.

Now we are being told this all came about because of subprime mortgages, sold by greedy lenders to make a quick buck. Wrong. The subprime mortgages came about because of idiot politicians pretending, not believing, just pretending, the denials of mortgages were all caused by racial discrimination.

Now the whole world is taking a financial hit as a result. This is going to get nasty.

Do you suppose it is too much to ask that we get a president and some senators and congressmen who are not phonies? How about just a garden-variety person with no hidden agendas? Do they make those anymore?

In the meantime, we had better do all we can to get the most honest, straightforward politicians out there. And, yes, some are more honest than others. We just have to look at their past actions and companions, so we can make a good guess about their future actions and companions.

Now the buck has stopped at our door. Let’s try our best to pick it up and behave with honor and integrity. That is not only our privilege, it is our responsibility as Americans.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

As I watched a man discussing this upcoming election, he bowed his head and asked Heavenly Father to give us wise leaders. So what responsibility do we have in this "wise leaders" business? Do we just ask for them and automatically get them? I don’t think so. Why? Because we have to do the actual voting that brings those wise leaders into office. Too bad there are so many "slips twixt cup and lip". Let’s examine a few.

Let’s say a very wise man runs for office. He should be an automatic winner, right? Not really. Why? Because he must run the gauntlet of political assassination, before he could get into office. Think I have overstated it? I haven’t. Let’s use the newest celebrity as an example. Let’s discuss "Joe the plumber."

Joe Wurzelbacher, an aspiring small business owner, asked Obama about getting his taxes increased if Obama was elected. Obama responded that such an increase would be necessary to "spread the wealth around." Wurzelbacher objected, saying that was socialism and he didn’t think it was right.

The media firestorm that followed this particular minor event was, and is yet, beyond any normal human being’s expectation. His personal records were examined, giving those who chose to attack him because of his views enough information to begin an immediate smear campaign, which reached preposterous proportions. Their attacks were grossly dishonest, but who cared? They were made anyway.

Let’s say a quiet, shy, but unusually competent potential candidate watched this venomous circus, before making up his/her mind whether or not to run for office. An ornery, tough old buzzard would ignore the attacks, but how about the quiet shy type? If the tough old buzzard is less competent than the young shy candidate, which of the two will end up winning that office, the tough but less competent one, or the quiet but more competent one? Is there anyone who does not know the answer to that one?

My question is simple. If we have a choice to vote for a superior, as opposed to an inferior, candidate, will we make a wise choice? You see, it doesn’t matter how wise our potential leaders are, if we refuse to vote them into office. The bottom line of all this? It is of no consequence how wise our potential leaders are, if we are too dumb to vote for them.

The simple fact is, the buck stops here, with the voter. Unfortunately, our voters are becoming more and more swayed by unions and organizations to vote for candidates and/or proposals that are either less than good or downright destructive.

Our top government officials have put several "bail out" actions into effect. None of these things would have been needed, if we had put wise leaders into office, but we didn’t do that. Several elected officials forced lending agencies to grant loans to people who either could not or would not repay them. It was known ahead of time that these particular borrowers had a very high probability of defaulting on their loans.

Next, the lending organizations put huge numbers of these loans out to be bought by banks around the world. Normally no banks would have bought these types of loans, so they bundled them and labeled them "triple A." That tricked the potential buying banks into thinking they really were good loans, made to people who typically almost never default on their obligations.

Our President and several of our elected officials have been saying for years that these things were happening and were going to "hit the fan," given enough time. They have tried repeatedly to make necessary changes, but those in Congress who were being given millions of dollars by these lending agencies insisted there was no problem. When it became obvious the President and the various worried senators and congressmen were right, they were venomously attacked by these lending agencies’ congressional supporters. They were accused of having caused the horrific problem, even though they were the ones trying to stop the inevitable "financial train wreck."

How important is it that we elect wise leaders? We are learning the hard way that it is very important to do so, but will that change our behavior when we are in that voting booth? It could, but it rarely does.

So whose fault is it that we are in big trouble? It is our fault. We consistently choose the guy with the most appealing line, even when he is a consummate con-man.

We have made our own bed, and now we are being made to lie in it.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

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Greetings, Gentle Reader,

We have always referred to the election season as "The Silly Season." We had good reason for this bit of levity. Seemingly sane people can be persuaded by the smoothest talker in town to vote for the worst, dumbest, most crooked guy in town. They will vote themselves a tax increase without a second thought. All it takes is smooooth packaging, by a smooooth talker.

Somehow, this year the silly season has ceased to be silly. It has become fraught with a level of danger to which we are unaccustomed. Voting for someone who says he is going to cut our taxes, when his history says he will raise them, is silly, but not dangerous. Voting for the guy who says he will give us the moon all wrapped up in shiny paper is silly, but not dangerous.

Now we are being persuaded to vote for a guy, some of whose cohorts think and say is Jesus Christ. That scares me. Neither of today’s candidates is Jesus Christ, but we are being encouraged to think one of them is precisely that. I may be overreacting, but I think this is dangerous. It wouldn’t be dangerous, if everyone knew he was just a plain, garden-variety politician, but many seem not to know that.

I may have little clout in this situation, but I want to tell all my readers that we have two choices. One the one hand, we have a crusty old coot, who is a dyed-in-the-wool American. He would go to war, personally, to defend us if he had to do so. He isn’t all we could wish, but he is what we have, and he will not give away the "store", so to speak, in order to persuade our enemies (and we have a lot of them) not to attack us.

On the other hand we have a smooth talker with no experience, one who has voted "present" a great deal of the time, no matter how important the question at hand. When/if Vladimir Putin tries to do to us what he did to Georgia, he will come up a few body parts short, if we have the war horse in power. If we have the other guy, we and he will discover you cannot vote "present" if the bombs are raining down. Nor can you vote "present" when a tank has you in it’s sights. That being the case, we Americans just might be the ones who will come up a few body parts (and a few cities) short, if we are attacked by a powerful enemy.

This all sounds very much like high drama, but it is an ever-present danger in today’s world.

Just to name a few of the leaders who wish us ill, we can start with Putin, Ahmadinejad, Castro, Chavez, Morales, Assad, Qaddafi, Kim Jong Il, and China’s top guy, whatever his name is.

During this last two weeks, in the last 30 minutes of each trading day, there came what was called a "flurry of activity." It was said to be done late enough that no one could respond. Was it economical warfare? Maybe. Has it had a gruesome effect? Absolutely. Who did it? We don’t know. We haven’t been told.

These are the types of things we are facing today. Some are very dangerous to us as individuals and as a nation, so let’s be wise. In fact, let’s not be so naive as to fall for a charmer, who is equally naive. We need a ornery old war horse, not a popularity contest winner.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

And while you're there subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. Welcome to the yourLDSneighborhood newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Greetings Gentle Reader,

As I was spending some time this morning in prayer and contemplation, it occurred to me that the candidate for whom we should vote in this election is dependent on whom Vladimir Putin, Ahmadinejad, China’s leader, Kim Jong Il, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Columbia, etc., want to see elected. For whom would they vote if they could vote in our election?

Would it be the old war horse, who would bomb them into people-paste if they attacked us (and they know it), or would it be the dimpled darling of the anti-America university professor set, the hero of the pathological Bush-hating set, the world citizen?

It will be one or the other, and we need to consider carefully the ramifications of getting the wrong one. We may get the wrong one anyway, no matter for whom we vote, but we must not help to elect him.

We should remember that James Madison, president during the war of 1812, genius of the Virginia Plan that became our Constitution, was the worst one we could have had in the White House during that time. He had brains to burn, but what we needed was a tough, obnoxious old war horse, someone who knew how, when and where to fight, not a genius who didn’t know anything about war and its dangers and consequences.

That is where we are now in our country’s history. We have a tough, obnoxious (Oh, yeah!) old war horse, who understands war in all its horrors, dangers and consequences, and we have a brilliant novice, who thinks he can use his considerable communication skills to charm those who hate us and everything we stand for.

We have never been in a more precarious situation. We have enemies on all sides, and more than one of them is nuclear armed, and we must keep this firmly in mind as we vote.

The confusion of the election season, bad enough as it is, is compounded by the news media. They have chosen the young charmer as their candidate, and they have the power and opportunity to help him in his campaign. Though this is reprehensible, it is a fact. Okay. So be it. It is not our responsibility to cater to their wishes and goals. We have wishes and goals of our own, and they are more important than all the foolishness put out by the various media.

Since we don’t owe the media anything, let’s make up our own minds. We have perfectly good ones. They work just great, so since we have them, we might just as well use them.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

And while you're there subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. Welcome to the yourLDSneighborhood newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Greetings Gentle Reader,

Honesty has become an endangered species in our country, assuming one can label honesty a species. How did this happen? It’s not just the usual level of dishonesty; it has reached a level I haven’t seen before.

Part of it is surely because of the election, but it seems to have become acceptable to make a statement that is diametrically opposed to a politician’s position taken a week ago. That’s bad enough, but I hear those in the news media doing the same thing.

This has always been true in countries where the government is definitely not "of the people, by the people, and for the people." That is to be expected, but in Americans, it is inexcusable.
Now, if it only were true in our politicians and in Hollywood, we could live with it, because those two sets of people have always been that way. What is worrying me is the everyday people who seem to be learning from the denizens of Hollywood and the inhabitants of the seats of political power.

More than any other group in the world, we LDS should never stoop this low. We are, and should be, held to a higher standard. We hold it as an article of our faith that we are honest in our dealings with our fellow man. So why do I hear LDS politicians and their fellow travelers, of both parties, telling out and out lies?

Our responsibility as citizens of the greatest country on the earth is to strive for honesty, for decency, for fairness, for virtue. We are to teach it to our children and grandchildren, but unless we practice it ourselves, we will discover our children repeating what we do, not what we say. Worse, they have every reason to do so.

The only way we will make the change toward honesty is by watching ourselves, watching what we say at home and abroad in the community. We must begin to examine everything we say, until we find ourselves returning to verbal honesty. It may seem useless, since "everybody is doing it." But just think how you will feel if you stand before your Maker, and you will, and have to explain to Him that you became a lowlife liar because, "everybody was doing it." The only thing worse than that will be to stand before Him and explain that your children are liars, because that is what you taught them to be.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

And while you're there subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. Welcome to the yourLDSneighborhood newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the newsletter brings you articles, products, services, resources and interviews from around the world—all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

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