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In conclusion

So concludes my Spanish adventure.  There will be no further posts on this blog, however, I will check it from time to time-  this was cathartic for me to write and will help remind me of many of the profound experiences and deeply significant places I visited.  I would like to thank Moravian College and University of Jaen for giving me this excellent opportunity to study Arabic History and Philosophy, which will no doubt help me down the line in both my continued studies and eventual career (hopefully, as a Religion professor)

I would also like to thank my host family, Isa and Danny, for allowing me the hospitality of their home for that month…and Aziz St. Laurent for his hospitality in Morocco and for his friendship.

My professors, Dr. Bernie Cantens and Dr. Manuel Jodar I thank for their excellent instruction in Jaen…and also the professors at home who offered me encouragement (and sometimes kept me from homesickness):  And thanks to Dr. Kelly Denton-Borhaug for her interest in linking to this journal from the Religion department website.

I would like to thank my friends both home and abroad- abroad: Travis, Tori, Aimee, Karina, and Danielle in particular for their company.  And home, I thank everyone who messaged me and reminded me that no matter how hard things were in Spain at times, that I was still loved at home.- it meant more to me than you possibly know- you know who you are.   I am just very happy I have such a great group of people that have gone out of their way to show that I am missed!

Lastly, I am grateful for all the interesting and friendly strangers I met on this trip, most of whose names I have already forgotten.  If I gave you a link to this website, please feel free to contact me and I would be more than happy to keep in touch with you.

With that being said, Adios- and hopefully, should I ever get the chance to appreciate another adventure such as this I will start another blog detailing those events as well.

با احترام،

-رن ویلدر

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Fun statistics!

Hi Female Kristian...er- Karina!

Injuries incurred while in Spain:

-Bronchitis- (had it before, ended up in ER)
-Broken toe (tripped in Granada)
-Stress-fractured nose (walked into a glass door at Univeridad de Jaen- my face imprint remained on said door for the duration of my stay)
-stepped in broken glass at one point

Souvenirs purchased (for myself):

1 Moroccan Camel bone mirror
1 Moroccan wall hanging
1 Moroccan long-sleeve shirt
1 t-shirt (covered in Arabic)
3 skirts (I did not even own one before)
2 scarves
1 ring
1 tiny container of perfume
1 small glass bowl
1 4GB Camera Memory Card

For others:
1 fez (for my brother)
3 scarves
1 huge bottle of Cervasa
1 bottle of wine
3 bottles of olive oil
4 things of olives
1 ring
1 bracelet
1 HUGE book of MC Escher
1 small black mosaic bull.
3 fans
1 leather purse-thing I gave to a friend
1 cell phone- given to Kaila

People who told me going to Morocco was a “bad idea”: Many
People who encouraged it: 4
People who did not believe I would go: Most of you.

International Phonecalls Placed: ~6

Pictures taken: ~800

Distinct Locations Visited: 8 (Madrid, Jaen, Cordoba, Granada, Cadiz, Tarifa, Tangiers, Algecieras)

Cathedrals: 4
Cathedrals that used to be mosques:3
Mosques: 4
Palaces: 5
Kabab Vendors: 2

Trips on Luxury Buses: >10
Normal buses ridden: >20
Luxury trains ridden:1
Normal trains ridden: ~10
High Speed Ferries:2
Cable car rides: 3
Segways used:1
Taxi rides!: >8

People met who worked careers within my intended field: 3
People who reminded me of Kristian Cantens: 2
Puerto Ricans met who claimed they were “not” American: 1
Times Manuel Jodar Reminded me of my advisor: ~85% (5% negatively)
# of posts in which either of them were mentioned directly or indirectly: Most
People who thought I was
“Native” to Madrid: >10
“Native” to Jaen: ~5
German-1
Persian-3
Canadian-5
French-2 (…what the heck?)

Police officer who identified me instantly as from Philadelphia, Pa: 1

Street Performers paid: at least 3
Gypsy’s tears stolen: 3
Times Travis was Referred to as “Travesty”: 8
As “T-bag”- 0
Times I confused Spanish and Farsi: several (بله/Bale!.. Kojast Taxi?)
German and Spanish: 1
Spanish and French: >5

Miles walked uphill in 100o+ weather- ∞
Museums visited: >10
Pounds lost: ~20

People who pissed me off: ~10
People I pissed off: ~20
Percentage of above who were American: ~90%
Professors in Jaen visibly annoyed by me: 50%
Percentage of above who were Cuban: 100%
Percentage of professors I tried to intentionally annoy: 0%
Professors I attempted to make amends with:3
…who were in Jaen with me: 2
Professors who were actually upset with me: Maybe 1.
Students I attempted to make amends with: 0
Students Befriended: ~8
Strangers Befriended: ~10

Number of people who asked if I was Muslim: >6
Surah’s reread (ironically enough):1.5
Pork products devoured: ∞
Tinto de Verano consumed: ∞+1
Chances Allah cares about the above: <5%
Cost of Tinto de Verano per glass: 1.50-2.50 Euro
Cost of a 1 liter bottle: 1 Euro
Terrible glasses of Sangria consumed- 2
Times drunk:0
Times just buzzed enough to complain about my relationship history: 1-2

Euros spent on Citrus products: ~15-20

Kisses from gorgeous French exchange students: 1

Regrets: ~2 ( I should have gotten the French girl’s #, and still wish I had seen Marrakesh!)

Statistical chance I made up most of these statistics: ∏†¾%

(This list might be added to if I get bored enough- or, if you were on the trip with me and wish to contribute…please comment!)

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Reflections upon returning…

...and a reflection of Al Hambra...Sorry! This is the only picture in this entire post.

It’s been over a week since I returned from Spain.  After a harrowing near-miss at the airport with my buddy pass (the 20+ seats shown on the website as “available” were in all actuality -3… I was fortunate to take the place of a no-show) as well as a week of recovering from jet-lag, I have had some short time to reflect on some of what I have learned from this adventure.

1. No one should travel without a scarf.  Douglas Adams must have meant “scarf” instead of “towel” for his Hitchhiker’s series.  A scarf is so incredibly useful in so many ways…in this trip alone- I used one as a belt at times- which meant I did not have to take it off to go through airport metal detectors.  It helped me “fit in” with the local fashion in Madrid so I was almost never picked out as a “stupid American”…if a European sees you wearing a scarf in the middle of summer, they assume you must be also from Europe, since no American would do so.  A scarf can be used as a convenient cover up if you find yourself dressed less modestly than the environment expects, it’s excellent from going from the hot outdoors to frigid classrooms, and it can even serve as a good way to stop bleeding.  Also, you can use a scarf to cover your face to hide your identity, as an impromptu mask to filter out terrible smells or blowing sand and Finally, they make great gifts.  Scarves are awesome.

2. I have definitely picked the correct course of study…  Although I have mostly distanced myself from my teenage interest in New Age garbage- some traces remain. One of those is the belief that synchronicities generally indicate one is traveling in the “correct” direction and making close to the correct decisions (a la “Celestine Prophecy”, most likely).  The people I met randomly, most particularly Steve (the diplomat for Afghanistan) and John (The British cabinet member on Middle East education)- helped abolish any sort of doubt that studying Iran is the correct direction…so I am actually more passionate now than I was before in this regard.
Furthermore, I also was helped a great deal by the classes I took here- It was excellent having a new perspective on Islam and I really am not so terrible of a Philosophy major as I once thought. However, I now completely disagree with the idea that to be decent at philosophy one needs to be a logician.   In speaking with my friend Dan-  I believe it has become apparent that over-applying logic to life and ethical situations is limiting and creates more ethical conflicts instead of less…

3. Which leads into the idea of faith…When logic states that the premises and the way things exists can lead to no good end, the solution is not necessarily to discard or suppress what we cannot understand or reason with.  Better, I believe the concepts of Faith and Religion are what tempers the intellect and prevents highly logical people from becoming sociopathic monsters. It’s better to admit “I don’t know how this could work, but I am willing  to take a chance by following my heart/intuition/feeling”, rather than drawing immediate conclusions based on “evidence.”
Truth be told, we NEVER have enough evidence for anything, really…therefore, most decisions we make that are “logical” are only illusionary…what we are really doing is creating our own box to live in by our own rules.  The rules of the universe are more complicated than we can possibly understand…any “rule” we create will be a gross oversimplification or generalization which may serve to limit us rather than set us free.  When, in all honesty, all we really have is our preferences as to which things bring us the most joy in life.

Religion is the understanding that the truest nature of reality exists beyond our comprehension, Faith is the belief that we can trust that reality to work to our greatest benefit if we follow what could bring us the greatest long-term happiness, be it love and/or virtue; that this ultimate reality was created by a being of sentience and feeling as well as personal interest in our well-being.  Mysticism, is completely discarding all illusions of any human-defined definatives- logic is used, but can ultimately be overruled by emotion or intuition.
To many people I spoke to, me traveling to Morocco was a highly illogical move on my part-  I did not plan my hotel in advance, I was traveling alone, and I had no idea what would face me when I arrived.  However, I can easily say my experiences there were among the most rewarding. Planning everything may be “safer”- but I don’t see how “safe” can lead to higher fulfillment or knowledge.  The best one can hope for with “planned” is mild contentment and limiting one’s potential experiences… however, plans seldom work out in the way you intend them- therefore, in my life, I find not planning too rigidly and flexibility to be more rewarding.

…Sometimes, it’s just better to jump into the unknown.

4. I am actually somewhat social and I found that I missed people that I never expected to miss.  Kristian being the first example that comes to mind…but I also found myself very excited if I happened to see someone like Dan or Fara on facebook chat.   Even more ironic, age had nothing to do with the people I missed either.  So, while on the trip the age difference seemed to be one of the defining differences between me in comparison to everyone else…back home, the opposite was true.
The best advice I received when I had troubles abroad came from people back home of an age difference of about 5-10 years (or more) in either direction … Facebook conversations and emails pretty much were the only thing keeping me sane at some points during this trip. However, I will also say the worst advice came from people who were either on the trip with me or close to my age at home.

5.  In a sense, the trip felt like a second adolescence… I don’t mean in the “be completely irresponsible and act like a jackass” sort of way.  I mean more of the experience of awkwardness and feeling extraordinarily out of place.  I was a good 10 years older than most of the students who attended, and younger than the professors leaving me in a completely different place than just about everyone else.  I spent a lot of time with Travis and Tori, which was good- if anyone was “close” out of the group it would be those two. However,   the only time this feeling was completely ameliorated was when I traveled on my own and met other random strangers who, oddly enough, had more in their lives in which I could relate.

For the most part, I like traveling; it seems that everyone has a “travel” personality that they use when they are far from home…and as much as I sometimes think I am the exception, I think it’s more like (like everything else in my life) I just react differently.   When I am abroad, I do my absolute best to be as accommodating as I can to local custom.  Although I spoke hardly any Spanish, I still tried and got by pretty well with what I had overall.  In both Spain as well as Morocco, I tried to dress in similar fashion to the locals to fade into the background as much as I could so as not to appear an obvious “foreigner” and therefore, a target for theft or harassment.  This was important since carrying the huge camera I have already made me stand out- but I made all effort to try and appear like a local photographer rather than a rubbernecking tourist…with varying levels of success.  I actually received many compliments for doing so, which is always a plus…and in Morocco, mint tea.
Additionally, I think I become more introspective to an extant…I think I am closer to a “normal” person abroad than I am at home since I think more of my mind is engaged when traveling, this gives me less free space in my mind to be as unusual as I am normally. However, the inherent problem with this is when traveling with a group of other people, most others reactions to travel is the complete opposite where they lose inhibitions where I gain them…making it not really work out for me so well socially. Especially if the expectation exists where I will be a “party” person or ethically flexible when this is actually far from the case in any situation.
Although I am a risk taker as well as an adventure seeker- I prefer to do so by “where” I go rather than “who” I become personally, if that makes any sense.  As in, I would rather travel to Morocco with no plan in place than get completely drunk in any circumstance.  The personal risk for injury might actually be the same in both scenarios…however, the second scenario is perceived as more dangerous simply because less people have experienced it.

Consequently, I am honestly better alone or with one other person of similar mindset if far from home.

However, I also learned that it takes a great deal of work to get someone I do like to see things from my perspective if they are not inclined to do so normally…  but that, I think, was worth it….even if it was only a little better than before.  (Hello Dr. Cantens…)

My goal of this trip was not to “have fun”…it was to learn…and I did learn a great deal,  so in that way the trip exceeded my grandest expectations.However, the best I took from the experience was almost entirely from the classes or time spent outside of Jaen, either with the normal group I hung out with or alone.

However, inter-personally, the trip was a bit of a failure overall…I did meet and befriend a few of my classmates on the trip, however, the negative experiences I had still seem to hold some sort of mental priority over the positive, sadly.  To say that one can “choose” how they perceive life is only partially true- you can choose your reactions, however, to pretend that the more negative aspects of this trip were enjoyable when it was not is simply denying myself and the reality of things.

I was in a social situation with people I basically had little to nothing in common with to begin with in background or values, and then thrust into a situation where I was completely and totally uncomfortable and to “fit in” would have compromised my goals and values (namely, to do well on the classes).

This will likely cue the ad-hominem responses accusing me of being pretentious or unfriendly…I am certain it will be posted by the same people that I personally feel the most opposite of me in values and action. Basically, if you feel the need to retort, it basically indicates that you and I just do not see eye to eye ethically…and that’s okay. I probably don’t like you all that much either.  Chances are, there will not be another opportunity where you and I will share such space together again…and if you do meet someone like me in the future, let them be and let them enjoy what they enjoy without getting in the way or criticizing that it might not be the same for the majority…Especially if that enjoyment stems from something directly related to the present moment.  A live an let live mentality is usually the best way to go- and I did not lose my cool until I was directly provoked- everyone has a breaking point, and although I was not proud I reached mine- I would love to not have that occur in the future.
Also, for the love of God, please don’t try to “defend” the odd man out- it’s condescending.  The idea of defending a person who disagrees with you is actually somewhat disrespectful since you are using your own misplaced pity to justify their actions in accordance to your ethics which they may or may not agree with.  Defending another person is only justifiable, I think- if they are acting outside of their normal parameters or if they are not present to speak for themselves.  Otherwise, let them make their own case.

As for me, if I find myself in a similar situation in the future I will embrace my solitude and mentally follow the lead of a friend I know back home who has made both bearing and “vanishing” from awkward social situations into an art form.

I am grateful for the opportunity to study in Spain…however, I am equally grateful to be home and to better appreciate the people I enjoy here…and hang out with the people I met there in my own territory.

In most group situations there is a “lone wolf”- and just as in nature, many of them can survive perfectly well.  (Without the people who think “differently” slavery would still be legal in the US and the Earth would still be believed to be “flat”) However, in nature what usually happens is those loners usually end up meeting and forming their own packs in different territory… and I can see some of that happening in this case as well.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Morocco

A Minaret, a Mosque, and some classic architecture to start this off...

So, this may be one of the last posts here ( I still have one or two left beyond this), (Thank God), so I thought I would briefly go over my experience in Morocco.  Some interesting information I learned:  Morocco was the first country to recognize the United State’s independence from Britain, and subsequently, the first US embassy is located in Tangiers…also, Tangiers is also known as one of the international espionage capitals of the world.  Morocco apparently has no extradition laws or agreements with other countries, and it is also very conveniently located for such things.

In other words, this will either be my first and last time here….or it will be the first time of many.  It all depends which side of the family I decide to follow after career-path wise. (Espionage or Academia…? …decisions, decisions…/sigh)

I will be repeating myself slightly, but not too badly…that’s why I have drafts.

For the lazier among you:  Here is the link to the entire album of photographs I took during my stay in Morocco:

Click Here.

In any case, I started out last Saturday waking up in a rather chilly hostel in Cordoba, I woke up late, and I realized that the timing for the weekend was completely off than I had anticipated so Morocco was not looking too well.  Regardless, I decided to head to Cadiz anyhow since I heard there was a lovely beach there, and I could still catch the bus to Tarifa later.  I caught the 11:45 train (after stumbling upon an item I was in search of for 2 weeks in the concourse)  and after an uneventful ride, ended up in an uneventful little beach town that just did not feel “right” to me….regardless of the fact there were no hotel rooms to be had on account of an even that evening.

I spent another couple of hours of my life in the bus station, and made my way to Tarifa- by this point it was about 2pm.  I had a bit of trouble finding the docks, and it was extraordinarily windy-  I ended up flagging down a police cruiser for assistance to find that I was only about a block away from where I needed to be.

From this point on, things became exponentially easier for me; the high-speed ferry had just arrived and I ended up getting a discounted price for a reason I could not recall (29 EU instead of 36 EU) and I was out on the water in a matter of minutes.

In the line for passports I first met the family I mentioned in the previous post- however, I don’t think we actually had a decent conversation until the boat ride where I shared my stock of dramamine.  Honestly, folks- for people who get motion sick at all- Dramamine should be considered mandatory.  I can’t tell you how many people I befriended since I have been willing to share on this trip!

In any case…as mentioned before, I had read on several different sites online that single women travelling alone to Morocco should try to find a family to stick around to avoid being harassed- which seemed like incredibly strange advice to me at the time. However, Mike and Shelby seemed to like the idea of having me around, and I was not going to object…

Basically, even though I feel like the depth of my knowledge of Islamic culture barely scratches the surface, I keep forgetting how much I know compared to many (even if what I do know does not amount to nearly enough in my opinion)  So, it was nice to feel useful at least.   In the case of Morocco, I had already decided to respect local custom by dressing extraordinarily conservatively- I bought a long sleeved shirt in the local style from a Moroccan vendor in Cordoba in a store called “Little Marrakesh.” wore a patchwork skirt I picked up in Granada, and although I did not wear a headscarf, I still wore the scarf I had around my neck as if I had just taken it off on account of the heat (as I saw many of the local women do)

I was glad I did….apparently, even if you “stick out” as an obvious tourists, tourists who at least make an effort not to be offensive get treated much better than otherwise.

In any case, here is what I viewed from the boat as we approached:

Reminds me a bit of the Tulsa skyline- if Tulsa were anywhere near water and had any sort of land gradient whatsoever...

So, we got off the boat and were approached immediately by Aziz- who decided to be our tour guide for our time in the country.  My new friends decided to spend the night relaxing at the hotel- so I decided to head off into the streets of Tangiers with my guide.  I asked to see the oldest parts of the city, and I was not disappointed-  the first place we went was created in the days of Ancient Rome, and many of the structures, although not much to look at, predated the time of Christ.  See below:

This may be the oldest archway in the city- I wonder how many coats of paint are on it...and more importantly, how many of them are lead-based....

Allegidly, this part of the city survived since prior to Christianity- I have no doubt this part is old, but I am skeptical if it is THAT old....fascinating nonetheless!

When I showed my dad these pictures, he was honestly more interested in how they adapted the power grid to accommodate the advance of technology rather than the interesting architecture.  In the above two pictures you can see how the powerlines are strung thickly on the outside of the buildings and snaked along corridors and alleyways…I suppose going below ground is not an option and there is no room for any other method of supplying power except for, maybe, individual solar panels in the future…

Regardless, from here, we headed to a disappointingly normal dining establishment- the food was cheap and very good- but not especially “local” as I hoped. (however, at some point during the night I was able to make it to a traditional tea establishment which served excellent Moroccan mint tea!) After this point Aziz snuck me into a local palace to enjoy some classical moorish music for a few minutes:

The lighting was so low that the pictures of the musicians themselves turned out very poorly- however, this courtyard turned out beautifully. (albeit slightly unfocused)

I also have to add that taking cabs in the city of Tangiers is terrifying.  The windows do not open, and the cars themselves are several decades old and driven by people who would likely call both Jersey and Massachusetts drivers “too polite”.  The cabs frequently pick up other passengers along the way- which I actually do not mind-  however, what did actually scare me was witnessing a motorcyclist run directly into the cab in front of ours, take out the cab’s tire, then drive off at full speed….  I was thankful I was not in That particular vehicle verses the one I was in…

However, I did manage to snap this photo from the taxi of Steve Forbes' (of Forbes magazine) old mansion...now it's a house for foreign diplomats and occasionally a museum.

Next, I headed back to my hotel-  the hotel itself was gorgeous and situated next to some indeterminate ruins:

This is Hotel Contiental- It isn't air conditioned, however, what it lacks in comfort it makes up in history...

That backhoe makes me nervous....

As well as very close to the local Mosque:

I took far too many pictures of this building- I kept forgetting that I photographed previously each time I saw it for some odd reason...

Another interesting thing I learned about Tangiers- there are actually speakers placed throughout the city so that the Adhan (Muslim call to prayer) may be heard by all 5 times a day.  It’s actually very beautiful to hear, and very haunting in the evenings- even more so closer to the mosques themselves. (Although even some of the Mosques have loudspeakers in place rather than a real muezzin.)

The next day I woke to a free breakfast of, again, disappointingly familiar European style food…a plate of assorted pastries, orange juice, and a cup of hot chocolate.  (Still very good, but not the experience I was hoping for!)  And I was given a free tour of the more interesting parts of the hotel-

I wish my hotel room looked like this...

One of the many sitting rooms...

The hallway leading to the dining room (which I did not photograph since there was a large number of groggy people within)

The store(soukh) within the hotel...I think this was the point of the entire tour, really.

The tour ended at the store attached to the hotel- although lovely, there was not anything that interested me enough to purchase it. However, I will say that many of the items for sale may have been here for decades, which added rather than subtracted from its interestingness.

From here, my friends and I were lead into the marketplace:

The view upon entrance...

I can't seem to escape Spanish olives- no bad thing- I like them.

In some ways, this place resembles the Q-mart...

It was here I wished I had a small kitchenette in my hotel room- most of these fish were so fresh they were still breathing.

Interesting Ceramics... If only I could be convinced they would survive the trip in my luggage (But I know better- If I bought even one, I know it would have been ceramic dust in my suitcase in minutes)

This gentleman was selling pigeons. I have no idea to what purpose.

Herbs and vegetables ...and unidentifiable liquids in bottles...

I noticed many people in interesting outfits which I were told were the Berbers from the mountainous areas of the country-  they wore bright colors, unique straw hats, as well as a great deal of yarn.  I generally avoided photographing them since I was told they were generally adverse to it- however, I accidentally got the back of one in one of my shots.

I saw many interesting things- including people walking chickens on leashes like dogs, as well as several booths containing things I could only guess at.  From here, we heading up the mountain to see the Casbah and the Casbah museum.

Main entranceway

A familiar courtyard...No, this is not Alhambra!

More interesting ceilings...

...and even more beautiful arched doorways and columns!

I have several more pictures of this place, but for the sake of time- I have only posted the ones above.  However, outside, I loved this view from the unrestored portion of the Casbah:

A small child asked me in very good English: "Why do you take a picture here? It's ugly!" I disagree.

From here, we ended up in large shop filled with many interesting things–  as well as traditional bargaining.  Oddly enough, I’m pretty decent at it.  I negotiated a camelbone mirror from 40EU to 12EU-  and a wall hanging from 185 Eu to 65 Eu;  It’s nice being broke, because it gives me the chance to be respectful and deeply admire the craftsmanship as well as be completely honest about how much of my cash I am willing to part with.

I bought one of these- sadly, it's one not in this particular picture. Mine is similar in style to the think greenish one- but in muted blues and violets with silver accents:) If I had the cash, I wish I could have taken the purple in the foreground: The only way I justified spending the money was the realization I might never get a chance again to see Morocco unless I am extraordinarily lucky...

Afterwards, the owners invited us upstairs for some more mint tea- which I would dearly like to learn how to make here at home, and we all parted ways.  My friends were going to be staying for a few more days, my guide Aziz off to other clients, and I headed back to the boat.

...where I snapped this photograph (with permission). I just really liked the scene.

On the boat ride returning, I met a gentleman from Britain named John who happened to be on the British cabinet on the Middle East (his specialty was education)  He had recently left his job, and was doing some traveling as well- I had an excellent talk with him on the bus ride to Algiceres and I have yet to email him (to be fair, he has not emailed me either…)  Ths is makes for the second person on this trip I have met who was somewhat related to my field of study.  I received a lot of encouragement from him to continue my education in its current direction- just as I had from Steve in Madrid weeks before.

In closing, most travel guides called Tangiers a waste of time- however, on account of my time constraints as well as distance,  making it to Fes, Marrakesh, or Casablanca was a logistic impossibility.  Even so, I did not by any means agree with the guides in this respect.  I found Tangiers fascinating- but I still wish I had the time (and the funds!) to make it to the more notable parts of the country.

I also found that I experienced absolutely NO problems whatsoever…however, I did witness people who were harassed or heckled a bit by the locals.  I think part of it is that I had absolutely no fear at any part of my time here- where some Westerners seemed terrified for some reason.  Additionally, I was complemented many times for my choice of attire- it just goes to show that a little forethought can go a long way in getting along with the locals.  This entire trip abroad was weird in that way- I ended up finding more interesting and meaningful conversations with complete strangers and natives to the places I visited than I did with most of my classmates…and I related to them better, too. If I had the choice, I think I would have liked to have spent the entirety of my time in travel from destination to destination- however, I also liked the classes I took as well.  It would have been nice if Jaen wasn’t so far away from everywhere else!

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Friday in Cordoba…Madinat et Al-Zahra and the Great Mosque (Cathedral) of Cordoba.

It’s hot, I’m exhausted, and for those of you who I hope read this, I miss you far more than you likely realize…some of you even keep me awake with worry (Especially directed at my roommate and the two of you in California: Yes, Dave Saurwald- you being one of them…)

In any case, since it turns out I’m being graded for this I thought I would do a “technical” write up on my experience of Cordoba, I beg forgiveness if some of the information is repeated from my post yesterday.  However, since I do still consider this a semi-personal blog I would also like to explain why sometimes it takes so long for me to get my act together enough to post.

…Tonight, I blame “Skippy”:

Yep, this is "Skippy"... I think he's a swift. I named him after my former physics teacher who once failed me in high school for passing out in class repeatedly from working 2 jobs. (we became close friends afterwards) Skippy also fails at physics just as I once did.

…cute, eh?

As I was leaving the Museum of Jaen this evening, I saw this little guy flopping about on the ground near the gardens…so I picked him up and took him home with me.  The picture is when I first attempted to put him on a tree branch- but he would stay on for a few minutes, then fall to the ground.  Nothing seems to be broken, so either he’s sick or mentally retarded… Since his wing feathers are fully formed, I knew he was an adult bird so falling out of the nest was not an option. I wish I could have taken a picture of him perching on my hand, but my camera skills are not THAT good!  Either way, I thought that Spain would have some sort of animal rescue or something I could take him to.  Sadly, not.

My Spanish is terrible; I get by with “Habla Espanole on pokito, Habla inglis?”, “bale”, and “no comprende”- so trying to explain that I was looking for someone to help my little friend did not work so well.  My host family thought I was strange, people on the street who saw me walking around Jaen with this bird perched on my hand gave me odd looks, and people with small children stopped me to pet him.

Eventually, I realized I had a loss cause in my hand (but not two in the bush)- and I took him back to the gardens and put him in a tree and prayed that the cats won’t eat him before he either recovers from what ails him or his intelligence improves enough to figure out how wings are supposed to work.

In any case, about Cordoba….

First, the Jewish quarter:

Dr. Bernardo Cantens and Dr. Manuel Jodar seeking the wisdom of Maimonodes...if you touch his feet, legend has it- you gain his intelligence/wisdom. I recieved an A on the test- so it must have worked:)

Although this is out of order, I figured these two gentlemen would be looking for this picture-  I think I was the only student who kept up with them as they practically sprinted through Cordoba to find this statue…the building was also “for sale”, and I believe Dr. Cantens was seriously debating a change of residence for a moment….

I missed the picture of him looking at the "for sale" sign- so Dr. Cantens reading the caption will have to do for now...

Anyway…here are my thoughts on the other focal points of the trip:

Madinat et Al-Zahra

Ruins!

...and some of those Islamic archways I love so much...

This is the excavation site of the ancient city of Madinat et Al-Zahra, the home of some of the Spanish Caliphate.  However, sadly, this beautiful city was only occupied for less than a century leaving it abandoned and forgotten until its excavation in the earlier part of the last century.

...more ruins! As you can see, they still have a bit of work yet to do.

I can force perspective and accent shadows anywhere, apparently...

In any case, I know know the allure of ruins and excavation sites…and I know I commented to Manuel that it must be extremely rewarding to work on a site like this.
It makes me wish that going on the dig in Israel with Dr. Radine was in the cards for me.  This city was allegidly named for the favored concubine of the caliph who ordered the construction of the city- this location was on the side of a hill facing the city of what is now modern Cordoba

The remains of the Mosque and adjacent courtyard

Above, you can see the remains of the Mosque and courtyard at the site- unlike most mosques in Spain, the Quibla wall (the far wall in the picture above) is actually correctly oriented towards Mecca. Most Iberian Mosques were incorrectly oriented towards Damascus rather than Mecca since much of the original Muslim population originated from Syria.  The cross-shaped structures in the front of the larger building are the remains of the minarets and one can also make out the ruins of the fountains used for ritual cleansing in the foreground.

The main building

The main building above was used for the Caliph to receive foreign diplomats the building in its peak was once secured with large metal doors which were opened to grand effect to reveal higher-up government officials with style.  In front of this building, a large reflecting pool was under repair and plumbing was being installed to reactivate the ancient fountains….hence the fencing.  Much of the site was being restored with modern materials and I found that pieces of the palace were scattered in museums throughout Spain making reconstruction with original materials unlikely.  The ornamentation on the arches in the picture above was likely recently carved cement.
There was so much marble in existence in this particular palace that large slabs of it could occasionally be seen on the grounds.  According to Manuel- the amount of marble was so overwhelming that not even looters could steal all of it.

I believe the eventual goal is to restore this palace to the same level as Al-hambra, however, if this is the case, the work and excavation may take decades.  The majority of the work stopped, however, around 1982; the same time as the work ceased for the Arabic Baths in Jaen.  Apparently, something must have occurred the year I was born which cut funding to such projects.  From what I can determine, it appears to me that restoration and excavation has continued on this particular site recently as evidenced by several indicators that work was being resumed such as fresh excavation tools and supplies found in various parts of the site.  If I only spoke Spanish, I would be game for volunteering on a site like this, I think.

There was also a museum on the site as well, however, since I have uploaded the pics to snapfish, I will refrain from posting all of them sans this one:

A lead pipe....

Apparently, most of the plumbing was constructed of lead…  I am forced to wonder if lead poisoning became part of the reason for the defeat of this place and a weakening of the forces of this palace…

The Great Mosque (or Cathedral) of Cordoba

From the outside...

First real view upon entrance...

One of the entrances- the planks of wood on the side are some of the original ornamentation saved from the Islamic period.

I took over 100 pictures of this mosque, and as much as I am sorely tempted to post and comment on all of them, I do have to sleep eventually.  There are two tragedies of this location as indicated to me by both Manuel and my guide Aziz in Morocco-  The first and foremost is that although this structure is still used as a catholic church, those of the Muslim faith are barred from using the facility as an official place of worship as well despite the fact that the Islamic aspects remain fully intact.  Secondly, despite being the largest mosque in all of Europe, it’s Islamic significance is marginalized by being classified as being located in the “Ancient Jewish” quarter.  Although Judaism both considered a related faith to Islam, if not its parent- Aziz indicated that not referring to this section of the city as “Islamic” irks many Muslims to an equal extent as not being allowed to pray within, allegedly.

This mosque is easily the largest structure in Cordoba…and I apologize for continuing to refer to it as the “Mosque”- and I do not intend disrespect to its Christian use- however, since both professors  who informed me of its existence refer to it as “The Mosque”(both Manuel as well as my advisor) I have difficulty viewing it otherwise despite the equally Christianized elements now present within such as below:

Here you can see the juxtaposition of both Islamic and Catholic architecture- The ceiling is a Christian addition, the arches are from Caliph Rachman II (I believe)

"You should take a picture of this for the Religion Dept!" Said Dr. Cantens- so I did. However, to be perfectly honest, this still doesn't sit "right" with me- something about the forcidness of some of the Christianization of this place rings false to me and unsettles me- despite the fact that I agree with Manuel's point of view that both can coexist in the same space harmoniously. This part just bothered me.

...and this might be why: this is the "Treasure room" for the catholic cathedral within the mosque. Somehow, I just do not believe that religion and conspicuous materialism should go hand in hand. Perhaps, it's not the "Christianness" of the building at all- but rather, that I disagree with this particular portrayal of Christianity. Christianity should not be a religion of ostentatiousness- but rather of humility the existence of a treasure room seems "anti-Jesus" to me. Perhaps, it could also be that it almost feels like the Christianization of the place seems callous and "forced" despite the fact that it may have saved the building from destruction, ultimately.

In refutation to the commentary above, it can also be said that Islamic buildings do possess a certain type of opulence of their own. Much of the detail work is done is gold (although the Quran specifically forbids Muslims from wearing the metal) and most of it was created in great wealth and splendor.  However, I cannot understand why I am no unsettled by a mosque or Islamic palace being opulently appointed, but yet, I have a severe problem with a Christian building being so.

...as seen in this Quibla wall- Although this is obviously gold and lapis, I have no intrinsic problem with this compared to the gold found in Christian iconography and ritual ornamentation/instrumentation and I do not know why!

Actually, it appears someone is restoring/cleaning the Islamic portion of the structure, so the ornamentation is even "richer" than it appears! (see the dark blue section?)

Perhaps, my disquiet comes from the fact that in Islam, the golden portions are part of the building itself, and therefore to be equally appreciated by all people regardless of class, station, or title.  in Catholicism, many of the most conspicuous uses of expensive materials is used for the exclusive use of the church hierarchy such as vestments and scepters for priests, bishops, cardinals, etc.  I do not know if any Imams are similarly appointed, but I would like to doubt it.  However, I would like an authority on the subject to weigh in and answer this question if possible.  Additionally, I would also like to note that this mosque is also one of the ones that I believe is orientated incorrectly towards Syria rather than Mecca.

This place is huge!

An amazing view of the original ceiling above the Quibla

I do have over 100 photos of this place from both trips I took to see it, some of them sadly out of focus on account of the low lighting of the structure. However, I would like to make note of three different features before moving forward:

First, a view of the courtyard- this courtyard is about half the size of the mosque itself if I am not mistaken, this picture does not come close to showing its true size. Additionally, it may be mostly unchanged from its Islamic roots (pun unintended!)

Second, the originial floor- this was at least 10 feet lower than the floor we walked on. I cannot determine if this is original to the mosque, or the church that existed prior to it- I am thinking it is Islamic, but I could be mistaken!

#2: I apologize for the blurriness of this photo, I have several better photos of other aspects of the building I did not post, however, This is from the bench I sat on to meditate when I returned in the afternoon. From here you can see both the Quibla wall on your left as well as some sort of Catholic iconography on your right.

In the photo above, the juxtaposition of the two did not seem to mesh well and left me with a feeling of tension which may have led me to the conclusion that both the Mosque as well as the newer Cathedral only seemed oppositional because of the emotions of those who created them. Both and neither may be equally valid to God- leading me to the thought that praying in such a structure does not lead one to a closer relationship to God based on geographic location but rather, places like this are to serve as reminders of God’s existence.

There may be an inherent spiritual trap to any holy place that could easily lead one to mistakenly believe that God would be more present here than elsewhere…whatever tension I felt between the two expressions of faith I realized was purely man-made- I don’t believe such petty distinctions make any difference to God one way or another.  My personal belief is it may not matter which particular path one may follow to have a relationship with the Divine- as long as the relationship, not the trapping of the faith, are emphasized and placed at highest value and priority. Again, I restate that I do fully believe the truth of Manuel’s sentiment that there is no reason why both faiths cannot both share this place and that its stupid to allow one and not the other.  Even though my inherent prejudice for whatever reason strongly desires to “side” with Islam rather than Catholicism (It must be all those years of Lutheran confirmation class)  I still can recognize that he is right; and even if my prejudice is based on some valid reasoning- it may be that I (and others) need to move beyond such prejudice, perhaps.

Arabic Baths: Cordoba

Anyway, between both visits to the mosque, I enjoyed the opportunity to visit the FUNCTIONING Arabic baths in Cordoba.  Sadly, no pictures were allowed….however, many of the inner ornamentation was similar to that seen in Jaen.  I was lucky to be able to go with a few of my classmates, Travis, Aimee, Christine, and I can’t recall if Torie was there or not (again, my poor memory!) The baths themselves consisted of 4 rooms, a room with 2 small cold pools, a room with one huge warm pool/massage therapists, a room with two smallish hot pools, and a turkish “bath”- which we would better know as a sauna.( I found it a bit difficult to breathe in and spent little time within it.)    Visitors were expected to wear their bathing suits and no jewelry except for the wrist-things that contained one’s locker key and number for the massage tables.

The idea was you were supposed to rest in each pool in a specific order, which I could never quite remember, traveling from pool to pool until your number was called for massage.  The cold one was COLD!!! As in, Ice cold.  Refreshing, but a bit of a shock and it took a great deal of will power on my part to completely submerge myself momentarily!   The hot one was about the same temperature as the average jacuzzi, and the warm one was relaxingly pleasant and a decent place to socialize quietly while waiting for our massages. Overall, I felt perfectly at home and comfortable here, and only left with profound regret.

Additionally, outside the warm pool was an area with benches and some teapots filled with some excellent mint tea.  The baths took about an hour and most people paid for the massage…in my case, I paid for an extended massage since I felt especially tense and stressed out at the time.  It was worth it, and I smelled like Jasmin oil for at least the next couple of days.   I think my other classmates enjoyed it as well…and addititionally, I felt the added benefit of feeling like I performed a traditionally “correct” action before re-entering the mosque shortly thereafter.

One amusing thing to note;  the week before I traveled to Cordoba, I emailed my advisor, to ask him if there would be any ethical issue with me visiting Mosques since I come from a somewhat pagan religious background in my beliefs.  I was amused to find that he not only encouraged me not to miss the opportunity (and corrected my mistaken assumption that Pagans were considered anathema in the Qur’an) but also, I was very amused to see in his response he indicated he issued a “Fatwa” to give me permission to go!  Amusing, since a “Fatwa” is a “official religious opinion” that can be issued by any recognized scholar of the Qur’an who is “pure of heart” and indicated to be observed as official guidance to either/or other members of the faith or other scholars regarding acceptable behavior or interpretation of the Qur’an.   I enjoyed it-  and I very much appreciated his response.

Anyway, this trip was my first chance in over a year to get some time away from my honors project and I (mistakenly) thought that I would enjoy the time away…however, I found that I ended up mentally revising sections in accordance with some of the new information I was learning in both my classes as well as the excursions; I have notes, but I am hesitant to add new information since I am far into the editing process.  I also found that I spent, unexpectedly, a great deal of time on that Friday wishing that my advisor was present to see what I was seeing, and I wished as I have said in another post, to have had the ability to see how him and Manuel would have interacted…in other words, I surprised myself to find I missed him terribly…which is ironic considering I thought this trip was supposed to be a “vacation” away from everything. (Thankfully, for my sake, I believe he is sick enough of my writing at this point where I have severe doubt he would have gotten this far in the post to read this…)  It makes sense considering most of what I’ve learned or seen has directly pertained to classes of I’ve taken of his.  Chances are, if I visited Egypt or some Sumerian ruins, I might have wished for Dr. Radine to be present equally as much for similar reasons!

I think another part was I believe my same advisor was initially planning on joining us on this trip, and sometimes, I wonder if the reason my thoughts tend towards these directions is that he was actually “meant” to be here.

If nothing else, if that was indeed the case, I would hope that some of these posts serve as a stand-in (albeit likely an inferior one!) for whatever wisdom he could have imparted here- and also, perhaps- writing these as I have been could make it easier for me when the semester starts up again and I present these finding to my Religion department to then get whatever questions I have now answered by him at that time.  I know if I did not write in this as consistently as I do, I would likely forget much of what I experienced.

Anyway, here is the link for the rest of the photos I took of the sights and sites in Cordoba- Click me

…and here I leave you for the evening with this interesting shot:

Another view of the Quibla wall- now with complicated arches!

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Immunity of Mystics…?

After several minutes of non-starts on this blog post, I realized I really did not feel inclined to catagorically go over every single site I visited individually.  Additionally, some of my experiences have left me with less than positive memories.  So,  I suppose I’ll just write what seems important and worth remembering for now, and perhaps, I will add a more technical post later on.  Also, the photos aren’t uploading all that well at the moment for some odd reason.  It’s a pain.

Friday was spent in Cordoba, first to see the Madinat al-Zahra ruins, which were lovely followed by the museum by the same name.  Following this, we traveled to Cordoba proper to see the great mosque/cathedral where I discovered a deeper hatred of humanity as a whole, to the point at which I felt compelled to swear vehemently in the mosque itself at a particular individual- something I still feel guilt about.  Luckily, I was given the chance to go back later for free- to “spend time in quiet reflection”, as Dr. Cantens suggested- which I did, until I was shooed out upon closing time.  I took a great deal of lovely pictures (which will eventually upload, I hope!)  One thing that I think has changed about me during the course of this trip is that now I am attempting to force myself to not be nearly as biased against certain aspects of modern Christianity- I could not help but feel a little conflicted as I saw the Christian iconography juxtaposed against the Islamic backdrop, however, all things being equal, even when the structure was being used completely as a mosque it was still built over the ruins of a prior Christian church.  Manuel likely has the correct perspective; that there is no reason at all why both faiths cannot coexist in the same building- which brought to mind all the frustrated talks I received from two of my religion profs about how it seemed illogical that I seemed to have such a deep respect for Islam, but such a negative view on modern Christianity when both faiths suffer from many of the same ethical problems in their modern practice such as intolerance and violence wrongly justified under their respective names.  You have two religions that essentially worship the same God (The God of Abraham)- it would be a beautiful thing if they could recognize that, for what it’s worth.

As for me, I always side with the most persecuted and misunderstood of any conflict.  The first time I read the entire Quran was directly after 9/11 (well, it was actually titled “The Koran” and the Surahs were completely out of order…which is apparently a common problem with some English translations)  Before that time, I had read bits and pieces here and there- and read “The Satanic Verses” by Rushdie, and owned a book on Rumi in high school…which, sadly, is far more exposure than the average American.  Basically,  as soon as I noticed all the huge, negative generalizations being made about the Islamic faith- it instantly made me view the religion itself as an undeserving scapegoat for the terrible actions of a few individuals- I read the Quran to prove myself right, and felt pretty confident that I was right (for what little that is worth!)  In any case, over the next year I ended up meeting many Baha’i refugees who were also well-versed in the work and it lead to many interesting conversations up in Boston- most of which, oddly enough- I still recall to some extent.  (That particular group viewed the Quran positively, despite their experiences)

Additionally, during my time in the mosque/cathedral  I thought it would be a good time for me to think about some of the pressing issues that have been bothering me back in the states… but the only insight I really and truly received is that it’s actually ludicrous to think that God pays any more or less attention to your thoughts or prayers based on your geographic location- I left feeling slightly unsettled still, and still feeling guilt over my swearing earlier. (there is a time and a place- I just wished I had more self control)  I then spent some time in the courtyard and eventually made it back to my hotel for the night.

The next morning, I decided I was going to take a train to Cadiz to maybe go to the beach-  my time was shorter than I anticipated so at that moment I had pretty much ruled out going to Morocco…however, when I arrived at Cadiz- I was not impressed at all.  It was far too crowded, too modern, and seemed to “familiar” to be interesting ( it looked too much like any beach town at home)  Additionally, I could not find a hotel since there was some sort of event tthat evening, so I made my way to Tarifa and then . I made it to the ferry (65 Euro round trip) and made my way to Africa…pretty much feeling at this point that it was where I was “meant” to go, if that makes any sense whatsoever.

I guess here I should backtrack a bit and explain why I wanted to go to Morocco in the first place (other than: It’s a cool place to be)  First and foremost- it was to prove to myself that I can get there and back and survive.  Morocco is the “friendliest” of all the Islamic countries, yet, it still is not considered to be necessarily friendly to single, western women traveling alone according to most travel websites.  In fact, our professors here in Jaen actively discouraged most people from making their way there- except me.  (Which I could not determine if it was because they trusted me more, or if they cared less if something should happen to me)  It’s not that it is “dangerous”- more that women just get hassled overall if they aren’t perceived to respect the local culture.

Also, a very recently I made up my mind to go to Iran, if I can, to take the intensive language immersion class in the University of Tehran if I could manage to navigate the security protocol involved. This idea was formed purely out of personal defiance against a Persian I was frustrated with at the time who told me almost a year ago that I “…Would last all of about 5 minutes in Iran..”  (Sadly, I only came up with several clever responses much later…which I will not list here)

When I came up with the idea to to go, it was purely based on an unrelated upset that made me decide that I wanted to both prove him “wrong” (if only for myself) as well and prove that I could make it perfectly well in my chosen field with or without his assistance, knowledge, or ultimately, his approval. Since, at the time I believed none of these things were guarantees as far as I could determine-(for all I know they might not be, but I remain optimistic)Actually, most of my more interesting decisions are rooted in defiance (or in some cases, love)- this is no different.

Generally, the best way to get me to make dramatic changes  is to either anger or inspire me enough to motivate me to where I feel I have something to “prove” or “prove wrong”.

Although it seems like things are back to “normal”… I still realized that the idea was a decent one regardless. (and if, by any small chance he is reading this:  …Surprise!)    Considering Morocco is considered one of the “friendliest” of the Arabic countries to Americans, I thought it would be a decent way to explore Islamic culture without too much personal risk- and it might give me an idea of how realistic I am in my desire to visit Tehran under the current climate.

In any case, I did my research and found that it was suggested I dress conservatively (skirt rather than pants), travel with a family if I could, and try to find an “official” tour guide (Morocco certifies their tour guides). On the boat, I met a couple named Shelby and Mike and their three children, and they offered to help find me a hotel room when I arrived on the African shore-even more odd- we were then approached by a gentleman by the name of Aziz #1 (as he said- “Aziz #2 is who he sees in the mirror every morning) who just so happened to be an official tour guide.

Anyway, for 5 Euro, Aziz gladly showed me around the city for the next 2 days- including the more dangerous areas I would not have gotten to see otherwise.  First, alone in the evening and then with Shelby and the two younger children to see the Soukh and Casbah the next morning.

In any case, before travelling in Tangiers I had a false background story made up to pretend I had a husband in the unlikely chance I would be questioned- however, I actually found myself to be more directly honest in Morocco than I had been otherwise. (I suppose this is on account of the fact that since no one knew me, I had less to lose..?)

So, to the interesting part of this whole experience is not what I saw, but rather a conversation I had with Aziz the first evening.  Basically, going back to the mosque, I ended up unburdening myself on  Aziz about a seemingly hopeless situation I had found myself in back in the US, and his response was incredibly thought provoking.”

“Raven- You came to this country not knowing where you would go, where you would stay, or even if it was safe for you to be here- and God took care of you enough so that you not only found a place to stay but a guide as well-  considering you care so much more about this problem of yours back home, why would you not think that this also would not be taken care of as well?”

It turned out Aziz decided to pick my “group” out of a feeling of complusion he occasionally gets-  turns out he’s fairly religious, and for whatever reason was able to pick me out as likewise….and that is also exactly why he decided to charge me so little.  (Mystic immunity?  Is there such a thing?) Additionally, over the past several months I have been down on myself on my physical appearance as well- it’s difficult attending a college where most of the people are ten years younger than you are and still maintain some semblance of physical confidence…especially in this culture.  One other thing that stood out about the conversation was that he indicated that desiring to look different than I do could actually be considered “dishonest” as well as “not honorable” since it would disrespect what I was given by God.

Pretty intense- and most definitely thought provoking.  And definitely m uch more so considering my experience at the mosque the day prior.

However, like every other random religious person I have ever met in passing, he seemed convinced I was destined for Islam…over the years I believe every random religious person I have met has tried to “peg” me as good member of their faith: Wiccans, Baha’i, Druids, native shamans …even including the occasional (UCC) Christian.  From what I *can* determine, I think a mystic is simply a mystic regardless of background, perhaps.

At this point, my best response I have been able to come up with in this regard is that my actual beliefs are too complicated to classify, and some of the lesser beliefs are  constantly changing as I learn new information.

At this point, I’m most certainly a pantheist- which puts me as appropriately pagan, Sufist, Buddhist, some types of Hindu, or even Baha’i- however, with each techncial religion i find there are major tenants or practices that I cannot either conclusively support with unquestioned certainty or that I disagree with entirely.

I suppose the closest thing to my actual belief system might be Baha’i- however, I disagree strongly with their anti-gay stance.  As for my traditional pagan belief system, the state of the community is in a constant state of flux- so, although my beliefs align well via my own research, I do not associate with most Asatru at this point on account of the influx of racism and supremacist I have sadly witnessed.   For the Abrahamics including Islam, although I do try to fast for Ramadan out of respect for my career path- I do not agree with many modern interpretations of the text, the treatment of women and gays.  I can easily believe there was only one creator, however, I cannot comfortably believe there is only one entity with power greater than humans unless all entities are part of a larger whole….but there are Jinn, and there are Angels.  In Asatru, there are divine ancestors.  I do not know how the divine heirarchy works- how other traditions fit in, and I cannot safely or logically claim that there is not truth value to be found in other belief systems….otherwise, other belief systems would not be followed in the first place.

If there is only one true path- then how does that explain why people would follow other paths?  I cannot conclude that only one way is “Correct” and all others are mislead or illogical.   Perhaps, there is only one correct way for each individual- but I believe those ways change depending on the individual.

Overall, the strongest belief I have is that religion and relationships with the Divine need to be personally explored; outside of that, as far as my personal “religion” goes- I believe that if I have any label at all, I would also leave that for the Divine to determine…

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Removed-

In accordance with virtue ethics (per Dr. Cantens)-  it has been requested I remove this particular post.  Who am I to argue with philosophy?

Apparently, I’m “mean”.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 
 
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