Sunday, January 29, 2012

God Is Not One, by Stephen Prothero

"I am gonna tolerate and love the **** out of you." - a My Little Pony GIF my friend has

I'm reading this book--God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run The World And Why Their Differences Matter-- that talks about why it's wonderful to imagine that all of the different religions are really just different paths to the same goal, this is a dangerous thought because they really are different, and since religion is probably one of the biggest influencers of history overall, these differences are kind of important when understanding history, current events, and individuals.

The author, Stephen Prothero, writes that a better analogy would be everyone starting out in a valley together and choosing different mountains to climb. All of the religions agree that the world has problems,  but they have differing opinions on what the main source of those problems are, and how best to solve it.

Example from the book jacket:
Islam: The problem is pride/the solution is submission
Christianity: The problem is sin/the solution is salvation
Confucianism: The problem is chaos/the solution is social order
Buddhism: The problem is suffering/the solution is awakening
Judaism: The problem is exile/the solution is to return to God

He says that it's stupid to say that all non-Christian religions are inferior because Christianity is the only way to salvation, because the other religions aren't even trying to get to salvation. They have totally different goals, so to bash them for not saving people is like saying non-baseball sports are silly because you can't score runs in them. Basketball players couldn't care less about scoring runs.

I'm still in the Islam chapter (chapter 1, which is great in and of itself because I don't know all that much about Islam anyway), but I'll let you know how it goes. I'm loving it immensely so far. (Also, that chapter starts with "Most European and North Americans have never met a Muslim," which I had to read a few times because it was such a strange thought to me. So I'm very happy with the diversity at my school now.)

I've never read anything that took this approach to religion before, and it kind of falls in line with this post about right and wrong I wrote back in July, so this book is making me very happy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spring Semester 2012 Day 1

"The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life." - William Morris

First day of the new semester. Kicked it off completely inadvertently at 3:00 a.m. and went to cook breakfast for my family at 5 just for something productive to do. Had it occurred to me, I might have gone out to buy some bagels, because I now have my driver's license and can therefore do that (legally, anyway- my parents have slightly different ideas).

Ridiculously happy all morning for no reason at all. This included twirling through the house and proclaiming that it was a beautiful day and the sun was shining. When it was pointed out to me that it was in fact cloudy/foggy outside, I insisted that the sun was still shining, and we just couldn't see it, and that was making me happy anyway. (This may have had something to do with the mug of coffee I'd had.)

1st Period: "Honors" US History. Notice the quotation marks, because he gave us a packet today (that I could easily complete in an hour tonight if I felt like it, even though I'd have to look things up online) that if we complete, we get 44 extra points on the final exam. Which means I could theoretically bubble (C) for all 150 questions and depending on how the actual numbers turned out, I'd still get a passing grade on the test as long as I turned in the packet. The General Knowledge Quiz included things like "how many states are there in the USA?" and "Who was the first president of the United States?" Which I'm pretty sure we covered in preschool.
I so would have taken AP, except it's a year long course.

2nd Period: Band. My embrasure sucks after not playing at all for several months, but it'll recover quickly enough and I've missed the class.

3rd Period: AP Calculus BC. Direct continuation of the past semester, with a slightly different set of classmates.

4th Period: AP English, which despite being the most challenging course I've ever taken, is basically why I'm willing to get up at 6 (on a non-insomniatic day) every morning. I love it so, so much. (Also, it helps that she decided to say nice things about my writing today...)
The principal interrupts halfway through and decides to teach us himself for about 10 minutes. (My principal is hilarious.)

After school: hanging out with one of my closest friends for an hour or so. Went to Target, which wouldn't be significant except she also recently got her license so it's exciting to drive around together.

Now: Listening to "Modern Love" by Matt Nathanson on repeat while procrastinating from the homework I don't actually mind doing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Rough State of My Mind in Quote Form

"Good listeners, like precious gems, are to be treasured." - Walter Anderson

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." - George Bernard Shaw

"One can live in the shadow of an idea without grasping it." - Elizabeth Bowen

Also, this.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More Quotes

"If it weren't for being so attracted to women, I would way definitely be gay." - my dad

"The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." - Bertrand Russell

"One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present." - Golda Meir

"I never learned from a man who agreed with me." - Robert A. Heilein

Exams this week. Yay. 
At least my Latin teacher bought us bagels today and in English we got to look over the (20 page) test, which has been customized so that all of the vocab exercises are about us. Also, I kind of adore my English teacher for entirely unrelated reasons (such as that she has in the past helped put two students through college via her second job because they couldn't afford it otherwise. That woman is amazing).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rich & Snobby Cred

"The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything." - T. Roosevelt

...which I receive despite being neither rich nor snobby because of my fictitious wealth, because today I received a letter saying I was eligible for a summer program that will involve traveling/studying in France, Italy, and Greece. (They said they found me through CollegeBoard, SAT scores? I have no idea.)

Now I assume I'll have to pay for it, which presents a bit of a problem, since "studying" implies a bit longer than a few days per country, but hey. Europe for the summer? Heck yes. We'll see if it actually happens, but at least it's a possibility!

Also, it turns out they speak Greek in Greece (which would seem obvious, but I'd thought it was a dead language like Latin). So yay, I learned something. And am somewhat more scared of said trip because I rather like understanding/being understood, and the only second language I have a grasp of is...the marvelously dead language of Latin.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


There is no quote today. There is only the existence of Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, who make me smile.

I just started reading a book by Peggy Orenstein (author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, which I read last year) called Schoolgirls, and before page 1 even begins (there's about 20 roman numerals' worth), she tells a story about a teacher who gave her 6th grade students an interesting exercise:

Imagine you were born as a member of the opposite sex. What is different?

So obviously, I grabbed my journal and immediately started a list.

If I Were A Boy:

  • My mother would never have made me wear dresses when I was little (which I passionately despised at the time, although I don't anymore).
  • I'd probably have had to mow the lawn at some point in my life, but I'm sure I'd still have to do all of the same chores I do now as well.
  • Better relationship with my male cousins who live close by
  • Different friends, and different relationships with those who would remain the same
  • Less worry in general from all sides about dating (also, probably later curfews)
  • Less comfortable acting in different roles. When I was little, there was never anyone or anything I couldn't pretend to be. And I feel that while in my immediate family it would have been the same is I were a guy, it isn't nearly as accepted everywhere else.
But that seems like a pretty good list, compared to what the kids in the book came up with. Most of it seems kind of "well, duh." Most of the stuff in the book was about make up or hair or sports.

The odd thing, though, is that the author then asks what's "lucky" about being a girl, and the girls she talked to didn't have an answer. I'm not going to go into it here, but I think there are plenty of things. Less obvious than the advantages of being a boy, maybe, but they're there.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Important Things To Know

"The only normal people are the one's you don't know very well." - Alfred Alder

First: English country dancing turns out to be "Jane Austen movie dancing," according to people who have actually seen Jane Austen movies, and "the kind they were supposed to be doing in A Knight's Tale before the 80s took over," according to me. It was weird and fun and I had a good time. The square dancing lessons in 2nd grade turned out to be marginally useful after all.

But now I want to tell you about the book my best friend showed me last night (a gift from our other friend for her amusement). It's a book of FAQs from Christian teenagers, and their answers.

Things I Learned From This Book:

  • God cares whether or not you're popular at school (I'm not sure if this means homeschoolers are just screwed, or if they get to be archangels)
  • STDs do not exist if you are married (poof!)
  • Flirting is EVIL because it takes your mind off of Jesus. (Like Jesus cares if you're thinking about him 24/7. Personally I'd find that rather creepy, but maybe that's just me.)
  • Sarcasm is a sin (and I'm definitely not going to hell)
  • Pregnancy is not caused by sex. "It's a symptom of the sin of premarital sex." (So I guess I still don't know how babies are made within wedlock.)
  • Not only are you not allowed to date non-Christians, but you're also not allowed to date someone if they're not really, really Christian. If they just go to church and believe everything laid out in the Apostle's Creed? Not good enough.
  • Public schools encourage everyone to be gay. (They use state funding to set up kissing booths and everything. Did you guys not know this?)

And those are just the ones I remember. You know, sometimes the world worries me.