Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Book List

  1. The Brass Verdict (audiobook) – Michael Connelly (1/5/12)
  2. One Virgin Too Many – Lindsey Davis (1/5/12)
  3. Insomnia – Stephen King (1/7/12)
  4. The Long Walk – Stephen King (1/11/12)
  5. Black Sun Vol. 1 (1/11/12)
  6. The Crimson Spell Vol. 1 (1/11/12)
  7. Romantic Illusions (1/11/12)
  8. Misery – Stephen King (1/14/12)
  9. Sabriel – Garth Nix (1/15/12)
  10. Finder Vol. 5 (1/18/12)
  11. Only Serious About You Vol. 2 (1/19/12)
  12. Private Teacher Vol. 2 (1/19/12)
  13. The Tyrant Falls in Love Vol. 5 (1/20/12)
  14. Needful Things – Stephen King (1/21/12)
  15. A Body in the Bathhouse – Lindsey Davis (1/22/12)
  16. Pet Sematary – Stephen King (1/23/12)
  17. The Jupiter Myth – Lindsey Davis (1/26/12)
  18. Naruto Vol. 54 (1/28/12)
  19. Tale of the Waning Moon Vol. 1 (1/28/12)
  20. Furies of Calderon (audiobook) – Jim Butcher (1/31/12)
  21. Tsubasa Vol. 2 (1/31/12)
  22. The Accusers – Lindsey Davis (2/2/12)
  23. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver (2/2/12)
  24. Confessions of a Shopaholic – Sophie Kinsella (2/5/12)
  25. Viewfinder Series – Akihito Takaba's Refined Summer Vacation (2/7/12)
  26. Viewfinder Series – Hard-working Cameraman Akihito Takaba's Fulfilling Househusband Life (2/7/12)
  27. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan – Sophie Kinsella (2/7/12)
  28. Shopaholic Ties the Knot – Sophie Kinsella (2/8/12)
  29. Shopaholic & Sister – Sophie Kinsella (2/10/12)
  30. Shopaholic & Baby – Sophie Kinsella (2/10/12)
  31. The Initiation of PB500 – Kyle Stone (2/12/12)
  32. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins (2/16/12)
  33. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins (2/17/12)
  34. A Fallen Saint's Kiss (2/17/12)
  35. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins (2/18/12)
  36. Drawing in the Dust – Zoe Klein (2/18/12)
  37. The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova (2/20/12)
  38. Country Boys – Richard Labonte ed. (2/20/12)
  39. Children of the Night – Mercedes Lackey (2/20/12)
  40. Bleach Vol. 38 (2/20/12)
  41. Tale of the Waning Moon Vol. 2 (2/20/12)
  42. See Delphi and Die – Lindsey Davis (2/23/12)
  43. Academ's Fury (audiobook) – Jim Butcher (2/24/12)
  44. A Perfect Blood – Kim Harrison (3/2/12)
  45. Joust – Mercedes Lackey (3/3/12)
  46. Ghosts – Hans Holzer (3/3/12)
  47. Alta – Mercedes Lackey (3/8/12)
  48. My Fair Captain – J.L. Langley (3/10/12)
  49. The Tribune – Patrick Larkin (3/15/12)
  50. The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis (3/16/12)
  51. Saturnalia – Lindsey Davis (3/19/12)
  52. Darkly Dreaming Dexter – Jeff Lindsay (3/21/12)
  53. Cursor's Fury – Jim Butcher (3/21/12)
  54. Dearly Devoted Dexter – Jeff Lindsay (3/24/12)
  55. Dexter in the Dark – Jeff Lindsay (3/24/12)
  56. A Gentleman's Agreement Between a Rabbit and a Wolf (3/24/12)
  57. Night Watch – Sergei Lukyanenko (3/27/12)
  58. Under the Fang: Advocates – ed. Robert R. McCammon (3/27/12)
  59. Sick of Shadows – Sharyn McCrumb (4/1/12)
  60. Alexandria – Jeff Lindsay (4/2/12)
  61. Lovely in Her Bones – Sharyn McCrumb (4/5/12)
  62. Highland Laddie Gone – Sharyn McCrumb (4/6/12)
  63. Ain't Myth-Behaving – Katie MacAlister (4/8/12)
  64. Captain's Fury (audiobook) – Jim Butcher (4/19/12)
  65. The Art of Loving Vol. 1 (4/21/12)
  66. Awaken Forest (4/21/12)
  67. Brilliant Blue Vol. 1 (4/22/12)
  68. Nemesis – Lindsey Davis (4/23/12)
  69. Wicked – Gregory Maguire (4/25/12)
  70. Can't Win With You Vol. 1 (4/27/12)
  71. Desire Sensibility (4/27/12)
  72. American Jesus – Stephen Prothero (4/29/12)
  73. Feverish (5/1/12)
  74. Son of a Witch – Gregory Maguire (5/5/12)
  75. A Lion Among Men – Gregory Maguire (5/7/12)
  76. A Private Hunger – Sean Michael (5/8/12)
  77. Velvet Glove Volume 1 – Sean Michael (5/9/12)
  78. Velvet Glove Volume 2 – Sean Michael (5/9/12)
  79. Velvet Glove Volume 3 – Sean Michael (5/9/12)
  80. In the Blood – Scott Miller (5/9/12)
  81. Paradise Lost & Paradise Regained – John Milton (5/13/12)
  82. Love Training (5/13/12)
  83. Inception: The Shooting Script – Christopher Nolan (5/14/12)
  84. beast&feast (5/18/12)
  85. His Majesty's Dragon – Naomi Novik (5/18/12)
  86. Mr. Convenience (5/19/12)
  87. Naruto Vol. 55 (5/19/12)
  88. Necratoholic (5/19/12)
  89. Our Everlasting Vol. 2 (5/19/12)
  90. Our Kingdom Vol. 6 (5/19/12)
  91. Private Teacher! Vol. 3 (5/20/12)
  92. Throne of Jade – Naomi Novik (5/22/12)
  93. Shards of Affection (5/24/12)
  94. Stolen Heart (5/24/12)
  95. The Tyrant Falls in Love Vol. 6 (5/24/12)
  96. The Devil in the White City – Erik Larson (5/24/12)
  97. Princeps' Fury – Jim Butcher (5/25/12)
  98. Lord of Scoundrels – Loretta Chase (5/29/12)
  99. Blood Lite III: Aftertaste: I Was a Teenage Bigfoot – Jim Butcher (5/30/12)
  100. Blood Lite III: Aftertaste: V-Plates – Kelley Armstrong (5/30/12)
  101. Bleach Vol. 39 (6/5/12)
  102. Finder Vol. 6 (6/5/12)
  103. Nartuo Vol. 56 (6/5/12)
  104. Hard Working Cameraman Akihito Takaba's Romantic Life as an Indentured Servant (6/7/12)
  105. The Avengers and Philosophy – Mark White ed. (6/8/12)
  106. Avengers: Hawkeye (6/8/12)
  107. The Orthodox Study Bible (6/8/12)
  108. God is Red – Vine Deloria, Jr. (6/9/12)
  109. The Avengers: West Coast Avengers Assemble (6/9/12)
  110. Avengers: Hawkeye Solo (6/9/12)
  111. New Avengers: The Reunion (6/9/12)
  112. Saints & Scoundrels of the Bible – Linda Chaffee Taylor (6/9/12)
  113. The Custom of the Army – Diana Gabaldon (6/9/12)
  114. Hex Appeal: Bigfoot on Campus – Jim Butcher (6/12/12)
  115. Hex Appeal: Outside the Box – P.N. Elrod (6/12/12)
  116. Black Powder War – Naomi Novik (6/14/12)
  117. Empire of Ivory – Naomi Novik (6/20/12)
  118. Bet Me – Jennifer Cruise (6/20/12)
  119. The Dark Wife – Sarah Diemer (6/22/12)
  120. Bleach Vol. 40 (6/22/12)
  121. Bleach Vol. 41 (6/22/12)
  122. Hawkeye: Blindspot (6/22/12)
  123. Victory of Eagles – Naomi Novik (6/23/12)
  124. Tongues of Serpents – Naomi Novik (6/23/12)
  125. Crucible of Gold – Naomi Novik (6/24/12)
  126. Unclaimed – Courtney Milan (6/28/12)
  127. A Mind of Its Own – David M. Friedman (7/1/12)
  128. The Life and Religion of Mohammed – Rev. J.L. Menezes (7/2/12)
  129. The Submission – Amy Waldman (7/6/12)
  130. The Science of Evil – Simon Baron-Cohen (7/7/12)
  131. Jhereg – Steven Brust (7/9/12)
  132. First Lord's Fury – Jim Butcher (7/10/12)
  133. Yendi – Steven Brust (7/14/12)
  134. The Misunderstood Jew – Amy-Jill Levine (7/22/12)
  135. Storm Front – Jim Butcher (7/23/12)
  136. Teckla – Steven Brust (7/25/12)
  137. Roman Blood – Steven Saylor (7/29/12)
  138. Let's Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson (7/31/12)
  139. The Family – Jeff Sharlet (8/3/12)
  140. Bleach Vol. 42 (8/4/12)
  141. Bleach Vol. 43 (8/4/12)
  142. Naruto Vol. 57 (8/4/12)
  143. The House of the Vestals – Steven Saylor (8/13/12)
  144. The Ultimates Vol. 1: Super-Human (8/13/12)
  145. The Ultimates Vol. 2: Homeland Security (8/13/12)
  146. Master and Commander – Patrick O'Brian (8/14/12)
  147. One for the Money – Janet Evanovich (8/16/12)
  148. The Belief Instinct – Jesse Bering (8/19/12)
  149. Two for the Dough – Janet Evanovich (8/21/12)
  150. What If? - Robert Cowley (ed.) (8/21/12)
  151. Storm Front – Jim Butcher (8/23/12)
  152. Smokin' Seventeen – Janet Evanovich (8/23/12)
  153. Plum Lovin' – Janet Evanovich (8/24/12)
  154. Back to the Batcave – Adam West (8/28/12)
  155. In the Arms of Angels – Joan Wester Anderson (8/31/12)
  156. Bleach Vol. 44 (8/31/12)
  157. Bleach Vol. 45 (8/31/12)
  158. Lost Christianities – Bart Ehrman (9/3/12)
  159. Grave's End – Elaine Mercado (9/4/12)
  160. The Tyrant Falls in Love Vol. 7 (9/5/12)
  161. Lean Mean Thirteen – Janet Evanovich (9/5/12)
  162. The Lost Daughters of China – Karin Evans (9/10/12)
  163. A Gladiator Dies Only Once – Steven Saylor (9/10/12)
  164. Finger Lickin' Fifteen – Janet Evanovich (9/10/12)
  165. The Poetic Edda – trans. Carolyne Larrington (9/20/12)
  166. What Paul Meant – Garry Wills (9/23/12)
  167. Possessed Possessions – Ed Okonowicz (9/25/12)
  168. Good Omens – Neil Gaiman (9/28/12)
  169. Bleach Vol. 46 (9/29/12)
  170. Bleach Vol. 47 (9/29/12)
  171. Naruto Vol. 58 (9/29/12)
  172. For the Life of the World – Alexander Scmemann (10/2/12)
  173. The Believing Brain - Michael Shermer (10/4/12)
  174. Haunting Sunshine – Jack Powell (10/7/12)
  175. Arms of Nemesis – Steven Saylor (10/11/12)
  176. Essential Asatru – Diana L. Paxson (10/17/12)
  177. Dispatches from the Edge – Anderson Cooper (10/22/12)
  178. Bleach Vol. 48 (10/30/12)
  179. Bleach Vol. 49 (10/31/12)
  180. Post Captain – Patrick O'Brian (11/1/12)
  181. Catilina's Riddle – Steven Saylor (11/17/12)
  182. The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller (11/25/12)
  183. Cold Days – Jim Butcher (11/27/12)
  184. The Meaning of Jesus – Marcus J. Borg & N.T. Wright (12/9/12)
  185. Bleach Vol. 50 (12/25/12)
  186. Bleach Vol. 51 (12/25/12)
  187. Bleach Vol. 52 (12/25/12)
  188. Bleach Vol. 53 (12/25/12)
  189. Naruto Vol. 59 (12/25/12)
  190. Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Bart Ehrman (12/25/12)

2012 Meme (the 2012 Book List will come later)

It's that time of year again! Welcome to the silly 2012 meme! :)

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Held a newborn baby. Held her *badly* and awkwardly, I should add. Her dad literally handed her to me and I stood there like a statue going "BUH." In related news, I also became an 'aunt' (my friend Eve is an only child so I'm the honorary Auntie on her side) and acting godparent.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't make New Years' resolutions. That's just asking to disappoint yourself. :p

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yep. Evesdottir has made her appearance and I'm sorry, you can all go home but she is the cutest baby in existence. Contest over.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
One of our dogs died.

5. What countries did you visit?
Middle Earth.There are a lot of short people there, so I felt right at home.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Meh. I'm pretty good right now. Let's say...a million dollars! Or a pet goat. One of the two.

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Evesdottir's birthday. :) Which, holy crap, in 3 months she's going to be 1 year old! Time! Stop going so fast!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Uh...I somehow became the rational person in my family. I have no idea how that happened.

9. What was your biggest failure?
There are no failures. Only successes that don't go as planned.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Minor colds, stuff like that. Oh! I got bit on the ankle the other night by something that I didn't see, while I was in my bed. So...that was fun.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Not me by myself, but for the Salvation Army tree this year my office all pooled together and got every kid on our tree a bike and a helmet. Which was something like 30 kids. So that was awesome.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Eve. She has yet to kill anyone who tells her that she's doing Everything Wrong in regards to raising Evesdottir.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
SO MANY PEOPLE. We're not dwelling on this though.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Books or training.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Evesdottir's arrival, The Avengers, Cold Days, The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall, The Hobbit, Les Miserables....are we sensing a theme?

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2011?
Some Nights by fun.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. Happier or sadder?

ii. the same

iii. Thinner or fatter?

iv. thinner

v. richer or poorer?

vi.*laughs* probably about the same as last year

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Reading. Exercising.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Sleeping. I slept way too much. I have things that need to get done!

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent Christmas watching The Dark Knight Rises on repeat. For fanfic purposes only, of course. I can quote whole chunks of Bane's dialogue now. I...may have hit Bane saturation. It's not a bad place to be.

21. How many one-night stands?
None. :p

22. What was your favorite TV program?
American Horror Story: Asylum and/or Once Upon a Time

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope. Same old list.

24. What was the best book you read?
Um. Good Omens. Good Omens is always best, let's just be honest with each other here.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Ummmm....the music in The Hobbit, actually. I always love when they include the songs from the stories in the movies. Because I'm a geek like that. Which is not really a *discovery*, admittedly, but it's my meme. I do what I want.

26. What did you want and get?
Many, many things. :)

27. What was your favorite film of this year?
Um. I CANNOT CHOOSE! Top five, in no particular order: The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, Les Miserables, Bourne Legacy

28. What did you do on your birthday?
I don't remember. Probably I was reading. I do that quite a bit. :)

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Oh my god, I hate pants.

30. What kept you sane?
Sanity is a matter of opinion.

31. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Lee Pace

How dare you sir. Your face. How dare you.

Jeremy Renner

Seriously. This man.
Lucy Liu

If you don't love Lucy Liu, I'm going to need you to reexamine your life.
Idris Elba

Seriously. Do I really need to explain him? No. Idris Elba needs no explanation.
Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Basically, this is the start of my harem.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?
Not so much a specific political issue, but the lack of ability that so many people seem to have to see through the crap that politicians spew and get to the heart (or lack thereof) of their campaigns.

33. Who did you miss?
Nobody went away, so I didn't have anyone to miss!

34. Who was the best new person you met?
I met two new people, seashmore (who I am certain has a real name, but I'm pants with names, forgive me) and Malik. They're both best. :p

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Being a grown-up is hard.

Friday, December 28, 2012

If you don't voice your opinion, I'm going to assume you're down for all doll house posts all the time

For the record, I'm still riding high from the doll house anticipation.

It's apparently confusing and freaking out my best friend who never realized that I liked doll houses at all. She thinks I might have been replaced by a pod person. Which just goes to show you that you never really know someone, do you?

So 2013 is just around the corner and I've been blogging for what feels like a very long time, about four and a half years (yes, I totally just went and looked).

For the five of you that put up with my insanity on a regular basis, is there anything that you'd like to see more or less of in the new year? I want to keep up with blogging more and I figure you guys deserve some kind of reward for putting up with me for this long. So have some input!

ps: I have to warn you guys that there is a high likely hood of the doll house and doll house related items content of this blog going up if this deal goes through. Because I've never built a doll house before and I will document the shit out of my obsessions. As you do.

Wherein I run my life by committee

So here's the thing. I really, really, really love doll houses.

I'm not the girliest girl on the planet but there's something about tiny houses and tiny things in the houses that I love. Perhaps the possibility of playing God? IDK.

But I don't own any dollhouses because dollhouse kits are expensive as heck.

Here is my dilemma:

A friend's mother has a complete dollhouse kit that she is willing to sell for $75. The kit retails for $200 - $400 from what I've seen on the internet. know what, typing this out I realize how insane it is to even ask this. OF COURSE I'm going to buy this dollhouse.



Saturday, December 22, 2012

ARQ Project: Surah aale-Imran

Or, The Family of Imran

Imran is the Qur'anic name for Aaron. I assume that that's how Aaron translates into Arabic. I remember reading in an article somewhere, the point of which was pointing out fallacies or errors in the Qur'an that the Qur'an lists Mary as the daughter of Aaron, brother of Moses and of course that's impossible given the span between the time of Moses and the time of Jesus. And I thought, okay, point, but I think that somewhere along the line people would have realized this and it would have been a bigger issue in the Islamic communities than it is. So there has to be an explanation for it that fits within the Islamic framework.

And I recall reading somewhere else (I read a lot, okay?) that there are two Imran's in the Qur'an. Imran the *ancestor* of Mary, referring to Moses' brother, and Imran the *father* of Mary who was a descendant of the other Imran. Which made sense to me. How many people have the same names in the Bible? A metric ton. And we know that people are named all the time after ancestors, especially famous or important ones. Got it. No problem, moving on.

Then the other day I was channel surfing and happened across the Catholic radio station during a call-in show they have. The question I happened into was about the genealogies of Jesus at the beginnings of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and how they're different. Not only different, but they skip generations too. The question was how could they do that and (of course) why the genealogies traced Jesus' line back to two different sons of David. The interesting bit for me though was that the speaker said that there is no word for 'grand-' in Hebrew. Or at least ancient Hebrew. I don't know if that's changed, I don't speak any kind of Hebrew. Moving on. So a person could be accurately referred to as the 'son/daughter of' X as long as that person was actually in their ancestry. So I could refer to myself as the daughter of Joseph and it would be accurate, as would referring to myself as the daughter of Bertha or the daughter of Gustav and on and on even though none of these people are my mother or father in the sense that we think, rather they're my ancestors. Got it? Good.

The Biblical canon that we have today doesn't say much about Mary the mother of Jesus or her parents. We only even have names for them based on tradition and non-canonical works, so the story in the Qur'an about Mary's childhood is likely very unfamiliar to a good portion of Christianity in the west. However, it actually fits well with the non-canonical text the Protoevangelium of James which was written about 150 C.E. but the stories it tells are believed to have been in circulation before that, of course. Go read that really briefly and then come back and read the Qur'anic version. I'll wait. Go on.

(Note: I'm being lazy and copying this text from Qur'an Explorer, using the Pickthal translation - it's a long section so this translation is not actually the one I've been reading.)

(34) (Remember) when the wife of 'Imran said: My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower! (35) And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female - Allah knew best of what she was delivered - the male is not as the female; and lo! I have named her Mary, and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast. (36) And her Lord accepted her with full acceptance and vouchsafed to her a goodly growth; and made Zachariah her guardian. Whenever Zachariah went into the sanctuary where she was, he found that she had food. He said: O Mary! Whence cometh unto thee this (food)? She answered: It is from Allah. Allah giveth without stint to whom He will. (37) Then Zachariah prayed unto his Lord and said: My Lord! Bestow upon me of Thy bounty goodly offspring. Lo! Thou art the Hearer of Prayer. (38) And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous. (39) He said: My Lord! How can I have a son when age hath overtaken me already and my wife is barren? (The angel) answered: So (it will be). Allah doeth what He will. (40) He said: My Lord! Appoint a token for me. (The angel) said: The token unto thee (shall be) that thou shalt not speak unto mankind three days except by signs. Remember thy Lord much, and praise (Him) in the early hours of night and morning. (41) And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above (all) the women of creation. (42) O Mary! Be obedient to thy Lord, prostrate thyself and bow with those who bow (in worship). (43) This is of the tidings of things hidden. We reveal it unto thee (Muhammad). Thou wast not present with them when they threw their pens (to know) which of them should be the guardian of Mary, nor wast thou present with them when they quarrelled (thereupon). (44) (And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah). (45) He will speak unto mankind in his cradle and in his manhood, and he is of the righteous. (46) She said: My Lord! How can I have a child when no mortal hath touched me? He said: So (it will be). Allah createth what He will. If He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is. (47) And He will teach him the Scripture and wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel, (48) And will make him a messenger unto the Children of Israel, (saying): Lo! I come unto you with a sign from your Lord. Lo! I fashion for you out of clay the likeness of a bird, and I breathe into it and it is a bird, by Allah's leave. I heal him who was born blind, and the leper, and I raise the dead, by Allah's leave. And I announce unto you what ye eat and what ye store up in your houses. Lo! herein verily is a portent for you, if ye are to be believers. (49) And (I come) confirming that which was before me of the Torah, and to make lawful some of that which was forbidden unto you. I come unto you with a sign from your Lord, so keep your duty to Allah and obey me. (50) Lo! Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is a straight path. (51) But when Jesus became conscious of their disbelief, he cried: Who will be my helpers in the cause of Allah? The disciples said: We will be Allah's helpers. We believe in Allah, and bear thou witness that we have surrendered (unto Him).

A couple of things I want to touch on, apart from the way this story syncs with the Protoevanglium of James which is, while not canon, accepted as true by Catholics and Orthodox (whether many of them realize it or not). First, in ayah 48 above, there is a reference to Jesus creating a bird out of clay and then breathing life into it. Another story not found in the Bible but found in a non-canonical text, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. This text, in contrast to the Protoevanglium, is not accepted as having any value in Christian circles - most likely having to do with (aside from it's Gnostic leanings) Jesus killing several people in it in angry fits. The other thing is just a bit that I find personally odd. Towards the end the selection above goes from the angel telling Mary what Jesus is going to do and transitions right into Jesus' reaction to things without there being an actual *transition*. 

Since the last post, where sanil suggested that whatever story the surah is named after might be the ultimate example of the point of the surah, I've decided to pay attention and see if this plays out. I think it might in this one. The main story is that of the family of Imran, of Mary and Jesus' birth and much of the rest of the surah is taken up with talking about people who take the Book (Torah, Injeel (Gospel) and Qur'an) and twist it or add to it and there are references to the fact that no prophet would tell his followers to worship him or angels or anything other than God which is what, from the Islamic perspective, Christians do.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reason # 356 I'm not in a relationship

I don't put up with shit from men. Which is my personal primary source of relationship material - the male population (though I often wonder why).

Actual quote from a 'fiancee' (there's no ring, no promise, they're 'engaged to be engaged' since *forever*) to coworker: "I won't get you pregnant until you make $30 an hour."

My response: "I'd stab him in the face." (No, I'm not violent, no, why do you say that?)

(No, seriously, the entire first conversation I had with my best friends' now husband when I found out they were engaged ran like Liam Neeson's speech in Taken. "I will find you. I will end you.")

Here's where I sound like an old, old, old woman.

In the first place, why in the hell are they trying to get pregnant? Her job is only part-time, he 'works' as a pool player. Not professionally, not yet. He just makes money by...being a pool shark.

They're not married. I know, I know, old woman. BUT. I am perfectly, perfectly aware that marriage does not make people better or even decent parents. However I do think that people who want to be parents need to demonstrate some kind of commitment to one another and some maturity. These people do not. And it lies, greatly in my mind, in the way they treat the marriage thing. She runs around claiming that they're engaged and he doesn't. They're talking at two completely different levels and *that* is why in their case I harp on the marriage aspect.

She wants a baby, he does not. And he's clearly (trust me) using this desire to manipulate her. Babies are not solutions or BLEEEEEEEEEP-ing accessories. Having a child does not make your life 'perfect' or fix your relationship.

She cries all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. He is the cause of a great deal of it.

I've been party to an emotionally abusive relationship before. By which I mean I watched my mother and step-father go through this entire cycle. And I look at her and her 'fiancee' and that's all I see.

I want to print out one of those abusive relationship check sheets and leave it anonymously on her desk. :(

Thursday, December 13, 2012

ARQ Project: Surah al-Baqarah

Or, the Cow (or the Heifer as my other translation has it).

Before we get going: So I was looking up pictures of red cows for this (this has no actual bearing on the post, I was misremembering the description of the cow in a different translation) and watching one of the special features on my Dark Knight Trilogy discs and it goes from being all roaring engines to quiet music. So I look and there's a cave painting of a red-ish cow on my screen. *eyes the universe* Cheap. Shot.

FYI: This post has been written over several days, as I get time to sit and type. So...yeah. Random comments ahoy.


First: who names the surahs? I know that they're all named for the content, in some way. Surah al-Fatiha is 'the Opening' or 'the Exhortation' (again, depending on translation) which makes sense. But this one. There are a lot of things in this surah, it's (I think) the longest in the Qur'an. And someone chose to call it 'the Cow'. They picked that one story out of *everything* to remember this surah by. Who? Why? Yes, these are the things I think about.

2.7: God has sealed their hearts and hearing; upon their sight is a covering, and for them is a great chastisement.

I always have this initial reaction when I read passages in this vein. It makes it sound very much as though the people have no choice in the matter. As though there is no such thing as free will and predestination is all that there is. I have this same problem in the Bible, for example. How many instances are there of God 'saying' that He's hardened someones heart or someone else saying that God has hardened such and suches heart? I just did a quick Google of the phrase 'God hardened his heart' and I got 11 different verses that popped up, from both the Old and New Testament.

From what I've been told and read, it's basically...God is not making these people choose to turn away from what He has asked or wants of them. They're making the choice to turn away and God is saying, 'Okay, you have free will, this is what you want. You get what you want.' and sort of reinforcing their choice. However that doesn't negate the option that these people all had of changing their minds again. See?

2.23: If you are in doubt about what We have revealed to Our servant (Muhammed), then produce another surah like it, and call your witnesses other than God if you are truthful.

I think part of my lack on comprehension about this comes from reading the Qur'an in English translations. From what I've been told, the Qur'an in it's original Arabic is extremely poetic and sublime. Everything loses something in translation and by the time this comes over into English the language isn't anything special, you know what I mean? But also, how would these competing surah's be judged? On their poetry? I'm sure there were some superb poets in Mohammed's time. And the judgment of whether they met the quality of the Qur'an would be subjective, wouldn't it? So maybe they'd be judged on their revelations? But those can be hard to prove one way or another as you can see by looking at any religious text ever.

One of the things that I really, really like about the Qur'anic version of 'the fall' is that there's no singling out or blaming of Eve. In ayah 36 it says, "But Satan made them slip and..." Them. There's no Adam going, 'But look, this woman, they one you made me take, she fooled me. It's her fault.' and there's no God going, 'And you're going to scream and bleed and suffer in childbirth and I'm going to make it terribly dangerous for you because hey, you were tricked by an eternal being that used to be my favorite until he got to big for his britches. Sucks to be you. Adam? Oh. He's going to have to plow some fields. And the animals aren't just going to lay down and ask him to cut their throats any more.'

2.37: Adam learned (certain) words from his Lord, and God turned to him (mercifully), for verily He is the oft-Turning (in mercy), the Most Merciful.

I was wondering, are the words that Adam learned from God prayer? That makes sense to me.

2.48: Guard yourselves against the Day when no soul makes up for anything another soul lacks, nor shall intercession be accepted from it, nor shall any ransom be taken, nor shall they ever be helped.

I think this is talking about the Last Day or the Day of Judgment. It's warning against the idea that someone else can intercede between a person/soul and God, so maybe it's not even the Last Day but the day of each person's death? We all have to go before God with only our own record, not covered or excused by anything that anyone else may or may not have done. It goes against the central Christian concept of Jesus' salvific death, of course.

2.67: And (remember) when Moses said to his people: "Verily, God commands you to sacrifice a cow," they said: "Do you ridicule us?". He said: "I seek the protection of God against being ignorant." 68: They said: "Pray for us to your Lord to make it plain to us what cow it is." He said: "Indeed, He says, 'Verily, she is a heifer, neither too old nor too young, but of mid-age betwixt that (and this); act therefore as you are commanded." 69: They said: "Pray on our behalf to your Lord that He may make clear to us of what colour she is." He said: "Indeed, He says that she is a yellow cow; her colour is brightly yellow, delighting the beholders." 70: They said: "Pray to your Lord on our behalf to make it further clear to us what cow she is. Lo! Cows are all alike to us, and if God wills, we shall surely be gathered aright." 71: (Moses) said: "Indeed, He says that she is a cow not yet used to till the soil nor irrigate the tilth; sound and without blemish." They said: "Now you have brought the truth." So they sacrificed her, though they almost did not.

I've read and reread this story and I still don't understand why the entire surah is named after it. It's (to me) a strange little story. Why were the Jews demanding more and more detail out of Moses? If they really had trust and faith that Moses was God's prophet and that God was the true god then they'd have just said, 'Okay' and grabbed the cow that seemed best. Take the *best* cow and sacrifice it to God. Why is there all this, 'Well go back and ask him what color her feet are. Does she chew her cud on the right or the left side?' And I note that when they turn to ask Moses for yet another clarification, they always refer to God as 'your Lord'. Not 'our', 'your'. Why would that be?

2.79: Then woe unto those who write the book with their own hands and then say: "This is from God" so that they may sell it for a petty price; thus woe unto them for what they earn thereby.

This ayah struck a chord with me especially because one of the other books I'm reading is about how many books/letters/gospels were forged in the ancient Christian world. The books that we have in the New Testament? Can you say for certain who wrote them? Because for the majority of them, the scholars all agree that we have no real idea. The only thing they agree on is that they weren't written by who they've been claimed to be written by. The people who wrote these books claimed false names so that their ideas would have the weight behind the names of the apostles, or in some cases Jesus himself. They were claiming that their message ultimately came from God. And Mohammed's revelations didn't come until almost 600 years after Christ's death. This ayah could well be referring to these false documents.

I'm really fond of the way the Qur'an refers to Jesus as 'Jesus, son of Mary'.

The changing of the qibla: Every time I think about Muslims praying towards the Kaaba in Mecca I remember the time I had to argue with my teacher in RCIA about it. He was a deacon in the church and we were getting a tour of the church building itself. He was explaining that churches (Catholic ones at least) are supposed to have their altars in the east so that everyone is facing east when they worship. Because the sun rises in the east and it's a representation/ metaphor for Christ's (the Son) resurrection. And he insisted that all Muslims pray facing east too, for the same reason, even if they don't know it. And I argued that no, Muslims didn't pray facing *east*, they prayed facing the Kaaba. Which just happened to be east(-ish) of *us*.

2.159: Those who conceal what We have sent of (Our) manifest evidence and guidance, after what We have so clearly shown mankind in the Book, are those whom God curses, and all those who curse (such ones) curse them too, 160: Except those who turn (repentant), amend (themselves), and make the truth manifest; they are the ones to whom I turn (mercifully), and I am the oft-Returning (in mercy), the all-Merciful.

I feel like this isn't talking about people who are simply misguided (if you believe in the revelation of the Qur'an) or have never heard of the Qur'an or Islam but about people who have heard and understand that the Qur'an is actually divine revelation but for whatever reason actively choose to oppose it. And even then there's this companion ayah of mercy if they repent and change their ways.

The following few ayah I'm quoting only because I see so many people quoting only the middle ayah to say, 'See, Islam is violent and Muslims want to kill us all!' without taking in the context of the surrounding verses.

2.190: And fight in the name of God (against) those who fight you, but do not be aggressive; (for) God does not love the aggressors. 191: And slay them wherever you find them, and drive them away from wherever they drove you away, for mischief is more grevious than slaughter. But do not fight them near the (Inviolable) Sacred Mosque until they fight you therein, but if they fight you, slay them, (for) such is the recompense of the disbelievers; 192: But if they desist, then verily God is Forgiving, Merciful. 193: And fight them until there is no more mischief, and the religion is only God's; but if they desist, then there should be no hostility save against the aggressors.

Is there violence in the Qur'an? Yes. Is there violence in the Bible? Have you read the Bible? There is *so much* violence. There is in every ancient religious text. These were violent times. Not that we're so much more peaceful, mind you. We just like to think we are. But these verses aren't saying, 'Run out and kill everyone!' Each instance of 'Go fight!' is directed only after the Muslims have been attacked. I read it as 'Defend yourselves, but if your attackers stop, then you have to stop as well.' Defense.

2.222: They ask you concerning menstruation. Say, "It is an upset; therefore, keep away from women during menstruation and do not be intimate with them until they are cleansed, then when they are cleansed, approach them as God has ordained you." God loves those who turn to him constantly and loves those who clean themselves.

Well. That's just practical. Yes, in our current time, we know that there are certain...activities...that can help ease menstrual cramps in *some* women. But let's be honest: hygiene wasn't what it is today back in Mohammed's time. Like I said, this just seems practical to me.

I'm not going to go into the divorce rules that take up a good portion of the remained of the surah, except to say that the entire, divorce three times and then you have to marry someone else and divorce them before you can remarry the original spouse again is strange to me. At some point in your *three* divorces, I would think someone would say, 'You know what, you two should not be together.' But that could be me projecting my culture backwards. And I have *feelings* about divorce, so I'm not the most objective commentator to have here.

And that's the end of surah al-Baqarah for us. Hopefully the rest of the posts won't take so long to get up! Sorry!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Not So Random Observation During the Early Stages of the ARQ Project

I've been bringing my Qur'an with me to work so that if I have time on breaks or at lunch I can read a little bit. I carry it and a little notepad around in my purse.

Today I'm leaving early to go to my yearly eye appointment. There's nothing wrong but my insurance covers a yearly check-up and since I'm blinder than a bat without corrective lenses, I take advantage of this. Seriously. My range of vision ends at the end of my nose and I have a short nose.

I was packing my purse this morning with my Qur'an and Murdock (for the gym later) and there's always wait time at the doctors' office so I was thinking, 'Oh, hey, I'll have some time to get some more reading in...' and then a little voice said, 'But what if someone *notices* that you're reading the Qur'an. In *public*.'

And it actually, honestly, made me pause. What if.

I mean what could happen? Someone says something rude to me? Someone asks me a question? People think mean thoughts about me? Nothing *bad*, right? But there's still this niggling feeling that I'm doing something wrong by reading it in public. I don't have the same, 'Whoa, wait, let's think about this!' reaction when I think about reading the Bible or any of my other books in public. And trust me, I've read some strange books in public. See: the book on the cultural history of the penis. So why do I feel that way about the Qur'an?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

ARQ Project: Preface & Al-Fatiha

I meant to start this earlier in the week but it's been a *long* week around here. One of our dogs died and I'm apparently the only adult in my house. :( The rest of my family is more emotional than I am and the death made them all want to not eat and that's just not how it works. Anyway. On to the project!

I've decided to call it the Amber Reads the Qur'an Project or ARQ for short. That'll be the tag on all the posts.

Because I am that kind of person, I always read the preface of any book that has one. The translation of the Qur'an I'm using (The Holy Koran translated by S.V. Mir Ahmed Ali) has one, written by the editor/refiner of the translation, Yasin T. Al-Jibouri. Two things struck me from the preface.

1. Scientific 'miracles' in the Qur'an are touted as being a sign that it must be from God. Personal pet peeve, perhaps, but this annoys me. Not that science and religion can't mix, but the claim is always that these things weren't known until recent times and then the counter argument comes up that no, see, the Greeks or the Romans or the Whoever knew it and the knowledge wasn't lost so of course that's how Mohammed heard these things. It's all he said he said and, *shrug*, I've just never been impressed by any of it. Heck, I recently saw a topographical map that showed that the tectonic ridge lines in the oceans look like a giant serpent trying to eat it's own tail. Does that mean that it's Jormugandr and the Vikings were right about Ragnarok?

2. This is more of a question. The author references the Night Journey (Isra' and Mi'raj) and says: "How could this Messenger (s.a.w.w.) then describe in minute detail all that he had seen in the seven heavens in one night, his observations and the places he had reached? Is there any human who can refute his reflection or contest his documented statements? Even his contemporary opponents could not disprove his statements." I assumed that there was, somewhere, a detail description of the Temple Mount, where Mohammed is said to have been transported and led the other prophets in prayer somewhere. I've searched and come up with Hadith, but nothing with the level of detail that could be double checked and verified. Most of the Hadith about the Night Journey that I've found focus on Mohammed's ascent through the heavens in order to come before God. Which descriptions thereof are, of course, *not* disputable. All the descriptions we have of 'heaven' come from individual, subjective experiences. And they do vary from culture to culture, as well as by religious background. So how can that be argued with? 'No, you're wrong. When *I* went to heaven in looked like *this*!' And then you whip out that picture you snapped while in heaven.

I'm going to try to keep these posts to reasonable lengths, so I'll just say briefly of al-Fatiha: It makes sense. If there is a god, and only one God and he made us and everything in the world, then yes all praise would belong to him and no one wants to be on the side of the people who have gone astray from a benevolent God's path for humanity.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

And Then I Decided to Have This Conversation

Mostly in my head, but whatever.


In The Avengers, there is a scene where Thor has just flown in and Loki-napped his brother out of the Quinjet. Iron Man has already flown off to try and get Loki back and Captain America is about to jump out of the plane (with a parachute) to get in on the fight as well. Black Widow tells him to stay about of it:

Black Widow: "You better sit this one out, Cap. They're from Norse legends! They're basically gods!"

Captain America: "There's only one God, ma'am. And I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that!" *and then he jumps*

So. a) There is nothing wrong with the way Loki and Thor dress. Let he who is not wearing a spangly outfit cast the first stone Steve. Yeah.

b) I know a lot of people (okay, fannish people so you non-fannish have no idea what I'm talking about) were surprised at this line because of Joss Whedon's public atheism. Well as the man himself said in the commentary (and trust me, Joss Whedon should make commentaries on every movie, ever. Even the ones he had nothing to do with.) *he's* an atheist but Cap isn't.

c) People take this as hey, proof that Captain America's a Christian!

What I'm addressing is point 'c'. Here's how this all happened: I commented to Heather, once upon a time, that I was considering writing a fanfic (for the uninitiated amongst you a fanfic is a story that is written by a fan of a certain movie/book/tv show/etc. about the characters and/or events/universe. No money is made and it's purely for the love of the characters. Please, for your sanity, do not go Googling fanfic. There''s a whole world that the non fen will not understand. I will not be responsible for any brains broken if you disregard my warning.) based on this quote and the idea that Captain America a/k/a Steve Rogers, rather than being a Christian was a Muslim. The fic has never materialised because um...I have been busy writing other things.

Then, Heather comments on a FB post with this meme:

And makes reference to the whole Steve Rogers as a Muslim idea. Of course it's been poohpoohed in a couple of the comments that he can't have been a Muslim. Once, which I totally don't understand, was that he can't have been Muslim because he was frozen in ice for a long time.

Um. Okay? Sure.

I maintain that it is entirely possible for MCU Steve Rogers to be a Muslim and I shall tell you why.

1. Arguments that comics-verse Steve Rogers in a Christian are not valid in my opinion because MCU is *not* 616 or Ultimates or any other comics canon that we've been presented. It is it's own universe with it's own history and canon. We already know that MCU's events are not the same as comics.

2. All we know from Cap's statement is that he is a monotheist. 'One God'. Period. Until such time as he is shown going to a church or a synagogue or a mosque and worshipping there, or he details his beliefs in some other way that's all the clue we have. He's a monotheist.

3. Steve Rogers grew up in Brooklyn in the 1920's and 30's. He was old enough to join the Army when America joined WWII but was rejected due to having every ailment and disease known to man. This would be in 1941.

4. The first mosque built in New York is believed to have been one belonging to the American Mohammedan Society. It was built on Powers Street in Brooklyn in 1907.

5. The Islamic Mission of America built their own mosque, in Brooklyn, in 1939. They purchased a brownstone in 1947 that remains the Masjid Daoud today. In Brooklyn.

6. But Amber, I can hear you saying, the Muslims in these mosques were all African American or Middle Eastern immigrants or...*waves hands* whatever. They weren't *white*. White people didn't start start converting to Islam until fairly recently. Unto you I say, well, bah. The first 'prominent' Anglo-American convert to Islam is (by many historians - they're not doubting his conversion, just whether he was the 'first' prominent individual or not) Alexander Russell Webb. Who converted in 1888. Now he encountered it in the Philippines where he was the American ambassador but my point remains: just because they weren't the majority of the population doesn't mean that there weren't white converts to Islam long before the rest of the country or the world decided to take notice of them.

7. Amber, Amber, what is your point again?

My point, if you want to call it that, is this: There is *nothing* that prevents me from imagining that Captain America is a Muslim. Nothing. It's even plausible from a historical standpoint. 

I've seen this portrait of what a 'good' Muslim looks like, as far as characteristics go - I believe it comes from Mohammed's final sermon, but I could be wrong about this. You know what it says?

They are known for doing only lawful and righteous deeds. They have good morals and treat other people with respect. They are pure of heart - they neither hate other people nor are hypocrites. They are charitable, whether that's monetarily or in time given or whatever each individual can do. They are offensive to no one, they do no harm to others and they respect other peoples' rights.

You know one person (fictional) that all reminds me of?

Captain America. That's who.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Excerpt of Actual Conversation I Had With My Trainer Last Night

Me: ..."for the upkeep of the mosque, like part of the tithe in church goes-"

Her: "Mosque? What's that?"

*internal me*: o.0 Seriously?

Me: "It's like the Muslim church, the building where they go to worship on Friday's and have other events. Anyway-"

Her: "Oh, the gold dome places."

*internal me*: confused puppy head tilt

Me: "Well, yes, mosques tend to have domes as an architectural feature but not all mosques have domes and not all of them are *gold* and not all buildings with domes are mosques."

Her: "There's three of them in town!"

Me: "No, there's only one mosque in town. I've been there, it's right down the road from my office. It's a small community."

Her: "No, I've seen them. Three buildings with gold domes. I've seen the one on your road."

Me: "No, there's only the one. Trust me, I've looked. And it doesn't have a golden dome. The dome is a brassy color, so maybe if the sun hits it right it shines, but it's not gold. Not even a little. The other buildings you're thinking of are probably Catholic or Orthodox churches. They have domes sometimes."

Her: "I think they're mosques. They're the only ones I've ever seen with the domes."

Me: "You're wrong." :p

Luckily my trainer and I have the kind of relationship where I can just tell her that she's wrong good naturedly. Because she is.

Speaking of mosques though, you all should check out this site when you have time to kill:

Islamic Arts and Architecture

I just keep going through it and being kind of in love with the gorgeous architecture.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Project has been chosen! no thanks to you lot...

Because you all are *terribly unhelpful* I flipped a coin. :p

Possibly I should have made sure to spell out in the last post that I intend to go through both books I was just trying to figure out which one to do first. That might have made you guys more helpful. :)

So I flipped a coin and the Qur'an it is.

I have my last class of the semester tomorrow night and I need to finish up my speech and project for that tonight. Because honestly the class is a) not that hard b) not that engaging and c) I'm a procrastinator from the old school. So my plan is to start reading Tuesday night or so, depending on how long the last class is.

Now to think up a tag for the project...*hates naming things*

Also, you may have noticed a change in background.

Welcome to Rivendell.

The Hobbit comes out on December 14th. I'll be attending the midnight premier and playing myself as a zombie during the work day on Friday.

After that we will likely switch to Les Miserables for a theme, unless I'm having really very intense Hobbit based fangirl feels. Which, let's be honest, is likely.

You're welcome.
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