Thursday, February 17, 2011

A horrible sense of foreboding

The weather has been unseasonably warm here the last couple days. I have turned off my heat and opened my front door. But overriding the joy at finally having fresh air in the house is a sense of dread. Because in 2 hours and 40 minutes, I will have to close my house up. That church up the road, the one I am often (by a few people, actually) accused of singling out unfairly, will blast the first of it's twice daily play lists. The thing is, the people who accuse me of overreacting to it don't live here. They don't have to hear it every single day, twice a day. And also, the music suits their tastes so they don't see it as being that obnoxious. And while I am loathe to use my own personal taste in an argument on policy (that it should be against some sort of law or rule to blare music all over town), the fact is that that's exactly what the church does. They subject everyone who is outside or dares to open up their windows to their own personal taste in music.

Ugh, I had to feed the baby so now there's only 2 hours and 15 minutes left.

I have a neighbor who races his car on the weekends. When he tinkers with the car in his garage, it is loud. Drag strip loud. It is an unfortunate consequence of working on his car. But it is a side effect, not the goal. The church music is the goal. I have been thinking about this for what, a year now, and I cannot fathom any goal other than to make people listen to the music. This isn't like the pastor is inside his house watching TV and I am outside on his sidewalk and happen to hear what he's watching. This isn't like they're having choir practice or a concert at the church and I live across the street and can hear it. They are playing the music out of some sound system up in the bell tower and projecting the music into the open air. They are playing it (I can only assume) for and to the town at large. Why? How on Earth can anyone, individual or organization, be so presumptuous as to just take for granted that all people would be grateful for this? I like Carrie Underwood. A lot of people like Carrie Underwood. She won American Idol, her concerts sell out, she has Number One hits. But I wouldn't purchase a sound system to play Carrie Underwood songs out to a city full of strangers every day. Would anybody?

If I don't like what's on TV, I can turn off the TV or change the channel. If I don't like the radio station, I can turn off the radio or change the station. And even there, the FCC gets to regulate which frequencies TV or radio can broadcast at and, to an extent, what content they can broadcast. If I want to get away from the church music (and I do) I have to move or soundproof my house.

Why don't I call the church, or the cops, or do anything more proactive that whine on a blog? Because I am also not presumptuous enough to assume that everyone else hates this as much as I do, and just as I don't think they should be pushing their taste on me I also don't want to try to push my taste on them. And I don't want to be the godless heathen who ruined it for the church, assuming I could even get them to stop. Here's what I fear:

Imagine a Sunday morning church service. The pews are full of families and congregants, all dressed in their Sunday best and feeling warm and cozy and full of Jesusness (I'm not really sure how this works). The pastor walks up to the front of the church with a sad little smile on his face and says this. "Before we start with the praising and worshipping and happy feeling today, I have an announcement to make." (Again, can you tell I have no idea how sermons start?) "I'm sure you all remember when we purchased the Obnoxo 12000 last year and how we made it our mission to share spiritual music with the community through it. Well, we've had a complaint, and it seems that someone doesn't like our glorious message and songs of praise." (Church people talk like that, don't they?) "So beginning today, we're going to shut down the Obnoxo 12000." (Okay, here's where the astonished gasp is heard, as well as shocked murmurs of what, and how, and whyever.) "So I'd like to take a moment to thank JesusChristOurLordAndSavior (is it only my family that says it all as one word like that?) for the time we did have and to apologize to all of you whom I know loved the daily callings to God."

And then of course they would all know it was me and I would be hated forever for shutting down their religious freedoms and being the Godless Babylonian whore, or whatever people who don't like unsolicited daily concerts are. So what would you guys do, my literally few readers? Because I'd love to call or email the pastor and just ask him to stop. But I have been stewing on this for a while now and I fully realize that I might just be jumping him from out of nowhere about a problem he didn't even know existed. I'm also not sure that a person who decides to play DJ for the whole town every day actually cares what anyone else thinks. What would you say, if anything? I need help here because I am so not good at social niceties like tact.

I realize I try to lighten things up with humor a lot, but aside from my one year of attending a small church here in town, I have little to no experience with churches or sermons or religious people. I do, however, have some family who (in my opinion) ten d to over-do it. As in, give the tithing and then be unable to buy medicine for the children. And bring random church members uninvited to family events hosted by others. And look at people who disagree or question anything the church does as if they just transformed into Satan, complete with goat feet and forked tongue. I have literally been to college graduation parties featuring my uncle dunking his daughters in the family swimming pool in a celebratory baptism. So when I try to imagine how a pastor would talk to his parishioners, I realize that I may come off as exaggerated or offensive, but I really don't know. I get facebook posts daily that say things like this "About to meet Daddy for lunch. Praise Jesus that we get to share this meal together. God is good and I love my family! The Heavenly Father provides!" So if this is how people talk about a cheeseburger, I can only imagine how they would talk about their sound system. Obnoxo 12,000 is just what I call the sound system personally. I don't know what it looks like but I imagine shiny brass organ pipes, the computer from Wargames, and the giant sound system in the back of a lowrider.


Kate said...

Twenty minutes twice daily seems excessive. Maybe you could ask that they shorten it to only one twenty minute concert or two ten minute ones? You can't be the only person in town who is annoyed by this. What times of day does it play? Is the town mostly vacated at those times because of people working out of town? Can the kids hear it at school? Maybe you could do a whole church vs. state argument? It would be weak since the school aren't the ones playing the music, but maybe you could state an arguement about it being distracting to the learning enviroment. How about a letter to the editorial section of the paper? Have you asked other neighbors if they are annoyed too?

chronicbliss said...

If the wind catches it right, you can hear it from the high school up to the cemetary, so basically the whole town. It can range from only hearing a few notes to hearing the whole song clearly. The reason I don't really do anything is that I don't want to push my preference on everybody if they all like it. Ironic, since they push their preference on everybody in the first place, huh. It's at 10am and 5pm, so it hits you at least once no matter what shift you work. I assume recess would be loud enough to drown it out, and I doubt they could hear it inside the schools but I don't know.