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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Not In Their Backyard

There's a problem in Staten Island.

And, no, it's not the twenty-something party girls sporting fake Louis Vuitton bags still living with their parents over some deli or under some underpass.

And, while the problem may be happening in Staten Island, it isn't just their problem. It's our problem. Ours, as in, Americans.

See, there was this church in Staten Island, called Saint Margaret Mary. As is the case with churches all over the country, St. MM is facing a precipitous decline in the number of its parishioners. How do churches survive without the great, tithing masses? The answer is simple: they do not. They dwindle down to several elderly ladies wearing cute hats and barely perambulating behind walkers bearing wicker baskets, and then, well, they become private houses or condos or are repurposed in some other way, or, they are sold to alternative religions to house and comfort their believers.

When Reverend Keith Fennessey signed an agreement last month to sell the church to the Muslim American Society, well, people freaked.

You know, racists.

In the bad old days, these people shrouded themselves under old Sears & Roebuck bedsheets with little eyehole cutouts and paraded in front of burning crosses, shouting retarded epithets into bullhorns.

Today, they attend Civic Association Meetings in their cargo shorts, flip-flops and "WE REMEMBER 9/11" t-shirts, which they wear as cloaks of self-righteous invincibility.

The New York Times quoted an angry racist as begging the question, "Wouldn’t you agree that every terrorist, past and present, has come out of a mosque?”



Um, hi. How about all of the bazillions of people who pray in mosques every day all over the world who aren't terrorists? Also, forgive me, but I'm pretty sure that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols never entered a mosque, not even to use the bathroom. Same with Ted Kaczynski. Same with-- oh, what the fuck is the difference? You can't argue with racists. You can just hope they kill themselves and/or are infertile.

It's a shattering disappointment to me to know that rabid, ribald racism thrives so palpably and so openly in America today, but what is going on in Staten Island, and in other cities and towns all across America is all the proof you need.

Black President? Big fucking deal. We're still the same old fuckjobs here-- and we don't feel compelled to hide beneath white sheets anymore. We've become quite comfortable displaying our hatred, our ignorance, and our prejudice in front of the bright, white lights of the camera.

And that's scary.

One of the venues in which I perform Gilbert & Sullivan operettas is a United Universalist Unitarian Church. It's a small church, theatrically insignificant but architecturally interesting, in a semi-secluded, wooded spot that's just lovely.

This is a smart church.

They don't have a huge worship-base, so their leadership has gotten creative. There is always something happening in this church. There are Japanese Catholics who use the building some evenings, (one of them plays a mean flute), several choirs practice in the sancturary-- there are lots of different colored robes hanging in the closet, there is a "Rocky Horror" night (you bring the brownies-- and the packets of rice, SLUT!), and, in February, the halls are filled with the jubilant, sprightly music of Sir Arthur Sullivan and the rapier-sharp wit of Sir William Gilbert. Yes, they even accept G&S freaks with open arms, those Unitarians.

Oh, and, downstairs, the Muslims run a daycare.

And we all mill around with each other, say excuse me when we scurry past the Muslim women while we carry an armful of tophats and fake flowers, the Japanese Catholics nod to us as they set up for Mass while we wait for our entrances. And I think to myself, "Not in your backyard?"

Why not?


  1. The ignorance of some tarnishes the loveliness of many.

  2. I think I'm too hungover. I read this and didn't take in a word.

    *reads again slowly*


    Americans are racist? Is that it?

    Fucking vodka and topless dancers.....

  3. I don't live in the US, I live in the Anti-American country of Canada. But I proudly will tell you I am a fan of my neighbours to the South.

    On the other hand... big deal you have a black President, he's running you into the ground just as fast as Bush was.

    As for Churches though... it's a sticky situation... One of the oldest church in my religion in my town use to be a synagogue, everytime I remember that theory it bothers me. Not that there is something wrong with synagogues but these are suppose to be religious sanctuaries... they should belong to the religion. And if it's a Catholic building--- you telling me they can't afford to keep the building. You aren't going to go in old countries of Europe and find many churches turned into condos, please they are usually left to a nun who comes and cleans it and people come in and out leaving candles as they please; now that seems right.

    I think people who make a fuss about churches is because they are hidden religious folk, they don't want to admit it, they don't want to attend perse and they are to cheap to leave their tithing... that is where the problem lays.

  4. Best thing I've read in the past few days:

    "Same with-- oh, what the fuck is the difference? You can't argue with racists. You can just hope they kill themselves and/or are infertile."

    Well said, Mr. Apron.

    (and thanks for the kind sentiment on my blog. I am going out during lunch to find a casserole dish. Do they come as cast-iron?)

  5. So well said.

    You just re-instilled some hope within me about the human race. I was reading some comments earlier (to punish myself i think) on articles involving the new york bomber (idiot) and the things people were saying about Muslims as a whole made me wanna vom. Bitch all you want about the terrorists, but don't make fun of innocent people wishing to live a peaceful life just like you.

    I hope they're all infertile too.

    God such a FABULOUS post. I wish I had written it.... :)

  6. This upsets me in many ways but I will need some time to collect my thoughts on it. I'll possibly return. If I don't, that just means I'm stewing on it elsewhere and also: lazy.

  7. Just to clarify: the racist assholes upset me. Not the multicultural haven you've got going on there. That's actually pretty rad.


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