“Everybody’s Mad, That’s the Main Thing”

13 12 2006

Because it’s the season of peace, hope and joy, gathering close to share light and warmth against the growing darkness and cold?

The kids and I passed another one of those church marquee “reason for the season” reminders on our usual route the other day. I’ve heard that SO often since I was a child myself, and always smiled and accepted it, believing it made sense as positive power of story in its own context — but in a half-century of hearing the phrase, I’ve never heard it the way it hit me this week. I suddenly feel a dark, cold, frightening disconnect between “reason” and “season” — where’s the seasonal sharing of peaceful, hopeful light and human warmth? Choosing up religious sides and fighting with the rest of us is hardly comfort and joy to sing about, seems like it just makes the cold and dark worse for us all.

Christians fought righteously to block another faith’s call to prayer sounding outside Detroit:

For some longtime residents, like Joanne Golen, 68, who described herself as a born-again Christian, the request crossed a line. Golen said she had always gotten along well with the Bangladeshi families in her neighborhood . . .but the call to prayer was too much.

“My main objection is simple,” she said. “I don’t want to be told that Allah is the true and only God five times a day, 365 days a year. It’s against my constitutional rights to have to listen to another religion evangelize in my ear.”

At City Hall last week, before the final vote on the loudspeaker, a crowd of more than 100 crammed into a room, with dozens more listening or arguing in the hallway outside.

yet atheists weary of amplified Baptist church bells in Connecticut are dismissed as cranks and told to shut up or pack up, by local elected officials no less, who own the very sound system at issue!

Because the system is owned by the borough and the town, and is housed in a church, the Connecticut chapter of American Atheists Inc. has asked the governments to divest themselves of it. The group also has asked that the volume be turned down.

. . .“The bells will continue to toll until they stop us,” Borough Warden Cynthia Kata said Monday.

Added Burgess Patrick Sullivan: “The borough is not gonna run. We’re here, and we’re gonna fight.”

And it’s not just town prayer rituals and school or airport Christmas trees. Mere holiday greetings become fighting words — if the season HAD any reason, the word holiday would be remembered as a form of “holy day” and no offense could possibly be taken by the devout of any faith.

I still see seasonal stories as connected across faiths and across the globe, only now they seem connected by the dark rather than the light, as in this unreasonable seasonal story of peaceful prayer:

“…We asked the policemen to return the shofar, and they started kicking us and punching us.”

The worshipers said that the police had apparently been called by an Arab woman who said the sound of the ram’s horn disturbed her children.

A Jewish resident of the Old City told Arutz-7, “How ironic. The loud Arab weddings and nightly prayers by the muazzin [over a powerful loudspeaker] at 4:30 AM disturb our sleep every night.” Similar complaints are heard from Jews living near Arab villages in Judea and Samaria….