Thursday, November 17, 2011

Only human

Working at a large university, I see several women a day wearing various forms of hijab to signify their modesty as Muslims. I found myself musing today that most people in our country could use a little more of the attitude that we are part of something larger than ourselves, and that perhaps fulfilling our own desires is not the most important thing in the universe. What could be wrong with that?

Here's what. Since Islam seems to be a touchy subject with some people lately, and since frankly I don't know enough about it to do anything but make a fool of myself, let's talk about the religion in whose bosom my soul was rocked as a child. That couldn't possibly upset anyone, right?

Somewhere around 2000 years ago, if I remember my "The Bible" correctly,  an itinerant carpenter wandered the countryside telling people that they should be nice to one another, with the implied message that if we all tend to our own failings we will have much less time to fret about those of our neighbors. There were reports that he performed a few miracles, presumably to head off any questions regarding his moral authority. If I remember my Douglas Adams correctly, the powers that be nailed him to a tree for his trouble.

Barely a thousand years later we had hordes of His disciples delivering His love to the increasingly ironically named Holy Land on the point of a sword. Granted, the Crusades are actually quite complicated in the who did what to whom department, but the idea of two vast armies waging war under the banner of religion should work to illustrate my point. Which is not that religion is bad and only leads to evil and genocide.

My point, if I ever manage to get to it, is that it doesn't seem to be enough for people to be a part of something larger. We seem to have a need to make that big thing do something, which is where the trouble starts. Somehow it's not enough to dress modestly because we wish to be respectful, or to pray for our friends and family because it makes us all feel better. Prayers of the righteous need to be answered, and other people are in desperate need of being "saved" from their beliefs. If you want a Mercedes, "name it and claim it" in his name, and it shall be yours. If someone wants to build a different kind of church in your town, you need to do something about that. I haven't been to seminary, but I have a hard time believing that this is what Jesus had in mind.

I suppose this all goes back to our tribal identity, or some other academic humanistic liberal propaganda concept. We treat whatever group we are in like a football team. Our Ladies' Auxiliary can kick your Ladies' Auxiliary's ass. And once we've named it we've got to claim it, and deliver on the ass-kicking. Could it be that it's this pressure to deliver that starts us down the slippery slope of doing or thinking things we would never justify on our own, all in the name of the home team?

We forgive our teammates for -- or pretend we don't see -- things that will get a wandering Samaritan stoned to death in the town square. At least until someone notices out loud that the emperor has no clothes, and we are suddenly hit with the realization that it doesn't matter what school you coach, or to which party you belong, or who your daddy is. Wrong is wrong, and now what am I going to do with all of this shame?

It's a shame we can't just be satisfied with wearing the hijab, the cross, or the school colors, Someone should do something about that.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Movie Sunday: Thor

Image from here

This movie sucked. Don't waste your time. As a childhood fan of the comic book, I found just about everything that happened after the first ten minutes or so to be a betrayal of the Thunder God I knew. Thor was possibly the most imperfect of Marvel's anti-heroes, and this film was stock studio junk. He didn't even hammer much of anything.

I only wrote about this one because it's about the only movie we've watched lately. Biscuit and I have both been surfing from deadline to deadline since sometime in August. I've managed an hour here and there to wander the virtual wasteland, but our TV time has been mostly streaming BBC (big fans of Midsomer Murders), and we haven't had the motivation or time to go see anything at the theater.

I've got a couple more things coming up in December, but I'm hoping my time will loosen up enough to be able to write a little more. I'm not going to apologize for not blogging lately, since this is something I do for myself. But a colleague of mine likes to say that writing is thinking, and this is a type of thinking I miss when I don't have time for it.

Oh, we did see a documentary called The Parking Lot Movie that was quite funky and enjoyable, in the same way that sitting in a haze-filled room in college bumming cigarettes from each other was enjoyable. It probably cost 1% of what Thor did to produce, and it's a lot better.