Saturday, December 30, 2006

Capital Punishment

The hanging of Saddam Hussein this weekend disturbed me, and I had to contemplate why I felt the way I did. I certainly didn't rejoice, and while I was happy about his capture and was interested in the outcome of his trial, I took no pleasure at all from his death. To say I was appalled to learn the extent of his crimes would be an understatement, and my heart truly goes out to those who suffered because of him. I do understand why so many people wanted him dead.

I usually try to avoid discussing big issues like politics and religion with K, as we often disagree and these disagreements tend to leave me feeling disillusioned and unhappy with him, but I gathered my courage and asked how he felt about the hanging of Saddam. He said it made him sad, not because he has any fondness for the man, and not because he didn't deserve to be punished, but because it is a sad end to a life and he is against capital punishment in general. I asked him if he thought he might feel differently if someone tortured and killed one of our children (God forbid, I can imagine it all too well) and he didn't think so, because the death of the killer wouldn't really change anything for us. I reflected on that for a while, and I think I agree. It wouldn't bring our child back, and no matter how angry or hurt (understatements, both) we were, I don't believe we have the right to determine who should live or die. I think if God took the killer's life, I might feel some measure of relief or justice, but I could live with the fact that the killer is destined to many years, if not life, in prison. I know I would find his release difficult, though.

That said, I do think I could kill someone without a second thought if my family or I were in imminent danger, but I can't even imagine how I would feel about it afterward. On the other hand, if I only wounded the attacker enough to escape and call the police, I think I would worry for the rest of my life about him coming after me and my family as soon as he was able.

As for the people who carry out the executions allowed by law, how do they feel at the end of the day? Will they have to answer to God for the lives they ended, even if it was condoned by judges? It's not a risk I would take.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Conservation of Matter

The Law of Conservation of Matter states that matter cannot be created or destroyed, only redistrubuted.

This being the case, when the 50 representatives of the 50 states on The Biggest Loser lost a combined 4,281 pounds, where is all the fat now??

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Some song recently reminded K of "Pipes of Peace," by Paul McCartney. He started singing it, then I started singing it, and now I can't get it out of my head. K asked if I had ever seen the video (which I haven't,) which depicts the Christmas Truce of 1914. Having never even heard of the Christmas Truce, I had to look it up. For those unfamiliar with the truce, you can read about it here.

As a romantic, I love the idea that soldiers could just lay down arms and refuse to fight. I wish that all soldiers everywhere could do the same, and there would be no more war. I suppose I dream of an impossible utopia, but what a lovely dream it is.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Given that I don't know a single person on this planet who shares my beliefs, I obviously do not subscribe to the belief that only one religion is correct or that only believers in one religion will go to heaven. I don't believe that people who have never heard of Jesus or been introduced to formal religion will be banned from heaven. While I feel more of a kinship with Christians, Muslims, and Jews than other religions, I would never claim to know God's grace better than He does, and I do not expect that Hindus, Buddhists, or any other believers in a higher power will necessarily be banned. For that matter, I can't claim to know that the likes of Adolf Hitler or Saddam Hussein or anyone else who has committed grievous crimes against humanity will be banned from heaven, either. We can't know their hearts better than God does, and we can't know whether they have been forgiven.

I read a novel last year in which the protagonist admired and learned from several different religions, and pieced them together here and there, finding his own way in that manner. I loved that, because it felt like me. I read the work of one who had a near-death experience that left her with the belief that there is no one, true, right religion. Rather, religion is a tool that we use to grow spiritually. We may grow as much as we can under one belief system, then we seek something more and strike out in a different direction. People sometimes, but not always, convert from one religion to another as they seek that knowledge, that closeness to God. This rings true to me. I believe it is the seeking of knowledge and the desire to be close to God that far outweighs belonging to the "proper" religion.

That said, I do miss feeling like I belong, and being able to talk openly with fellow believers. There are times when I long for the days of old when I considered myself a Christian, rejoiced in that fellowship, and was able to participate in the choirs and orchestras that I miss so much. Things were much simpler then, but there is no doubt that I've grown spiritually in the years since.


I can't call myself a Christian like the majority of the rest of my family, much to their concern, but neither am I completely comfortable calling myself a Muslim like my husband and his family. Not having a single person around you who is comfortable with your beliefs is a very lonely position to be in, but it is important to me that I am true to my heart and what I believe of God, rather than trying to please someone by pretending to believe something I don't. The moment I typed that, it rang false with me, because I'm so afraid of being rejected or given a hard time by K's family that I don't dare tell them how I feel. I suppose it is a lie of omission more than anything else, because I just don't talk about it with them, and let them believe what they will.

Like the Christians and the Muslims both, I believe that there is one true God, and that Jesus is the Messiah who will come back when the time is right. Unlike the Christians, however, I don't believe that Jesus is part of a trinity, making him God. Nor do I believe he is the physical son of God. I believe he is a child of God just as I am. I believe, like the Muslims, that Jesus was a very important prophet and deserving of my respect and attention.

I do not believe in the accuracy of the Bible, as the books were written by various men, and chosen to be a part of the Bible as we know it by men. I can not blindly accept that a book written and assembled by men is necessarily everything that God would have us believe or live by. I accept that much of the Bible may be accurate, perhaps even far more than it may be inaccurate, but I still maintain that inaccuracies exist. I have a problem with the dreams accepted as teachings in the Bible. For example, it is made very clear in Leviticus 11:7-8 that eating pork is forbidden. However, many Christians believe this doesn't apply to them because of a dream supposedly had by Peter (Acts 11:4-10) and related by Luke. It doesn't ring true to me that God would lift a ban on all of mankind in this manner. Jews and Muslims still uphold the ban on pork. I'm not claiming to be perfect, here. I've been known to eat pork on rare occasions, but I also feel guilty about it. I have questions about the Quran, too. While I much prefer the idea of a book whose words come directly from God and not from men, we are again relying on a man who was supposedly given the words to recite and memorize. All Muslims would argue many ways to prove that the Quran is accurate and true, but a shadow of a doubt remains for me. I have not read as much of the Quran as I have of the Bible. I'm discouraged by the fact that any English translation of the Quran will tell the reader that to get the full meaning and truth of the Quran, they must read it in its original Arabic. By relying on translations, I'm also relying on interpretations that I might see differently if I could read the Arabic myself. I'm skeptical of some of the things in the Quran about the baby Jesus (that he spoke at birth, especially, though I have no idea why I have a hard time accepting that but no problem accepting that he could raise the dead.) I'm skeptical of their explanation of what happened when Jesus was witnessed dying on the cross. Overall, though, if I have to choose between the books, I accept the Quran more readily than I accept the Bible, though I still refer to the Bible, too. I just rely on my heart (or the presence of God in my heart) in both cases to see something as truth or to see it as something to be wary of. Most recently, I have been pondering John 14:6. "Jesus answered, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the father except through me." I think I can accept this in keeping with my own beliefs.

I find that where Islam is concerned, I am reluctant to trust anyone to teach me and rely heavily on the English translation of the Quran to guide me. I have found that even among Muslims, there are wide variances in beliefs. Many Muslims have their culture and their traditions mixed up in their versions of Islam, altering it from what it was meant to be. I am occasionally told something by someone with the best of intentions that sounds more like hopeful superstition than true Islam. I am confused by the fact that Islam teaches that the Quran is complete and the only book one needs, yet there are many other books, laws, and teachings that Muslims follow as well. I have tried debating these technicalities with my husband, but where Islam is concerned, his mind is closed to debate. He will defend his beliefs no matter what, and my arguments fall on deaf ears.

At least two members of my family, and probably more, are deeply concerned that I will not be admitted to heaven because of my beliefs. No one knows better than God and I do that there is nothing I want more in this world than to be reunited with my beautiful daughters, Mina and Layla, whom I lost in 2003. I would do absolutely anything God required of me to ensure that reunion. I do not believe that the God I know would ban me from heaven and my daughters on the basis of a technicality or two when He knows how earnestly I want to please him and how desperately I want to know the truth about what to believe. I daresay I have sought the truth harder and more earnestly than many Christians or Muslims who were just brought up in their religion, have accepted it from day one, and have never called anything their parents believed into question.

I sound to myself here like a religious fanatic, a do-gooder who reads the holy books day and night in a quest for knowledge. This isn't so, and I'm as guilty of being human and having faults and shortcomings as the next person. If you know me, you know that already. I go through phases of seeking and praying and thinking endlessly about these things, interspersed with phases of going days without giving these things a thought or a prayer. Despite my trust in my heart and the surety of my beliefs in God, I am still plagued by the occasional fear that I could be wrong and the worry that I may never see my girls again or that there might be nothing after this life. These thoughts are generally fleeting, but they exist, nonetheless. I have never questioned the existence of God, because I see God in the development of an unborn child, in the beauty of flowers and sunsets, in the fickle force of Mother Nature, in our perfect distance from the sun, in our very existence. I do believe in coincidence, but I do not believe that just the right set of a million different circumstances coincidentally brought us to where we are today.

I have a dear friend who may very well read this (assuming he makes it this far without tiring of this subject) who is a self-professed agnostic. I won't debate my beliefs with him, nor argue what I see as the many proofs of God with him, because people will believe what they will believe until they are ready to believe something else. He may never be convinced. I don't think God will ban him from heaven just because he has such a logical mind. I do think that when his time comes, he will be shocked and amazed to finally be able to see what he hasn't been able to see before. My biggest concern for him became clear to me the night I lost my girls. In the midst of my shock and grief, I clearly remember thinking about him, and thinking that it was better that I suffer this loss than for him to suffer the loss of his two boys, because I have the hope of seeing my girls again. For my friend, whether he may see them again or not, he wouldn't believe that he would see them again. To him, they would appear to be lost forever, and I know that I could never have survived my loss without my beliefs. I fear for him if he ever suffers a loss like that, because it will be much harder for him to survive it than it has been for me, and it's been nearly impossible at times, even for me.

Monday, September 26, 2005


I was asked to write this post over a week ago, and it was something I had intended to write from the very day I created this blog. Why then, has this been the most difficult post I've written yet? Perhaps because I am very aware of how much of me it will reveal, and how vulnerable I'm leaving myself to judgment and scorn. I don't relish being thought wrong, or silly, or stupid, and all of those are likely depending on who is doing the reading.

Those who know me well know that while I may occasionally hop up on my soapbox about little things like getting drunk and smoking, I keep the big things like politics and religion to myself unless I feel safe in the presence of a like-minded person. I have a strong dislike for debate, because in my experience, the debating parties have completely closed their minds to anything their opponent has to say before it is even said. I don't see the point in getting myself all worked up trying to convince someone of something they will never accept. On the other hand, if someone asks my opinion merely because they are curious, and have no intention of arguing with me about it, I don't mind giving it.

I have always made a conscious effort to keep an open mind and to listen without judging when someone expresses an opinion or a belief that is new to me. I'll listen, then I'll explore the possibility myself, whether through research, or in my head as I go about my day, or in my heart during quiet times. If it doesn't feel right to me, then I'll reject it, but I won't reject the possibility that it's still right for someone else. It's just not right for me.

After three unsatisfactory attempts to put my myriad beliefs into writing, I've decided to try to classify and organize them in a series of posts, mostly to avoid having one post give the appearance of a long, randomly written novel.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Chicken Wings

Nothing much to note here ... I've just been craving Kings of Wings in Frisco for a week now. Garlic Parmesan wings ... mmmmm.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Sun

In keeping with my child's-eye view of the world, I humble myself further by confessing to you my curiosity about the sun. I'm sure I studied these things in grade school, but since I didn't really care at the time, I didn't retain it very well. I recently read that you could fit well over a million (closer to 1,300,000, actually) Earths inside the sun, and am rather embarrassed to admit that I was very surprised. I've been trying to comprehend this vast difference ever since, and I seem to have trouble just getting my mind around how big the sun actually is.

The sun was very low and red the other day, and muted somewhat by the haze that hung over the metroplex. I kept stealing glances at it, disregarding the one thing I do remember from grade school ... never to look directly at the sun. It was just so pretty, and I was trying once again to get a feel for just how big it really was. I was moved to try to find out just why I'm not supposed to look at the sun anyway, and after some effort, found this article, if you're curious:

Just reading the article, I was becoming convinced that I had spots in my vision, though I might also be able to attribute that to staring at this screen instead of sleeping.
So then I was wondering, if the sun is a ball of fire, or even a ball of gas that is on fire, why doesn't it burn out? Well, it will, actually. Eventually. I found my answer here:

I feel as though I'm a grade school student all over again.


I was wondering the other day what causes hurricanes to form, and why, if it's just a lot of wind blowing in a big circle, we couldn't find some way to counter that wind and blow it back the other way before it became violent. It's humbling to realize that I'm not nearly as clever as I like to think I am and that I still have such innocent (i.e. naive) ideas about the world I live in. You'll no doubt be glad to know that I have since read up on hurricanes, and if you share my naivety, you can read up on them, too.

New Orleans

Like countless others, I've had New Orleans on my mind quite a bit over the past week. Having spent a week there last summer, and remembering so well the vibrancy of the city, it's nearly impossible to imagine that she's an underwater ghost town now.

Before the evacuations started, I was thinking about how terrible it would be to be stuck in that Convention Center with Layth and Maya and unable to feed them or care for them properly. When I read that babies had indeed died, not because of injuries sustained by the hurricane, but because of the heat and the inability to feed them, I was heartsick. What a terrible set of circumstances to find yourself in, and to helplessly watch your baby die?

I was more frustrated than sympathetic with the victims in the beginning because of the ample warning to evacuate and their stubbornness in remaining behind. I'm still frustrated that so many more people could have gotten to safety than did, but I understand now that there were many people who had nowhere and no way to go.

I've read what these people have gone through, but I can only just begin to imagine what it must have been like. The physical discomfort, the anxiety about their homes and their belongings, precious photographs and family heirlooms lost forever, the stench of death, the heat and the press of the crowds, the fear for their personal safety as anarchy rose around them, the inability to communicate with loved ones ... and I can't dwell on it for more than a few moments without despairing for them, so I turn my mind from it and find other things to do, like count my blessings.

One thing that it has surprised me to learn after losing my daughters, is that as indescribably painful as that has been and still is, there are always people who have suffered as much or worse. I feel so deeply for them, and am reminded how lucky and blessed I still am.