Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Seriously. Not even half way through reading The Scottish Prisoner but it reminds me of how much I love this woman and her work.

Lord John is made of win.

My reaction to Lord John and Stephan finally getting together?

Fangirl squee followed by the explosion of my ovaries. The *only* pairing that would make me happier in that world would be Lord John and Jamie and dammit I *know* why that's never going to happen and understand. But *still*.

Here's hoping everyone survives the book!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

All-American Muslim S1 Ep3 - A Muslim Goes to Washington

You know, so they're showing what happened last week and I can't get over how dismissive and unhelpful Shadia is of Jeff having trouble with his first Ramadan. I know that we don't get to see everything that happens, but her *hand wave* dismissal of him when he's trying not to be a jerk so he gets up from the dinner table is so rude...

Here's my impression of Shadia - she doesn't take her religion seriously so she doesn't expect anyone else to. However, because she also grew up doing certain things, like fasting during Ramadan, she doesn't have any thought to the difficulty of it for people who aren't used to it. She just strikes me as very thoughtless. I hope that's just the impression that the editing has given us and that she's really not that way.

Football...blah...blah...don't care...

I do like them having the flipped schedule, I think it's great that they thought enough about it to do that - I can imagine that they'd have kids collapsing if they had to do all their practicing without food or water.

Another thought: I don't know how many people have considered that the women are having to wear their hijab when they wouldn't normally have to. As in, in their homes. When their home, when no one but their family is there then they can (and I think usually do) take them off. So there's that added annoyance to the filming.

Nawal and Nader! I enjoyed seeing parts of the birthing class. Nader's face when the teacher says 'orgasmic birth' is priceless!

White House vs. training. I don't know enough about football but can't assistant coaches handle the training for one night?

Have we noticed that the show isn't focusing just on the women? Unlike some people who decided to judge the show after the first episode had commented? Yeah. *I've* noticed.

Okay, now they're talking about Nina's club: dancing and alcohol. Nina very clearly feels like an outside. She has this little squinty look she gets and I think she gets it when she thinks the others are judging her. I don't know that they're judging her. I'm trying not to jump to conclusions again.

Oh god, her skirt is so short....too short! Yes, you're pretty and you've got great legs. But your skirt ends about an inch below your butt. This is not necessary. *is horrified by her Jersey Shore vibes*

Right. If I was going to be forced to say of any person on the show, 'I don't like x' it would be Nina. It has *nothing* to do with her being Muslim - I don't like the impression that she gives off and I don't think I'd want to spend time with her.

Really? Did Sahida really just ask if Obama was a Muslim? Please tell me she was being funny...Cripes. Bilal. 'Barak. Husein. Obama. I'm saying yes.' Everyone: 'It's just a name!' *eye twitch*

I have to say, I do appreciate Fouad's dedication to his job. How many people would really hesitate to accept an invitation to the White House because of practice? That being said, I think he should go. Sort of a once in a lifetime thing, you know?

Oh...and the preview makes it look like we get to see the Amen family being all judgy of convert Jeff. Let's wait and see...seriously Bilal, you're not that far behind Nina in my 'I don't like you' poll.

More discussion about converting, how you can't *ask* someone to convert it has to be something they want to do and the discussion about how Islam is Islam and you can't change it to fit your life. Which is, as we've said, both true and not true. There's also the discussion about God's Mercy and messing up. How you can't take advantage of the mercy by intentionally doing something wrong while thinking, oh, well, God'll forgive me so it doesn't matter. People in Christianity (and probably all religions) think that way too. It doesn't work that way!

For Bilal, scarf = more respect. Not so!

Ack! Crap. Shadia, you moron! Look, just saying that 'he converted to marry me' or 'he wasn't raised around it' is not going to endear him to your family and make them forget that he's not fasting. Look, I agree that Bilal can be a tool. BUT. I agree with him and with Suehaila. If Jeff converted just to marry you it wasn't for the right reasons.

That being said, I'm still lobbying for my idea to treat converts as children! Let them ease into things like the Ramadan fast. That doesn't mean them ignoring it but, with the right intentions, working their way up to the full fast. It is hard! They need to stretch and train up for it.

Of course Fouad is going to D.C. Good for him! Awww...the kids are so sweet...

Back to Samira and her hijab quest...I do hope that Samira eventually manages to get pregnant because she wants to so badly and I kind of think she'd be an awesome mom but I don't think it will be because she put on the hijab.

Oh, hell. The brother-in-law talk about religion...

I do see Bilal's point of how now Jeff is a part of the Muslim tradition and how his actions reflect on other Muslims and vice versa. It's not fair that a convert's actions are more deeply scrutinised than a 'born' Muslim but that's not unique to Islam.

*ponders* I still have my doubts about Jeff's conversion. Not that he's not sincere because I have no way of judging that, but his readiness for it. I think he rushed because he wanted to marry Shadia. Whom I'm liking less and less.

So the 'dislike' column goes thusly: Nina, Bilal, Shadia.

Heh. Nader has no idea what to do with babies...

'Uhhh...your baby's crying...' Run Away!

I have to say the tradition of saying the adhan to the baby when they're born is very nice. Can we institute that for Christianity? What would we use?

*laughs at Fouad* Yes, there are Muslims outside of Dearborn.

Baby? Who do they have in the house doing the 'home video' filming?

God, they're so sweet! For the record, and no one take this wrong, but I would marry Nader. Or someone like Nader. He seems so wonderful. She's maybe in labor, in pain and he doesn't know what to do, they're waiting for her to decide whether or not to go to the hospital and he's praying on/at her belly/for the baby! *hugs them*

Nawal really doesn't want to go to the hospital on a 'false alarm'. I get that but wow, how scary must that be? Pregnant, not knowing if the baby is coming or what's going on...

I'm currently happy not to have this problem...

She called her mom! Who told her to go to the hospital. Good call! Go Nawal's mom!

Nader looks so scared...they won't let him into the room with Nawal.

Finally, she wants the camera off! I wouldn't want my labor being filmed either!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rum Cake!

Lo, I have baked! And made a glaze. And a crumble, but that was sort of accidental.

Right, so I'll have to do an update on the reception of this cake but I think it's come out good.

The key to good rum cake?

More RUM!

Now to find instructions on sauteeing the giblets from the turkey.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Life is Not Conducive to Organized Religion, Apparently

Okay, so here's the thing.

I do still desire and intend to convert to Eastern Orthodox at some point in my life. I'd rather it be sooner than later, but. But. Life gets in the way. And as life gets in the way it becomes less and less urgent feeling for me to do anything about it.

ETA: Or do I? I mean, thinking about it, if I was really believing down deep, wouldn't I say screw it! to all other concerns and go for it since the ultimate state of my soul depends on it? So perhaps I don't believe as I think (or tell myself) that I do since I'm clearly far more concerned with this life and the things I have to do in it.

I was composing a sort of letter/email (in my head) to the priest of the Greek church and I think it explains my issue so here it is, sort of. Not that this was ever meant to actually be sent, mind. I was thinking about all the problems and it's kind of a joking thing in my head.


Fr. _____,

Good afternoon. My name is Amber _____ and I'm contacting you to speak about converting to Orthodoxy.

I'm certain that you have a regular program for how a conversion would be accomplished, but I'm fairly certain that I would be unable to attend it. Let me explain.

I work a full time job, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm. In a very necessary bid to get my health back I have a personal trainer. I see her Monday's and Wednesday's from 5:30 to 6:45, after which I have another hour of cardio that I cannot miss. On Tuesday's and Thursday's I must do another hour and a half of cardio. Due to the religion of the owners of the gym my trainer works out of they are closed Friday evening and Saturday (they're Seventh Day Adventists), so in order to get in 5 days of exercise I have to use the gym on Sundays. Due to abbreviated Sunday hours, I am unable to attend Divine Liturgy with any sort of regularity, which is why you wouldn't recognize me. I am also unable to afford to pay for a second gym membership in order to be able to exercise on a Friday or a Saturday.

In addition to the above, I am going back to college starting next semester (January). Which means that I will be taking classes, online as much as possible, but there will likely be some classes I can only take at night which will limit my schedule even more. And those classes will change from semester to semester which means that it is impossible to establish a definite day that I could attend religious instruction.

In other words, I believe that the Orthodox church is the church left by Christ and would like to become a member. However, my life is not conducive to it and I don't have any wiggle room in which to fix that. So unless I can convert by correspondence course without actually having to attend Divine Liturgy on a regular/semi-regular/at all for the next couple of years, then it's going to have to wait.


And this is why it would be easier to not bother with organized religion at all, or to return to a personal, private tribal based practice. Then it wouldn't matter that I can't get to the classes or attend the services.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I long for theoretical simplicity

Okay, you know what I find funny?

So the new blogger dashboard lets you see how many hits a post has gotten, whether or not the people leave a comment. The disparity between the number of hits and the number of comments on some posts...

For example, my last post on the second episode of All-American Muslim has had 172 hits as of this morning. And 3 comments. *eyes the people of the internet* I'm watching you...

I have to say, in spite of all the real life issues the people on the show have and the differences of opinion that are display on how certain aspects of Islam should be lived/practiced it is reminding me of the thing that first attracted me to Islam.

Okay, the *second* thing. The first was the scarves. I'm not going to lie.

What I'm talking about though is the theoretical simplicity of the religion.

There's you and there's God. You're responsible for your own practice and your own understanding/interpretation of the faith. Just: here's the rules, follow them to the best of your ability. And they're not even very complicated or *hard*, on the surface.

1. Shahadah = the declaration of belief in one God & Mohammed as his final prophet
2. Salat = prescribed prayer
3. Sawm = fasting
4. Zakat = charity/alms
5. Hajj = pilgrimage (and that's only if you're physically and financially able to at some point in your life)

It seems so simple laid out like that, right?

Of course it, like everything else in life, is more complicated than it appears on the surface. Eh. Anyway. Just feeling sort of nostalgic somehow.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

All-American Muslim S1 Ep 2 - The Fast and the Furious

Because *everyone* has to have an episode titled after those movies if they can. It's actually a law. I swear. Don't believe me? Well, okay. Maybe not so much as law as a suggestion... :)

According to the summary this is supposed to be focussed on Fouad and the football team. How they have to adjust the schedule to deal with Ramadan.

Jeff's shahada...I actually made a note to come back to this after the show was over. So. The shahada is basically a profession of faith. It's not like a magic phrase where you say it and *zap* Muslim. It's something that, to my mind, you say when you've already become a Muslim in your heart. They mentioned on the last show that you could say it to yourself, but I was always under the impression that there needed to be Muslim witnesses.

Anyway. The shahada is really simple:

لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله

lā ʾilāha ʾillallāh, Muḥammad rasūlu-llāh

There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.

Monotheists have no problem with the first half, it's the second one that causes the issues.

The Shi'a shahada is a little different, I believe. They have an additional phrase referencing Ali, naming him the friend of God, or the successor of Mohammed as it were. 

Wee! Okay, I know nothing about football, but watching the boys skirmish is entertaining. That one kid who caught the ball ran really fast, I think. Very impressive.

So in order to deal with Ramadan they've changed the practice schedule to be at night. They'll be practising from 10 pm until 5 am. which seems like a really good idea. I think we all know, but just in case: for Ramadan Muslims are asked (with exceptions for health, etc.) to fast from sunrise to sunset. No food or water at all which is more severe than the fast that anyone else I'm aware of keeps. Apart from some monks, religious. Theirs could be more intense, I'm not sure.

Okay, so Nawal is a respiratory therapist. Good to know.

Is that hostess really ignoring them or is it just the line? I'm rewatching to pay more attention to the people in front of them. The two women were there first and the one man...he's still there in front of them in line...

Ugh. I can't tell. The hostess tossing the menus on the table and then walking away was really incredibly rude, no doubt. They definitely don't do that in the restaurants around here. It's improper behaviour.

ETA: I had another thought about the hostess being rude at the table: maybe she didn't like being on camera?

Ah! So Nader is a federal agent. I like finding out what they do! Don't ask me why.

I have heard/noticed that pregnancy changes people. All those hormones, you know.

Samira (medical receptionist) Fawaz is Sahida's sister. Oh, that's got to hurt, I think. She works in an ObGyn office and she's having trouble getting pregnant.

I thought the issue with adoption was that they (in Mohammed's time) didn't want the children to lose their family connections, name, etc. Not that it was difficult for the child to be...I think the word the used was hallala (halal?) or 'permitted'. I've never heard that used in that way before. 'Halal' has always been, in my limited experience, just the way to describe what is allowed and what is not. drinking ice tea = halal. Drinking a Long Island Ice Tea = haram. Because of the alcohol. I thought that the only issue with people was whether or not they were mahram. So I guess I could see a kind of issue there, but really are there that many men out there who are wanting to marry little girls that they've raised as their own daughters? I think not.

And apart from that, if you've taken the child as your own family and are standing as 'blood' then why can't it be taken as being mahram. When I was considering converting to Islam I asked whether or not my step-father would be mahram (basically concerned with whether or not I'd have to wear hijab essentially 24/7 since we live in the same house) and I was told that they'd consider him mahram since he's married to my mother. No, wait, I think I answered my own question. There's a prohibition against marrying the daughter or a woman you're married to, isn't there? I think there is but I'm too lazy to look it up. Anyway. I find their choice of word strange, whether or not adoption is allowed. Maybe they were just simplifying the wordage for tv?

Oh god, Sahida is such a redneck.

'a big part of it is your belief and your relationship with God' - True. But if you're not following basic rules, is there the possibility that there is a lack of belief? I'm not thinking of their hijab, but alcohol. They were specifically talking about drinking or being in places where alcohol is served. I don't know that Nina drinks (I'm sure that Nawal doesn't) so I'm not saying that. Just wondering.

Okay, so on to Samira's visit with the sheikhs about the infertility issue.

I have to say I really enjoy listening to the Arabic. Don't understand a word, but it's pretty. Like French. Not that they sound alike, but they both strike me as very 'flowing'.

Moving on...

So Samira asks if it would be okay to get invitro using another man's sperm. The sheikh  says it wouldn't be a problem if they used her husband's sperm but that it's prohibited for it to be another man's sperm. Which I get, not that it makes it any easier on the people having the trouble.

Now, Samira asks if her wearing hijab would be of any help in them trying to get pregnant. I like that the sheikh points out that there's no connection between getting pregnant and wearing hijab. He does lay out that wearing hijab brings more blessings into your life, 'God will cooperate more with you, you will have more good things in your life'. Which I don't like so much.

If you have the right faith and are keeping the core of Islam, which I see as faith in God, prayers and charity then what difference does the cloth make?

They already have a grandchild! Adam! Sahida's son. Hello!

'I think women are greater than men.'

'Islamically, they are.'

Really? How so? I'm not being sarcastic, I really don't get that. I thought the key was equality. That men and women were equal, yet different.

Blah, blah, Sahida and the country fest...


I'd be concerned about the night practices too. When's the kid supposed to sleep? And the parents have to get up and drive him there, etc...

'Is that because of their religious beliefs?' - Yeah. Duh.

Nawal always looks so nice...

Her mom wants her to come live with her after she has the baby? No...bad idea. Bad. So the mothers used to stay in bed for 40 days after giving birth, not leaving the house? No. I'd go nuts.

Jeff's first Ramadan? I have to admit that I'm getting more and more the impression that Jeff didn't really...test drive the religion first. Which makes me unhappy. I think it's important to know what you're getting into. And I'm not sure Jeff did.

Okay, I have serious scarf envy right now. I *know* that this is a very important personal choice for Samira and I hope that it brings her something she needs whether or not they succeed it getting pregnant. But seriously. I would move to Dearborn for the scarves. Okay? I have hijab envy and I won't lie.

I like Nawal more and more. I think I jumped to conclusions about her before, calling her judgy. In one of the couch sessions they're talking about the hijab and Nawal says that basically, who is she to go to Angela or Nina and tell them they're not being good Muslims because they're not wearing the hijab. She may *think* that they should be hijabi, but I do like that she has the sense that it's not her job to police their religion.

Bilal doesn't seem to have that sense. Nader is so cute!

Seriously, why do these crazy people think they're doing anything good by going and harassing Muslims? Or anyone really, but since this is a show about Muslims. 'Mohammed is a pedophile!' Really? You think that's going to bring people about to your point of view? No. Not even accurate in the first place and extremely insulting. Unhelpful.

Huh. I never thought about crowd control for taraweh. Pretty mosque...

Okay, not to be insulting (which is what you say before you say something insulting...), but Bilal, honey, you could fast for a while and live off of stored food. And I say that as a person who is unnecessarily heavy (new code for fat!). So I think it's a bit different for Jeff who is about as big around as a stick.

Also, the football players? Are crazy. I mean that's dedication. Football in the middle of the night, after fasting all day, low on sleep. It's got to be hard.

I wonder if, for your first Ramadan you could ease into it. Don't children do that? When they decide that they want to do what Mommy and Daddy do and fast, they fast until they decide not to any more? Eventually they hit adulthood and start to fast all through Ramadan? Can't we treat converts like kids for a while?

I do like the attitude that they shouldn't care whether or not others are fasting. It's a personal thing, right?

Samira's putting on the hijab and taking down all the photos of her without hijab. Which does make a certain amount of sense. I'm not sure about her focus on thinking that putting on the hijab will somehow convince God that he should give her a child. I think if she still doesn't get pregnant that it's going to be a big problem for her.

See, I still love Mohsen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What's a Prophet Supposed to Act Like?

I've had a very busy week, so this is going to be a short, no references, not frills post.

I was looking through a blog earlier called 30 Mosques in 30 Days and I don't know why, the thought occurred to me:

A lot of people say, and I've said it, that Mohammed didn't act like a prophet.

But really, if you're looking at the prophets/patriarchs/what have you in the Jewish/Christian canon, did Mohammed do anything that they didn't do? Was he worse or better than any of them?

I think they were all men who acted in accordance with their times: they did some things that were advancements in morality for the times and others that weren't. But we count the ones before Christ as prophets and Mohammed as a fraud or deluded because of the Christian belief that since Christ was God incarnate there's no further need for a Prophet.

Which, fine. That makes sense if you follow that thought process. But I don't know that saying, 'Well Mohammed didn't act like a Prophet. He was too...'insert adjective here'.' works, really.

/end tired, random thought post

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

All-American Muslim - Ep 1

So the plan is to do a sort of running commentary on this show as it airs. This first post is a bit late since I didn't decide to do this until Monday morning.

First things first: this is a show on TLC following five Muslim families living in Dearborn, MI. I didn't realize it on my first watching but all of the families featured are Shi'a which is not the 'most common' branch of Islam. When people think of Islam, if they're aware that there are sects within it at all they think of Sunni.

it starts with some of the people sitting talking on couches. They're arguing about whether or not a Muslim man can marry a non-Muslim woman. The two men say that they can but one of the women, who is the judgy one, says that 'for the actual ritual of marriage both parties have to be Muslim'.

I like Shadia (Amen). She's very much herself, if that makes any sense. She's engaged to an Irish Catholic man (Jeff) who converts to Islam during this show. And she has a 10 year old son from her previous marriage.

Her parents were less than thrilled with her dating since that's typically frowned on in Islam.

The thing I like about Shadia and Jeff is that they seem to be willing to do whatever to be together. It's not about Catholic or Muslim but being with one another.

Okay. Then we get Nader & Nawal Aoude. They've been married for 10 months and she's getting ready to have their first child. And his sense of humor is adorable, I think. Like in the first meeting she says that she wants to have the baby at 38 weeks and he's laughing, asking if she's going to be sending the baby an email to tell it it's time.

Shadia has one brother and two sisters, none of whom appear to be married. I read a review that said that Shadia's father came off as a hidebound old Muslim who couldn't bend from the need to see his daughter only marrying a Muslim. I can see it, but I don't think he came off as crazy harsh. Shadia herself said that she wanted to only marry a Muslim. So it's not just something coming from her father.

It is important to him, but it's not unreasonable. If you're truly dedicated to your religion and it says that it is only proper to marry another member of that religion then it wouldn't sit easily if one of your children married out of the faith. It's no different from Catholics only marrying Catholics, etc. Christianity has (for the most part) drifted from that hard line but it's still there, trust me. I had that mentality myself, back in the day.

'There's been death and wars. People kill because of women.'

'No- Not- It wasn't because of the woman, it was because of the moron who started the war, which was a guy.'

Right, Nina Bazzy. I kind of like her personality, but I have to be honest that I can't stand the way she dresses. It reminds me of the kids on Jersey Shore. But that's a personal issue that doesn't really reflect on her personality, religion, etc. I just don't like her clothes! She's married and has a young son who is adorable! She works as a party planner and wants to open up a club. Her business partner doesn't think it's a good idea because she's a woman and clubs and women (running them) don't go together.

He keeps mentioning that 'you're a girl' and that she has other responsibilities. Like her family. *rolls eyes* But I do like Nina - because she keeps being told that she shouldn't do something it makes her want to do it more.

Another couch session: they're talking about converting to Islam. Now, all of the people on this show with the exception of Jeff are born Muslims. There's a whole thing about converting and people not understanding that Islam is a religion and that you have to follow it and not 'adapt it to fit your life' which I think is bull. Yes, you have to adapt to the religion, but if Islam isn't adaptable to modern life then it's sort of pointless, isn't it? There's a middle ground somewhere in there.

Anyway. Nina makes this comment about how if you're going to convert then 'you have to do it right' and Judgy Woman (who is one of Shadia's sisters, actually) says, 'How do you expect people to convert and expect them, because they're converts to be perfect, to try and be perfect-'

And then Nina interjects and says there's no such thing and one of the other women says they should at least know what they're getting into.

Then Judgy Woman says: 'Like Nina just said, if you're going to convert, you have to do it right, but what about the people who were born into it, they don't have to do it right?'

And I actually get her point, maybe. Nina is not a 'proper' Muslimah, is such a thing exists. She doesn't wear hijab, she works with men, she wants to run a club, etc. Things that, from the looks that were passed around in that couch session were indicative of her not living the kind of Islamic life that she would expect from a convert.

Then there's a little scene with Jeff and Shadia's father (Mohsen) about whether or not Jeff's really thought about what he's doing, converting to Islam. And that Mohsen doesn't want Jeff to feel pressured to have to convert. 'You do it from yourself'. See, that's part of why I can't see what that article was talking about. He seems like such a sweet guy! He even practiced the shahada with Jeff to help him get the pronunciation right!

Fouad and Zaynab Zaban have been married for 12 years. See, when I first watched this I somehow got the impression that the parents required their daughters to start wearing hijab at 9, which I had a problem with. On the second watching Fouad is just saying that they started wearing it around 9 which leaves it more open to it being the daughters' desire. You could argue that the daughters were influenced, but what children aren't influenced by their parents and their peers?

Fouad is the high school football coach and he has the mouth of a sailor on the field, fyi. It's interesting to hear him having to work out the problem of how to train and play football during Ramadan since all the players will be fasting.

Jeff's family - his mother has a problem with him converting to Islam. Not enough to not attend the wedding or anything, but you can see that it hurts her. She starts out trying to play it off as it being okay, but she breaks down and cries about it later on and winds up not attending the conversion.

Angela and Mike Jaafar may be my favorite couple. They were high school sweethearts who've been married for 11 years. They have four kids, 2 girls and 2 boys. Mike is a Deputy Chief for the sheriff department. And their kids are so cute it hurts! Angela also works as a liaison for an auto manufacturer.

I don't like how TLC cuts their teasers before the commercial break. For instance, they make it look like Jeff has cold feet right at the moment of saying his shahada. However, having seen the show I know that that's not what happens at all. Very misleading.

Shadia's brother: 'I've got an announcement to make. Me and Jeff were outside talking. Jeff's decided that we're converting to Judaism. But I brought him back to Buddhism and then we worked on Islam. I had to pay him a couple hundred, so he's going to covert.' *lol*

One thing Shadia says is that you can convert by saying the shahada by yourself. I was always under the impression that you needed Muslim witnesses to make it 'official'.

The Imam's little flub using the wrong sisters name is funny. Suehaila is, I think, older than Shadia and there's apparently a running thing about trying to find her a husband.

I did find it interesting that, from what part of the ceremony they showed the same questions are asked of both the female and the male.

I'm liking more and more the tradition of the woman keeping her name when she marries, fyi. I know that most of the couples on this show have the same last name, but that's just an aside. Of course I'd still take my husband's name because I hate my own - it's the name of my asshat adoptive father. And I'm not going back to my bio dad's name because he was also an asshat. Men. *sigh*

I love the hijabs on this show. How come the hijab never looked as lovely on me when I wore it?

Oh! Oh, crap. I just realized that Judgy Woman is Nawal. Crap. I think it's because she's pregnant during the show but not pregnant in the couch sessions. So they must have been filmed later. I *thought* Nawal and Judgy Woman looked a lot alike! Ooops!

The reception for Jeff and Shadia is very pretty and it's an interesting mix of Jeff's Catholic family and the Lebanese Muslim family of Shadia. Jeff's cousin does a traditional Irish dance which is always neat to watch and then Shadia's family hired a belly dancer.

Judgy-Nawal likens belly dancers to strippers, which I think is rude and excessive. And not at all accurate. The dancer they had wasn't wearing the traditional 'harem girl' kind of outfit, but something loose and flowing. Also, some of the Muslim side of the wedding were making fun of Jeff's male family members for getting too into the belly dancer routine. I didn't see the leering that they saw, but we only get bits and pieces, so maybe it happened off camera for us.

Yet Another Random Post - Question Time

Am I the only one who remembers things that bugged her at the time way, way after the fact and chews over them and chews over them until she decides to bring the question to the general public?

Probably. And yet here I am, inflicting it on all of you!

Okay. So, as some of you may recall a while back I girded my loins, etc. and got over my social anxiety enough to actually go to the local mosque. I've talked about it a couple of times.

Anyway. One of the things I didn't mention was this: I sat near the back and there was a woman between myself and the sliding doors that formed the barrier between the men's section and the women's section. During the service she had cracked it open, presumably to hear better (there was a perfectly functioning speaker in the room and the imam wore a mic so we could all hear, don't misunderstand). During the actual prayers one of the children in the room started to cry and the mother (being busy with salaat), let the baby keep crying.

One of the women to the *other* side of me wanted me to reach across the woman to my right (the side with the door) to shut it (so the crying didn't bother the men I guess). Only I felt as though I couldn't because there was not enough space for me to actually walk around the praying woman to get to the door. The room was not cramped, but the way everyone had seated themselves took up the front part of the room and there was no space behind where we were sitting - we were up against the rear wall of the room.

And I felt there were two things against me trying to time reaching around this praying woman to close that door. One - it would be rude. I'd inevitably wind up bumping into her because my arms are short (I'm a short person!) and I wasn't that close to the door. Two - I seem to recall something about it being very rude (at the least) in Islam to walk in front of someone who is praying. That second could be wrong, but that's what I was thinking at the time. That it would be really rude to get up, scoot between the row of chairs in front of us and this woman trying to pray, close the door then have to scoot back to my seat.

So that's my question. Was I right to not close the door? The baby was crying, yes, but it didn't seem to bother anyone on the men's side. No one turned and shot glares at the barrier or anything. They were all praying and there were little boys running around behind the men praying too. And also, am I right about it being rude to walk in front of someone praying unless, say, there's some sort of life or death emergency? Outside of Islam, even when you have a Christian or someone else who is praying where there's clearly a ritual involved it strikes me as incredibly rude to just sort of stroll in front of them. I only mention the ritual aspect because it can be hard to tell a Christian is praying sometimes, since there aren't always movements or gestures involved and they can just look like they're sitting there enjoying the weather. So you have no way of knowing, see?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Doing the bare minimum isn't good enough

I know everyone's talking about the Penn State riots over the firing of Paterno. And it's something that's hard to ignore, really if only because it is so very disturbing. Apart from the fact that I think it's good to know they're so pro-rape up at Penn State so I can stay way the hell away...

Here you have college students, supposedly some of the more intelligent people in the nation (I lean heavily on the 'supposedly' there. I am constantly reminded that being book smart doesn't give one the common sense to come in out of the rain.) *rioting* because a man who was in a position of authority and *failed* to do everything in his power to stop the rapes of children was fired. I don't even know what to say to that. My first reaction was: 'What the *fuck* is wrong with them?' And that's pretty much stayed.

Do they not understand what happened? Is their winning football more important than the pain that these children suffered and continue to suffer? Is it more important to protect the reputation of a man who failed the victims, failed anyone who ever had faith in him as a decent human being and failed to *be* a decent human being than to see some sort of justice done for the crimes that were committed?

No one is saying that Paterno raped anyone, but there is evidence that he knew what was going on and just kicked it up the chain of command. Did he, technically, do what he was required to do? Sure. He did the barest minimum that he had to do, legally. Technically. And he saw that nothing was ever done. And he did...nothing. No one did *anything*. Paterno is hardly alone in his failure here, but the fact that there are more people who failed to be human beings doesn't excuse Paterno. He deserved to be fired. So did the president of the university. And anyone else who knew and did nothing. And if there are criminal charges that can be brought against them, they should be.

I honestly don't know how any of these people can live with themselves. Knowing that they valued their...what? The schools reputation? More than the lives of other people. More than the lives of children.

These people all had a moral obligation to do everything that they could to see Sandusky stopped. That isn't the bare minimum, 'oh, I told my boss'. No. That's calling the police. That's, especially if you're a huge ex-football player, physically *stopping* the man you find raping a boy in the showers and calling the police then and there.

What they did is like...seeing someone being raped and knocking on the next house door you find. Telling the person there that there's someone being raped back thataway. Then standing there, watching them do nothing and eventually just...walking away. Doing nothing but telling yourself that you did all you could.

I had an argument with my parents about this, about whether or not Paterno should have been fired. They thought no because he had met his legal obligation in the matter and could have been fired himself if he had gone outside the university's investigative procedure. My argument was that he could *see* that nothing was being done. He knew that the people above him were doing nothing and he proceeded to do nothing as well. He became an accomplice to every single act of rape that followed by his silence. By his helping to allow this man to remain free with easy access to his preferred victims. He did the bare minimum and he did *not* do what he morally and ethically should have.

They asked me, trying to get me to see their point of view, what I would do if I found out that H (a co-worker) was beating her children. I told them I'd call child services and the police! I certainly wouldn't tell the company's HR department or her boss (who happens to be her sister-in-law in this case). It's not a business issue. It's a legal issue. It's a *crime* and it's a moral issue. I would not be able to live with myself if I knew something like that was going on and did nothing. I couldn't believe my mother even had the guts to ask me that question, really. She lived in an abusive marriage for *years*. I was raised in that home! I know how hard it is, from the inside, to stand up and admit to being abused. If someone on the outside knew, they should have gone to the police. I would willingly lose a friendship or anything else to stop someone from growing up the way I did, let alone ignore someone being raped.

I don't really know how to end this post. There isn't an end to it I guess. Rapes continue to happen. Abuse continues to happen. There are still people out there who think that the people who get raped 'deserved' it somehow. That they did something that invited it. This is bullshit. The idiots who rioted at Penn State should be ashamed of themselves. If it was their son that had been raped would they still be out there weeping for Paterno? I sure as hell hope not. And if not, then why are they forgetting that someone *was* raped? And he knew and did the bare minimum.

Maybe Paterno was a great coach. He might even have been a generally nice guy. It doesn't matter. This is what he'll be remembered for.

And it is what he should be remembered for. For a *huge* moral failure. For failing to be, not even a good human being, but just fucking human.

Meanwhile, the legal process grinds on behind all the media attention on Paterno and his drama. The victims and the crimes are nearly forgotten in all of this media hoopla because it's not as shiny as watching an 'icon' fall and watching his worshipers completely fail at having an ounce of sympathy, common sense or souls.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I finished Duma Key over the weekend and I really enjoyed it. Not the point though.

I think, and I know this makes no difference to anyone anywhere but I'm just putting it out there, that Perse is the same species or a very similar one to the creature in IT.

Random Stephen King related thought of the day, done.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Social Morality

"The first thing to get clear about Christian morality between man and man is that in this department Christ did not come to preach any brand new morality. The Golden Rule of the New Testament (Do as you would be done by) is a summing up of what every one, at bottom, had always known to be right."

Is it that it's 'what's right' or that it's what is beneficial to society? I guess it boils down to whether or not you think that there is some outside force a God or gods or divine what-have-you that set down rules. If you do, then it's 'what's right' because that outside force has said it is. And if you don't, then it can be best seen as the natural progression and expression of human nature. That we perceive the 'Golden Rule' as good because it presents the greatest benefits and opportunities for continuation of the species.

Lewis goes on to state that Christianity tells you general principles but not how to apply them in specifics. For instance, it tells you to feed the hungry but doesn't teach you how to cook. "It was never intended to replace or supersede the ordinary human arts and sciences: it is rather a director which will set them all to the right jobs, and a source of energy which will give them all new life, if only they will put themselves at its disposal." This, he says, is the reason why the Church (meaning Christians, not a specific denomination like Roman Catholicism or Baptist or Pentecostal or...etc.) does not (or should not) set out to produce a program for running the world.

"And when they say that the Church should give us a lead, they ought to mean that some Christians—those who happen to have the right talents—should be economists and statesmen, and that all economists and statesmen should be Christians, and that their whole efforts in politics and economics should be directed to putting `Do as you would be done by' into action."

This is where he looses me. I agree with his point that the Church should not be trying to be a political entity. Religion and politics don't mix well in that fashion. My problem comes when he says that 'all economists and statesmen should be Christians'. I know that he's saying this is what people *ought* to be thinking when they say that they want the Church to get involved in politics, though he knows it's not what they're thinking but I'm thinking that since he says this is what they should be thinking that it is his thinking. So he thinks that all politicians, etc. should be Christian. Expand on that and that means he thinks that everyone should be Christian. Which is the goal of Christianity, sure. But it's not practical. It's not going to *happen* and it bothers me, this desire to see everyone in power as a Christian. I don't think that one group should have exclusive control over anything by virtue of simply being 'x'.

Or, well, not in the secular sphere at any rate. There's always an exception, isn't there? For instance, the board of a church should be made up of people who are all members of that church. Therefore making them, in theory, all Christians. Similarly for a mosque or a synagogue.

Shush. I never promised consistency.

"the New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like. Perhaps it gives us more than we can take. It tells us that there are to be no passengers or parasites: if man does not work, he ought not to eat. Every one is to work with his own hands, and what is more, every one's work is to produce something good: there will be no manufacture of silly luxuries and then of sillier advertisements to persuade us to buy them. And there is to be no `swank' or `side', no putting on airs."

I think I must have missed this part of the New Testament. Where does it say that? And if it does, isn't this a contradiction to the commands for charity? It reminds me of this one scene from The Help. Hildy's maid is asking her for a loan. I believe it was for $60, $70. Small enough. It was all she needed to be able to send both of her sons to college. And Hildy spouted some crap about a 'true Christian' not giving handouts to people who could help themselves and that she wouldn't be doing any favors by loaning that money.

Where's the line? If both commands are contained in the Bible, how do you tell who you're *commanded* to give charity to and who you shouldn't give charity to because they're lazy sods who don't belong in a 'Christian nation'?

Lewis mentions that the ancient Greeks, the Old Testament Jews and the Christian teachers of the Middle Ages all told us not to lend money at interest. I'm not sure *why* he chooses to mention this, really. I'm not sure if he means it as a condemnation of the current economic system or not. But he mentions it and points out that our entire economy is based on doing the opposite of what these three civilizations told us to do. Also, Islam forbids interest. But he doesn't mention that. Perhaps he doesn't view them as as 'great' as the other groups? I don't know.

Then at the end he speaks of Charity.

"In the passage where the New Testament says that every one must work, it gives as a reason `in order that he may have something to give to those in need'. Charity—giving to the poor—is an essential part of Christian morality"

So...I still question where the line is. How do you know when to give charity, the essential if not lynch pin portion of Christian morality? Or am I missing something? It's entirely possible. I'm not a Bible scholar unlike some people!

Monday, November 7, 2011

random thought

I was reading the blurbs and reviews of different books on Amazon, as you do, and I came across this book:

The Deities Are Many: A Polytheistic Theology by Jordan D. Paper

I obviously haven't read the book itself, but the first review mentions that the author makes the case that polytheism is natural to humans.

And I was wondering about that. Is any 'theism' more natural to all humanity than any other? Certainly all of the cultures that I'm aware of (which is not all of them by any stretch) were all polytheistic before the advent of monotheism. Does that make it more natural to our way of thinking and now we've imposed monotheism on ourselves and made things more difficult?

Or are all theologies equally native to humans and it's just that different theologies will speak to one person and not the other due to our diversity?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I have no idea what this means, if it means anything at all. Really.

Okay, okay, so I said earlier about how we shouldn't read into things too much, right? Right?

So I shouldn't read too much into the fact that the tree that I cut myself on on Halloween was a birch tree, right?

For those who don't know why I'm flailing around like a small nutter...according to what I remember the birch is represented by the rune berkana (it looks like a sharp B) which has meanings of renewal, healing, recovery, physical or spiritual regeneration, a new growth from old roots, and motherhood. Though I think we can safely ignore the 'motherhood' portion right now.

Also, as I recall, sacred to Thor and Frigga (as well as other goddesses but I can't remember which ones right now).

*And* well, a whole lot of other things.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All the things!

So, first order of business. I would like to announce the...acknowledgement of my best friends sproglet! Eve is having a girl! YAY!

They're not telling anyone the name until closer to actual birth if not after she's born. I think they're a little nervous, truth be told, which is not surprising. First pregnancy and all that. So in lieu of naming the sproglet I'm calling her Evesdottir.


So...other things.

Lazy Amber is lazy. Also, Halloween is my favorite holiday, so I kind of went nuts with the staying up late and doing things, etc. So I'm tired again. But less tired than I was before.

Oddly, I think I'm allergic to fish oil. Or maybe something they put in the capsules? See, I have this (tmi time..) spot on my leg where the vein sort of bulges out. It's just there and it's never bothered me or anything. Well, last week? A little before that? It started twinging and itching. At first I thought it was in my head, you know? But then it kept going on. Well, the only thing I'd started doing differently was taking these fish oil capsules because they're supposed to be good for your heart. So I stopped taking them and the pains and the itching has gone away. Which is funny since I've taken the same dosage of fish oil before and not had any problem. Weird.

A tree attacked me Halloween night (no, I wasn't drinking) and I have a lovely scratch/scrape all down the side of my right hand.

Reading Duma Key by Stephen King - very good. We were discussing this the other day and I *know* it sounds bad, but here it is: Stephen King was very good and very dark when he was drinking and taking drugs. He got sober (good for him, don't get me wrong!) and he was still good, but not *very* good and not so dark. Then he nearly died. And when he came back he was better than he'd ever been before. The life cycle of the writer = very strange. And, obviously, this is my opinion. YMMV. Anne Rice, on the other hand, was good when she was drunk, then sobered up and lost her freaking mind. It has never come back.

Also reading The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis. Very good. Historical mystery set in Vespasians Rome. I'm only in the first book (it's a series) but I'm loving it. Fast paced, energetic main character. I'm really liking the 'love interest' (I so very, very much want them married by the end of this book which is unusual for me but I think that Helena would be good for Falco. She's awesome on top of a slice of strong willed female) and well it's just well written.

Related note: have any of you ever read the The Girl... series by Steig Larsson? I keep seeing the previews for the movie they've made from the first one, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and it's kind of making me want to read the book. But if it's not a good mystery then I don't want to.

We went to a local haunted house thing on Monday. The haunted house was not scary. Okay, it scared two people in the group, but they're kind of giant chickens. Look. Haunted houses' are supposed to be dark. Yes. However, when you have it so dark that the people literally cannot see anything, it's sort of pointless. We went through a corridor where there were heavy canvas-y things hanging in the middle. I assume they were meant to be hanging bodies or something. However, it was so dark that I couldn't see them! So they were just annoying. And the air horn? Not your friend in a haunted house. It's a cheap gimmick to startle people and after the fourth or fifth time? Not so much. Also, over use of the strobe lighting! It can be cool and it helps give the actors that slo-mo movement look (there was one actress who really knew how to use it to the best effect!) but you *can* over do it to the point that, again, the people can't *see* what the hell they're supposed to be scared of! *rolls eyes*

Many props to the little girl who was playing a dead little ghost girl in the haunted house though. She was suitably creepy and kept a very straight and serious face through her whole bit. *thumbs up*
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