Monthly Archives: March 2011

Libera…

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Date: March 21, 2011

…Also Posted on BoyChat…

…Also Posted on BoyChat…

Drol knows, I carry a good bit of baggage with me. I’ll be the first to admit it. My experiences with some things, just aren’t what I would classify as “good”…and even if they are memorable, it’s not the good kind of memory.

Religious music…

I grew up in that dry, boring, baptist church world…an atmosphere, which brought an awful lot of music with it…but, it was largely uninspired…unexciting…boring…well…an awful lot of awful…

Many memories linger in my mind…from the countless hours of my life wasted…standing up in church [with the rest of “the flock”], to sing from hymnal books…mostly songs I did not like…and in a manner, which was mind numbing…

Great music and great singing…these things do not come about, by having everyone mimic the sole piano in pitch and tone…nor from the tone deaf people, who are right next to you, bellowing in your ear.

…and the themes…the themes…(((shudder)))….

Why did we always get forced to sing about an invisible friend/creature, or dying and how supposedly great it was going to be?…[which is really what religion is ultimately about, when you cut away the fat and get to the meat]. Couldn’t they have somehow found [or even made up] a sane church hymn, for us to sing?

My memories of the Sunday morning choir, were often the most dreadfully boring of all…Every week…every…painful…wretched…week…a choir, largely made up of all the school moms, would slop into that special section of the auditorium…and when the pastor designated it time [always before the sermon], they’d sing another hymn…and I’d set there, looking at the floor…being bored, and thinking of other [better] things…Wishing I was elsewhere…

Come to think of it, I have scantly few honestly good memories of being in church…I mean, I do remember this time…when a young boy [who I thought was really, really cute] was playing with a large, fat pen…and he stuck it down the front of his belt…and then he turned towards this other boy [also, right in my own direction], with his crotch facing him, and his arms/hands opened wide…in a sort of “ta da!” pose…

…That was one of the few times, I recall getting a boner in church [Praise the Drol!].

I don’t really hate religious music…not universally…and this is one of my “dirty, little secrets”, as a non-theist…but, it is very, very low on my list of favored music…and this comes, from a music lover…

I mean…music from that time era in my life, which I so thoroughly reflect upon and love, would include artists like Pat Benatar, Hall and Oates, Journey, Heart, Aerosmith, Men at Work, Tina Turner, The Scorpions, Van Halen, Fleetwood Mac…just this wide tapestry, of amazing talent…

I don’t think of church music…not even choir music…

Oh, I have a few good memories related to it…like the ensemble I was part of, during high school…but, that was a unique experience…one of my only, true ventures into music, which was afforded to me. An ensemble, for those unaware, is like a choir…only smaller.

If memory serves me well, a group requires 35 members in order to officially qualify as a choir…anything smaller, is an ensemble…and we did not have enough people, hence our fate…as an ensemble.

I would not classify us, or what we did, as being “great”…but, maybe a better form of mediocre, is fair.

There were a few numbers we did, which were my favorites…The most memorable being “Standing on the Rock”…This was the one, where we were allowed to get kind of “into the groove”…so much so, that our conductor cut it from the program, when we visited the more stuffy [even by “our” standards] churches. This song sticks out in my mind, because it was one that really allowed my tone and style, to latch onto something and really stand out…and it’s also a song where we had multiple groups harmonising one way, while another group harmonised another way…and I was the only one with that unique tone…not exactly “on the floor” deep, but nowhere near high…My father sometimes would tell me on the way home, of all the comments he received from people…compliments about “my” singing…I was kind of shocked that I stood out enough to be noticed apart from the rest, really.

…We even got to go on a short tour, which coincided with visiting a few colleges…and it was pretty fun, over all.

I always kind of wished that I could have segued this into something, later on in life…but, what?…Singing religious music, as part of a group?…

My voice was probably no good, by itself…especially not for most forms of music…and today, it is garbage…What once was, is gone…

So, I do have that good memory…but, I always felt like whatever musical potential I once had, was misspent and drown out in the setting of religion…The first musical instrument I ever chose to learn [completely of my own initiative], was the saxophone…That lasted about three weeks…until some of my other subjects [most of which, I’m sure I’ve entirely forgotten] started to lag…and mom forced them to withdraw me from that class, ending what could have been a lifelong, useful and beautiful talent…a decision I was not happy about, and it’s remained a memory with me, till this day…I remember so much about all of that [the instructor, some of the exercises, being pulled], even after several decades. I guess, it angered me enough, that I was denied pursuing something which I really wanted to do…

My passion for music goes back a long way…even into my boyhood…Yet, I do not associate this love, with religion, or the church. In fact, that setting mostly put a damper on my musical experience…and where I ultimately got my most satisfying musical fix, was in the secular realm.

I think this is why, whenever I’ve seen boy choirs…or even conversations about boy choirs…even here on BoyChat…I’ve just sort of avoided it…It did not interest me…

I’ve always envisioned the mediocre, or dull, performance, which I associate overwhelmingly with my own church experience.

Sure, I’ve checked out various clips online…The Vienna Boys Choir…and such…Nothing really jumped out at me, and those boys in robes…the whole setting…to me, it’s been a total turn off…

…which is strange…a boylover, not liking groups of singing boys…but, I never really encountered anything musically in that arena, where I finally “got it”…

…until two weeks ago…

You know…

…I’ve seen some of you here, rave about this group…for years upon years…

…and it’s the kind of thing I eventually started making a mental note of…and putting on the back burner, to check out on a slow day…

So, I finally went and started listening to free clips of this group, and reading the reviews [only one album, out of a bunch of them, garnered less than four and a half stars]…and people were raving…And the only negative thing I’ve found so far, is that one collection [a movie soundtrack import] had no original content, and you could find it elsewhere, less expensively.

I was not expecting what I encountered…

…This was only fractionally religious, yet substantially secular…

…This was boy choir…but it was also Enya in style…and I’m actually very fond of Enya…[another little secret, I almost never divulge, as it might tarnish my reputation as “a child of classic rock”]…

…And they largely sing in…I don’t know…Latin?…a language I don’t speak or understand…so…as long as I don’t look at the track title, I have no idea that the song might have any religious themes in it…Heck, they could be singing about anything…

I was hooked really quick…

…I mean, I didn’t even place anything on my wish list for later [not initially, but I have now]…Once I finally started paying closer attention…I was just completely floored…and those CDs were instantly sold…

I currently have three of their collections…The self titled Libera…Peace [deluxe edition], and Eternal [best of, collection]…

Some of these tracks, are the most stunning, beautiful music I have ever heard…anytime…anywhere…

I feel terrible, that this wonderful group/music has been right under my nose all these years…and at the same time, this is a new discovery to me…and it is so breathtaking wonderful…

I love my core base of music…It’s always good…but, this last decade and a half…has been a musical wasteland [with the exception of The Black Crows, and a few sparse high points]…I’ve not been this excited about anything in the musical world, in a very, very long time…

I’m rediscovering my love for music…and it’s coming from a boy choir…

Who’d have thought?…

I was once told by another BL…that I was crazy, for not liking boy choirs…

…He may have been right…[but I’m recovering, from those wayward days]…

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Ghosts, Shadows, Echoes and Voids…

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Date: March 10, 2011

There are many things left unsaid…and I am tired of the silence.

Here will be home to personal messages…some to specific individuals…others, just to the human species…or anything intelligent enough to comprehend…

…This is a personal journal…

In some cases, I’ve been denied any venue, to say these things directly.

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The Qur’an Study Template…


Odyssey_Islam_Qur'an_Study

Date: March 6, 2011

I think…that I just might be finally content, with what I’ve designed here…

Below, is the new template, for the “Qur’an Study” version, of “An Odyssey of the Qur’an”…There will also be a sister version for commentary [Odyssey Islam], which will concern itself with islam and muslims, in the news…and personal observations, which are not directly related, to passages of the Qur’an I’m presently reading.

Anyway, the below table, represents the structure of how I am planning on progressing through the Qur’an…It is, what I am going to post and respond within, for every surah [or section of one] that I am studying, at the time.

Some of the links are dead…Most specific, the Yusuf Ali, Pickthall, Palmer and Rockwell links…

These are four different, English translations of the Qur’an…All or old, and have expired copyrights…Hence, I actually took a full copy of each…and I am going to be posting passages out of each [which I am going to back date so far, that they wont intermix with my own posts], and linking back to those posts, in the template below. This way, you can easily choose which version you’d like to view [or, view all of them], for your own informational purposes.

Alternatively, I’ve also linked to another website, where all these versions of the Qur’an [and a ton of other, religious texts] can be found…Very interesting site.

With regards to why this has taken so long…I’ve been on the fence about a number of things…

…First, I wasn’t entirely happy, with how I had this sub-blog structured…but, I think I’m okay with it, now [let me know what you think].

…Second, I honestly have been up in the air, over which version I should focus on [I’m not going to attempt juggling all four, at the same time]…The M. M. Pickthall version, was my first choice, because it is [in my opinion] more clearly worded…but, Rodwell comes with some really nice footnotes, to help explain contexts, and put things into perspective…Still, Yusuf Ali actually separates the extremely long surahs, into sections, so you have an easier way of figuring out, what points in a monstrously long surah are okay to start and stop at…and Palmer, is one of only two, that clarifies whether a surah is from the Mecca or Medina time period…

Why, oh why, cant all the convenient aspects be located in the same version?…Ugh!…

So, originally I was going to focus on Pickthall…Then I started leaning towards Yusuf Ali…but, now I think I’m just going to use Yusuf Ali as a guide, on where to start and stop, but I’ll quote the equivalent from Pickthall…and I’ll consult the other two, for timeline information…and maybe introduce some footnotes from Rodwell, if I think them relevant enough [but, I make absolutely no promises, about that last point].

See…one thing about the Qur’an, is that while most surahs [passages] are relatively short…some of them are very, very long…like, 300+ verses, long…and even the ones that go 100, or more…That is a ton of reading and summarizing…I figure, you have to take these in bite sized chunks…Though, the flip side of this coin, is that chopping it up too much, might make any “big picture” messages, harder to discern.

…But, anyway…This is going to be a good bit of work…but, I think things are falling into place…

…This has been kind of similar to my status with “In Self Defense: The Life and Times of an Atheist Boylover” project…In that, I’ve been on the fence for quite a while, because I want to bring it all here [move it here, from my website], but I’m not entirely sure how I want to go about this rather large job…I know I’m going to be treating it somewhat differently, from just a regular sub-blog…I intend on giving it it’s own blog page, with a custom index…and I want to retain the general form it has, on my website…where you just sort of get fed through the essays, from one page to the next…

So…I just thought I’d roll this out, and show it off [Ta-Da!]…If nothing else, it can serve as proof, that I’ve not abandoned this project…and I remain quite serious about it…

Oh…In addition, I’ve decided to take LOD’s suggestion…and I’m starting to round up books of the bible, for a similar [though probably less structured] project…I’ll be starting with the book of genesis…

I’m diverting off way too much, so I’ll bring this post to a close…

I hope, the following template format is agreeable, and easy to follow…

Take care, my friends!

– Steve

The template follows:

…. AJTK_KS ….
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Please Note:

– You may find and follow along with these passages
(along with other koran translations), Here…
– Mecca = Early Writings
– Medina = Later Writings
– The Pickthall version was chosen, for it’s ease of
structure; but the Yusuf Ali, Palmer and Rodwell
versions will likely be quoted, also; for additional
citation, and a wider range of perspective.
– This project is explained here…



Previous posts on this surah: | 1 |

…and a very brief summary:

[PLACE SUMMARY OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED SO FAR, HERE]


Surah (passage): [PASSAGE TITLE HERE]
Verses: [SPAN OF VERSE NUMBERS HERE]
Mecca or Medina? Mecca / Medina


Summary:


[A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE PASSAGE HERE]


Some Practical Questions Regarding This Passage:

– What stood out most, in your mind?

[ANSWER HERE]

– Is your natural reaction positive, negative or neutral?

[ANSWER HERE]

– Do you see this passage as peacefully tolerant, threatening or neutral?

[ANSWER HERE]

– Would you recommend or endorse, what is stated in this passage?

[ANSWER HERE]

– Does this passage persuade you, towards any legitimacy of islam?

[ANSWER HERE]

– Is this a good face for islam?

[ANSWER HERE]

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Other Odyssey Islam Posts [Blog Search] |

Introduction: An Odyssey of the Koran…


Odyssey_Islam_Qur'an_Study
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Date: March 5, 2011

Islam translates into English, as the literal word “submission”.

For a wide range of reasons, I find it extremely concerning that any social ideology [including islam] might exist, with pushing it’s own dominance upon others, as it’s primary focus…and by extension, forcing others into submission to it’s own rule.

My good natured tolerance for these kinds of “religion”, has grown excruciatingly thin over the years…Or, should I say, it has been stressed, battered by those who refuse to “live and let live” [and by extension, refuse to respect the differences of others]…It has been assaulted endlessly, by the lunacy of those who claim “their invisible creature in the sky, commanded them to take a crap all over people like me”…

After escaping my own personal past with this…it deeply troubles me, not knowing what to think about islam, other than reactions from what I am seeing in “islamic” countries…and what passes as “the norm”, or even “the preferred” there.

I sometimes have a very hard time seeing islam, as anything more than a menacing, cultural threat…a new, posing bully on the horizon, which thinks it wants to saddle “me”…make me it’s slave?…

I would rather be dead, than to have to live under the type of oppressive “religion” [christianity], which I grew up in. In fact, I will sooner die, than degrade myself by going back into such an existence. I will not relinquish my dignity [nor what freedoms I do have]…I will never submit to such a thing ever again, nor accept any penalties for my rejection of such a thing.

In short…I will never be a muslim…and I do reject islam. I find it very hard, to identify the social virtues of islam…There are many troubling things about islam, which as a humanist I cannot help but condemn [executions, inhumane executions, inhumane legal penalties, gross violations of human rights, extreme violations of free speech and free will, etc, etc, etc]…These things, are far below my own standards of ethics, human decency, humanity and sense of rightness…and if these things are the result of islamic [sharia] rule…then I want nothing to do with islam.

All this being said, I still am unfamiliar with the finer points of this social ideology…and more specifically, it’s foundational text, the koran.

It may come off as a bit of a shock, coming from an atheist…but, I’ve always been somewhat fascinated, by mythelogical lore…I now know not to take it literally [unlike during my childhood and youth]…but the kind of bizarre stories and beliefs and legends which come out of it, are intriguing to me.

Sometimes, they can prove to be fun fairy tales [which I do, also, like].

You might almost say, that I approach stories and texts of “gods/angels/demons and prophets”, in the same manner as a comic book reader might look upon comic book superheros [or villains].

I’ve read the bible [and forgotten most of it…No, I am not a bible scholar]…I’ve read of pagan mythologies…and ancient Greek mythology…but I’ve never dedicated any serious time and attention, to delving deep into islamic mythology.

This new “sub blog”, represents just such a project…I want to read the koran, from beginning to end…and I intend on journalizing my honest thoughts and reactions [positive, negative or neutral], to it’s verses and passages.

In an age where we keep hearing about these so called “blasphemy laws” [where extremists want to use sharia law, in order to murder anyone who criticizes islam or the koran, and get away with these murders under the guise of “legal justice”]…I think it is important, to learn more about islam…and hold it up to very close examination…come to understand it…

As an addition…this sub-blog will also be the destination, for relevant news I find to be of interest [or concern], relating to islam, muslims, sharia, the koran, the hadith…and anything else, tied to the islamic mythology or it’s social ideologies.

Sometimes, I may post my own thoughts and writings, alone…which are concerned with islam.

This is not intended to be a hostile project…but, it is intended to be an honest journey of discovery…and weighing the fruits of islam, to my own ethical standards…As such, I will not refrain, from offering neutral responses, giving positive affirmations, or even outright condemning things about islam [or the koran, etc] which I find highly objectionable.

The “acid test” for all things islam, will be present here…but, I will strive to be fair, respectful and even handed.

We’re not dragging muslims through the mud, here…just trying to get a handle, on clearly understanding them…the texts they claim to adhere too…the predominant ideologies held, and practices pursued…the end social results, in “muslim countries”…etc, etc, etc…

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Qur’an, Koran, Qoran, Quran, Kuran, Coran…


Odyssey_Islam_Qur'an_Study
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Date: March 04, 2011

Just a brief note, to let you know…

…There is no official English spelling, for the title of the book which is the Qur’an.

Because of this, and because the roots of this Qur’an Study project are so old, you may notice that I do not always use the same spelling.

In later years, I decided to use Qur’an…Mainly because I just like it better.

It’s no more complicated than that…I’m not intentionally trying to be sloppy…It’s just that some of these are old writings, and I did not see a need to change them.

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