Friday, July 08, 2005

Thugs win, Part II

A few years ago, the city council passed an ordinance banning the loud car stereos from being played at a volume that could be heard with windows closed from a certain distance. About one year later, the ordinance was repealed, apparently under pressure from stereo manufacturers and aldermen of certain wards. Today, our hours of prayer are regularly interrupted by what I can best describe as acts of aural violence, young persons cruising our street blasting obscene and ugly organized sound (i.e. not quite deserving of the label 'music').

I am not an old man, and so I cannot be criticized for musing about the old days. I don't go back that far. But within my lifetime, I can remember when this sort of thing was the province of a handful of drug dealers and was frowned upon. Today, we can't even get an ordinance to ban these acts of violence. They are acts of violence because we all know what that 'not-quite-music' is about: killing people and abusing women. A person blasting said 'organized sound' is declaring his approval of killing people and abusing women. He does so with paralyzing blasts of noise that by their sheer volume raise our hackles and make normal persons cower. if we are not willing to insist that this not be done, we are basically giving thugs the green light.

Even better is the fact that we have been asked not to ring our bells on the hour because they irritate our neighbors. I wonder if these persons would make this complaint if they travelled to London, Paris or Munich. There are quite a few more bells there and no insanely loud car stereos.

Anyway, the reason this is appearing in the Blog of a Benedictine monk is that we are called to the city precisely because the modern American city is in grave danger of losing its civility altogether. We witness to a life of solidarity, silence, courtesy, and worship. In a small way, may God prosper our work and help us to pose a counter-witness to fear, anger, noise and disrespect.


Scott said...

Dear Prior Peter:

As a Benedictine oblate trying to live a life at least influenced by the Rule of St. Benedict, I share your frustration at the crassness of so many in the modern city. Everywhere one goes, one finds people whose highest value seems to be self-expression at all times and in every available way: constant ranting, or chatter, or stereo-blasting, all in the most bleak and profane terms imaginable.

God bless you as you and the other monks quietly do battle for civility, calm, and the habit of listening for God, even in the midst of the hot, loud, crass city. I hope to join you in the (often interrupted) silence again soon to pray and listen with you.

I very much enjoy reading your blog and look forward to your new Web site and the possibility of hearing you chant via the Web again.

Scott Gregory Knitter, Benedictine oblate of
Saint Meinrad Archabbey
Edgewater, Chicago

Scott said...

As we near First Vespers of St. Benedict, I would like to wish the monks of Holy Cross Monastery and all Benedictines all blessings of this beautiful feast day.

Rejoice we all, and praise the Lord, celebrating a holy day in honor of St. Benedict, in whose solemnity the angels are joyful, and glorify the Son of God.

Jim H. said...

Prior Peter,
Perhaps a variation on The Serenity Prayer... "God grant me the serenity to accept the PEOPLE I cannot change!" Here is one the thugs won't win: I still intend to come to Chicago and spend a couple days at your B&B. Hope to meet you then! Pax Christi!

Prior Peter, OSB said...

Dear Scott and Jim,
Thank you for the kind Feast Day greetings. I am somewhat amused that this post has generated three comments! I really mean to be posting thoughts on Scripture and the Rule, but the summers here really make it a struggle to concentrate on these things!

I do hope that you both are able to visit.

miguel said...

Peter, Hi, this is xbrother Gabriel from CID. I spent about a month helping out in your monastery.
I'm out and about. I'm working towards my degree in nursing. No solem vows for me.


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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
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