December 15, 2009

A Simple Request.

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:03 am by Superintendent

Dear Faculty, Administrators, and Genuinely Interested People of Marist College,

Well, hello there. I hope you’re as excited for Winter Break as I am. While taking a time out during capping, I figured I should take this opportunity to express to you exactly how much fun I had academically this semester. Academics? Fun? Yes, yes, I’m one of “those” kids. But that’s besides the point. I’ve attended Marist for the past three and a half years, have involved myself thoroughly in my studies and in Student Government, and have truly attempted to reap as many benefits as I can out of my audit. I can genuinely say that my experiences in my classes have led me to choose a new career path, one which I hope to venture on starting next fall (should out to the History Department right here). More importantly, I realize though I may leave Marist, I only want the best for the institution and for the students who will attend here years after I am gone. And anyone who has had a mere five minute discussion with me can verify that I frequently have a strong opinion and rarely keep it to myself. Why would I? Why not use my experiences as an enthusiastic student from the past four years to propose suggestions that can improve the college as a whole? And propose I shall.

I never intended on becoming a history major, and I most certainly did not see myself applying to graduate schools to pursue history. But here I am, and here I seek to convey what I believe are severe detriments in our curriculum. I understand the college is undergoing the process of reexamining the core curriculum for the students; apparently the core is older than I am! Anyways, change might be fought against at times (I myself am no huge fan of change), but change is necessary, is vital for survival, and ultimately will help Marist grow. This semester I had the pleasure of taking Islam, Politics, and Human Rights for my political science major. What is it Dr. Shaffer always says, the few, the brave, the proud? Our class epitomized this saying. There were 6, and then there were 5. And the five of us and Professor Jerusa Ali had one exciting semester. I can honestly say this course has been one of my favorites, one that truly sought to expand the minds of students, and Professor Ali always encouraged us to speak, to question, to examine and then reexamine. However, personally speaking for myself as well as my observations from my class, out of the five of us, we had limited knowledge of Islam, of the Middle East, of any background. Often in the beginning weeks, our discussions were hindered by repetitive questions that went back to the introductory material we needed to know in order to understand our readings in context. Not that Professor Ali did not invite questions; indeed, she enthusiastically and very, very patiently answered every question we had and encouraged students to ask anything on their minds. And I appreciate that immensely. However, what could have benefited our class, as well as other political science and history students, is the expansion of Middle Eastern studies and the studies of Islam. I can think of three courses only that deal with Middle Eastern studies, four if you count the special topics history course on Palestine next semester. And yet, picking up any newspaper, watching CNN for one minute, thinking of where men and women our age are fighting, Middle Eastern studies are as vital to our generation as Soviet/Russian studies were in the 1960s-80s. The Berlin Wall has fallen, let us now move on to the next phase of study.

With regards to diversity on this campus, Marist is slowly but surely making improvements, or at least attempting to, but diversity is more than the color of a face. Diversity should not just be the makeup of the student population, but the diversity of thought that is encouraged and taught on campus. I was disheartened quite honestly to find there was a required third philosophy course or religious studies course, and even more so when I saw my choices were relatively limited. If one does not want to take a course in Christianity, there is one selection for Judaism, and one on “global religions”. Besides the fact that I do not see the monopolization of the religious studies department by Christianity as true “religious studies”, I do feel also that, in conjunction with Marist’s wonderfully successful abroad program, diversity in religious courses are dire. Introduction to Islam, Introduction to Buddhism, Introduction to… you name it.  An expansion of the mind, an attempt to make the core curriculum more well-rounded, and potentially opening a new door of interest to a student who had never fathomed such a thought before. I must say, the amount I learned about Islam, both in the past and present, was outstanding. However much I gained from this semester’s course, I cannot but help think how deeper our class could have gone in discussion had we all a working knowledge of the basics of Islam; simple concepts such as the difference between haram and halal or the different sects of Islam and how they differ from each other are vital to a course such as this. Understanding Muhammad was not seen as divine, but was a mortal prophet who came after Jesus also helped in comparing and understanding tension between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. I have never been offered an opportunity to learn such concepts in an introductory class, and this is one of my few regrets of my academic career at Marist.

My younger brother enrolled at Rowan University in New Jersey this fall, and in order to help him in picking classes (truth be told, he was doing it on his own, I just wanted to see their course offerings) the amount of classes that discussion Middle Eastern topics and other religious was astounding. I told him he was lucky. And ask anyone, there’s few things I will ever say against Marist. This place has become my home and brought me to a new place in life I am grateful for. But this moment in time, when the college is already considering changes to the core, seems prime for requesting an inclusion of more diverse classes. A current events class perhaps, speaking on issues of Afghanistan and Iraq, their political and social histories? I also took a course Afghanistan and Its Wars in sophomore year. First of all, never have I had so much reading in my life (J) but I also learned the background to a country I knew very little about. I understood finally its political makeup, geographic boundaries, history of “colonialism” and Western influences, its position as a border state to protect India from Russia in the Great Game. These two classes have expanded my mind, have encouraged me to search elsewhere for more knowledge. But why not make it available here at Marist? Why not, in addition to the Latin American, African, and Asian studies also include Middle Eastern courses? There is one regularly taught in history, and it is a level 300, making it relatively illogical and inaccessible for non-History majors to take. And the course I took was a special topic and therefore an elective for most students.

As one student to her faulty and administration, I am beseeching (yes, beseeching) you to look into expanding the academic world of Marist and welcome in new courses and approaches, new parts of history and political science we are currently neglecting. I personally know a number of students who are interested in Middle Eastern studies, some even in pursuing a Middle Eastern minor, but none are available here at Marist. Never once have I encountered a faculty member or administrator uninterested in helping a student pursue their dreams and goals. In fact, a majority is excited, enthusiastic, and truly wishes to make the Marist experience the best it can be. I find this quality unique to Marist, and so I ask you to make Marist even more unique by embracing a new direction of study, by including a diversity in religious studies courses, and by enhancing the possibility of an interdisciplinary approach to a topic that touches each of our lives every day. Please find a way to incorporate Middle Eastern studies more thoroughly into our curriculum and into our core. We will grow together as a college, and new opportunities will be offered to students who wish to pursue them. There is a distinct hole in our college course catalog, one that can easily be fixed and filled. Please consider my proposal, please imagine a more wholesome academic offering, and please envision more students having eye-opening experiences thanks to the efforts of their academic opportunities at Marist College.

Thank you for your time,

Katie Procter

December 14, 2009

That Is What I Have Tried to Do in These Pages

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:20 pm by Superintendent

Bhutto’s autobiography, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West, opens with Bhutto’s return to Pakistan after eight years. The above video shows the destruction that ended a joyous celebration by thousands of Pakistanis. Bhutto herself would not necessarily agreed with AlJazeera’s commentary on her security. She states despite a number of requests for her safety, Mushareff refused her requests, such as for cell-phone jammers to prevent bombers from detonating bombs from a distance. Bhutto discusses the group of young men in white tee-shirts that formed a human chain around her caravan to give her extra safety. Many of them paid for their lives after the bombs. Bhutto knew the consequences, the risks, and yet she faced it all to come lead the PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) and run for election in January, 2008. Unfortunately, she cannot tell you her feelings about that election day because she was murdered (martyred) December 27, 2007.

Bhutto returned to Pakistan to challenge Mushareff and runto become Prime Minister for the third time. I have read a number of books arguing Islam and democracy are compatible, Islam must refind itself, Muslims must speak out against dictatorial leaders that have bastardized the name of Islam. I must say, Bhutto’s work was the most uplifting I have read, the most self-assured. Her theories and arguments were backed by previous policies of hers. For example, many argue for gender equality within Muslim-majority countries that women are currently deprived of,  yet Bhutto cited her creation of the Women’s Development Banks to help women access avnues to economic independence. She also uses the Quran in nearly every argument she states. She outlines the verses that specifically highlight gender equality, that discuss women’s rights to work and keep their own wages. Her arguments, though some repetitive and some I’ve heard from other sources, have a unique perspective, insight that others fail. Maybe the difference between her and, say, An-Na’im is that she’s a woman? I know, I know, flouting gender differences isn’t very productive or correct, but what I’m arguing is her experiences as a woman put her on a different intellectual level than An-Na’im. Bhutto cites Quranic verses that specifically say “men believers and female believers,” and states that Mohommad/God specifically used this language so there would be no potential attempt to manipulate relatively vague language. Hey, that’s pretty interesting. But what about those who are in power and just don’t care about language?

A majority of Bhuttos book seeks to provide ample evidence and support that Islam and democracy are not only compatible, they are seemingly mutually supportive of each other. And she does. She provides a wide analysis over Europe and the Middle East, discussing the Cold War in reference to the Western ideologies fundamentalists insist have been thrust upon Muslims. Her work is concrete, her arguments secure, and her aims achieved, yet what comes next? What happens after we have recited the history? What happens when we readers acknowledge the Quran supports gender equality, works in conjunction with democracy, embraces Christians and Jews as believers in God? Yes, Bhutto outlines the paradox between Christian and Muslim growth during the Dark Ages and how Muslim rule and the Ottoman Empire later on prohibited the flourishment of knowledge  when Europe had finally caught on? How printing presses were forbidden from most of the Middle East?

Bhutto’s aim is to creat awareness, to illustrate the Quran urges Muslims to think for themselves, to interpret and reinterpret and reinterpret the Quran again and again in their modern context. She appropriately points out that Muslims are the only religion solely shackled to their “barbaric past”. For example, Christians are not discussed in regards to the Crusades and Inquisition she says, but have moved past those times in regards to image and acceptance in the world. Why hasn’t Islam?

Bhutto, yes, seeks to reconcile Islam with the remainder of the world, but another one of her themes/messages is the interconnection of all religions. One of the most interesting, and what I feel many would consider provocative, quotes of her book explained a historical perception of Islam and its followers.

“Therefore, when the British Empire was at its zenith and the sun never set on it, the British decided to call Muslims ‘Mohammedans,’ followers of the Prophet Mohommad. This was done to differentiate ‘Mohommedans’ from the followers of Christ and Moses, who also by virtue of worshiping on god could have been described as ‘Muslim.'”

So in essence, all three religions are familial? So why all the intensity, all the divergence, all the hostility?

Though the internet, youtube, cnn, and other sources are flooded with praise and remembrance of the assassinated leader, some articles still surface decrying Bhutto’s political achievements. Tariq Ali, a known critic of Bhutto’s, cited less than 24 hours after her death that Bhutto lacked the political courage to stand up to Washington and the West and seemingly portrayed the image of the democratic, Western-approving, moderate Muslim that the West wanted to embrace. In his political eulogy of Bhutto, Ali states he first met her when she was a teenager and was not much of a politician.

Her father’s death transformed her. She had become a new person, determined to take on the military dictator of that time. She had moved to a tiny flat in London, where we would endlessly discuss the future of the country. She would agree that land reforms, mass education programmes, a health service and an independent foreign policy were positive constructive aims and crucial if the country was to be saved from the vultures in and out of uniform. Her constituency was the poor, and she was proud of the fact. –

Ali coldly inserted his own, final criticism of Bhutto and her politics in that article, stating:

Benazir’s horrific death should give her colleagues pause for reflection. To be dependent on a person or a family may be necessary at certain times, but it is a structural weakness, not a strength for a political organisation. The People’s party needs to be refounded as a modern and democratic organisation, open to honest debate and discussion, defending social and human rights, uniting the many disparate groups and individuals in Pakistan desperate for any halfway decent alternative, and coming forward with concrete proposals to stabilise occupied and war-torn Afghanistan. This can and should be done. The Bhutto family should not be asked for any more sacrifices.

He felt Bhutto was betraying the people to a degree by “selling out” to Washington, by transforming the PPP into the “Bhutto party”, and by having the people rely on her rather than on the party as a whole. He felt that Bhutto was going to reinstate a degree of monarchy almost, especially since she came from a politically-centered family. Think the Kennedys of Pakistan.

A few months before her death, Ali commented on Bhutto’s true interests, her ability to read the people.

He alludes she and her husband went into exile not because of her fear of Musharref, but because of widespread corruption charges. Oh dear.

But it should be acknowledged that Benazir Bhutto’s approach is not the result of a sudden illumination. There is a twisted continuity here. When the general seized power in 1999 and toppled the Sharif brothers (then Benazir’s detested rivals), she welcomed the coup and nurtured hopes of a ministerial post. When no invitations were forthcoming, she would turn up at the desk of a junior in the South Asian section of the State Department, pleading for a job. Instead the military charged her and her husband with graft and corruption. The evidence was overwhelming. She decided to stay in exile.

Alright. I’ve most obviously never met Bhutto, nor will I ever. And I’ve only read one of her books. And yes, yes the fact she’s the first woman prime minister really appeals to me, as I’m sure you can guess. So I’m going to stick on her side. First of all, charges were never proven, nor were they when she returned eight years later. Secondly, Ali is clearly usign the manner in which he writes/his sentence structure to allude to Bhutto’s “disgraceful” conduct as reason for fleeing Pakistan. How about fear for her life, which did not dissolve over the next eight years but intensified? How about fear of becoming a political liability or contender, and thus being someone who might be eliminated?

Peter Blood also was relatively critical of Bhutto in his book Pakistan: A Country Study in 1994. Of her first term as prime minister, Blood states

Although she was successful in advancing the democratization process in Pakistani politics and was able to achieve warmer relations with the United States and, for a short while, with India as well, Benazir’s first term in office is usually looked back upon, by both foreign and domestic observers, as ineffectual–a period of governmental instability. Within months she had lost much of her political support.

Perhaps somewhat due to her more moderate appeal to the West, Blood also states:

The public’s sense of disillusionment deepened as the government failed to deliver its promised employment and economic development programs. Inflation and unemployment were high, and the country’s burgeoning population put increased pressure on already overburdened education and health systems. The government also failed to deal with the country’s growing drug abuse problem, and there was opposition from religious conservatives who distrusted the degree of Benazir’s commitment to the state’s Islamic principles.

Just a quick question here. Blood highlights the political balance Bhutto had to play and the opposition she had to fend off. She also had to maintain a path that would keep the army neutral and therefore relatively in support of her. In America, when we have a divided government, do we place all of the blame on the President for being unable to pass legislation? No. We say, he (because up to this point America refuses to elect a woman) should have been a little more bipartisan, but it’s the so-and-sos (I’d like to input Republicans in here, but it can sometimes be Democrats) in Congress who are holding up progress and preventing the government from doing anything. So why are the failures Bhutto inherited all her fault? Are we blaming Obama for the wars in Iraq and Afghansitan? Not yet… Are we blaming him for the state of the economy, or at least were we way back when? Nope. So why does Bhutto, the face of change (god, that’s a catchy saying) come under such complete condemnation?

Me being me, I would like to venture it’s because she’s a woman. I’m just gonna go out on a limb and say that her gender played somewhat of a role. People feared she was not being loyal enough to Islam? Was this as a result of her wearing makeup? Of her speaking out? Of her becoming a political heavyweight in a man’s world? Okay, so I have this admiration for Anne Boleyn and somehow I kept thinking of her when I was reading Bhutto’s  book and the opposition she faced. I have to say, part of the reason both women were murdered was because of their uniqueness, their “audacity” in climbing so high and reaching so far in a world that typically viewed their gender as possessions. Women in Pakistan are still murdered in “honor killings”. The Taliban is increasingly targeting Pakistan and suicide bombings are near daily events. It shouldn’t be surprising (though still disheartening) that schools for women are being destroyed, women are indiscriminately attacked. Reuters in October posted a semi-blog article discussing women in Pakistan. They’re trying to instill fear in women. Bhutto showed no fear, even when she knew the chances of her death were great. Who then killed Bhutto? Was it Musharref and his men? Was in the Taliban or a terrorist organization? If Bhutto were a man, would she have been such a threat?

Unlike other books, I feel as though Bhutto had specific policies and plans outlined in order to make progress and make a change. Most authors suggest a new discourse, a new round table, and aiding democracy, but fail to include more specific methods of implementing such change. A majority of Bhutto’s suggestions emphasize the disparity between women’s and men’s rights in Muslim-majority countries, including but not limited to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan. Of first priority is education. Bhutto specifically states there will be no chance at democracy without the rise of a middle class. Education is the avenue to enhance not only the economic means of the people, but also the inspiration and ability to see different possibilities. Bhutto states Pakistan, and other countries, need to instill a compulsory educational system, specifically stating “for all citizens, all classes, and both sexes.” (Bhutto 285) Bhutto also discusses the dangers in madrassas that have led to extremists; poor families send their sons to be educated in madrassas  because that is the only avenue they have. But, like she specifically discusses in her analysis of the Quran, Bhutto specifically states both sexes need to be included in this mandatory education.

In regards to establishing democracy, Bhutto continued to highlight the necessity of helping women in order to help countries. She points to Bangladesh and the use of microfinance as an acceptable and potential avenue. While I agree with a majority of Bhutto’s points and suggestions, one hit me a little bit awkwardly. Bhutto discussed the widespread illiteracy of populations and stated “it is known that literate mothers raise literate children. One of the most efficient ways to dent illiteracy in society is to educate mothers.” (Bhutto 289) Okay… let’s step back for a minute. Yes, literacy is important. And yes, I am for increased literacy of women. But Bhutto’s statement 1) nullifies parts of her argument for widespread, mandatory education and 2) does much to undermine her arguments for women entering the workforce and establishing economic independence.  We’re working towards gender equality, aren’t we? So why are we emphasizing that literate mothers will lead to literate children? Where are the literate fathers in this situation? Out making the money? What about the teachers, will they be men or women? If women and men are both able to have economic independence, why should we expect more women to stay home and educate their children? Oh, wait that’s how it is. But isn’t this another version, a “democratized” version of gender oppression, glorified by the notion women will have a choice? This statement threw me for a loop, through a loop, something something loop. Whatever the saying is. But doesn’t this smack of the image of the pure, Victorian mother who was responsible for the morality and guidance of her family? Yes, mothers are important. Yes, family is important and yes family time is great. But how is this statement, this declaration, progressive? And why are my housemates burning popcorn?

More importantly, what does a statement like this say to the women followers of Bhutto? The women that looked, and still look, to this women as a role model, a very rare female role model in the Muslim world? That even when they are “liberated” they are still charged with the responsibility of the “motherly” role. What about the role of the wife then? Does that disappear? How are we to promote change when we are still relying on centuries-old gender roles? And when are these literate mothers supossed to help the literacy of their kids? During the day when they’re stay at home moms? Or after work at night when they come home to the second shift? Just this one statement, yes only one, was very disheartening and just unravelled a degree of my confidence in this book and in Bhutto’s suggestions.

The voices in the background are yelling “Jeay Bhutto!” which means “Long Live Bhutto!” The young men on the back of her car are just as she describes in the opening pages of her book, those young brave men who formed a human shield for her. She was the hope and the future for the people, and the people answered her call.

Keep your eye on Bhutto, she is wearing purple with a white hijab/scarf.

And so, December 27, 2007 witnessed the end of the potential for a new Pakistan, for Bhutto to come again to power in Pakistan. All that I can think of are “what ifs”. What if she had lived? What if she had won? What if she had lost? What if, what if, what if.

There’s no great way to end this post, so I will let Bhutto speak for herself:

I make these recommendations because the times require something more than business as usual. Much of what is recommended is somewhat out of the box. But staying within the box has brought poverty, ignorance, hopelessness, violence, and dictatorship to far too many Muslims around the world. Staying within the box has set Islam and the West on a dangerous and unnecessary collision course. It is time for new ideas. It is time for creativity. It is time for bold commitment. And it is time for honesty, both among people and between people. That is what I have tried to do in these pages. There has been enough pain. It is time for reconciliation. (Bhutto 317-318)

December 7, 2009

Mother, Scratch That, Father Nature?

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:38 am by Superintendent

So in browsing through some articles, one title really caught my eye… “Globalization, Gender and Religion: The Politics of Women’s Rights in Catholic and Muslim Contexts”. I think it’s quite plain my view on organized religion and oppression of women by now (as well as certain wonderful characteristics at Marist), but it just struck me that throughout this whole semester, or even in fact ever, I had never compared the view of women in both religions. Manji pointed out that Islam is derived from parts of Christianity and Judaism, that there is nothing wrong with acknowledging these inherent similarities and a shared past. But what’s more interesting to contemplate the similarities they share both past and present in regards to women.

Who is in control, on top of the hierarchies in both religions? I know Islam does not have as well-established or thorough hierarchy as does Christianity (specificaly, I’m referring to Catholicism, my favorite of them all) but the religious leaders and authorities are all men. There are no available positions for women among the religious elite in Islam. Same for Catholism. When do you think we’ll get a female pope? I’m going to venture to say never. Will Iran ever acknowledge a female Ayatollah? Nope. Both religions assume there is something inherently wrong with women and that women cannot be in a position of power.

As a friend of mine smugly said recently, “well, women can be nuns.” Yea… and? Why not priests? Why not pope? “Brothers” are the equivalent of nuns, so there goes that argument. Even in the Medieval Ages, women were not allowed to pray or enter religious monastaries with men. Complete segregation of the sexes, just like Islam. Wasn’t it in the 1950s that women still were not allowed to approach past a certain barrier in the Church? I don’t know, they might have gotten their woman fluids on the altaer or something. Ew.

Let’s consider the historical and religious image both religions portray of women. Both have an idealized version of “the holy woman”, a woman who portrays all feminine characteristics deemed acceptable by the religion. In Catholicism, we have the vision of Mary. Chaste (supossedly), subordinate, obedient, humble, faithful and loyal, untouched by man. Please, if we were all to follow Mary’s version, the human race would run out, lest there were many more “immaculate conceptions”. Sorry, I’m feeling particularly brazen tonight. The Vikings are losing, need something to entertain me. And Islam?

Let me take a break and just share a fun website I found when looking for the correct spelling of Khadija. Bible Probe. A very open-minded site, wouldn’t you agree?

Okay, back on point. Khadija. (I use this site for more background info on her) We have discussed in class that Khadija was treated well by Muhammad and was respected. She taught and helped theh poor and was a good companion. However, what about the idea of Khadija being veiled? Why was this necesary? Was Muhmmad jealous of other men’s looks? Was he not completely trusting of Khadija? I would say that perhaps he did not want her image taken down either, as his, but then wouldn’t he have to wear a veil as well? This site talks about Khadija’s nicknames, one being “the Pure One”. She was humble at times and demure, virtuous, etc. Sounds slightly like another familiar religious woman… hmmm…  she’s also of “good lineage”… is this that important? Would a woman of “lesser lineage” be unable to be a proper wife for Muhammad?

Khadija and Mary’s “womanly” traits have severe political repercussions on women, and not only women of their respective faiths. Islam has been bastardized in certain societies and coutries to subject women to wearing not just a veil or hijab,  but a burqa or niqab. Against their will. Because why? Because Khadija did? Psht, aren’t we supossed to shun peer pressure? But in all seriousness, I’m not quite certain that  the fact Muhammad’s wives wore veils means all women have to. Actually, there’s a good portion of the world that doesn’t believe this extreme intepretation is correct.

It’s just…. frustrating. Think of the extreme repercussions on women that are expected to be inherently subordinate, virginal, humble. Women in both faiths are not encouraged, in deed are penalized at times, for speaking their own minds and opinions. For being “unfeminine”. For having sex before marriage. (ps… where did this insane notion come from? It’s in both religious doctrines and women have been murdered over it and ostracized for centuries. Love how it doesn’t say much about men. Love that men don’t need to buy replacement hymens. How is it reasonable to make such blanket commands of the entire female population of a religion? How is it fair or even logical that a woman’s chastity is tied to a family’s honor, but not a man’s? And no, I’m not just discussing honor killings. Think of how many pregnant teens have been sent away to “visit Aunt Susie in Switzerland” for 9 months from Catholics families (other religions too) rahter than publically acknowledge their actions and decisions? Well, I guess young Catholic girls don’t really get any decision, if you know what I mean).

Women are supossed to be humble and obedient? God chose Mary to have his baby, did Mary really have a choice? I would hope that whoever wrote down the respective Bibles and hadiths was not aware of the painful repercussions they were inflicting on more than half their population.

What about Khadija? She proposed marriage to Muhammad, he was her envoy at first, she had her own wealth and status. Sorry to refer to Destiney’s Child, but she was seemingly an “independent woman”. Do the hadiths subliminally state that she was not “whole” until she had chosen another husband (albeit, it was her decision) And then she becomes Mrs. Muhammad, for lack of a better term, rather than maintaining her autonomy? The website states she automatically accepted Islam because she knew her husband could not be spreading lies. Did she critically analyze the situation? I’m not completely stomping over her decision, aslong as it was her decision.

The article overview makes an interesting point, that the increase of “modernization” subsequently leads to an increase in “fundamentalism” of both religions (yes, I think we can agree to that). The more modern the world gets, the more conservative the religions get (or at least the movement grows) and the more rights women are deprived of.

Who says men are superior? No offense guys, but besides a certain extra appendage, you don’t have much that makes you stand out. What about former religions and cultures that embraced the female sex? What about celebrating the reproductive potential of women Why do both religions condemn women to a secondary status? What’s so wrong with us? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say nothing. But history seems to be against me.

Found a very interesting site… Islam Women. Check out the video section, especially by Shiekh Yusef Estes. He’s quite a character. Makes good jokes. But says some very interesting things. I contemplated sending him an Edible Arrangement. Sorry, a little hyper tonight. Here’s their background article on Khadija.

Also, check out a video on the secondary status of women in Catholicism.

I would just keep hoping, boys, that god’s not a woman. Otherwise when you get to those pearly gates…. payback time.