Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Prop 8

November 12, 2008

Of course I am outraged at this. That comes as no surprise. But it seems that everyone I know is outraged by its passing, and if not outraged, than at least indifferent. I can’t say that I know anyone who would have voted to pass Prop 8. I don’t even think my Catholic mother would have. And even if I have met the occasional person who is still so backwards in their thinking or so “religious” that they would vote YES, how on earth does it make up over 50% of the voters in California? HOW?! This just doesn’t compute to me.

If you would have voted “YES,” on constitutionally banning gay marriage, please let me know why. You can even e-mail me at tashamort (at) hotmail.com. If you can read or watch the following things and still argue against it, then I am even more curious.

A great, PRO gay marriage blog post. These are some amazing arguments that I had never even considered.

Keith Olbermann’s special comment. His passion is on parallel with what I feel. How can you deny a couple the same rights you enjoy? It’s so unfair that it hurts.

Don’t tell me it leads to worse things. No one in Massachusetts is married to their dog.

Don’t tell me marriage is about God. I know people who married without God. Specifically, my future sister-in-law. They did not marry in a church. They did not use a religious figure as their officiant. In fact, the woman who married them was a good friend who happens to be a lesbian! They did not have any bible readings (I don’t think…). They had readings from books and poems that expressed their love in the truest way. One of their readings was even from the MA Ruling about gay marriage!

And they are married. They are not civil unionized. MARRIED. Should they not be married because they didn’t marry under God? That is not the God that I believe in. Will I have God in my marriage and ceremony? Yes I will, but that will not make me any MORE married than them. And you know what? The fact that they married the way they did, does not in ANY way infringe upon my marriage.

No one wants to force churches to perform gay marriage ceremonies. That’s not the issue. So the fact that religion has entrenched itself in this part of the government is kind of ridiculous. How does the fact that a same sex couple would be married diminish your marriage?! Does it bother you so much that there are states that allow this? Perhaps you should move to Iran, where they don’t have any gay people!

It doesn’t surprise me that there are people out there who harbor these views, generally based on their religion. People who believe homosexuality is wrong, immoral, an abomination. There will always be extreme people in this world. What is absolutely shocking to me is that more than 50% of California voters harbor this particular view.

Why?

Clinging

October 7, 2008

I went back to “my” church on Sunday. I almost can’t get over how friendly people are there. We had two random adorable old ladies come up and talk to us, because they didn’t recognize us. And the pastor came up and talked to us before the service. All the people I’ve talked to there seem genuine. The sermon (homily?? I don’t know what to call these things outside of Catholic church) is real. I can relate to it. I can use those ideas and teachings in my real life. These people are truly “Christ-like” to me, and are examples of how I want to lead my life. I still identify with Catholics and Catholic mass, but I can’t say I ever felt like this when I go to a Catholic church, even within the last year.

I wouldn’t classify myself as a particularly religious person. I do not blindly follow or believe. I question. I think about what it means to live a good life. My number one response to that is to “Love thy neighbor.” That pretty much sums up the most important way to live well, in my book. I get the feeling that this church agrees with me.

This past Sunday’s service involved Communion. For anyone who has ever been to a Catholic mass, Communion is a BIG DEAL. It’s strange to me to only celebrate Communion once a month, but whatever. Maybe it makes it that much more special and meaningful. It was certainly the most relatable Communion service I’d ever experienced. The (female) pastor talked all about how each of us is like a single grain of wheat, but with God, we become a whole loaf of bread. Okay, sounds cheesy, but it worked. We’re all connected, whether we like it or not, and we have to help each other out. I like it.

I never thought I’d be excited to join a church, but I am! I was told the next new member classes start in November. I hope we’re able to take them. Yes, “WE.” David wants to join to. Or, at least he’s okay with joining. He even took Communion. I almost cried, for real.

I used to deny and ignore this spiritual side of me, but I’m learning to accept it. I’ll never be someone who Praises His Name!!!!!! all the time (ala crazy fake seeming Televangelists), nor will I blindly believe religion and ignore science, nor will I allow a church to control my life. And it looks like I won’t have to, now that I’ve found a church that doesn’t want to!

Sunday Love

August 25, 2008

I have been needing a Sunday like this for a long time. It was a little bit of heaven that will keep me going through the week. David and I have been pretty busy lately, and haven’t been able to spend much quality time with each other. I can never get enough, but this weekend was pretty awesome for our couple time.

Sunday was almost magical. Simple, but wonderful.

David and I had been out late the night before, and so we slept in. It was noon before we were heading out the door. We (David) had made up a game relating to Obama’s Vice Presidential pick. Who he picked would determine what we would do. For example, if he had picked Sebelius, we would have rented a paddleboat down by the lake. If he somehow picked Clinton, we would have had to go to Great America! He picked Biden, and so we were supposed to build a fort in our living room, have an indoor picnic in there, and watch a scary movie.

Well, upon walking out to the car, I decided it was way too nice out to spend the day inside. I said we should have our picnic outside, by the lake. David didn’t seem over the moon about the idea, but he agreed. We decided to build our fort next weekend and watch a scary movie. We figured we’d drive to Whole Foods and buy our entire picnic lunch from there. Pricey? Yes, but delicious.

We wandered the aisles, tasting samples, and trying to pick which goodies to fill our cart with. When we tried some barbecued beef brisket, we knew we had to get those sandwiches. We steered our cart through the rest of the store, picking up grapes, Terra Crinkles Garlic Mashed potato chips, a tiny $3 piece of 10 year Wisconsin aged cheddar, a couple iced teas, and the best “healthy” cookies I’ve ever tasted, Grace’s Best Sunflower Seed Cookies.

From there, we drove down to the lakefront to look for the perfect picnic spot. We wanted to be a little secluded, and we needed some shade. The lakefront was pretty crowded, and where it wasn’t, it was smelly. We took a turn up towards Lake Park Bistro, thinking we’d find a spot at the top of the hill, overlooking the lake. Instead we made a right, towards the baseball diamond and big picnic areas. It was practically deserted.

We popped the trunk, hoping we had some sort of blanket back there (when we left the house, we weren’t really sure what we were doing, and so we didn’t prep at all). We had a sleeping bag and a big beach towel/blanket. We walked to a big tree in the middle of the grass and spread out our blankets. The sleeping bag gave us a little cushion against the ground.

This is when the magic really started. It was such a beautiful day. The sun was peeking through the branches of the tree, warming us, and a cool breeze kept us from getting hot. Our food was so delicious. We ate our sandwiches, and snacked on the rest while David read to me. He started reading the book Ender’s Game out loud to me a couple weeks ago. I had always meant to read that book, but never got around to it. So far, it’s pretty great! We stretched out on our blankets and I relaxed as his words poured over me. It was fantastic.

Except for ONE thing.

The spiders. There were several of them throughout our stay in the park. I was laying on my back, my head propped up on an extra blanket, and I saw movement. I looked down, and there was a SPIDER. ON MY BOOB. Sweet baby Jesus. I screamed about it and David was kind enough to remove it. Ick!! I hate spiders, and am terrified of them. I know I was out in THEIR territory, but any spider that came onto our safe haven of civilization, was quickly removed. Fortunately, after boob spider, none were quite as shocking.

Other than THAT, it was just awesome. Time seemed to stand still for us. David read a couple chapters to me, and we lay around, talking and holding hands and smiling. It was sick, really. There was hardly anyone near us. It was like we were in our own little world. We even moved the blanket so that my side was in a patch of sun, and his side was in the shade. I cuddled in his “nook,” in the sun, as he finished one last chapter for me.

When we finally decided we should get going, it was only just after 3:00. What?! We had only been there for a couple hours. It felt like so much longer, in the best possible way. It felt like time had slowed down, so we could enjoy hours and hours with each other, without the whole day being gone.

In the last 20 minutes or so of us laying there, a family had come to the picnic tables nearby. A mom, dad, a boy of about 10, and an (I’m assuming) adopted girl of about 4. I watched them as Dad ran around with the kids, playing frisbee. He and his son were teaching the daughter how to throw it and catch it. I saw her make a catch and she ran around cheering about it. David and I watched them play as we walked back to our car, arm in arm. It was one of the most adorable moments I’ve seen. I may have gotten a little teary eyed, thinking about taking our future family to a park for a late summer picnic. Of course we don’t know what our plans are for kids yet, but I can imagine us having a family that looks very similar to that one.

To anyone else, it was just a picnic. To us, it was the best day we’ve had in a long time.

The rest of the day was nice, but the memories of those couple hours will be with me for a long time. While curled up in bed, David asked me a question. We have been having some religious discussions for a while. He is very much NOT religious, but has been feeling that he wants to believe in something. I’ve been telling him about the things that I believe. Especially about heaven. He asked if that was what heaven was like. I thought about the love and warmth and peace that I felt out there. Yes, minus the spiders, yes, that is what heaven is like.

Persian Girls

July 2, 2008

I just finished this book on my lunch break today.

It was heart-breaking and eye-opening.

One of the critic quotes reads, “Nahid Rachlin’s memoir reads like a novel- suspenseful, vivid, heartbreaking.” I definitely agree with those three adjectives. I didn’t want to put it down. I wanted to find out the whole story and to understand what her current perspectives are.

I did find, however, that it seemed autobiographical almost to a fault. There are some details that are glazed over and some time periods that are ignored. I was left wanting to learn even more. Of course, that would have made the book three times as long, I’m sure. The way it is written, and the story she tells, makes me trust her facts and opinions. It doesn’t seem like she made up any details to replace things that she didn’t know or remember. I can respect that very much.

To that effect, the reader is left only with what the author knows. And it’s unfinished in some ways. The final line of the book almost sent tears down my face. Somehow, after everything she went through, she was strong enough to write truthfully about her life.

What was personally interesting to me, was comparing the timeline of events to what I know of my father’s life. Nahid (I feel like she’s my friend after reading this, so we’re on a first-name basis now.) is older than my dad, but as she recalls events, I can try imagine where he was in his life at that time.

I don’t know how my grandparents did it, but it seems like they sent my dad and is brother to the US in the nick of time. The Iranian revolution happened in 1979 and it was right around that time that he came to the US. As the revolution continued, travel and communication between the US and Iran was nearly impossible. My dad was in high school during the hostage crisis in 1979-1981. In his first year there (in Adam’s Friendship, WI) he says he was a novelty. He was elected as homecoming king! But then things got very tense. The hostages were held for over a year and between hearing my dad’s stories and reading this book, things were not very good or easy for Iranians in the US at this time.

Another critic quote that I found to be accurate was this, “Hers is one of the voices that must be heard if Iranians and Americans are ever to understand each other.”Oh, this one gets me. Iranians are not bad people. Just as Americans are not bad people. But does each culture have some evil wackjobs? YES!

Her story starts in the 1950s. She talks about Iran oil and how people from other countries worked in refineries and other jobs. Most of them were American or British. The Shah at the time wanted to be modern and Westernized, but this caused a backlash among Iranian citizens. And I can’t really blame them. Americans and British were taking over jobs and money that an Iranian could work and earn. Earlier, Americans and British helped create a government police force that put the Shah into power and helped keep him there. They would execute those who dared speak out against him, and that kept getting worse as they gained more and more power.

In 1979 Khomeini took power and pulled Iran back into it’s religious roots. It seems to me that he got rid of all the good things the Shah did (like women’s rights, more religious freedom) and expanded on the bad (state controlled media, increased police power). No one Nahid talked to in the book was happy. They talked in hushed tones about how the current situation wasn’t what they fought and hoped for.

The government still presses down on people in Iran. They have the so-called “Moral Police.” If a man and woman are walking hand-in-hand, it is well within their rights to stop them and demand to see documents proving they are married, for that is the only way that behavior is allowed. It is my belief and understanding that very few people in Iran want to live like that. Times are changing. In my dad’s pictures from his trip to Iran, there are very few women who dare to wear anything but dark colors outside, and they always observe hejab, or the head scarf to cover their hair. But in the privacy of their own home, it’s another story. The scarf comes off and the bright, modern clothes shine.

I felt intensely connected to this book. The stories she shares are beautiful, although sometimes a little shocking (especially related to women’s rights and marriage). I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone just looking for a summer read, but I think her perspectives and opinions as an Iranian American are interesting, informative, and invaluable. Maybe now, more than ever.

Me Me Me

June 13, 2008

I’m feeling very wedding plan-y today and I don’t really know why.

I read a post on a wedding blog, and suddenly realized something. Weddings are SO self-centered. How do you plan a wedding without being all ME ME ME!!!!?? I can be vain, and certainly enjoy being the center of attention, but it’s weirding me out to think about planning a giant party to honor ME. Well, me and my groom of course, but US.

I think that’s why, when I think about what I want, it focuses on the guests. I mean, of course I want to look outrageously beautiful, but I really want my guests to eat great food and to have a blast. I know, that’s what everyone wants, right?

That seems to be the “problem,” because if I cared less about my guests, I could put them in some cheap place and serve them crappy food, and spend more money on ME. I don’t want to do that. That is most definitely not ME.

Would I give my pinky finger for an amazing designer gown? Yes, probably. But I’d rather take that $4,000 (or more…) and be able to invite an extra 50 of my friends and family.

Unfortunately, a $4,000 dress sounds just as unreasonable as our 200 person guest list right now. We’re doing well in paying off our debt, but we won’t be debt free for almost a year. And then we’ll only have a very small savings. If any. We were planning on Disney World for David’s golden 27th birthday next year. But his sister wants us to come to Europe with their mom in a couple years. I’d love to do these things, but then how will I afford the kind of wedding that I want?

I do not want a location that looks like a gymnasium or an 80’s prom hall. But I don’t need the Calatrava/Art Museum (though I’ll tell you, I WANT IT). To me, a wedding has always been about all your friends and family and loved ones being in the same room to celebrate and wish you love and luck in the start of a new chapter of your life. For me to take a chainsaw to the guestlist would be so painful. So how do I throw a nice reception for THAT many people? I guess that is the question I will be trying to answer.

My parents aren’t exactly throwing money at me. And not that they should! I am thinking of approaching them with a plan… maybe they could match everything I save? Even half of each dollar would be such a huge help.

My parents divorce could, and should, be it’s own entry. It’s final now. And they seem so much happier and alive. But let me tell you, having your father take you to lunch to tell you that he’s moving out, just a few weeks after your engagement is HARD. It hurt. It completely shook everything I’ve ever believed. I’m still dealing with it. My parents were married for almost 25 years! And the vast majority of those years were happy. They were happy.

So not only did my dad often tell me how much he thought marriage was pointless and weddings were stupid, but I had constant doubt. Am I doing the right thing?! Will we still feel this in love after 25 years?  I guess nobody REALLY knows those answers, but I finally figured out that my answers are YES! I am madly in love, and I can’t imagine that ever going away. And to me, that’s as close to a sure thing as I can get.

My mom bought my sister and I each a set of Waterford Crystal Toasting Flutes. She saw them at work (Boston Store) and bought them. While the pair she got for me are just a tad over the top, the fact that she thought about me, and David, and our MARRIAGE was amazing to me. I almost cried.

So now I finally feel like I can talk to my mom about the wedding. I always felt like I had to avoid the subject. But she gets along with David really well now, and with that gift, I feel like she’s opened the lines of communication back up.

What I’m really excited about is that I think I’ve found a church. I don’t have many ideas about the ceremony. I want it personal and romantic. I’ve always pictured outside. But I never tossed out the idea of a church. Though we did toss out my mom’s Catholic church hopes. I was raised Catholic, but haven’t felt like I fit there lately. Religion has become too politicized, and that’s unfortunate. Religion is not connected to politics in my mind, but I just feel uncomfortable when I walk into my Catholic church and see tables full of anti-choice and anti-homosexuality books in the back. I believe God loves all of us. I really do like Catholic Mass, but I can’t do it every week. And so often it’s just depressing! And makes me feel guilty.

But I think I’ve found a church that practices what it preaches. And it’s preaching is not preachy, it’s practical. I still feel a strong sense of God and Jesus in the building and their service filled me with hope and strength and motivation to go out and be a GOOD person. David and I are now seriously thinking of joining Plymouth Church, part of the United Church of Christ. Their slogan alone is enough for David: “Our Faith is 2000 Years Old. Our Thinking is Not.” I love it!

Sitting in church a couple weeks ago was fantastic. I felt at home. And I could see us getting married there. Being raised religious, having a little God talk in the marriage ceremony is important to me. But I had to make sure David could handle it, as he was basically raised as an atheist! He likes this church and that makes me so happy! The people there sure do help. An older couple talked to us for 5 minutes after the service because they figured we were new. They talked about how much they love the church and went and got us a “welcome” package and made sure we knew about the coffee and tea gathering going on in another room.

I don’t think we’re doing anything this Sunday morning. I really want to go again.