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Friday, November 11, 2011

Reading Lolita in Tehran

So I'm reading Reading Lolita in Tehran. It reminds me of separation of church and state rants I've done on the blog in some ways.

I had these thoughts while reading the first part of the book. She goes into some description of Iran and compares it with her life abroad. The recent republican debates, Eid stamp hysteria emails, sharia law hysteria, Muslim hearings in Congress, etc have also been in the background of my thoughts on church and state and extremes lately.

Voting according to religion is good, but legislating it is often not- be careful what you wish for- we may end up living up in a Christian version of Iran. Imagine if baptism was the law or baptized individuals received rights others didn't get. The state loses and religion loses. We need to vote our conscience; that is our right and duty. When we start to impose our (or certain) religious rules on others, it becomes a problem. Not only have we taken away their right to work things out for themselves, but it may very well backfire on us. We start with the good intention of shielding children and ourselves from immorality and then the balance of power shifts and suddenly others are telling us how to practice our religion and what's moral and who we can and cannot hire as a preacher (for example).

There is a bit of discussion on the veil in Iran in the book. Before the revolution when you could wear colors and read fiction and laugh in public, the veil was a symbol of a choice. When it became law, the power of the symbol was lost, though the intent of the law was no doubt a moral one. The veil changed from being a personal, religious symbol to one of oppression in a lot of ways.

Sorry- just getting a lot of hits on my Muslim stamp post and listening to the republican candidates and debate highlights (sharia law in the US?!) ...

And another thing occurred to me- about page 209. A thought about the Bush administration. Not to make a direct comparison between Bush and Iran or anything. (Seriously!) She spoke of a mood of resignation and tiredness with all of the bombings and interruptions of life (Iran-Iraq war) when they were forced to hear military marches, news of a "victory", or mourn a "martyr." And then she talks about the complete opposite attitudes of people in the street with anti-war sentiments and the government droning on- "the regime's ideal continued the play itself out undeterred." This sentence reminded me so much of the voices (many experts and former US officials) of doubt about Iraq's possession of WMD, yellowcake and Africa, link to 9/11, etc and the Bush administration's smug superiority when Bush, Cheney or the others would continue to repeat things (Bush doctrine, mushroom cloud, hit them there rather than here, Iraq has WMD, Iraq is linked to 9/11) with the same smug certainty when they were first only suspected as false (by liberals generally-and me, though I hadn't decided what I was at that point but plenty of people told me what I was...) as when they were increasingly known to all as false and maybe lies. I'm not calling Bush a dictator or anything, but there was that same distance so vast it was unbelievable and almost funny (tragic) between the public and the government in both cases. That sentence really struck me as extraordinarily applicable- especially Cheney's certainty and the way he quoted something picked up by the Times, leaked by the administration itself. Bush was always concerned about his legacy and history;  he can rest assured that he'll go down in it all right. Legendary.

Oddly enough , a recent event ties in somewhat. It's not the government, but still odd:
Did a Marriot Vacation Club survey and was asked a series of questions about vacations. Also included was a question about believing in 7 day creation and prayer in schools (?). We aren't members, but took a deal that offered a low rate in return to listening to the presentation and offer to do this timeshare thing, etc. I have no problem with discussing these things, but what is the motivation, here? It's none of their business. I am immediately suspicious and have less of a desire to join, not that it was high to begin with! This kind of gets at what I was saying- what if questions like these become routine for everything- businesses you want to enter and buy from, school admission, traffic stops.


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  2. Thank you! I hope you enjoy. My keywords are a bit out of control- I hope you can find what interests you. This post is kind of a side issue, something we should be aware of- separation of church and state. I think a more pressing issue is getting long overdue rights for Palestinians which means breaking through a dogmatic, blind support for Israel despite it's crimes.