Monday, September 08, 2008

Carnival for Progressive Christians - First Edition

I am a little late to the party, but better late than never! The Carnival for (of) progressive Christians is up at A Secret Chord. There are some great submissions, check it out.

H/t belledame222

Travel talk

I will be travelling all of this week. Going back to India for a while.
Oh dial up internet, here I come :-)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

KBCI Kerala-Born Confused Individual

My non Indian friends may get confused with the place names, languages and Indian culture-specific references. So read at your own risk :-)

Some of you may have heard about ABCDs, American-Born Confused Desis.
I am a Keralite by birth, though I have never felt like a true Malayalee. Maybe it is because I have lived there only for less than a fifth of my life. I have lived in Kerala, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Chennai, Bangalore and New Jersey. Somewhat in that order.

I love Kerala, the smells, the sights and the people. I love our sing song Malayalam language, the rich religious atmosphere, the gorgeous backwaters and the food, oh the food. But I do not like living in Kerala. It is too stifling. How can I live in a place where people go to sleep at 8 pm? How could I live in a place where TV soaps are the primary source of entertainment? How can I live in a place where all women should be inside their house by 6pm or they are automatically considered *loose*? And the hartals? Let us not forget the hartals; Keralites automatically work less than their fellow Indians because they get atleast three days off every month thanks to politicians. There is a lot of political unrest in Kerala and political activist is always getting insulted or killed. Now how do they protest this? Is it by writing in memorium letters in the national papers like we expect a fully literate state to do? No, we declare ourselves a holiday. We stay home from schools and work and vehicles are not allowed on roads. Every state level hartal apparently costs Kerala 4000 crore each time, which is money we do not have. Sorry for going off on a tangent but ask any Keralite about hartals and that is what she would say.

Anyways, getting back to the places I have lived. The next place is Dubai, in the UAE. Most people know Dubai as just a popular shopping destination. I spent the majority of my life there so I obviously I have a different prespective on it. When I first came to Dubai, I remember seeing a lot of tired brown faces-most of them poor Indians and Bangladeshis. It used to be called 'The Gulf' by the poor Malayalees back home, it was a place where they could maybe make some money to send back home to their family. An opportunity for a better life. But by the time I left Dubai, it had changed too much, it was too garish, too money oriented. It was developing like a country on steroids, too fast and probably unhealthy.

The next spot is Abu Dhabi, also in the UAE. My stay in Abu Dhabi was very brief. I think of Abu Dhabi as Dubai's plain big sister. Dubai gets all the attention even though Abu Dhabi is actually the elder sister(leader of the Emirates) and she does feel a little neglected.

Then back to India for a while. I moved to Chennai in search of a job. I hated living in Chennai. I do not know Tamil, so that makes automatically makes me half a person there. And temperatures of 110 °F without air conditioning? No thank you.

After that, a good long stay in Bangalore. I was very comfortable in Bangalore. You can be yourself in Bangalore. I had my first taste of independent life in Bangalore, the place has done more for my development as a person than any other place. On the other hand, Bangalore does has terrible traffic problems and terrible crime rates. And there is no way I could afford to buy a home in Bangalore at the real estate rates there. So I have no plans of settling down there either.

Then I moved to the United States. Or specifically New Jersey. New Jersey has been nice to me but has a way of making me feel out of place. I do not think I will feel comfortable enough to settle down here. It is a great place but it does not feel like home.

So there! Are there similar people out there who do not really know what to call themselves. What are your experiences?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

My favourite Daily show guests

OK, this is going to be my last Jon Stewart post. For a while at least, I promise!
Here are my favourite Daily show guests, please feel free to add your favourite guest in the comments.

5. John McCain
The John McCain of previous years (you know the story) was a reasonable man, a principled man,a nice man. I think that he would have hated the John McCain of today.
Here is an interview where Jon grills Sen McCain after he metamorphosed into the candidate McCain we now know.

Does anybody else feel for McCain here? He seems to be flinching with every question that Jon Stewart asks.

4. Bill Clinton
Say what you will about the man's personal choices, he can speak extremely well. He has charm, personality and intelligence.
Full disclosure: I have always had a crush on the man. But his recent primary season gaffes have kinda cured me of that.

3. Dennis Leary
Jon and Denis are good friends and the two seem to have such good fun together on screen. Yiddish jokes, drunk Irishman jokes, Jew jokes, you get a bit of everything when these two are together. Though sometimes they do get a little carried away and forget that they are on air.

2. Steve Carell
This interview is sheer comedic genius. You should watch it. You need to watch it.

Perfect timing and perfect facial expressions. The former daily show correspondent and his boss putting together this fabulous segment. Writers of the daily show, you have outdone yourselves.

And the honor for the best guest on the daily show goes to....

1. Brian Williams
No doubt about it, these two have chemistry. The giant head of Brian Williams being mean to Jon, it does not get any funnier than that.

Before watching Bri Wi's Daily show interviews I had no idea that he was so funny and cool. I think he is the only guest who can give Jon a run for the funny :-)

And I think an honorable mention needs to be made for President Musharraf. How on earth did the Daily Show manage to get him?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

It is tough being a Christian Feminist

It is tough being a Christian Feminist. Conservative Christians hate you and Atheist Feminists despise you. It has taken me years to realize that I am a feminist Christian because I did not know that such an animal even existed.

The funny thing is that when I lived in Bangalore, I had friends who were Hindu Brahmins, Hindu Nairs, Hindu Ezhava, Sunni Muslim, Shia Muslim, Jain, Sikhs, Atheist, Zorastrian, Buddhist and they all accepted me as a Christian even though they knew that Christian theology says that they were going to be eternally damned. But mention that you are a feminist and suddenly everybody has a serious bone to pick with you. Even the women.

One of the reasons I love the Internet so much is because it introduced me to other Christian Feminists. And Hugo Schwyzer's blog is one of the best. Before I started reading him I did not think it was possible for someone to be both Christian and Feminist. If Hugo's blog has taught me one thing, it is that being ambivalent on certain issues is not necessarily a bad thing.

Shawna R B Atterberry, is another inspirational Christian Feminist. If you do head over to her blog, do take the time to read her career women of the Bible series. You will definitely look at the women of the Bible differently. You may question all the people around you who say that 'true' biblical womanhood is only about being a wife and mother when the Bible also talks of women who were prophets, judges and disciples.

I am sure that there are many more excellent resources for Christian Feminists on the Internet but these two have influenced my thinking more than anybody else. If any Christian Feminist does read this, please put a link to your blog in the comments section.

On a related topic, who do you think Jesus would vote for in the American elections?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Interesting discussion at Possummomma's blog

There is an blog I read which is written by an atheist mother. I first came to her blog to read a beautiful essay written by her eldest daughter. If you read the essay, be sure to read the comments too. That was 1.5 years ago, and I am still a reader.

Today she asked her theist readers how we could defend the Bible despite its flaws. It is certainly not the first time this question has been asked but it makes for interesting discussion nonetheless. The dialogue is here. I will update this post later based on comments there because I do not want to derail her thread.

Here is what I wrote:

I agree that there are certain passages of the Bible that are cruel, misogynistic and just plain weird. So I understand why some would find it difficult to believe in a 'flawed' book but to me, it does not mean that the entire message of the Bible is wrong.

Every Christian I know picks and chooses the passages they believe in, either consciously or subconsciously. Even the ones who say that they are literal believers.The Bible has been around more or less in its current form for about 2000 years. It has influenced our evolution as a society (especially western society) mostly for the better. I know that unspeakable atrocities have been committed in the name of the Bible but isn't that true of all religious books? When huge masses of people apply themselves to any book, be it the The Bible or Harry Potter or The Origin of Species, there will be some who simply don't *get it*.

I will not say that everyone should respect religion. What will happen if religious people have to prove that religion deserves respect? We would have examine our beliefs, we would have to think and study more and not be complacent. And that is a good thing.

One of the commenter's wrote this

'Scruples, ethics, and simple human courtesy are all attainable without referring to the bible, and no other religion/faith/superstition has any better track record.'

So I replied : I agree with this first part of this statement on principle. It can be argued that morals are mostly innate and the result of social conditioning. But are there any societies which have flourished without any sort of religion? I am not referring to individual people who are atheists in a mostly religious community. But a society as a whole which has never seen the need for religion.

ETA: Berlzebub says

Every society has had a religion. Even those with a secular government, including the U.S., has had a majority of the population that observed one religion or another. So attaining that data might be next to impossible.

The problem seems to be the neighbors. By neighbors I mean neighboring societies such as a neighboring family (or tribe), town, or government. Two groups can get along if neither feels the need to proselytize or convert, but if group A feels that group B has to be of group A's religion that's where problems arise.

I appreciate Berlzebub answering my question even though it digressed slightly from the topic at hand. I wonder if his alias is a take on Beelzebub, another name for Lucifer in the Bible. It is the name of a different God(Baal?) who was worshipped a couple of millenia ago.

Anyways, coming back to his answer, he confirmed that there were no societies that we know of who survived without any form of religion. I have often wondered why it was so. Is it because a need for God is hard-wired into peoples brains? Or is it the fear of the unknown which naturally progresses into religion.

To be fair, just because society needed religion in the past, it does not mean that purely atheist societies are not possible.

Milo Johnson said...

The society of science has flourished without religion.

Science is a discipline, not a society. Yes, scientists belong to a society but they are a part of a larger religious community. So I do not think that it is a valid example.

Every rule, practice, custom, and mandate in the bible is completely contradicted by another part of the bible.

That is an exaggeration. There are verses in the Old Testament that are contradicted by the New Testament. Some of them famously by Jesus himself.

calladus says

If parts of the bible are hurtful, or just wrong, then to me this is evidence of authorship by humans instead of an almighty deity.

I believe that the Bible was authored by humans who were in turn inspired by God. Humans are not about absolutes, we are influenced by our life experiences, our prejudices.

Saint Paul is known as the apostle who had the most misogynistic views in the early church. How much of his writing was his Sadducees and Pharisee upbringing? How much of it was his own reaction to the women in his life? Is it blasphemous to wonder if he hated his mother? Did he hate the woman who spurned his marriage advances? Is the High-Priest's daughter responsible for the whole women as submissive partner aspect of some Christian marriages?

I would love to hear feedback from fellow Christians.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Friday Five: Labor Day

Shawna has Friday Five meme at her blog. All can play.

1. Tell us about the worst job you ever had.
The worst job I have had is that of a full time homemaker. I suck at it. I am not disparaging homemaking, quite the opposite, I am jealous of women who can keep home brillantly. Looking at you, lady :-)
But it is not my calling in life.

I can not believe that I forgot the 3 months I worked as a Business Analyst. I guess the memories were so horrible that I repressed it completely. The product was horrible and my boss was terrible. I had 12 hour workdays and night-shift without any dinner. I quit after 3 months and even that was too late for me.

2. Tell us about the best job you ever had.
I loved my first job, I was a Software Tester in a Bangalore company. I know that most people hate testing but for me it was fun.

3. Tell us what you would do if you could do absolutely anything (employment related) with no financial or other restrictions.
I would go back to Bangalore and start my own IT company.

4. Did you get a break from labor this summer? If so, what was it and if not, what are you gonna do about it?
This entire year was a break for me. I am only looking forward to go back to work.

5. What will change regarding your work as summer morphs into fall? Are you anticipating or dreading?
A mix of both. I anticipating returning to my work but dreading the fact that I will have to be apart from Hubby for that.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jon Stewart : Unleavened

Comedy Central is running a 12 year old stand up comedy by Jon Stewart. He looks so adorable. He is talking about the Iraq war, the election rally, immigration; he is set in his ways, isn't he? :-)
He just said that his first rally was a pro choice rally. Awww, I did not know I could love him more.

The Daily show with Jon Stewart - 08/27

Yesterday's Daily Show with Jon Stewart had a better than usual segment. Full disclosure - huge fan of Jon Stewart here.
The segment had Samantha Bee and Wyatt Cenac competing to report on the DNC. The gag was that they were acting the role of Sen Clinton and Sen Obama in this election season. Jon told Sam that though she and her husband Jason (role of Bill Clinton) did great work in the past, he was going to go with the newcomer Wyatt for a 'new perspective'. ... Funny stuff.

On a more serious note, does anybody else get a sinking feeling when thinking of Sen Obama chances of winning the election? Yesterday my husband and I were discussing the worst possible outcome of this election. Why? Because we are weird like that.

Here is my worst possible scenario for this country. Sen McCain choses Mike Huckabee as running partner, gets elected and then promptly kicks the bucket (or just seriously ill if you are a kind person). Huckabee becomes the President. In a couple of years, this is reality.
Urrrgh, scary stuff.