May 20th, 2008

Monarchial Remnants


photo credit: Aaverage Joe

During my time in Scotland, I was able to learn a great deal of history not only of that country, but of England as well. The two nations have their differences, but they intersect in the timeline of history on numerous occasions, as their relations have been fraught with war and conflict.

Touring the many castles, museums, and historical locations, I witnessed repeatedly an odd mentality that seemed completely foreign to me: reverence for monarchy.

My liberty-based education has inculcated in me a profound belief in individual sovereignty and independence. This principle is taught well in our nation’s founding documents. Our Founders fought to throw off the shackles of tyranny imposed by England’s monarchy, allowing for the creation of a Constitutional Republic to perpetuate the freedom they secured.

With our nation’s history, it’s difficult not to despise monarchy. We find all men to be equal, and respect the power of the people. This stands in stark contrast to the mentality which regards one person as being somehow entitled to rule and riches simply on account of their family line. Calling a toddler “Lord” seems downright ridiculous.

But the remnants of monarchy are alive and well in the “United” Kingdom. Tourists could be seen everywhere glowing in delight over the display of riches, wealth, and heirlooms owned by their present and past leaders. And though the power of the monarchy may have faded in recent years, there apparently are still enough people in this world who believe that other individuals can—merely by birthright—claim power over them.

I pity such people.

103 Responses to “Monarchial Remnants”

  1. Daniel
    May 21, 2008 at 1:10 am #

    Ugh. Tell me about it. In Australia, the Queen is still the nominal head of state. It’ll probably take a generation or so before Australia becomes an independent republic, but it’ll happen.

    In the meantime, the supermarket tabloids are full of royal stories. Are you similarly afflicted across the pond? I view curiosity about the royal family to be just about as noxious as monarchy itself.

  2. annje
    May 21, 2008 at 7:04 am #

    I think that the draw is the celebrity. We hear about the monarchy and hollywood, our monarchy of priviledge and excess…its like any other perpetually novel thing…so far outside the realm of normalcy that normal people cannot imagine such priviledge, so they read about it and daydream. sad but true, especially since both have been reduced to mere distractions to keep eyes fixed on blathering silliness instead of what’s being done to our countries. UK is not even sovereign anymore, but the people have yet to find that out. The EU runs britain now.

  3. Ronan
    May 22, 2008 at 8:40 am #

    I pity such people.

    How very charitable of you, sir. Look, I understand ideological objections to the Queen, but it’s clear to me that you have no idea about British history, government, society, or the principal of constitutional monarchy. If you think the UK is a nation of fawning idiots at odds with the basic principals of human liberty then I pity this famed “liberty-based education” of yours because it has failed, utterly.

  4. Connor
    May 22, 2008 at 9:09 am #

    Ronan,

    Look, I understand ideological objections to the Queen, but it’s clear to me that you have no idea about British history, government, society, or the principal [sic] of constitutional monarchy.

    Being from the UK, I’m not surprised you took offense to my remarks. :) While my knowledge of specifics in British history are not thorough and noteworthy, I feel I know enough to comment on the matter.

    If you think the UK is a nation of fawning idiots at odds with the basic principals of human liberty then I pity this famed “liberty-based education” of yours because it has failed, utterly.

    Nowhere did I accuse all UK citizens of being “fawning idiots”. I’m only referring here to people who reverence monarchy in any fashion. For all I know, there are droves of people in the UK (and in other countries with some fashion of monarchy) that oppose that government setup and would prefer a Republic.

  5. Ronan
    May 22, 2008 at 9:29 am #

    Connor,

    That’s brilliant. You only pity those of us who reverence the monarchy, which would include “fawning idiots” like me. It would also include many British Mormons, if that’s worth anything to you, and most church leaders who have spoken warmly about the monarchy when on British soil. I well remember a Stake Conference presided over by the late Elder Hugh Pinnock. His entire talk was a screed against monarch-bashing by the British media (you’d approve of their irreverence, I’m sure) and a plea that British Mormons accord the Queen due respect and, um, reverence. Do you pity him?

    We observe republics from near and afar (France, USA) and see no increase in liberty or prosperity in their countries as a result. Personally, I am happy to reverence a head of state who remains unchanging and apolitical and who has reminded prime ministers from Winston Churchill to Gordon Brown that state power is embodied by an institution greater than any politician.

    Connor, your pity for the majority of monarch-supporting Britons is insulting. Given the Special Relationship that our two countries are supposed to enjoy, I am saddened that there are Americans like yourself who carry notions with the patina of 1776 Philadelphia.

  6. Connor
    May 22, 2008 at 9:49 am #

    It would also include many British Mormons, if that’s worth anything to you, and most church leaders who have spoken warmly about the monarchy when on British soil.

    This could be for any number of reasons, including the Lord’s counsel to make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness. Speaking warmly of current political leaders is a smart move, politically, for a church whose mission it is to enter into all countries to preach the gospel. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t better solutions, nor that the present one is the best.

    I well remember a Stake Conference presided over by the late Elder Hugh Pinnock. His entire talk was a screed against monarch-bashing by the British media (you’d approve of their irreverence, I’m sure) and a plea that British Mormons accord the Queen due respect and, um, reverence. Do you pity him?

    His counsel was obviously for those to whom his words were directed, not for people in other locations that might prefer other forms of government. I tend to agree with Alma:

    But he said unto them: Behold, it is not expedient that we should have a king; for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another; therefore I say unto you it is not expedient that ye should have a king. (Mosiah 23:7)

    We observe republics from near and afar (France, USA) and see no increase in liberty or prosperity in their countries as a result.

    To be sure, there is a vast difference between the USA’s current form of government and the Constitutional Republic it was intended to be by the founders. I’ve never championed our current government as ideal (in fact, I’ve continually railed against it, insofar as it strays from the Constitution), so I’ll agree with you that there is no increase in liberty or prosperity as a result of what we’re currently stuck with.

    Given the Special Relationship that our two countries are supposed to enjoy, I am saddened that there are Americans like yourself who carry notions with the patina of 1776 Philadelphia.

    I’m not sure what supposed “Special Relationship” you refer to, other than friendly relations and commerce between countries. While our countries have warmer relations as of late, it’s impossible to forget the history of 1776 and the very reasons for which our country was created. That principle of liberty, suppressed and ignored as it is in our day, deserves to be championed by people throughout the world (including those living under monarchy), despite some writing it off as “notions with the patina of 1776 Philadelphia”. Oh that we had the same caliber of men in the governments of our day…

  7. Ronan
    May 22, 2008 at 10:11 am #

    Well, contra Alma, you may remember that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young approved of kingship and hereditary privilege. Was that included in your “liberty-based” education? As for your insinuation that Mormons are playing some form of political game when they accord respect to the Queen, well, I’d stop now if I were you. Elder Pinnock would kick your Ron Paulian ar*e. I don’t think Gordon Bitner Hinckley — arch Anglophile that he was — would be happy about your condescending attitude towards 50 million Britons either. But you are free to hold to your political Golden Calf if you want.

    Re: your ignorance of the term “Special Relationship,” I congratulate you for proving my original point as to your knowledge of British affairs. Clearly you know very little about 20th century North Atlantic politics.

    And finally, 1776. Much as I think that George Bush is a stain on the American nation, at least he’s not a slave-owner. Connor, do not pine for the halycon days of yore. In the free world, there are many systems of government, all flawed in some way. No need to insult whole peoples or speak as one not having authority. No-one is asking America to embrace the Queen, but do not talk rubbish to those of us who do.

  8. kris
    May 22, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    Agree with Ronan completely although the post doesn’t offend just Britons, but the entire Commonwealth. I really don’t see a great difference in liberty either and quite frankly think we have more to fear from war-mongering politicians who place primacy upon the right to bear arms.

  9. RoastedTomatoes
    May 22, 2008 at 10:24 am #

    Connor, this entire line of argument on your part does seem a bit one-sided. Bagehot’s discussion of the distinction between dignified and efficient aspects of government seems central here. The monarchy in Britain is a dignified aspect of government; among other things, it is a symbol of national unity, an institution of statecraft, and a living symbol of the continuity of the state across partisan governments. The U.S. system combines efficient and dignified aspects of government, especially in the person of the president. This has the negative consequence that the respect and deference due to national symbols is given to a partisan politician. British monarchy avoids this problem. As such, constitutional monarchy may be a sensible way for some societies to institutionalize liberty — rather than a check of some kind on that liberty.

  10. Tracy M
    May 22, 2008 at 10:33 am #

    This could be for any number of reasons, including the Lord’s counsel to make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness.

    This statement physically shocked me- I had to blink hard and re-read.

    Connor, do you have any idea how many people you are insulting? Or that you are doing so in a base, plebian way?

    The Monarchy and the houses of Parliament are how the Commonwealth people have chosen to govern themselves. It is inappropriate, to say the least, to make blanket statements about the choices of those free people.

  11. Ray
    May 22, 2008 at 10:33 am #

    Since monarchy is our ultimate ideal, it’s hard to understand a sweeping indictment of the idea, in and of itself.

  12. kevinf
    May 22, 2008 at 10:51 am #

    Connor, even if some of us Yanks do feel the British reverence for monarchy sometimes seems silly, I don’t see it as much different than our reverence for our Founding Fathers (and Mothers). Everybody has flaws, and so do all political systems. Our British cousins actually still are one example of how to try and run an enlightened democracy, and I don’t see them as any less successful at it than we in the US.

    Your choice of the words “pity such people” seems silly in and of itself. Pity implies a condescending and judgmental attitude that doesn’t feel appropriate at all. Amused, bewildered, or perplexed, perhaps, but pity? Not so much.

  13. Sam B.
    May 22, 2008 at 10:57 am #

    Connor,
    You come off as a jerk here, unfortunately maligning many of your fellow U.S. citizens who have gotten over the hard feelings of the revolutionary war and realize that the world—including the world of political systems—isn’t an either-or, black-white one. I can’t add anything to what RT said, and his command of political philosophy crushes mine. I do want to ask, though, what you mean by individual sovereignty. Is it some anarchist or libertarian nirvana of nonexistent government? Because, while that might work, it’s never happened historically that I’m aware of. Especially not in the United States, which is as much a land of law (and always has been, having imported England’s common law tradition initially wholesale) as any other Commonwealth or civil law nation.

    As for the “pity” comment, the only way that’s not hugely offensive is if you’re channeling Mr. T. And even then, it’s pretty darn offensive.

  14. craig
    May 22, 2008 at 11:03 am #

    This article is rather odd. The Queen is simply a tourist attraction in the UK she holds no power other than that of formalities.
    The UK as a nation nets over 2500% more revenue in tourism to royal attractions than what it costs to have the UK keep the monarchy. Sounds like good business sense to me, to keep having a stream of Americans visiting Britain with their long shorts, baseball caps and goaty beards saying “Wow I can’t believe this castle is over 300 years old”. Its probably worth it, even if the Brits have to endure such people!
    No more rights, priveleges and freedoms are granted to American citizens because of the lauded constituition than to Brits.

  15. Steve Evans
    May 22, 2008 at 11:13 am #

    Do they have one of these in Scotland? I think not.

  16. Jeff T
    May 22, 2008 at 11:19 am #

    I think that we, as Latter-day Saints, recognize that authority to govern men must come from somewhere. Men cannot righteously manufacture authority govern out of thin air. It must come from God, or the people they govern. In biblical scripture, this is why it was often the Lord’s spokesman, the prophet, that chose and anointed the king. The king had been given authority from God to govern. Later on, due to unrighteousness, kings lost that authority, and were then operating under their own authority, which didn’t exist.

    Because we know of no one authorized by God to govern, we have set up a government where that authority comes from the governed. As such, we have (or should have) a government with very little authority… only so much authority as we as a people delegate to it.

    The only thoroughly righteous government outside a divinely authorized king is a government authorized by the people… This is clearly taught by King Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. He feared that through unrighteousness, a future king would lose his divine authority and lead the people into apostasy. To prevent this, he set up a system of government led by the people.

    So my conclusion is, monarchy unauthorized by God has derived its authority to govern from nowhere except genealogy, which isn’t God’s will. Respecting and participating in this apostate form of government, however, isn’t necessarily against God’s will, because he wants us to be law-abiding citizens wherever we live. Because monarchy today is bereft of divine authorization, it is apostate… in the same way the modern university is an apostate remnant of the ancient temple. To participate in it and to support it isn’t evil, but to reverence it and worship it without recognizing its roots and limitations is problematic. (The same way I, recognizing the apostate roots of the modern university, still plan to work at a university someday)

  17. Connor
    May 22, 2008 at 11:22 am #

    Ronan,

    Well, contra Alma, you may remember that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young approved of kingship and hereditary privilege.

    In what context? Joseph’s presidential platform had this to say of U.S. government:

    In the United States the people are the government; and their united voice is the only sovereign that should rule; the only power that should be obeyed; and the only gentlemen that should be honored; at home and abroad; on the land and the sea.

    Granted, he was not opining on the best form of government, but the one that the United States was set up to enjoy. However, the Lord’s divine approval of the Constitution—indeed, saying that the principles contained therein were for all people—give a pretty big seal of approval on what the Founders intended for this land.

    As for your insinuation that Mormons are playing some form of political game when they accord respect to the Queen, well, I’d stop now if I were you.

    I’m not making any such claim, so please don’t put words in my mouth. I was not referring to Mormons as a whole, but instead to leaders of the Church who wield influence and who can be held accountable for the actions and policies of the Church.

    But as I said, there could be any number of reasons why such things would be said, including your insinuation that speaking warmly indicates approval. I explored this topic a little more in this post, basically arguing that there could be any number of reasons for the actions and words of Church leaders in a geopolitical context.

    I don’t think Gordon Bitner Hinckley — arch Anglophile that he was — would be happy about your condescending attitude towards 50 million Britons either.

    Again, you are misrepresenting my argument. I’m not painting Britain with a broad brush, but instead am commenting on people who revere monarchy. You may be right that 50 million of them love it and would prefer to keep this as is, but I can’t speak to that.

    This isn’t so much about the historical role of the monarch, or the current and limited office and power of the monarchy. Instead, my commentary focuses on the individuals who prefer this form of government, and treat other people as somehow higher than themselves.

    Re: your ignorance of the term “Special Relationship,” I congratulate you for proving my original point as to your knowledge of British affairs. Clearly you know very little about 20th century North Atlantic politics.

    How is the USA’s relationship with the UK any more “special” than that with other countries. Does Britain’s participation in the “war on terror” somehow elevate it to being “special”? Sure, there are treaties and joint policies galore between the two entities, but I’m not sure that makes it special.

    And finally, 1776. Much as I think that George Bush is a stain on the American nation, at least he’s not a slave-owner.

    Giving himself the power to lock people up indefinitely is basically the same thing, if not worse.

    No need to insult whole peoples or speak as one not having authority.

    I apologize if my remarks come off as insulting. Perhaps pity is a strong word I should not use so lightly. My point might be equally made—though more appropriately worded—if I simply said that I disagree with people who prefer monarchy and see nothing wrong with it.

    kris,

    I really don’t see a great difference in liberty either and quite frankly think we have more to fear from war-mongering politicians who place primacy upon the right to bear arms.

    As I commented earlier, I fully agree that the USA’s current government is nothing to be championed. The UK’s got a myriad problems of its own that I oppose, but our own government’s policies—both foreign and domestic—are frequent targets of my criticism.

    RoastedTomatoes,

    The monarchy in Britain is a dignified aspect of government; among other things, it is a symbol of national unity, an institution of statecraft, and a living symbol of the continuity of the state across partisan governments.

    An interesting point, but I see the monarchy as more of a symbol of tyranny and historical imperialism. The current form is a far cry from its ancestral version, but if it’s symbolism we’re talking about, we can’t completely disconnect the office from those who previously ruled.

    The monarchy in Britain is a dignified aspect of government; among other things, it is a symbol of national unity, an institution of statecraft, and a living symbol of the continuity of the state across partisan governments.

    I might agree more with this statement if the constitutional monarchy was based upon a codified constitution. Without one, the government can change policy with any shift of the wind, and thus becomes more of a parliamentary democracy, passing whatever laws it chooses.

    Tracy M,

    This statement physically shocked me- I had to blink hard and re-read.

    Connor, do you have any idea how many people you are insulting? Or that you are doing so in a base, plebian way?

    Lest you think I’m pointing the finger at the Queen and none else, I have cited that scripture numerous times in discussing the relations between the Church and our own government, as well as other governments. The Church’s clarion call is to carry the gospel throughout the world, but we can’t do that effectively if leaders are commenting on and criticizing policies of governments. I believe, and I very well may be off base in this assumption, that this is one of the reasons our leaders don’t speak on political matters as much as they once did. In the internet age, word travels at light speed, and their words can easily be used against the Church to hinder the progress of preaching the gospel. So, perhaps, this is one possible interpretation of that “mammon of unrighteousness” scripture I cited above.

    The Monarchy and the houses of Parliament are how the Commonwealth people have chosen to govern themselves. It is inappropriate, to say the least, to make blanket statements about the choices of those free people.

    A popular vote does not imply that the policy is proper or optimal. The Founders spoke repeatedly of the “tyranny of the majority”, a scenario where the majority of the people chose something that was not in harmony with proper governmental principles. The Book of Mormon speaks to that as well.

    Now, lest you become physically shocked by my reference to that scripture, I’m not saying that people who choose monarchy are wicked. I am saying, however, that simply because people choose to govern themselves according to a certain fashion, that does not mean that their form of government cannot be criticized, nor another preferred.

    Or, as Elder Callister once said, “Truth has never been dependent on the number who embrace it.”

    Ray,

    Since monarchy is our ultimate ideal, it’s hard to understand a sweeping indictment of the idea, in and of itself.

    Monarchy with God as our ruler, and monarchy with another human being as our leader are two entirely different things.

    kevinf,

    Connor, even if some of us Yanks do feel the British reverence for monarchy sometimes seems silly, I don’t see it as much different than our reverence for our Founding Fathers

    The latter earned the respect and allegiance they were/are given, whereas the former did not.

    Your choice of the words “pity such people” seems silly in and of itself. Pity implies a condescending and judgmental attitude that doesn’t feel appropriate at all. Amused, bewildered, or perplexed, perhaps, but pity? Not so much.

    Agreed. As I said above to Ronan, my choice in words could certainly have been better. It’s little surprise that so many have commented in opposition, since I’ve come across here as condescending. I apologize to those who feel this way, and again wish to clarify that I don’t mean to be demeaning, but simply disagree with people who consider another individual as entitled to power or privileged based solely on birth.

    Sam,

    I do want to ask, though, what you mean by individual sovereignty. Is it some anarchist or libertarian nirvana of nonexistent government?

    What I meant by that was the recognition in this nation’s founding documents that the power is in the people. Some other nations have incorporated this recognition into their own constitutions and laws, though it was revolutionary for such a declaration to take place 200+ years ago. Individual sovereignty implies that the people are able to rule themselves, and delegate certain powers to the government. The people are the boss, and the government works for them. This stands in contrast to any fashion of monarchy, which presumes that people are granted certain rights based upon the whims and desires of the birthright-empowered monarch.

    Steve,

    The link you posted assumes, erroneously, that the liberty-based education I refer to has been provided by George Wythe College. Your attempt to cast GWC in a negative light by posting correspondence between a staff member and a “fictitious personality” smells like a tactic used by anti-mormons to cast the entire religion in a negatively light based upon the actions or words of a single member. Shame on you.

  18. Josh
    May 22, 2008 at 11:33 am #

    Monarchy has its benefits for the people they preside over. Constitutional monarchy gives the nation a symbol of unity while at the same time giving a leader to the people who stays above the political fray.

  19. Steve Evans
    May 22, 2008 at 11:33 am #

    No, I suspect you received your liberty-based education floating down the Ole Miss on a raft with Jim.

    Casting GWC in a negative light is neither anti->ormon nor particularly difficult, incidentally. Any state official in charge of academic accreditation could do the same.

  20. gst
    May 22, 2008 at 11:34 am #

    Yeah, Steve, that was totally out of bounds. Making fun of Connor because he gives $18,000 a year to an unaccredited college that apparently has a hotel doorman (see second to last paragraph) on the faculty is dirty pool.

  21. Josh
    May 22, 2008 at 11:42 am #

    Perhaps, Connor, your anti-monarchist views are influenced by Biblical and Book of Mormon examples? You’d rather that “righteous judges” preside over the people?

    It should be remembered that Britain’s Royal Family do a lot of charity work and perform many public functions as the leaders of the nation. Lately, Princes William and Harry of Wales have joined a long tradition of Royals serving their nation in Uniform. Not many Brits and Americans can boast of sacrificing/risking one’s life for their country. Not even you, Connor.

  22. Connor
    May 22, 2008 at 11:49 am #

    It should be remembered that Britain’s Royal Family do a lot of charity work and perform many public functions as the leaders of the nation.

    I don’t necessarily see this as a reason to prefer monarchy. Okay, so they give away some of their money. Is that a reason to keep them in office as is? If George Bush gives foreign aid to a country (with taxpayers’ money, of course), is that a reason to forgive and dismiss his numerous wrongdoings?

    Lately, Princes William and Harry of Wales have joined a long tradition of Royals serving their nation in Uniform. Not many Brits and Americans can boast of sacrificing/risking one’s life for their country. Not even you, Connor.

    Serving in an immoral war is hardly a praiseworthy endeavor.

  23. Ronan
    May 22, 2008 at 11:51 am #

    Connor,
    You just don’t get it. Your view of monarchy is lifted from some weird ancient universe. I’m starting to doubt that you went to Scotland. Is there any chance you had a strange dream after watching Highlander? Respect for the Queen is something the woman has earned after a lifetime of dignified service to her country. If you knew anything about Britain, you would know this. Irreverence is a national sport. The Queen rises above the fray because of what she has done, not because of who she is. Josh’s point is apropos: in the royal family we have commanders-in-chief who actually fight.

    As to your points:

    1. Joseph Smith was anointed as a king in Nauvoo. For early Mormons, the idea of hereditary blood was very important.

    2. Your point about the constitution is a non-sequitur. That God approved of the US constitution does not mean that all other forms of government are wrong. (Jeff’s use of “apostate” is just another kick in the teeth of non-American Mormons who have to constantly put up with such blather.) Read D&C 134: all governments (republican or not) “were instituted by God” and are approved by him so long as they guarantee certain rights. My country and your country are so approved, in theory.

    3. Please inform yourself as to the UK-US “Special Relationship.” Hint: it’s older than Tony Blair.

    4. I am still utterly unimpressed by this notion you are peddling that church leaders from President Hinckley to Elder Pinnock only speak positively about the Queen to make nice with the British. Do we really have such calculating, dishonest leaders?

  24. Jeff T
    May 22, 2008 at 11:52 am #

    Once again, I refer to my earlier post…

    It doesn’t matter how much good or bad a particular government or individual does if they don’t have the authority to do it. The only true source of authority is God… thus the only truly righteous monarchy is a divinely authorized king, anointed by the Lord or one of his servants (as was done in scripture). Any other is apostate. An apostate organization is any organization that operates without or beyond its divinely given authority, or that claims authority it doesn’t have.

    A government may be authorized by the people on the same premise… the people can only delegate power to the government that God has already granted them. Thus, we can only delegate authority to the government that we ourselves already have, such as the authority to defend our life and property from others, etc.

    So to the extent that our government extends itself beyond its constitutional authority, it too is apostate, because it claims authority that it doesn’t have.

    By claiming that our is also apostate and has much less authority than it claims, am I insulting all Americans? I hope you don’t think so, and in the same way I don’t believe that Connor is insulting all the British by questioning the apostate authority of lineage.

  25. Ronan
    May 22, 2008 at 11:56 am #

    Jeff T,
    This is some weird stuff you are selling and utterly contrary to D&C 134. Let me guess, you hate the UN and own a machine gun plus five years’ worth of food.

    Connor,
    You oppose the effort to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban then?

  26. Jeff T
    May 22, 2008 at 12:00 pm #

    Uh, I don’t think it’s contrary to D&C 134, and it is almost word for word from teachings of modern prophets.

    When God, speaking of the Constitution, said the anything more or less is evil, then it is fairly safe to say that when the U.S. government exceeds its constitutional role, that it is going against God’s will.

    King Noah was an apostate king and led an apostate government… does making that claim insult any righteous saint who lived under his dominion? Not at all.

  27. Connor
    May 22, 2008 at 12:02 pm #

    Respect for the Queen is something the woman has earned after a lifetime of dignified service to her country. If you knew anything about Britain, you would know this.

    This lifetime service was only rendered because of the family she was born in. I honor civil servants, but prefer those who are elected or empowered by the people.

    Joseph Smith was anointed as a king in Nauvoo.

    There is a difference between being anointed king by the people (i.e. elected as a king), and earning the title by birth.

    I am still utterly unimpressed by this notion you are peddling that church leaders from President Hinckley to Elder Pinnock only speak positively about the Queen to make nice with the British. Do we really have such calculating, dishonest leaders?

    I’m not saying that this is always the case, nor is it the case in all relations. Heck, I’ve even admitted that it may not be the case at all. But praising somebody for specific good actions is one thing, and rubber stamping all their actions by giving them general praise and support is another. I’m simply offering what could be one interpretation of the scripture, but since I don’t know the mind of the Lord, nor of His servants, I can’t say for sure.

  28. Jeff T
    May 22, 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    And, Ronan, yes I hate the UN and I have several years of food. So? God asked us to get food storage. You act as if having a food storage is a bad thing. And the principles of the UN violate the proper role of government…

  29. Connor
    May 22, 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    You oppose the effort to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban then?

    By whom? By Afghanistan? Certainly not. By a coalition of numerous other countries? Yes. By countries who the Taliban has attacked? No, as long as the harboring state plays nice and helps in pursuing the perpetrators of the crime.

    But my opinions on the war can be found on other threads.

  30. Ronan
    May 22, 2008 at 12:08 pm #

    Since I don’t know the mind of the Lord, nor of His servants, I can’t say for sure.

    Voila! Or is that too French? Those aristocracy-beheading Gauls! You probably like Robespierre, n’est-ce pas?

    Jeff,
    Given that we share such radically different assumptions about the world, I think it’s best I get in my car and drive home.

  31. Jeff T
    May 22, 2008 at 12:09 pm #

    Ronan,
    You disapprove of food storage?

  32. gst
    May 22, 2008 at 12:15 pm #

    I’m currently storing about 600 Big Macs in my subcutaneous fat.

  33. Ronan
    May 22, 2008 at 12:18 pm #

    Jeff,
    The Queen has banned us from having food storage unless it comes in UN packages and is laced with mind-numbing drugs.

  34. Adam Greenwood
    May 22, 2008 at 12:18 pm #

    Can anyone point out exactly how respecting the queen is tyrannical or oppressive? I’m an American so republicanism is in my blood, but if other people want to retain national symbols and institutions that do no real harm, let ’em. I dont’ feel debased by saluting the flag (which I didn’t elect) or by swearing my oath to the Constitution (which I never voted for), so I don’t see why britons should feel debased by giving the Queen the respect that custom demands.

    The scriptures do not support the notion that democracy is, in itself, the only moral system of government. They do suggest that governments should try to promote freedom and virtue, and that this is more likely to happen when ‘the voice of the people’ is involved in the governance process. But last I checked the UK did involve the voice of the people in the governance process. Ronan can correct me if I’m wrong–perhaps ‘election’ has some obscure meaning in the UK context that I am misinterpreting.

  35. mark IV
    May 22, 2008 at 12:18 pm #

    Food storage is unconstitutional.

  36. Adam Greenwood
    May 22, 2008 at 12:20 pm #

    One other thought–
    custom is the democracy of the dead, Chesterton tells us, so obviously people who are against customs like the British monarchy are tyrants who want to lord it over people who have already had the misfortune of dying. Right? Oppressive bastards.

  37. Adam Greenwood
    May 22, 2008 at 12:21 pm #

    Ronan doesn’t disapprove of food storage, per se, but he is only icily polite when he meets it in company. Unless, of course, it were titled food storage.

  38. Josh
    May 22, 2008 at 12:23 pm #

    “Serving in an immoral war is hardly a praiseworthy endeavor.”

    I don’t mean to sound harsh but that statement is pretty ignorant, Connor. We have a standing military in America and we need one. We need people to take an oath and take up arms to defend this country because in spite of what you or anyone else thinks of Iraq we still have many enemies who wish us ill. Once someone joins the military they have very little say in where they are sent but they accept it and recognize it as being a necessary fact of life in the service.

  39. Ronan
    May 22, 2008 at 12:23 pm #

    Adam,
    I’m all a-flutter that you and I agree on something. If people find themselves to the right of M Greenwood, they have truly dropped off the earth. That said, isn’t monarchy a right-wing project anyway? You know, it’s deliciously conservative. So maybe we’ve gone so far right that we’ve landed in 1917 Russia and have the Czar in our sights.

    Um, yeah, so yeah, I think we have elections here.

  40. Adam Greenwood
    May 22, 2008 at 12:25 pm #

    Shouldn’t it be “monarchical”?

  41. Connor
    May 22, 2008 at 12:27 pm #

    Shouldn’t it be “monarchical”?

    Both monarchial and monarchical are in the Oxford dictionary.

  42. Josh
    May 22, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    Soldiers don’t pick their wars, Connor, is what I’m trying to say. Just like missionaries don’t pick their missions. I’m sure you can understand that.

  43. Adam Greenwood
    May 22, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    If people find themselves to the right of M Greenwood, they have truly dropped off the earth.

    You need to meet more conservatives. I’m only a moderate conservative as these things go. If I were more on the extreme I’d either be foaming at the mouth like our host or else demanding that her sovereign majesty prorogue Parliament and institute personal rule.

    So, uh, these elections, they involve ballots and stuff? They’re not actually a quaint British term for cockfights (pronouned ‘cots’)?

  44. Adam Greenwood
    May 22, 2008 at 12:33 pm #

    pronouned pronounced

    I don’t want to know what the correct pronoun for a cockfight is.

  45. Connor
    May 22, 2008 at 12:33 pm #

    Soldiers don’t pick their wars, Connor, is what I’m trying to say. Just like missionaries don’t pick their missions. I’m sure you can understand that.

    Sure, but any mission is an honorable cause in the service of the Lord. Wars, however, are not all honorable, justified, and moral.

  46. Josh
    May 22, 2008 at 12:35 pm #

    “Sure, but any mission is an honorable cause in the service of the Lord. Wars, however, are not all honorable, justified, and moral.”

    It’s all according to one’s viewpoint I guess. What if the Church is a lie? Then you would have spent two years peddling a lie to people, quite possibly damning them, too.

  47. Ronan
    May 22, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    Adam,
    Brace yourself: we actually do have real ballot boxes. The recent London mayoral election (the mayor, of course, serves at HM’s pleasure) took 24 hours to call because they had to hand-count the ballots. Imagine that! No machines!

    Connor,
    Let me compliment you on your nifty comments-box-timer-thing. Very cool. I don’t agree with your soldiers-should-choose-their-wars rhetoric though.

  48. Josh
    May 22, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    Anyways, getting back to the theme of monarchy vs. Republicanism, each culture has its form of government that works for it. The British have seen fit to preserve the Monarchy even though it has developed a democratic government.

    Why does America keep the Constitution? I think it’s because of tradition, as well, at least in part. We revered the Framers because we consider their ideas to be good and necessary.

  49. Adam Greenwood
    May 22, 2008 at 12:40 pm #

    The honor of a soldier is to obey orders, be courageous and creative in fulfilling them out, protect the country’s interest to the best of his abilities, and to not commit atrocities.

    Within those frameworks, soldiers can obviously give honorable and heroic service in a bad cause.

    They can even do it while knowing the cause is bad.

  50. Connor
    May 22, 2008 at 12:42 pm #

    I don’t agree with your soldiers-should-choose-their-wars rhetoric though.

    I’m not advocating that soldiers should choose their wars. I’m simply pointing out that not all wars are moral.

    I’m reminded of the numerous times we as LDS speak highly of Alexander Doniphan who refused an order to execute Joseph Smith, saying that if his superior proceeded anyways, he would hold him accountable before an earthly tribunal. If we love that story so much (since the victim-to-be was one of our own), wouldn’t the golden rule imply that similar actions should happen with others who are subjected to wrongful military actions?

  51. Adam Greenwood
    May 22, 2008 at 12:44 pm #

    Ronan,
    I am shocked and appalled by what you tell me. Could it be that despite being damn foreigners y’all have universal manhood suffrage and even female suffrage? My worldview can’t take much more of this.

  52. gst
    May 22, 2008 at 12:44 pm #

    Both monarchial and monarchical are in the Oxford dictionary.

    Shouldn’t you be citing to Webster’s instead?

  53. Adam Greenwood
    May 22, 2008 at 12:47 pm #

    I second that about the comments-box timer thing. I wish every blog had it.

  54. Connor
    May 22, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    Shouldn’t you be citing to Webster’s instead?

    The Oxford one comes pre-installed on my computer, so it’s the easiest to use. :)

  55. Josh
    May 22, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    I’m glad to see some people who understand what being a soldier is about. I don’t expect everyone to serve in the military but I would like for everyone to at least understand the difference between the people in government who set the policy and the people in the military who carry it out.

  56. Adam Greenwood
    May 22, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    Webster’s would be better. Its important to get the Queen’s English right.

  57. gst
    May 22, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    SGT Greenwood (ret.) understands soldiering.

  58. Adam Greenwood
    May 22, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    At least the British don’t have rule of law. I watched one of their so-called ‘courtrooms’ and it was a charade.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmgJqmN3mq4

    (skip ahead a bit).

  59. Steve Evans
    May 22, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    “Shouldn’t you be citing to Webster’s instead?”

    One would think that an Oxfordian educational model would insist on an OED. Alas.

  60. Ronan
    May 22, 2008 at 12:52 pm #

    The Oxford one comes pre-installed on my computer

    That’s some James Bond shiz, man. Did the Queen have MI6* steal your computer and have OED installed just to mess with your head?

    _______
    *MI6 = the British Secret Intelligence Service. Among other things, they try to support the Special Relationship. Remember how Bond is good friends with Felix?

  61. Norbert
    May 22, 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    Brace yourself: we actually do have real ballot boxes.

    Oh, Ronan, are we forgetting the excitement of postal ballots?

    Connor — thanks for an entertaining evening. Perhaps trying to work out why many countries in the world have maintained constitutional monarchies rather than spouting some quarter-baked idears about despising monarchy would attract less ire.

    And I’m wondering about your the use of quotation marks in “United” Kingdom. Wha?

  62. Adam Greenwood
    May 22, 2008 at 1:03 pm #

    Norbert, Norbert, Norbert . . .
    tsk, tsk.

  63. Connor
    May 22, 2008 at 1:05 pm #

    And I’m wondering about your the use of quotation marks in “United” Kingdom. Wha?

    See here.

  64. Ronan
    May 22, 2008 at 1:11 pm #

    Nah. That article is from 2006. The further Scotland gets from Braveheart (that damn Commonwealther Gibson!), the less secessionist they feel. Funny thing is, even the Scottish National Party only wants to wind the back the clock to 1707, the union of the parliaments. The royal union of 1603 would continue to stand, thus the kingdom would remain “united.”

    (Wikipedia did not bring you this information.)

  65. Josh
    May 22, 2008 at 1:26 pm #

    Why do people hate the UN? It’s best diplomatic apparatus available.

  66. Kaimi
    May 22, 2008 at 2:39 pm #

    What do you make of hymn #341, Connor? False doctrine foisted on us by the church music committee?

  67. Connor
    May 22, 2008 at 3:06 pm #

    Josh,

    Why do people hate the UN? It’s best diplomatic apparatus available.

    Please excuse me while I vomit.

    Kaimi,

    What do you make of hymn #341, Connor? False doctrine foisted on us by the church music committee?

    You conspiracy theorist, you… That hymn was not in the 1835 hymnal, nor in a couple of its successors. But I can’t seem to find any hymn lists for the more recent hymnals to have an idea as to when the inclusion of the anthem was made. Any idea?

    Ronan noted a few years ago that though the anthem exists in our hymn book, it isn’t sung:

    Whilst we are commanded to be loyal citizens, the rest of us live in the shadow of America/the Promised Land/Zion. Our patriotism, then, seems a little hollow. Why sing God Save the Queen, when we know God damned the King in order to establish the United States, the place of the Restoration, the New Jerusalem?

    To answer your question, though, I have no idea. I hardly doubt that it’s a back-door divine sanction of monarchy in general, or UK’s monarchy specifically (as its anthem). I’d love to pick the committee’s brain and find out what factors were involved in the decision to include it.

  68. RoastedTomatoes
    May 22, 2008 at 3:10 pm #

    Kaimi is a troublemaker!

    Connor, on your comment #17, I’m not sure I understand why your personal feelings on what the British monarchy symbolizes should carry any particular weight. Perhaps it symbolizes oppression to you, a strange commitment to hunting to me, and milk to my baby daughter (I think pretty much everything symbolizes milk to her). But that’s all noise in the wind, isn’t it? The symbolism that matters here, I think, is whatever symbolism monarchy invokes for British folks.

    To take a U.S. example, the American flag symbolizes a lot of positive things to me, including my father’s military service, the emancipation agenda from the end of the Civil War or from the Civil Rights era, fun Fourth of July celebrations from when I was a child, and so forth. There are loads of people around the world for whom that same flag is a symbol of imperialism, tyranny, rapacious capitalism, and repression. Some of those people even have a good historical case to make. Nonetheless, when I see a U.S. flag , I think of my American symbolism for that flag, not of the wide range of possible foreign interpretations. It seems reasonable to recognize that monarchy works in the U.K. for similar reasons.

    Regarding written versus unwritten constitutions, it’s another institutional design question with advantages on both sides. All of these questions are always complex; if we favor one institution over another, it’s because we take one side in what’s inevitably a collection of trade-offs. U.S. institutions, and particularly the U.S. Constitution, don’t show an especially persistent pattern of choosing individual liberty over other values. Indeed, the Constitution is a very anti-libertarian document, especially for its time. There’s a reason people were so adamant about getting a few limited individual rights added in as amendments…

  69. Josh
    May 22, 2008 at 3:56 pm #

    Of course I expected that as much from you, Connor. Shall we just retreat from the world like your savior Ron Paul wants us to?

  70. Kaimi
    May 22, 2008 at 3:59 pm #

    I just checked my copies of the 1948 hymnal and the 1918. It’s in the 48, but not the 18.

  71. The Silent Observer
    May 22, 2008 at 5:03 pm #

    .

  72. Sean
    May 22, 2008 at 5:23 pm #

    Of course I expected that as much from you, Connor. Shall we just retreat from the world like your savior Ron Paul wants us to?

    That’s not a very constructive comment. Connor’s comment about vomiting wasn’t really either.

    The UN has its problems. It may be the best diplomatic apparatus currently available, but I don’t think that’s much of an argument for it being a good one. And you may not like Ron Paul, but he does further explain Jeff’s comment about why he believes the UN violates the principles of good government.

    Silent Observer – very appropriate comment given your name.

  73. Eric Russell
    May 22, 2008 at 9:58 pm #

    Reading this, questions flood in.

    Why are all you people commenting here? Is Connor’s blog the new ‘nacle hangout?

    Where does Steve find this stuff?

    What does an unaccredited master’s degree get you, anyway?

    Is Adam really a former E5?

    Who is it that Connor is bitterly jealous of – William or Harry?

    EDIT: Where does this timed edit thing come from and why don’t any other blogs have it?

    [ADMIN EDIT] The WP Plugin is called WP Ajax Edit Comments.

  74. Ronan
    May 23, 2008 at 3:32 am #

    I’d love to pick the committee’s brain and find out what factors were involved in the decision to include it.

    How about this? In an English LDS hymnbook to be used in Britain as well as America, it was deemed appropriate to include the British national anthem. What is there that doesn’t make sense about that? Why have the Star Spangled Banner and not God Save the King?

    This rampant cultural imperialism you seem to invoke – America is God’s country and everything else is worthy of scorn and pity! – should not be tolerated in an international church. I hope you are an outlier, but I fear you are not.

  75. Ronan
    May 23, 2008 at 3:37 am #

    And well done for finding that old quote. The irony is that the national anthem isn’t sung precisely because American Mormons like you have made many of us feel that pride in our country and our Queen is not acceptable in a church setting, given that we are “apostates” and that God only approves of the celestial American republic.

  76. Marcus
    May 23, 2008 at 5:12 am #

    Hi Ronan,

    I usually agree with you on just about 100 percent of your comments, well let’s say 99 to be safe (though you have been remarkably fierce during this episode … unduly? Well, from my perspective … slightly, now and then, but I will not revoke your wrath on me by delving further, you seem to be in the zone, so I’ll stop there :) )

    Having lived in Britain for 2 years now and ready to move home in a couple of months I will bring with me a love of many new things, like the English countryside; fields and hills and little rivers, the English hospitality, a wonderful welfare system free for everybody and not to forget … lemon curd and crumpets!

    I do bring with me one sad thing though, and that is the obsession by classes that I feel still is holding many of the British people in a tight grip. Even from members (leaders) of the church I’ve heard really horrible things said. Things that I really have had to pinch myself to check whether I was dreaming or not.

    Basically what I’m wondering is, do you feel that your love and reverence for the Queen is a part of that, perhaps deeply rooted in you, and perhaps the reason for your responses? Or is it something completely different? Just a love for your country and your culture that the Queen perhaps is the highest and most well known symbol of?

    Regards, Marcus

  77. Ronan
    May 23, 2008 at 5:22 am #

    Marcus,
    Truth be told, I’m gunning for a knighthood. It’s true that I’m a monarchist, but I don’t sleep on a Golden Jubilee commemorative pillow. Mostly, my cup overfloweth in the face of reckless, parochial, offensive comments by fellow Latter-day Saints who sneer at those of us “unfortunate” enough to have been born outside of “Zion.”

    I can’t refute your experiences, but having lived in the US for four years, I see no qualitative difference in the two countries where class is concerned. The only difference is in vocabulary. When Americans speak of “white trash,” or “WASPS,” or “the Projects,” you are talking about the same thing: people who are born into or outside of privilege.

  78. Marcus
    May 23, 2008 at 6:58 am #

    I’m with you on that.

    My experience may have been enhanced by the contrast between my country (Sweden) and England. Not to say that Swede’s don’t put people in classes, it seems we humans will always do as long as we earn different amounts of money and posses different amounts of power, but the openness here is sooo much more and seems to me; more baked into the culture.

    Still, it’s so human, both the “sneers of Zion” and LDS regarding others as less and of a ‘lower’ class for whatever reason. Like class A, B and C cucumbers,

  79. Connor
    May 23, 2008 at 7:30 am #

    Ronan,

    How about this? In an English LDS hymnbook to be used in Britain as well as America, it was deemed appropriate to include the British national anthem. What is there that doesn’t make sense about that? Why have the Star Spangled Banner and not God Save the King?

    The hymnbook is also used in other English-speaking countries; why not include their national anthems? It it’s merely an inclusion policy as you seem to allude to, wouldn’t it make sense that each country’s national anthem be made a hymn?

    This rampant cultural imperialism you seem to invoke – America is God’s country and everything else is worthy of scorn and pity! – should not be tolerated in an international church. I hope you are an outlier, but I fear you are not.

    Cultural imperialism? Please. You are denying the blatant truth, though, if you fail to recognize America’s unique role and God’s work. Elder Petersen summed it up in this talk. Should his words “not be tolerated in an international church”? Bah! Do you hope that he is “an outlier”? I sure hope not. Here’s a taste of what he has to say:

    The United States then is God’s country. It is His government set up specifically to provide freedom of speech and religion in this country so that our Church could be established here and so that we, as the missionaries of the Church, may travel the world over on American passports and have the protection of this great government as we preach the gospel to the world.

    Christ will come again. The gospel is on the earth. It is a means of preparing for that coming, but we could not have this gospel today if it were not for the United States and our kind of government. Therefore, we must protect our country, even with our lives if necessary, because America is God’s land.

    Have “American Mormons like [Elder Petersen] made many of [you] feel that pride in [your] country and [your] Queen is not acceptable in a church setting”? Seems like I’m not an outlier, after all.

  80. Marcus
    May 23, 2008 at 7:43 am #

    Connor … Ronan’s gonna eat you alive.
    Ronan … please take a deep breath before doing anything else.

  81. RoastedTomatoes
    May 23, 2008 at 8:05 am #

    Connor, it’s worth pointing out that there was an extended period of time during which church leaders wouldn’t have agreed with Peterson’s talk. Brigham Young, for example, gave several speeches which were harshly condemning of the United States. Peterson’s argument that fighting for the U.S. was equivalent to fighting for the church would have been problematic for J. Reuben Clark, who had pacifist tendencies and was reluctant about Mormon involvement in World War I. So quoting only the Peterson material is a bit one-sided; it doesn’t stand on its own and it isn’t clear why it, rather than material from opposing perspectives within the church leadership, should be taken as God’s will.

    However, let’s talk only about Peterson’s talk. Did you notice that Peterson offers a very specific and limited argument for why America is important? America is said to be God’s country because God created here a few freedoms that permit Mormons to do international missionary work. That’s pretty much it. Peterson thinks the United States is a special country to God because it fills the functional roles of housing the church and getting it international access. That is a unique role, but it’s a very narrow one and one that doesn’t justify any kind of prejudice against any other country.

    Peterson says that America is God’s land. Fair enough. Does he say that other continents are not God’s land? Perhaps Britain belongs to Baal, actually?

    I do think your perspective, Connor, is that of an outlier in the international church. Our nationality is what it is, and it is part of who we are. But we have to shed the pride and trust in the arm of flesh that leads us to see one background as inherently superior to another. We’re all just brothers and sisters…

  82. Connor
    May 23, 2008 at 8:15 am #

    RoastedTomatoes,

    I see a difference (a vast one, at times) between what America is, and what America should be (and once was). I’ve mentioned this in the comments above to Ronan and others who compare their country and the USA and see no visible benefits of having a Republic. Certainly America has strayed a great deal from the Constitution and the principles of liberty she was founded upon.

    In that sense, I think that when Elder Petersen refers to fighting for America, he’s not referring to fighting for whatever form she is currently in, or supporting whatever policies our current leaders have managed to pass, but instead is referring to the America that God approved of—the one that the Founders created. They are two different beasts, sadly.

    As to your point about holding prejudice against another country, I backed away above from my “pity” comment (a couple of times). I don’t think that having an “apostate form of government” (as Jeff described) is a reason to hold prejudice against the people of that country, nor diminish their value and importance in God’s plan.

    Our nationality is what it is, and it is part of who we are. But we have to shed the pride and trust in the arm of flesh that leads us to see one background as inherently superior to another. We’re all just brothers and sisters…

    Agreed. I don’t hold somebody’s nationality against them, nor think of them less because they happened to be born into a certain family. As I said above, I think we’re all important in moving forward God’s work. Additionally, I don’t think that being born in America creates any special privilege in God’s eyes—after all, he esteems all flesh as equal. All I’m saying here is that there are certain forms of government that are ideal, and the one that God specifically has stated He approves of (as Petersen notes, the only one for which he has done so) is to be sought after as the ideal. In a world where numerous countries have modeled their constitutions after our own, that doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

  83. Adam Greenwood
    May 23, 2008 at 8:30 am #

    Truth be told, I’m gunning for a knighthood.

    Duh. Who isn’t?

    Eric Russell,
    Yes.

    Connor Boyack,
    I don’t think God Save the Queen means you have to embrace constitutional monarchy, but it does complicate your attacks on it. Anywhy, why get so upset about it? Brtis are just foreigners anyway, its not like they’re real people. :)

  84. RoastedTomatoes
    May 23, 2008 at 8:43 am #

    All I’m saying here is that there are certain forms of government that are ideal, and the one that God specifically has stated He approves of (as Petersen notes, the only one for which he has done so) is to be sought after as the ideal.

    I’m not sure about this. I can’t find anything in the Petersen talk that claims that God has only specifically approved of one form of government. Could you cite the specific statement you have in mind? I just can’t find anything along these lines.

    On the idea that the U.S. has departed from the Founders’ original design, I think this is self-evident. After all, we’ve abolished slavery, eliminated property and literacy qualifications for citizenship, and enfranchised women.

  85. Cameron
    May 23, 2008 at 8:46 am #

    Thomas Paine’s “Dissertation of First Principles of Government” does not deal kindly with monarchies.

    That said, is England really a monarchy anymore?

    And that said, was Connor speaking against England and the English, or was he speaking against monarchy much as Paine was?

    Or perhaps he was speaking against those that revere or idolize the monarchy without understanding its origins?

    And in that vein, I think it was pointed out here that the US has its own monarchical (your spell check said this is how it’s spelled) idols as well. Our celebrity idolizing culture is perhaps no better than what Connor was speaking against, and I would submit that many or most of the idolizers don’t understand its origins either.

  86. Ronan
    May 23, 2008 at 9:20 am #

    I think I have said all I need to say. Elizabeth regina.

  87. Connor
    May 23, 2008 at 9:20 am #

    I can’t find anything in the Petersen talk that claims that God has only specifically approved of one form of government. Could you cite the specific statement you have in mind? I just can’t find anything along these lines.

    This is the section I was referring to:

    This is the one nation in all the world which He acknowledges was set up by His own hand. I don’t know of any other country in all the world, in any period of the world’s history which God set up as a nation and for which He actually raised up men to write its constitution.

    Since God set this nation up by His own hand, I believe it then follows that He approves of the method in which it was implemented. Moreover, He went so far as to say that freedom-supporting constitutional law belongs not just to Americans, but to all mankind. I interpret that to say that God approves of the Constitution and the method of government implemented by the men He raised up for the purpose.

    On the idea that the U.S. has departed from the Founders’ original design, I think this is self-evident. After all, we’ve abolished slavery, eliminated property and literacy qualifications for citizenship, and enfranchised women.

    And set up a national bank, created numerous federal-level offices for which the Constitution gives no authorization, abolished habeas corpus, gone to war without Congressional declaration, to name a few.

    You referred to amendments, whereas I didn’t. The Founders knew that they couldn’t achieve certain things, therefore they created a method whereby those things could be added to the Constitution. I’m not referring to legitimate Constitutional amendments (since those are within the scope of Constitutional law), but instead am referring to the frequent and repeated deviance from the written Constitution and the refusal to comply by the provisions contained therein.

  88. mark IV
    May 23, 2008 at 12:47 pm #

    Connor,

    Quick! Call the office of the First Presidency! They are about to meet with George W. Bush, of whom God surely disapproves. If only they had your insight.

    Re. diplomacy and the U.N.: You have gratuitously and needlessly insulted the U.K., Canada, and Australia, three of America’s most reliable allies. Tell me again why your ideas about diplomacy have any merit at all?

  89. RoastedTomatoes
    May 23, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    Connor, I hope you know that a large majority of people who’ve seriously studied the Constitution disagree with your interpretations of many of the points you’ve mentioned. I’ll admit that it’s possible that you and a few others with your views are right and that the large majority of serious students of the Constitution are wrong. But you’ve got to admit that it’s probably not likely.

    The Petersen quote you offer is actually pretty strange. Note that Petersen must have believed that God raised up ancient Israel as a nation; the Bible’s pretty specific about that, and Petersen was a literalist. So, Petersen’s statement has to be limited to just countries with written constitutions. Hey presto, Britain’s a different category… Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, various other church leaders haven’t agreed with this sentiment; we’ve got a selective interpretation problem here.

    Connor, we obviously disagree somewhat on substance. But the reason I’m checking out of this conversation is concerns about your intellectual method. You choose quotes, talks, and documents selectively, with no justification for why you rely on those texts and not others. You also show little if any intellectual openness to other readings or to the possibility that you are wrong. These are the hallmarks of fanaticism, I’m afraid. You’re clearly very smart, but if you live in a closed loop of reason I won’t bother trying to invade it any further.

  90. Brad
    May 23, 2008 at 1:05 pm #

    I’ll just add one thing, relatively late in the game.

    Connor, to invoke some imagined past of unfettered individual liberty at this nations founding as an argument against monarchy of any kind in favor of a quasi-Jeffersonian democratic-republicanism/libertarianism betrays the lack of depth to your liberty-based education. It certainly reflects Jefferson’s animus toward central, hierarchical state power (though none of his animus toward traditional religion). Yet it seems to presuppose something like uniformity of opinion among important and influential founding figures. The founding was not just 1776 (populist revolution against monarchy and the trappings of traditional power). It was also 1787 (the creation of a much stronger centralized government with consolidated power to keep the unwashed masses in check and maintain order and stability). The creation of a national bank was not a scam foisted upon the country by pernicious men trying to undermine the constitution. It was a project vigorously opposed by some (like Jefferson) and vigorously supported by others (including Hamilton, who, unlike Jefferson,actually participated in the drafting of the constitution but was arguably, with the possible exception of Madison, the individual most responsible for the shape the document took and for its ratification). The bank was Hamilton’s brain-child. Adams (arguably America’s most important political theorist) supported it as well. It’s entirely likely that Washington was supportive of the idea, at least in theory, as well. You know what else Hamilton and Adams liked??? Kings! (At least in theory, though they certainly hated George) Hamilton wanted the American executive to be MORE powerful than the king in Britain. Appointed, not elected (even indirectly). Veto with no override. Ability to introduce legistlation. Lifetime tenure. Hamilton wanted a meritocratic king, and Adams constantly argued for treating the President with a reverence reserved for royalty, advocating calling him “your excellency,” etc.

    The people who rebelled against English rule in 1776-87 were rebelling against the specific abuses of a specific king and his government. They considered themselves to be better Englishmen than their countrymen across the pond, in the tradition of English constitutionalism. Jefferson was strongly anti-british and anti-monarchy, but Hamilton practically wanted to recreate (in what he considered to be better form) English government here, and Adams was responsible for restoring good relations with the king, a man whom (and whose office) he had deep respect for. Jefferson hated all things English, evincing a strong preference for the direction in which France was moving, including all the excesses of the French anti-Monarchical revolution. He might be disgusted with the direction the country has gone in much the same way that you and Oliver DeMille are. But Hamilton would have been quite pleased.

  91. Brad
    May 23, 2008 at 1:11 pm #

    I’ll append a correction to my comment. I wrote that Adams and Hamilton hated King George. Later I wrote that Adams respected him and his office. Clearly a contradiction. Adams was much, much more diplomatic that most (though by no means all) of his colleagues. He did develop a distaste for George during the Revolution (though it paled in comparison with that of his cousin Sam or many other Patriots). When he served as US ambassador to George’s court, good personal relations were restored.

  92. Connor
    May 23, 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    RoastedTomatoes,

    You choose quotes, talks, and documents selectively, with no justification for why you rely on those texts and not others.

    Feel free to provide quotes, talks, and documents that contradict my opinions, and I’ll be happy to comment on the matter, change my opinion as is necessary, or explain why I think they do or do not harmonize. I have my opinions for a reason, and like to think that they’re a result of dedicated study and thought. This in no way means that I’m always right, nor that I’m right the majority of the time. I’ve been wrong many times before. But to change my opinion, I’d need to be presented with material that contradicts what I’ve already studied that makes a strong case for debunking what I’ve come to believe. Even then, I can’t guarantee that I’ll change my mind, but who knows. Stranger things have been known to happen. :)

    You also show little if any intellectual openness to other readings or to the possibility that you are wrong. These are the hallmarks of fanaticism, I’m afraid. You’re clearly very smart, but if you live in a closed loop of reason I won’t bother trying to invade it any further.

    Since this accusation has been made on other occasions, I’m beginning to wonder how I can better clarify or make known that I’m not intellectually stubborn. I believe that I’m quite open to new and different facts and opinions that differ from my own. I enjoy reading, at times, books, articles, and posts from authors with whom I disagree (in whole or in part) in order to be exposed to various perspectives and beliefs. In that vein, I like this quote: “Only by being made to question our own beliefs can we prevent them from becoming dogma…”

    So what apparently appears to some to be a “closed loop of reason” is anything but, I believe. Yes, I strongly believe what I have come to learn and study. A few years ago, I would have argued a different point in many of these cases. But I don’t back down easily from what I believe to be truth, unless I am presented with something that has the potential to refute what I believe or add additional clarity to a gray area. Call it stubbornness if you wish, but rest assured that I am open to insights, perspectives, and information that contradicts my own. (So long as it’s not presented in belligerence. And yes, I myself have been guilty of this before.)

    Brad,

    Connor, to invoke some imagined past of unfettered individual liberty at this nations founding as an argument against monarchy of any kind in favor of a quasi-Jeffersonian democratic-republicanism/libertarianism betrays the lack of depth to your liberty-based education.

    I disagree. Reading over the writings of various of the Founders, it’s clear that liberty and self-government were the main driving forces behind the Revolution. You mention “unfettered individual liberty”, but that notion is absurd. Unfettered individual liberty is essentially libertinism or anarchy, which imply that the individual can do anything he pleases. Few, if any, of the Founders advocated this extreme, nor have I.

    Yet it seems to presuppose something like uniformity of opinion among important and influential founding figures.

    This is a typical argument made by people who wish to discredit the work of the Founders. Of course they weren’t perfectly united; they were individuals, after all. They had disagreements, they quarreled, they fought for differing restraints on power, and they had different ideas of what the Constitution should ultimately be.

    So?

    Does this discredit their ultimate work, or negate the importance of God’s statement that He raised them up for this purpose? Does honoring their fruit imply that the tree was perfect? Are they not entitled to the same humanity we enjoy?

    In referring to the Founders, by no means am I implying that there was a 100% unity in thought between the group. But the unity they enjoyed—that allowed their work to result in “The Great Compromise”—demonstrates their overall common purpose and goal. Regardless of disagreements, the fight for freedom (as you note, from specific abuses of a specific king) was a fairly universal sentiment among those who framed the Constitution. When it came time to frame a government that would secure that liberty, the group ultimately created not a monarchy, but the Constitutional Republic we currently enjoy (well, sort of..). Regardless of a few individual desires to perpetuate monarchy and install a king in America, the Founders (as a whole) didn’t let it happen. I believe that there is wisdom in the result.

    But in a day where we have a “Decider”, I’m not sure that we’re too far away from some fashion of monarchy…

  93. Adam Greenwood
    May 23, 2008 at 3:52 pm #

    CB is just an enthusiast. An enthusiast doesn’t become a fanatic until he starts getting bitter at people for not sharing his views. CB is being as civil as we are.

    On the evils of monarchy–the Book of Mormon is actually pretty nuanced about this. There are king-heroes with not a whiff of election anywhere to be found. And the switch to ‘democracy,’ such as it is, is not because having kings is per se unjust and tyrannical. Its because a bad king will push people to embrace more immorality and injustice than they would otherwise.

    Now, Queen Elizabeth II has not always been fortunate in her children. But I think its hard to argue that she has been pushing much immorality or getting the British people to do injustice. She’s a figurehead.

  94. Adam Greenwood
    May 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm #

    No, but the Founders did create a powerful President who was not very constrained by the legislature (and with no term limits, even!). Our President has tons and tons and tons more power than England’s Queen.

  95. RoastedTomatoes
    May 23, 2008 at 4:54 pm #

    Adam and Connor, let me quickly clarify and/or modify my earlier statement. In using the word “fanaticism,” I certainly didn’t intend to imply that Connor is uncivil in any way. This is clearly not the case. If it were, I wouldn’t regularly read his stuff with enjoyment, if not always agreement. I intended the word to suggest an intellectual method that I find difficult to engage with, not a character trait to be excoriated. As such, another word might be a better choice, although I’m not quite sure which.

    Connor’s response to Brad’s point about the nonexistence of such a thing as a perspective of the Founders is a useful example of the intellectual method that troubles me. Connor agrees that the Founders as a group shared little if anything regarding a perspective on how the U.S. ought to be governed. Yet, it would seem, the Founders as a group nonetheless have a position — even though that position is evidently not that of any of the individual Founders. While I have some nostalgia for the Rousseauvian nature of this kind of collective will, it nonetheless remains the case that power in such an account lies in the hands of the person who gets to specify which mixture, out of the several individual perspectives, in fact represents the collective as a whole.

    I’m not sure exactly what Connor proposes as the united belief of the Founders, other than that it includes the Constitution. Unfortunately, the Constitution doesn’t interpret itself — and once we acknowledge the plurality of Founders’ opinions regarding Constitutional issues, it becomes clear that we can’t interpret the document simply by reference to original intent. After all, there were only original intents in the plural. So Connor’s appeal to the original unity and beliefs of the Founders seems to be intellectually somewhat hollow. This doesn’t diminish the value of the institutional work that was done, but it does suggest that Connor’s urgent belief that the Founders as a group were believers in some kind of individual liberty (for white, male property owners, obviously) has shaky foundations. It’s unclear that a majority of Founders could be found who would endorse any specific theory of freedom — let alone mid- to late-20th-century libertarianism.

    Appeals to scriptural statements about the divine purpose of the Constitution also accomplish much less than Connor might hope. These statements simply warrant that the Founders were God’s tools to create enough freedom of religion and enough international power to spread the church through the world. That’s really it; most other institutional details seem a bit accidental in relation to our canon.

  96. Connor
    May 23, 2008 at 5:07 pm #

    While I have some nostalgia for the Rousseauvian nature of this kind of collective will, it nonetheless remains the case that power in such an account lies in the hands of the person who gets to specify which mixture, out of the several individual perspectives, in fact represents the collective as a whole.

    I see this as no different than when a church leader, for example, makes a reference to the congregation as a whole, effectively summarizing what the most common characteristic is. In reference to the FLDS issue, Elder Cook recently stated that members of the LDS church don’t live in compounds, dress in old-fashioned clothing, or wear unusual hairstyles.”

    Was he wrong? I’m sure that each of us know a few Saints that have unusual hairstyles or dress funny. What I see in his remark, though, is the attempt to find a common thread, perhaps from the majority. Just as the majority of LDS don’t live in compounds, so too did the majority of the Founders agree on fundamental principles. I’ve never claimed that they generally agreed on specific application and implementation of those principles, but that’s beside the point, I think, since two people who largely agree on an issue will probably disagree on some of the minutiae.

    I’m not sure exactly what Connor proposes as the united belief of the Founders, other than that it includes the Constitution. Unfortunately, the Constitution doesn’t interpret itself — and once we acknowledge the plurality of Founders’ opinions regarding Constitutional issues, it becomes clear that we can’t interpret the document simply by reference to original intent.

    Then what of Jefferson’s advice on the matter?

    On every question of construction [of the Constitution] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823)

    Surely the interpretation of a written document (scriptures being another good example) is subject to various outcomes based upon the individual’s world view, political ideals, and other factors. But I believe that there are many common threads from the Founders’ debates and writings that harmonize quite nicely with one another, regardless of attempts by some modern scholars to divide, presumably in order to conquer and discredit.

    I’ll have to end this conversation here for a while, I’m going to be moving into a new house this weekend. While blogging is certainly more entertaining than hefting furniture, unfortunately it’s not quite as productive. :)

  97. Mark IV
    May 23, 2008 at 6:57 pm #

    Elder Cook recently stated that members of the LDS church don’t live in compounds, dress in old-fashioned clothing, or wear unusual hairstyles.”

    Doesn’t this just illustrate the point, Connor? Many reasonable people would point to the MTC as evidence that LDS people do live in compounds, do dress in old-fashioned clothes, and do wear unusual hairstyles.

  98. Connor
    May 23, 2008 at 7:09 pm #

    Another great talk, this one given by President Benson, that illustrates the divine approval of the U.S. Constitution.

  99. RoastedTomatoes
    May 24, 2008 at 7:07 am #

    Yeah, the Benson material. I think that talk is fine, but when dealing with Benson it’s worth remembering that at one point or another his political views alienated most other high church leaders. Again, as with Petersen, this kind of contextual information is important in interpreting Benson’s remarks. In effect, you’ve chosen the two most politically extreme Mormon leaders of the 20th century to cite; this textual selectivity can’t help but produce relatively extreme interpretations.

    Your point on generalization doesn’t really make sense to me. A large majority of Mormons demonstrably do not wear strange clothes and live on compounds. It is simply not demonstrable that a large majority of America’s Founders shared any kind of detailed political beliefs, other than the simple belief that King George III had gone off the rails.

    Good luck with your move.

  100. Jeff T
    May 24, 2008 at 11:30 am #

    It’s actually a myth that Benson alienated most other church leaders with his political views; in fact, President McKay was actually one of his avid supporters, and generally instructed Benson to give many of the political talks that he gave.

  101. RoastedTomatoes
    May 24, 2008 at 3:39 pm #

    Jeff T., that’s quite probably a misinterpretation. Primary sources indicate that McKay gave permission for Benson to speak on “freedom,” but not specific permission on the doctrine or political themes of those talks. McKay also didn’t overrule the various sanctions that the 12 imposed on Benson for Benson’s failure to obey instructions not to speak on politics.

  102. Clumpy
    May 27, 2008 at 5:42 pm #

    Isolating the “respect” issue, our society already arbitrarily gives respect to those in positions of power – teachers, etc. and to the elderly, merely by virtue of the fact that their birthdays happen to precede ours.

    Assigning respect to a person by virtue of any arbitrary factors is completely unfair. Yes, a special kind of respect must be given to the elderly merely because various generations respond differently, but they deserve no particular level of respect. I would show appropriate respect to the Queen of England merely because of my desire not to make waves. Allowing others power over us merely because of birthright or societal expectations is, as you said, completely ridiculous.

  103. starblue
    August 11, 2008 at 12:29 am #

    can you give me the advantages of Monarchial form of government

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