David Rodeback's Blog

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Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

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Monday, December 31, 2007
Christmas Music and Christmas Politics

The two don't really go together, but they coexist in my last blog post of the year, along with a bunch of Mormons, a former Southern Baptist minister, and some (other) really nice people.

Two Excellent Christmas Concerts

I participated in the creation of some Christmas music this month, as usual. But the really good stuff -- as usual -- had me in the audience, not involved in any way in the performance. My favorite local performance (more or less local) was the Utah Children's Choir's Christmas concert. They seem to do well every year, and this year's offering was the best I recall. It is a serious choir doing serious work, and doing it very well indeed. (Full disclosure: Three members of my immediate family are involved.)

And then there was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas concert, with much-loved guest artists The King's Singers. I don't go to the MoTab Christmas concert every year, but this year's was the best I remember, in my own very subjective judgment. Maybe this is due to my 20-year partiality to The King's Singers. But when was the last time you saw an organ solo bring the house down? Richard Elliott's own setting of "I Saw Three Ships" will have me buying the DVD, when it comes out, not the CD, because it was something to see, not just hear.

Personal on Politics

Now, with tongue lodged firmly in cheek, I note that, in deference to Republican presidential candidate the Erstwhile Reverend Mike Huckabee and an assortment of talking heads who now seem concerned about such things, I have tried repeatedly this season, including at the MoTab Christmas concert, to remind myself that Mormons aren't Christians.

I say, I have tried. I even tried on the Sunday before Christmas, while sitting in church. But it's not working. A silly, misinformed fantasy still doesn't trump reality, even in this political season. Perhaps I should be relieved.

The Grinch Who Politicized Iowa's Christmas

I don't know what genius decided the Iowa Caucuses should be two days after New Year's Day -- I suppose I could find out with little difficulty if I cared that much -- but Iowans have my sympathy. There are a few states I haven't been in yet, but I'll be surprised if I ever find Americans anywhere who are kinder, friendlier, and more generous to strangers than the good people of Iowa and eastern Nebraska. I speak from considerable personal experience, but I won't bore you with narratives. I can't imagine anything Iowans might have done to deserve the tawdry politicization of their Christmas. Does anyone outside the campaigns themselves want to see presidential candidates running, of all things, Christmas advertisements? I know there's a mad rush to have primaries earlier, and the Iowa Caucuses traditionally come before them all . . . but could not Christmas have been spared? Iowans' Christmas in particular?

What Is an Iowa Caucus Anyway?

Most voters understand a primary election well enough. Members of a political party go to the polls to choose their party's candidate for an upcoming general election. (To be sure, some primaries allow people who are not party members to participate, which strikes me as self-defeating and a tad bizarre.) But the Iowa Caucuses are not exactly primary elections. You may enjoy Roger Simon's excellent article both for its glimpses into the arcane world of the Iowa Caucuses and for its description of the only slightly better-known "ground game" in which good political campaigns compete practically everywhere.

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