Friday, February 24, 2006

I love Richard Shindell

Next Best Western

from Courier

It's the middle of the night

Near the Indiana line

I'm pulling in a Christian station

The signal's crystal clear

But I cannot really hear

What he says about the Revelation

I am wretched,

I am tired

But the preacher is on fire

And I wish I could believe

Whoever watches over all these truckers

Show a little mercy for a weary sinner

And deliver me - Lord, deliver me

Deliver me to the next best western

Did he who made the lamb

Put the tremble in the hand

That reaches out to take my quarter

I look him in the eye

But there isn't any time

Just time enough to pass the tender

The highway takes its toll

The green light flashes go

And it's welcome to Ohio


At four a.m. on 80 East

It's in the nature of the beast

To wonder if there's something missing

I am wretched, I am tired

But the preacher is on fire

And I wish I could believe

Whoever watches over all these truckers

Have a little mercy for a weary sinner

And deliver me

Lord, deliver me

Deliver me to the next Best Western.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Muslim Women's Dress Part Two - SWIMSUIT EDITION!

from Dervish on Street Prophets

Silence=You Agree???

copied from the blog Small Dead Animals

Moderate German Canadians

I've had several readers send me links to items referencing moderate Muslims. One offered that posting them would serve as response to "the defamers who vilify SDA as anti-Muslim racist".

While it's charitable to think that SDA critics might be influenced by actual SDA content, I've come to accept that when it comes to those who are motivated by hatred of all things conservative, it doesn't much matter what I write, or don't write - someone will find a way to misrepresent it.

But while I was mulling it over, I chanced upon this post at CJunk that that pretty much strips the argument bare;

“Very few people were true Nazis” he said, “but, many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.”

We are told again and again by “experts” and “talking heads” that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unquantified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is, that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars world wide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard quantifiable fact is, that the “peaceful majority” is the “silent majority” and it is cowed and extraneous.During these debates, I'm often reminded
* of a chapter in James Gray's The Winter Years - a series of recollections of the depression on the Canadian prairies. Gray spent many of those years at the Winnipeg Free Press. He tells the story of Paul Ausborn;

Paul Ausborn was a man who heard voices, a sea captain who had sailed the Baltic for the Kaiser in the First World War. After the war, he sold his ship and bought an apartment block in Kiel and served the Weimar Republic in a small way by teaching navigation to German youth. It was while teaching navigation in 1926 that the voices told him that Adolf Hitler was coming to power in Germany and would lead the world to war.Ausborn sold his property and moved his family to Manitoba. However, he hadn't escaped the Nazis.

Through his old connections with the Social Democrats in exile, Ausborn obtained a large collection of pictures of the atrocites being committed by the Nazis in Germany. He rented a store on Logan Avenue to show his gallery of infamy to Winnipeg. Nazi sympathizers wrecked his exhibit. He started over and put another exhibition together. at the same time, he scoured the German-Canadian community for supporters and could find only a handful. [...] Ausborn was overwhelmed again and again by the force that the Nazis were exerting on the German population of western Canada, and by the lack of interest in his work on the part of other Canadians. He was beaten up by Bundists, and harried by city policeman who saw nothing wrong in Hitler, because the only people Hitler was bothering were Jews and Communists.
As an indication of Ausborn's physical courage, he and two young friends once invaded a huge pro-Nazi picnic and distributed 6,000 anti-Nazi pamphlets and miraculously escaped unharmed. But in his efforts to rouse the city to the menace of Naziism, he lost every battle, every skirmish even. Nazi agents, on the other hand, infiltrated the university, the schools, the churches, and every other part of the German community. Ausborn was ostracized by the other Germans, most of his family deserted him and with his money gone, he was reduced to living on relief.

One day early in 1937 he came in to see me in a state of near-collapse. He had received word of the death of an old friend at the hands of the Nazis, and announced he was going to enlist in the International Brigade and fight in Spain. At fifty he was too old to fight, so he drove an ambulance on the Madrid front that summer. He came home to Winnipeg in the fall to give the organization of another anti-Nazi front a whirl. His Spanish interlude made him complete non grata with the city police, but most of us on the Free Press had read Mein Kampf by then and were taking both Ausborn and Hitler seriously. But until the very outbreak of the war, anti-Naziism was a lost cause in Winnipeg and the boisterous rejection of appeasement by the Free Press won it few plaudits.While the "vast majority" of moderate German Canadians (my mother's family among them) were peaceful, hard working citizens who held no Nazi sympathies, and would have recoiled at the notion of gassing hundreds of thousands of children in the name of racial purity - in the end, it mattered not a whit. What mattered were the extremists bent on attaining the power to transform a perverse ideology into reality, and the weaponry to export it - and the majority who just sat back and let it all happen.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Music Therapy in Arabia

Here's a little sneak peek at our new building. I work in a school for children with special needs, and we will be moving to our new center over the course of the next month.

This is a view of one of our individual treatment rooms (complete with observation windows) for Music Therapy!

We have five music therapy individual rooms, 2 large group rooms, a custom-made ROMPA sensory room, and a music recording studio.

We also ordered a ton of fabulous instruments. However, to my knowledge they aren't all here yet, so I don't want to get too excited and brag about them until they are really here.

I will post more inshallah as we move in and things solidify.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Role of Watermelon in Deep Knowledge

Once upon a time there were three dervishes. they were called Yak, Do, and Se. They came from the North, the West, and the South, respectively. They had one thing in common: they were looking for the Deep Truth, and they sought a Way.

The first, Yak-Baba, sat down and contemplated until his head was sore. The second, Do-Agha, stood on his head until his feet ached. The third, Se-Kalandar, read books until his nose bled.
Finally they decided upon a common effort. They went into retirement and carried out their exercises in unison, hoping by that means to summon enough effort to produce the appearance of Truth, which they called Deep Truth.

For forty days and forty nights they persevered. At last in a whirl of white smoke the head of a very old man appeared, as if from the ground, in front of them. "Are you the mysterious Khidr, guide of men?" asked the first. "No, hie is the Qutub, the Pillar of the Universe," said the second. "I am convinced that this is none other than one of the Abdals, The Changed Ones," said the third.

"I am none of these," roared the apparition, "but I am that which you may think me to be. Now you all want the same thing, which you call the Deep Truth?"
"Yes, O master," they chorused.

"Have you never heard the saying that there are 'as many Ways as there are hearts of men'?" asked the head. "In any case, here are your ways:

"The First Dervish will travel through the country of Fools; the Second Dervish will have to find the Magic Mirror; the Third Dervish will have to call in the aid of the Jinn of the Whirlpool." So saying, he disappeared.

There was some discussion about this, not only because the dervishes wanted more information before setting out, but also because although they had all practiced different ways, each yet believed that there was only one way--his own, of course. Now none was certain that his own way was useful enough even though it had been partly responsible for summoning the apparition which they had just seen, and whose very name was unknown to them.

Yak-Baba left the cell first, and instead of asking everyone, as had been his custom, where a learned man might live in the neighborhood, he asked whoever he met if they knew the Country of Fools. At last, after many months, someone did know, and he set off there. As soon as he entered the country he saw a woman carrying a door on her back. "Woman," he asked, "why are you doing that?"

"Because this morning before my husband left for his work he said, 'Wife, there are valuables in the house. Let nobody pass this door." When I went out I took the door with me, so that nobody could pass it. Now please let me pass you.

Do you want me to tell you something which will make it unnecessary to carry that door about with you?" asked Dervish Yak-Baba. "Certainly not," she said. "The only thing that would help would be if you could tell me how to lighten the actual weight of the door."

"That I cannot do," said the Dervish. And so they parted.

A little way further on he met a group of people. They were cowering in terror before a large watermelon which had grown in a field. "We have never seen one of these monsters before," they told him, "and it will certainly grow even larger and will kill us all. But we are afraid to touch it."

"Would you like me to tell you something about it?" he asked them.

"Don't be a foot!" they replied. "Kill it and you will be rewarded, but we don't want to know anything about it." So the dervish took out a knife, advanced upon the melon and cut a slice, which he started to eat.

Amid terrible cries of alarm, the people gave him a handful of money. As he left, they said: "Please do not come back, Honoured Murderer of Monsters. Do not come and kill us likewise!"

Thus, gradually, he learned that in the country of the fools, in order to survive, one must be able to think and talk like a fool as well. After several years he managed to convert some fools to reason, and as a reward one day he attained Deep Knowledge. But although he became a saint in the Country of the Fools, they remembered him only as the Man who Cut Open the Green Monster and Drank its Blood. They tried to do the same, to gain Deep Knowledge--and they never gained it.

Meanwhile, Do-Agha, the Second Dervish, set off on his search for the Deep Knowledge. Instead of asking everywhere he went for the local sages or new exercises and postures, he just asked if anyone had heard of the Magic Mirror. Many misleading answers were given to him, but at last he realized where it might be. It was suspended in a well by a piece of string as fine as a hair, and it was itself only a fragment, because it was made up of the thoughts of men, and there were not enough thoughts to make a whole mirror.

When he had outwitted the demon who guarded it, Do-Agha gazed into the mirror and asked for the Deep Knowledge. Instantly it was his. He settled down and taught in happiness for many years. But because his disciples did not maintain the same degree of concentration needed to renew the mirror regularly, it vanished away. Yet to this day there are people who gaze into mirrors, thinking that this is the Magic Mirror of Do-Agha, the Dervish.

As for the Third Dervish, Se-Kalandar, he looked everywhere for the Jinn of the Whirlpool. This Jinn was known by many other names, but the Kalandar did not know this, and for years he criss-crossed the Jinn's tracks, always missing him because he was not there known as a Jinn or was perhaps not referred to as being connected with a whirlpool.

Finally, after many years, he came to a village and asked: "O people! has anyone here heard of the Jinn of the Whirlpool?"

"I have never heard of the Jinn," said someone, but this village is called the Whirlpool."

The Kalandar threw himself upon the ground and cried: "I will not leave this spot until the Jinn of the Whirlpool appears to me!"

The Jinn, was lurking near by, swirled up to him and said: "We do not like strangers near our village, dervish. So I have come to you. What is it you seek?"

"I seek Deep Knowledge, and I have been told under such-and-such circumstances that you can tell me how to find it."

"I can indeed," said the Jinn. "You have been through much. All that remains for you is to say such-and-such a phrase, sing such-and-such a song, do such-and-such an action; and avoid such-and-such another action. Then you will gain Deep Knowledge."

The Dervish thanked the Jinn and began his programme. Months passed, then years, until he was performing his devotions and exercises correctly. People came and watched him and then began to copy him, because of his zeal, and because he was known to be a devout and worthy man.

Eventually the Dervish attained Deep Knowledge; leaving behind him a devoted assembly of people who continued his ways. They never did attain to Deep Knowledge, of course, because they were beginning at the end of the Dervish's course of study.

Afterwards, whenever any of the adherents of these three dervishes meet, one says: "I have my mirror here. Gaze enough and you will eventually attain Deep Knowledge."

Another replies: "Sacrifice a melon, it will help you as it did Dervish Yak-Baba."

A third interrupts: "Nonsense! The only way is to persevere in the study and organizing of certain postures, of prayer and good works."

When they had in fact attained to Deep Knowledge, the Three Dervishes found that they were powerless to help those whom they had left behind: as when a man carried away on a running tide may see a landlubber pursued by a leopard, and be unable to go to his help.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf of the Zaytuna Institute of California was here speaking, alongside Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens in a charity event to benefit the victims of the trouble in Darfur, Sudan, as well as the Kashmir crisis and tsunami victims.

He spoke about Islamic Civilization, in particular, what can the arabic world do to become civilized (whoa, he actually said that!).

He said that first, people should take care of animals (It's a common thing here for children to torture and kill pets/animals, throw rocks at dogs, kick cats, etc). Second, obey the traffic laws. Actually care about the other drivers on the road more than yourself. Third, rid the governments of the massive corruption that exists. There is an inverse relationship between the level of corruption and a country's economic success.

He sure blew me away!