Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Two Old Mormons Talk About politics and Faith.

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

July 3, 1989

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

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On this day 23 years ago I was in a small fishing village in the Soviet Republic of Estonia. It was actually an ethnographic park as they called it, a living museum of sorts. I was on the last full day of a three week ceramic artist’s tour of Moscow, Leningrad and the Baltic republics. I was traveling with a group of self funded “citizen diplomats” visiting these cities to exchange ideas and show our art work to gatherings of our Soviet peers. It was during the time that the old USSR was softening and sliding toward its eventual dissolution in 1991. Estonia and the other Baltic republics were at the hight of what has come to be called “The Singing Revolution“. On this morning Jack Troy, Marta Davies, Ulla Riasallu and I had left the group to visit this little village/cultural park.
As we entered the mostly deserted village we were met by a small man who first ran into his house to get a shirt on. His name was Guido and he was the park caretaker. When he learned that we were Americans he became quite excited and went back into his house to retrieve and very old United States flag. The flag was one his family had obtained during WWII and had kept as a reminder of the US troops they had met. He told us that he had been preparing the village flagpole to fly those colors the next day on Independence Day. He explained that for them July 4 is an international day that belongs to all nations that believe in the dream of freedom and liberty. While we watched he raised our colors a day early. The Singing Revolution notwithstanding he was committing an act that could land him in the gulag. It was a moving experience for all of us.
This flag does not belong to America alone and more especially to any one faction of our political spectrum. It belongs to the world as a symbol of the movement started here in 1776 that is still sweeping the globe. It is not American style “democracy” but an idea that people everywhere deserve the right of self determination. It represents the best ideals of our revolution employed to make all peoples free.

Freedom

Monday, July 6th, 2009


On July 3 1989 I was traveling with fellow ceramic artists in the Soviet Republiuc of Estonia. We were near on the last day of a three week tour of the republics of Russia, Latvia and Estonia. I was visiting a restored fishing village on the Baltic coast with three friends. The park was not officially open when we arrived. The caretaker, a small shirtless man named Guido, was painting the flag pole in the center of the village. When he saw that he had visitors he scurried off to get a so he could properly greet us. When he found out that we were Americans he became quite excited and explained that he had been painting the flag pole in preparation for American Independence Day. He brought out an old (pre WW II) American flag that he carefully unfolded folded to show us. He was planning to fly this old flag to celebrate our independence and to honor the freedom that it symbolized to the world. This little act of rebellion in a Soviet republic was very moving for the three of us who were US citizens.
The next day we flew home landing in Chicago. As our plane descended through a glorious cloudy sunset into O’Hare airport fireworks were going off all over the city. The atmosphere couldn’t have been more perfect. I experienced great feelings of gratitude for the freedoms I enjoy on this earth. I hope today that this American Dream is still spreading. Is it?

Hope and Virtue

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

I was putting handles on mugs while listening to NPR’s coverage of the inaguration. As the new president finished his speech I shifted gears and began making 15 lb platters. I had an idea I wanted to act on. I wanted to do something to commemorate his words and my feelings on this day.
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When I throw wide platters I like to place a ball of clay in the bottom after opening it to the desired width. I pound the clay while turning it to make sure it is stuck there. Then I smooth it into place with water and make it part of the bottom. This insures that the bottom is compressed and eliminates the possibility of “S” cracks in the bottom.
I pull the platter to the desired hight and leave a fairly thick rim from which to form an outer flange.
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The flange is formed by pulling the clay out rather than laying the clay down. Phil Rogers in his exellent book “Throwing Pots” illustrates and explains it like this.
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After the platter has set up a while but not too much I use rubber stamps to impress words into the flange. I made six of these today expressing things I felt about the inaguration.

Listening to: Windward Passage by Neil Young and the Ducks

MLK: A National Day of Service

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I went to usaservice.org like the email from Mrs. Obama said to but the only organized service events I could find were a couple of blood drives an hour away. I am needle phobic to the max and a cancer boy so I guess that wasn’t happening. I called Zina and we decided to have our own private day of service. I took Gabriel and she took his older sister Juniper for the day. Their single mom didn’t get the day off but had to take a bunch of mentally ill folks on a field trip to Provo so we took her kids and spent the day playing with them. Zina and Jun went out to Zina’s place to clean house and make stuff like cookies and cross stitch. Gaabriel and I went to the museum to see the mammoth bones there. It was a blast. After the museum we dropped by Jock Jones place and watched him work on chairs. After a bit Jock finished the chair he was working on and made a small baseball bat on the lathe for Gabe. He was like to be the grandest tiger in the jungle. Jock’s wife Bonnie came in with fresh hot bread, butter and local honey. We about popped because we ate so much.
After that we went sledding on the flat road going up to Canal Canyon. It was a great MLK day.
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Listening to: MLK’s “I Have a Dream ” speach on NPR.

Yes, we can.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008


You have all, no doubt, seen this video. It is old by now but it was in my head all day as i made mugs. Sitting at the wheel I was trying to be present, focusing on what my body was doing. It was hard as I thought back on the images of the night before of this beautiful young man and his family walking onto the runway in Chicago. It was like a strange wonderful dream., a dream that was replacing a long hard nightmare that was very hard to wake up from. How in heaven’s name did the last eight years happen?
Making mugs is great. I love the feel of the clay slipping through my hands on its way to the hands of so many people I may not ever know. I don’t have to think a lot about what I am doing. I do try to observe what is happening. I try to see and feel the joy that the making of vessels is. I try to keep my attention focused on the functioning of my body. I try not to wander into compulsive thought but today it is hard.
I received a text message from Louisa in New York last night about 9 PM “God Bless America”. I wrote back “Stand beside her and guide her…”. Adah called. It was her first election. She was super energized. I thought back on my first election and realized that i had been in Toronto at the time, nineteen years old and on a mission for my church. The authorities had come by enumerating us and registered us to vote in Canada. So I helped elect Pierre Trudeau.
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Perhaps Adah has done the world more good than I did with my first vote.

Huckabee is speaking to the wrong base.

Monday, February 11th, 2008

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My friend Rick pointed me to a story NPR ran last Friday by Barbara Bradley Hagerty about the inside bible-speak that Huckabee used in his “victory speech” after the Super Tuesday primaries. He made numerous references to what I grew up with in Sunday School Bible stories; things like loaves and fishes and taking a big guy down with a small stone, etc. Some of the NPR types decided to go out on the National Mall and ask “Christians” on the street about what these references were. Few to no one could get the references right. I and most Mormons I know are very familiar with these stories and references. Very few Evangelicals could place the stories. Most Evangelicals would vote for Huckabee if given the chance. Few Mormons will vote for him after the string of carefully worded, just below the radar/belt anti-Mormon digs he made running up to Super Tuesday. Am I the only one chuckling about the irony in this?