Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quote on Marriage

 I've been reading Robert Heinlein's sci-fi novel Time Enough for Love today when I happened to come across this thoughtful quote. And with the recent news of the Marriage Equality Act passing in New York I found it very apropos.
"Companionship, partnership, mutual reassurance, someone to laugh with and grieve with, loyalty that accepts foibles, someone to touch, someone to hold your hand -- these thing are "marriage", and sex is but the icing on the cake." Robert Heinlein
With all the condemnations by God-fearing folks like this guy focusing solely on the "ickyness" on what homosexuals do in the bedroom they never consider that as human beings we all need companionship. We all want to be loved and have someone to share the love we're born with. Does preventing someone's pursuit of companionship really make life better, safer, and more enriching for the rest of us? Or is it because as heterosexuals who have mucked up the institution of marriage **cough, divorce, cough cough** that we want everyone else to be as unhappy as we are?  

(Just a note of clarification before I get into trouble with the Mrs. I am merely speaking in generalities, not from personal experience. Although to be honest, marriage is tough at times, but even the rough times are 1000 times better than one moment of loneliness. And I would never dream of taking those moments of companionship from anyone regardless of sexual orientation.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Quote of the Rabbi...err I mean Day

"If you’re going to imagine a god who chooses people, it isn’t surprising that you imagine this god choosing you. If you’re going to imagine a god who reveals truth in a book, it isn’t surprising that you would imagine this book is your book. And if you’re going to imagine a god who dabbles in real estate, it isn’t surprising that you would imagine that your land is in fact the Promised Land."" -Rabbi Rami Shapiro

 Thought I would share this honest bit of truth Rabbi Rami shared today on his post on why Rabbi Rami is a Rabbi. And for you Facebook and Twitter followers you can find him here and here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Because You Listened...

 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
   “Cursed is the ground because of you;
   through painful toil you will eat food from it
   all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
   and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
   you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
   since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
   and to dust you will return.”  (Genesis 3:17-19, New International Version, ©2011)

[The Expulsion From the Garden by Gustave Dore]

For the last few months I've been spending more of my free time outside working on the pool and the yard. The kids even helped to plant hydrangeas for my wife on Mother's Day. And even after all the hard work I have put in thus far I've found I've been rewarded ten fold. I'm thankful for the chance of simply being alive,  as walking, talking stardust, where I can help through painful toil bring new life into existence to share in the experience of life.

Now I know there are various interpretations of Genesis (this one being my favorite) but I just can't stomach the Christian theology of Original Sin (let alone the misogynistic language and theme in the Bible) . To share and indulge in our innate curious spirit is as sinful as an infant exploring its environment. It is in that spirit of curiosity, exploration, and questioning that I temper with reason to fashion my world view as my world fashions me. We are interconnected, dust to dust, to the world and people around us. A growing number of people are depending less on what an outside intangible Supreme Being from a book may so "goes" verses the tangible people and events we interact with everyday. I'm fine with people following a belief system as long as they realize that in the end their actions affect the people and the world around them. Life can be difficult at times but it is much easier when we listen to each other, when we grow with each other.
It is through the hard work of removing the thorns and thistles of ignorance, bigotry, injustice, etc. that we can bring blessings from a "cursed" ground. But this can't be done by simply praying for their removal or awaiting a cosmic apocalyptic event to wash it all away, it must be done by us. And if we listened in this life we may just return to the dust leaving behind a more Edenic world for the next generation.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Why Do I Love Muslims so Much?

I've found myself on several occasions defending my stance on Muslims, more frequently since the wave of Islamophobia that spread across the nation last summer. As a person who enjoys a good reflective thought every now and then I tried to imagine what others thought my reasons were for my stance. Why exactly do I love Muslims so much? Why would anyone want to align themselves with a group perceived as having such a low disregard for life?

I recently got around to watching the CNN in America special, Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door, a documentary on the battle over the construction of the Islamic center in Murfreesboro, TN. I recommend watching it if you haven't already (I missed it when it first aired).

I don't hold their beliefs, in fact I think they're bunk. But just because I don't agree with their beliefs doesn't mean they don't share and participate in human values I cherish. I love Islam's focus on universal unity (although Muslims believe that unity can only be found under the banner of Islam) and sense of community.  What drives me wild, what holds my interest, what makes me want to defend them is because they're human. And I no sooner want to see they're human diversity extinguished or set aside as inferior than I do Christianity. Both are capable of great horror and tremendous beauty and love. My heart goes out to them because they are one of the most hated groups in America for no other reason than being Muslim.  A lot of people can't see past the labels and misconceptions and see our shared humanity. This is mostly because the negative image of Muslims comes from the constant bombardment of bombings and militant attacks in the Middle East portrayed on the news. Most simply accept violence caused by extremists as the norm for all Muslims.

The biggest fear of Muslims living in America is that our way of life might be drastically altered by their culture and religious background. This irrational fear, held mostly by Christians, is based on the misunderstanding of Islam as a whole and the fear of losing the privileges as the majority faith. The fact is that Muslims have been living in America for well over a century pursuing the same freedom other immigrants have pursued without attempting to "take over" America. There's actually a new DVD out on the Muslim community of Minnesota detailing what it means to be a Muslim in Minnesota. I've already ordered my free copy and hope to watch and review it when it arrives.

So why do I love Muslims so much? Mainly I find their religious symbolism, culture, and history absolutely beautiful. Most assume I'm ignorant of Islam's long history of violence whenever I comment on Islam. But of course those who remind me of Islam's history often tend to be Christians who are themselves ignorant of Christianity's own bloody past. I'm not saying Islam is a "better" faith to follow I'm just saying I want humanity to cherish the beauty, wisdom, and cultural diversity brought to the global table.