"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Books

Another month has come and gone. Thanksgiving last week was great!  I love that the weather has been on the warm side.

Here are the books I finished reading this month.  The last one I finished just about an hour ago. I wasn't sure if I'd finish it or not, but I did! 

Hope you all are doing well!

Lipstick Jihad
by  Azadeh Moaveni   -- I remembered seeing this review by Muslimah Media Watch back when I used to follow that blog, so when I saw this book in the library,I decided to read it. It's a memoir of a lady who grew up in California and later went to Iran where she found she was too American for some.  Here is an interview you may find interesting.; see previous post for excerpts from this book that I found interesting

The Miracle of Freedom: 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World by Chris and Ted Stewart -- I found this on the new book shelf at my local library and found it rather interesting. The authors claim freedom is not the norm and have chosen 7 historical events that they say were major "what if" moments.  Their choices range from Jerusalem not being destroyed by Assyria to the Mongols and Muslim armies not getting farther into western Europe to the Battle for Britain to the conversion of Constantine.  I enjoyed the history that I learned from this book.

Looking for Lovedu: Days and Nights in Africa
by Ann Jones -- another interesting traveling story this one focusing on the author's mission to find Lovedu and the queen who rules her people. Along the way, the reader is informed of problems with the vehicle, border crossings, corrupt officials, cranky co-travelers as well as the depths of mud, mud and more mud in Zaire!  Quite a good book. I really enjoy learning more about other areas of the world through these types of books!

Islam and Democracy: Fear of the Modern World by Fatima Mernissi -- Overall I think I liked this book although some things perplexed me.  This was written soon after the first Gulf War so it was a bit strange reading about Iraq and the Arab world's reaction back then having now gone through this other war concerning Iraq that we are trying to get out of none too soon!  The author scolded the West, the Arabs, the men. She gave me much to consider and at times I wasn't sure if she were writing tongue-in-cheek or if she were serious.  I had more than this to share, but I will refrain. But since I shared this bit on Facebook, I'll just leave it here.

"The supremacy of the West is not so much due to its military hardware as to the fact that its military bases are laboratories and its troops are brains, armies of researchers and engineers. ... The arms industry provides an enormous number of jobs in other sectors, such as electronics and communications. ... The West creates its power through military research, which forces underdeveloped countries to become passive consumers. The weakness of the Arab nations stems from the fact that they buy weapons instead of choosing to do their own research. .. The Arab states prefer to import finished technological products, especially arms, rather than train a powerful corps of scientists, which would risk destabilizing their authority from within."  -- (pgs. 43, 50)

The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel -- "A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ" - actually the book is a bit old (published in 2007) so it's not current current, but I appreciated it just the same.  The author talked to experts about such things as other ancient documents being found that are just as credible as the four gospels, Christianity borrowing from pagan teachings and myths, the resurrection, the Church tampering with the texts and so forth. See my earlier post for more on this book

The Rapture Exposed by Barbara R. Rossing provides "The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation" as the author picks apart the theology of dispensationalists and those believing the End Times arrive with an escape plans for all true Christians and a blood bath and utter destruction for planet Earth.  The author makes her case by talking quite a bit about the Left Behind series and the dangerous way it shapes American thinking about the rest of the world and foreign policy.  She ultimately believes in the saving power of the "wonder working blood of the Lamb" which left me remembering Paul's words about overcoming evil with good.  She tells us the true message of Revelation is that God is with us through all life's tribulations and that was personified as Jesus - God in the flesh come down to dwell among humans to be with them through storms and life's trials. 

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant -- this book is like a Jewish Midrash with Dinah, the daughter of Jacob (Israel) telling her story of growing up with four mothers and eleven brothers (she never knew Benjamin in this book until much later).  I remember when Amber posted on this book ages ago and recently when someone else mentioned it,I remembered to look for it that day at the library. (It just so happened I was headed there to get new books!  For the record, Amber, at the library I went to, they had this book in Christian Fiction...haha.) 

Dudes of War by Benjamin Tupper -- curious about what soldiers do when they aren't out on a combat mission?  This book has short chapters featuring people such as Shrapnel, The Greek, Lancelot, Deathwish, Casanova,  Mr. OCD and so forth as the author tells about his experiences in Afghanistan. Read how the digital age has made it possible for our soldiers to enjoy women when there are very few women around (Afghanistan is not like Vietnam with prostitutes waiting for our soldiers' attentions; the author admits how he develops a "foot fetish" of sorts looking for pretty nail polish and high heels in a country where women are completely covered), how the soldiers compete for having the best gear, how alcohol is technically forbidden to them there, yet it's often available anyway. He briefly discusses blogging, humanitarian assistance (in winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans), loving the Hazara (which made the Pashtun interpreters angry), PTSD, religion and so forth.

"The soldier does not operate in a black-and-white world, so to romanticize or demonize both miss the target.  The soldier is the fusion of Christ and Judas, the wolf and the sheep, and the aggressor and the victim. We are capable of altruism and moral failure at any given moment on any given day.   Soldiers recognize this fact perhaps better than anyone, but that doesn't mean they agree on what constitutes altruism and moral failures.  Soldiers who serve in the same army, under the same flag, and in the same uniform, will interpret their actions and justifications in starkly different ways."  (pg. 105)

Eclipse of the Sunnis by Deborah Amos -- see previous post for more information on Iraq refugees in neighboring countries

Also I found this of interest:

"Without waging war, Iran had skillfully expanded its political influence in places that before 2003 had been under Arab sway, including Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine.  The Arabs - above all the Sunni powers - had lost ground everywhere. Even the radical Sunni movements, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, were increasingly dependent on Tehran. Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah were furious about Iran's growing reach into the Arab heartland but what could they do about it? The American invasion that had removed Iraq from the balance-of-power equations on the Sunni side had tilted the region towards Tehran. The Sunni powers shuddered to think of living under the embrace of Shiite mullahs with nuclear arms."   (pg. 178)

Sandstorms: Days and Nights in Arabia by Peter Theroux -- see previous post about Saudi Arabia in the 1980s for excerpts from this book

Fortunate Sons by Liel Leibovitz and Matthew Miller -- see previous post

Interesting fact: After the building of the Transcontinental Railroad groups of Chinese men dug in the Sierra Nevada. They "would come on pilgrimages to search for the graves of their fellow workers. Beneath simple wooden stakes lay bodies buried with wax-sealed bottles holding pieces of cloth inscribed with the deceased's name and native village.  These remains, thus discovered, would be exhumed and shipped back to China; in all, twenty thousand pounds of bones would make this final journey."  (pg. 102)

Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman -- Faced with a struggling marriage and a trial separation, the author heads to Mexico to live among indigenous people. Rita wasn't content to stay in the touristy spots, but went to the villages where not many - if any - foreigners travel.  She connects with people this way in Mexico and Nicaragua, later travels to Israel hoping to find some connection with "her" people (fellow Jews).  Her travels take her to the Galapagos Islands and Indonesia where she spends parts of 8 years living in Bali and traveling to the Indonesian side of New Guinea.  She also talks about her life in New Zealand, Thailand and the United States. Unlike most of the travel books I've read this year where people talked with natives for short times, this book was different in that the author often lived with native people for weeks, months or years at a time. It was a great way for me to learn more about Balinese culture and other parts of the world.  Learn more about Rita at her website.

The Early Arrival of Dreams by Rosemary Mahoney tells the story of an American woman who lived in China for a year as an English teacher back in the 1980s. It was good reading her impressions of the Chinese people, cities, food, university and so forth. Also I enjoyed reading how they interacted with her.

Naked in Baghdad by Anne Garrels -- This book is about "the Iraq war as seen by NPR's correspondent" and it includes a few months before the war started and the couple of months after. At first I was a bit bored thinking I'd heard most of this before, but I grew to really enjoy the book as the author shared about what happened on the ground once the war started, the people's reactions and such things.  Interesting tidbit:  Russian was useful to her as a second language since she didn't know Arabic and many of the Iraqis she met didn't know English.  I liked that she tried to verify which civilian neighborhoods the US bombs hit and which other reported stories were true (or not).  I was saddened to read how the US troops didn't stop the looting (except for the oil ministry *ahem*) saying they were not a police force.  Yet they had just destroyed things and left the looters to wreak havoc.  The author said the bombs were really accurate for the most part, but the ground war once the troops came to Baghdad showed how ill prepared our military was for the pandemonium of a people recently freed. She said many Iraqis feared themselves and I see why after reading of the looting plus seeing how things have turned out the last several years with the sectarian fighting.  I enjoyed the reporting on how the Iraqi people reacted to Saddam's statue coming down. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hijabs, Beards, Queues: outward ways we identify and submit

It's rather interesting how we do things to either identify with others or perhaps show our submission. 

Many Muslim women will choose to wear head scarves in order to do one or the other or both. I've heard some argue that they don't believe God requires them to cover their hair, however, they want to wear scarves in order to identify themselves as Muslims.

Probably the same with Amish and Mennonite women who cover their hair.

I think the Taliban required a fist-length beard for Afghani men in order to identify with proper Islamic standards.

And, if memory serves, there are Old Testament rules about how Israelite men were to keep their beards as well as the requirement for circumcision.

I'm currently reading Fortunate Sons by Liel Leibovitz and Matthew Miller. It's about "the 120 Chinese boys who came to America, went to school, and revolutionized an ancient civilization."  The plan was that these 12-14 year old boys would be educated in American high schools and universities such as Yale and possibly study at military academies so that China could learn about technology and military might so they wouldn't always be dependent on western imports and could grow and defend themselves properly.  (This was 1872, by the way.)  These boys were to remain stateside for 15 years before heading home.  (I've not read far enough in the book to see if they stayed that long.  Presently the first high school graduates, who'd been in the US for about five years, are beginning studies at Yale.)

Reading some of the cultural differences made me smile especially since one lady, in a display of motherly affection I suppose, kissed the boy who was staying in her house.  This boy had only bowed his head four times to his own mother as a way of saying goodbye for his fifteen year travel and he later wrote that he had not been kissed since infancy prior to this New England lady kissing his cheek!   Of course the other Chinese boys giggled at this public display of affection.

Anyway, I digress. The reason this book reminded me of hijabs and Jewish beards, ways we identify with others and/or submit was talk of the queue, the hairstyle that Chinese men at this time were forced to wear in order to show their submission to the Qing Dynasty.  I remember the boys wanted to blend in more with their American peers as their Chinese robes and long braids were cause for teasing.  Their Chinese sponsor was able to get permission for them to wear western clothes, but they could not cut their hair. They were allowed to hide the braids in hats or under their clothes, however.

I like this book because I have also learned some about Confucian teachings. Did you realize before they were made to submit to Qing queues, most Han Chinese wore long hair because Confucius said we inherit our hair from our ancestors so we should not damage it?

Can you think of other ways (e.g., hairstyles, clothes, circumcision) that we show outward identification and/or submission?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Observations on Saudi Arabia in the 1980s

If you've read any of my posts this year, you may know I've enjoyed a number of books by Westerners traveling through Arabia and other parts of the world. I find it such an interesting way to learn more about the variety of cultures, the religions, the people, the foods, the animals, everything. Of course they are told from specific people's eyes where the natives' habits may seem curious or strange, but that's part of what I love about reading books or blog posts of those visiting the United States. I like to see what stands out to people, what they find noteworthy, what they find worth sharing.

This book Sandstorms: Days and Nights in Arabia by Peter Theroux tells of the author's adventures in Egypt and Saudi Arabia during the 1980s as he was searching for information on what happened to Moussa Sadr. He wrote a book about that, but this one is about other stuff that happened during his time in the Middle East. 

Peter learned Arabic, made friends with Arabs and did his best to explain Arab culture to visitors so the visitors would have a better understanding of the Arabian ways.  Please keep this in mind as you read the following excerpts because I don't want you to get the wrong impression that his book was only about this stuff I noted.  I guess these are just the funny and odd things that stand out the most to me. Actually there is so much more - like the man who wanted to convert Peter to Islam and then asked if he had any girls (American? British? Filipino?) available so he could have a good time.  When one day Peter decided to say yes that he has available girls and they are Saudis, the man got extremely angry and never spoke to him again!  Must be one of those cultural things about MEN that I will never understand!

Since this book's information is quite old, I do wonder as I'm reading how much has changed since Peter lived in Arabia.


Peter was driving in Saudi Arabia when his car slid into a ditch. A police car arrived and the officer checked his driver's license which was issued in Peter's home state, Massachusetts.

Officer:  "Just wait a minute - what's this?"

"That's my American license. I don't have a Saudi one yet, but -- "

"What do you mean, 'American license'? Show me where it says 'America.'"

Alas, it doesn't since it was issued by Massachusetts - a state - and not the federal government.  So the officer calls another officer over and they talk. The second officer comes over with the pleasant "salaamu aleikum" greeting declaring that he knows Massachusetts: "It's the best state!"

We chatted - he was friendly and extremely religious and demanded to know why I had not converted to Islam, since I knew Arabic and could presumably see, in the Koran, the perfect fulfillment of Judaism and Christianity. Surely I rejected the infamous sacrilege that God had a mother and a son?  ... I tried to pump him about his visit to Massachusetts.

"I never visited there - I know it from history. America is full of good people but bad things - sex and crime, and some people are so backward - they worship the devil and follow the tower" - he meant al-bourj, the zodiac - "but Massachusetts is the only place they know how to deal with witches - by hanging them!  Good night, my friend."  (pgs. 20-22)

Not sure why this struck me so funny. Must have been the matter-of-fact way the guy declared MA the "best state" because they hung witches there.  In the past. Not that that is funny at all ... moving on.


It involved in his opinion "a cultural rather than spiritual transformation. I never knew a Christian whose values changed radically after adopting Islam, but the outward changes - especially in name and wardrobe - were always striking."  [Insert examples of American converts who adopted "very specifically, the clothes and habits of the desert Arabs."]  "It was as if a Russian Jewish convert to Christianity in Oklahoma made it an article of faith to dress as a cowboy every day, down to the chaps, spurs, and lasso. ... It was a one-way street, of course, since apostatizing from Islam to any other faith was a capital crime."  (pg. 139-140)

Haha...I can understand adopting the head scarf if you thought God wanted you to cover your hair, but I have puzzled over the complete transformations and changed names. Hey, I guess if you don't like the name your parents gave you, it's a good excuse to find one you like better!  Too bad your selection is limited to Arabic ones, however.


He told of an Islamic University which "used a textbook, which debated, among other questions, whether or not Shiites have tails." (pg. 127)

"The ugliness of the Arab world's hostility toward its own Shiites was remarkable, and I felt that Saudi Arabia was abusing its prestige as guardian of Mecca and Medina by hinting that the Shia were 'deviants' and ridiculing their clergy. I had to take my stand, and I took it by being part of this friendly Shiite underground."  (pg. 128)

If I were a Shiite, I think I'd show them my tail so their mystery would be solved!  ;-)


"Surely the Saudi bigotry against other religions revealed a deep insecurity in the face of other cultures and faiths and was a sop to empty nationalism and phony clerics. Even the least observant Muslim in Saudi Arabia measured power and influence in religious terms. ... It was a subtle and informal way of marking territory. When the city of Rome decided, in 1984, to grant a building permit for a mosque near the Holy See, the reaction of the Riyadh press was anything but uplifting: jeering articles applauded this tanazul, relinquishing or surrender, on the part of Rome and the Vatican. They did not rule out that tolerance or political opportunism may have played a role, as they surely must have, but that was beside the point: Europe and all Christendom were gloatingly shown to be demoralized and weak for having caved to Islamic machismo. It was also portrayed as a crushing blow to 'world Zionism.'"

I wonder if this is similar to those folks in Tennessee who didn't want a mosque in their town. Were they also marking territory or desiring to not show weakness by surrendering?  Were they trying to deliver a "crushing blow" to "world Islamism"?  Hmmmm...

When Peter was talking to his friend about allowing a church for all the Christians in Riyadh (foreigners of course since all Saudis are Muslim by birth), he asked, "Wouldn't you respect them more if they went to church, if they had a church to go to?"

"'Having no churches prevents them from learning wrong things,' shrugged Hamdan. 'They should be grateful. It's their chance to learn something about Islam.'"  (pg. 172-173)

So have things changed much in these 25-30 years? I don't know. But it sure is interesting to read some impressions about this part of the world from the pre-9/11 days. Sometimes it's hard for me to recall what I thought of or knew about Arabs or Muslims before then.   Actually all these things described above sound nothing like the Arabs and Muslims I've had the pleasure of getting to know.  Maybe I should be more clear from time to time about that.  Samer asks me sometimes why I am reading books about his people (and finding faulty things such as I mentioned above) and I tell him if he were some Jewish Israeli guy who found me online, invited me to his country and became one of my best friends, I'd be reading books on Israel and Zionism and doing the same thing.  So I blame Samer. He started it!  ;)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Iraqi Refugees in Syria and Lebanon

I'm reading Eclipse of the Sunnis by Deborah Amos.  She is talking mostly about the Iraqi "surge" -- no, not the American soldiers surging into that country, but the "surge" of Iraqis fleeing their country into neighboring regions. This book tells the story of many people the author met during interviews with Iraqi refugees - millions who have been displaced mostly due to the American invasion and subsequent rising of a more sectarian government and society.  The first few chapters take place in Damascus and surrounding areas. One chapter deals with the women forced to work as prostitutes in order to provide for their children.

That's extremely heartbreaking enough, but then reading this just made me want to throw up my hands in disgust at the hypocrisy and unjustness!

"In another story, I had heard about an Iraqi woman in the sex trade whose clients were young Shiite men from the Mahdi militia who came to Syria in the summer for vacation. They paid her for sex, enjoyed her company, but threatened that if she ever came back to Baghdad they would cut her head off."  (pg. 84)

This is such an interesting book so far, and although it was published just last year, I am already wishing for an update due to how much Syria has changed in 2011.  I am left wondering about all those Iraqi refugees who fled there. Syria was one of the only countries who accepted Iraqis as the Jordanians quickly closed their border.  How have things changed for the refugees now that Syria is in an upheaval? Has it made more of them go back home? Have they joined either cause: those with Assad's regime or those who want more freedom?

In the section about Lebanon the author mentions Palestinians - particularly "young, third-generation refugees [who] had lost hope in liberating Palestine and found a more promising cause in the mujahedeen in Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and then Iraq - all places they had gone to fight."  (pg. 100)

"The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq fanned the long-burning flame, giving the angry young men of Tripoli an outlet for venting their rage. When they came home from the anti-U.S. jihad in Iraq, the Lebanese fighters brought comrades with them and found refuge in Lebanon's Palestinian camps, which remained off-limits to the police and the army.  In this way, the unintended consequences of a generation of exiles that began in 1948 contributed to the ongoing destabilization of the region and the creation of a newly displaced people. It was the perfect example of the cost of doing nothing to solve an earlier refugee crisis: Ignore it for long enough and it will fan the next crisis and seed future ones."  (pg. 102)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jesus is the answer

This was just something I read in a magazine a few days ago that I liked as it was a timely reminder for me as I've struggled with my thinking on the human condition and the brokenness of life and such things.

"Dramatic testimony or not, Christian home or 'rough background,' life is broken for everyone. But Jesus saves. Regardless of the circumstances, the backgrounds, the histories, the bad deeds and even the good ones, the Gospel is the answer."

I remember "gospel" being defined as "good news."  And a friend telling us the good new is Jesus.  Not religion. Not Christianity.  Not all the stuff people tell you that you have to do to please God and make it to heaven.

It's just Jesus.

Jesus is the answer.  He offers good news for my broken life.

Source: "From Death to Life: Redeemed by the Gospel" pg. 17

Monday, November 14, 2011

NT Manuscript Variations and Inspiration

For those of you who have been to Sunday School classes or youth events where your questions were dismissed by your teachers because "you should just accept things by faith and not question God," I am glad to read that not everyone is this way. Thankfully many people have questioned and not simply accepted things blindly, but searched and studied.  I liked this little snippet.  Maybe because it's comforting to know scholarly people have studied and come out stronger in their trust of Jesus as he is presented in the New Testament.

In The Case for the Real Jesus author Lee Strobel recalls an interview he had with Bruce Metzger   "a scholar who's universally acknowledged as the greatest textual critic of his generation."  Bart Ehrman "even dedicates Misquoting Jesus to him, calling him 'Doctor-Father' and saying he 'taught me the field and continues to inspire me in my work.'"

Strobel was interviewing Metzger about the variations between New Testament manuscripts noting most of them "tend to be minor rather than substantive."

"Yes, yes, that's correct, " Metzger replied, adding: "The more significant variations do not overthrow any doctrine of the church."

Then I recall asking him how his many decades of intensely studying the New Testament's text had affected his personal faith.  "Oh," he said, sounding happy to discuss the topic, "it has increased the basis of my personal faith to see the firmness with which these materials have come down to us, with a multiplicity of copies, some of which are very ancient."

"So," I started to say, "scholarship has not diluted your faith ____"

He jumped in before I could finish my sentence.  "On the contrary," he stressed, "it has built it. I've asked questions all my life, I've dug into the text, I've studied this thoroughly, and today I know with confidence that my trust in Jesus has been well placed."

He paused while his eyes surveyed my face. Then he added, for emphasis, "Very well placed."   (pg. 99)

I just wanted to share this for those wondering what the Bible being inspired meant.

In an interview with Dan Wallace ...

"Seeking a crisp summary, I said, 'Complete this sentence: when Christians say the Bible is inspired, they mean that...'"

"'...that it's both the Word of God and the words of men.  Lewis Sperry Chafer put it well: "Without violating the authors' personalities, they wrote with their own feelings, literary abilities, and concerns. But in the end, God could say, That's exactly what I wanted to have written."'"  (pg. 74)

Good definition or would you say it differently?


Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Lipstick Jihad"

Excerpts from Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni

Note: The author was born in 1976 to Iranian parents who came to America and ended up staying after the Islamic revolution. As an adult she lived in Tehran for several months as a journalist. She tried to remember the Iran she visited as a child and fit in with her people.  Here are a few observations that I noted from this book.

I wanted to pinpoint precisely what it was that gave me away as a foreigner. After watching me for several weeks as we rode in taxis and shopped and had coffee, Celine concluded that it was nothing so obvious. She leaned forward in her chair, as if to make a serious pronouncement. One, you laugh whenever you want.  And two, you smile too much. This is very American of you. It doesn't really occur to you, to alter yourself in public. So I should smile less? I asked. I should be less nice?  No, she replied, you need to be more selective about who you're nice to.
  (pg. 69)

I just found that funny because I think I would be guilty of the same if I were in one of those societies where it's odd to smile at any ol' person walking down the street.

The major social aim of the revolution had been to impose Islamic faith on Iranian society.  But the catalog of restrictions - on dress, behavior, speech - meant to instill a solemn decency instead inflamed people's carnal instincts. Made neurotic by the innate oppressiveness of restriction, Iranians were preoccupied with sex in the manner of dieters constantly thinking about food. The subject meant to be unmentionable - to which end women were forced to wear veils, sit in the back of the bus, and order hamburgers from the special "women's line" at fast food joints - had somehow become the most mentioned of all.  The constant exposure to covered flesh - whether it was covered hideously, artfully, or plainly - brought to mind, well, flesh.
  (pg. 71)

Makes sense really.  And I read stuff like this often on Muslim blogs about how preoccupied the people are with sex!  To me, covering women doesn't really make the men stop fantasizing about what's hidden under the veil.

Her thoughts on temporary marriages, the Shiite practice of sigheh -- "It is a form of prostitution, which enables a patriarchal culture to cement the imbalanced gender relations in the guise of empowering women with a temporary and flimsy legal status that rarely works to their benefit."  (pg. 74)

It amuses me somewhat when people try to defend this as some gift from God.

It was only over time, after repeated exposure to womanizing clerics, clerics who stole from the state and built financial empires, who ordered assassinations like gangsters, who gave Friday sermons attacking poodles, that I came to understand the virulence of my father and my uncle's hate for the Iranian clergy. Perhaps their flaws were no greater than those of ordinary mortals, but ordinary mortals did not claim divine right to rule, ineptly, over seventy million people.
(pg. 101)

Yessssss!  And that is the problem! You are corrupt like the rest of us, yet you believe God allows you to tell us what to do!  And poodles are so awful just because some Westerners own them?  Get outta here!

Thoughts on the veil -- "It was the symbol of how everything had gone horribly wrong. How in the early days of the revolution, secular women wore the veil as a protest symbol against the West and its client state policies, and then had it imposed on them by the fundamentalist mullahs who hijacked the revolution and instituted religious law. My generation, Iranians who learned about 1979 at kitchen tables in the United States, absorbed this version of history as truth.  Though most women in modern-day Iran might not consider the veil their highest grievance, they knew it symbolized the system's disregard for women's legal status in general. Mandatory veiling crushed women's ability to express themselves, therefore denying them a basic human right."  (pg. 170)

Nanny governments and mandatory veiling stinks! What happened to it being between a woman and God?

On how some women from conservative families were more free after the Shah's removal from power -- "Under the Shah's regime, traditional parents like hers would never have let their daughters stray out into society. They preferred to keep them uneducated and housebound rather than exposing them to corrupt, Westernized Iranians who drank, smoke, wore miniskirts, and slept around. The revolution erased all those sins from the surface of society (tucking them under wraps, along with women).  In the process, it made possible for young women like Fatimeh to venture out of the home sphere. They were given the opportunity to do something with their lives besides washing dishes and birthing."  (pg. 181)

This reminded me of the arguments of those who oppose the burqa bans in some European countries. They claim women will just have to stay home since they won't be allowed to go out in public with their faces showing.  In that sense France, in their opinions, actually oppressed Muslim women (more).

I really enjoyed this book because I was able to learn some about the Iranian revolution and life in Tehran from an Iranian woman.  I do realize she is a secular Muslim* woman who grew up in California and that colors her views of some things in Iran that others may have no problem with.

*Some would probably not even consider her Muslim, but I believe she culturally considers herself this way.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Climbing Trees and Breaking Things

Remember how I've talked about noticing patterns in the past? (Like this post where I talked about tuna.)   Well, last night I posted a few pictures from Halloween on Facebook.  I had one where Michael took a picture of me pretending to climb a tree. I'd gotten to his house early so we took a few pictures while waiting for it to get dusky enough for trick or treating.  (It's this picture for those who are able to see my Facebook photos.)  Anyway, one of my doctor friends joked that it was cute, but he'd advise against it so I joked that yeah I might break my arm and have to visit a doctor.

No biggie.

A few hours later I was mowing the yard and thinking of climbing trees and wondering if kids even did that any more. I remember climbing trees at my great grandmother's house. My cousins and I had fun hiding out up there.

No biggie.

But then a couple hours later I was talking to my mom and she was telling me about one of her fifth grade students who was absent today. Turns out the kid was *cue spooky music* climbing a tree before trick or treating!


And broke his arm!


I just thought that was weird enough to share.

In other news, Lipstick Jihad was a really good book and I enjoyed learning about the author's experiences in Iran.  I never knew Iranians were so much like Americans in many ways.