Thursday, December 11, 2014

Piano Guys and Gals

This morning, Sis lay down on our piano bench and played "Old Susanna" upside down--just like Mozart in the movie, Amadeus.

Why?

Because she was inspired by the Piano Guys concert we attended last night.

Similarly, Bud was practicing cello first thing this morning, even thumping the body and spinning his instrument.

All because of the Piano Guys.

Bud also loved that they played "his" song from the Peanuts Gang . . .in a nursing home (they showed a video), just like he will on Sunday with the piano club.

I'm not sure when we first heard of them.  I think perhaps it was a FB video of a Star Wars cello duel. 

But pretty soon, they were everywhere.  Mama seemed to come upon them separately, knowing a video where the musicians pluck and bow the inside of a grand piano.  One of the young ladies in our piano club played some of their songs, including "Waterfalls" and "Secrets."  And our piano teacher then mentioned that they were going to be in concert nearby.

So we got tickets.  And went last night.

They were fabulous!  Mixing Christmas carols with pop tunes, original compositions with well-known tunes, sometimes played traditionally, but more often than not, played more originally with loops, thumping, plucking, using their heads, elbows, and even toes and feet!!  Though it was well past their bedtimes, the kids were enthralled.

And all Mama and I could think of was Mormons.

See, unbeknowst to us, the musicians are members of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS.)  As you probably know, the wealthy and powerful (and growing) LDS church contributed funds and power to overthrowing California's Proposition 8, regarding same-sex marriage, which they are firmly against.  On a personal level, I know only one Mormon, who is also against same-sex marriage; we've discussed it briefly--in my house, of all places.  She has stated that she respects the love I have for my family--and so we manage, as co-Girl Scout leaders.  Conversely, I respect her beliefs and support her right to them . . . up to the point that she wants to take away mine (as far as I know, she isn't a social activist per se.)  It's a tenuous friendship, where we try to stay far away from these issues.  A real case of agree-to-disagree.  

Anyway, I tend not to support organizations who actively support conservative causes, i.e. Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, Chick-fil-a, Domino's, Wendy's, Cracker Barrel, ad infinitum.  And so at the very first, I was a bit disappointed that some of my money, by way of tithing, must have gone to the LDS coffers.

And as I sat and listened to their beautiful music, I reflected on how prejudiced I would be if I lumped all Mormons under one roof or dismissed them out of hand.  I know it's not a monolithic group, ranging from the Fundamentalist LDS polygamists to a strong believer like my GS co-leader to the LDS feminists and even those who support gay rights.  What did I really know of the Piano Guys?  Besides their amazing talents?

Well, they made one Mormon joke--about "that's one wife per person, something you have to explain if you're Mormon"--and testified a few times (which mostly fell flat here in Connecticut.)  It dawned on me how secular CT really is, especially the circles I run in.  As a kid, I'd hear prayers to Christ at football games; there are always a few celebrities thanking God at the Oscars and Super Bowl.  But that's about it.  And, considering the proselytizing culture of LDS, it was pretty mild at the concert--just some gratitude, some witnessing of the divine that we all can feel "no matter your beliefs," one said.  I don't even think there was a table of information anywhere. 

But I still thought about it and apparently Mama did, too.  When we discussed it later (after a brief but convoluted discussion with the very sleepy kids), Mama quoted Pema Chodron on how we're all looking for enlightenment and that we should recognize that in each other; if we are bothered by other people's searches, it's probably because we're not there yet either (or something to that effect; it was late for me, too!)  As UUs, we covenant to support and promote the inherent worth and dignity of all people. And I really want to live that, even when it's somewhat challenging.  Because I do have a knee-jerk reaction about religious conservatives, perhaps particularly Mormons because of their recent political successes and increased visibility.  So, it's a practice for me, particularly to focus on the individual, not making assumptions on some stereotype of the group they belong to (like my GS friend, who is in many ways, besides religion, my doppelganger--they were at the concert, too! )--just as I want myself and family to be treated as people, not stereotypes of lesbians or Asians or Texans or whatever label fits preconceived notions. Also to be treated with respect and kindness and compassion, regardless.   It works for me and my co-leader, for whom we are each the other's teachable moment, I think.

And, I suppose, even if I am opposed politically, personally, it is best--to borrow a biblical phrase--to turn the other cheek.  I would not want to turn around and do what I don't like in return.

Though sometimes, if I do feel a bit attacked personally or in general, besides remembering the UU principle, I comfort myself that conservative LDS are losing the culture wars, much the same way Mitt Romney lost the election (even if we do seem to be backsliding, having a serious backlash to liberal politics in some realms.)

And so I sat back and enjoyed the music, especially as we all sang "Silent Night" together at the end.  Because it is that shared humanity, which we affirmed together, that matters most to me.  And we all have our own paths to it.


(Though, Mama and I agreed, if the Piano Guys used their platform and campaigned against us, per se (like Cracker Barrel used to), we probably wouldn't be buying anymore tickets or CDs.)

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