Porcupine hills

I’m not a religious person but I have been drawn to the idea of the sacredness of the everyday since back in undergrad when I was getting into religious studies. Listening to this always reminds me of that.

I belong to the church of the long grass,
The Parish of the Porcupine Hills,
The grass can grow as tall as an old timers tale,
Some say taller still,
I belong to the church of the long grass,
The Parish of the Porcupine Hills,
I’ve always seen this land as holy,
I guess I always will
— John Wort Hannam

Be curious not hateful

In the wake of the attacks in #newzealand I invite you to learn about Islam. Be curious.

I got into religious studies as an undergrad because I knew little to nothing about religion and it seemed so important to so many. The more I learned the more open minded and accepting I became. I love hearing about people’s religious practices. Religion is fascinating and something that builds community and guides purpose.

You'll find that Muslims are actually a lot like you especially if you are a Jew or Christian. In fact the three religions are often taught together and are called ethical monotheism.

If you are sad about what happened in Christchurch and want to do something read an intro to Islam book. FInd some basic (non-hateful) info online. Go to an interfaith group. If mosques near you are having open services or times when they are inviting people from the community in following the events in Christchurch go. Or stand outside a mosque and offer your grieve and kindness, flowers, solidarity. Go build bridges out of loss.

The best sentences I read this week: Downward facing monkey

“A key question being discussed once again as a result of the storm is why electrical service in Canada is so vulnerable to weather disruptions. For years, officials of Toronto Hydro, Ontario Hydro and Quebec Hydro have rebuffed arguments in favour of moving overhead electrical service cables and wires in urban areas underground. This was one of the recommendations of the Quebec government commission of inquiry following the January 1998 ice storm that knocked out electricity and threatened transportation and water supply in Montreal for many days during very harsh winter weather conditions. “Too expensive” say the officials.”

An inconvenient ice storm hits Canada and northern U.S. amidst the whirlwind of climate science denial

“There’s only so much discussion of whaling techniques and classifications that most readers can take. To those who sail through these chapters, the rest of the reading world salutes you.”

50 Incredibly Tough Books for Extreme Readers

“‘Do you think Ocean would wear this?’ she asked one day, modeling a purple hoodie and a pair of purple-and-white stretch pants in the break room. ‘Who’s Ocean?’ I asked, and she sighed. ‘Who trained you? Ocean is our ideal customer. She does yoga every day, makes $100,000 a year, and dates a triathlete named Mountain.’ I stared at her, nonplussed. Pityingly, she added: ‘Mary, we all want to be Ocean. That’s why we work here.'”

Yoga, spinning and a murder: My strange months at Lululemon

“Six-month-old Angus Smith is a devout churchgoer. He doesn’t know it yet, but as a young, male, Protestant in 2013, he is in the minority.”

Churches keep the faith as congregations steadily shrink

“The writing style which is most natural for you is bound to echo the speech you heard when a child. English was the novelist Joseph Conrad’s third language, and much that seems piquant in his use of English was no doubt colored by his first language, which was Polish. And lucky indeed is the writer who has grown up in Ireland, for the English spoken there is so amusing and musical. I myself grew up in Indianapolis, where common speech sounds like a band saw cutting galvanized tin, and employs a vocabulary as unornamental as a monkey wrench.”

How to Write with Style: Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Keys to the Power of the Written Word

Zeitoun: What I learned from my religious studies minor

I have been reading Zeitoun by Dave Eggers and part of the book is about what it is like for an American woman to convert to Islam—I imagine that converting would be confusing and require a lot of bravery, especially given a lot of people’s conceptions. There is a section that discusses her first impression after converting:

There were so many basic things that defied her presumptions. She’d assumed that Muslims were a monolithic group, and that all Muslims were made of the same devout and unbending stock. Bust she learned that there were Shiite and Sunni interpretations of the Qur’an, and within any mosque there were the same variations in faith and commitment as there were in any church. There were Muslims who treated their faith lightly, and those who knew every word of the Qur’an and its companion guide to behavior, the Hadith. There were Muslims who knew almost nothing about their religion, who worshiped a few times a year, and those who obeyed the strictest interpretation of their faith. There were Muslim women who wore T-shirts and jeans and Muslim women who covered themselves head to toe. There were Muslim men who modeled their lives on the life of the Prophet, and those who strayed and fell short. There were passive Muslims, uncertain Muslims, borderline agnostic Muslims, devout Muslims, and Muslims who twisted the words of the Qur’an to suit their temporary desires and agendas. It was all very familiar, intrinsic to any faith.

I learned many things in my religious studies classes. I learned that there are two accounts of creation in The Bible, that reading Buddhist scripture is usually extremely dull, the Japanese word for no, about theodicy. The most important lesson was that religions are diverse. That they are rich and dynamic. That if someone was to ask me what do Buddhists believe I would ask them, which Buddhists? Eggers points out the important fact that Islam and Muslims are diverse. If you lump them all together then you run the risk of judging something people and a religious community for things that they don’t actually do or believe. I took my first religious studies class in large part because I knew nothing about religion. The more classes I took the more I learned about what Muslims and other religious groups actually believe, and the more I learned that the word Muslim casts a wide net over people who believe a diverse number of things, the more I learned that everything I thought I knew was wrong, the more I came to be open minded about religion and to respect the diversity of what faith can mean.