qatarperegrine: (Default)
This week is Banned Books Week in the States, which is according to the Banned Books Week website "the only national celebration of the freedom to read."

This is one of those freedoms that may not seem like a big deal, but you begin to appreciate it a lot more when you live in a country that decides for you what you're allowed to read.

Behind the cut is the list of the most frequently banned and/or challenged books of the 1990s. (This decade is still incomplete, so no data yet, though you can see the top ten of 2008 here.)

The ones I've read are in bold.

Banned Books Meme )
qatarperegrine: (mandala)
A friend asked me for a recommended reading list on religion. That's a daunting task, and I'm sure there are a lot of great books I've forgotten to include -- not to mention all the great ones I've never even read. Some of the religions are woefully underrepresented, too. However, of the books I've read on religious studies and theology, here are my favorites.

(Ones I don't have with me in Doha are grayed out. I also can't find Faith and Belief or Remedial Christianity -- did I lend them to one of you?)

Cut for extreme length )

So what about you guys -- if you had to recommend a handful of books on religion, what would you recommend?
qatarperegrine: (books)
A few months ago I read an LJ entry that discussed a book on the author's problems with Christianity. My LJ friend listed maybe 10 such problems; the only one I remember stated that progressive Christianity isn't any more useful than traditional Christianity, because it interprets Christianity in the light of an external value system and therefore adds nothing that can't be found outside religion.

If anybody knows what the heck book I'm talking about, please let me know.

Book meme

Aug. 12th, 2006 09:48 pm
qatarperegrine: (books)
I've done some identify-the-song-from-my-favorite-line memes, and I recently did an identify-the-movie-from-my-favorite-quote meme. It occurs to me that what's missing is an identify-the-book-from-my-favorite-quote meme!

So, same basic rules as for movies: Pick umpteen of your favorite books. Select favorite lines from these books. Post them and see how long it takes friends to guess them. I'm sticking with novels, because asking you to identify quotes from my favorite theology books is just no fun at all.

Read more... )

... and I can't find the quote I want from my favorite novel, so #15 will have to wait until tomorrow!

UPDATE: here's quote #15. Mum gets five bonus points for giving me the quote purely on the basis of the above paragraph.

  1. "I don't want you to blame yourself for what happened. I know you would have come to get me if you could, but I couldn't have gone anyway, not with Agnes ill. I wanted to come, and if I hadn't they would have been all alone, and nobody would ever have known how frightened and brave and irreplaceable they were."
    -The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

Dada spam

Jun. 23rd, 2006 04:24 pm
qatarperegrine: (Default)
I absolutely adore spam that's made up of pieced-together sentences. Here's today's:
He didnt know how to answer her.

The landlord had rats in his basement.

So now theres a requirement? Paul put his hands on the wheels of the chair, not at all sure where he intended to go or what, if anything, he meant to do when he got there ? to the kitchen for a knife, perhaps? Another side-effect, a rather more serious one, was respiratory depression in sensitive patients.

Her good friends the Roydmans?

When the police come tomorrow looking for their missing lamb, she said, we dont want the to see anything out of the ordinary, do we, Paul? She stayed away fifty hours before. At that she had not scrupled. "The state cop stared at him. He might have murdered her. Only the name of the unfortunate Miss Charlotte Evelyn-Hyde, late of Storping-on-Firkill, the village just to the west of Little Dunthorpe, was sufficient to bring a scream tearing from her. Its the r- Then Annies thick, blood-grimed fingers poked under the door and tugged mindlessly at his shirt.
Isn't it great?

In more macabre spam news, I got classic Nigerian scam mail with an Iraqi twist. Has anyone else seen this one? It kind of freaks me out. Iraqi Nigerian scam )
qatarperegrine: (books)
On a lighter note, I have been surprised to discover this week that I kinda dig Edna St. Vincent Millay's sonnets. (I just loathe the stuff in quatrains. Quatrains are evil.) So, in honor of (a) National Poetry Month and (b) U.S. tax day, here is a poem that at least starts out talking about taxes, although it ends somewhere rather different.

We talk of taxes, and I call you friend;
Well, such you are,--but well enough we know
How thick about us root, how rankly grow
Those subtle weeds no man has need to tend,
That flourish through neglect, and soon must send
Perfume too sweet upon us and overthrow
Our steady senses; how such matters go
We are aware, and how such matters end.
Yet shall be told no meagre passion here;
With lovers such as we forevermore
Isolde drinks the draught, and Guinevere
Receives the Table's ruin through her door,
Francesca, with the loud surf at her ear,
Lets fall the colored book upon the floor.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay, from Second April

(More Millay sonnets can be found here and here. I'm particularly fond of "Time does not bring relief; you all have lied," "Only until this cigarette is ended," and "Here is a wound that never will heal, I know.")

Green Eyes

Feb. 14th, 2006 11:54 pm
qatarperegrine: (books)
Just for kicks, today I translated my favorite Spanish short story into English; it's Los Ojos Verdes, a fun Romantic tale by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer. Just right for Valentine's Day!

Translation turns out to be harder than I thought. In Spanish this is all beautifully worded, Yeats-ish, but I couldn't make it come out right. The voice is inconsistent, and I spent absurd amounts of time trying to work out how to translate things like "Fuente de los Álamos," because "Poplar Headwaters" just doesn't roll off the tongue. So enjoy, and be gentle. :-)

Green Eyes )
qatarperegrine: (books)
Last year I kept a reading list in which I reviewed/discussed the books I'd been reading. My mother's been bugging me about doing the same this year, but honestly I sort of lost track of what I've read. So here's an abbreviated reading list of books I remember reading last year. I may add more later as they occur to me. As a bonus, I'll provide a favorite quote from some of them (if I can remember one).

Behind a cut because, really, most of you probably don't care! )
qatarperegrine: (books)
From [ profile] nicodemusrat: Post a favorite poem. Now this is a cool meme that's far more informative than a quiz or questionnaire!

To make sure I didn't post something redundant I went through all the poems I've already posted on my LJ: EE Cummings' It may not always be so (with additional links to Gerard Manley Hopkins' Carrion Comfort and No Worst, There is None and TS Eliot's Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock), Shakespeare's Let me not to the marriage of true minds, Gerard Manley Hopkins' Spring and Fall, EE Cummings' Take for example this:, and of course, the silly Google-translated poetry contest.

I think what is missing is some Rumi. There are a lot of Rumi poems I love, but let's try Moses and the Shepherd )

...Although, really, today I am more in the mood for the Reed Flute's Song:

...Days full of wanting,
let them go by without worrying

that they do. Stay where you are
inside such a pure, hollow note....

You should also read Nic's pick here... and then post your own poem du jour!
qatarperegrine: (jesus)
When I wrote my article "Five Cool Things about the Qur'an," I intended to write a companion piece about the parts of my own religious tradition I began to appreciate more as a result of my increased exposure to other religions. As with any aspect of culture, there are things you don't realize about your own religious worldview until you've had a few encounters with a different tradition. Thus living here in the Muslim world has given me an opportunity not only to learn about Islam but also to reflect on Christianity in a broader context.

I had difficulty conceptualizing how to write that article, though, without it appearing to be something along the lines of "Five Things that Make the Bible Cooler than the Qur'an." I hope you all know me well enough to know that isn't my intention, but just in case I still have to convince you: I do not believe that a renewed appreciation for Christianity has to come at the expense of respect for the other wisdom traditions of the world.

So you've heard me say the things that impressed me about the Qur'an: its beauty, its consistency, and so on. Now, here's the thing that impresses me about the Bible.

It's messy. )
qatarperegrine: (mandala)
I like today's Dhammapada readings:
Overcome the angry by non-anger;
overcome the wicked by goodness;
overcome the miser by generosity;
overcome the liar by truth. (223)

O Atula! Indeed, this is an ancient practice, not one only of today:
they blame those who remain silent,
they blame those speak much,
they blame those who speak in moderation.
There is none in the world who is not blamed.
There never was,
there never will be,
nor is there now,
a person who is wholly blamed or wholly praised. (227-228)
qatarperegrine: (mandala)
I'm going to do another scripture-in-a-month. This one's a bit shorter, but that's good as it will give me time to actually reflect and not just scramble to read the requisite number of lines. And, even better, it's already handily divided into 26 chapters.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu's translation of the Dhammapada
Acharya Buddharakkhita's translation of the Dhammapada

I'm reading The Pairs tonight!
qatarperegrine: (books)
The winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest were just announced.

If you haven't heard of the Bulwer-Lytton, it is a contest for the WORST opening line of a (non-existent) novel, named after the guy who started his 1830 book Paul Clifford with this infamous sentence:
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

This year's winner is the following sentence, by Microsoft analyst Dan McKay:
As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold, aching for experienced hands, the small knurled caps of the oil dampeners begging to be inspected and adjusted as described in chapter seven of the shop manual.

The list of other winners and runner-ups has a lot of sentences I like better, though. This one's my favorite:
Patricia wrote out the phrase 'It was a dark and stormy night' exactly seventy-two times, which was the same number of times she stabbed her now quickly-rotting husband, and the same number of pages she ripped out of 'He's Just Not That Into You' by Greg Behrendt to scatter around the room -- not because she was obsessive compulsive, or had any sentimental attachment to the number seventy-two, but because she'd always wanted to give those quacks at CSI a hard time.
qatarperegrine: (books)
Earlier this week I joined Friendster, and I discovered that a high school friend had Gerard Manley Hopkins listed as one of his favorite authors. This struck me as funny, because I suspect he was introduced to Hopkins through my presentation on Carrion Comfort (or was it No Worst, There is None?) in AP English, the same day his presentation introduced me to my now-favorite poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. It reminded me how much I loved that AP English class. One of the reasons I didn't major in English in college was that my first college-level English class so thoroughly failed to live up to AP English.

[ profile] syd___ presented on Conrad Aiken, but sadly I don't remember which poem. (Do you remember, syd?) The only other presentation I remember was the one on E.E. Cummings, which was the first time I realized that many of Cummings' poems, as odd as they look on the page, are in fact sonnets. So, for your reading pleasure, here is my favorite maudlin sonnet:

it may not always be so )

Edit: Say it ain't so! I just discovered that Bjork sings a song based on this sonnet. It's truly, truly horrific. If you have access to the Apple Music Store, it's called "Sonnets/Unrealities XI" on the Medulla album, but don't blame me if it ruins the poem for you.
qatarperegrine: (books)
This is of, at best, passing importance to others, but I'm recording it here for my own convenience, so I can keep track of all the books about which I've said, "Hey, I should read that while I'm in the States."

Books to find and read this summer )

Of course I invite suggestions about books I should add to the list.
qatarperegrine: (Default)
to a young child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Gerard Manley Hopkins apparently wrote that while walking to the train station, which just goes to show that the world would be a better place if we all used public transportation.

Rest in Peace, Grandpa Bob.
qatarperegrine: (niqab)
My favorite radio station here plays an incredibly cheesy radio soap opera called The Love of Qays and Layla. It's about a woman named Layla, who is in love with Qays despite her upcoming marriage to someone else, and Qays' devolution into a madman due to his love for her. So far we've heard two episodes; in the first, Layla was receiving the sage advice that she could be true to Qays by refusing to have sex with her soon-to-be-husband, and in today's episode she sent Qays away and got married to the Other Man. This soap represents BAD acting at its finest, although I have to say Qays' despairing "Nooo!" was about twice as believable as Annikin's.

I just looked up the radio station's claim that this cheesy and overly romantic tale is "based on a centuries-old Saudi Arabian love story," and it is indeed true. The famous version of it -- Layla and Majnun, majnun meaning "madman" -- was written in the 12th century by a Persian Sufi poet named Nizami. It was set in seventh century Arabia and is based on an oral tradition that, at least according to some, may actually date back to that period.

According to something random called the History News Network, this story -- though unfamiliar to most of us in the West -- has influenced a number of classic Western love stories, such as Romeo and Juliet and, of course, the Eric Clapton song.

And, since I've read a bit about the epic, I now know that Layla is NOT going to have sex with her new husband, and that they're all going to die tragically. Hope that doesn't spoil the plot for anyone else.

Each grain of sand takes its own length and breadth as the measure of the world; yet, beside a mountain range it is as nothing. You yourself are the grain of sand; you are your own prisoner. Break your cage, break free from yourself, free from humanity; learn that what you thought was real is not so in reality. Follow Nizami: burn but your own treasure, like a candle -- then the world, your sovereign, will become your slave.

-from Nizami's version of Layla and Majnun

qatarperegrine: (books)
Speaker A: ...gobbling the whole, sharpening the flashing iron.
Speaker B: And the helmets are shaking their purple-dyed crests, and for the wearers of breast-plates the weavers are striking up the wise shuttle's songs, that wakes up those who are asleep.
Speaker A: And he is gluing together the chariot's rail.

Having read this exchange, I'm wondering if it is such a boon for humanity to have found fragments of a new-to-us Sophocles play. Nevertheless, I think this news is very exciting! Given my interests, I'm especially hopeful that new early gospel fragments will be among the newly legible papyri.
qatarperegrine: (books)
[ profile] marialuminous says it's National Poetry Month, so in honor of National Poetry Month, here is the poem that was going around my head when I woke up this morning.

Take for example this: )

         -E.E. Cummings
qatarperegrine: (arabic)
I'm playing with a Google Hack that takes the text you input and translates it from English to German, German to French, and then back to English -- with each step obviously introducing a lot of confusion and errors. So the idea is to input poetry, or familiar phrases, and see what comes back -- like a solitaire version of the kids' game Telephone.

Click here for the Weirdly Paraphrased Poetry Quiz! )


qatarperegrine: (Default)

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