Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mitt, Money and My Mormonism (Plus, a Secret CIty Report)

As you may have read in yesterday's post, I hadn't been to The Secret City in awhile, so today instead of my regular service (more about that later), I rushed over at the last minute, was almost late.  

The Secret City, which I've written about here before, is a monthly gathering/communal sharing of art/music and spoken word.  Structured like an Episcopalian service, every act on the program responds to each month's theme.  Today's was money--terrifying theme for me, actually, but a metaphor that I'm trying to be less terrified of as I attempt to work my way out of my over-arching tight place.  

(Is our theme getting a little old?  Not to me!)

Today's program included:

Look At This:  Peter Simensky--an artist, whose collages are assembled from the gorgeous currency of dying economies.

A Taste:  Barrett Washburne's black-eyed peas and collard greens.  I found out today that both of these items are prepared and consumed for luck and prosperity on New Year's Day in the South.

A Song:  The traveling troubadour Andru Bemis' "Two Dollar Bill"

Watch This:  Caroline Woolard's "A Disappearing Act." (What happened here was too controversial to make public, but it was right on theme.)  She is AMAZING:  I could write a whole blog post--a book!--on her.  For one thing, she started Trade School . . . .

A Reading:  Artists on Money, Read by Charleigh Parker

A Story:  "Ashes"--The Secret City founder Chris Wells' monthly personal essay installment.  Always brilliant.

The Secret City band and choir performed the following songs before and after the service:  Pink Floyd's "Money,"  "Money (That's What I Want)" (covered by many), and "Pennies from Heaven."

I've wanted to write about my other service for a long time.  I've been a lifelong member of the Mormon Church.  Like Mitt Romney (speaking of money) my Mormon ancestry goes back many generations on both sides, to the beginnings of Mormonism.  My great, great, great, great??? grandfather was an English immigrant who converted to Mormonism just after its founding/restoration (depending on who's reading).  He hung out with Joseph Smith and eventually moved to Utah with the others and practiced polygamy.  He had a son who Brigham Young sent down to Mexico to start one of the Mormon colonies that Pancho Villa booted out at the beginning of the last century.  Mitt and I have that in common, too.  Only our respective money pools and politics divide Mitt and me.

I was born into Mormonism and raised in a fairly Orthodox family.  I was brought to church every Sunday, and graduated from the Brigham Young's university.  However, due to a variety of circumstances, I did not go on a proselytizing mission, have never taken out my endowments, and have had periods of inactivity and estrangement, particularly when I've lived in Utah.  I also married a Jewish man.  Politically, I'm a Dennis Kucinich/Angela Davis/Bernie Saunders kind of liberal--if that makes sense, so politically, at least, I feel at odds with the majority of my Mormon brothers and sisters.  I am pro gay (and LBGTQ, for that matter), pro feminist, pro choice, anti-war, anti-gun, pro tax the rich, pro civil rights, pro art and artists, pro cycling and recycling, pro community.  In fact, in many of these things, I am not so different than the founding Mormons.  Most contemporary Mormons I have a hard time finding points of connection with.

Less so in New York City.  Part II tomorrow.   

Tights spied at The Secret City

Troubadour Andru Bemis


  1. what a wonderful service--so glad you could attend.

    1. also: we have to wait all the way until tuesday for part two? dang.