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?


Yvonne said...

This post made me think back to an Oprah article from back in May (was it you that posted a link?? I can't remember). Anyhow... here's the link to the article http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Choosing-to-Wear-the-Muslim-Headscarf/1
And it also brought me back to a conversation Guy and I had with the couple that mentored us and that we went through our marriage prep 'class' with; I'm Catholic, Guy is not. Our mentors were much the same; she "grew up" Catholic and he converted/went through the RICA program. The conversation went along the lines how few Catholics truly know 'what' it is the Church's rituals and teachings are; I'll admit to just going through the motions and not really understanding why. And that those adults who converted/completed the RCIA program were often 'better' Catholics. I don't think it's that way for all... but it sure feels that way for me sometimes. Guy will ask me why something is done and I really have no clue.

Hethr said...

Yes, that article was great wasn't it?

There are advantages to converting -- you study "Why" a lot. Knowing the why's of things sure makes the "what" make a lot more sense. Sometimes, I feel bad for children who are raised in any faith and told they do things "because that's the way it is"...I think it's a disadvantage to us all.

Tina S said...

I have to say that out of all the capters that I have read ( I have just started chapter 8) chapter 7 has been my favorite. I have ALWAYS enjoyed going to church! I have been raised catholic but I have been to different churches and both my daughters have been baptized in the Luthern church. I am fascinated learning about different religions and that is what has drawn me to this book.
For me, the past 8 years have been a struggle. And if I didn't have my faith in God I do not know where I would be and that terrifies me.
I am a believer in faith, religion, God and a higher power. I do not think that one religion is better than the other. I think that everyone can learn from eachother if we just open our hearts and our minds.

NanLT said...

Chapter 7:
Suzanne becomes more human. I can get a better understanding here on why she is so firmly convinced in her Christianity. She had her crisis of faith and came out the other side feeling more firmly connected to her Christian beliefs. During her time of crisis she found comfort and solace there.

I didn't see Ranya's need to hold the Quran as being strange. No more strange than holding any other kind of talisman anyway. When I was in labour with Thing 1 I wore an amulet of a round-bellied Goddess figure around my neck that I could use as a focus through touch. It was her way of connecting with God.

Priscilla. Perhaps some of the difficulty here is because there are two kids of "being Jewish" that I can see. There is the cultural and the religious. Priscilla talks about being part of a tribe. A cultural group. Being Jewish is not solely her identity in terms of religious beliefs. With her doubts as to the existence of God, she had separated these two groups from each other. So, could one be Jewish and not believe in God? Absolutely! If you consider Jewish as being a cultural identity and not merely a religious identity.

Chapter 8:
As I predicted earlier, Suzanne is experiencing her own changes in her beliefs. For the better I think. I can see a new acceptance in the validity and the worth of other religions in her that wasn't present in previous chapters.

Hethr said...

@ Nan -- Maybe I didn't need to have some sort of talisman becuase my labours are very short -- 1/2 hour or less. No time to hold anything. Still, I'm the kind of person who focuses on the deed that needs to be done and "things" get in the way and distract me. :p

NanLT said...

Mine were the opposite. Number 1 son I never went into labour, even after they tried inducing me - C/S.
Thing 1 I was in labour 24 hours then went into hospital and ended up C/S

Thing 2 I was in labour nearly 60 hours before having a C/S.

Keahn said...

There weren't any "notes" written in margins on Chapter 7 for me, though I did highlight a few lines.

Priscilla: "The Islamic way is: Question, consider, think, reflect, and you should come out a believer" (103). This is pretty much what ALL religions expect followers to do; however, "followers" often leave out, well, all four of the directives given.

Ranya: "I understand science's big bang theory, but that still does nothing to explain what transpired before the bang" (105). Recently in the news there was a blip on how big minds in England (I think that's where it was) had come to the conclusion after years of study, that the egg came before the chicken. Their reasoning was rational, however, it still doesn't explain how the chicken actually came to exist.

While there may be nothing that specifically proves that God exists, there is nothing that specifically proves that He doesn't.

I really like the Emily Carr quotation at the end of the chapter: "The papers are full of horrible horrors and the earth is so lovely" (108). Yes and yes.

I have a lot of notes in the margins on Chapter Eight, but suffice it to say that overall this chapter brought to light how very much each religion truly is similar in what it says, and how its folowers interpret the texts the faith holds sacred -- many times -- to suit their own agenda.

And I, too, really like Suzanne's take on Original Sin -- so much so that I used it as my status after I read it. :-)

Okay, now to join the other part of this conversation:

NanLT are Thing 1 and Thing 2 twins? Sounds like they are (so Seuss (sp?) of you). I only ask because I have four daughters and the oldest ones are twins and there's a WHOLE NEW topic of conversation to life with multiples.

As for holding on to anything while in labor -- I do remember grabbing my ex-husband's beard and pulling his face all the way down until I was looking him in the eyes and saying some pretty darn un-Christian-like expletives. And, yes, it made me feel WAY better.

Hethr said...

"and yes, it made me feel WAY better."

Oh my -- I laughed out loud at that!

NanLT said...

LOL - I am going to laugh a lot with that one.

No, they aren't twins though they are as alike as two peas in a pod - and would fight over a piece of fluff! They're 2 years apart in age and were indeed nicknamed after the Dr Suess characters from "Cat in the Hat". We call them this in real life as well, though Thing 2 insists they should be called Thing 7 and Thing 5, that being their ages.

NanLT said...

I know the Gods exist - they talk to me too much for them not to.

And Modron did tell me that they don't really care what names we give them. That's more for our benefit, not theirs.

Keahn said...

SO true! We name everything for our benefit...wasn't it Derrida who said that naming, or the assigning of words, to anyone or anything is completely arbitrary?

NanLT said...

I've had to go look Derrida up as I've never heard of him.... I don't know if Derrida said it, but I sure have several times :D

Erin said...

I always found the idea of "Original Sin" to be so sad. To think of a baby as anything but innocent....
I'm still not sure about these ladies, in either chapter....I don't have anything pertinent to add about these chapters that hasn't been said.
One thing I did learn...the term "Manna from Heaven" now has a clearer meaning for me. :o)

NanLT said...

I'm reminded of a story a woman once told me. She was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic school growing up. Each week they were encouraged to bring in their pennies to give to help save Pagan babies.

And she never understood who those Pagan babies were until she grew up and met all the Pagans.

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