Saturday, October 22, 2005

Multicultural Experiences...Writing Woes

It's been much too long since I've written. The thoughts to write fill my head, but actually stepping in here to put them down somehow has become burdensome. I need to get them down, though, before they become stale.

The fast Thursday was an eye-opening experience. I discovered that fasting is not this giant scary thing but is actually quite doable (it helped that I got a fabulous Persian meal after sundown). Going without water is difficult, but I don't think that's required in most any other tradition. I liked this idea of eating only before sunrise and after sunset and might try to implement it over Lent this year. J's done it a couple times and it works for him.

As you may know, the thing about fasting is that it keeps you very focused on God. Or food. But mostly when you think about food you remind yourself why you're not eating and that brings the focus back to God. Our program for the evening at the mosque gave a wonderful poem about fasting from Rumi. It talked about being empty and clear-minded, about becoming clean and even hurting. Maybe I'll post it later.

The Iftar was wonderful. First we watched the Muslim prayers - they are even more aerobic than Episcopalian ones! I think they've got the right idea with the body involvement. It's such a shame that the body has been so removed from the Christian (particularly Protestant) experience of worship. It wasn't always so. And I feel like the passivity of sitting before a performance brings up many wrong things and speaks of bad theology and ecclesiology. But that's not the topic at hand.

After prayers we went downstairs and ate our meal and there were a couple of speakers, who were wonderful. The first, Dr. Hassan...oops, I forgot his last name. Well anyway, he spoke about love, and he said that we like to say God is love but we behave as if God is hate. And that God is love and if a person is not love they are not a Godly person. Oh, that he could speak to all those who are twisted about their religion's meanings! How do we get from such pure beginnings to the hate that fills so many people's hearts? And I'm not talking about only Muslims - I'm talking about people of all faiths.

I picked up his book, Reading the Muslim Mind, and I got my very own copy of the Qu'ran. I'm very interested to read it. The bits I've seen are really great.

I missed most of my Jewish stuff this week. Our Sukkot dinner was rained out, and I flaked on the Shabbat dinner last night. But I am going to services this morning, at a Messianic Jewish synagogue. That should be interesting.

Yesterday was my writing workshop. I've never taken any sort of writing classes, so it was absolutely fun for me. We did a lot of on-demand writing, which was challenging! We talked about confessional writing and about writing what you don't know and about imagery. I learned that this stuff I blabber about in the blog isn't really writing - well it's not the artistic kind anyway. Something has to be done to it between when I vomit it out and when it becomes art. Hopefully this class will teach me what that is.

In the meantime, I think it's important for us to pay attention to the way technology has changed writing, for better or worse. No longer does one have to be recognized by the literary establishment (or the journalistic or whatever) to have one's work read. Blogs have re-popularized confessional writing, a fine American tradition (since we're such individualistic freaks), and put it out there for the masses. Most of it is of course terrible. But it's kind of a great equalizer, the Internet.

Oh, I'm not saying anything new. I'll just tell you my dilemma. One of our exercises was to choose an emotion and an object and then we had to write sentences about them. I chose happy and a book (not because I'm an ultimate geek, but because we were in a room full of books so it came to me!) . Most people chose negative emotions (interesting...seminarians...), which it turns out are easier to manipulate. So here is how the exercise went: we had to turn the emotion into the different parts of speech and write a sentence containing the object (or something related). So the first sentence it was a noun: "Happiness is like crisp, new-smell pages." Fine, that's easy enough. But next was a verb. Now I ask you: what the hell verb is there for happy? J thought of rejoice, but I couldn't figure out how to put that into a phrase about a book. Here's where the negatives are easy: anger=raging, swirling; worry=slithering; sadness=crushing; etc. It's pretty easy. But I chose the hard one (inadvertently).

Then it had to become an adjective and an adverb (happily - that's boring) and finally, an exclamation. Finally, an easy one. Happy has lots of exclamations! Woo-hoo! Joy! Yippee! Whoopee! Sh'poopee!

Anyway if you think of any, I'm still stuck on the verb and adjective. Verbs that seem right (smile, dance) also seem too vague. I smiled at my new book? Seems so trite. And hardly poetic, which I think was the point of the exercise.

Well I will go on fretting about my lack of vocabulary (must do more crosswords!) and I will let you go. I'm sure this has been totally worth your time. And isn't it great that I'm back to worrying about normal things instead of such lofty concerns as whole continents and disease epidemics? Ah, yes, the good old American focus of me, me, me.

p.s. I'm very disappointed in the box office of Serenity and I want you all to go see it. That's your homework!! Also I am halfway through Kingdom of Heaven and I think I'm going to enjoy the special features on the DVD (which include a history vs. Hollywood special) more than the film. *sigh* Had Mad Hot Ballroom in hand...should have gotten it instead!

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