War Against Christmas: Report From Bozeman, Montana
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Sunday afternoon, December 20, 2009, I attended a performance of Handel's Messiah at the First Presbyterian Church here in Bozeman. It was a "sing-along" opportunity, except that the minister who opened the program let us know that the soloists weren't keen on having us sing along with them!

Although I'm an atheist, the Messiah has always moved me. This time, even if I were a competent vocalist, I couldn't have managed to croak out anything useful, as I was too often in tears when the choir was performing — the sound, the lyrics, and my fragmentary thoughts about the traditions of Western civilization combining to overwhelm me.

Nonetheless, there were two disappointments. As it turned out, this was only a partial Messiah. It concluded, sure enough, with all of us on our feet belting out the grand "Hallelujah!" chorus, the canonical climax. But missing was the earlier number "The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, ...," which have always been the highlight words to conjure with for me. (By the way, when you can simply click a link like that and, for example, hear the trumpet sounding, you should, at least occasionally, think of and thank "Western civilization.")

The other disappointment was on the back of the folded, four-page program where it says "Happy Holidays from First Presbyterian Church!"

Astonishing. It's a Christian church, the program is the Messiah, the season is Christmas, and they're such geldings that they wish their attendees (none of us forced to be there) "Happy Holidays"?!?

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