I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to crack on church bells. I have gone after religion relentlessly, from believers to preachers, and last year even took a swipe at funeral processions, which I decried for, among other offenses, being patently classist on the grounds that they are typically for “folks from certain religions, plus people with means.”
“Why,” I asked, “should privileged or specific groups get to inconvenience the rest of us?” It’s ridiculous, just like how we have to tolerate a symphony of church bells around here.
The straw that broke my back on this one didn’t start out as a noise complaint. I was driving past a church in Dorchester last Sunday, and noticed as I had before that police allow folks to double-park when they’re in service. This, of course, is absolutely absurd, and only happens because the authorities are sympathetic to (certain) religious people. Which is essentially discrimination against everybody else, not to mention the cause of traffic disturbances. If you don’t believe me, if you think the BPD allows just anyone to clog a major thoroughfare, try throwing a reggae concert and asking the cops if your guests can occupy a lane for an entire block.
The same is true about church bells, which can be to unsuspecting eardrums what cadaverous processions and double-parked cars are to commuting. Who else gets to make that kind of noise? Why do Christians—and especially Catholics, the shameful homophobic child rape apologists among us—get to interrupt the rest of good Bostonians who want to sleep in on a Sunday? Or on any day in some cases, since churches of all stripes and superstitions seemingly ring bells whenever they please. Imagine if religions with predominately non-white members had a custom that obnoxious. Every Tom, Dick, and Becky from Bay Village to Brookline would be outside with their sound meters.
I told some friends and family members that I planned on writing a column like this. Most requested for me to kill the rant altogether, or that I at least bark softly and set aside the fire I typically reserve for political hypocrites. Fine, I sort of promised, but it isn’t easy; after all, the culprits in this case landed on my fecal compendium for the unnecessary clamor that they make. Think about that for a second—I’m angry about unsolicited cacophony forced on communities by institutions that pay zero taxes, and my own pals and relatives are mostly concerned about the noise I am making.
Listen, very few of these churches even have actual bells anymore. Even when they are real, they serve no contemporary function in an age where smartphones feature information on church start times, but it’s even stupider that we are being annoyed by artless recordings that are programmed and looped in the name of tradition.
Sorry to sound off, but I’m sick of being sounded on.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.