Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Immigrant Punk

So hopefully I am going to hear this on the 14th in Oakland. It's probably the most heartfelt of their songs, which I usually associate more with crazy energy and culture eclecticism then poignancy. Still punk though. Interview about zee song haar.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Homosexuality and Religion aren't really incompatible

Gay Muslims = Gayslims, which sounds like some sort of cigarette brand... Regardless, more religious gay people need to post things like this.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I need to stop discounting MSNBC.

Actually changed my mind regarding the Islamic Center near Ground Zero.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Filipino Calligraphy

Something that took more effort to find then I would like: Filipino Calligraphy! Tis a video of the character for "Love" and "Expensive," same word apparently, being written in old Baybayin script for a poster. More can be found on their website.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tattoo ideas.

Since I have started working on the tattoo design above, I have decided to revisit a few other ideas I hope to eventally get inked as well. The above design is most likely going to have to wait until I have enough proficiency writing in Arabic to do the circle myself. That or I need to start working on my photoshop-fu to more cleanly wrap the text around the symbol without the letters become mismatched as they are. I am also not sure where to place this particular design on my body.

More simple word art. This time it's the Hebrew letters Nun, Dalet, Vav, Mem, and Reish. The meaning... is a secret. What is also apparently a closely guarded secret is where useful non-standard Hebrew fonts can be found. The above was made with a font for old Talmudic texts but still comes off as a little Comic Sans (ugh). The tendency for the characters to look like a little person from the right angle doesn't improve the ascetics. This is on the back burner until I can find an appropriate font. I hope to get something that is reminiscent of arabic rosettes but with Hebrew. Or maybe a Hebrew font reminiscent of Cyrillic or Arabic script. The location of this would be on my upper right chest.

This was actually taken from an old Vampire: The Masquerade supplement on Middle Eastern vampires. I found that I liked it at first glance because it integrates the ankh, the Christian cross, the star and crescent moon, and the star of david in one symbol. Indeed, with some alteration I could easily adopt this as my personal symbol... which anime and Final Fantasy have taught me is something that all main characters do. This would be placed lower on my body around my waist line, opposite a similar ankh.

Least developed of my ideas is a tattoo of my favorite Hindu deity, Ardhanari. Being combination of Shiva (the god of the cycle of destruction and and creation, ascetic and esoteric wisdom, etc) and Shakti (the goddess of divine energy, transcendence, and generally the only deity that can match Shiva in any real way), Ardhanari is the most dynamic of all the gods I have studied in purpose, symbolism, and imagery. I plan on get a large piece on my arm but the problem I having is finding a design I would like. The dancing imagery of Shiva would he a good starting point for dynamic piece but I still have to research mudras for any potential position. Hopefully I can get something that looks like a cross between Shiva as Nataraja (On the left) and, ironically, Shakti as Shiva from Final Fantasy (on the right). The final product would also have to be black line art to work well with my other tattoo designs.

Before I forget.

I am suddenly in the mood to figure out two questions....

'Is altruism real?' and 'What makes killing an enemy combatant in war different from murder?'

The first question keeps going around my mind in circles, making my brain dizzy, hovering around a position based on liminality and the Hegelian dialectic. I need an Anna for this argument as I am sure that she is one hundred percent on the altruism is non-existent side.

The second question just keeps coming up for me because of the news and the fact that I have too many friends and family in the military. My immediate reflex judgement is that murder of a sentient being is always that with the exception of self-defense. However, the U.S. has a volunteer military and self-defense doesn't seem a reasonable validation for killing if a killer chooses to put themself in harms way.

I need people to bounce ideas off of...   

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Non-christian religious colleges in the U.S.

Since I am going to Zaytuna College's summer Arabic program, I've sudden developed an interest in non-Christian religious colleges. Not finding a collective list of them, I've decided to try my hand at discovering the best of them. There are educational institutions for almost all of the major religions in the U.S. but not all of them are accredited by respectable agencies. The following are actual, respectable colleges and not religiously motivated degree mills or the academically-lax educational arm of their denominations.

Multi-Faith: The Graduate Theological Union
There are a number of "non-denominational" colleges and universities around the U.S. but that label generally means they are a Christian university without a particular sect being officially represented by the school. Occasionally they are focused on the "judeo-christian tradition." G.T.U. on the other hand is honestly "non-denominational" and "multi-faith" to its very core.

The school is a union of multiple religious colleges that collectively provide graduate level studies in religion. In addition to Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Orthodox, Presbyterian, Swedenborgian, Roman Catholic, United Church member schools and centers, the school has a Nishi Hongwanji Buddhism-affiliated seminary, the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies, the Unitarian Universalist (Kinda Christian, Kinda not) Starr King School for the Ministry, and a Center for Islamic Studies. The Islamic institution, Zaytuna College, has also expressed interest in becoming affiliated with the school, which is not surprising considering that the school's sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson attended G.T.U. Additionally, G.T.U. and the University of California, Berkeley have a cross-enrollment agreement.

G.T.U.'s Official Site

Jewish: Yeshiva University
Being the second largest religious group in the U.S. at the moment. It is not surprising that there are a number of Jewish schools representing many denominations. The American Jewish University, Gratz College, Hebrew College, Hebrew Union College, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Michigan Jewish Institute, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Spertus College, and Touro College are all Jewish school in the U.S. that are accredited as full institutions of higher education.

The well-known Yeshiva University, however, is a cut above. The school is a beacon of Modern Orthodox Judaic wisdom and also a top 100 school that often breaks into the top 50 in the rankings. The school is ranked above even Boston U and Pepperdine. The school offers majors in Judaic Studies but is also a full fledged university offering courses in everything from accounting to speech pathology. Most importantly, the school's sports teams call themselves the freaking "The Maccabees." There is no way around that awesomeness.

Yeshiva University's Official Site

Buddhist: Soka University of America & Naropa University
Surprisingly, there are just under a handful of accredited Buddhist Colleges in the U.S. I say surprising but I am not sure if I was surprised that there were any such institutions or that there were so many. Most notable are, Naropa University and Soka University of America. Though, these schools are so young and unique that is difficult to decide which is the best.
While not the first accredited Buddhist university in the U.S., that honor goes to Naropa University which was founded by Tibet's Chögyam Trungpa in 1974, the Nichiren Buddhist supported Soka University is likely the most developed. The school offers many religious and non-religious majors and has an honest to Gautama social scene. Their academics are no slouches and the school is a dual teaching-research college. Naropa on the other had has a strong literature department with a history of hosting a number of notable poets. Naropa is also far more open then Soka U, promoting analysis of many contemplative traditions. While Soka University doesn't require students to be members of  the Japanese Buddhist Sōka Gakkai sect, the school environment is more colored by the faith.

Soka University of America's Official Site
Naropa University's Official Site

Islamic: Zaytuna College

Currently under provisional accreditation and planning to host its first regular classes fall 2010, Zaytuna will likely be America's first accredited Islamic college. And, despite a rather horrid FoxNews propaganda segment, I am sure that the school will provide a high caliber curriculum as it is is associated with the rather amazing sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson and one of my old Berkeley professors Hatem Bazian. The first man is an American sheikh who is one of the people the Muslims I most respect personally often cite and Bazian was a great professor when I took Intro to Islamic Jurisprudence and Muslims in America with him. The school also offers open enrollment for a summer semester Intensive Arabic program which I plan to take because finding Arabic classes with open enrollment is surprisingly difficult, especially past the beginning level.

Zaytuna College's Official Site

As for other faiths... I was disappointed to find that it seems there are no honestly accredited schools. Considering the large number of Hindus, Wiccans, and other people of faith in the U.S. this was kinda disappointing. I can only hope more accredited, non-Christian universities and college are established soon to give both believers and non-believers a chance to learn about our nation's diverse faiths.