Religion and Politics

First, the religion:

My daughter Cleta, age 11, is now singing in the Salt Lake Children’s Choir against her will. As my mother dragged me into a children’s choir when I was a pre-pubescent, so I have yanked my daughter into a choir not of her choosing. I’m not sure if it’s revenge or what, but the sins of my mother have now been revisited upon the next generation, and I’m OK with that.

But that’s not the point.

Tonight was her first concert, held in the Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle, home of the eponymous choir, and it was part of the Salt Lake Interfaith Council’s interfaith week, or something. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians of every stripe, along with lots of Native Americans all offered prayers, and then people sang and danced and stuff. Some Hindus sang “We Shall Overcome” in Indian, and a lot of drummers demonstrated that the acoustics of the Tabernacle make even a couple of bongos sound deafeningly loud. (Said bongos drowned out the big finale where the children sang a non-denominational, namby-pamby ode to not killing each other.) The drums couldn’t overpower the bagpipers, though, who kicked off the concert with a really cool version of Amazing Grace. It reminded me of seeing a lone piper atop Edinburgh Castle at the end of the Edinburgh Tattoo.

The concert went downhill from there.

The only time anyone got interesting was when the Islamic children sang a song written by the former Cat Stevens about how “Islam will unite us all.” Really? It will? Because I have no intention of becoming a Muslim. However. I can think of ways that Islam will unite us all, and none of them are pretty.

Other than that, I found the whole thing innocuous, slightly boring, and utterly irrelevant.

It’s not that I favor religious intolerance; it’s that I don’t see the point of gathering everyone together to prove how inoffensive we can be. The moral of the story was “Please, please, please, let’s all be pals, okay?” It felt like a mandatory “Don’t Do Drugs” high school assembly. In the end, we’re going to believe what we believe. I will respect and defend anyone’s right to believe what they want – as long as violence and stuff isn’t involved – but I have no intention of watering down my faith to make it acceptable to the masses at large. Still, plenty of other churches are willing to do that, and the end result is the kind of pabulum that was on display tonight.

Maybe if the Scientologists had shown up…

Now the politics:

Mark Shurtleff, Utah’s Attorney General, was the Master of Ceremonies at the Salt Lake County Lincoln Day Dinner, the largest annual gathering of the Republicans in Utah’s most populous county. Shurtleff is a fairly gregarious chap, but he’s in the minority among Salt Lake County Republicans in that he has been, from the outset, a strong John McCain supporter. (So is Utah’s governor Jon Huntsman Jr., even though his billionaire father was Romney’s finance chairman. There are issues in the Huntsman family over that one that they’ll have to resolve themselves.)

So anyway, Shurtleff thought it would be a good idea to kick off the event with a little gloating.

“Six months ago, this state had written off John McCain,” he said with a cat-who-ate-the-canary grin. “How many of you, by a show of hands, were supporting John McCain back then?”

In the packed ballroom filled with hundreds of people, one lone McCain supporter in the back of the room raised his hand.

“Amazing how things change, isn’t it?” Shurtleff crowed. “How many of you are supporting McCain now?”

Complete silence. The same lone McCain supporter in the back of the room was still the only one with his hand in the air.

McCain could very well turn Utah into a blue state.

Behold: Glen Larson!
My High School Reunion

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