Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I've heard there was a secret chord

LGF has been following the story of Hamtramck, Michigan for a while now. A local mosque has irritated many by insisting on playing calls to prayer over loudspeakers, and it's finally come to a municipal vote. I'll be interested to see how this turns out, if only because of the flimsy, smoke-and-mirrors reasoning of cultural importance on the side of the proponents. In the Islamic faith, there are five calls to prayer, but in Hamtramck, only those at 1:35 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9:05 p.m. will be broadcast, according to the station's reports. The 5:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. prayers will be withheld. So, sanctity is divisible? If any calls to prayer are holy and necessary, then the logical conclusion is that they all are. Compromising on the most obviously obnoxious times of day to broadcast skin-crawlingly loud atonal ululating would seem to imply that the entire enterprise is not technically necessary for devout Muslims, but is rather, at best, a frippery. (And at worst, a form of non-military psy-ops.) Motlib said the call to prayer will help Muslims to remember to take time out of their schedule to pay tribute to nearly 1,400 years of worship. Why is it that only Islam requires of its followers to give up such incredible amounts of personal responsibility? Devout Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and adherents of every other major religion seem to be, in this day and age, capable of remembering to pray without an aural reminder from a central authority. In fact, I hear some of those are even older as instutional religions than Islam (amazing!), and yet don't make the same demands to the community or of their faithful. Yes, there's the bells of Christian churches, but I've never heard one of those tolling that lasted longer than ten seconds, or were loud enough to even notice when more than two blocks away. I live four blocks away from Parliament Hill, where the Peace Tower carillon sounds regularly, and I consciously hear it maybe once a week. The sound of a bell fades away in seconds; it's not a several-minutes-long speech. Moreover, it's a solution to a problem that no longer exists. We have these amazingly neat things called digital wristwatches nowadays, many costing only dollars, which can (strangely enough) be set to chime an alarm several times during the day - but quietly enough not to disturb entire neighbourhoods. Imagine that! The mosque is located across the street from St. Ladislaus Catholic Church. The city's former mayor, Gary Zych, said that on some days, the church bells may sound off at the same time as the mosque's call to prayer. He added, "That's what you call harmony." Okay. Let's say I start my own church based on the Most Holy Teachings of the Great Bird of the Galaxy. I declare that the faithful must be called to prayer by an ancient, special, culturally-significant auditory signal - oh, how about, ten times a day. Starting at 0300h, every two hours, until 2300h. Do I get my way? If not, why not? By the same standard, it would appear to be about as legitimate a demand, and just as enabling of warm, fuzzy feelings of multiculturalism and inclusiveness. My biggest problem: What kind of religion demands in the year 2004 that its devout loudly disturb the entire community on a daily basis, merely for the sake of not having to wear a watch? I know that saying this is the kind of thing that could get someone lynched here in the multiculti paradise that is Trudeaupia, but it seems to me to sum up everything medieval and uncompromising about the the Religion of Peaceā„¢.

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