Regarding this video winding up on a Facebook Feed

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbEJom2HJEg&feature=youtu.be

Response:

 Speaking as someone who writes opinion articles for a Canadian news site, while this video is edited and voiced over with a professional tone, were I to try to submit a text akin to this on any topic to any reputable source, the editor would be well within her duties to reject it. Problems with this video include but are most certainly not limited to the following: - It makes conclusions about the nature of the filmed event but is not clear about what the filmed event is about or who arranged the permit for it - these are key points of data in any reporting process. Nor is it clear if the prayers received an official stamp of approval. All this information is easily available to the public. - While France's census cannot legally ask about religion (since 1872), private polls can and do ask - frequently. There are many statistics available quickly and easily. About 8% of France is Muslim. This number is growing, but not as fast as the number of self-described Roman Catholics. - The assertion about some men practicing polygamy -> more births on welfare does not even try to quantify itself. As such, it's not false as all it requires is two guys in the whole of France to pull it off. However, it needs to be quantified in order to be relevant. It also does creates a bouble-standard as polyamorous non-Muslims are not subject to the same scrutiny - It fails to mention that the dystopian novel might have been overlooked by the French Media as "Мечеть Парижской Богоматери" (Eng: The Mosque of Our Lady of Paris" - "Notre Dame" being French for "Our Lady") is, as one might expect from the title, set in France but written in Russian. (And from a glance at the synopsis, it's not a very good book, that even breaks the rules laid out by Christian publishers in the US on how not to write a shitty Christian novel.) - Further to the above, the professional way to demonstrate being overlooked by the media is to compare word count, or advertising budget, or staff salary, or search engine count or some other quantifiables across comparable topics - in this case, taking an average of other mediocre contemporary dystopian Russian novels with thesis other than why Vatican II will result in the murder of all non-Muslims. I would guess that most such novels probably don't even have publishers in France which would prove the opposite of the video's claims. People have done this for decades before the Internet. Today you can do what were once months of work in in a couple hours. - Also on the above - claiming that one is beign censored simply because one is not receiving equal media attention minus any kind of proof that implies that this is happening for unjust reasons is so common a complaint that it is a fallacy unto itself. Any journalist should know this and know how to report such claims responsibly. - The woman in the video who is allegedly defending the veil cannot be heard. This is hopefully just sloppy reporting, but it may be a deliberate misquote. Also, she's not wearing a veil as much as a headscarf - The women displayed in the section about the burqa law is not wearing a burqa, she is wearing a niqab. Time to up your game!

 

http://slutist.com/why-i-cant-do-it-with-atheists-and-how-magick-made-me-less-of-an-asshole/

 I like that this article is calling for pluralism. And that it questions the line between trying to be right for the sake of understanding how the world actually works and dismantle injustice (e.g., as per the authour, dead babies aren't waiting in heaven, and life is unfair for most who don't share her privilege), and trying to prove someone wrong in order to push a political agenda on them. Kudos for that.


I also find a giant and ironic hole in her argument. The authour is taking her personal emotionally liberating experience with Wicca and making some dangerously unsubstantiated claims (e.g. "we witches are the most hated of all.") while ignoring the problems common to many highly vocal but not all practices of Wicca (i.e. unreflective Eurocentrism in a variety of forms, a habit of historical revisionism based on truthiness-centred pseudoresearch, and celebrating itself as sexually liberating while often being about as radical as Sex and The City - and then pushing all this on other people as something they must, on some level, accept). What is ironic and problematic is that every one of these problems *has a clear parallel* with her misgivings towards Atheism.

But consider - both are non-majoritarian metaphysical models whose practitioners are concentrated in the under-50 set with a privileged social position who, in seeking alternative universal models to what they feel is an oppressive majority, evangelize without first interrogating their own shit. In my opinion, from what she's objecting to in her article, that's the real problem - not Atheism, or even Christianity (or Wicca) but evangelizing without reflection.
 From everything I've gathered from religious conservatives, Hell is not only going to be awesome but we'll have unbeatable social policy.
 
Heaven, on the other hand? That's not going to end well. Or ever.
[Name redacted] how do you quantify to what extent something is anti-liberal and misogynistic and stack it up against other entities like say colonialism, evangelical Christianity, or intercontinental slavery (which, admittedly, overlap/ped) to decide it is the "most?" Also - do you consider the Hadith to be a Islamic, or merely tradition? What about Sufi? Or are we just talking the Qu'ran? (Not the Penguin translation I hope ). Or do you mean politicians who justify their actions as being Islamic? Wahabi'ism? Islamic Socialism? Over what span of time? Do you consider the rejection of the use of the "zero" by the Catholic Church (because it was too Muslim) to be anti-liberal, or would something more recent like (see my next comment) be a better example? What is especially bad about Indonesia versus another country of comparable economic, geographic and historical circumstance?

The subtext: it's hard to qualify what's the most fucked up, especially when you can't draw a clear line around what is and is not a religion, and especially when there's a lot of bad to go around.
Just now · Like

__________________

The most fucked up thing in my mind is that we're going to war with a group that has roots in the Taliban - a group that was trained and armed by Christian religious conservative governments on our side to fight the Soviets, who were an invading Atheist state (who, on top of the Giant War Machine, turned "international women's day" into a day to thank housewives for keep on given'er). There's a lot of violence and misogyny to go around.

Despite the above fracas, there are Christian, Muslim and Atheist roots for equality and peace.

I don't agree with the Qu'ran, but I also have serious bones to pick with sexism and technophobia in the Dao De Jing, rape culture in the Torah, and sexism in online Atheist communities. What's in a religion's core matters, but there's a lot to be said for what we do with it.

The way out of repeating this mess for future generations is, IMHO, not to form alliances based on being a dick to a mutual enemy, but on finding common ground for progress. And there's a lot of room for that.
 It's a shame that creationism and cosmology usually don't get along. For me, the Cosmic Censorship Hypothesis makes me reconsider the existence of a designer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_censorship_hypothesis

 

It even has an out - "Okay, fine, curious sapient creatures, you can look inside a black hole, but you can never come out again... unless you count being re-emitted as informationless Hawking radiation."

In response to a thread about science horning in on religion

 

 As someone who finds a sense of religious awe in *the discoveries made possible in the course of scientific research* (rather than in the scientific method itself - see my recent posts), and who has a relationship with gods of learning and discovery, I'm a bit perplexed as to what the problem is here.

 
In part, I don't think we have a good working definition of "religion." I don't think that "a relationship with the intangibile" is a good definition as (1) cosmology tends to indicate that dark matter exists, which is tangible, and (2) religious experiences are often both empirically measureable (PET scans, heart rates, double-blind testing) and repeatably induceable (chanting, psychotropics, meditation, magnetic induction).
 
The best I can come up with for "religion" is an "institution that propigates a meaning-based social structure through collective ritual;" spirituality being "individual practices that propigate a meaning-based personal life-structure." Science is "the use of empiricism to develop and test models of external reality which typically do not refer to meaning" - as some forms meaning can not be empirically tested at this time.
 
The reason we see science and religion as opposed is that the word "religion" tends to be associated with universal models that defy (or contradict) empirical testing, and, unlike individualist spirituality, religious human collectives have a tendency to fight back when questioned - hard, often using considerable political power.
 
In actuality, the definition of religion I'm using also applies to team sports, politics and LAN parties.
 
Science and atheism are not synonymous. But they tend to go together as they are compatible - as you can't empirically prove that God(s) exist(s). Likewise with agnosticism. Unitarianism, some forms of Buddhism and Humanism are also compatable. As, for that matter, are ritual-based structures of meaning-creation (religions) that rely on empiricism such as team sports, math class, taxation, and the legal system.
 
Religions that rely heavily on metaphor, such as Daoism, the United Church, Progressive Judaism and Islam, poetry clubs, and meditation classes, also get along well with the scientific method, as metaphor doesn't.
 
By contrast, when science is presented with, some *literal and untempered* traditional beliefs (usually propigated by religious structures), it can usually test them and demonstrate that they do not conform to empirical models. It doesn't say that one shouldn't believe in a given teaching (as moral imperatives cannot be empirically measured), only that there are logical contradictions in believing in some teachings while also relying on science and its products in day-to-day life. By extension, it also invalidates theologies that are internally logically consistent, but which have claims that are demonstrably false. 
 
 Someone broke into my car and made a giant mess. This was not a Moriartian feat as it's sitting on the driveway uninsured with the doors unlocked for when the battery goes dead.. They popped out panels (looking for drugs?) and spilled out the contents of the glove compartment.
 
I guess they found nothing they thought fencable. But they left an DC/AC/USB electrical converter and an Itrip in plain sight. They also exposed a cheque that I had forgotten to cash five months ago.
 
They can burgle me any day.

After we pitched the pilgrimage, I saw you. I felt you, this morning: electric. Mercurial. A god at my back.

I still wonder what you want. The cat seems to have some ideas.

It's hard to have a tete a tete with the divine when I feel that doing so is the antithesis of busy.

But I know that this is self-care. And that "busy" isn't always "useful" let alone "productive," "just" or "wise." Often, it's quite the opposite.

Less "working harder." More "doing well (and being well, one hopes)."

Solution.

Practice? Maybe with others?

To take fiction and make it fact.

You know the kind of fiction we read, watch, hear or or act-out and wistfully, enviously, or hopefully wish were true?

"<Sigh>, if only there were a safe, kind place like that."

"If only people really did put on masks and help people (rather than do violence to them)."

"If only there were tricksters that fought oppresion rather than taking advantage of others."

"If only I was a girl, a boy, a something-else."

I want every yearned-for story to come true. I want to crack open every storybook and have the characters stream out. And when there is no story, only a misty hope, I want to condense it into stories, that it might seep down through the cracks in our souls, there to brew and, one day, bubble forth.

I want to raise Heldscalla.* I want fact and fiction twined about each-other, not one undercutting the other through deception or disappointment, but fusing into a rope stretching from underworld to heaven - allowing free passage of mortal into divine, where we walk in all possible worlds and the gods walk the earth.

Fact and fiction around each-other, not to deceive, or to disappoint, but to fuse, flow into-each other. This is not only my inspiration, I think it is the core of what we often mean by "inspiration."


Review of The Taqwacores

The Taqwacores is a low-budget comedy-drama based on Michael Muhammed Knight's book of the same name. (not to be confused with "Taqwacore," the documentary)

The story is one year in the life of Yusef, a square medical (or veterinary?) student who moves in to a dilapidated all-Muslim house in Buffalo, New York, not understanding that it's also an all-punk house. He's welcomed and courted as a friend by Umar, a straight-edger whose blend of anger, Punk and Islam leads him into conflict with his more progressive/substance-using housemates. Despite this, he becomes buddies with Jehangir, the pink-mohawked hardcorester with dreams of hosting a cross-country Muslim Punk festival.

This film shines through its characters. Given their introductions in the preview, I was afraid that they would come off as one-note demographics. While some do (too many characters in 84 minutes), the point of the film is that labels can be empowering if worn with awareness and innovation. Thus, Rabeya, "the Riot Grrl in a burka" is no joke: she's six shades of political fierce that had me leaving the theatre thinking haven't I met her? This is true, albeit to a lesser extent, for Muzzamil, the Queer punk, and perhaps Lynn, the Catholic convert. It fails for Amazing Ayyub, who is a joke character anyways, and Fasiq, the stoner.

This film makes excellent use of repetition. It's shot in four seasons, and in each we see one Friday prayer (with rotating radical Imam), hear one phonecall from Yusef's parents, and watch someone try to sleep through an ignorant radio talkshow that highlights their exclusion from both xenophobic America and fundamentalist Islam.

That the Taqwacores is clearly shot on a tight budget only brings out the DIY punk aesthetic. The editing is choppy; often, several dialogue takes are stitched together and there is no attempt to hide this. Sometimes characters voice-over static images. But the sound is clear. And the sets are real. This is a punk film.

I also like that Yusef screws up where the personal and political intersect (especially with Muslim women), and, although he is learning, keeps screwing up. Education is a road, not a destination. It's a refreshing change from the more common narrative where a doofus becomes a hero of the oppressed.

Speaking of learning about oppression, I also like how the the authours of the screenplay (one of whom was the original authour of the book) listened to criticism of the original novel as downplaying Queer/Women's voices, and made changes to fix this onscreen.

Would I recommend it?

I hate punk music
and
I don't like having many possessions
and
I'm going go buy it
if only so that I can lend it to people.


Why? (It's reflexivity time!)

1. I want to shoot low-budget film and this is a fine example of how a tight budget can make a film better

2. I like religion, radical politics, and the organizing spaces where they intersect

3. It's a story about hybridity. It's in the intersections of identities, cultures, nations and communities where people are ground up, and where new ideas are born. I know this space.


(It is worth noting that it's slightly dated. At present, "Taqwacore" refers not just to Islamapunk, but is expanding into a pan-Southasian not-necessarily Punk or Muslim music-politics; an example of hybridity at work)
Question 9: Rerdanging into your gender identity, do you ever wonder/fear/think you'll get to a point where you just want to say "Fuck it", discontinue (if even for a brief tme) anything you are doing to maintain your chosen gender appearance/biology, and just exist as you are (or have come to be)?

Funny you should mention it. I will actually be discontinuing hormones for a short time. Starting in... ten days; lasting for eighteen to twenty -two. I'm not exactly looking forward to it, but because of how I indentify, and how strongly I identify, it doesn't bother me as much as it used to. But I'm only doing it because there's something greater to be had.




Q10. Also, I really liked what you had to say about religion/spirituality in your previous post. Were you raised with religion in your life? Do you have any personal issues/experiences with rejection of or from major relgion (either you reject them, or they reject you)?


The first four questions.
You have five days left to ask.

1. Are you an optimist or pessimist?

Short Answer:
Increasingly optimistic. Slightly, but more healthily, pessimistic.


2. Is our civilization, as we know it, going to survive another 100 years?

Short: Absolutely not.

3. What is your opinion of religion? Good, bad? Should it stay, should it go? If it goes will there be trou- okay I'll stop.
Short: No short answer


4. Are you going to feel alienated by the beach this year?
Short: Yes, but I have a way around it.






*as in "what is is what can be touched," not as in "greed"
I have discovered the thing that many societies do not want anyone to know:
yes you can do that thing that you've always wanted to do, and no-one is going to stop you.

Or at least the cost of being stopped (death?) multiplied by its likelyhood is less than the projected mean benefits (like, "not dying from something else"). Most people, especially around here, don't give a shit, and those that do, aren't about to do anything about that.

Being me.

I am not sure who this person is, but it seems that as I immerse myself into an actualizing job, and as I molt the layers of inhibition, I am becoming her, revealing her, donning her armour like a Greek hero. I do not know how I feel about the gods she prays to, let alone the pictures that she draws in public, though I admit that both show a strong aesthetic sense, and an intuition that is keen not just by gift, but practice. Although I am impressed by her, especially by her wlllingness to shrug off misguided expectations, I sometimes find that I do not entirely like this person, most often in the way curt selfish arrogance leaps out of her. I think that I like her occasional deliberate carelessness, but she needs to know how to explain it's pattern and strange underlying maths to other people, 'cause it scares them.

She is much more red than I am now.
(I'm not trying to be cryptic, it's the best I can do)

This is, on the whole, a "(coin word here);" a thing around which to be optimistic.

Although at times, confusing and even mildly terrifying, it is not a bad thing: "a person" not only an arbitrary system boundary, but like a productive forest; neither static nor controllable, nor something best left uncultivated, nor something that must be paved. It is to be gently steered; Dao'd.

And there we are.

Gender Studies 200 is too basic for me and lacks crunchy application. Still, it's good to think about these things.



"It's not about god, it's about social control."
I can't remember who said this to me but they were right about religion.

                          Social control is just one form of self control.

Given that this country/humanity/me is, as always, in a bit of a fix.
And, given that we could use some sort of motivator to get out of this trouble.
It occurs to me that we need a religion of some sort. We need a code, a system, a way.

                                        I'm a (insert identity here)

Faith needn't necessitate god though. Many religions get along fine without god: Buddhism, Taoism, some branches of Hinduism, many political movements, many Jews, most Catholics.

Not that a faith (the faiths?) would need to be atheist: one's belief in God could be like one's belief in loop quantum gravity: interesting, but not going to get you laid. Nor would the faith(s) need to have firm guideline on everything. There could be the general guideline of "don't be a fucker," with several branches of belief: you could interpret The Holy Hypertext (the holy comic book?) as saying that this means "be polite" under school A, "don't  torture your food" under school B, "volunteer," whatever.

Part of my motivation is to be able to slap labels on things and call them "of the faith." I got kosher meals when I went to Europe, because I heard they were better. This is not true on Lufthansa where the food is generall good, but most airlines have policies in this regard. Think about it. One can say "I'd really rather be able to get this or that kind of food or clothes" and then there's "it's my faith, bitch: I don't buy or eat anything else." People respect (and market to) the latter for whatever reason.

It's not about god. It's about organization, identity, rules. Snappy clothes. Ideas. Ideals. Priciples. Foundations. Caregiving. Potluck dinners and old buildings that need constant fundrasing. God's just there to give it some oomph. Oomph could be made up for with enough cool shit. I see tapdancing.


An unrelated link: a date movie for sure.
Grandmother's apartment. Same relatives as yesterday less one cousin.  Aunts and uncles who've finally got some sleep. Presbetyrean minister. Consensus decision-making. What hymns do we sign? What prayers do we say? Who says them? Tea. Uneaten cookies. You want ot talk and everybody's looking at you but you can't choke out the words. Moving empty cardboard boxes up from the van.

I feel a little alienated. I like my family's faith: it's beautfiul and it does good things; but I don't believe. I didn't appreciate this before.

Then to the funeral home. Muzak. Third-order Knights of Columbus crest on the wall signed by the Grand Knight and the Dungeon Master, or something. No one met us, so my uncle and mom sat while I wandered around and into a roomful of caskets.
Your name here
     or here
          or here
               or here

I remember thinking of this as a business tactic

Can other companies claim that they are manifestations of God?
                       Buy divine. Buy [Name of company].

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