All my life I've been firmly against organized religion, a stance set in place by my being unwillingly dragged every Sunday for years to church and being fed incredibly boring and fantastical tales while having to endure getting choked-out by incense while getting subjected to interminable songs of praise. During my childhood I was especially annoyed at how it was repeatedly driven home that superheroes and monsters and other such spawn of the human imagination were absolutely NOT real, yet I was expected to believe that exactly the same things as found in the Bible were as factual in their existence as the sky itself, a contradiction that even by the age of five I called "bullshit" upon. If some of that kind of stuff is not real, then in my book NONE of it is. Anyway, I finally put my foot down when I was fifteen and told my churched-up mom that I refused to waste another moment of my time with religion, basically because I just did not believe in it, so why should I bother attending? It may work for other people but it served me no purpose then and it serves me no purpose now.
For the past fifteen years, I have lived in Brooklyn's Park Slope, a neighborhood best defined as something of a haven for starter families and trust fund kids and a place that has changed drastically from its genuinely dangerous "Wild West" days of the late-1980's/early-1990's. Gentrification has rendered the neighborhood into a cozy place for those who can afford to live here — the only way I can afford my studio is because I moved in as long ago as I did and the apartment is rent controlled — and it's usually quite quiet and tranquil (excepting for the uncouth old school black and Hispanic stereotypes living in the building next door, but don't get me started ion them). That is, quiet and tranquil until it's a religious holiday for the local Mexi-Catholic contingent, and this morning happened to be one of those dreadful days.
As seen from my second floor apartment.
Whenever one of those accursed days rolls around, it's guaranteed that President Street, the block I live on, will be invaded by loud and annoying processions of the faithful, bearing full-scale replicas of the Blessed Virgin and ever-so-slowly meandering down the street as the voice of their female spiritual leader blares from the PA system speakers mounted to the roofs of the processional SUV's.
One of the unconscionably loud PA vehicles.
While she yammers away in Spanish, the procession's live musicians make with the trumpets and establish a mournful, dirge-like rhythm and tone that's sure to catch the attention of the area's residents, whether they want to take notice or not. I can only imagine being the poor bastard who's worked all night long on some thankless service or municipal shift and returns home with nothing in mind other than hitting their bed for a few hours of blissful, uninterrupted sleep before they are once more thrust into the hell of their daily routine, only to have that slumber rudely interrupted by a pack of refugees from a Jodorowsky movie suddenly showing up to proclaim their devotion right outside the innocent party's window.
It would be annoying and rude enough if the procession merely strolled by and woke folks up, but they have to give the knife an extra little twist and allow the marchers to walk for maybe five or ten feet at a time before stopping dead and letting the priestess or whatever she is drone on and on and on in Spanish in a voice and tone that could be interpreted as either sheer boredom or having recently come back from the grave as one of the more articulate harbingers of the undead apocalypse.
And I'm not certain, but I presume the start/stop cadence of the procession is to allow one of the full-scale Blessed Virgin inaction figures that they haul around to be parked in front of each building that they pass, in order for us heathens to gaze in what they hope will be reverence at an image of an ancient Judean woman whose iteration in this instance looks like one hell of a fabulous drag queen.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this kind of showy gaudiness act in direct counterpoint to the humble beauty that the nativity was supposed to impart and therefore inspire the people with? Then again I suppose a realistic depiction of a sweaty, exhausted, vaginally-sundered woman who's just given virgin birth — don't get me started — in what was no doubt a redolent, possibly vermin-infested stable in the Middle East would not necessarily be the kind of image the Church would find appealing enough for a couple of millennia of P.R. Then again, they've done pretty well with assorted glammed-up depictions of a victim of horrible torture, the crucifixion, for just as long, so what the fuck do I know?
So the bottom line from me on this, despite my admitted ranting on my own personal distaste for religion, most especially that of the Christian/Catholic flavor, is this: If you want to practice your faith and if that helps you to be a better person and make the world a better place for everyone, I will not begrudge you that. In fact, I support your right to your beliefs/faith. Just don't inflict it on me. Especially not by parking a cacophonous parade of it right in front of my fucking building on a day when I just want some peace and quiet.