Three good reads
July 06, 2004
Hasidism and Homoeroticism by Jay Michaelson, published in Zeek. Through recounting religious experiences with haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews in Israel, Jay teases out the homoeroticism implicit in single-gendered religious experience...and explores why an embrace of homoeroticism doesn't necessarily equal decreased homophobia. Smart, insightful, and illustrated with some beautiful photos, too.
Juan Cole on the etymology of the shahadah (Muslim statement of faith). Apparently some Muslim students at University of California wanted to graduate wearing stoles printed with the shahadah, and shamefully someone from the American Jewish Congress claimed that this act expressed support for terrorism. (I have to hope that was a misunderstanding, because otherwise it illustrates xenophobia so profound it sets my teeth on edge.) There is no excuse for arguing that the shahadah ("There is no God but God, and Mohammed is His prophet") involves support for terrorism; thanks, Juan, for articulating what the shahadah does (and doesn't) mean. (From Veiled for Allah.)
Journey Beyond Knowing, a conversation between Olam editor David Suissa and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Reb Z discourses for a while about the nature of not-knowing, and then the two men experiment with a shared meditation. This piece rambles a little, but it was fun for me to get a taste of Reb Z's particular perspective and wisdom again. My favorite bit is the analogy of four levels of brain with the four planes of existence.