Vermont

Vermont church bell dispute: AP chimes in but fails to produce 'joyful noise'

Vermont church bell dispute: AP chimes in but fails to produce 'joyful noise'

NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) disputes don't often make national news.

But in Vermont, a tussle over church bells — or at least the sound of them — drew the attention of The Associated Press.

The lede of the AP story, published earlier this month:

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The sound system next door is making it hard for Olga Lopatina to love thy neighbor: Christ the King church.
Since last summer, the church has been broadcasting the sounds of bells and hymns to its Burlington neighborhood, a joyful noise unto the Lord that some here think is just an unholy racket.
It's not just the volume, but the timing and type of tune that irks Lopatina, who said she loves the natural sound of bells after growing up in Ukraine.
"It's not really music," she complained of the hymns as she stood in her backyard one recent evening after yet another unwelcome serenade. "This one, it sounds like a teenage iPhone recording, like the first generation ring tones that you pay 99 cents."
The dispute has fueled online jokes — some that posters felt were disrespectful of their faith —and complaints that the bells violate Burlington's noise ordinance. A meeting with a mediator was scheduled for March but was postponed until May 18.

From the start, it's difficult to tell whether this is a battle over noise or religion — or both.

Repeatedly, AP rings the religion bell — starting with the reference to online jokes deemed "disrespectful." But the story never quotes an actual person making that claim.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Vermont bacon wars: How much religious info does a news report need?

Vermont bacon wars: How much religious info does a news report need?

One of the most interesting questions my students ask me all the time can be stated like this: In an age of short stories and even shorter attention spans, how do I know how much information is enough when I'm dealing with a complicated topic? 

You can see the relevance to the religion beat, right? How do you know how much the average reader actually knows about a given world religion (think Islam) or even, in an American context, details about different forms of Judaism or Christianity? How do you know when you need to stop and spend a few precious words explaining something that, to some readers, may be perfectly obvious, but not perfectly obvious to others?

Well, I saw an interesting little story the other day from Burlington, Vt., that perfectly illustrated this situation and I stashed it away for later discussion. Reading it a second time I noticed that, well, it was written by a former student of mine, someone with whom I have had this precise discussion.

So, let me clearly state that connection and note that the following is not a slam job. I honestly do not know whether this little story has to have an addition fact paragraph or two. I also don't know if the reporter (hello there, April) write additional material that was removed by an editor. Things happen. This is one reason GetReligionistas rarely mention reporters by name.

So what's the subject here? Well, it's Islam and bacon.

Please respect our Commenting Policy