Chanting Prayers on the Subway

[If I’ve been scarcer around the Cauldron the last few days, it will get even worse over the next 6 weeks. The spring songbird migration–my holy month of Ramadan, of sorts–has reached NYC, and morning hours devoted to scouring Central Park and the accompanying super-early wake-up times will likely preclude my active participation here for a while. Those super-early wake-ups are why I was able to witness the following, and why I ask the following question:]

Pre-dawn NYC subway car, populated by the usual working-class Jills and Joes of that ungodly hour, on their way to or from nursing jobs, construction sites, etc. The withdrawn silence of semi-sleep always prevails…

…except today. A guy starts chanting his religious prayer non-stop in a foreign tongue, clearly audible to everyone else. After 5 minutes, someone shouts for him to “Shut the f*ck up!” The guy next to him finds another seat at the first opportunity. The praying guy just keeps going. Is his behavior–

1) Annoying. He’s disturbing everyone around him and violating the unspoken rules of the subway at that hour.

2) Tacky. One’s private, personal religious devotions shouldn’t be paraded in a public space, let alone one where everyone else is held hostage to it.

3) Unusual but acceptable. After all, buskers, panhandlers, and proselytizers routinely use the subway as a soapbox, and everyone tolerates them; why should religious practice be any different?


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