Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell:
Maybe it’s because I’m a nonbeliever who used to work in radio, but the one Quaker meeting I had been to, at Arch Street Friends in Philadelphia, was like listening to a whole lot of room tone. I sat there for two hours and no one said a thing. Or rather I thought it had been two hours when in fact I lasted precisely fourteen minutes. Not because it was boring, but because it was the opposite of boring—tense, in fact. At one point I crossed my legs and the sound of denim on denim was so loud, my knees seemed to be plugged into some imaginary amp. Which did make me appreciate how growing up in this hushed Quaker atmosphere could make a person denounce war for purely acoustic reasons. If the noise of one antsy visitor squirming in her seat was that jarring, how evil must actual gunfire sound? In the meeting, I found myself wishing for something interesting to listen to that might also drown out the ambient sneezes, as well as something we could all look at to avoid the awkward eye contact. I left when I realized that sort of communal spiritual experience does exist. It’s called the movies.
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