Wednesday, September 05, 2007

FROM OUR OVERSTOCKED ARCHIVES: KEEPING THE FAITH

[50 years ago last summer, your editor covered his first story in Washington. Throughout the year, the Review will exhume some of his writings]

Sam Smith

[I am occasionally asked why I sign my letters, "Keep the faith," and of which faith am I speaking. When an ex - Mormon - turned - Episcopalian journalist raised the issue, I sent the following reply]

Far be it for me to distinguish amongst such ancient and venerable theologies, but the major faiths include the Muslim, the Christian, the Jewish, and the Seventh Day Agnostic. During the sixties on Capitol Hill there was a faith headed by Sister Imogene Stewart, Prime Minister of the Revolutionary Church of What's Happening Now. Garrison Keeler speaks of the Church of Our Sister of Perpetual Responsibility. Finally, there are the Frisbeeterians who believe that when you die your soul goes up on the roof and nobody can get it down. I will not advise you as to which faith to follow, but I seem to recall that there is an outstanding warrant against you for apostasy in one religion already, so be careful.

Episcopalism - whether of the low and lazy sort, the high and crazy variety, or the broad and hazy subset - is not really a faith, but something between a club and a conspiracy for the restraint of trade. My current faith tends to be a mixture of pantheism, transcendentalism and mid-period Zuni shamanism, although I sometimes refer to myself as a recovering Episcopalian.

The phrase 'keep the faith' is most prominently associated with the late Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who in one session of Congress got more good legislation passed than has been achieved in all the years since his expulsion. He, of course, added the familiar "baby" to the phrase. I went to interview ACP once on Capitol Hill and as he opened his bar to display a variety that would have done Clyde's Tavern proud, he said, "This, Sam, is what come from serving the lord." I found his variety of faith quite appealing.

It is a phrase I use only with people whom I presume to have a faith worth keeping even if they (or I) are uncertain as to its nature. If it makes you more comfortable, I could change to "Keep a faith" in your instance.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM

BACK TO INDEX

Your editor has been a musician for many decades. He started the first band his Quaker school ever had and played drums with bands up until 1980 when he switched to stride piano. He had his own band until the mid-1990s and has played with the New Sunshine Jazz Band, Hill City Jazz Band, Not So Modern Jazz Band and the Phoenix Jazz Band.

NOTES ON THE MUSIC

Here are a few tracks:

SAM SMITH'S DECOLAND BAND

'SHINE' 

JELLY ROLL

PHOENIX JAZZ BAND

APEX BLUES   Sam playing with the Phoenix Jazz Band at the Central Ohio Jazz festival in 1990. Joining the band is George James on sax. James, then 84, had been a member of the Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller orchestras and hadappeared on some 60 records. More notes on James

WISER MAN  Sam piano & vocal

OH MAMA  Sam piano & vocal