Art Garfunkel, Bridging the Waters

Some very dear friends kindly took us to Art Garfunkel’s recent concert at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma, WA. It was a delightful, very rewarding evening. His was the clear tenor voice that made possible the wonderful Simon and Garfunkel music that those of us of a certain age associate with our high school and college years. But this was not simply a series of old songs re-sung; this performance included newer songs with old favorites, interwoven with the artist’s delightful commentary on life, often in poetic form. (He protested applying that high-sounding term, poetry, to his writings, but since the English Department includes free verse under its definition of poetry, we will too.)

There is a spirit of mature melancholy in Garfunkel’s music and musings. Not the adolescent angst we knew so long ago, but the reflective thoughts and feelings of one who has experienced life, known great success and great loss and success returned again. “Artie” lost his voice in 2009 and labored diligently to regain it. He succeeded well. The result is not only a beautiful voice, but the sense of a great artist who is also humble, a rare and wonderful thing in our age of self-promoting demagoguery.

The greater losses, though, were of loved ones lost in death’s dateless night. Here Garfunkel revealed his love of family and friends: his beloved wife and children, also his intermittent relationship with childhood friend and youthful collaborator, Paul Simon. He also revealed his faith in God and devotion to the more important things of life. As a boy he served as a cantor, and included in the concert a too-brief excerpt of Hebrew a cappella. Even without the touch of echo added by the sound engineer, it was heavenly, an angel’s song.

Garfunkel’s concluding number was a rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Waters which he characterized as a “rehearsal” of a work-in-progress. There was no piano; all his accompaniment was by a very fine guitarist. Nevertheless, this adaptation of an old favorite was simply outstanding, very fine. Standing ovations generally are over-done, but in this case, I was happy to join the crowd in standing for a great artist in the humane tradition. Long may he perform.

Here is a link to his website where you may be able to find a performance near you:

http://www.artgarfunkel.com/

 

Best Wishes.

Organized . . .

Will Rogers, the witty comedian and social commentator of the early 20th century, once remarked, “I do not belong to an organized political party. I am a Democrat.” What was funny then becomes less funny now as the nature of the modern Democrat Party’s organization becomes clearer. The party of kooks, crooks, commies, and cronies has become even more sinister.

Although Snopes discounts the lengthy lists of mysterious deaths of people associated with the Clinton’s, the most recent murders of five political operatives, some of whom, like Seth Rich, were about to testify in the Hillary email and other scandals, must raise eyebrows. One might be a coincidence, maybe two, but five? What is clear to anyone following national news is that the party of slavery, segregation, and socialism is now behaving like a large family, not in a good sense.

An ancient prophet in the Book of Mormon saw similar events in his day, in his historical record, and prophetically among us. He wrote:

23 Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.

24 Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.

25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.

26 Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved.

Elsewhere he admonished us to be more wise than his people had been. We can only hope. And pray.

Best Wishes.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Federalist-Excerpts-Commentary-Roderick-Saxey/dp/0997018100/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471227694&sr=1-3

 

 

Keep Calm

Keep Calm

The British government during World War II popularized the slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On,” plastered on billboards and posters throughout the country. It is a slogan suitable for our time and place as well. The world is in chaos and the self-proclaimed ruling “elites”, the political, media, and educational classes, seem helpless to improve it. Indeed, their antics and shenanigans  and false ideologies make things worse. So let us ordinary folk look to a more sensible guideline: Keep Calm and Carry On.

The thing we are carrying on with is leading peaceful, productive, law-abiding lives, individually and in our families and communities. It is striving day by day to do our best to live up to the commandments of God–let’s call them instructions for happiness in this life and in the next. It is building the Kingdom of God on earth, the creation of a Zion society. Zion is “the pure in heart.” It is proceeding with confidence that all things are in the hands of a loving God and that right will prevail in the end. It is exercising faith.

Best Wishes.

The Parties

President Washington warned the nation of the dangers of political parties and their potential for disrupting the system the Founders had created. Nevertheless, it was built into the structure of the Constitution (not to mention the human psyche) that parties would exist: there is naturally a Federalist and an Anti-Federalist party, one in favor of a stronger and the other in favor of a weaker central government. These have had various names through the centuries, and our two current parties of reversed roles from time to time.

Years ago I wrote with sorrow of the degeneration of the Democrat party under the corrupting influence of the so-called progressives. It has become the party of “kooks, crooks, commies, and cronies.” Dinesh D’Souza’s latest book and movie, Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, demonstrates that most of that description goes back to the beginning of the party (not Jefferson as the Democrats claim, but Andrew Jackson). Following is an excerpt from the first chapter, courtesy WND:

 

In this book I expose this progressive narrative as a lie. In reality the Democratic Party is now what it has been from the beginning – the party of subjugation, oppression, exploitation, and theft. The Democrats are not the party of justice or equality, but rather, of systematic injustice and inequality. Far from championing the cause of women, blacks and other minorities, Democrats have historically brutalized, segregated, exploited and murdered the most vulnerable members of our society.

The Democrats are the party of slavery, and the inventors of the “positive good” school that held slavery is not merely good for the master but also for the slave. After slavery, the Democrats attempted to block the Thirteenth Amendment ending slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment granting equality of rights under the law, and the Fifteenth Amendment securing for blacks the right to vote.

Democrats also invented and enforced segregation laws. A former delegate to the Democratic National Convention founded the Ku Klux Klan, which for decades served as the domestic terrorist wing of the Democratic Party, not just in the South but also in the Midwest and West. The Democrats also promoted forced sterilization and race-based exclusion of immigrants from this country.

During the 1930s, a young JFK went to Germany and praised the accomplishments of Adolf Hitler, noting that opposition to Hitler mainly came from jealousy. As president, FDR admired Mussolini and sent members of his brain trust to Italy to study fascist programs and import them to America. Mussolini for his part reviewed FDR’s book for an Italian publication. He loved it. FDR, he concluded, was a fascist, just like Il Duce himself.

All of this has been buried by progressive scholars and pundits. Also concealed is that fact that during all this time, the main opposition to the horrors on the part of the Democratic Party came from Republicans. This book makes an astonishing claim: of all Americans, Republicans are the ones who have the least reason to feel guilt about slavery or racism.

From the beginning, Republicans have been the good guys, fighting to stop Democratic schemes of exploitation, murder and plunder. Republicans fought a great war, and hundreds of thousands of them died, to thwart the nefarious practices of the Democrats. Even after slavery, Republicans fought vigorously though not always successfully to defeat Democratic schemes of segregation and racial terrorism.

Democrats are the ones who bitterly resisted the civil rights movement’

The bad guys – the Democrats – put up a great fight but the Republicans won in the end. It was Republicans who made possible the Civil Rights Laws that finally and belatedly secured equal rights for blacks and other minorities. Democrats are the ones who bitterly resisted the civil rights movement, and had the Democrats been the only party in America at the time, none of these laws, from the Civil Rights Act to the Voting Rights Act to the Fair Housing Bill, would have passed.

.  .  .

Of course it’s not just about the power; it is also about the money. Here Hillary has already shown her talents. Her achievement as secretary of state has been to carry the corrupt operations of the Democratic Party to a new level. Hillary herself described what she did as “commercial diplomacy.”

It certainly has worked out commercially for her and Bill. In the words of Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, “No one has even come close in recent years to enriching themselves on the scale of the Clintons while they or a spouse continued to serve in public office.”

By contrast with the Clintons, earlier Democratic scam operations seem like petty thievery. Previously Democrats specialized in big city machines a la Tammany Hall in New York and the Daley machine in Chicago. These were local rackets that looted the city treasury. The looters – such figures as William “Boss” Tweed – made off with a few hundred thousand, perhaps as much as a million. Hillary, however, figured out how to take her racket national, indeed global.

Never before has anyone figured out how to rent out American foreign policy, how to convert the position of secretary of state into a personal money machine. Hillary, with Bill’s help, figured out not only how to shake down Russian oligarchs and Canadian billionaires by offering them control of America’s uranium assets; she also figured out how to rob the island nation of Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. It’s one thing to rip off the world’s rich; it takes a special kind of chutzpah to steal from the poorest of the poor.

‘Imagine what Hillary would do with her power if she went … to president’

Imagine what Hillary would do with her power if she went from secretary of state to president of the United States! Previously she at least had to answer to Obama; now she would be a power unto herself. Hillary has already shown how indifferent she is to the interests of the United States, selling American influence to the highest bidder. I dread to think how much havoc – how many Benghazis – are in store if we elect this woman in November.

Who is going to stop Hillary, and how? Who will block the enslavement of the American people that is the political program of the Democratic Party? The situation, at first glance, seems desperate. The Republican Party seems confused, bitterly divided, unable to contest the Democratic social justice pitch and articulate a rival vision. Can we really count on the bewildered elephant to chase down and trample the Democratic donkey?

There is no one else. The GOP has, from the beginning, been the team – and the only team – that can stop and did stop the marauding Democrats. The Republicans have done it for 150 years, from slavery through the Ku Klux Klan through eugenics and forced sterilization through the civil rights movement. Why don’t we have slavery today? How has the Klan gone from a massive organization to a joke? Why do blacks and other minorities today have equality of rights under the law? The answer in every case is: The Republican Party.

Republicans can come together and do it again. While the threat is real and this will be a tough election, there is no cause for dispiritedness. With clear thinking, political creativity, and simple hard work, we can meet the challenges that are before us, working together, as we must, because our nation’s very future seems to be at stake.

The GOP nominee, Donald Trump, is both colorful and controversial, but this is not an election about Trump; it is an election about Hillary. She is the one who embodies the debased soul of the Democratic Party. And she is the corrupt, exasperating, tenacious, malign spirit looming over the United States in the fateful year of 2016. It’s time – actually it’s past time, but better late than never – for all good Americans to come together and perform an exorcism.

America once again is at a crossroads.

Best Wishes.

Making America Great Again

There is much to like about Donald Trump’s campaign theme, “Make America Great Again.” That America is great has been observed since the very beginning, and only the wretched leadership and constitutional apostasy of the past decade or two have brought us to the point of needing to make it great again. The question then becomes, “How?”

Reinvigorating our economy by lowering taxes and reducing regulations, improving education by getting the federal government off the backs of state and local schools, rebuilding our military, supporting our police by enforcing the laws, protecting our culture by regulating and assimilating immigrants, protecting the integrity of our nation by properly guarding the borders, and renewing legitimacy of the central government by strictly adhering to the Constitution and appointing like-minded judges—these are all important steps that a new administration can take. But isn’t “greatness” more than that?

Although incorrectly attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville, the thought remains poignant that “America is great because America is good. If America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to great.” That goodness is not in the federal or even the state and local governments; it is in the hearts and thoughts and words and daily actions of the people. In other words, restoring American greatness requires humility, repentance, and renewal of faith.

Again, all of the above measures and more will be important to bring back under control a bloated and tyrannical federal government, but making America great again is fundamentally a religious project, a revival, a conversion. As correctly attributed to John Adams: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Best Wishes.

Blessed Are The

Someone was recently quoted saying, “We should abolish the police.” I try to think kindly about people, but it seems about the only ones who would favor such a position are either criminals or stupid. Perhaps instead of calling them “police” we should use the more old fashioned term, “peace officers.”

Dad often spoke fondly of the sheriffs and deputies he knew while growing up in Price, Utah. They included Matt Warner, the reformed outlaw and crack shot, who as Deputy Sheriff and Justice of the Peace used to tell the children stories of life on the outlaw trail with his friend, Butch Cassidy, and others. The stories always concluded with an observation that it was not worth it and an admonition to do what is right. Dad’s experiences in those days included seeing several mobs up close. He hated mobs for their utter mindlessness, unpredictability, and uncontrollability.

Mobs are what we are seeing around the country these days, incited by scattered anarchists and rabble rousers (“community organizers”) for their own nefarious purposes. Surely there are few jobs more difficult than that of being a peace officer in a time when so many are being stirred up to anger and contention. Hats off to these courageous and dedicated men and women. Let us also remember them in our prayers. If Peacemakers are Blessed, then certainly Blessed are the Peace Officers, as well.

Best Wishes.

Another Go At It

A great deal has happened since my earlier blogs, not least of which is our move back to Orting after three years away for work. Orting is a beautiful little town at the confluence of the Carbon and Puyallup rivers not far from the foot of Mount Rainier, surrounded by farms and woodland. It has been gratifying to reunite with our many friends as well as to be back in our home.

The new title of this blog, Be Useful For Good, is a quote from my great grandfather, Friedrich Raile. He was a multi-talented man, a German from Odessa who migrated to Utah via Jerusalem in a remarkable story of faith and courage which was recounted a number of years ago in a book titled The Joppa Door (written in the language and from the viewpoint of his wife, great grandmother Elisabeth). Among other things, he was a skilled herbalist. “Be useful for good” was one of the admonitions he put on the boxes of herbal tea he sold in Utah during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It has become a family motto.

Surely, in this day of turmoil, to be useful for good is not only worthy advice for each individual man and woman, but for the nation and world in general as well. As part of my effort to be useful for good, I will be more consistent about blogging. Perhaps a word or two will prove helpful to some reader or another.

Best Wishes.

Imitating Christ

We will soon commemorate the Atonement and Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, by celebrating Easter. As Christians, we recognize Him not only as “God the Son”, but also as “The Perfect Man” and are committed to trying to be more like Him. Because we did not live with Him in mortality, our view of what it means to be like Him is limited by the accounts we have. My favorite summary of His life is the scripture that says, “He went about doing good.” And that is what we aim to do, as best we can. Often our best efforts at becoming more like Christ are when we try to imitate others we know who exemplify Christ-like traits.

It has been a great blessing to serve in the Church with many who have exemplified righteous leadership, men such as President Almond and President McCoy in the Graham Stake, Bishop Orgill in Orting Ward, and now Bishop Cain and Brother Lee in Sequim. I think, too, of great men I have known earlier in life: Bishop Waddell and President Don Wood in the old Portland 15th Ward, who tutored me as I came into church activity as a teenager; Brother Kent Duke, who was one of my fine missionary companions in Austria; and Bishop Giacalone of the Gateway Ward in Portland East Stake and Bishop Adams of the Pullman Ward in Moscow Idaho Stake, who mentored me as their councilor. I am thankful for each of them, and for many others who have touched my life.

But the best man I ever knew was my father, Edward Saxey. The army trained Dad as an x-ray tech, which enriched his education as a biochemist; he spent most of his professional life running a large medical laboratory. He loved living things, working the soil of his garden or raising sheep and dogs and cats and horses and cattle and geese and chickens on our farm in Sunnyside, Washington. He always had sheep, from when he was a young child until he died, but he didn’t herd them. He made a trilling sound in the back of the throat, very Germanic, and they came running.

Similarly with the dogs—he and Mom bred beautiful German Shepherds back when the breed was large and noble looking. They had the top-winning kennels in the Northwest in the late 1950s and early 60s. He would look deeply into the dog’s eyes and talk to it softly, then reward its good behavior, and they loved to obey him. He used to say that any dog could be trained if only it will look you in the eye.

Dad was a soft spoken man, which is not to say there was not a fair amount of “whoopin’ and hollerin’”, as he would have said, when we were little. But he usually had few words, carefully chosen, not wasted.

I only recall one spanking, though no doubt I deserved more. The whole family had gotten up early, before the sun, to harvest asparagus, a dusty, back-breaking business. We had a nice cup of postum to warm us before going into the cold. My parents and brothers filed out to the field, but I lingered in the kitchen, enjoying the warmth of the big coal stove. After a half hour or so, Dad came back in, dirty and dripping sweat. As he put me over his knee he said, “you’re not going to just sit around doing nothing while the whole family is out working.” Then he gave me a good spanking and I ran out to the field while my older brothers laughed. They stopped laughing when Dad caught up.

Dad did not need to spank us much because all he had to do was say a few words about how disappointed he was at our bad behavior, or worse yet, say nothing at all and shake his head. I love him so. To disappoint him was worse than any punishment could be.

He and Mom served in a variety of callings in the Church including many years as workers in the Portland Temple. Dad exemplified righteous, Christ-like behavior characterized by patience, persuasion, gentleness, and love. Whether calling sheep or training dogs or disciplining children, Dad obtained obedience not through force or fear, but through love: obedience was a choice.

It is no coincidence that the War in Heaven hinged on this principle of coercion versus agency. It is no coincidence that the continuation of that conflict in mortal life hinges on the same principle, and we see it over and over again in the conflicts of nations, in politics at all levels, in our families, and in our personal lives. To return to Him and receive His greatest blessings, our Father in Heaven requires complete obedience, but it must not be based on fear, but obedience based on our growing love for Him, mirroring His infinite love for us.

Let’s go back over a few things we know about the character of God, both Father and Son:

1. God works through councils; He is not arbitrary or secretive;
2. He is patient and long-suffering;
3. He is self-sacrificing on behalf of His loved ones;
4. He can speak in thundering tones if necessary, but His voice is usually soft, still, and small;
5. He is generous and kind, sending both rain and sun on the just and the unjust, for we are all His children;
6. He always keeps His objective in focus, namely, preparing His children to return to Him and inherit eternal life.

May we emulate the best examples around us and strive to incorporate principles of Christ-like behavior into our daily lives. As we do so, we will, little by little, become more like our Beloved Savior, and our Easter celebrations will become increasingly meaningful.

The Fool’s Prayer

I recently ran across an old poem that I first read many years ago and which I think is of great worth:

THE FOOL’S PRAYER

by: Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)

HE royal feast was done; the King                      
Sought some new sport to banish care,                      
And to his jester cried: “Sir Fool,                      
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!”                      
                       
The jester doffed his cap and bells,                      
And stood the mocking court before;                      
They could not see the bitter smile                      
Behind the painted grin he wore.                      
                       
He bowed his head, and bent his knee                      
Upon the Monarch’s silken stool;                      
His pleading voice arose: “O Lord,                      
Be merciful to me, a fool!                      
                       
“No pity, Lord, could change the heart                      
From red with wrong to white as wool;                      
The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,                      
Be merciful to me, a fool!                      
                       
“‘Tis not by guilt the onward sweep                      
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;                      
‘T is by our follies that so long                      
We hold the earth from heaven away.                      
                       
“These clumsy feet, still in the mire,                      
Go crushing blossoms without end;                      
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust                      
Among the heart-strings of a friend.                      
                       
“The ill-timed truth we might have kept–                      
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?                      
The word we had not sense to say–                      
Who knows how grandly it had rung!                      
                       
“Our faults no tenderness should ask.                      
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;                      
But for our blunders — oh, in shame                      
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.                      
                       
“Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;                      
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool                      
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,                      
Be merciful to me, a fool!”                      
                       
The room was hushed; in silence rose                      
The King, and sought his gardens cool,                      
And walked apart, and murmured low,                      
“Be merciful to me, a fool!”                    
“The Fool’s Prayer” is                    reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900.                    Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.

Read more at http://www.poetry-archive.com/s/the_fools_prayer.html#4C1R1bjVyRuBM684.99