About Corazon

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Some Old Jaxson Videos

Over the weekend I was busy copying some of our older family pictures and videos from our older desktop. In the process I came across these videos of our oldest boy.

Jaxson learning to walk, Part I:

Jaxson learning to walk, Part II:

Jaxson Montage:

My Mission to Chile

One of the things I love most about blogging is that it serves as a quasi-journal of sorts. Over the past 2 years I have been able to post various pictures and videos of my family and friends, and I hope to do more in the future. Looking back on those memories has become an invaluable treasure and I hope that my children will be able to see this blog in the same light.

It is for this reason that I have decided to post a few things from my past. Roughly 14 years ago (has it really been that long) I had the privilege of serving a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was assigned to the Chile, Antofagasta Mission, which is located in the northern most regions of that nation. For those of you who may not know much about northern Chile (and I knew very little before going there) it is the world's driest desert. It is so dry that NASA actually chose to test its Mars Rover in this part of the world, since its terrain is the closest to that of Mars itself. In addition, northern Chile is full of mines (the most famous being the San Pedro mine where the Chilean minors were recently rescued), with a particular emphasis in copper mining. Anyway, here are a few pictures from my time in Chile.

***Note: My experience using a scanner is pathetic to say the least. I apologize for the rough nature of these pictures. Since this is my first attempt (and I do have more material from my missionary days) I plan on improving in the future. If you have any tips please share them with me.***

Before actually living in Chile, I spent two months in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. As is the case with every Mormon missionary, I was assigned to a companion and a district. My MTC companion was Jason Castro (the picture on the top right), who was twice the missionary I ever was. And as you can tell from the picture in the bottom left, my two months in the MTC were during the beautiful months of fall, which made the experience even more enjoyable. The MTC was, in my opinion, a highlight of the mission. To this day I keep in touch with almost everyone in my old district. It's no exaggeration when I say that they, and the MTC experience in general, changed my life forever.

Even though the MTC was a remarkable time, that doesn't mean it was all easy. We usually spent 8-10 hours (if not more) in the classroom (the SAME classroom) going over Spanish and other lessons. Needless to say, sometimes the grind got the better of us:

Here are some of the stereotypical views of northern Chile. Like I said, it's a bit dry.

The picture on the top right is of my very first "Mamita" and "Papito." In Chile, most missionaries usually live with church members who almost always go above and beyond to help us out. I was lucky to have Mamita Ivonne and Papito Jose, who were, BY FAR, the best "Papitos" I ever had. I was their first "gringo" and they went the extra mile to help me out, especially with my very pathetic Spanish. If there is a heaven, Ivonne and Jose are going to be in the best part of it with the biggest mansion of all (and I'll be moving in with them).

Here are some other wonderful people that I had the privilege of meeting. The picture on the top left was taken during the September 18th festivities commemorating Chilean independence day. The food in those boxes are empanadas...and do I ever miss those AWESOME empanadas!

Here are some additional people I was privileged to meet, teach and even occasionally baptize.

Even more awesome people. The picture on the bottom right was taken just outside of where I lived. In one area I actually lived on the beach. Every once in a while, a group of drunks would get plastered and pass out on the sand. Sometimes they would be so close to the tide that we would have to pull them up shore so they wouldn't drown. On this occasion, I decided to capture the moment.

Chilean money and a packet of my favorite brand of jugo (juice) called Maracuja.

And after two years (which flew by like a dream) I was on my way home. Here is a picture of my flight itinerary and tickets.

These pictures are from my last days in Chile and my return home. On the top left is a picture of Jason Joy, Jason Castro (my old MTC companion), Fransisco Ortiz (another former companion) and myself at the Santiago Temple. The picture on the top right is my group preparing to leave Antofagasta. The rock in the background is the famous "La Portada" of Antofagasta. The bottom right is of Antofagasta from the plane window (obviously). To be honest, it was much harder to go home than it was to leave home. The Chilean people are some of the coolest I have ever met, and I owe them a priceless debt for the impact they have had on my life.
Ok, that's my first installment. I hope to be able to find some additional stuff (unfortunately, a lot of it has been lost over the years) to post on this blog.

Viva Chile!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Francis Salvador: Forgotten (or Perhaps Never Known) American Hero

Just off of Highway 52 in Charleston, South Carolina rests the beautiful and famous Washington Park. Along with being a popular location for weddings and other social gatherings, Washington Park also serves as the location for several historical monuments, including statues of George Washington, memorials for the southern Confederacy, and plaques dedicated to the memory of local and national heroes.

Amongst these various plaques, tucked away in an obscure corner of the park, resides an obscure memorial to one Francis Salvador:

The plague reads:

Francis Salvador
1747 – 1776
First Jew in South Carolina to hold public office
To Die for American Independence

He came to Charles Town from his native London in 1773 to develop extensive family landholdings in the frontier district of ninety six. As a deputy to the provincial congresses of South Carolina, 1775 and 1776, he served with distinction in the creation of this state and nation, participating as a volunteer in an expedition against Indians and Tories, he was killed from ambush near the Keowee river, August 1, 1776.

Born an aristocrat, he became a democrat, an Englishman, he cast his lot with America.
True to his ancient faith, he gave his life for new hopes of human liberty and understanding.

Erected at the time of the Bicentennial celebration of the Jewish community of Charleston.

Approved by the historical commission of Charleston SC

Chances are that most Americans have never heard of Francis Salvador. If I am being honest, I can't recall ever hearing about him until graduate school, and even then it was only in passing. In reality, Salvador's story isn't all that dramatic, which is probably one of the many reasons he goes relatively unrecognized. Yet despite his historical obscurity, Salvador's story is worthy of our attention, for it is a story of faith, patriotism and sacrifice.

Born in 1747, Salvador was the fortunate decedent of the very successful Joseph Salvador: businessman and leader of the Portuguese Sephardic Jewish community in Britain. Thanks to his sharp business instincts, Joseph Salvador had gained incredible wealth and prestige, which made him the natural choice to become the head of the British East India Company. In addition, Joseph Salvador also became an advocate for impoverished Jews living in Britain, whom he aided by assisting in their settlement in Georgia (a difficult prospect, since Jews were a relatively unwelcome group in the "New World").

Thanks to his family's success, Francis Salvador's early years were spent in luxury. But as is often the case with life, the storms of economic and world turmoil caused the Salvador family to lose much of its wealth and prestige. After the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 destroyed their Portuguese property and the East India Company collapsed, draining the family's resources, the Salvador family was left with only one prospect: immigrate to the American colonies (where they held property) and start anew.

Francis Salvador arrived alone at South Carolina in 1773. His hope was to establish himself on his family's land and then send for his wife (Sarah) and their three children. The timing of his arrival, however, brought a new set of unanticipated challenges that eventually pulled Salvador in a different direction. The fires of the American Revolution, which were blazing hotter with each passing day, led Salvador to become a passionate and vocal voice for American independence. Within a year of his arrival, Salvador won a seat in the South Carolina General Assembly. In 1774, South Carolinians elected Salvador to the Revolutionary Provincial Congress, which began to meet in January 1775, and in which Salvador regularly revealed his passion for the cause of independence.

In addition to his political service to South Carolina, Salvador also fought in the South Carolina Militia, where he earned the nickname, "Southern Paul Revere" for his brave late night ride to warn the countryside of an impending Cherokee attack. And though his service in both the militia and the elected assembly were, by all accounts, exemplary, Salvador's service to the cause of liberty was short-lived. During a military engagement on July 31st, 1776, Salvador was shot and later scapled by a group of hostile Cherokee Indians and local Loyalists. And though he lived long enough to see the militia defeat the Cherokee/Loyalist attack, Salvador eventually succumbed to his wounds and died at the tender age of 29.

The response to Salvador's death was felt throughout the colony. As historian Michael Feldberg points out in his book, Blessings of Freedom:
A Friend, Henry Laurens, reported that Salvador's death was "Universally regretted", while William Henry Drayton, later chief justice of South Carolina, stated that Salvador had "sacrificed his life in the service of his adopted country." Dead at twenty-nine, never again seeing his wife and children after leaving England, Salvador was the first Jew to die in the American Revolution. Ironically, because he was fighting on the frontier, Salvador probably never received the news that the Continental Congress in Philadelphia had, as he urged, adopted the Declaration of Independence.
Francis Salvador's legacy is usually nothing more than a side note in the history books. For the most part, Salvador is remembered for being the first Jew killed in the American Revolution and little more. And though his death is noteworthy, the life of Francis Salvador is deserving of much more than a simple side note or an obscure memorial. In reality, Salvador is the embodiment of what made the American Revolution special. He was a foreigner, a Jew and a wealthy English aristocrat who became a trusted comrade alongside his fellow native, Christian American revolutionaries.

Perhaps the words of his Washington Park memorial capture the true legacy of Francis Salvador best:
Born an aristocrat, he became a democrat; An Englishman, he cast his lot with the Americans; True to his ancient faith, he gave his life; For new hopes of human liberty and understanding.
***Interesting Side note: Despite Salvador's incredible service, the South Carolina Constitution of 1776 prohibited anyone not of the Christian faith from being elected to office. Interesting that the very state, which benefited from Salvador's impeccable service, would prohibit those of his faith from following in his footsteps.***

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Catholic/Protestant Wars in the New World

The traditional view of early colonial historiography has divided the various wars between the England, and France (in both the Old and New Worlds) into separate conflicts that are seemingly unrelated to one another. Instead of seeing these various wars as links in a continuous chain of violence, many historians have chosen to classify these various Franco-English conflicts as unique and individual events. For example, from the latter part of the 17th century to the middle of the 18th, historians have traditionally taken note of four SEPARATE conflicts between the French and the English: King William's War, Queen Anne's War, King George's War and the French and Indian War -- as they were known in the colonies. However, what is often an overlooked fact of these conflicts is the reality that they all shared the same underlying root cause: religious intolerance.

Here is a list of the major Franco-English conflicts during the late 17th and 18th centuries:

Date: In Europe: In America:
In Europe: War of the League of Augsburg
In America: King William's War

In Europe: War of Spanish Succession
In America: Queen Anne's War

In Europe: War of Austrian Succession
In America: King George's War

In Europe: Seven Years' War
In America: The French and Indian War

***Chart taken from A Religious History of the American People by Sydney Ahlstrom, 58.***

From this chart, it is evident that a repeating cycle of violence and intolerance between England and France -- in both the New and Old Worlds -- was keeping these two rival nations in a constant state of war with one another. But what was main cause for such violence? What main factor continued to bring these two neighbors into conflict with one another?

Regardless of what the instigating factors behind each of these individual wars might have been, the common denominator they all shared was a steady stream of religious fervor, which proved to be a major catalyst for war in each occasion. As colonial historian Karen Kupperman points out:
We should not underestimate the emotional force of confrontation between Christians, which has been compared to the Cold War of the twentieth century. Each side believed the other was absolved by its religion of all normal moral and ethical behavior in dealing with the enemy, and capable of the most heinous plots.(From Roanoke: The Abandoned Colony, 4)
For the English, there was nothing worse than facing the possibility of a New World being ruled by the Pope. On the French side, religious passions were every bit as hot as their English foes. As Sydney Ahlstrom points out in his book A Religious History of the American People:
"During the century in which France's colonial aspirations awakened, there also occurred a remarkable resurgence of Catholic piety...In New France the faith and institutions of the Roman church gained a centrality and importance that was equaled in no other empire, not even New Spain." (59-61).
Faced with such religious enthusiasm on the part of the English and the French, it comes as no surprise that this "holy war" (or holy wars) would go unresolved for almost a century.

By choosing to look at these various conflicts through the lens of religious enthusiasm, we can clearly see that these wars were not separate quarrels but were, in fact, linked together through a chain of religious intolerance. English Protestants, still burning with the fires of the Reformation, saw the New World as an additional arena where Catholic supremacy threatened to destroy God's TRUE work. French Catholics, inspired by the resurgence of Catholic piety, sought to spread the Pope's dominion across the seas and choke out the rebellion of the Protestant heretics. As a result, the New World became another stage on which Old World hostilities played out.

No wonder why our Founding Fathers detested organized religion in government so much.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Connecticut (Vermont) Declares Independence

On this day in 1777, the great state of Vermont decided to declare its independence not only from Great Britain but from the neighboring state of New York as well. For years, the settlers in the Vermont area had been asserting their right to break from New York, but were unable to do so. Thanks in part to the efforts of Ethan Allen and his "Green Mountain Boys," Vermont was able to finally able to gain its independence and maintain a relatively neutral stance during the American Revolution.

Origionally named New Connecticut, the state's delegates chose to adopt the new name of Vermont, which is an inaccurate translation of the French phrase "green mountain."

Vermont was also the first state to draft an official constitution. Its constitution was one of the most radical to say the least. It guaranteed every male (reguardless of property status) the right to vote, it abolished slavery (making Vermont the first state to do so), and it gave some rights (mostly property rights) to women. Despite their incredible efforts to gain independence, Vermont was finally incorporated into the United States in 1792, making it the first state outside of the original thirteen colonies to join the union.

The origional flag of Vermont was the same flag that was used by Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys (a picture of the flag is posted at the beginning of this article). The flag has 13 stars in a scattared pattern, which was to represent the scattered and unsettled nature of the early United States. The green color is, of course, representative of the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Power of Angry Words in our Political Discourse

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. ~Ephesians 4:29-32

"Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man."
~Matthew 15:11

"Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth."
~Proverbs 6:2

"The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked."
~Proverbs 10: 11
Today is a sad day for America. Shortly after 10:00 a.m. local Arizona time, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner entered a local grocery store and opened fire at a crowed that had gathered for a peaceful town hall meeting, featuring Congresswoman Gabrielle Gliffords. Sadly, Loughner (and possibly an assailant) succeeded in killing six people, including Federal Judge John Roll and a nine-year-old girl.

The early accounts from investigators is that Mr. Loughner (and a possible accomplice still at large) suffered from "some severe mental issues" that caused him to be "extremely susceptible to political vitriol." Other accounts stated that Mr. Loughner had a deep hatred for our current government, detested non-English speaking immigrants, and was upset over what he saw as monetary conspiracies (click here to see his youtube video)

Now, I want to make it clear right from the beginning that I am not interested in turning this event into a political rant. We can all rest assured that the political pundits and talk radio shock jocks will do their own bang-up job in the coming weeks. Instead I want to focus on something that one of my blog buddies has already addressed, and I hope he'll forgive my "borrowing" of his material. Over at his blog, Christian Salafia writes the following:
The rise of the TeaParty and their “ballot or bullet” style rhetoric has only made things worse. For example, Sarah Palin, in her “20 to target”, had a map on her website with 20 Congressional districts targeted in crosshairs! One of those districts was Arizona Congressional District 8, Gabrielle Giffords’ district. The website has since been scrubbed.

People who support this sort of rhetoric and support the political candidates who say things such as using “2nd Amendment remedies” to deal with your political opponents or telling people “don’t retreat…reload” or showing up to political events armed or carrying signs that say “we came unarmed….this time” bear some of the responsibility for what happened today. There is not a single doubt in my mind about this.

All the arguments about ‘free speech’ or ‘they didn’t actually tell anyone to do it’ or ‘most people know not to shoot anyone’ arguments are, in my mind, complete and utter garbage. They’re simply rationalizations used to mollify their guilt.
I’ve been saying this for over two years now. Violent words will become violent actions.

That. Is. Fact.
Now, I know that some people will be quick to anger when they see accusations being levied at their political comrades and to a point I agree. This isn't a Democrat/Republican thing. Every ideology has their nut-jobs. With that said, I do blame those irresponsible "shock jock" voices on our televisions and radios for helping to create an atmosphere of animosity that has served to incite the intellectually illiterate in the name of patriotism. When people in a position of power irresponsibly spin their rhetoric by using an aggressive tone they may not be guilty of violence themselves but they are guilty of helping to incubate it. This crazy Jared Loughner character is, no doubt, exclusively responsible for pulling the trigger, however, his motives (and all early indications point to political motives) may have deeper roots. How can we possibly expect the weakest and most polluted minds in our society to NOT act rash when they are pumped full of hateful rhetoric? When we hear pastors and pundits encouraging revolution and hatred under the guise of patriotic sanction, can we not expect to reap what we sow?

Again, I am not saying that one political ideology is better than another. I have no political leaning and no agenda in posting this. I didn't vote in the last election and doubt I will vote in the next. I don't care if Barack Obama is president or Mike Huckabee. To each their own is my creed. In addition, I don't presume to believe that we can all set aside our partisan views and join hands in perfect harmony. No generation of Americans (including the founding generation) could do that. With that said, I do believe that the current political dialogue is out of control. We've come to a point where television networks have become more concerned with ratings than with journalistic integrity. They know that violence, fanaticism, and emotionally-charged political punditry sells...and it sells BIG! Telling audiences what they want to hear v. what is true and right has become the standard, and by painting the "other guy" with wide brush strokes, they have reduced our national political discourse to little more than finger-pointing and shouting matches. Liberals are nothing more than evil, fascist, Marxist, Nazi, communist progressives, while conservatives are ignorant, Bible-thumping, gun-loving fanatics. And for the extremely simple-minded or mentally unstable, this "reality" can evolve into a personal crusade, which can become violent.

Now, am I saying that I can conclusively link the violence of today with the political rhetoric of the radio and television? No, and perhaps this nut-job was simply out of his mind. However, I sincerely doubt that anyone out there, including the fans of these various radio "shock jocks", can justify the need to continue the current trend of political fanaticism and intellectual diarrhea. In the end it makes everyone look shameful.

I am reminded of a talk I recently heard from a leader of my faith regarding the sin of pride and its dangerous impact on the individual and society at large. He states:
Pride is a deadly cancer. It is a gateway sin that leads to a host of other human weaknesses. In fact, it could be said that every other sin is, in essence, a manifestation of pride.This sin has many faces. It leads some to revel in their own perceived self-worth, accomplishments, talents, wealth, or position. They count these blessings as evidence of being “chosen,” “superior,” or “more righteous” than others. This is the sin of “Thank God I am more special than you.” At its core is the desire to be admired or envied. It is the sin of self-glorification.For others, pride turns to envy: they look bitterly at those who have better positions, more talents, or greater possessions than they do. They seek to hurt, diminish, and tear down others in a misguided and unworthy attempt at self-elevation. When those they envy stumble or suffer, they secretly cheer.

Perhaps there is no better laboratory to observe the sin of pride than the world of sports. I have always loved participating in and attending sporting events. But I confess there are times when the lack of civility in sports is embarrassing. How is it that normally kind and compassionate human beings can be so intolerant and filled with hatred toward an opposing team and its fans?I have watched sports fans vilify and demonize their rivals. They look for any flaw and magnify it. They justify their hatred with broad generalizations and apply them to everyone associated with the other team. When ill fortune afflicts their rival, they rejoice. Brethren, unfortunately we see today too often the same kind of attitude and behavior spill over into the public discourse of politics, ethnicity, and religion.
May we all be a little more careful with what we say and how we say it!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pastor Rutherford Apologizes

Last week I posted my review of a video on the history of the Star-Spangled Banner. In the video, Pastor Dudley Rutherford of Shepherd of the Hills Church in California shares a story on the origins of our national anthem that wasn't completely historically accurate. The day after posting my review, Pastor Rutherford contacted me via email and shared his regret that some of the points in his video were a bit misleading.

Well, yesterday Pastor Rutherford posted a new video in which he expresses his regret and apologizes for his video on the Star-Spangled Banner. Take a look:

First, let me say how refreshing it is to see somebody who is sincerely interested in historical integrity. Pastor Rutherford, who is not a professional historian, has more "True Grit" (an excellent movie that you should see, BTW) than many professionals in the historical community. I personally know several historians who could NEVER admit when they had made a mistake because their pride, ego and Ph.D. get in the way. I hope that I can follow Pastor Rutherford's example when I get my history wrong in the future.

Let's be clear here, there are no winners or losers in this debate. Nobody has been proven wrong and nobody is keeping score. This is history, not hockey. Pastor Rutherford's apology is not an admission of guilt but rather a determination to get the history right. And as a result, he comes off the victor. Like I said, I sincerely hope that all of us at my group blog (American Creation), and the historical community in general, can learn for Pastor Rutherford's brilliant example. Admitting error leads to growth, persisting in one's mistake only makes the individual look like a fool.

Pastor Dudley Rutherford is no fool.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Heartbreaking Loss

On New Year's Eve of 1775, the American forces under Benedict Arnold and Richard Montgomery were defeated in their late night attack on Quebec. Having arrived at the city almost a month prior, both Arnold and Montgomery were hopeful that they could force the British from their strongholds by surrounding the city and bombarding it with canon fire. Much to their dismay, the British were well supplied and entrenched, and the Canadian population was not eager to support the American cause of liberty as Arnold, Montgomery and even Washington had hoped. As a result, the "rebels" were forced to attack the city on December 31 with everything they had. With year enlistments coming up, along with a horrific shortage of food and supplies, both Arnold and Montgomery knew that they would not be able to hold out for long. Simply put, the attack became an all-or-nothing roll of the dice.

The outcome was disastrous for the Americans. Of the 900 American soldiers who participated in the assault, 100 were killed and another 400 were taken prisoner -- the British only lost 6 in the assault. Among the casualties was none other than General Montgomery, who was killed in the attack. Colonel Benedict Arnold was also severely wounded in the leg, which forced him to relinquish command -- albeit temporarily -- to Daniel Morgan, who had the presence of mind to call off a second assault on the city.

For Washington and the rest of the Continental Army the news of the defeat at Quebec was a terrible pill to swallow. Both Washington and his aides, along with several members of the Continental Congress had hoped that an assault on Quebec would inspire British Canadians to their cause and cut off the British in the north.

They were wrong.