God, Satan, and Carl Jung

 “You are a slave of what you need in your soul.” The Red Book by Carl Jung

I’ve not believed in the idea of Satan, at least in the literal sense for quite some time now. I think Satan is an archetype of evil, a symbol of pure negativity, debauchery, and depravity. Even as a practicing Muslim, I could never fully accept the typical portrayal of Satan as some type of physical and tangible being, constantly whispering to us, an ornery little villain whose main aim is to lead us astray. This notion seems very childlike to me.

Indeed, Islamic thought does believe in the idea of Satan and the Quran is quite explicit in describing him. I don’t think Satan was ever meant to be taken figuratively and most believers don’t see him as thus. Instead, I’ve almost always viewed in him in very psychological terms. He is the epitome everything we view as bad in the world, and especially the evil deeds that take place at the hands of humankind.The waswas, a deep sense of tempation into what is typically thought to be immoral. These weaknesses are our downfall, as is the metaphor of the Garden of Eden.

Carl Jung describes a series archetypical images which pervade the human consciousness, manifesting themselves in art, religion, and myth. Jung viewed the source of the archetype as instinctual. We are born with an inate knowledge of various archetypes. These archetypes exist throughout humanity and throughout all times. A specific archetype may manifest itself in various forms, but with obvious similarities.

So naturally, this got me thinking, if Satan is the archetype of evil, then what does that make God? The natural inclination would be to view God and Satan in dualistic terms; God as the archetype of good, the yin to the yang. But then, I don’t necessarily view God as always being good, at least as he is described in the monotheistic scriptures. I suppose this might depend highly on one’s definition of good, but God is often portrayed as the bringer of hellfire and punishment, he is often described as being quite human in his emotions, a jealous and vengeant god.  Therefore, it might be viewed more as a relationship of tension, an epic battle for the soul, two enemies fighting it out at the expense of humanity. Perhaps a better metaphor would be one of chaos and order; Satan representing the perils of an ammoral society, and God representing order as defined by religious law.

So if Satan is only an archetype and not a physical being, then it might certainly be the case that God is as well.  Our descriptions God and Satan are the stuff of archetype and myth, and these concepts reflect ourselves more than anything.  I have often entertained thoughts of  leaping over the precipice of agnosticm, I do believe there is something to the universe. I’m just not sure we have been able to adequately describe it. Nor am I sure that such a description is possible.

Thoughts?

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Happy Cinco De Mayo!

 Here in my house, I take any little reason to cook international cuisine and really make a spectacle of it. Of course, here in America at least, Cinco de Mayo isn’t any little reason, it’s practically become a national holiday. For those of you not from norteamericano, Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) is an important day in Mexican history. I’d always thought it was the Mexican indpendence day, but according to Wiki, that’s not quite the case. No mind, here in America, it’s become an excuse to party and drink and is nationally known because 1. We have a large Mexican population  2. Gringos really like Mexican food and especially margaritas, and 3. It’s just plain fun.

In my own city, there are celebrations held at various venues, which invariably involve people drinking too much tequila and making subsequent inquestionably bad choices, but I prefer to just have a little delicious celebration of my own.

Since I’m working tonight, I decided to cook up las comidas last night.

  I do my carne asada taco truck style. You can also do this with chicken but then, of course, it will be called pollo asada. I don’t really have an official recipe. There are a ton out there if you are a “recipe” person, or if you’ve never made them before. I basically do this:

Step 1:

Get some decent quality meat, chuck or round and cut it up into really small pieces. You could get really fancy and use flank or skirt steak, but like I said, I like to do mine up taco truck style, which ain’t fancy–just delicious. Sometimes you can find the meat already cut, especially for carne asada, especially if you live in a place with a large Mexican population.

Marinate the meat in some spices. I use garlic, onion, cumin, chile powder, salt and peper. Add a little lime juice and maybe some olive oil. You can marinate as long as you want, but since I’m usually not very organized, I just usually let it sit for 30 minutes or so. Saute it all over medium high heat until cooked through. I break out my cast iron for this one, because  it browns the meat and gives it a nice grilled flavor. Towards the end, add in a juice of a lime. Adjust your seasonings to taste.

Step 2:

Assemble the tacos. I use corn tortillas, and I like to double them up, which is how I’ve seen it done in the authentic places. Make sure to steam your tortillas first, in the microwave with a wet paper towel. This is the best way I’ve found to warm them. Supposedly, if you have really fresh tortillas, you can get away with just warming them, but mine have always turned out to be a dry mess unless I steam them.

Add your meat and toppings. For the toppings, I prefer chopped cabbage over lettuce, which is the more authentic way of serving. Also, I must have some fresh avacodo and cilantro.  Maybe add some onion. It’s up to you. Top the whole thing with a salsa of your choice. I usually like to use homeade pico de gallo, but I was feeling lazy, so I used a jarred brand. I like Herdez, it just tastes fresher than the other brands that I’ve tried, but use what you like. Oh yeah, at the end, feel free to squeeze a bit of lime over the final product.

For my cocktail, I made mojitos! Ok, so mojitos are technically Cuban and I suppose the true cinco de mayo tradition would call for margaritas. But I’ve been dying to try the Mojitos and hey, I’m American, so it’s okay to totally mix up two totally different and independent Latino cultures, right?

 

I used this recipe, from Rufus‘ site, which I really enjoy btw. I muddled and added club soda. I also made one of mine sugar free using a mix of splenda and liquid Sweet n low. Really, the sugar free was almost just as good, if you’re watching your calories. I also made the kids a virgin version (say that ten times over) and they loved it.s, so you could do that if you don’t drink alcohol.  Either way, the mojito was just as promised: cool and refreshing.

 So there you have it. Eat, drink, and be merry…ole, ole, ole (I have no idea what that means, but I’m pretty sure it’s Spanish).

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When We Talk To God

Are we really talking to ourselves?

I recently found myself in a bit of a bind and if the outcome had gone the opposite direction, the event may have effected my life in a very negative way. As I came to a realization of the seriousness of the situation, I began to engage in a long ignored but not forgotten dialogue.

You all know it. It goes something like this:

“God, if you get me out of this I swear I’ll never do such a stupid thing again. I don’t know why I’m so ignorant. Surely, if this works out the way I’d like I’ll try my best to be a wonderful person and always remember what a glorious guy you are and shower you with praises and give lots of charity and always be nice to the less fortunate and never lie or think bad of people or masturbate again”.

OK, well it didn’t go quite that way, but you get the gist.

It is a strangely soothing dialogue. It’s reassuring to know that in our darkest moments, when we’re the most desperate, there is some one there to listen. I’ve given up the idea of a God who is active in our lives, so why did I continue this conversation? Habit? Perhaps.

I think that these type of prayers or conversations or whatever you want to call them are illusions, but they do serve a purpose. For me, as soon as I realized what I was doing, there was also the recognition that a type of void has been created. I no longer have God to unload my burdens upon, but I do have my own inner conscience. I’m able to sort out my thoughts and emotions in times of great stress.  I am able to admonish myself for my own stupidity and also give myself a type of reminder to be grateful for the good things I do have. I’m able to control what I can and let go of what I cannot.  

Somehow though, talking to yourself (especially out loud) isn’t as settling as talking to the omnipotent, but invisible, Creator of the universe. It also might get you long sideways looks and questions regarding your sanity.

That doesn’t make a bit of sense if you think about it.

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Letting Go…

When I lost religion a few months ago, I did what any sane and reasonable person might do to cement the deal and make it official: I changed my facebook profile. Under the religion heading it now reads, “Free from religion”. Of course, it is true that I have never really been free from Islam. In fact, since just before my apostacy,  it has taken a hold of me like  an ever lurking, suffocating presence, never far from my consciousness.

While some commenters have chosen to take an aggressive and accusatory tone towards my discontent and others have been sympathetic,this  and this comment really sums it up the best. Losing religion is like a breakup. It’s an earth shattering and cathartic process. Sometimes it’s torturous and other times exhilarating. But mostly torturous. Sure, there’s the realization that I no longer have to worry about eating certain things or asking the waiter if there’s wine in the brown sauce or if there’s bacon grease in the mashed potatoes.  There’s the ease of going to get my hair done in an actual salon among real people, not hidden away in some back room because I cover my hair. There’s a slew of things that I can freely enjoy now that I didn’t before.  Things that blogger evebitestheapple calls “Fringe Benefits”.

But mostly it’s been torturous, a constant battle to overcome regrets and resentment. There’s a reason why the phrase, “losing my religion” exists in the vernacular. It’s not just an REM song, it’s a commonly used southern colloquialism which means something like “at the end of my rope”. It’s what a person feels when they’ve just had enough and can’t take it anymore.

It’s definitely not easy.

I’ve been fighting an epic battle to overcome the negative emotions.  Anger and resentment still lurk.  But in the last few weeks, it’s gotten better. For no particular reason, it’s like a tiny weight has been lifted. A small measure, to be sure, but noticeable still. I don’t want to be angry anymore. I’m tired of reading blogs and feeling a veiled sense of hostility. To be honest, it’s been the progressive and moderate voices that disturb me the most. Perhaps because that’s the only way I could ever imagine my life as a Muslim, and yet I find it so artificial. So false. I find it dishonest that (especially) women are taking great leaps to make Islam livable and acceptable to our modern morality, changing essential concepts found within the Quran and hadith and cemented by 140o years of scholarship, “reinterpreting” them into something so far away from what must have surely been the original intent as recognized by the Bedouins of the 7th century. Because God couldn’t possibly have thought women were lesser, or that non-Muslims unequal. The prophet couldn’t have possibly married a child or ordered stonings and beheadings. No, that’s impossible. So instead, let’s change the doctrine into something that works for today, rather than abandoning it altogether. It’s easier to change the religion instead of leaving it.  I chose the latter. But that’s my opinion and you know what they say about those.

It’s wrong of me to feel anger towards reformists.I’ve realized that while I stand by my beliefs and assessment, it really doesn’t matter what Islam was meant to be as orchestrated by Muhammad, or his loyal followers or the fourteen centuries of scholarship. It only matters what it is today and what it will be in the future.  It only matters what it can be. So for the sake of humanity everywhere, for my daughter and future grandchildren, it is much more advantageous to seek out an Islam that gives women equal footing in public and in private, an Islam that is tolerant to non-Muslims, and an Islam that views God as one of forgiveness and love while seeking out the kind and gentle qualities of its prophet. An Islam that can coexist.

It’s wrong of me to feel this anger because of what I am and what I believe. I believe people in America have the right to practice their faith in whatever way they see fit. But most importantly, I believe that women have the right to see their chosen destinies fulfilled, a right to self-determination and an essential belief in their own self worth and value, irrespective of traditional, conservative gender roles . I believe this can only be accomplished through progressive and reformist thought and for this reason, most especially, I support the movement.

More than anything I resent myself. I truly wish I never converted. I simply cannot understand why I ever chose to willingly enter a community in which questions of whether it’s okay for a woman to pray next to a man, or uncover her head, or even speak in public is “acceptable”–a community in which most of its members would answer a resounding no to the above questions. In this day and age. What the hell was I thinking?  I can’t believe I would willingly enter a religion in which owning a dog is a scandal and listening to music controversial.  Why on earth would I choose such a thing for myself? Me, the girl who used wear bright purple hair and listen to punk rock. The girl who never listened to anyone and could never be tamed. The girl who was wild and fun and mouthy and  just a bit crazy. The g irl who used to smoke ganja perched atop ancient oak trees, far above the world, swaying in the breeze.  

Why?

Perhaps this has been the hardest question of all and one I will surely continue to ask.

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Busy Busy

I’m physically and emotionally exhausted at this point. The last few weeks of this semester are upon me, as are exams and pending research papers. When things get this chaotic, I sincerely question my decsion to attempt  grad school at this point in my life. I can only hope, no, I know, that it will pay off for me both professionally and personally in the long run.

Anyway, I’m quite disposed with research and study and writing, intermingled with mopping  floors and cooking meals and scubbing pots while tending to littles and sharing kisses and cuddles, all while still trying to engage in the rare quiet moments with my husband. So, I’ll leave you with this excellent article by tazaqqa entitled “Muhammad’s Misogyny?”

One of my favorite bloggers,  Tazaqqa is always fair and kind and generous. Not to mention thought provoking. I agree so much with closing statement.

my conclusion was that if he had indeed been receiving divine revelations he would have known that all this is not the best moral example for the seal of prophethood since Islam closes all doors to future moral standards by calling Muhammad the “best example” and the last prophet.

So until I have a moment to breath and not one second before I’ve enjoyed a nice long bubble bath, a big glass of Zinfandel, and a long evening date with Netflix, enjoy the article and I’ll return soon for more fun. Inshallah.

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Collector of Quotes

I’m a quotes person. Maybe I’m just intellectually lazy, but I simply love little nuggets of wisdom that can be easily ingested and pondered over.  I keep a document  in Word labelled “Random”. It’s just what it’s called, random thoughts of mine: various poets, writers, and musicians I hope to check out, objects and thoughts I come across throughout the day that give me pause. It’s also littered with quotes.

 Here are some of my favorites:

”If you have never been called a defiant, incorrigible, impossible woman… have faith… there is yet time.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes–Thanks to unsettledsoul for that one.
 
“Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake a whole relationship.”  Sharon Stone

“Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda–The Empire Strikes Back

“God, please save me from your followers!”   Bumper Sticker–I want, but doubt husband would tolerate.

“All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” Voltaire
 
“Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.” Voltaire –Voltaire has some good quotes.

“Now, now my good man, this is no time for making enemies.”  Voltaire–on his deathbed in response to a priest asking that he renounce Satan.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”  Albert Einstein

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  Albert Einstein–another one with great quotes.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Mark Twain

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Emerson
“I had a lovers quarrel with the world.” Robert Frost– the great one.
 
“”No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  Eleanor Roosevelt–my girl.
 
Anyone else a collector of quotes? Got one to add to my collection?
P.S. Sorry for the funky formatting. WP is acting strange.

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Religious Consolation

by John Updike

One size fits all. The shape or coloration
of the god or high heaven matters less
than that there is one, somehow, somewhere, hearing
the hasty prayer and chalking up the mite
the widow brings to the temple. A child
alone with horrid verities cries out
for there to be a limit, a warm wall
whose stones give back an answer, however faint.

Strange, the extravagance of it—who needs
those eighteen-armed black Kalis, those musty saints
whose bones and bleeding wounds appall good taste,
those joss sticks, houris, gilded Buddhas, books
Moroni etched in tedious detail?
We do; we need more worlds. This one will fail.

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