Jul 31, 2010

The Faith Club, Chapters 12 & 13

Sorry people, I'd been counting down the days until vacation, and spent much of my time preparing rather than reading *gasp* -- now that things are mostly done (we're not going anywhere, just staying home and not working for a week) -- I think I can get back to reading.  I really hope to, because we're only half way through this horrible book, I still hate it, and I still hate the characters.

Chapter 12 talked about Mortality.  And once again, Ranya's lack of knowledge about her faith astounds me.  On page 181, she says, "Is there a soul?  I want to hang onto the idea that there is one so badly."  Perhaps if Ranya did a little more than HOLD her Quran (like, perhaps reading the thing) -- she'd know that God talks a LOT about the soul.  I'm assuming if God, who created us and all that we see (and all that we don't) has said that there is a soul, then there is a soul.  I certainly believe that we have souls...a body is just a body...the soul is what (I believe) makes us who we essentially are.

I was shocked to know that Jews have no afterlife.  I had no idea!  So what is to prevent one from doing bad things (I mean, weren't the 10 commandments sent to the Jews??) -- what's to stop one from breaking a commandment if there is no reward/punishment??  Do I have Jewish followers?  Can someone explain this one to me??

Oh...and as an aside -- I really find their little "conversations" that they have interspersed through the chapters corny.  Who talks like that??

All in all, chapter 12 talks about mortality.  I think it's foolish to say that one isn't afraid of death...it's such a big unknown...however, I think that we can be prepared for our eventual death...in my case by doing good deeds, following (what I believe) to be the wishes of God, and staying away from evil.  Death still scares me, yes...and I certainly would like to stay as far away from it as I can, but in the end (no pun intended) it's the one thing that you can't escape!

Chapter 13 -- I was glad to see that Suzanne finally had some doubt (that sounds horrible, but I'll explain).  All this time, she has been like that girl in school, Perfect, Pretty, Smart, and well liked...and then one day that girl walks into school with a giant zit on her face and you just think "Yes!  She's human!!"  That was me reaction when I read about Suzanne's doubt.

I think that faith is sometimes strengthened with doubt...after all, faith is a belief in something that is "unprovable."  For someone who's scientifically minded, like me, it's a giant step to believe in something that you cannot find solid proof of.

There were just a few notes that I made in this chapter...on page 204, Suzanne was talking about an author (Pagels) who "called into question the divinity of Jesus, saying that only John calls Jesus the Son of God.  The other gospel authors simply use the term 'Messiah,' which means 'of God,' and could refer to a prophet."  This is something that I didn't know, and I find very interesting!

Another interesting thing (on the same page) was when Suzanne wrote, "I had found myself wanting to discard beliefs that wouldn't please Ranya and Priscilla."  All I can say to this is WHY?  Why do you need to discard your beliefs to please others?  How is it an interfaith dialogue if you don't talk about things that may make others uncomfortable??

Then Ranya, not surprisingly, whines some more.  Whines about Ramadan and not being able to fast in it because she was lonely.  Oh...boo hoo...  Life is what you make of it sweetheart.  Stop being a victim and suck it up.  Deal with it!  Find a way!  Try fasting with your kids (they certainly don't have to fast all day, but they can for a couple of hours) -- I just have no tolerance for her outlook on her poor American Muslim life. Nothing more than excuses, in my opinion!

She only stops whining when she finds an Imam who allows her to carry out beliefs and rituals that have nothing to do with Islam (and are strictly forbidden, I must say -- for example, Easter baskets, Christmas trees??  Your teaching your kids to believe in something (the divinity of God) that is stressed as an absolute wrongness in that Quran she carries around in her purse.  It's kinda like my thoughts on the McDonald's thing -- sure, you're not teaching that to the kids, but that's what they are getting out of it.

I think that I have a more unique outlook on this...you see, as a convert, my family is NOT Muslim...so my kids get baggies of chocolates and junk from my mom at Easter; but my mom just tells them "Oh, I got you some chocolate."  Her other grandchildren get Easter baskets, my kids (who visit at a separate time) get little goody bags.  The same thing happens at Christmas.  This is a sore spot for me, but it's really the only time that all of my family gets together.  So, we gather, the kids get gifts and we eat dinner....we don't sing Christmas songs, and we don't have a visit from Santa.  My house is not decorated in Christmas stuff  -- and there is always a discussion about how Grandma is a Christian and this is her holiday but we are Muslims and we celebrate Eid.  I have had people tell me it's wrong, but I won't cut out my family to please others.

Anyhoo -- back to the book.  One page 212, her new Imam says, "Those parts [of the Quran] you don't understand should not inhibit you from embracing others."  I love this.  I have read my Quran time and time again, and every time I read it, it can have a different meaning to me...depending on where I am in my life and feelings at that moment.  He also says, "to engage in the five pillars [prayer, charity, fasting, hajj, and belief in the oneness of God] without faith is nothing." Again, I agree...without faith, these are merely actions and not pure intentional deeds.

Okay, that's all I have for this part...what are your thoughts??

Jul 29, 2010

It's that time again...

Yes, it's time again for another post about my mom and her awesomeness. I love my mom (and you'll see I mention that clearly in the last "I love my mom" post)

Okay -- so this time, my mom took my kids for the weekend again -- back to the camping spot - but this time, there were no cat tails to bring home and no freak outs over fuzzies in the bathroom.

Nope, she decided to give me a present for finishing school (well, I'm almost done, it counts!!) -- she bought me pyjamas -- Dr. Seuss pajamas to be precise.  I am in love with the good doctor.  Yup, I have a secret little fantasy of the cat in the hat visiting me.  I have dreams of Seussical proportions...yes...I'm odd, but can you imagine that?  I dream in Dr. Seuss!!!  My phone message, for goodness sake, is inspired by Seuss...

So, the pj's were lovely.  I planned on actually wearing the top as a shirt (it's just a v neck t-shirt) and perhaps giving the boxer shorts to my son/daughter.

Yesterday, I pull the thing out of the bag, rip the tag off in elation and....squeeze myself into it.

I wonder if I'm getting fatter or if fashions are getting slimmer.  Oh well, I'm happily wearing my "One fish, Two fish" shirt and as long as I don't breath, I'm okay, right??

Later in the night, I go to show my husband the cute little outfit mom got me.  I  tried to put on the boxers that came with it.  Did you read that right?  I tried.  I could barely pull them up over my hips (yes, I have what my aunt calls "birthing hips" but still -- these were TIGHT!) They were so tight that they ended up turning into what most might call "booty shorts" -- I was scared to pass gas, I thought I might injure myself!

Hubby, very smartly, says not a word.

I peel the pants off and dig through my garbage can for the tag.


Now -- I'd like to think that my mom thinks that I'm that small....but a part of me knows that my mother is well aware that I'm not.  I'm lucky, extremely lucky if I can get away with a medium (especially over those birthing hips!) and usually buy a large to feel comfortable.  But a SMALL??  Really, mom??

I'm guessing that mom was so excited about buying me Seuss jammies that she just dug through until she found a pair that she thought I'd like and didn't even look at the tag.  That's it, right mom??  Because if she bought me these things to inspire me to get back on the Shred Bandwagon -- well...that worked, too.

Delusional Mom has been given the Versatile Blogger Award

Today, Random Thoughts of a Delusional Mom has been given the The Versatile Blogger Award from NanLT over at Nan's Squidoo Spotlight. I have to say, I love winning awards...and this was pretty cool, as I've never gotten a bloggy award from someone that I don't "know".

In order to receive the award fully, I must

1) Thank the person who gave me the award. Thank You, NanLT. I am honoured to teach a little about Islam and humbled to receive and award for my rantings!
2) Share seven things about myself.
3) Nominate 15 newly discovered blogs, and let the nominees know about the award.

Seven things about Hethr that you may or may not know.
  1. I am a high school drop out who is able to maintain a perfect GPA in college (so far)
  2. I have a 14 year old daughter that I gave up for adoption (see above) whom I am both terrified and excited to "meet"
  3. I have an unfounded fear of parallel parking.
  4. I knit, crochet and do cross stitch (when I can find the time) - and love every second of it.
  5. I worked for my husband for almost a year...quit and went back to get my GED (which I still didn't) I knew I would marry my husband within 5 minutes of sitting down with him when I asked him to write me a reference letter for another job.
  6. I was right about the marriage, just 3 months after that fateful coffee.
  7. I fear that I will fail in my attempts at further education - it's what drives me to my perfection, yet it's a fight that I have daily with myself - to continue or just quit while everything is all good.

Now it's time for the most important part of the award. I am pleased to nominate all the blogs below because they are inspiring, creative, beautiful, resilient, sincere, and are written by some amazing people. There are so many great blogs but I chose...

Hmmm...that's all that I can nominate right now -- I will add more as I find them, but the other bloggers on my list haven't updated in a LONG time or, are super mega bloggies that would laugh in my face for offering a bloggy award.  :(

Jul 27, 2010

McDonalds and Daycare

So, I had a bit of a rant over at the fanpage....well, actually, it was pretty close to virtual blows, wasn't it??  It started when I said that taking a daycare child to McDonald's was grounds for termination.(if you're looking for it there on the fanpage, you have to go all the way to the beginning of July)  I ruffled a LOT of feathers.  But I still stand by my thoughts.

Here's how the whole thing started.  I belong to a parenting group in the city that I live in.  One woman commented how she'd taken her children into McDonald's and let them play in the playplace.  At the same time, there was a couple of childcare providers who were letting their charges run around the playplace...one had wet his pants and they shrugged it off and sent him back to play without changing his pants.

(note, I will not be quoting word for word what the original posters said, as it is a private site and I don't have their permission...therefore, just the basics of the story for background info)

Okay, here's my thoughts.

I am a child care provider.  I am paid to ensure that other people's children are well taken care of during the day.  I take them on outings, I feed them healthy food, and I teach them about respect and manners.  On a very, very rare occasion, I have taken my charges to McD's...but I think (without any stretching of the truth here) that there were maybe 3 McD trips in 5 years.  Yeah...it's that rare.

See...I feel that McD's is not the best thing to be feeding kids.  I can make burgers at home that are much healthier.  Ditto for fries and nuggets.

"but, Hethr, I don't buy my kids fries or serve them pop, they get apple pieces and juice!"  I don't give a rat's behind!!

To me, it's NOT about the food that you are feeding them there.  As I said, I've done it myself on the very rare occasion (and yes, they had both pop AND fries) -- to me, it's the atmosphere that you are bringing the kids into. They are going into McD's and learning that it's an okay place to come and play...regardless of whether or not they eat the food, they will also subconsciously get the message that eating the food there (whether you choose salad or a Big Mac) is also okay.

Guess what -- It's NOT okay.

America (and let's not kid ourselves, my lovely Canadian and European readers, we are included in this too!) is currently suffering a major crisis.  We are all getting fat.  That's right, we've passed the "overweight" mark and moved on to obese.  The raging morbid obesity that we see around us every day is also causing another "new" epidemic - diabesity.  When I first heard of this term, I thought that my instructor was saying Diabetes wrong -- but no, it's an actual epidemic.  It is diabetes that is caused by obesity.  We are living it.  When we bring our kids to crap serving dives like McD's you are simply setting them up for failure.

I had people jump on me (not necessarily on the fan page, but definitely on the parenting page) for my views.  Some said "Well, I only take my kids there in the winter...we can't be expected to go outside in the winter with kids."

Hmmm....I do.  And if it's really cold and you're planning on taking them out to an indoor play park, there are plenty that are available in my fine city that don't carry the message of "buy junk, eat junk, be happy".

Then....I just about fell over....One woman said "well, I take my kids to McD's 3 times a week and my parents have never complained."

You have got to be kidding me!  I'd pull my child from care faster than you could say "do you want fries with that?"  THREE times a week???  Are you NUTS??

I don't know...I don't think that my home childcare standards are exceptional by any means.  I have a pretty basic approach to my chosen children...I treat them like my own.  They learn love and trust and values in my house.  We don't have a curriculum, we live a family life.  We make some crafts, we sing some songs, we read books.  (no, I don't bake with my kids...I'm much too anal for that!) -- but I bake for them and then we eat it together....

I don't see how McD's fits into childcare...with the exception of those very rare occasions.  It just doesn't work for me.

Jul 24, 2010

Festivus Friday

Yeah, I know that Friday was yesterday, but I desperately need to do a Festivus Friday Rant -

So I am airing my grievances (which I haven't done in a while...that's a warning)
  • Stupid computers that are so slow that it makes me want to scream.
  • Said computers that then break down and keep my from my new favourite activity of watching hijab tutorials.
  • the inability to post a good old rant post because my PC was broken.
  • Potty training.
  • Stubborn toddlers.
  • Whiny extended family members who think that everyone in the whole damn blood line needs to be invited to a dinner and can't get over the fact that I only invited 1 uncle and not every other relative.  SUCK IT UP!!
  • People who type like dis, it's sumtin dat I h8.
  • parents who bring their sick child to care and cover up said child's illness with Tylenol so I only discover it later with complaints of a sore throat (and find horribly swollen tonsils) -- thanks for letting your kid spread their germs all over my house and amongst the other kids.  I appreciate that.
  • grumpy husbands
  • PMS
  • cramps
  • and anything else around me right about now.

Jul 22, 2010

The Faith Club, Chapter 11

Well, chapter after chapter, we have to listen to these women whine -- why should we expect it to stop now?  Except, now it's Ranya's turn to whine about her religion.  *roll eyes*

First thing that struck a nerve was this, "To me, the concept of God has been co-opted by the outspoken Muslims who speak of a conditional God who approves of me only if I pray, wash, dress, and eat a certain way." (page 159) I don't think God is conditional, number one.  Number two, I don't think that God is asking us (Muslims) to do these things for His benefit, but for ours.  I think that God loves us (mankind) and that these "rituals" (whether you're talking an Islamic, Christian, Jewish or whatever religion) are a way for US to show Him our love and/or devotion.

On the same page, Ranya says

"I don't like the idea that I am only a Muslim if I cover my head and act a certain way.  I can accept a headcovering as a sign of respect in the house of God, but I don't want it to be the thing that qualifies a woman for membership in Islam."

Uh...it's NOT.  There are many women that I know who are Muslim who don't wear a headscarf.  I think that Ranya is too concerned about what everyone else thinks of her - she will NEVER be truly happy in any country or religion until she is able to get over herself and her giant ego.

On the next page, Suzanne sums up my feelings (and maybe anyone else's who's had the misfortune to read this book!). "Frankly, I was getting frustrated hearing Ranya lament  week after week about how she had no Imam, mosque and no community....I wondered if her inability to find a welcoming mosque stemmed from a prejudice that religious communities where inherently close-minded."


She goes on later to say,

My husband and I find that our church community helps us provide our children a moral compass for life.  It helps us renew and enhance our own faith through communal prayer and study.  And it provides the opportunity to experience God's goodness through communal acts of charity and service.  It keeps me grounded at the same time that it lifts me up.
Wow -- replace the word "church" with "mosque" and this could have been written by me!  I mean, I don't have to like every person who goes to the mosque.  I don't have to agree with the way that everyone does something, or dresses or what have you.  I think it's petty to do so.  What is Ranya's deal?

Then, Ranya writes, "I cannot believe that God, who created us in so many different variations , can be of a limited, close-minded nature.  How is that possible?"  That's right, Ranya -- how is that possible?  The only person who has ever said that he was "limited" or "close-minded" is Ranya herself.  The God that she describes here is NOT the God of Islam.  She is simply creating her own issues, then complaining about it.

In the same paragraph, she says, "...why would He communicate with just one person?" Once again, who said this??  In the Quran, God tells us about talking to Moses, Joesph, Jonah, Suleiman....and more.  There are many prophets and messengers that He talked to.  What the hell is Ranya on?  Earlier on in this book, she talked of how God calls Jews and Christians "The People of the Book" in the Quran -- now she's discounting everything!  I hate her more with every whiny sentence.

Later in the chapter, they discuss the 5 daily prayers in Islam. Five prayers...they take maybe 5 minutes each to perform...so we're talking less than 1/2 hour in an entire day devoted to prayer...and she considers that extreme?  Really??

When she tries to say how she prays, but not the "prescribed" prayers, she says, "Do I pray? Yes, I do.  I held a Quran and prayed before I gave birth." (page 170) -- Okay, we've already talked with my issues around this.  But here's what gets to me.  How does holding a book -- any holy book -- make one faithful?  To me, it's like holding on to the steering wheel of my car and calling myself a race car driver.  Seriously??  I don't consider holding a book a part of faith, whether it's a Quran, Bible, Torah...whatever.

She whines more and more about "her form" of praying.  How it's the way that "she" practices Islam.  You know what -- we ALL do this.  In Islam, it's called dua (supplication) -- a little prayer sent up to God, "please let me pass this test", "Please let this dinner turn out", "Thank you for this glorious day" etc.  They're little "mini prayers" if you want to think of it that way, but they are in no way new to Islam.  Then, she says about her little "modern form" of prayer "I don't have to be in a mosque or even at home to pray."  Once again, who the hell told her that?  You know, my kids have a CD filled with little Islamic children's songs.  One of them is called "All the Crazy spots" -- a song talking about all the strange places that the singer has prayed...in Islam, the entire world is our mosque.  We can pray anywhere ~ why doesn't Ranya know this??

Then, she says "I explained...how vulnerable I felt as a Muslim in the eyes of other Muslims who asserted that it was their right to qualify or disqualify me as a member of the religion."  No Muslim should EVER do this!  Only God knows what is inside the heart of a man or woman, and only God can be the judge.  If Ranya faced people like this, than truly do feel sorry for her -- but I also wonder if she even gave them a chance.  She seems to look at the world as "out to get her."  I have found that you tend to find what you're looking for - you know the old adage "Seek and you shall find"

(at this point, my daughter bumped me and it published before I was done or had spell checked --- there's more!)

Finally, Ranya meets a group of "like minded" Muslims who all prayed together.  She talks about the fuss about the segregation.  I feel the need to explain once again.  Back in the day, the men prayed in the front, older children behind them (to watch/learn) and the women behind them (to correct/guide).  How is this a bad form of segregation?  Sure, hard-core extremists have gone and made things more segregated, but that's politics once again, not religion.

As Ranya met these new Muslims, I wondered how she could like these ones, but be so repulsed by the others.  Some of these girls wore a headscarf (and she didn't run in fear) and she even said "Most had no extended families here , having left them behind in lands as varied as Malaysia and Uzbekistan." Watch out people -- Ranya's hanging with the immigrants!!!  *gasp*

Then, she talks about hanging out with these people for a day of fasting because, "the festivities and traditions of the holiday are made more meaningful ... when those around you are fasting..." -- You mean -- the RITUAL of fasting?  I thought Ranya wasn't about rituals??  This woman is so contradictory and I cannot begin to pretend to like herand her "better than you" attitude.

Whew!  That was quite the post...but I warned you all!!

The Faith Club - Chapters 9 & 10

Well, I'd said on the fan page that chapter 10 got me all riled up --- I was wrong, it's chapter 11, and it deserves it's own post however, as far as 9 and 10 goes...yawn fest for me.

In high school (oh, who am I kidding?) throughout my entire school career, social studies/history has been my least favourite subject.  I did well in in throughout Jr. high because if you earned an average of 85% or higher, you didn't have to write the final exams.  I hated it so much that I refused to let my mark go below that!  I suffered through it in high school -- I just hate the memorizing, the boring, boring, BORING repetition and facts and blah, blah, blah.  I hate it.

Chapter 9 was like an entire social studies class in chapter form.  My notes at the end of this chapter are following:
  • Giant history lesson
  • snore
That's it.  No word of  a lie!  All in all, I feel that this chapter gave the facts and information to what I said about the Israel/Palestine issues here.  I think my 1 paragraph statement was much better though -- it didn't drone you to sleep (I hope).

Chapter 10 was just as uninteresting to me.  Granted, it didn't put me into a sleepy stupor like the last chapter, but it was still pretty meh to me.  Here again, are my pitiful notes on it:
  • A nice read with flowery passages, but in the end, very typical "prayer" stuff that we all do regardless of whether or not we call it prayer.
Oh...and the midwife analogy was a little creepy to me.  Okay, more than a little.

Jul 21, 2010

itsy bitsy spider

So I was chatting with a girlfriend on the phone and told her this spider story -- to which she replies "That's a Delusional Post!!"

So, here we are.

My daycare is in the basement of my house. I have this big windows that lets in lots of light and it's really not what you think of when you think "basement" -- with the exception of one thing. Creepy crawlies. They happen...very rare in the winter, but they're around during the summer.

This story begins early on a Monday morning. I wake up at 5:15 in the morning. Yes...you read that right. I'm awake at FIVE IN THE MORNING. *pauses for the applause and astonished gasps*  Anyhow -- since I'm awake at such an ungodly hour, I don't exactly want my kids and husband awake too -- So, I shower upstairs and then blow dry and primp and preen in the basement bathroom so as not to make too much noise (Yes, covered Muslim women have hair and like to look pretty!!  lol)

Anyhow -- the basement bathroom gets used a LOT during the week, but almost never during the weekend.  It's an "emergency" bathroom really.  It's not that it's old or ugly or anything (we just renovated last year, it had better not be!) but for whatever reason, we just don't use it.

So, I get out the hair dryer, plug it in and tilt my head to start blow drying -- then....I see it.  *insert Jaws theme here* A nasty, big, black spider in my toilet.  Yes, that's right, he was in the damn toilet!!  He was halfway between the water line and the toilet seat.

Now -- I'm a daycare provider...I deal with some of the nastiest things on the planet and there's little that can phase me.  I can handle all sorts of bugs with two exceptions.  The first is cockroaches (thank GOD there are none in Edmonton...yet) and the second is Spiders.  I hate them.  I really, really hate them.

So, I think, "Die, bastard!" and I flush.

The friggen thing did not even BUDGE.  He held on with his magical spidey grippers and didn't even move during the torrential downpour that is the flushing toilet

I flushed again...no movement...and again ... he moved just 1/2 an inch or so.  By this time the battle between me and Super Spidey is well established and I cannot figure out if I'm more freaked out or pissed off.  So, I grab my final weapon -- a bottle of shampoo --- and squirt it around the rim of the toilet and flush again.  Apparently, the soap was the magical weapon...as it seemed to take away the water tension and the spider-from-hell finally went down the drain.

Not happy with that, I flushed a few (4) more times -- just to be sure he didn't come back...it wouldn't have surprised me.

Excuses, excuses...

That's right, in case you're blind (or have a life), you'll have noticed that I haven't been posting with my usual regularity not to mention my wit and sarcasm.  I don't even know what happened to the last two (I'm in a sarcasm slump, if you can believe that!), but I've been busy with life.

First there's the daycare -- it's been raining here.  Like RAINING.  As in so much rain I was beginning to wonder if our next craft might be building an arc and arranging to get 2 of every animal aboard.  So, my days have been spent policing children who are too cooped up to do anything but argue and fight.  I actually have a little bite war going on between my own demon toddler and my poor little daycare boy (although he's also given his fair share of bites).  I have to keep reminding myself that it's just a stage and they'll out grow it, but in the mean time, I want to cry.

Because of the rain, my kids are bored.  There's the usual "I'm bored" that you get during summer holidays, but this is genuine boredom.  It's like the real life version of  The Cat in the Hat "too wet to go out, too cold to play ball, so we sat in the house and did nothing at all" -- except no crazy cat comes to make life fun/interesting.  Only me, and I'm neither fun nor interesting lately.

I've learned a few things about myself during this extended period of I'm-So-Bored-I'm-Debating-Suicide.  First - I no longer like my coffee with cream.  Ages ago, I went from cream & sugar to just cream....then, lately, drinking my coffee has been making me feel nauseous.  Couldn't figure it out and unfortunately, I'd rather contemplate cleaning out a viper pit than face my day without caffeine.  Then, I poured a cup one groggy morning, got distracted by one of many things, and went back and took a sip without the cream.  Oh, sweet heavenly dark bliss!  I'm in love.

I also learned that when my nails get too long, I can't type.  This is kind of a TMI tidbit...but it's here and posted so deal with it.  It's not like my nails are drastically long ...maybe just 1/2 a centimeter (that's a little less than 1/4 inch for my southern friends).  Regardless, it messes up my typing.

And -- here's the big time waster for me.  I've got a bit of an infatuation going on with someone I found on YouTube.  I actually saw one of her vids about 4 or 5 months ago, but was too busy with school to do much more than a quick glance at it.  Amenakin is a Muslim gal from the UK, and is brilliantly fashionable and has created the most funky and gorgeous ways of wearing a hijab.  I love it.  She also has an online hijab shop, that I have bought myself a few scarves from - and have plans to continue to do so until I have almost everything that she's selling!  Here's a little promo for her stuff...and I love it!

And finally, there's the book.  This Faith Club thing is really getting me down. I was expecting so much more....meat to this.  It's kinda filled with fluff.  Don't get me wrong, it's been interesting, but it's not near stimulating enough for me.  The last time I read a romance novel, I was about 12.  This reminds me of a romance.  Easy reading but not brain teasing.  I prefer a book that grabs me and keeps the pages turning.  I'm going to try and get the rest of this book read and post up my thoughts, but if you're looking for new chapter thoughts, that's the reason they've been MIA -- because I can't stand not using my brain and this book just doesn't do it for me. (and, I feel really bad too, becuase one of my followers, Tina, bought it for me and I really want to like it, but just can't bring myself to!  At least it's brought some comments to the blog!)

Okay, kids are here -- gotta start my day.

Jul 16, 2010

Faith Club Chapter 7 & 8

So, chapter seven seemed to me to be about where they each found inspiration or proof of God.  I am a scientific person, and so for me, I look around me and see all that there is to see.  I was a loud-mouthed atheist -- and then a trip through the Rocky Mountains brought evidence of a God to me like a slap in the face.  How could I look at all that beauty and wonder and not believe in a God?  And so, my quest for faith began.

Anyhow -- I also related completely to Priscilla - her fear/worry/terror about her sister's battle with cancer is one that I have been through with my father.  Terrifying and mind-numbing.  It's horrible and I wouldn't wish that feeling on anyone.  I can also understand the "if there's a god, how could He let ____ happen?" thing.  It's normal for us to question, I think.  It's part of what can solidify our faith if we are able to see beyond the negative (for there is often good in bad).  For example, my father's illness was able to bring us all closer together as a family -- good from bad.

That's pretty much all I have to say about Chapter 7.  Chapter 8 however has my hackles up.  I agree with her on the first 4 pages or so -- but then she gets into the wine.  Perhaps she's never read the whole Quran, or what -- but in the 5th chapter it says:
"O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling are an abomination of Satan's handiwork. So avoid that in order that you may be successful."
Sounds like a prohibition to me.  I mean, the bottle of cleaning solution under my counter says "avoid contact with the eyes" -- but in Ranya's point of view - a little won't hurt. Her logic makes no sense to me.

And this whole "clutching a Quran while in childbirth" -- uh...wacko much?  How does holding a Quran make you Muslim?  No more than holding a Bible makes me Christian...and I find it more than a little creepy that someone would do that...really -- would you read the thing afterwords??  I recall being very sweaty and gross and otherwise unpleasant while birthing my babies -- don't see why I'd hold on to a holy book while in that state.  But -- to each his own.

Then, again -- they start talking about segregation of sexes...and I already talked about that here and they go further to bring in yet more cultural issues that have nothing to do with Islam which Ranya at least states "But that says more about the condition of those societies and their legal systems than about Islam." (pg 115).

Then -- the big Polygamy issue.  I disagree with Ranya here.  It is allowed in Islam.  I may not like it, you may not like it - but there are women (and I know some) who are very happy to have another wife for their husbands.

Stoning -- another hot button topic.  It is a prescribed punishment in Islam...though not often carried out.  There must be 4 eye witnesses to the deed (as in four different people who see the same incident...see it all, not just a man and woman walking into a room together - they have to actually see the act itself).  You cannot simply accuse someone and have them stoned.  Also, the punishment goes for a man as well as a woman...though, again, culturally it is something that seems to be done only to women.  Sad that these countries choose to twist the faith to do as they please -- usually to keep their people too afraid to speak against them.

The Veil - so many people think that this is a forced thing in Islam.  I, myself believe that it is a requirement and have chosen to follow that, but there are many women who don't.  People ask me all the time about my daughter and if I will "make" her wear one, or when she "has to start" wearing one.  I always answer when she chooses to.  There is NO compulsion in religion -- how can forcing someone to wear a scarf on their head make one a better Muslim than one who doesn't?  In my view (and it can be a controversial one) - it is something that is done when the wearer is ready and not before.

Ranya's last sentence in this chapter needs to be repeated:  "...that is not the voice of Islam that I hear now. I hear an angry voice, and it is not about religion. It is politics masquerading as religion."  I couldn't have said it better.

I also liked Suzanne's new take on Original Sin.  This also bothered me when I was searching for a faith to follow.  How can one carry on sin from your ancestors?  It doesn't make sense to me.  It's also neat to see that she's changing the way that she's changing her Sunday school teaching - to an all inclusive type of thing.  I wonder how her church members will react to that?  Will they bring judgment or come with open ears and hearts to hear the reasons behind it?

Jul 15, 2010

Le Sigh

Well, life with my toddler will never cease to amaze me.  He is sweet and fun and mischievous and frustrating all at once.  Here -- take a glimpse into my life lately:

  • He went for a "walk" to go see his grandmother without me or hubby knowing.  He was 5 houses away before a neighbor caught him.
  • He sneaks sips from my coffee (or dads, or whoever leaves theirs unattended for too long)
  • He's now fascinated with bras and wants to wear them all the time.
  • My bed = his bed.  When I tried to tell him different, he told me to go sleep in his (toddler) bed.
  • He attempts to eat dirt/sand DAILY.  He doesn't get the whole "mud pie" thing.
  • He takes off his own diaper now -- usually when it's full of poop.
  • He has "shampooed" with Vagisil.
  • He pretends to shave his legs with his dinky cars.
  • He can be out the door/in the cupboard/wherever he knows he shouldn't be before you can blink.  Seriously - I think that he's got mutant speedy abilities.

That's it for now -- it's nap time here (as close as it can get to relaxing with the above child resting and not sleeping) and I need to get on to chapter 7 of the book.

Jul 13, 2010

The Faith Club - Chapter 6

I really don't like this chapter.  I'd go so far as to say I have an aversion to it.  I am amazed at how Ranya chooses to complain about being seen as a "victim" and as an "outsider"...yet puts herself in that position by turning her back on her mosque because they're full of "first-generation immigrants." (page 81)

Am I the only one who finds that offensive? Really...I can't have been the only one to see that.

I fail to feel for Ranya who's family never worshiped at mosques in the middle east as she grew up because it wasn't like home.  Gimme a break.  This woman needs to grow a flippen back bone.  Come ON woman -- are you serious???

Then, she claims that there's only one mosque in Manhattan.  Really??  Just one??  I'm able to do a quick google search and find 3 and those are just the ones listed.  I think that this is another example of Ranya being the ever present victim....and she proves it when she talks about the "only" mosque that she could find in New York where the "majority of [worshipers]...appear to be new immigrants...I feared that because their concerns, opinions, and prejudice might reflect their lives and experiences as new immigrants, my American family would stick out like sore thumbs." (pg 82)

I'm beginning to get the impression that Ranya is a snooty little b!tch who's poop doesn't smell.

She then goes on to complain that many people turn to Islam while they are in prison.  Why is this an issue?  Don't priests go there and talk to the inmates about their crimes in an attempt to get them to "come to Christ?"  Why can't Ranya be happy with a Muslim from a lower class, a different country or a bad background?  Who is she to judge?

See, while Ranya talks about all of these things in a negative light, I see them as positives.  What I love about Islam is the uniformity of it.  I can worship at a mosque in Canada, Brazil, Sudan, Jordan, China, Bangladesh....you name it -- I can go there and we are speaking the same words and preforming the same actions.  There is a sense of belonging that is gained...even if you are a foreigner or, in Ranya's case, more "American" than the others.  I find that beautiful.

Later, Ranya goes to church with Suzanne...interesting...but whatever, but then she says about Suzanne, "She had recognized my angst and longing to be a part of a spiritual community, and the frustration I have felt at times when as a family we have missed out on the communal celebration of certain colorful Muslim traditions and holidays"  I can't feel sorry for her...she has missed out because she chooses to stay away.  Of course you will feel left out.  And you know what??  If you don't like it, start something new!  There's nothing wrong with that...and invite people, be open - it will happen!  I can't feel sorry for someone who sits and whines about stuff that they have the power to change!  Suck it up, buttercup!

Okay, that's all I can handle...I'm getting moody just thinking about this. 

Jul 12, 2010

The Faith Club - Chapter 5

Okay, this one was about stereotyping...an easy trap that anyone can fall into.  Unfortunately, it's filled with more whining.  Seriously ladies, GROW UP.

Then, they go from whining to hyper-sensitive.  On page 67, Ranya says "I feel like I am fighting stereotypes every day, A mother hosting my daughter on a playdate asked if Leia had any dietary restrictions."  Uh...that's a stereotype??  I'd take that as a respectful question! In this day and age, it doesn't even have to do with religion -- there are many children with allergies to all kinds of things, this question is now a common thing to ask.  Seriously, stop the whining!!

I soon came to a part that I agree with though.  On page 70, Ranya talks about the stereotyping of Muslims, "I think Muslims and Arabs are now the only groups in our society about whom other people think they can make racial slurs and jokes without being labeled racists...you can find that stereotype of Muslims everywhere now - that they are aggressive, violent, abusive of women - and people don't feel any shame about holding or expressing it."  I agree.  I do...except that I would go further.  I would go on to say that a typical Muslim woman who wears a head scarf and looks like the picture here -- most would consider them uneducated, demeaned, beaten, subjugated, oppressed....need I go on??  I know this because I was able to see both sides of the situation.  I went from Non-Muslim (assuming those poor covered women had such sad lives) to a covered Muslim woman who can walk into a store and have people say to me, "Hi...Can ...I ...Help...You??" in a loud and slow voice because the first thing that they think is that I can't speak English.

There was another quote that I agree with on page 74, "Every minority or ethnic group has at one point or another suffered from being stereotyped, but these days most people tend to view stereotypes as stereotypes and have a sense that they are not true.  I think Islam is the exception to this rule: in the West most people have only one image of Islam - they carry a stereotype of Islam as a violent, radical, and regressive religion."

As I said, I agree with this as well.  Just as any religion, we have our bad apples, but the world doesn't turn on Christianity as a whole because Timothy McVay bombed that building in Oklahoma City.  They didn't judge every Sikh after the Air India bombing.  The wars that seem to go on in countries all over the world are proclaimed as guerrilla attacks...yet, if a Muslim is involved, it's suddenly an "Islamic Terrorist Cell".  Why?

Jul 9, 2010

The Faith Club - Chapter 4

yesterday, I was going to combine my thoughts on Chapters 3 & 4 (which is why yesterday's title is "chapters") but I changed my mind (and not my spelling).

So -- on to chapter 4.  This chapter deals with the issues surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus.  I couldn't help but thinking "Suck it up!" with Priscilla's whining about this.  Maybe it's me, maybe I'm naive and never felt that Jews were "blamed" for Jesus' death....maybe I just don't care.  But the whining, my God, the whining!!  I have no tolerance for it, especially from a grown woman.

Then, if Priscilla's whining wasn't bad enough, Suzanne starts whining about Priscilla's whining.  Good God...I wanted to stick a fork in my eyes to stop the suffering.  It was bad.

But, what got me most was the fact that Ranya didn't put in her thoughts on the whole Jesus issue.  Maybe she couldn't get a word in with the other two -- but you'd think that since this is a book that she'd be able to write the Muslim point of view.  Is she embarrassed by it??  I wonder.

So, since she didn't do it, I will.  Muslims believe that Jesus is still alive.  Not in the sense that Christians do however.  This is the way that our story goes:
Jesus was born to Maryam; a miraculous virgin birth.  He spoke from the cradle to guard her honor (prove that she was not a liar, and that he was a miraculous gift from God).  He did wondrous things such as healing the sick and even the dead (sound familiar?)  Then there came the Crucifixion. Jesus was tried and given his punishment, but God made his (Jesus) image on another man (widely thought to be the apostle who betrayed Jesus -- name has left me momentarily, but this person was not mentioned in the Quran) and that man was crucified instead.  Jesus, meanwhile, was raised up to heaven (alive) and awaits there for the day of Judgement when he will come back and set the law (so to speak) and fight the Anti-Christ.

That's a roundabout version of it that's skinned right down to its bare bones, but it is what it is.

Anyhow -- they went on and on about the disagreement between the Jewish and Christian woman.  And I wanted to burn my book.  Whine, whine, whine.

Then, at the end of the chapter, Priscilla said this
"We're outnumbered!...That's the point I've been trying to make all this time!  It's very hard to be a minority!...I envy you the luxury of knowing that millions and millions of people, the majority of the world you live in, agree with you on the very fundamental beliefs that govern most of your decisions."

I get that.  I do.  I have the unique experience of living as a Christian before, and now as a Muslim...an obvious Muslim.  I envy the ease with which I was able to live my previous life...and it gets old constantly defending my new life.  Whether it's my hijab (head scarf) that people think is forced on me (it's not) or my religion which people think is a terrorist one (it's not) or even that I'm instantly assumed to be an immigrant who cannot speak/understand English (I'm not).

It's hard to be an outsider.


Jul 8, 2010

The Faith Club - Chapters 3

I'm back -- been too busy enjoying the warm weather.  But it's too hot for enjoying today, so I blog instead...

Chapter Three talks about The Abrahamic Family "Feud"  ← Yeah, I put those quotation marks there.  I don't think that there's a feud here in any sense, but whatever...it's not my book!

 What really got me in this chapter is when the Jewish woman went to her Rabbi...then he said "I never liked that word 'tolerance'. It's too passive.  Think about it. To tolerate someone? That doesn't sound very positive.  It's not a call to engage and understand someone else.  I like the phrase 'mutual appreciation.' That can lead to an understanding that no one faith has a monopoly on the truth."

May I just say AMEN? 

Then Ranya tells the story of our Prophet's miraculous night journey to heaven.  Let's just say that Ranya's tale has a few elements that are left out or added, which disturbs me.  It makes the story seem so....weird.  I'm not going to get into a lesson on it, but the story that I know and love is a little different, more detailed and makes sense.  It is essentially a story of Mohammed being brought up to heaven by the angel Gabriel.  They stopped to pray in Jerusalem then began ascending to heaven.  A rock that they'd been near started to rise to join them, and the prophet told it that it must stay (to this day, the miraculous floating boulder can be seen in the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem).  Anyhow, the two went to heaven where they met all the previous prophets and Mohammed eventually got our 5 daily prayers prescribed to his followers.  **I have certainly edited the story, but it doesn't seem so strange without all the pearls and gold and other fanciful things that Ranya felt she needed to put into her story.

When I tell non-Muslims this story, they usually pause and say "...oh...interesting"  It's kinda unbelievable.  Yet people have no qualms about believing the story of Moses splitting the sea or Jesus raising people from the dead....they are all signs from God.  Believe, or don't believe.

I also have a few problems with some other parts of Ranya's part here.  She states that "...Muslims believe Muhammed to be the last of a series of twenty-five messengers and prophets"  - well, yes and no.  We believe he was the last in the series of prophets, however, there are more than 25.  25 of them are mentioned in the Quran, but there are others that we don't know about (and it even states this in the Quran).

People are often surprised in the prophets and messengers that we believe in -- because we believe in all the same ones that are in the New and Old Testament.  We believe in Moses, Ishmael, Abraham, Adam, Jonah, Solomon....and more.

Anyhow -- that's it for now.  I have more issues with the next chapter, but the kids just woke up from their nap, it will have to wait!

Jul 5, 2010

Food, family and fun

You know, I really should start bringing a camera along with me so that my documentation of the things in my life have a little....life in them.

Anyhow -- this weekend was a weekend filled with Family.  First, it was my Dad's birthday -- we had a little BBQ at his place -- just a few of us there, but the kids had a blast, I got to spend time with my dad, and he got ice cream cake (oh, and I had roasted Marshmallows...mmmmmm).  Good times. I almost forgot about this -- because it was originally planned for his actual birthday day, but then was moved.  However, I was still able to make it there in time without feeling too terribly guilty.

The next day we had dinner at my husband's family's place.  Now, I want to preface this by saying I love this family. I really do!  So "Uncle Teddy Bear" as my kids call him, called me and invited us for supper, I originally said no (because it would have interfered with my dad's birthday supper -- but with dad's supper moved to Saturday, I called to let him know I'd be coming).  "That's great!" he says.  "What time should I come?" I ask.  He says "Oh, we'll eat around 5 or so."

Alrighty then!

So...on Sunday, I do a little putzing around my house, cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming, laundry -- the usual.  3pm comes, I get my kids changed and head to the grocery store.  I bought a bouquet of flowers to give to "Uncle Teddy Bear" and a jug of milk for my own house.  I return home to put the milk back, and take the long way to "Teddy Bear's" house.  I arrive shortly after 4.

Now -- in my mind, this is an appropriate arrival time, I mean, it's enough time to visit for a bit, offer to help out, and then eat.  Personally, i find it rude when you invite someone for dinner and they arrive in time to take off their shoes and sit at the table.

But I forgot one important thing.  We were going on Arab time.

You see -- my husband is notoriously late.  Like ALL THE TIME.  So much that he made up a little song after my constant nagging of "you're always late" and he would sing "alllllways late...do do do do...."  (yeah, you can't hear the tune, but you get the point).  His brother is the same.  He'll often call me and say "Hey, I'm gonna stop by your house in 5 minutes..." and I know that I've got 1/2 hour at least.  I thought that this was just a trait of my husband and brother in law....but apparently, it also extends to everyone else other than me!

I showed up shortly after 4...we visited for a bit...we waited.  5 came and went...still no one else showed (there were probably another 10 guests or so)...6 came and I had at that point become very good at holding up the wall -- because the lovely ladies working in the kitchen wouldn't let me help.

I don't recall, but I think we ate about 630 or so...maybe even closer to 7.  All I know is I was nearly faint (joking)....

As usual, the food was fantastic, the family was great and we all had fun.  I just felt a little pesky showing up "so early" to the dinner that I was told would be at 5!!

By the way -- Asma, one of the fabulous hostesses of the evening, had the most fabulous hair style....(okay, I said it...where's my $5 Asma???)


Jul 3, 2010

The Faith Club, Chapter 2

Okay guys, I'm trying to take it slow here, I really am!  I think that I may just post my thoughts on the chapters and put the links up to them on the Facebook page, but leave it to you to read at your own pace.

So, Chapter 2 - Still not 100% sure that I like this book, but we'll see.  As a Muslim, I obviously identify more with Ranya,  -- in this chapter she tells about her family's departure from Palestine.   This is difficult for me, my husband is also a Palestinian, some his family fled to Jordan, some remained behind in Gaza.  They can't always go back to see each other, they are a family torn apart.  (Warning, I'm about to get political here) -- what bothers me most is seeing pictures of his family members in Gaza.  They live in squalor.  They make the best of it, but the fact is that they live in conditions that are, in my opinion, unsuitable for habitation.  Yet...look over the rise, and there are the Israeli settlers who live in fantastic villas with manicured lawns and beautifully paved streets.  I find that unjust.  I don't care about the religious aspect of this and I don't take sides in the debate.  The Palestinians feel as if their land and home was unjustly taken from them.  The Israeli settlers feel that they deserve the land (and have been living there for 2 generations now).  The land is home for both people. I just don't like the juxtaposition between the Israeli citizens and the Palestinian.  I feel as if it's a "na-na-na-na-boo-boo" thing.

Okay -- back to the book -- I have more to complain about with this chapter (but am into the 3rd chapter, and liking that)

It is a major pet peeve of mine when people confuse cultural practices with religious ones.  A great example would be the Burkas that Afghan women wear.  That is culture, it is not a part of Islam.  Ranya does this as well; on page 23 she says "I am reluctant to throw out leftover bread without kissing it and asking for God's forgiveness" -- Culture.  Shortly after that, she says "...making sure that no shoes remain with their soles facing up toward God in a sign of disrespect." -- Culture, not religion.

On the same page, she talks about carrying a Quran in her purse, or sometimes wearing a verse of the Quran around her neck.  Does this make one a Muslim?  Does it make them religious or faithful?  I don't think so.  She says "I pray, but not necessarily five times a day as more traditional Muslims do." ---  In all these years that I've been praying 5 times a day, I have never, ever considered myself a "traditional Muslim".  Never.

I am surprised that she didn't discuss some of the small things that we (Muslims) do that make every action that we take a method of worshiping God.  For example, before we eat something, we say Bismillah which literally means "in the name of God".  When we end our meal, we say alhamduillah which means "Thank God".  This way, our entire meal, from beginning to end has become an act of worship. There is the greeting of Salam alaykum meaning "peace be on you" that we greet all other Muslims with.  There is the act of smiling to others.  Smiling -- a form of worship!  How simple and beautiful!

I'm glad that I read a little further into this -- as so far, these first two chapters are...disheartening.  Chapter three, however, really gets into the similarities of the three faiths - something that I find beautiful.

Jul 2, 2010

The Faith Club, Chapter 1

Okay, I startedreading this today, and i have to say that so far, I'm not too impressed.  The very first page has a statement that offends me to my core.  Ranya writes, "I did not feel comfortable at the mosque in our neighborhood, where women prayed separately from men.  I wanted to feel respected."


I get not feeling comfortable at the mosque --- it's happened to me.  It happened to me at the churches that I attended too, before I chose Islam....but it happened because of the little cliques that are inevitably formed where a group of people gather.  In the church, it was the "homemakers," the "group leaders", or the "bible study" cliques.  I didn't fit into any of them.  I felt an outsider.  Now, at my mosque there are the "Arabs" and the "Converts" -- I'm too Arab to fit in with the converts, but not Arab enough to fit with the Arabs.  I get the feeling uncomfortable thing (and, much to my surprise, I learned that there's a gathering outside of the mosque for those who feel....uh...shall we say "shunned" -- yay for that!)  Anyhow -- to say that you don't enter a mosque on equal footing as a man is wrong.  Flat out WRONG.

Yes, we pray separately from the men.  I like that. I can go upstairs and listen to the sermon, watch the Imam deliver his speech and stand up to pray with the other ladies.  If my baby is hungry, I can nurse him.  If I'm hot, I can remove my headscarf -- I call it freeing and wouldn't want to be with the men.

If this silly statement were said by someone who was not a Muslim, I wouldn't be offended at all, it can seem as if it's unfair and lacking respect if you don't know the reasons behind it.  I think that there are a lot of things that non-Muslims view of my faith as unequal or lacking respect for women, but the truth is, once you learn about them -- you see it's the exact opposite.  Islam gave women a voice more than 1400 years ago that was unheard of, they were able to vote, ask and receive divorces, own property, refuse a marriage....and so many more.  People think "yeah...big deal" but think about this.  Women in America were not allowed to vote until the 1920's (but if you were an African American Woman, you didn't get that right until 1968).  So sad.

Anyhow back to the book -- I understand Ranya's fear of post 9/11 America.  I was afraid too.  But I don't understand what she's afraid of.  She is a Muslim woman who doesn't wear a headscarf, who's children have "normal" names, who drinks alcohol, doesn't go to a mosque to pray and celebrates Christmas.  What kind of Islam is this??  I see it Islam of convenience.  That's how she felt, it's how she felt -- but I wonder, how did the Muslim woman who adhered to those articles of faith feel??  I know that some women removed their Hijab (headscarf) in fear. I know that they removed Islamic art and Quranic scrolls from their places of adornment in their home...in fear.  I know that they feared going to the mosque to pray...that they had no place where they could gather and feel safe -- they became the enemy in their own land. 

I'm 8 pages into the book and I already have a bit of loathing for Ranya...who claims my faith by name and not in spirit.  I don't like that....not at all.

I wonder if I'm the only one to feel this way.  I know that I only have a few followers on here who are Muslim -- what about  you Jewish followers?  How do you feel about Priscilla, who I see as very much the same as Ranya -- a woman who talks about faith, but doesn't really seem to have it.  On page 8, Priscilla says "...despite the fact that I prayed along with others to God that night, I wasn't sure whether I really believed God existed."

I find it odd -- a book called The Faith Club has 2 of the 3 authors who don't really practice their faith.  Go figure.

Related Posts with Thumbnails