…the Brooklyn local on Saturday night was one of the city’s most democratic. The buttoned-down were tucked snugly among the zoot-suited and the worse-for-wear.
At Columbus Circle, a lanky man in overalls boarded the train… It took me a moment to realize it was the same country type who had knocked the purse out of my hands the day before on the IRT… he produced a little yellow book from his overall pocket… It took me a passage or two to realize that he was reading from the Sermon on the Mount… To his credit, the preacher wasn’t holding on to a strap. As the car rocked back and forth, he was keeping steady by gripping the sides of his righteous little book…
…Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
The preacher was doing an admirable job… He captured the poetry of the King James version and he punched every they like his life depended on it, in celebration of this central paradox of Christianity–that the weak and weary would be the ones who would walk away with it all.
But on the Brooklyn local on a Saturday night, all you had to do was look around you to see that this guy didn’t know what he was talking about.
– Kathy Kontent, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles