Wedding fun

So this weekend, the fiancee and I went to the wedding of a chemistry friend of hers. His new wife is an evangelical Christian, so the wedding was going to be very happy-clappy and Jesus-loves-me, and I went prepared for that.

All of which went down as expected; a priest who's informal and rather excitable, lots of songs that go on about how wonderful Jesus is but otherwise sound like generic pop-rock, that sort of thing. I don't mind that, after all marriage is a deeply personal thing, and people should go about it in the way that means the most to them.
There was one thing that really bothered me though, and I was made very uncomfortable by it; that is, the vows. This is where the bride was made to promise that she will follow the groom's lead in their marriage.

This is England in the 21st century, and we have an intelligent woman with a strong personality who promises to follow her husband's lead in all things, before her friends, family and congregation. What IS this shit!?

For the record: this does represent fairly well my immediate reaction in the moment. I evinced shock and turned to my fiancee, which she told me later made her feel much better about it, as it reassured her she wasn't the only one noticing how howlingly wrong that was.

Marriage, at least to the two of us, is a partnership of equals. That does not mean each of us has to lead exactly 50% of the time, that we are failing if the division of labour is not half-and-half on effort input, or anything stupid like that.
It does mean though that sometimes she leads, sometimes I do. Some housework is my responsibility, some is hers. Small decisions are made some by her, some by me; big decisions are made in consultation between us.

And seriously, while it isn't all smooth sailing, the decisions we make together have better results than the ones we make apart. Two heads really are better than one.

So why, why, why, would you solemnize the relationship you want to build your life around by distorting and devaluing the dynamic that makes it so practical as well as fun?



Okay, fisking time:

First, a little background. An old schoolfriend of mine has turned uber-Muslim, and has recently been engaging in email exchanges with me to attempt to win me around to his point of view. Sometimes this is entertaining, and other times it is infuriating. Anyway, sometimes he puts the burden of effort on me, by demanding that I read various treatises on the internet and respond to them. The following is my take on one such, as I read it (found here if anyone's interested).

Praise be to Allah, the Almighty, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Universe, and peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, last of the Prophets, and upon all those who adhere to his example until the Day of Judgement.
Well, I think we can see *your* point of view, when you can't start writing without this.

Faith is the foundation upon which the whole structure of nations is based. Therefore, the progress of each nation is dependent upon the maintenance of its faith and ideology.
Factually wrong. The modern nation state developed as a way of welding together disparate peoples and political interests to win wars; as such it occurred earliest in England and France as they contested the Hundred Years War. While Kings used religion as one more tool to join the nation together, they also used language, culture, geography and warfare to do so. Moreover, the progress of nations has often been set back substantially by "maintenance of its faith" - view France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and how the Netherlands and England both benefitted substantially from the aftermath. Equally, look at 16th Century Spain and the fallout from the expulsion of both the Muslims and the Jews. Progress is dependent upon tolerance.

Thus, all Prophets (peace be upon them) have called for true faith. Every Prophet told his people from the very beginning, "Worship Allah, the Almighty. You have no other god but Him".(1) "We assuredly sent amongst every people an Apostle, (with the command), Serve Allah and eschew evil".
Monotheism is a relatively late development in human religion; and there are many tribes and peoples around the world who did not encounter monotheistic religion until relatively recent times (well after Mohammed, who is claimed to have been the last prophet). As such, this is either a gross mis-understanding of history, or a flat lie.

This is because Allah the Almighty created all people to worship Him alone and set up no associate to Him. "I have only created jinns and men that they may worship Me".
God of the gross insecurity complex. Rather than creating creatures to live their own lives, he creates them to worship him. A bit pathetic for an omnipotent being.

Worship is the exclusive right of Allah owed to Him by His creation mankind. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) once said to Muath ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him): "Do you know what duties and rights people have towards Allah'? The duty of mankind towards Allah is to worship Him and attribute no partner to Him. The right of mankind is that Allah will not torture those who do not attribute any partner to Him".
Now, just as a quick aside, this is meant to be a treatise about "the Truth of Monotheism". I'm not seeing much by means of argument towards that end.
Anyway, how horrifying is that bit? (Bolding is my emphasis). So apparently it is right, that Allah will torture anyone who says Allah has a partner. The all-good, all-mighty, all-knowing God is in favour of torture? Hahaha. I'll have to remember this for next time someone claims Allah is good. [A reflection of 7th century Arabian attitudes rather than a timeless god, I hear you cry? Why yes, perhaps it is. Check one against divine inspiration.]

This right of worship is the foremost right of Allah owed to Him by His people.
Right, let me state this clearly: when someone has done you a favour, you do not owe them worship. Even when that favour is creating you ex nihilo, you owe them gratitude; you owe them respect, perhaps. But not worship.
"Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him." (5) "Say : Come, I will recite to you what Allah has really forbidden to you : Join not any-thing as equal with Allah".
And we see that this is an argument not for theism against atheism, but an argument for monotheism against polytheism. Not just that, but an argument for those who believe in Allah.

This right has priority over all other rights because it is the foundation upon which all other precepts of the religion (of Islam) are based.
Incorrect. The right to life has priority over all other rights; followed by a variety of rights, depending on how you prioritise, but basically including personal autonomy, freedom of conscience, and so on. Human rights are real and important to civil society. The rights of Allah are meaningless, especially for those of us who are not convinced he exists.

Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) during the thirteen years of his preaching in Makkah, constantly called upon people to observe this right of Allah and forbid any partner to Him. The Holy Quran in most of its verses, has confirmed this concept and negated any resemblance to Him. Every Muslim in his five daily prayers pledges to Allah to observe this right by saying, "You alone do we worship and only Your assistance do we seek".
So? You have the right to your religious beliefs and observances, but why on earth should I care what rights you believe your sky daddy has, or how long your prophet inveighed against having alternate sky daddies?

This great right is referred to as the singleness of worship, deity or objective and purpose. This monotheism is ingrained in man's nature. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said "Every child is born with a (pure) innate character. His parents may turn him to become a Jew, a Christian or Mazdist" (8). Therefore, believing in the oneness of Allah is innate and original, whereas idolatry is spurious and unnatural.
Factually incorrect. While children naturally think magically, they do not naturally think of deities. Everyone is born atheist; many are taught otherwise. Do you really think that a newborn has knowledge of a deity? If so, evidence please.

Man will deviate from the right path only because of false upbringing and surroundings. Allah the Almighty stated in the Holy Quran "Mankind was one single nation, and Allah sent messengers with glad tidings and warnings; and with them He sent the Book, in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed".(9) Simarly, He, the Almighty, also stated in they Holy Quran "Mankind was but one nation, but differed later".
Mankind has never been a single nation; tribes have coalesced into cities, then into empires, then into nations. There are currently some 190 nations. What is more, mankind has never followed one religion.

Moreover, Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) said, "Ten centuries lapsed from Adam to Noah (peace be upon them and all people adhered to Islam during that perished". (11) Ibn-ulQaiyim, the learned scholar, commented on this by saying "This interpretation (by Ibn Abbas) of the above verse is correct."(12) He cited examples from the Holy Quran to support this idea an confirmed it in his commentary, "The Meaning of the Quran".
There was no Adam, there was no Noah, and so this story is meaningful.

The first incident of polytheism took place among the people of Noah when they exceeded the limits of respect for their saints and started worshipping them despite exhortation by their Prophets. As it is stated in the Holy Quran "And they have said (to each other), abandon not your gods : abandon neither Wadd for Suwa, neither Yaguth not Yauq".(13) Bukhari quoted Ibn Abbas as saying that "The above names were those of pious men among the people of Noah. When these pious men died, Satan suggested to the people of Noah that they erect statues of those pious men in their homes and call the statues by these pious men's names. Thus, people did so, but did not worship the statues. The statues, however, in later generations become idols to be worshipped."
Polytheism is the earlier development, by far. Polytheism to henotheism to monotheism is a development that can be traced in Judaism, on a similar path in Hinduism, and probably in other religions as well. There is archaeological and textual evidence for this, and I'll take that over the assertion of Ibn Abbas any day of the week.

And...that's the end of page one. Of 13. Might cut this off now and consider coming back to it in another post, before this turns into a true monster.


Reminders of hostility

Walk past a poster advertising a talk by someone who considers himself to be a Christian Atheist, and find the word atheist angrily scored out to make it illegible.

Now, I know this is nothing compared to what some people go through every day in e.g. the Bible Belt, where they have to hide an essential part of themselves lest they lose their job, their family, their friends. There are still those who feel we shouldn't exist here though, and it's worth remembering that.


Resurrection etc

I want to keep this going a bit more regularly, so here goes with a shorter post, to get myself back into the swing of things.

Things to do:
1) collect "Marriage Authority" from Registrars.
2) get copy of Demon Haunted World (Carl Sagan) from departing student for £4.
3) book visit to the winery, for which we have paid, and which we can't seem to book. They'll probably say they're fully booked again and there's nothing until August or whenever... (yeah, yeah, okay #firstworldproblems).
4) Find a house in Birmingham. Step one of which is find a semi-competent estate agent in Birmingham, and yes thereby hangs a tale...
5) Find a job in Birmingham
6) Finish writing one of several ongoing projects.
7) Learn C#
8) Sleep. No, wait, there's a pub quiz tonight (insert other options more exciting than sleep here).

Now, 1) should be no big deal. Just a bit of paper, which if I damage or crush will get me murdered by an irate fiancee. That's fine, I run that risk every day anyway.
The second is purely a matter of turning up at the right time with £4.
The third is going to take a phone call that I'm really not feeling.
Then things get difficult. See why the list is in this order? Heh