Saturday, April 17, 2010

Islamic Week

Muslims in College

Many people think Islam is a restrictive religion. People often associate it with rules, sexual repression, and oppression of women. However, I don't believe that is what Islam is all about.

This week at my school (ASU-Main), they had Islam week, which by the end of it, seemed to have been overlapped by Native American Awareness day and Christians standing on the side of walkways screaming at people (not that this is the normal behavior for Christians, but at ASU, it happens a lot -- not that anyone ever listens to them!).

attractive muslim girlI personally attended one of the seminars there called "What is Islam?" and loved learning about some aspects of Islam. And it turns out, Islam is pretty alright. In fact, nothing that was said in that seminar really contradicts anything I believe about religion at all, well except perhaps the not having sex before marriage because I personally believe that is a rather amoral (having no moral or immoral properties) act. Saying that sex before marriage is immoral is, in my opinion, just as unrealistic as saying that using contraception is immoral, despite how completely different those two things are. Never-the-less, if that is someone's religious or moral belief, I can understand why they think that and respect their right to believe that.

Well, in the seminar, I asked a lot of hard questions, things that address the very nature of religion. I asked questions like "What is the nature of God? Is he a being which exists in a physical space, or is he an entity? Does he exist in one place or everywhere?"

The answer I got was that the nature of God is quite unknown, which is something I can respect, as that means that Islam doesn't impose its own perception of God unto others. Personally, I think the idea of God as a being in wrong. No bible says that God is a being. God is, as one quantum physicist had said, non-form. God has a nature, but God does not have need for a body. In fact, to be omnipresent, the idea of God having a body makes little sense at all.

Another person asked,

"Is God male or female?"

Is god male or female?The host of the seminar answered, "God has no gender. He is referred to as He because we have to use pronouns to describe Him, but gender is made by God."

I also asked questions that would make most religious experts stumble on their words like, "Why is it that God is a monarch? God doesn't seem to be a fan of democracy because he simply tells us what is good and what is not and expects us to follow it, and if we don't, we suffer hell fire."

The man responded that in Islam, God is not a dictator. There are certain times when God's law is supreme, like when society believes in something that is immoral, but God's laws are not written in the stars. If something brings a better outcome, a person can break those laws. For instance, if a man has a gun to your head, it is okay for a person to lie to spare his life. He also explains how society can also dictate was is good and not, this power isn't reserved specifically to God.

The most profound thing I must say about this seminar, though, is when he said that man can find God through nature. This is the thing in which founds my entire spiritual beliefs. Simply put, I believe the idea that Man needs a book to find God is ridiculous! Books can be interpreted a million different ways. A hundred people can read the same passage and come up with 30 or 40 different answers. Words can be twisted to make them say whatever you want and be used for evil, and the fact that it has to pass a language barrier makes religious misinterpretation ever more likely. Furthermore, one has to deal with complex ideas like whether the words are figurative or literal. And even scholars can't agree on what the bible says, no matter which religious bible you're using.

Plus, what if you're raised by wolves?
<---------Like this guy?

Or you live in a culture where that religion isn't allowed and you never here about it?

God doesn't have to be known through a book, through a college, through religious leaders. God, spirituality, and the like, can all be obtained through nature because these things exist within nature. Morality exists within nature. You can learn to be kind to others without a book. You can learn to pray to God without a preacher. If God exists, he exists in everything around us!

That's why I believe that God IS nature. And whether you do or not, it doesn't matter. I don't believe that good people can die and still go to hell (like so many religious pamphlets I've seen). I don't believe that only Christians are truly good (like many other religious pamphlets I've seen). And I certainly don't believe you need a guide to find God, nor do you necessarily even have to believe in God to escape hell fire (despite the fact I don't believe heaven or hell exist either).

That's the one thing that gets me about Islam though, that you do have to believe in God and the prophets to go to heaven, with exception. And that's fine. They really aren't so bad.

Finally, I would like to say that Muslims are good people just like most of the rest of us are. And Islam is a good religion. Islam doesn't oppress women. And it's certainly not a violent religion. It's people who do these things, and it can be done in the name of any religion. The Muslim wars and the poor living conditions in Muslim states is no indicator that the religion is bad either (otherwise Southern Nigeria would be doing a lot better!). People need to stop judging other people's religion and start focusing on understanding and accepting each others differences.

If you wish to follow up on this and learn more about different religions, you can check out the interfaith movement's website and attend some of their meetings: or check out faith organizations near you. This group is GREAT. They teach so much about various religions and religious tolerance. They're awesome!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Coffee Is Your Best Friend

So I live in Arizona. For those of you who don't know where that is, it's that odd shaped, rather square-looking thing (but not quite as square as the state's around it) state next to California, for lack of a better description. We aren't a bunch of gun-slingin' cowboys over here, living in archaic log homes and riding horses, despite how amusing the popular stereotype is. In fact, we have a rather dense metropolitan area, surrounded and including many large-interconnected cities that I think might as well be one big city cause sometimes I can't tell where one of them ends and where the other begins.
Arizona state on map
Right now, I'm going to school in a particularly unique Arizona city, Tempe. My school is Arizona State University. I would provide you with a little picture of ol' Sparky (the school trademark or whatever), except I don't want to end up getting in it with the school; so if you wanna know what he looks like, go ahead and google search it!

map of the light rail to ASU
College life isn't always as exciting as the movies makes it seem. To be honest with all you poor disillusioned, hopeful-eyed dreamers, college can sometimes just be full of exhaustion and a lot of useless downtime. Sometimes, I even go as far as to find myself a nice isolated bench and just nap the day away. I could theoretically just go home and sleep in my nice comfy bed, but the problem with that is that it takes me what seems to be an eternity to get home. Let me break this down for you...

Getting Home...

sleep is sometimes mroe important
Relatively speaking, the red circle represents where I'm at and the blue circle represents where I've got to go to get my car. This is all on the light rail so it's not nearly as bad as you'd think. However, it's about a 45 minute ride to my car, and from there, it's about another 20-30 minute drive back home (depending on the traffic). So all in all, when you're tired, sleep deprived and hungry, sometimes it's just overwhelmingly more appealing to do it hobo-style and worry about getting home after you've had a nap either in one of the chairs in the library, one of the benches outside, or anywhere you might creatively think to sleep where you don't wake up sunburned and dehydrated. (It's ok... it's a dry heat!)

Sleep Deprivation is the College Way...

an iced latte
Sleep deprivation does tend to have it's interesting side-effects, however. For one, it rearranges your priorities. For example, suddenly buying yourself a sub sandwich with all the fixings, double-meat and double-cheese from your local Subway becomes overwhelmingly more important than making sure you're saving enough money to purchase gas. Furthermore, coffee quickly becomes your best friend, and if anyone tries to stand between you and coffee, you suddenly become a knight in shining armor, out to save the deliciously-overpriced beverage from the clutches of evil! And then you stop and wonder why you had to pay $5 for a 24oz latte when you could have made a perfectly good latte at home for 1/10th the price. Then it dawns on you, again, that you are stuck at a location conveniently located an hour and a half away from your place of residence, which by association, your coffee maker, too (unless you're insane and bring it around with you), and before you know it, you're exhausted again and find your head conveniently located on the cold surface of the nearest desk only to wake up several hours later, wondering what happened to the rest of your coffee.


The Secret of Loans

You notice how college is grossly expensive? Well ladies and gents and for whoever else is reading this I got news for you.


But, why though? Is it so expensive because you're learning how to be a well evolved individual in society? How about so your on the intelligent side of a conversation? No, everyone knows education is only important to get a job with a high paying salary so you don't end up smelling like stale french fries or end up ever having to guess what the shoe size is of some overweight hippo or some adolescent brat. So go to college if nothing else for a better paying job.
Sorry to ruin your dreams but most things in this world are all about money. Money doesn't buy you happiness but it does buy you things that do make you happy. Now on a positive note there is an upside to this expensive "dream" of having a higher salary. You get to accumulate loans, and I mean a lot of them especially if you want to get a P.H.D. or a Master's degree. But don't fret, its all good! You don't have to pay a dime of it or let it gain interest while your still in school. So what do you do? Go to school until you die. You might be thinking this kids on crack or he is smoking way to much weed. Well, you're right I probably have had way too many drugs, but you can think college also for that.
The point is you never have to pay off these loans if you stay in school and you never have to stop having fun. Let's be honest, ask anyone when the better year's of their life were and I guarantee it was in college. Your basically getting free money to have all the sex you want with random people, all the weed you want to smoke, and all the beer pong you want to play and if you get to learn how to make money to while your there well then I guess your just a peppy little spit screw. College is the epitome of doing all that is what people truly love but are to afraid to say out in the public. So, the next time someone offers you a free ride to the college of your dreams I say take that ride because I  personally am going to until I am 6 feet under and there is no reason why you shouldn't either because its on the government's dime.


The Lovely Little College In The Middle of Nowhere Tennessee

University of Tennessee at Martin:
Lovely little college in the middle of NOWHERE.

People come here as a dead end type thing or to escape from where they live. Everyone (almost) in my graduating class has come to UTM. It was about our only choice. The Tennessee Lottery scholarship requires that you go to a Tennessee school, so guess where everyone went? The nearest (also probably cheapest) Tennessee college. It's a small college with current enrollment of a little over 8,000. (Just so you know a bit about the place)

be advisedAnyway, I don't know how all colleges work, but we have advisers. Oh how I dislike (hate) my old adviser. As an undeclared freshman, I was assigned an adviser in in the Student Success Center. My adviser wasn't bad until I moved into my second year of college. She just disappeared off the face of the Earth! She was NEVER in her office. NEVER! I would wait for her too. I emailed her and no answer. So, I had to wait forever until they could find someone free for a second or two so I could be told what classes I need to take.

I also didn't like this adviser. The way I understood it, after your sophomore year, you have to declare a major. I knew the area I wanted to be in-Business, but not the specialization. This adviser said it didn't matter. Yeah....don't trust the advisers. If you know different, do not trust them! Ask the head of the department. Someone who if they mess up can be in big trouble. So guess what? During the middle of the summer, I got a hold on my account. (We have this portal thing, which you can get various
psychic adivsorholds on which can affect registering for classes and looking up your GPA) Can you guess what it was? Yeah, time to declare a major! I had to run around in circles to do that.

Thank you advisers for being there for me like you're paid to do.

--Cat Eye

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Importance of Games

The one thing I underestimated about college life is the importance of games. No, I don't mean video games, though many would argue this is pretty important too.

I'm talking about games you used to play as a kid

Sometimes, hanging out with friends can get dull. To be honest, I have a pretty exciting group of friends, and I love hanging out with them. We often do a lot of different things, and when we get bored, we're usually pretty creative in finding ways to remedy that. However, on certain occasions, there just doesn't seem to be anything to do. On occasions like these, it's often a good time to "bring back" certain beloved childhood games.

Let me give you an example: this one time, going through CVS, we noticed they had 4-square balls, and as a spur of the moment decision, we decided to get one. We only ended up playing with it once before retiring it to the trunk of my car for a long time, but later on, it found its way back out when another stroke of boredom had come our way. I hadn't even played 4-square since my Freshman year of highschool, and there I was, a sophomore in college, enjoying it possibly more than I did as a kid.

Another great pastime that I don't think I ever appreciated enough as a kid is board games. Just the other day, I was playing some silly board game called Quelf, which is a very simplistic, but complicated game. The whole idea of the game is that you roll a die, advance that many spaces, and like in candyland, jump on different colored squares. Depending on which square you land on, you draw that color of card and it tells you what to do. It has ridiculous things like acting like an iceskater for two minutes (with absolutely no real effect on the game at all) to naming different things that fall in a certain category. Or in my case, acting like a weeping willow every time someone rolls a four. Hehe....

Other games that I never got to enjoy as a kid like Scrabble also become more possible, as people suddenly start to appreciate these sort of things.

Simple card games also make a comeback, but in my experience, the most common use of cards in college life is poker, which is usually accompanied with drinking and parties and is very rarely played with real money.

strip poker

Finally, I can't forget all the whacky shit that we come up with that may even put strip poker to shame!

One game I can think of in particular, which will never die in my mind, is ASSter. Oh... ASSter, how you are so random and unhygienic. The game of ASSter came about one day when my friend decided it would be a neat idea to play twister. However, twister can only be entertaining for so long. My friend Thunder decided it might be an interesting idea to put a twist on the game. So... well... they all pulled down their pants so that their asses were showing and the game commenced with much ass-hattery. The most memorable part of the game was when the introduction of the grand rule: "Asses must touch at least once." Wow!

I would like to just take a minute to point out that this was all men playing. There were no women touching asses in this game. Just a bunch of straight, sober men. Also, I would like to add that I did not participate. I believe I was sick that day... anyhow...

"Asses must touch at least once," proclaimed little Thunder with his round face and long hair.
"Fine," agreed Travis, more than prepared to smear his ass grease all over Thunder's face.
"I'm scared," said Thunder. "I don't know if I want to do this."
Then I chimed in. "What do you mean you don't know if you want to do this? It's not like it's a preordained rule. You just came up with it!"

And so the game of ASSter continued.

Lastly, I would like to leave you with one more interesting aspect of games in college.

ANYTHING can be turned into a drinking game

from trivia to uno spin. Oh yes... even uno can be a drinking game.