This week, I’m putting the Ask Mormon Girl column on vacation while I set out for adventure in the Book-of-Mormon Belt.
The Our Voices, Our Visions Mormon Women’s Literary Tour is hitting the road. It’s the first ever literary tour by and for Mormon women, featuring eighteen Mormon women writers– younger and older, new and prize-winning, unorthodox and orthodox—giving readings at five universities from Claremont University to the University of Utah.
And it all began yesterday when Susan Scott, a fifth-generation RLDS / Community of Christ woman writer, arrived at the San Diego airport from her home in Ontario, Canada.
“I have a confession to make,” I told Susan as she climbed into my car. “I’ve never really talked with an RLDS woman before.”
“And I’ve never really talked with an LDS woman before either. Isn’t it amazing?”
Throughout an afternoon walking with my daughters on the shores near La Jolla—Susan is, after all, from wintry Canada; she needs to see some beach—we trade questions about the larger Mormon tradition we share.
“For us, Independence, Missouri is the center of everything,” she tells me.
“That’s kind of true for us too, actually,” I tell her. “I grew up expecting to go back to Missouri some day. Did you grow up with the Second Coming?”
“Is it like our Second Coming? With the end times, then Christ’s return, then the millennium, then Satan being loosed again, before the final judgment?”
Susan tells me that when she was 18, she eloped with the cute musician from RLDS church camp to an RLDS commune in North Carolina. It was called Zion’s Depot.
“You had RLDS communes?” I ask, jealous.
“It was the 1970s. And I was very dedicated. Wasn’t that what we were supposed to be doing? Giving away all our worldly possessions and living the faith?”
It’s dinnertime now. The sun is setting behind my flowering nectarine tree, and my daughters are drawing with colored chalk on our patio.
“You have blessed oil, do you?” she asks.
“Yes, we call it consecrated oil.”
“At the commune, one of the big debates was using blessed oil to heal the cattle.”
“We definitely have blessing cattle stories!”
Tonight, joined by poet Elisa Pulido and fiction writer Lisa Van Orman Hadley, we’ll start with a reading at Claremont Graduate University hosted by Claudia Bushman. Tomorrow, we’ll drive across the desert to ASU.
We’re hitting the road, hoping to learn more about the tradition we call home, and looking forward to meeting you along the way.
For full details on where to see the Our Voices, Our Visions Tour this week, visit mormonwomenwriters.blogspot.com