Book Review

Book Review

Book Review – What to Serve a Goddess

By Konrad Riggenmann

At first sight, this voluminous and (too) large-format book appears to be an amateur issue. And at second sight it is just that – in the word’s best sense. I learnt a lot from it.

The author stopped his studies of theology due to the theo-logical problem: “I took my religion seriously, but I also took my science seriously. The teachings of my church often conflicted with my academic studies.” This is why Deal holds two bachelors,P1010430 one master degree and ½ M.Div. Small wonder that the whole book is characterized by this non-conformist and open-minded view of life, planet, history, religion and ethical nutrition (Deal is vegan since 1981, when hardly anyone knew this term!).

His peak experience started with his question during a starlit summer night: “How can I know which way to go?” and left him with the answer: “Search for truth and follow it wherever it leads you. And don’t fear the truth you will find. Truth is the one thing not to fear.” Consequently, his approach to ethical nutrition is by no means dogmatic but rather unconventional, down-to-earth, multi-faceted – and tastefully illustrated with drawings of (admittedly differing) artistical skill.

And practical at that: Cooking recipes make for almost fifty pages of this volume which starts with a ten-page table of contents and concludes with “vegetablearian songs”.

In truth, this book is cooked with love.

Please go to Amazon and look inside, and maybe buy.

And after you read my book, send feedback.

James at James Deal dot com

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Magical Religious Thinking

How Christian Delusions Are Driving the GOP Insane
Why aren’t Republicans more frightened of the consequences of a shutdown and default? Part of the reason is magical religious thinking.
October 9, 2013  |
Why aren’t Republicans more afraid? The entire premise of both the government shutdown and the threats to force the government into debt default is that Democrats care more about the consequences of these actions than the Republicans do. Republicans may go on TV and shed crocodile tears about national monuments being shut down, but the act isn’t really fooling the voters: The only way to understand these fights is to understand that the GOP is threatening to destroy the government and the world economy in order to get rid of Obamacare (as well as a panoply of other right wing demands). Just as terrorists use the fact that you care more about the lives of the hostages than they do to get leverage, Republican threats rely on believing they don’t care about the consequences, while Democrats do.

So why aren’t they more afraid? Businessweek, hardly a liberal news organization, said the price of default would be “a financial apocalypse” that would cause a worldwide economic depression.  This is the sort of thing that affects everyone. Having a right wing ideology doesn’t magically protect your investments from crashing alongside the rest of the stock market.

The willingness of Republicans to take the debt ceiling and the federal budget hostage in order to try to extract concessions from Democrats is probably the most lasting gift that the Tea Party has granted the country. More reasonable Republican politicians fear being primaried by Tea Party candidates. A handful of wide-eyed fanatics in Congress have hijacked the party. The Tea Party base and the hard right politicians driving this entire thing seem oblivious to the consequences. It’s no wonder, since so many of them—particularly those in leadership—are fundamentalist Christians whose religions have distorted their worldview until they cannot actually see what they’re doing and what kind of damage it would cause.

The press often talks about the Tea Party like they’re secularist movement that is interested mainly in promoting “fiscal conservatism”, a vague notion that never actually seems to make good on the promise to save taxpayer money. The reality is much different: The Tea Party is actually driven primarily by fundamentalist Christians whose penchant for magical thinking and belief that they’re being guided by divine forces makes it tough for them to see the real world as it is.

It’s not just that the rogue’s gallery of congress people who are pushing the hardest for hostage-taking as a negotiation tactic also happens to be a bench full of Bible thumpers. Pew Research shows that people who align with the Tea Party are more likely to not only agree with the views of religious conservatives, but are likely to cite religious belief as their prime motivation for their political views.  White evangelicals are the religious group most likely to approve of the Tea Party. Looking over the data, it becomes evident that the “Tea Party” is just a new name for the same old white fundamentalists who would rather burn this country to the ground than share it with everyone else, and this latest power play from the Republicans is, in essence, a move from that demographic to assert their “right” to control the country, even if their politicians aren’t in power.

It’s no surprise, under the circumstances, that a movement controlled by fundamentalist Christians would be oblivious to the very real dangers that their actions present. Fundamentalist religion is extremely good at convincing its followers to be more afraid of imaginary threats than real ones, and to engage in downright magical thinking about the possibility that their own choices could work out very badly. When you believe that forcing the government into default in an attempt to derail Obamacare is the Lord’s work, it’s very difficult for you to see that it could have very real, negative effects.

It’s hard for the Christian fundamentalists who run the Republican Party now to worry about the serious economic danger they’re putting the world in, because they are swept up in worrying that President Obama is an agent of the devil and that the world is on the verge of mayhem and apocalypse if they don’t “stop” him somehow, presumably be derailing the Affordable Care Act. Christian conservatives such as Ellis Washington are running around telling each other that the ACA  will lead to “the systematic genocide of the weak, minorities, enfeebled, the elderly and political enemies of the God-state.” Twenty percent of Republicans believe Obama is the Antichrist.Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner argued that Obama is using his signature health care legislation to promote “the destruction of the family, Christian culture”, and demanded that Christians “need to engage in peaceful civil disobedience against President Obama’s signature health care law”.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops joined in, demanding that the Republicans shut down the government rather than let Obamacare go into effect. The excuse was their objection to the requirement that insurance make contraception available without a copayment, saying ending this requirement matters more than “serving their own employees or the neediest Americans.”

The Christian right media has been hammering home the message that Christians should oppose the Affordable Care Act. Pat Necerato of the Christian News Network accused the supporters of the law of committing idolatry and accused people who want health care of being covetous. The Christian Post approvingly reported various Christian leaders, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, saying things like the health care law is “a profound attack on our liberties” and lamented “Today is the day I will tell my grandchildren about when they ask me what happened to freedom in America.”

Some in the Christian right straight up believe Obamacare portends the end times. Rick Phillips, writing for Christianity.com, hinted that Obamacare might be predicted in Revelations, though he held back from saying that was certain. Others are less cautious. On the right wing fundamentalist email underground, a conspiracy theory has arisen claiming that Obamacare will require all citizens to have a microchip implanted. While it’s completely untrue, many Christians believe that this means the “mark of the beast” predicted in Revelations that portends the return of Christ and the end of the world.

In other words, the Christian right has worked itself into a frenzy of believing that if this health care law is implemented fully, then we are, in fact, facing down either the end of American Christianity itself or quite possibly the end times themselves. In comparison, it’s hard to be too scared by the worldwide financial collapse that they’re promising to unleash if the Democrats don’t just give up their power and let Republicans do what they want. Sure, crashing stock markets, soaring unemployment, and worldwide economic depression sounds bad, but for the Christian right, the alternative is fire and brimstone and God unleashing all sorts of hell on the world.

This is a problem that extends beyond just the immediate manufactured crisis. The Christian right has become the primary vehicle in American politics for minimizing the problems of the real world while inventing imaginary problems as distractions. Witness, for instance, the way that fundamentalist Christianity has been harnessed to promote the notion that climate change isn’t a real problem. Average global temperatures are creeping up, but the majority of Christian conservatives are too worried about the supposed existential threats of abortion and gay rights to care.

Under the circumstances, it’s no surprise that it’s easy for Christian conservatives to worry more about imaginary threats from Obamacare than it is for them to worry about the very real threat to worldwide economic stability if the go along with their harebrained scheme of forcing the government into default. To make it worse, many have convinced themselves that it’s their opponents who are deluded. Take right wing Christian Senator Tom Coburn, who celebrated the possibility of default back in January by saying it would be a “wonderful experiment”. Being able to blow past all the advice of experts just to make stuff up you want to believe isn’t a quality that is unique to fundamentalists, but as these budget negotiations are making clear, they do have a uniquely strong ability to lie to themselves about what is and isn’t a real danger to themselves and to the world.

Sufism

Sufism:
The Spritual Path To Preach Love, Coexistence And Peace‏

By:

Thanks to Eurasia Review

 

December 31, 2012

Morocco owes its image of a modern Muslim nation to Sufism, a spiritual and tolerant Islamic tradition that goes back to the first generations of Muslims who, for centuries, has supported religious cohesion, social and cultural Moroccan society. Sufism provides answers to some of the most complex problems facing the contemporary Muslim world, where youth comprise the majority of the population.

Most Moroccans, young or old, practice one form of Sufism or another. Deep component of the Moroccan identity, Sufism absorbs all members of society, regardless of their age, sex, social status or political orientation.

Sufism attracts more young Moroccans because of its tolerance, due to the easy interpretation that gives to the Qur’an, its rejection of fanaticism and its embrace of modernity. Young people are the principles of” beauty” and” humanity”. Sufism balanced lifestyle that allows them to enjoy arts, music and love without having to abandon their spiritual or religious obligations.

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Sufi orders exist throughout Morocco. They organize regular gatherings to pray, chant and debate timely topics of social and political, from the protection of the environment and social charity to the fight against drugs and the threat of terrorism.

In addition, focusing on the universal values ​​that Islam shares with Christianity and Judaism (as the pursuit of happiness, the love of the family, tolerance of racial and religious differences and the promotion of peace) Sufi gatherings inspire young people to engage in interfaith dialogue.

Taken together, Sufi seminars, chants and spiritual gatherings provide a social medium where millions of Moroccans mix the sacred and the secular, the soul and the body, the local and the universal. Every aspect that is both possible and enjoyable.

Sufis distance themselves from fundamentalists (who see Islam strict and Utopian emulation of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions), with particular emphasis on the adaptation of community concerns and priorities of the modern time. Sufis neither condemn unveiled women nor do they censor the distractions of our time. For them, the difference between virtue and vice is the intent, not appearances.

Sufism is so diffuse in Moroccan culture that its role can not be properly understood if reduced to a sect or a sacred place. People get together to sing Sufi poetry, the primordial essence of the human being, the virtues of simplicity and the healing gifts of Sufi saints such as Sidi Abderrahman Majdub, Sidi Ahmed Tijani, and Sidi Bouabid Charki, the spiritual masters revered by peers and disciples for having attained spiritual union with God during their earthly lives.

Gnawa musicians, the descendants of African slaves brought to Morocco between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries, produce a music that is a mix of religious lyrics deeply rooted in the oral tradition of sub-Saharan Africa and melancholic melodies reminiscent of jazz and blues. The Gnawa performance centers on a spinning body and a high-pitched voice, rhyming poetic verses with Sufi chants in Arabic such as” there is no other God but God and Muhammad is his messenger.” These words are terrifying when they are spoken by a terrorist, but lift the soul when they are sung by pious Muslims, Gnawa and other Sufi-inspired musicians.

In addition to Moroccans, thousands of young people in Europe, America and Africa flock to sacred music festivals organized every summer by Sufi movements throughout Morocco, to sing and celebrate their enthusiasm for life and their commitment to the universal values ​​of peace. The scene at these festivals completely refutes the kind of image that extremists seek to convey to Muslim youth.

It is this fusion of Sufism and modernity that produces a unique aesthetic experience, which is attractive to Moroccan youth who reject extremism and uphold values ​​of a shared humanity.

About the author:Said Temsamani

Said Temsamani is a Moroccan political observer and consultant, who follows events in his country and across North Africa. He is a Senior Fellow, Merdian International Center Washington DC, Founder and CEO “Public Initiatives” Consulting firm and Former Senior Political Advisor, US Embassy Rabat, Morocco.

Thanks to Eurasia Review