Friday, March 31, 2017

Interfaith Relations ~ meditation on Surah 29.46

Allah: A Christian Response ~ by Miroslav Volf (2011), from page 25: governed by the injunction in the Qur'an about debating with Jews and Christians:  "Do not contend with people of the Book except in the fairest way" (Al 'Ankabut, 29:46).

When I read that line, I got out my two copies of the Qur'an to compare translations and interpretations.  Then I read that the translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali is considered to be the most faithful rendering available in English, so I downloaded it onto my Kindle while writing this post.  Here are the three versions I now have to compare with Volf's version of Surah 29:46 above:

The Holy Qur'an ~ by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (1934), from Loc. 4196:
Chapter 29
46.  And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)."
The Message of the Qur'an: The Full Account of the Revealed Arabic Text Accompanied by Parallel Transliteration ~ translated by Muhammad Asad (2003), from pages 684-685:
Surah 29
And do not argue with the followers of earlier revelation otherwise than in a most kindly manner ― unless it be such of them as are bent on evildoing ― and say:  "We believe in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, as well as that which has been bestowed upon you: for our God and your God is one and the same, and it is unto Him that we [all] surrender ourselves."  {46}
English Translation of the Message of The Quran ~ by Syed Vickar Ahamed (2007), from page 223:
29.46.  And you do not argue (or dispute) with the People of the Book, except with better ways (reasons and facts); Unless it is with those of them who cause injustice (or injury): But say (to them), "We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our God (Allah) and your God is One; And it is to Him we bow (in Islam)."
Meditating on what these say:  "People of the Book" means the three monotheisms of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Each of these religions has a holy book.
  • Judaism has the Tanakh, holy scriptures made up of the Torah (the Law, also known as the five books of Moses), the Prophets, and the Writings.
  • Christianity has the Bible, which contains the Hebrew scriptures (usually called the Old Testament) and the New Testament with four Gospels and other writings.
  • Islam has the Qur'an, made up of 114 Surahs or chapters.  I've read the scriptures of the other two religions, and now I plan to read the Qur'an with a couple of friends.
We worship the same God, according to this verse.  Many would disagree, but I think we do.  If you want my reasoning, it will take another post to share all that.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday Salon ~ eating out and reading

My life outside books

Eating out with friends
When Barbara found out Joan would be moving in a couple of days, she set up one last meal together.  Joan moved to Montana yesterday.  Barbara took this picture of Donna and Joan and me at OB Clark's.

Although I don't have photographs to share, I also ate out this week with a bus-load of folks at Rib City, with Joan for lunch at Pumpernickles Deli, with Miriam and her friend Arlene at the St. Louis Bread Company before an event by the Holocaust Memorial Museum at our library, and with Donna at Sonic after seeing the movie "Fences."  I'm not sure who's going to Chevy's Fresh Mex for dinner this evening on the Crown Center bus, but I'll be there.  And this list doesn't include the evenings I choose to eat at the Crown Center with other residents and people from the community.  As you can see, I haven't done a lot of cooking lately.

My life in books

Books I've completed since last week's Sunday Salon:

22.  Tao Te Ching: A New English Version ~ by Stephen Mitchell, 1988, religion, 9/10
"Those who know don't talk.
Those who talk don't know" (#56).
Po Chu-i, poet and stand-up comedian, wrote,
"He who talks doesn't know,
he who knows doesn't talk":
that is what Lao-tzu told us,
in a book of five thousand words.
If he was the one who knew,
how could he have been such a blabbermouth?  (p. 85).

23.  Two Tyrants: The Myth of a Two Party Government and the Liberation of the American Voter ~ by A.G. Roderick, 2015, politics, 9/10
"Educational accomplishment, social mobility, and economic stability should be bastions of American achievement" (p. 7).

24.  The Boy No One Loved ~ by Casey Watson, 2011, memoir (England), 9/10
"If there's one thing that absolutely must come out of this is that he knows there are people here who love him unconditionally, and that we will always be here for him.  Always" (p. 269).

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

May the love of God enfold you

May the love of God enfold you
as you journey home to big sky country,
where your doggie awaits,
not knowing you're on your way!

Caturday ~ window cat

Bonnie told me she and Miriam were talking about how hard it is to open the windows in our building, so I thought I'd show everybody how it's done.  See?  Simple!

Clawdia, 'til next time   >^. .^<

Friday, March 24, 2017

Beginning ~ with its strangeness

The Lord's Prayer is Christianity’s greatest prayer.  It is also Christianity’s strangest prayer.  It is prayed by all Christians but it never mentions Christ.  It is prayed in all churches but it never mentions Church.  It is prayed on all Sundays but it never mentions Sunday.  It is also called the “Lord’s Prayer” but it never mentions “Lord.”

The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord's Prayer ~ by John Dominic Crossan, 2010
Crossan intimately explores the revolutionary meaning of the cornerstone of Christian faith: The Lord’s Prayer.
I'm especially intrigued by this sentence, also near the beginning of the book:
"Just as the content of the Lord's Prayer is deeply embedded in the biblical tradition of justice, so is its format deeply embedded in the biblical tradition of poetry" (p. 3).
Biblical poetry is created with parallelism, about which Crossan says:
"...the parallelism creates a vibration of thought, a metronome in the mind" (p. 4).

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday Word ~ truculent

truculent ~ adjective ~ eager or quick to argue or fight; aggressively defiant.
  • Example:  "His days of truculent defiance were over."
  • Synonyms:    defiant, aggressive, antagonistic, combative, belligerent, pugnacious, confrontational, ready for a fight, obstreperous, argumentative, quarrelsome, uncooperative; bad-tempered, ornery, short-tempered, cross, snappish, cranky; feisty, spoiling for a fight.
  • Another example:  "A number of staffers have complained that Wilson is too truculent to work with."

Monday, March 20, 2017

Meditating ~ Tao Te Ching 17

When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists.
Next best is a leader who is loved.
Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.

If you don't trust the people,
You make them untrustworthy.

The Master doesn't talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, "Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!"

Acting simply
True leaders
are hardly known to their followers.
Next after them are the leaders
the people know and admire;
after them those they fear;
after them, those they despise.

To give no trust
is to get no trust.

When the work's done right,
with no fuss or boasting,
ordinary people say,
Oh, we did it.

With the highest kind of rulers, those below simply know they exist.
With those one step down ― they love and praise them.
With those one further step down ― they fear them.
And with those at the bottom ― they ridicule and insult them.

When trust is insufficient, there will be no trust in return.
Hesitant, undecided!  Like this is his respect for speaking.
He completes his tasks and finishes his affairs,
Yet the common people say, "These things all happened by nature."

1.  The best government, the people know it is just there.
The next best, they love and praise it.
The next, they fear it.
The next, they revile against it.

2.  When you don't trust [the people] enough,
Then they are untrustworthy.
Quiet, why value words?

3.  Work is accomplished, things are done.
People all say that I am natural.

Top to bottom:
  • Tao Te Ching: A New English Version ~ by Stephen Mitchell, 1988
  • Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way ~ by Ursula K. Le Guin, 1997
  • Lao-Tzu: Te-Tao Ching: A New Translation Based on the Recently Discovered Ma-Wang-Tui Texts ~ by Robert G. Henricks, 1989
  • The Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary ~ by Ellen M. Chen, 1989

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday Salon ~ bus trip

My life outside books

Road Trip
This afternoon, ten folks from the Crown Center (counting our driver) went out to eat at Rib City.  I got pulled pork, baked potato, BBQ baked beans, and fried okra as an appetizer with ranch dressing.  Restaurants now have such large servings that nearly all of us came home with leftovers for tomorrow.

Green plants
My friend Joan is moving back to Montana next Saturday, and her green plants now have a new home ― mine!  Not shown are the ones that hung down from the topmost bookshelf almost to within reach of Clawdia on the floor.  Those have been cut back and put in water to root.  One plant (on the right) has been repotted, since it was root-bound and needed more space.   I'll buy other pots for some of these and for the plants being rooted.  Access to the kitchen counter and to this counter between the table and the sink have been blocked from an inquisitive cat who wants to sniff and taste these green things.  Thanks to Joan for these oxygen providers.

My life in books

Here are the books I've completed since my last Sunday Salon two weeks ago, when I mentioned the first book on this list:
  • Secret Sister ~ by Emelle Gamble, 2013, fiction, 9/10
  • Whisper My Secret: A Memoir ~ by JB Rowley, 2012, memoir (Australia), 8/10
  • The Art of Crash Landing ~ by Melissa DeCarlo, 2015, fiction (Oklahoma), 7/10
  • Ask Him Why ~ by Catherine Ryan Hyde, 2015, fiction, 8/10
  • Beneath the Surface ~ by Heidi Perks, 2016, fiction (England), 10/10
  • Enzo Races in the Rain! ~ by Garth Stein, 2014, children's, 8/10
  • Girl at War ~ by Sara Nović, 2015, fiction (Croatia), 8/10
  • The Jesus Sutras: Rediscovering the Lost Scrolls of Taoist Christianity ~ by Martin Palmer, 2001, religion, 8/10
Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Beginning ~ with a pack of cigarettes

"The war in Zagreb began over
a pack of cigarettes."

Girl at War ~ by Sara Nović, 2015, fiction (Croatia)
Zagreb, 1991.  Ana Jurić is a carefree ten-year-old, living with her family in a small apartment in Croatia’s capital.  But that year, civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, splintering Ana’s idyllic childhood.  Daily life is altered by food rations and air raid drills, and soccer matches are replaced by sniper fire.  Neighbors grow suspicious of one another, and Ana’s sense of safety starts to fray.  When the war arrives at her doorstep, Ana must find her way in a dangerous world.

New York, 2001.  Ana is now a college student in Manhattan.  Though she’s tried to move on from her past, she can’t escape her memories of war — secrets she keeps even from those closest to her.  Haunted by the events that forever changed her family, Ana returns to Croatia after a decade away, hoping to make peace with the place she once called home.  As she faces her ghosts, she must come to terms with her country’s difficult history and the events that interrupted her childhood years before.
I just got this from the library today, so I haven't started it. But it looks interesting.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Yoga ~ gently

My chair yoga class met this afternoon.  This is a photo taken before class of Shannon and me with Lucy, who leads us in our exercises.

Hosted by Joy's Book Blog
Today, we added lower body movements to the upper body work we did last week.  Lucy began by reminding us of ahimsa, "do no harm."  We are supposed to pay attention to our feelings.  We sit up straight while we move our arms and legs, if possible; Lucy modifies what we do, according to our abilities and whether we can move certain joints.  This week, only 12 came.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Beginning ~ with a single day

"This book was written in a single day.  A single 24-hour period, with no advance notice."
Those words were written by Po Bronson, a member of the writers' group who put this book together.  The beginning of the actual "content" of the book, however, begins with something even stranger:
"What can happen in a second"  (No, there's no period at the end of that fragment.)
I'm a writer, and books like this intrigue me.  Here's the book information so you can begin to make sense of what I'm saying.
642 Things To Write About ~ by the San Francisco Writers' Grotto, 2011
This collection of 642 outrageous and witty writing prompts will get the creative juices flowing in no time.  From crafting your own obituary to penning an ode to an onion, each page of this playful journal invites inspiration and provides plenty of space to write.  Brimming with entertaining exercises from the literary minds of the San Francisco Writers' Grotto, this is the ultimate gift for scribes of every stripe.
Here's one of the 642 prompts.  I'll even write about the subject, inviting you to leave something similar in the comments.
"Five things you see out the nearest window."
I can think of two ways to respond.  Here are some of the activities I notice:
1.  I see a mother skipping down the sidewalk with her young child.
2.  I see a rabbit hop across the driveway of the preschool across the street.
3.  I see a bird resting on a telephone wire watching the same scene I'm watching.
4.  I see someone trying to parallel park on the street, leaving the car with one wheel on the grass.
5.  I see a man coming from the other direction, walking his frisky little dog.
Another response is to describe the scenery:
1.  I see other apartment buildings, but none as tall as my 10-story building.
2.  I see my car in the parking lot below my sixth floor window.
3.  I see a preschool, with its parking lot in front and its playground behind a tall fence out back.
4.  I see Walgreens on the corner, with its parking lot half full of cars.
5.  I see trees beginning to bud too early because it's supposed to snow tomorrow.
I could write a story, which is the whole point of this exercise, I presume.  I could have the mother and child encounter the man with his little dog.  Or have the person parking stumble upon leaving the car, maybe dropping an armful of papers (nope, that's isn't what I saw).  I could imagine the child noticing the bird or the bunny rabbit.  Or I could develop a whole plot, with people coming and going from the apartments I see, interacting with each other.

What do you see out a window?

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day 2017

March 8th is International Women's Day each year.
The theme for 2017 is

Be Bold For Change

Also wishing a very
 Happy Birthday
to my new friend Miriam.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Chair Yoga ~ new exercise class

Today was the start of our new Gentle Chair Yoga class, meeting every Tuesday from now until April 25th.  Our instructor (Lucy) said the first and most important rule for us is to "do no harm," citing ahimsa, the Jain principle of nonviolence toward all living things.  Today we did mostly upper body work, as the 16 of us in the group learned what our elderly bodies can and can't do.  Maybe next week I can share a photo of the class.  It was good to see Eunice, who was in a health class with me a year or so ago.  And I think I've made a new friend.

Hosted by Joy's Book Blog
Megan's half-hour class wasn't working for me, because she plays any kind of music and then does exercises "against" the music.  Having started piano lessons at five years old ... and having played glockenspiel in the marching band ... and having played bassoon in junior high and high school concert band and orchestra and the Chattanooga Youth Symphony, I do things in TIME with the music, not against it.  In Megan's class, I had to close my ears (hard to do!) and try to follow her closely ... or else cut loose and go as fast as the music, rather than following our leader.  It's too much mental work.

So today, I'm back to yoga with another teacher.  I enjoyed the "real" yoga class I joined decades ago when I could still get down on the floor easily, and this one is off to a good start.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday Salon ~ The Rep

My life in books

Secret Sister ~ by Emelle Gamble, 2013, fiction, 9/10
I couldn't stop reading this until I knew what happened, and the story kept getting better and better.  I've already talked a couple of people into getting their own copies.
To their friends, Nick and Cathy Chance have the perfect marriage.  High school sweethearts who’ve been together for ten years, they’ve weathered challenges and are as committed as they were when they first fell in love.  Cathy trusts Nick, Nick’s world revolves around his wife, and the future looks golden.  To everyone who knows them, Cathy Chance and Roxanne Ruiz have a perfect friendship.  They connected in grade school and since then have been each others' confidant and trusted advisor.  Cathy loves the gorgeous Roxanne like a sister, Roxanne has fun-loving Cathy’s back in every situation, though lately there’s been tension between these two best friends.  And then, on a sunny summer morning, the unthinkable occurs, throwing into doubt the truth of what these people really know about themselves and one another, when one extraordinary twist of fate turns their lives upside down.
My life outside books

To Kill a Mockingbird
We filled the van today when we went to see "To Kill a Mockingbird" onstage at The Rep (Repertory Theatre) here in St. Louis.  See a video about the three local children who play the parts of Scout, Jem, and Dill; they talk about acting and what it's like for them.  The singing was excellent, and I loved how the actors moved props around to set the stage as they were reciting their lines.  They were so good and I was so focused on the actions that I later wondered, "How'd she get up that tree without my even noticing?"  Or how'd she get down, even after I was determined to notice what was going on?

The fence-prop in this photo was used as part of the "outdoor" scenery, as the "witness box" in court, and who knows how many other scenes as they moved things around.  I loved it!  And when Tom Robinson's wife screamed when he was convicted, I was in tears, even though I know the story (read the book, saw the movie).  It was a delightful performance.  Since we couldn't take pictures, I found these two and the video online.
Thanks to Helen @ Helen's Book Blog for the "my life in books" and "my life outside books" pattern I adopted today.  She's been doing her Sunday Salon posts that way, and I like it.  What do you think?

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Beginning ~ half a century ago

Metaphors Be With You: An A-to-Z Dictionary of History's Greatest Metaphorical Quotations ~ by Mardy Grothe, 2016
More than fifty years ago, my life was turned around by one of history's most famous metaphorical passages:

If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him step to the music which he hears,
however measured or far away.
― Henry David Thoreau

I was in the middle of what is now called an identity crisis, and Thoreau's words were a lifeline.  I didn't even know what a metaphor was at the time, but one of the best things about metaphors is that you don't have to know what they are to be moved by them.
That's from the Introduction (p. xi).  When I got home from the library, I flipped this book open to roughly in the middle of its 479 pages and found this:
That money talks
I'll not deny.
I heard it once,
it said goodbye.
― Richard Armour (p. 278)
And one last teaser, my favorite metaphor from this book so far.  Yes, we readers love libraries.
A library doesn't need windows.  A library is a window.
―Stewart Brand (p. 236)

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Snowball fight

Half an hour ago, I got this text message from my friend Beth with this photo of her:
"Do you want to have a snowball fight?"
My daughter Barbara immediately replied:
"Umm, I believe you'd win since we'd be without ammunition!"
But I wrote back:
"I'd love to.  Where are you?  I'll be right there."
Hey, Beth and I are still young at heart!  Maybe our children aren't old enough yet to see the logic of a virtual snowball fight.


I later sent this photo and text:  "I threw this, but I think I missed you completely.  Wherever you are, keep having fun."

My friend and neighbor Barbara (not my daughter) has joined the fray!  "I'm in for a snow ball fight too.  Where and when?"  I wrote back:  "The fight is on!  Yee-haw!"  I've already thrown virtual snowballs at Beth and Barbara.  Do any of you readers want to join in?  Send a photo, if you have one (or can find one), and I'll add it to our gallery in the post.  My email address is on the sidebar, and I'm serious.

Oh, now the fight is picking up!  Helen left a comment:  "I love that!  Someone will probably create a game soon where you can heave snowballs at each other for real ... virtually of course, but I like your method better."  I threw this snowball at Helen.

And Barbara added a photo when she sent this message to some of our mutual friends:  "Bonnie started this.  Throw her a snowball!"

WHOP!!!  Ooooo, that one got me!

Good shot, and the best thing about virtual snowball fights is that it doesn't hurt a bit.  I'm not even feeling cold.
The one with good aim was Helen.  She sent that one flying, saying, "I am not very good at making snowballs since I live in southern California, but I hope I hit someone."  You did.  Me!  Was it beginner's luck?

And one more!  This snowball fight of ours has garnered attention in the Friday Festival of the RevGalBlogPals blog.  No one from there has thrown a snowball, but they got our invitation.  I guess that makes us famous.  Or something.
"Bonnie takes time out for a virtual snowball fight, and invites you into the fray, at Bonnie’s Books."