Doctor Science Knows

Friday, September 08, 2006

Book rec: The Venture of Islam

Charles Bird is a conservative, but a moderate one, which means he gets to hang out with the philosophers and philosophes at Obsidian Wings. Today, though, he loses big "moderate" cred, by posting about This Week in Militant Islam". This includes such gems of intercultural understanding as:
This is World War IV, or as I call it, the WAMI (War Against Militant Islamism). For me, the above events simply reinforce that we are fighting a certain ideology and its activist practitioners

For Charles and anyone else seeking intellectual sustenance about the history and culture of Islam, there is IMHO no finer work than Marshall Hodgson's Venture of Islam. This series -- Volume I, Volume 2, Volume 3 -- wasn't even completed when Hodgson died in 1968, but it's still incredibly topical and gripping.

Yes, it's rather long, but it's splendidly written and doesn't attempt to go too fast, which would inevitably mean failing to give you a feel for his topic, which is one of the main currents in the river of human history. Reading such a long account of "Islamdom" (as Hodgson calls it) also lets the Western reader's mind get used to a vast amount of unfamiliar material. It's due to Hodgson that I always know the difference between Shiite and Sunni, and that I never forget that Iran, Turkey, and Egypt are not Arab nations.

If there's a briefer work on Islamic history that can do a decent job of teaching someone from "Christendom" on the major landmarks in "Islamdom", I'd like to hear about it, because Hodgson's 3 volumes and over 1000 pages certainly look daunting. But they're some of the fastest 1000 pages in historical writing, IMHO one of the high points of 20th-century scholarship

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

In which I blame the patriarchy

Pam at Pandagon talks about Joe Brumer's challenge to anti-gay advocates:
Part 1: Please explain to me what the world would look like if your mission was accomplished when it comes to gays. Paint me a picture of how the world would look if that which you are trying to achieve comes to “BE”. Show me what the end goal would look like when it is finally met.

Part 2: Considering lots of people don’t believe the same way you do, tell me if the actions, process and appraoch you are taking is really helping people. How is your ministry, blog, website or organization helping to reach that goal.

um, I thought the answer was pretty obvious.

Same-sex marriage really, truly is a serious threat to the traditional institution of marriage, because it is a form of marriage where the spouses are equals. Not only *are* they equals, they *look* like equals, they have equal (or substantially similar) genitalia.

The threat of homosexual rights, same-sex marriage, abortion, all the “culture wars” issues is the same: they undermine the patriarchy. And since they really do, of course the threat feels very real to the patriarchy’s supporters. It’s not paranoia when we really are out to get them.

The thing is, if you’re mentally inside the American patriarchy, that structure is woven into your deepest sense of who you are, and into your repressed and festering sexuality. Of course attacking the patriarchy makes such people feel personally attacked: if men don’t rank higher than women then nothing is reliable, their whole psyches might collapse like a sack of worms.

Seeing homosexuals acting like real people produces great anxiety (in the technical Freudian sense), because — there they are! Acting like sex is something other than a man dominating a woman! And being sexy! And stimulating! aieeee!

Mission accomplished, then, would be a world where their own sexual feelings are controlled, where nothing arouses them unexpectedly, where all sexuality is neat, restrained & predictable, and where women (and thus men) know their place.