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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A world away fairly close by

(h/t to Jesus' General for the link to the story below)

A controversial intersection of politics, religion and the 4th of July happened earlier this month in Hyrum, UT:

The Hyrum City Council is being criticized for allowing the closing prayer at the city's Fourth of July program to be given in Spanish.
[. . .]

Maria Montalvo, of Hyrum's Church of God Ebenezer, asked if the prayer could be offered in Spanish and translated into English.

"She does speak some English, but she was uncomfortable with standing in front of everyone and speaking English," Miller said. "She asked if we would mind if she did it in Spanish, and we didn't see that there was a problem with that as long as it was translated."

The decision has been criticized as unpatriotic and wrong in a flurry of recent letters to the Logan Herald Journal. One letter, from LaVon G. Hanson, a World War II veteran from Logan, called for the city council to be "impeached and sent to Mexico."

The article continues by saying that the prayer offered in next year's July 4th celebration won't be in Spanish.

I had all sorts of questions after reading this. First, where is Hyrum, Utah and who was likely in the crowd at that celebration that might have been unnerved by the bi-lingual pronouncement. A quick search finds Hyrum about 80 miles north of Salt Lake City surrounded by the mountains and trees of the Cache National Forest. Another quick search finds the Census Bureau figuring roughly 12% of the state's population is of Hispanic/Latino origin.

I'm still mystified as to what is to be feared by praying out loud in Spanish anywhere in Utah, let alone in Hyrum. Then again, I'm afraid of flying. I can trace my fear to a very turbulent commuter flight I took as a teenager. In spite of a lot of study into the physics of flying, the design of jet engines, the training and refreshers commercial jet pilots get all the time, etc., I still grab the arms of my coach seats in sheer terror whenever the "fasten safety belt" sign rings then turns on in the middle of the flight. The only time that cursed ring/light switched on calms me down is when I know the plane is headed toward the landing strip.

Then again, perhaps I do understand what all of the irrational fear is about. It doesn't mean I will stop flying nor does it cease my wonder at watching large commercial jets floating down to a landing whenever I'm near LAX. In spite of the controversy this past July 4 in Hyrum, perhaps that prayer touched someone in the crowd who needed to hear it and did not feel compelled to fire out a fear-filled screed to the local paper.

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